Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: looking back and hopes for a new year

Narrowing 2015 down to nine pictures was hard. A lot of good was left out. But these nine probably sum my heart up pretty well. 2015 hit us hard. HARD. It has hands down been the most difficult year of our lives and we are entering 2016 with a lot of hard, still, but are praying that as the days pass and we get further into the new year, the hard becomes easier and our days are filled with more and more happiness. A dear friend picks a virtue for each friend for the upcoming year; mine was fortitude {mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation, courageously} I remember her picking that for me last year and thinking, “Fortitude?! Really? I know life is tough, but this seems a bit much.” Well, NEVER in a million years would I have EVER thought I would need this virtue like I did this past year. Earlier in the year we found out scary news about our sweet baby that had not joined us yet. I thought that was where the whole fortitude thing came into play and I thought to myself, “Ah, yeah that makes sense. I am going to have to be stronger than I ever knew I could waiting to make sure my precious babe would make it and survive!” Then came May. Well crap. That knocked all the “hard stuff” off the grid. I lost my father-in-law and it pretty much beat down every single member of the family. I will never forget that absolute awful day. Our lives are still incredibly difficult because of that and will continue to be for a long time. And from May until now, “fortitude,” has never been so important. That little surprising word I received in January became my lifeline. And then came July. While we were already feeling so weak, our little Button arrived WAY too early and small. Our days and nights were filled with visits to the NICU to be with him. We didn’t know what his future was going to hold so we cherished every single minute of it. Through it all, I kept that word in my mind, having faith that even though this was another tremendous struggle, we would get through it. Back shortly after my father-in-law passed away, the Hubs developed a health issue, which months later would be come more and more serious. It has been something that has been a daily struggle for him, and for our whole family. It is something that will follow us into 2016 and something that we are trying to find a solution to every single day. {keep him in your prayers!} We thought his Dad's passing was a huge blow to him, and then to have this health issue to process has been too much to feel like we can accept some days. 

Now it is New Year’s Eve, and I am reflecting on the good, the bad, the joyful and the HARD. The hard that made me rely a lot on that important and so significant virtue. - Top row: My father-in-law called me up on a Wednesday and asked if we’d be up for a trip to Charleston to meet them... on Friday. My answer? "Hell yeah!" And I could never be more thankful, that even so spur of the moment with three kiddos, that that was my answer. Little did we know, it was the last vacation we would spend with him and it was a GOOD one! When Mami and Papi visited us in April, one of the last nights, our whole family went to eat at our favorite little spot and it ended up being our last meal all together. It may not be a perfect picture, but we were all together and that is what I hang onto. Our first and last vacation as a family of five. The boys loved the beach. Zelie didn’t know what to think of it and my soul was energized in my very favorite place. Second Row: The news was spread that our little David was going to join us in the Summer. And that middle picture. Darn that middle picture. There is nothing special about it, but for some reason it is the picture that hits me hard to this very day. It’s raw to me and all my emotions of losing my father-in-law are felt in it. I took that picture the day or day after we arrived and seeing the four of them standing there, trying to get through our family tragedy, just pierces me. And then my Button. He came early and oh so small, but healthy. He was with us, and I had faith that he would thrive! Bottom row: After a month in the NICU, our tiny, tiny boy would come home and we would be together as a family of six. David’s journey still continued with surgery, a time that also brought a lot of hard for me. It is NEVER easy to see a loved one hurting or in such need. And to end my nine on a happy note, our first trip as a family of six. We were finding the smiles amidst our new hard. 2015’s word is easily “HARD.” We had a lot of it to get through and are still finding our way. 

While we are prepared to carry some of these difficulties with us into 2016, we are looking forward to moving past some things and trying to embrace health and happiness on a whole new level. We will continue to suffer the loss of our Papi, we will continue to find help for the Hubs health issue, but we will look for the good, the happiness of our everyday. We are hoping to make some fun changes for the kiddos and for ourselves. I'm looking forward to a fresh start to simplify, find a better routine for our family, make some changes to add more time for prayer. I'm hoping this can be a serious fresh start, a fresh and new step in a good direction. 

2016 also brings my 30th birthday. While there will be no grand celebration, I do hope it is a memorable year, in a good way. I am looking forward to my thirties and I hope I can grow in my areas of weakness in these years, spending my days being a better wife, a better mother... filling the moments with more virtue than I have held thus far. 

2015, if you didn't bring my sweet baby boy, I would despise you with every bit of my being, but I am thankful for that blessing and I am thankful for the strength God gave us to get through these hard days, even though most days it felt like we were hardly getting through it. 2016, bring on the GOOD!!! Bring on more smiles with the kiddos and less tantrums. More date nights in and out with the Hubs. Some family getaways. More prayer, more health, more love. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

generation three is coming!

It all started with these two, decades ago. 

These two sweet ladies, Mare and Deb, were the best of friends for most of their lives. My sweet Aunt Mare (on the left) passed away after battling ALS and my precious Mom now lives with the memories they shared.

Almost thirty years ago, their friendship passed down to a new generation. My dear friend, Jillian (the cutie in the blue dress on the right), and I (the baby) have had a sweet and beautiful friendship, even stronger as we are adults, like our moms were.
 And now we are both married (to these cute guys, who are just as similar as Jilly and I are) and between us, baby five is on it's way! My sweet Jilly is having a baby GIRL! Our sweet Zelie and her sweet Baby F will now be able to have a whole new generation of love and friendship like their moms and grandmas.
I can't wait for her baby girl to get here so I can spoil her and love on her like her momma has done to all my kiddos.

Jilly and I live states apart and rarely get to see each other, but we keep in touch as best we can with the distance between us. She is so dear, so fun, such a pick-me-up to my bad days. She has a spirit just like her mom, so full of enthusiasm, joy and love! I know she will pass that to her little girl as well. She will be the best mom, because she had the best mom to show her how to love.

I can't wait for the years to come with our kiddos' (all of them) friendships growing like ours did.

Monday, August 3, 2015

momma mondays: meet button

Our sweet little "Button" is here and doing so much better than I anticipated. He is three weeks old today!

We knew our little guy was going to be joining us a bit earlier than his August 24th due date, but I was not expecting it to be as early as it was, July 13th. I went to the specialist on a Thursday and was supposed to see my doctor on the following Monday, but on Friday morning she called me and told me rather than my regular appointment on Monday morning, I would be having my c-section! He didn't even have an official name, other than Button! 

But he's here and he does have a real name! 

Meet David Pio Agustin, aka Button

When my father-in-law passed away back in May, Button still was just Button. We had not thought of any names, first or middle. But within a few days after he passed away and my mind was thinking again, I knew I wanted to name him David. I just didn't know when I could bring it up with my husband to see if he was okay with it and liked the name. While we were up there over the three weeks, he came to me and asked if we could put David in his name somewhere and that is when I asked him if he was okay with naming him after his Dad, using David as his first name. He really liked that and wanted to be sure I didn't feel like we had to name him that. I knew we didn't have to. But I really, really wanted to. So from then on, he was almost officially David, but we didn't tell anyone. We didn't talk about names again for the most part for a while. Our minds were elsewhere with everything going on. In my heart, Pio, after St. Padre Pio, was tugging. It's not the actual name that I love, but more the meaning behind it. As soon as I found out about David's condition I started to lean on Padre Pio, for my worries and his health. And I was blessed twice from that day on and each priest, without knowing of my prayers to Padre Pio, blessed me with his relic. We went back and forth with other names and nothing hit us real well. The night before he was born, the Hubs kept looking through the lists of thousands of names online and we were still back and forth. I still wanted to put Pio in it because I knew he really was a big part of David's journey. After he was born, we knew he was David and then the Hubs said to me (I think in the OR still) that he thought Pio should be his middle name too because David was born so healthy. It was kind of a confirmation to him, to us, that St. Pio was Button's little patron. And the Agustin was a no brainer. Each of our boys has an English and a Spanish name in their name, and each boy has Agustin somewhere in his name so I wanted to carry that on to him. 

David was born weighing only 2 pounds and 8 ounces. So, so tiny. But he was incredibly healthy. He did not even need a minute of breathing help. Everyone was stunned at how healthy he was and how little "help" he needed. He was born strong but tiny, a fighter for sure. 

He has grown so much in the past three weeks and now weighs 3 pounds 9.7 ounces. I'm hoping at the rate he is going he hits the big 4 pounds by the end of this week. 

Thank you all for your prayers for him and the support you have given our family. Though he is healthy and doing so well, it has been a very tiring and difficult time for our family so we appreciate all of the love we have received. If you would like to follow along with his sweet journey, you can follow him at @teambabybutton on Instagram!

Monday, June 29, 2015

momma mondays: baby button

Life has certainly thrown a lot at our family lately. A lot. Honestly, somedays it is more than I feel capable of handling. From the terrible twos to the passing of my father-in-law and everything in between. And then we found out that our sweet boy was not quite up to speed in his growth rate and that there were some complications to monitor. Normally, I would go into complete and utter panic mode. I am a worry wort to the core. I worry about things my kids will do in their teens. They are not even three yet. Not being hysterical with worry and anxiety is a complete miracle in and of itself. Of course I'm on the edge of my seat at each appointment for the latest news and I've left with tears in my eyes at a few of them, but all in all, St. Padre Pio is totally holding me up here with "Pray, Hope, and Don't Worry." He has been my lifeline through it all. 

I have been so weak and broken from losing my father-in-law and trying to help my husband deal with life without his dad, and then adding on the incredibly tiring days with our three little ones right now, that maybe all I can be is strong through this. But it has certainly been hard. I will continue to have bi-weekly appointments with two doctors up until "Button's" arrival. They will monitor the issue and at one of those appointments they will pretty much just tell me it's a go. I may have no warning as to when he is coming, whether it be this week or in four.

Chances are, even though his scheduled arrival date is supposed to be August 24th, he will be showing up even within the next few weeks. So if you all would, please do us a favor and pray that things don't continue to go downhill and that our littlest guy can stay inside as long as possible. We are gearing up for a long road and learning what life in the NICU will be like, but hopefully with all of the prayers, he won't need to spend as much time as I am preparing for. If any of you have experience with a preemie/NICU baby, please send any tips my way! 

So many people are so kind to us, asking how things are going already and if there is a way they can be updated along the way, so I created an Instagram account. I think it may be the easiest and quickest way for me to keep everyone updated. Feel free to follow along at @teambabybutton and #teambabybutton

We will know more in the days and weeks to come as to what life will be like and when he will be arriving and I will try to keep everyone as updated as I can there. And as for my blog... Oh, how I do hope to keep up with this some how and in some way. But please continue to be patient with me as we figure out what is next for us. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

a beautiful, hard day

Today brings beauty and joy, but yet pain and sadness for all of us, but especially my husband. It is our first Father's Day without his Dad with us. We all so greatly miss him and still cannot figure out life without him. My husband will have to experience balancing the sadness with the great joy of being a father himself. And an amazing father he is. One of the last things my father-in-law said to me in person when he was visiting and in a text a few days before he passed away, was how proud he was of my husband and the father he is. To me, that is one of the greatest joys to know. I was so thankful he shared that with me and I was sure to share the thoughts of his dad along to my husband.

Today we will all be remembering each of the men in our lives that have been father figures to us. Our own fathers, our fathers-in-law, our grandfathers, godfathers, and any men that took on a role of a fatherly figure to us. I am so blessed with an amazing Dad who is an endless giver and a real man of faith. I had two grandfathers that meant the world to me, one passing when I was young and one just a short time ago. And a grandfather still with me, that I was overly blessed to receive when I met Gus. He loves me just like his granddaughter and I love him equally... or maybe more! ;) I have a godfather that brings so much joy, love and laughter to me and I am truly blessed he is mine. My father-in-law will be held in an incredibly special place in my heart as well. He was much more than just my husband's father. From the first times I was in his company, even before any talk of Gus and I getting married, we had a sweet bond. He brought me so, so much laughter and joy. And today, I remember my husband. Our children are truly our greatest gift and I am beyond blessed to raise them with him. 

Our days have been hard lately. Parenting. Life. Loss. All of it. But together, we can get through it all, with love and faith. And I do thank God each and every day that my little ones have the Papi that they do have. They adore him with every ounce of their being. Zelie has the biggest crush on him and our little "Button" will follow along with the others I am sure. He means the world to them now in their young ages, but they don't even quite know the amazingness that he truly is to have in their lives. They will learn that clearly later in life.

I thought I'd share a few recent pictures of Gus and the kids. These are what make my life so full. I am so thankful I have memories like these captured.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

surviving the unimaginable

You always think you won't be the one that tragedy hits. At least I thought that. Sure, hard things happen and life gets hard. But those really hard, tragic times. No, it'd never happen to us. Please God don't let it be us. But one month ago today, our family was hit with the greatest tragedy I hope any of us ever have to go through. 

My father-in-law passed away very young and very unexpected. I will never ever forget how that morning played out, the moment my brother-in-law called my husband to tell him, watching his reaction out the window while he was on the back deck, running out to see what happened, and taking the phone from him talking to my mother-in-law. I will never forget any of it. And from that moment until today, one month later, life has been beyond hard. Completely unimaginable. I can't wrap my mind and heart around it and many days I feel like it is not real and somehow he is just gone or away for right now.

I fear the future for our whole family. My mother-in-law, my husband and his brother, my kids, myself and my sister-in-law. Life is going to be so different. There will be no more memories with him in it. I've only known him for seven years. Seven way too short years. But some how, he filled those seven years with so much love and kindness and so many memories for me, that I too felt like I lost a lifetime of love. Sure it in no way compares to the feeling of loss my mother-in-law, husband and brother-in-law, but my heart still aches with incredible pain. 

My little guys only had 2 years with him and Zelie less than a year. He knew about Button and was so excited for another grandchild. I am so, so grateful they were all so close with him and loved him so much. There was no one quite like their Grandvater. Some of us worry they won't remember him, but they are smart little ones and by us telling them about him and reminding them of the memories they made with him, they will know who he was. 

My mother-in-law, though completely broken from his loss, is the strongest and most faithful lady I have ever met. In HER time of complete grief, she was our rock of strength and our pillar of faith. She is amazing and never failed to blow me away during the three weeks we spent with her. I pray that if I were ever in her shoes, I'd be half the woman she is in dealing with the tragedy.

Watching my husband grieve the loss of his dad has been heartbreaking and a tragedy in and of itself for me. Helping him walk through these difficult weeks has been so incredibly painful for me. I don't have the best words, I can't do anything to take the pain away or even lessen it. There is absolutely nothing I can really do to help the situation. I try to wrack my brain for any ways to help him, anything to lift his spirits. But sometimes just being there, so he knows I'm here but have given him the space is what I have to do. He may need to talk to someone other than me, or hug someone other than me. That is so hard for me, but whatever it be that he needs, I do. 

We have lost a husband, Papi, Grandvater, son-in-law, and brother-in-law. He was a blessed man to be part of our amazing family, but we were each blessed to have him so special to us. Please keep his soul and our family in your prayers, but especially our Mami, my brother-in-law, and my precious husband. And If any of you have dealt with a loss so painful and have found helpful ways of getting through each day with this new, hard normal, please pass along your suggestions.

I love this picture of the two of us. It was the night before I married his son. We were family long before, but you can see the love and happiness in our eyes. I loved being family with him. And I will always love our memories and keep them tucked in a deep place in my heart. And I will share every ounce of that love and those memories with his "anklekinder" grandkids. We will drink milkshakes and sit and talk about him. We will dance to Taylor Swift. We will browse Swarovski stores. And we will watch silly YouTube videos. We will always love you, Papi.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Momma Mondays: I'm Back!

I've been gone for a long time, but I was gone for a reason. 
Yep! We will be a family of six comes August! Life has been c r a z y! A newborn, two two year olds, morning sickness and first trimester exhaustion. I wish I could get my mind in order enough to be back on a regular basis, but it may still be a bit off and on. Bear with me if you would. I just wanted to come back today, as a fresh start in June to let you know CiaoMarezy was still alive. 

We will have four children under the age of three when our little "Button" comes. Baby four has been affectionately named "Button" by the boys. The scary thing. It's sticking. But there is no way we are going with a celebrity-like name. Apple, North, Button... Nope. We'll share soon whether we are having a boy or a girl, but I have a feeling Button will remain it's name for a while.

I really can't wrap my mind around the fact that I will have four such young children. Four kids doesn't scare me at all, it's the fact that our two oldest will not even have celebrated their third birthday yet! A few people have said, "Oh, three is a lot harder than four! You'll be fine." But my oldest isn't going to be a helpful seven year old and the one under isn't five. I'll have two soon-to-be three year olds, an almost one year old and a newborn. If any of you have littles so young and close in age, I welcome any tips! 

While this is going to be one wild ride, we are so excited to add to our family! Hopefully sooner than later I will figure out this crazy life and get back on the blogging schedule! I certainly miss it!