Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Happy Birthday, Peach Pie!

Dear, Pita,
This is the night I remember like yesterday... the night before you were born. I cannot believe that two years have passed. So many life happenings have taken place in between 2008 and 2010, and you have been with us. What a gift your life is to us. A true blessing. A real joy. Something sacred. Thanks be to God for the goodness He has shared with us through you. You have brought us countless smiles, tears, moments of awe, joys, spots of wonder and awe. It is hard to imagine what our lives, let alone your big sister's, would be like with your presence. I remember that first moment of your life outside the womb and your being laid on my chest. I was truly humbled, in tears, full of joy. I think anytime a Mommy delivers a baby it is a good time to look at Luke 1: 46-55, especially those words of the Blessed Mama's: spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly handmaid."

Pita, you are one spunky girl, with this theme song for your life to boot, but the sweetest little pie with so much affection to give. It must have been around 3am or so this morning, and you laid there beside me, snuggled up next to me and put your arm around my neck. What a little love bug you are. Thank you for your sweet kisses, hugs.

Today we went shopping for your birthday cupcakes that we will make tomorrow. Madge was thrilled when you let her help you pick out your ice cream. She asked you if you wanted chocolate, and you were right on board. We got chocolate/peanut butter swirl, and we also got the fixings to make these fun little flower cupcakes for tomorrow, July 1st. It was so much fun just going around the store with you and getting the little things for your birthday, from the pepperoni for our pizzas for your b-day dinner, to the girgeous sunflowers to make the birthday table glow with yellow rays as we lift your life up in thanks tomorrow, to having you ask to see the "choo-choo" at Wegman's and listen to Madge say, "Pita, can you say 'choo-choo?' " And, your responding, "Choo-choo." Madge had the best look on her face! Impressed with that vocab!

Pita, I love you immensely. We love you immensely. Your baby brother must already love the hugs and kisses he gets from you. You have such a happy, spunky, strong-purposed disposition. And, you are super thoughtful. We like to call you the "water bottle deliverer," because no matter who comes to visit us, or if it is just our family here, you go and get that person's water bottle and give it to them. Even last night you heard me say--yes, out loud-- that I had to use the bathroom, so you quickly ran into the bathroom before me and lifted the lid on the toilet. Talk about service... kindness, sweet thoughtfulness. I love you, Little Girl. Let's remember the old times when you marked our hearts forever.
And this moment when you were just 4 weeks old.
Sweet sisters, kiss, kiss, kiss...
Welcome, Sweet Girl.
The day you truly entered new life, your Baptism: August 1, 2008.

I love you, Ra-Ba,

Inventing Toenails

A couple nights ago, much to the girlies' delight, Mary brought out a new bottle of red-pink nail polish. As Madge laid sprawled out on the couch, Mares painted her little toe nails. Madge then went and sat in front of the fan to have the nail polish dry.

Much to my surprise, instead of wanting Mom to paint her nails, Guady came over to me to ask me to do it. Not that toenail painting is a part of my job portfolio or expertise, I was nevertheless delighted to sit with her. She laid across my lap as I dutifully painted her little nails. My job was sub par, however, as she wriggled about in the process. (It wasn't too bad, I have to say.) Mares gave me a playful jab at how I was painting more than the nail, creating the impression that the nails were bigger than they actually were. (True, true.) But, as I explained to Mares, the real problem is that Pita's toes are like her mother's: she only has eight toe nails, since the smallest toes on each foot are without nails. There's something of a nail, but you have to round down since they're soooooo small. So, did I create a nail when none existed? Yes. Am I proud of it? You bet. :)

I love all my girls so much...whether with 8 or 10 toenails!

On Acupressure and Blood Flow

Nifty article on acupressure and how it relates to Promoting Strong Blood Circulation Throughout Your Legs and Feet.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happy 2nd Birthday to our Guadalupe

Dear Little Guadalupe,

Happy 2nd Birthday! I can't believe that you are already two! I remember the day that you were born just like it was yesterday. I remember taking you home from the hospital, introducing you to your big sister Madge and spending countless hours simply admiring and loving you. You are the little girl whom we love, our Guadalupe, our Pita, our Peach, our Peach Pie, our Guady, our Lupita, our Bump, our Bumpy.

You're also our strong-willed one! I get the sense that you will be the one to keep Mom and me on our toes throughout life. (We're both second-borns, so we have that understanding between us...) You bring so much joy to our life. You are an integral part of our family. Everyone here loves you. We are so happy to have you in our lives.

I was just asking you earlier today if it's going to be your birthday. You replied with a little scrunched up nose, saying "nooo," with a nasally French accent. When I asked if you were turning two, you said no again and held up all five fingers on your hand. Yeah, right. Not so fast, kiddo! You're growing up quick enough!

As we pray every night before bed, we pray that Our Lady of Guadalupe and all the Angels of Bethlehem watch over and protect our girl, our Guadalupe Belén Maria.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Little One

Before I head off to bed, I had to write you a little note just to say I love you. You are a real mover and I think you must be getting ready for your entrance into this world, because your "little house" seems to have moved down a bit more and there is some movement higher up. Are those little thumps your feet? I have to say sorry to you for all of the times you get squashed when I am bending down. You are my sweet little angel. I cannot wait to cradle you in my arms, snuggle with you, and give you lots of kisses, neither can Daddy nor your sisters. They love you so much. We cannot imagine life without you.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Hello to my girlies and little guy in utero,

Daddy sends his love. Before I hit my meetings all day today, I want to send you a few photos of Geneve. Some of the photos include the church where I attended Mass on Sunday, scenic photos, photos of the UN, flags out for the World Cup, and photos of the WTO.

I miss you so much. This morning I went for a run along the lake. It was gorgeous! The waves splashed over the sides of the path. The weather was not too hot and not too cold. I felt lonely, though, without my girls in the running stroller!

Talk to you soon,

PS. Thank God for international blackberries!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

We love you and miss you! Happy Father's Day!

Your girls (and boy!) miss you very much. Happy Father's Day! We hope you are doing very well and know just how much you mean to us. Thank you for all that you selflessly do for us and provide without question. You are a true blessing. Tonight at dinner we went around the table as (Pita is definitely a snuggler... Thanks for the kiss, Peach!)
usual to say our "favorite part of the day." And, in Madge's true form, she asked Baby Cal his... and then went on to imitate what you may have said! She put on a deep voice, so funny. Daddy may be a plane trip away, but you are definitely in our hearts and on our minds. We also continued with what you would do at dinner: read 365 Manners Kids Should Know. But, since you usually do the "lesson" of the day and not I, Madge had to ask me, "Mom, do you know how?" when I asked her if she could get the book so I could read. I love it. They depend on you so much and in so many ways to lead them. It's beautiful. They are your girls, and I am blessed to have you as my spouse. As I was driving home from the airport after leaving you to catch your flight, I was just thinking how important it is to set our sights and daily activities and our relationship on the future, the real forever...eternity. For, no matter what happens here, God-willing, we will be reunited for always in Him in Heaven. I love you. Happy Father's Day to you! Happy Father's Day to our dear Dads who said yes to God's plan and to all of our family and friends who have opened their hearts to God's call to expand His love. St. Joseph, pray for us. St. John Vianney, patron of priests, pray for our fathers.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Wonderful (Early) Father's Day Dinner Celebration

Thanks to my wonderful family, we had an early Father's Day Dinner last night. Unfortunately I will be out of town on business on Father's Day itself (sniff, sniff: I'll miss all my girls...and my little guy in utero) but Mares was thoughtful enough to organize the celebration in advance. It was a positively delightful evening. True to form as ever, Mares prepared a delicious dinner: chicken- apricot salad, homemade bruscetta (with fresh basil from our garden!), some fine wine, and a dessert of coconut-peanut-chocolate ice-cream pie. Madge has done so many pieces of artwork for me for Father's Day--probably like 20 drawings, paintings, etc. Peach has done her fair share of cute artwork for Dadda. They're the best girlies. After dinner, showers, family rosary, bed for the girls, and couch time with my beautiful wife.

Thanks to Mares and the girls for my new running shorts and trimmers. I appreciate you all so much. After all, being a father is only possible thanks to you.

Best wishes and prayers to my Dad (Beeba/Grandpa Tiej), my father-in-law (Paw-Paw), and my godfather (Uncle Glenn). I love you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

NYT Article: Long Road to Adulthood Is Growing Even Longer

In recent NYT Article Long Road to Adulthood Is Growing Even Longer, the author makes the following point on growing up and adulthood:
People between 20 and 34 are taking longer to finish their educations, establish themselves in careers, marry, have children and become financially independent
On a positive note:
For the first time, a majority of mothers, 54 percent, have a college education, up from 41 percent in 1990.
The article ends on a stereotypical liberal note:
We have not developed and strengthened institutions to serve young adults,” Mr. Furstenberg said, “because we’re still living with the archaic idea that people enter adulthood in their late teens or early 20s.”
No: new institutions aren't needed to help young people enter adulthood. The best-suited institution has been around for quite some time: the family.

"Kipper the Cat"

Madge's favorite show right now is Kipper. Fortunately, there is a number of episodes on Netflix instant view. It's a British cartoon about a dog named Kipper and his adventures with his friends. Kipper is a simple show, with simple animation, simple backgrounds, simple dialogue, and a very short list of characters. But its slow-moving plots and dialogues must appeal to kids (probably more so to those under the age of 5). The simplicity and loveable characters (not to mention their memorable voices) is a joy.

I always joke with Madge calling the show "Kipper the Cat." That alliteration sounds so much than Kipper the Dog, right? Anyhow, Madge will ever call me on it. "No, Dad. It's Kipper the Dog."

"'s a toad not a frog...'cause it's Kipper the Dog."

Little Painted Toenails

Last night after I tucked Madge into bed, I went to the bathroom across the hall from her room to brush my teeth. A couple seconds later I heard that someone was out of bed and standing outside the bathroom door. Then I saw little toes with pink nail polish sticking out under the door. They were pretty cute, Madge! You love to have your toenails painted! Anyhow, you said you were hot, so we readjusted the temperature and back to bed you went. I love you, Little Girlie!

Time for God

Mares recommended this small-in-size-but-not-in-message book Time for God by Rev. Jacques Philippe. (I guess the book was originally recommended to Mary by--thanks, Nicky.) Wanted to share a nice insight for the day (my emphasis added):
"I'd really like to do mental prayer, but I don't have the time." How often this has been said! And in a hyperactive world like our own, the difficulty is a real one and should not be underestimated.

But time is not always the real problem. The problem is knowing what really matters in life. As a contemporary author remarked, no one yet has starved to death because they didn't have the time to eat. We always find (or rather take!) the time to do what really matters to us. Before saying we don't have time for mental prayer, let's begin by reviewing our hierarchy of values, to see what our real priorities are.

One of the great crises of our day is that people are no longer capable of finding time for one another, time to be with one another. Here is something that causes many deep wounds. So many children are enclosed within themselves, diillusioned and damaged, because threir parents never learned to spend time with them, with nothing else to doe except be with their child. They look after the child, but they are always doing something else or are preoccupied, never entirely there, never totally available. And the child sense this and suffers. In learning to give to time to God, we will certainly become more able to find time to be there for one another. our attentiveness to God will teach us to be attentive to others.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I Love and Adore My Wife!

NYT Article: The Risks of Parenting While Plugged In

This recent NYT article entitled The Risks of Parenting While Plugged In is an interesting read. While Mares and I don't text or use smart phones (out of personal preference), we do email quite a bit and blog occasionally. I feel like we do a pretty good job of not letting technology take away from our lives and particularly from our time with the kids, but I'll have to think about it more. It's good to stop and evaluate every so often as circumstances change.

Update: as I thought about whether this article applied to our life, I realized that the phone more than the internet can distract me when I should be parenting. Good to know and act on.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sweet One

(34 weeks, 3 days, June 9, 2010--home after your dr.'s appt.)

Hello, Little Boy,

You are now 34 weeks in utero... Sunday we will begin month 9, the final stretch. You are a real mover. The other night I was sitting on the couch with Dad and it felt as though you were going to pop out of my tummy. It looked like as much with your little limbs rubbing around under my belly. I love you. I cannot wait to meet you. Each time we have been blessed with a life, I am amazed at God's love, for our love just expands and loves the new baby like I never could have possibly imagined. Your sisters cannot get enough of you. What I love to watch is Pita coming up and giving you hugs, kisses, and talking to you. Maddy loves to talk to you too and sometimes she tells us what you are saying... Like the other day, she said that you were grateful for your "big sister." Dad said, "Oh, Baby Cal is so happy to have you, Pita," and Maddy responded, "He was talking about me, Dad." She was a bit confused, but then it clicked again... yes, you have TWO big sisters. Lately, Little Man, I have been feeling very well with you. I am just so thankful to have you in me. There was a time back in December where I wondered if this time, these months would continue. I thought I was losing you in a miscarriage. But then, I was reminded in the hospital not to be afraid because if you did leave this world, you would be in God's arms, and that is the safest place anyone could ever, ever be. But, in God's loving mercy, He is allowing us to experience these moments with you. You are a joy. You make me do better. How blessed I am to feel well, to be able to exercise and keep in shape for each of you. What a blessing kids are to our lives-- encouraging us in so many ways to live up to what God wants of us. Yesterday I went to the dr. for my check-up (I will go back in another 3 weeks or so... at that point we will be over 37 weeks :) and all was well. Your sisters stood beside the bed as the dr. placed the little Doppler on my tummy to listen to your heartbeat (which was in 130s--great!). Pita began mumbling words of excitement when she heard your little heartbeat, chugging a long like a little choo-choo train. At this point the dr. said that you are in the transitional phase, since you are lying sideways... with your feet on my right side, and your head on my left. It is much more comfy to lay down on my left side. I hope that is nice for you too, since you can lay your head on the bed when we sleep. :) I look forward to the moment of bringing you into this world. I also look forward to giving over to God the pains that will come with labor, all for a sweet life.
(November, 2009-- the sign of you!)
(The first day I really knew you were inside me---how little you were then.. not even a bump yet...November 20, 2009).


What it is? It is what swells in my heart right now. I love so many things in my life, because I am so, so grateful. I am thankful for my husband, my sweet little ones, and the little one that lives beneath my heart this very moment. I am thankful for my family, our families, for all of the moments that make me grow, change, desire to be better for you, Lord, I a grateful. I just got home a little while ago after being with a sweet friend from Morocco that I met here in VA at a nearby park. Our little girls were playing in the sandbox together and we began talking that one, hot summer afternoon. Who knew that we would be at each other's homes, enjoying each other's kids, having our husbands meet? It was a sweet gesture of hers to have us over today, and as she said, "It is a win-win"-- our girls enjoy playing together and we have an enjoyable time just being together. After arriving home with two very sleepy girls after playing in the summer heat, eating a delicious Moroccan meal, and playing store with friends, I put them down for naps. Yes, we sang together as usual, and you, Pita, did your sweet singing mouth and wiggled your head back and forth to hit those notes. I love you. I am grateful for my girls, grateful for the simplest things as putting you to bed and snuggling with you. There can never be enough. Then, I came downstairs and tidied up a little before opening up this, the computer. There, in my e-mail I saw two beautiful notes: one from a very sweet friend and another from you, Caleb. My heart filled with gratitude for what you both expressed. How many things are in our hearts and we sometimes never express them. How important it is to do it, because it takes the focus off ourselves and calls a blessing upon another and also gives glory to God in the sense that it glorifies His handiwork, another person. Thank you for the love of those who surround me, who inspire me, who love me with all of my ways that need improvement. The other day, I was reading in one of my now-favorite books, because I truly admire this soul, Elisabeth Leseur who is up for canonization, The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur. Her writings are also frequently used as meditations in The Magnificat. In there, she writes: "Those whom we encounter in our earthly path often only see in the passing the outer wrappings of our being and go their way, confident of knowing us well enough. Let us be careful not to do the same with the companions of our life. Even in a brief encounter we can touch others' depths, or even more, achieve profound insight into that which is hidden beneath the appearances: a whole person, a whole life, of which others are completely unaware." How true. If we have a heart of gratitude and compassion how many stifling moments of fear, uncertainty, rash judgment, etc. would fall by the way side. For, beneath each one of us, there is much, much to be loved... God. Almost every night at dinner we try to go around the table and ask each other (yes, you, Pita, even ask us --in your own way!) what his/her favorite part of the day was. Madge, you frequently say, "My favorite part of the day is just...lovin' my family. And, my next one is just....lovin' my family." I love you. I am grateful for you all. This song and these pictures put a Smile on my face and make me thankful for you.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Random Phone Call

This evening Mary received a random phone call from a friend at our parish. The two had been in touch some time ago. However, as they're both in the last weeks of pregnancy, busy mothering and schooling children, and not geographically close, they had fallen out of touch. Anyhow, this lady called out-of-the-blue just to say hello and check in. What a thoughtful gesture! In this world of electric communication, nothing says personal better than the human voice (save a visit in person, of course!). It made me realize how important it is to pick up the phone. It's not enough to think of someone. (How will they know you're thinking of them?) It's not enough to poke them or text them. (Frequently, tone and intonation-feelings--are ambiguous.) Sometime the old fashion phone call can go a long way. Thanks for the kind gesture and reminder.

"I'm Okay, Thank You"

Since neither Pita nor the new baby are able to express themselves with words, it's a family tradition to put words in their mouths with affected voices. Pita is now of the age where she won't let us do it for her anymore. But we still love giving the baby a voice. So, when I come home, kiss Mares' stomach and ask the baby how his day was, Madge will reply with a shrill voice, "I had a good day, daddy."

On that note, I had to laugh during one of our prayers the other day. It was our morning prayer and I started out saying, "Thank you, God, for this day. We hope that you're well." At which point, Madge interjected in a deep, gruff voice, "I'm okay, thank you." I sure hope God has a sense of humor as a 3-year old impersonates his voice. In answer to my question of why, she replied that it's hard to hear God sometimes. Yup. It is hard to hear him: it's not that he's not talking but rather that we're not listening.