Santa Lucia

Friday, December 14, 2012
This year we attempted to celebrate the feast day of St. Lucy. I've been reading up on the traditions and stories surrounding this saint and they are pretty fascinating.

St. Lucy was a wealthy Christian woman living in pagan Rome. After her mother was cured of a lifelong ailment by praying at the tomb of St. Agatha, Lucy encouraged her mother to convert to Christianity. Together during the night they would travel through the city of Rome by candlelight giving food and money to the poor. 

However, Lucy had been promised in marriage to a Roman man who did not take kindly to her giving all her money away. So he turned her into the authorities. The persecution of Christians was at its height during this time and so Lucy was sentenced to death. It took several attempts, but eventually Lucy was martyred.

Several centuries later in Sweden, a small farming town was hit by a famine and many people were starving to death. One night a woman dressed in white with candles on her head arrived at the shores of the town, bringing food to the starving people. She then disappeared across the lake. The townspeople were convinced the mysterious woman was St. Lucy and have since celebrated the feast day of Santa Lucia by reenacting the event.

The eldest daughter in the family awakes before dawn and prepares breakfast for the entire family. She dresses in white to symbolize purity and wears a red sash to represent martyrdom. On her head she wears a wreath with burning candles. Do you remember the American Girl doll, Kirsten? In one of the books about her she celebrates this feast day. This is how Santa Lucia's costume should look.

I knew I wanted to try my hand at celebrating this lovely feast day, but didn't quite get my act together in time. So Hannah wore one of Daddy's white T-shirts and part of our Advent wreath on her head. She delivered some croissants to us in our bedroom. It wasn't quite as exciting as I expected, but Hannah loved it and now she knows who St. Lucy is, so, I guess we can declare it a success. We will definitely be continuing this tradition for years to come.

 St Lucy, pray for us!

Some Christmas Card Outtakes

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Great of Hannah. Too bad Abby's eyes are half closed.
Trying to keep little sister in her place.
Bribery with marshmallows.
It all became too much for Hannah after a while. Abigail, my little linebacker.
Christmas card pictures are a work-out. The thing is, I only have two kids. Granted, they are both toddlers, but still, there's only two of them. I don't know how mothers with three, four, five, etc, take Christmas card pictures. I suppose it gets easier when they can actually follow directions.

Nonetheless, I love having little girls in little girl dresses. Such fun!

BTW, do you notice how our tree only has lights on the top half and ornaments on the top third? Life with littles, gotta love it.

Christmas Card Preview

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
My heart grew three sizes.

Snow Day

You better believe I put about 47 layers of clothing on them before they left the house.

Do all mothers just die with how cute their kids are in snow gear?

Back inside where it's warm enjoying a nice snack of popcorn (a family favorite).

Mom, notice the slippers? Oh my gosh, they are hilarious.

Not To Be Left Out

Abby made this at storytime today.

Gingerbread House Making

Not bad, eh? Good ol' Trader Joe's

She thought this was the best thing ever. Notice all the frosting on the face?

We spent most of the time "making" it doing this instead.
Ta Da!

St. Nicholas Day

What fun! St. Nicholas also gave them the game Candyland.

So excited! Thank you St. Nicholas!

Of course Abs was trying to eat the chocolates with the wrappers on.

Random Updates

That little boy Dominic from the previous post is doing much better. Thank you for your prayers. Hopefully he and his parents will be home in time for Christmas. little Beatrice is getting adopted!!!!!! Praise Jesus!!!!! I've been praying so hard for her family to find her. And just in time for Christmas too. Oh, my cup runneth over.

As for my kids, we've been really, really enjoying this Advent season. We got our tree on Sunday. I don't think I've ever seen a kid more excited about a tree. Hannah is loving anything and everything associated with Christmas. Today we went to church to hear the school kids perform a Christmas concert. When we got there and Hannah realized they were singing Christmas songs she started yelling, "Christmas! Christmas!"

We celebrated St. Nicholas's Day on the 6th and the girls loved waking up to chocolate coins in their shoes. Although, Hannah apparently hid a few coins in her pants pockets, so when I undressed her that night I found a nice melted brown surprise. Lovely.

Tomorrow we're going to try our hand at celebrating St. Lucy's feast day. The tradition is that the eldest daughter awakes the family with breakfast. So I'm going to dress Hannah up and have her knock on our front door with some yummy breakfast treats. Should be interesting. 

Oh, and I made a Jesse tree. This deserves a post unto itself because seriously I am not crafty and I made this intensely crafty thing. And it took forever. But I am really proud of it. Even if I lost my temper more than once while making it. Okay, darnit, I'm just going to pay to have pictures on my blog again because you guys have to see all that we've been up to lately. 

I've always loved Christmastime and now that I have kids it's all the more magical. I am loving it.

Prayer Request

Friday, December 7, 2012
Will you guys please pray for this little guy and his family? I just found the family's blog and learned their little guy is at Boston Children's right now and he's not doing so well.

Here's the link to his mom's blog:

The family is from Wisconsin, but they are here in Boston for their son's surgery. In fact, we know Domenic's doctor, he was Abby's doctor for a little bit too. 

Prayers would be much appreciated. Thanks!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012
I know, I know, you guys want to see more pictures. The thing is, Blogger is trying to tell me I've run out of picture space and that I now need to pay for it. And well, I'm a cheapskate and I've been trying to figure out a way around this. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be one. Ack! So, I guess I'm going to cough up the $2.50. Speaking of cheapskate, I actually haggled with a thrift shop charity worker yesterday to buy a pair of baby pants for $.50, as opposed to a dollar.The money was for charity, but the price was listed as 50 cents and she was trying to charge me a dollar. Geesh.

In other news, I'm kinda weaning Abby. Kinda and I use the term "weaning" loosely because she is still definitely nursing. But I've cut out a few feedings and can I just say, it is wreaking havoc on my hormones and mood. Seriously. I am losing my mind. I've taken to drinking. Tis the season.

Happy 18 Months, Missy

My sweet Bubs is a year-and-a-half old today. How the heck did that happen? She can't really be almost two, can she?

Oh my Abigail what we have been through together in the last 18 months, we could write a novel. Not gonna lie, it's been tough. Real tough. But that's not a reflection on Abby. If she ever reads this one day I don't want her to think she was tough on her old mom. Abigail, I want you to know, you were and are the best surprise of my life! How we love you!


Hannah Singing the Our Father

Monday, December 3, 2012

Singing along with her  Brother Francis Let's Pray video. 

I love how she says "hallowed be thy king."

I just ordered her the Brother Francis Rosary dvd. Got to keep this holiness thing goin'.

Big Things

Sunday, November 25, 2012
Big things are happening here in the Richer household. Hannah is...wait for it...potty trained! Woo-hoo!

I was really nervous before beginning this whole potty training business. I thought this might be my biggest parenting challenge yet. But in all honesty and some moms might hate me for this, it turned out to be fairly easy. She pretty much trained herself in about a day. 

I think the key to our quick and easy potty training experience was that she was ready, both physically and mentally. Plus, it doesn't hurt that she's susceptible to bribery. Chocolate chips work wonders. Although, we are now wondering how much longer she will be getting said chocolate chips for going to the bathroom on her potty. She's going to be 10 years old and still asking for "chips." Hmm. Not sure what to do about that. 

Nonetheless, we are quite proud of her and more importantly, she is quite proud of herself. And her bum in her little underwear...I'm dying with how cute it is. And since we're all family or close friends here, a few pics of said cute bum for your viewing pleasure. 

So I Don't Forget

Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Miss Abigail loves to sing. Yesterday during story-time she was singing along with the music and songs. She belts it out. At one point I had to cover her mouth because she was singing a bit too loudly. 

I was telling this to Frannie (Matthew's mom) and she reminded me of last Christmas when the entire family went to the Black Nativity (a musical Christmas performance in which all the actors are black and act out the nativity). It's really good. Anyways, Abby was only about 5 or 6 months at the time and she was sitting on my lap watching the performance and singing along. She would "sing" with the music and when the music would stop so would she. We were all giggling because she was really singing loudly.

A little Abby story that I don't want to forget.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Once Matthew told me that as long as I keep the kids alive he really doesn't care what we do during the day.

We have low standards around here...

My Stella

Monday, November 19, 2012
Remember my little Stella from Reece's Rainbow? She's getting adopted!!!!!!! Praise Jesus!

Her adoption is just in time too because she's about to turn 5 in January, at which point she would age-out of the baby house and be put into an institution. She's perfectly healthy and cognitively normal, she is just HIV+, obviously through no fault of her own.

I don't know anything about her adoptive parents, except that they must live in Russia because she's being adopted domestically. Hopefully that means she'll be home in time for Christmas! Oh, how wonderful! Love her.

I still really, really like the idea of adoption and deep down think it might be something we do eventually. My only 'thing' or hang-up when it comes to adoption is adopting out of birth order, meaning adopting a child older than Hannah. Special needs don't scare me. Health issues don't intimidate me. But adopting out of birth order is something I feel like I can't do. I guess I just figure adopting a child would rock the boat to begin with and then to upset the whole "natural order" of the house on top of that would be too hard. Maybe in time that will change, but I don't think so. Any thoughts on that?

So cute, right?
Now we just need to pray that my little Beatrice finds her Mama. Ack, I just love this kid. And she's only 5 months younger than Abby, so adopting her wouldn't be adopting out of birth order. A girl can dream...

Thank You, BumpaZsa!

Friday, November 16, 2012
Dear BumpaZsa,

Thank you so much for my big bag of lollipops! I really love lollipops. But you already knew that. You sure do spoil me.

Princess Hannah

Say Cheese.

Oh There You Are, Abigail

Do you know this scene from the movie Hook?

Lately, I have been feeling this way towards Abby. It's a weird thing to not know what your child looks like, or is supposed to look like, for the first year-and-a-half of their life. With her face changing and improving every day I feel like I'm finally seeing her for the first time.

Bargain Huntress

Thursday, November 15, 2012
I bought this Land's End dress for a whopping....$0.49!

Pretty good, right? The dress was already on sale and I used an additional 30% off coupon along with free shipping. Then the Sears company gave everyone who lives where Hurricane Sandy hit $10 worth of points to use at their store. So nice of them. Although, I'm sure they didn't intend for me to buy a new dress from Land's End. Nonetheless, with all my coupon savvy, I only had to pay $.49 for a brand new dress.

Just had to share. I'm pretty proud of myself. 

And this may mean I'm getting old, but Land's End is my new favorite go-to company for cute clothes. They always seem to be having great deals too. 

The End.

No Exciting News

Wednesday, November 14, 2012
If you received a "Jennie's Exciting News" email from me, ignore it! No exciting news here. It's just a virus that I was emailed from someone else. All I did was open the email (I didn't even click on the link) and that was enough for it to infect my email. So just a head's up! Sorry!

Brother Francis

I read about the Let's Pray video from another blog, so I decided to order it. It came in the mail yesterday and Hannah has already watched it more than a couple of times (it's only about 15 minutes long). It's so cute and the songs are really catchy. Brother Francis teaches the kids about the Sign of the Cross, the Our Father, prayer and the saints. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

I think all kids have a penchant towards the eternal. They want to know about God. Sometimes I feel like I can't keep up with Hannah's curiosity. Sometimes I can't help but wonder if she has a vocation to the religious life. If she does, I want to make sure I am able to properly encourage it without being pushy. It's a tricky balance.

Those of you with little ones, I would definitely recommend Let Us Pray.
Watching Brother Francis.
Makes my Mama heart proud.

Abby's New Forehead and Eyebrows

Abby received not only a new and improved forehead during her surgery, but a new eyebrow as well. Her plastic surgeon, Dr. Cetrulo, added bone to her eyebrow area to round out the symmetry. (Incidentally, Dr. Cetrulo is a Stanford grad. I was wearing a Cal sweatshirt the day of Abby's surgery and he came in and said something about the Big Game. It took me a minute to remember I had said Cal sweatshirt on, but then laughed. Small world. Abby's neurosurgeon is a UCLA grad. I guess the best doctors come from California. Although, I think they both went to Harvard Medical School. Nope, just looked it up, Dr. Cetrulo went to Tufts. Dr. Butler went to Harvard. But I digress.) 

 She is still a little swollen in the eye and and eyebrow area, but you can already see how much better it looks. Isn't she looking so old? Ack, my baby is growing up.

She and I went to her storytime yesterday, just the two of us. She had a ball. I think she mostly enjoyed going somewhere with Mama that didn't involve a doctor. She spent most of the storytime running from a little outlet cover on the floor back to me. I remember Hannah liking the outlet cover on that floor too. Weirdos. 

Once the librarian brought out the bubbles it was like Abby suddenly realized there was some sort of group thing going on in the room. She loved the bubbles. She was so cute. It was the first time I brought Abby somewhere and felt like she was just another 'normal' kid. No helmet, no weird flat forehead. Just another kid. She blended right in. Well, she didn't quite blend in. She was the cutest kid there, not that I'm biased or anything.

The Implications of Faith in One God

From today's Daily Catechism:

222     Believing in God, the only One, and loving him with all our being has enormous consequences for our whole life.
223     It means coming to know God's greatness and majesty: "Behold, God is great, and we know him not." Therefore, we must "serve God first".
224     It means living in thanksgiving: if God is the only One, everything we are and have comes from him: "What have you that you did not receive?" "What shall I render to the LORD for all his bounty to me?"
225     It means knowing the unity and true dignity of all men: everyone is made in the image and likeness of God.
226     It means making good use of created things: faith in God, the only One, leads us to use everything that is not God only insofar as it brings us closer to him, and to detach ourselves from it insofar as it turns us away from him:
My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you.
My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you.
My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you.

227     It means trusting God in every circumstance, even in adversity. A prayer of St. Teresa of Jesus wonderfully expresses this trust:
Let nothing trouble you / Let nothing frighten you
Everything passes / God never changes
Patience / Obtains all
Whoever has God / Wants for nothing
God alone is enough.

The implications of faith in one God changes everything.

It is often said that we hear only what we want to and see only that which we wish to, but nonetheless from Sunday's Mass readings and now today's Catechism lesson I am hearing: "Be not afraid." God has not given us a spirit of fear.

During this somewhat tumultuous time within our country and even within my little family, this is a much needed message.

We were told on Friday during our meeting with the geneticists that the likelihood of another child with craniosynostosis (and subsequent children) is most likely 50%. They think it's a dominant gene that is silent in one of us and therefore with each pregnancy it is a flip of a coin whether the baby will inherit it.

Obviously this is not the best news, but we had already prepared ourselves for this reality. The difficult part is that we want more children and honestly the thought of having to undergo all of this with say, three more kids, is quite honestly exhausting.

But I have to keep reminding myself that God does not provide us the grace for what-if situations. He gives us the grace to handle what-is and the here and now. If and when the time comes where we must embrace another craniosynostosis baby, then He will provide the grace for it.

We were joking with the geneticists that we hope the next baby has saggital synostosis (what Hannah had) because it was a whole heck of a lot easier to deal with. And we told them that honestly, we feel like we'll be lucky to have one child without it and that we're prepared to go through this a few more times.

They were so surprised at our demeanor. They kept remarking how they couldn't believe we were so calm. I suppose when you tell someone their future children are bound to have birth defects, you don't expect them to make jokes, but what else could we do? Kick over the garbage can a la Andy Bernard?

We are calm. We feel confident that we have the know-how and the doctors to tackle this problem. And we have faith.

My faith has been forever changed because of craniosynostosis. We are forever changed. I suppose it is impossible to go unchanged by the cross of suffering. Yet, despite it all, we feel so blessed. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I feel like God said "give her a cross of a birth defect, but nothing too serious, she's not that strong." Haha.

Dr. Jennie

Monday, November 12, 2012
All you medically minded people will be so proud of me...I removed four of Abby's stitches all by myself! 

The nurse wasn't able to take all of her stitches out since they were embedded pretty deep in her skin. However, the stitches were not dissolvable so they were going to have to come out sooner or later. The nurse said they would work their way out eventually. But I thought I'd  be proactive and get them out myself. Aunt Jacqui knows how much I like to work with needles, haha. When Abby went to sleep, I went to work. It was pretty fun.

Busy Week

Thursday, November 8, 2012
This has been a really busy week, at least in our little neck of the woods.

Abby had her stitches out on Monday. She is looking really good, despite some residual swelling.  It took the nurse forever (or so it seemed) to take the stitches out. I had to hold Abby down the entire time, no fun. But she was such a trooper.

Tuesday was Election Day, so the girls and I walked to our polling place in the morning so I could vote. We ran into some friends while we were there and had a nice chat.

Wednesday we had friends over for a little playdate. Hannah and her little friend (who is a boy) were having so much fun together, it was really cute to watch. They were playing a little game where they would run and then fall down on their knees. They thought it was hilarious. Abby tried to join in, but she couldn't really keep up, so she was playing the little fall-down game by herself. Haha, love that kid.

This morning the girls and I went to the mall to run around. It is so cold here (in the 30s during the day), so we've transitioned to a lot of our indoor activities, i.e. friends over and trips to Target. Abby starts her library storytime next week. I'm curious to see how she does in her "class." I hope she likes it, but she might consider it all beneath her. She's so funny.

Tomorrow we have an appointment with some more geneticists. They are so fascinated by us and our two little cranio kids. As I last told the doctors, we're interested in knowing why both our kids have had craniosynostosis, but it's not like we have to know. They seemed a little surprised by this. There's nothing that can be done anyways. And we've kinda accepted this as our cross in life. There are far, far worse things.

Although, one of the geneticists did suggest using IVF to genetically design a child without craniosynostosis. I laughed, until I realized he was serious. Yeah, that's not gonna happen.

Craniosynostosis is no picnic, but it's a tiny little thing about our kids and it's part of who they are. I wouldn't trade my two little cranio babies for the world. Plus, craniosynostosis has become our cause celeb, it's our thing now. And like I said, there are far, far worse things. 

This weekend will be pretty busy too. I teach on Saturday morning and on Sunday Hannah is attending her little friend's birthday party. I'm looking forward to that, it should be cute.

Next week is the first meeting for my mothers' prayer and rosary group. I'm nervous I'm going to be the only one to show up. Please pray someone comes!

Despite its busyness, it's been a mostly good week. A week that has encouraged me to focus on my many blessings and on the things eternal. 

 Hope you've had an enjoyable week too! God bless.

This Quote was Running Through My Head All Day Yesterday

I've Had It

Wednesday, November 7, 2012
That's it, we're moving to Nebraska.

I've lived in blue states my entire life and I'm so over it.

I'm serious, I've started looking up land prices in Montana, Nebraska and Vermont (although VT is a dark blue state). I want to move my little family someplace far away from the liberal craziness. Plus, we dream of living the homesteading life, a simple life filled with farming and family. We shall see. 

Ultimately, as far as the election goes, I have to keep reminding myself that Mitt Romney was not my savior and as much as I love my country, the United States is not my God. Life goes on.

As these two remind me so well: when life gives you rain, jump in the puddles.

Halloween 2012

Sunday, November 4, 2012
This year we had a monkey and a princess. Although, Abby's monkey costume lasted only long enough for the pictures. She wasn't having it. 

Little Princess Hannah had a ball trick-or-treating, no surprise there. The girl has a major sweet tooth, like her mama.
Not happy about monkey costume.
Princess Hannah.
2/3 happy girls.
The loot.
Chocolate face.

Abby Pictures

Sorry it's taken me so long to post, but Abby's surgery is done and behind us and thank the Lord, all went well. Thank you all for your prayers!

It was only two weeks ago that Miss Abigail had her surgery, although it feels like it might as well of been two years ago. I'll have to post all the details soon, but for now, I'll leave you with some pictures of my Bubs.

Before the surgery.
Immediately after the surgery.
Sweet girl.
So swollen. Even her little hands and feet were so, so swollen.
Poor baby had her eyes swollen shut for about a day.
Could she be any cuter? Thank goodness for that portable DVD player.
Look how much the swelling has gone down in just a week and a half?!?
Abby is nearly back to her busy little self. She is still a little worn down, but she gets stronger every day. We are happy to have our smiley girl back.
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