Sunday, December 25, 2011

Ah yes...Christmas!

This Christmas has been great fun. We have two happy and contented boys (except when they are not ;-) and plenty of great food and gifts to go around. As I write this at about noon, Danny is having a fantastic a time doing "Mind Blowing Science" experiments with his Nana. Benji meanwhile is all about his pillow pet and his new Thomas the Tank Engine sleeping mat.

Thank you so much to all of our family and friends who sent gifts, but as you can see from one of the photos, next year you might be able to get by with sending only the bubble wrap. Popping those little bubbles provided at least a half an hour of great fun this morning!

Merry Christmas everyone.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Through the Eyes of a Child...

This morning I had a really touching moment that I'm still thinking about.  I was driving the boys to Jenni's and we were quietly listening to Christmas music on the radio. I was suddenly transported back to a year ago when my cell rang when I was at a Post Office with Benji. My sister Alice told me to hold on--I'd like this.  Mom had been unable to speak at all in the preceding days when I was back home in Minnesota—after two hip breaks in one year, things had turned dire.  And here she was, with Alice holding her cellphone to her ear speaking to me as I held tiny Benji, telling me she loved me.  I was overwhelmed with joy in that moment.

So on the drive this morning I was thinking of that call and got lost in a reverie, remembering long ago Christmases with mom and just could not stop the tears from silently rolling down my face.  I didn't look back at the boys at first as I didn't want them to see me cry. But two year old Benji was watching me. When I caught his eye in the rear view mirror after a while, he pointed to his eyes and put his head down. A few moments later, without a sound he looked up and his eyes were brimming with tears.   

I was at once so moved by his amazing empathy but alarmed that he was so sad. Then Danny looked at Benji and asked me why Benji was crying. Then Benji burst out in tears. I told him that I thought Benji had seen me crying and that made him cry too. "Yeah" Benji wailed.

We talked about how sad I was that Grandma had died. I was trying to regain my composure when Danny gently told me that "Mommy at the end of your years you get to go to heaven to be with God". This choked me (and thus Benji) up even more. These boys. They soothe my soul.

When we got to Jenni's, she quickly got them excited about making ornaments and I was glad to see them happy again.

My brothers and sisters and I and all of our extended family are going to have these moments of intense sadness in the days to come.  Mom died on Christmas Day last year and there is something very powerful about that. I will forever be grateful that she was alive and doing well when our children were born. I will be forever sad that she is no longer with us. But to paraphrase a wise 4 year old, at the end of my years, I’ll see her again.  -Monica

Mom, my brother Paul, Danny, me and Benji two months before mom passed away.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Our Fitzgerald Children

Just in case you didn't know, our family has recently expanded!

Ok, actually, these are just the boys with their best friends and neighbors - Josie and Callagh. But we love them like family!

The picture was taken at Bread for the City's Holiday Photo Shoot. We particularly love this photo because it so fabulously captures each child's personality and the way they respond to directions!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Happy Birthday Benji!

Benji seems to have had a great 2nd birthday:

After our traditional birthday breakfast at home, we headed to Union Station for the Holiday Train Show where we met friends and neighbors to see the trains and have some cupcakes!  Thanks for a great party everyone.

Some memorable moments:

Being told that the Main Hall at Union Station and thus the train exhibit - setting for the party - was closed. :(

Discovering that the area was open afterall. :)

Benji's answer to "how old are you?": EIGHT!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Handwritten Note--its power even in this internet age...

When my dad lay dying in May of 2002 I remember having to get a little notebook to write stuff down in so I could keep everything straight. I titled it "my brain" because I remember feeling so overwhelmed that I simply could not think of what had to be taken care of. In so many respects, that time was a blur. I remember that the Lilly of the Valley's were blooming next to the house on the day of his funeral and that somehow I thought he would have like that.

My mom got so many flowers when he died that we couldn't help but joke that the dining room smelled like a flower shop or a funeral home. Call it gallows humor if you will. That's what I remember.

But in that blur, one memory stands out. I'd worked several years for an outstanding man who was a Senior Executive in the government. His name was Marty and I remember seeing an envelope on my desk the day I came back to work after my sad journey to Minnesota. This dear man had written me the most beautiful note. He wrote of parents and children and love and blessings and peace. When I saw him shortly thereafter he gave me the biggest hug. I will never forget the power of that note. Maybe because I didn't expect it. Or maybe because it spoke to me in such a personal and eloquent way. He brought me such peace and joy. And I'll never forget it.

Fast forward 8 years to last year at Christmastime, and then it was my beautiful mom who lay dying. I remember some of that same disorientation I felt with my dad's death. She died on Christmas Day, and as we've headed in Christmas 2011, I've been feeling strong moments of sadness about mom. Sad that I can't talk to her, sad that she is missing seeing my boys grow up. Feelings that Christmas will never be the same. Feelings that I can't even describe.

But then the other day our dear neighbors, Mary Elizabeth and Joe who are very spiritual and loving stopped by to drop some gifts off for St. Nicolas Day.  When I opened a card they had addressed just to me, I could not speak. Tears rolled down my face. The power of the written word comforted me yet again. After reading it, somehow my anxiety is less and my connection to my mom stronger than ever right now. God bless you dear neighbors. Thank you for helping me enter into this Christmas season with more joy than pain right now. -Monica

It reads: Dear Monica, A candle is offered in memory of your mother at the Franciscan Monastery gardens--its light will shine there from Christmas until New Year's Eve--a reminder that your mother's light will continue to shine in your life--may her memory bring you only peace and joy. Joe and Mary Elizabeth

Saturday, December 03, 2011

I'm just glad they can now "All Star Baby Wrestle" without me...

Here are a few pics of the boys horsing around at Thanksgiving last week. With that holiday behind us, I will admit that I am finding it hard to wrap my head around the fact that the Christmas season is NOW. Today the boys and I are going to put the lights up on the porch. I love that they will be delighted by the whole process so I'll try my very best not to let them know that I really don't much like putting up (nor taking down) lights.

Then we'll be off to do a ton errands and get a visit from a dear old friend this afternoon. Come to think of it she might now appreciate me calling her old, so let's call her a dear friend.

Last weekend while in South Carolina we took Danny to see Arthur Christmas while Benji shopped with his Nana, and it was a really fun movie. Highly recommend. I was kind of shocked though that they charged $9 per adult ticket for an 11 am matinee. Not sure that is such a good business model though. There were a total of 5 people in the theater, 2 of whom were little kids. Maybe if  they charged less more would come? Just my two cents.

Gotta run. I'm hearing crying that indicates that one of my All Star Baby wrestlers has a boo boo. Have a great weekend. -M