Monday, August 21, 2017

The Triplets Are Here!

I have  big news!  About little people!

Last night, son #4 and his wife welcomed their triplets into the world!  Mom and babies are doing well so far!  As of yesterday, Braveheart had made it to exactly the 32-week mark, which was the goal her OB/GYN had for her at the outset.  And yesterday the contractions started, right on schedule.  (Already, those grandchildren of mine are proving to be very obedient, very much rule followers.  And smart, too; they must have realized that even the day before would have been too soon, so they waited until all was just right!)

My husband and I were not there in VA when all this was happening--we're in NY right now.  But last night, one of my other VA daughters-in-law, Preciosa, took a photo of one of the triplets being transferred from the delivery room to the NICU.  She got off the elevator and saw this medical team, and she excitedly asked them, "Is that a Pearl baby?!"  And it was!
The babies were delivered by C-section.  The first one out was the larger of the two boys, Baby A, who weighed in at 4.277 lbs. (18.25 inches).  He was born at 7:30 p.m. The second and third babies were both born a minute later: first, the only girl, Baby B, who weighed in at 4.211 lbs. (17.5 inches); and then the smallest of the bunch, Baby C, a boy who weighed in at 3.02 lbs. (16.2 inches).  That third-born triplet was the one the doctors were initially worried about making it at all, because at the beginning he wasn't growing; early on, they had prepared our son and his wife for losing him in the womb (in what they call "vanishing twin" syndrome, I believe).  But the little guy proved what a fighter he is by surprising everyone and growing like a weed.  So many people were praying for those babies, and indeed prayers have been answered tenfold.

My daughter-in-law is something else, I'll tell you.  She has looked glowing and happy throughout this pregnancy, suffering absolutely no morning sickness at all; and this is how the new mother looked not long after the C-section:
Don't these two wonderful kids look happy?!?!?  I love them so much.  And I know I'm going to love those tiny babies.

I have pictures of the triplets, but until I find out how their mommy and daddy feel about having them on social media, I'm not going to share them.  Suffice it to say that they are three of the eleven (so far) cutest babies you've ever seen in your life.  (And in November, that number will jump to twelve.)

And now it's time to pack, because guess where I'm headed?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Seven Quick Takes: Blog Business, Baby Boy Bonnets, and Books

So I haven't done one of these link-ups in a while.  But I need to play a bit of catch-up here at the blog, so I thought this was a good way to do it.


First things first.  Just so you know, I'm still a blogger.  Yes, it's true: I still blog--but not nearly as often as I used to.  I mean, for the first few years after I started String of Pearls, I would write and publish posts daily; but it's been a while since I was that prolific.

And also, I must take this opportunity to apologize for neglecting all the nice people who have left lovely and heartfelt comments on my posts in June, July, and August.  (It's been a very busy summer!)  So if you were kind enough to stop by and leave me a few words in my combox, and you were wondering why I didn't have the courtesy to respond, you can go back now and see that I have re-read all of your messages and replied to them.  I probably don't say this enough (maybe I've never said it?  If that's the case, I'm sorry!), but it truly makes my day when readers connect with me.  I can't tell you what it means to me to have people, most of whom I've never met, praying for me and my family.  God love you!


So now that we've established that I'm a blogger, I have to tell you how excited I am to be attending the CWBN Mid-Atlantic Chapter's 2017 Blogging Conference at Ana Hahn's house on August 26.  I am so excited (and also a tad nervous) about meeting--IRL!--all these women whose blogs have entertained and inspired me.  You don't have to be a famous or widely-read blogger to attend this conference (at least, I hope that's true--or I've made a huge mistake signing up for this!).  You just have to be a Catholic (check!) and a blogger (check!), so I will be there with bells on!  The fact that this event (or as Ana has called it, this "par-tay") is going to be held in Front Royal, VA, just under an hour's drive away from our new house down there, is just one more reason--among many, many others--why I'm glad to call Northern VA my new home.


Thanks to all who have offered prayers for my mother's health.  As of now, her surgery to remove one of her kidneys has been postponed while she deals with chronic UTI's and various other issues, including general muscular weakness.  She is currently infection-free and growing stronger daily in a rehab center in VT.  We hope that she will be able to have the surgery soon and return to her assisted living home across the lake in NY, strong and cancer-free.


Also, thanks to all who have prayed for the triplets my #4 son and his wife Braveheart are expecting, possibly any day now.  She has been in the hospital since 30 weeks, due to a scare that they thought would end in an emergency C-section; but as of today, she and the babies are doing very well.  She will be 32 weeks tomorrow, which is HUGE; and they may decide to let her go to 34 weeks, unless of course she goes into labor before that.  Continued prayers would be much appreciated for Braveheart and those wee ones (two boys and a girl).


My #2 son's wife Ginger is a huge fan of the Beaufort Bonnet Co., and she's a sucker for a baby bonnet.  She just gave birth to a second son in June; but the fact that her children are both males has not discouraged her from purchasing bonnets for them.  (My son, for his part, thinks boys should wear baseball caps rather than bonnets; but he and his wife have reached a compromise on the issue:  by the time they are 18 months old, his little guys are no longer allowed to wear anything but typical "boy hats."  Daddy has laid down the law.)

I just have to share some pictures of these two brothers in their dapper headware.  If you formerly agreed with my son that bonnets are suitable for baby girls only, I think these images might change your mind.
Oh my goodness, are my grandchildren the cutest things you've ever seen, or what?  (Rhetorical question, obviously.  Do not bother to answer.)


Speaking of grandchildren, this fall, our oldest son's wife and four daughters will be living with us temporarily, while he finishes up his airline training and they search for a house to buy in VA.  (Yes, that's right: as of January 2018, when son #1 will begin a new job as a pilot flying out of D.C., all four of our married sons and their families will be living within an hour of us!!  Now we must pressure encourage our youngest son to move to VA, too, when his Army obligation has been completed!)

Our firstborn and his wife are homeschooling their girls, and this year the twins (6) will be in first grade.  I am excited to find out as much as I can about homeschooling networks and resources in Northern VA at the CWBN conference--yet one more reason I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to attend.


I am way behind on some assignments I've got to finish--reading and reviewing a couple of books by Catholic authors that I was given in exchange for honest reviews.  But for some reason, I've had trouble reading books lately, especially non-fiction works, and have taken to reading short articles and Instagram posts instead.  So that's part of the reason I'm procrastinating with those reviews. But also, I think I'm just going through a rather arid patch when it comes to writing.  (Thus the blogger's block that I've been battling for quite some time now!)  I did, however, read a novel recently, on a last-minute flight down to VA the day we thought the triplets were going to make a premature entrance. (I purchased it at an airport book store right before I boarded the plane, because an engrossing novel has always been the best medicine for me when it comes to forgetting that I'm sitting 30,000 feet in the air.)

I highly recommend this book, an extremely well-written debut novel by an author I hope will write many more.  It was a page-turner.  If you like Kate Morton's books, this one's for you.
Well, that's it for me.  Now over to Kelly's to see what other people in the Catholic blogosphere are up to.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Who's Got It Better Than We Do?

My husband and I are spending the summer in our old hometown in Upstate NY, working hard at being the caretakers/cleaning crew of our Oyster Haven VRBO lake house (and my husband is commuting to work from here).  So today, on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I got to attend a noon Mass at my childhood parish church.  And then I stayed afterward to pray a group Rosary.
We moved to this wonderful town when I was 10, and I went to the Catholic grade school just across the street from this church.  This is where I went to Sunday Mass every week as a kid, but it's not where I got married.  My husband and I actually exchanged our wedding vows in his parish church across town--the one that was connected to the Catholic high school we both attended.  We thought it was apropos to get married there: seeing as how we'd met at that high school and started dating when we were 15, that church seemed to be more a part of our story as a couple.

But the church I was in today was where we gathered in November for my father's funeral Mass.  It's the first time I've been back inside it since he died.

Both of these churches that are special to me are just breathtakingly beautiful, but I thought I'd show you some pictures of the one I was in today.  I had forgotten just how glorious it is; my goodness, it rivals many of the ornately beautiful Catholic churches I've had the privilege to visit in Europe, when I've tagged along on some of my husband's working trips.

How's that for a feast for the eyes, on Our Lady's special feast day?  You could almost believe you were in Heaven, couldn't you?  (And these iPhone photos don't even begin to do it justice!)  Is there anything more beautiful than the inside of a Catholic church such as this one?  Don't answer that, because obviously the answer is an emphatic "No!"

When I am present for the Sacrifice of the Mass--surrounded by beauty such as this, hearing the soothing sound of the voices of the faithful solemnly joined in prayer--I often think of something I heard about the Harbaugh family.  When well-known football coaches Jim and John Harbaugh were growing up in their close-knit, loving family, their parents had a phrase they used all the time.  "Who's got it better than us?" Jack and Jackie Harbaugh would ask their kids.  "Nooo-body!" John, Jim, and their sister Joanie would answer.

Well that's how I feel about being a member of the Catholic Church, the best family on earth, and having this Woman as my Mother.
Truly, who's got it better than we do?  NOOO-BODY!  That's who.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Please Pray for the Triplets (and Their Bravehearted Mommy!)

I am asking you, dear readers, to pray for my daughter-in-law, Braveheart.  She is 30 weeks pregnant with triplets (two boys and a girl), and this morning she woke up bleeding and had to be rushed to the hospital by ambulance. 

It turns out that one of the amniotic sacs had ruptured, so until the babies are delivered (it could be either within days or within weeks), she is going to stay in the hospital where she can be monitored.  She was given a steroid shot to help the babies' lung development, should they arrive too soon (32 weeks was the benchmark they hoped she would reach in order to ensure the safest outcome).  But so far, so good--praise be to God!  All three babies have strong healthy heartbeats.  They are little fighters.  In fact, early on, the smaller of the two boys looked like he wasn't going to make it, and the doctors told the kids to prepare for two babies instead of three.  But he rallied and grew like crazy and is now within ounces of the other two, doing just great.  Like I said, they are fighters.

And my Braveheart is a fighter, too!

She is the wife of my fourth son, and is in every way the perfect mate for him.  They are both very intelligent and cerebral, and they can talk about scientific or philosophical topics all the livelong day.  But they also share an offbeat sense of humor and an appreciation for little-known cartoons and kid-friendly video games.  Their children are going to have two very fun and interesting parents.  I can hardly wait to see them in action.

Here is a picture of my sweet girl, the soon-to-be mom of three, at our house last Christmas.  She was celebrating after scoring her dream present--a Pikachu costume--in our first-ever family Yankee Swap, as her hubby and her beloved doggies looked on. (She would not learn that she was pregnant with her first child[ren] until about a month or so later.)

Isn't she a hoot?  My boy adores her, she adores him, and we adore them both.  We can hardly wait to meet their three tiny angels.

Please keep Braveheart and her wee ones in your prayers.  Thank you so much!!

Monday, August 7, 2017

My Baby's New Blog!!

My baby boy (he's 24 now, but as long as I'm living my baby he'll be) just created a new website called The Layman's Movie Corner (Where Philosophy, Film, and Faith Find a Home), and I'm so excited about it.

He plans to use his own little corner of the Internets as a forum for reviewing newly released movies, which he'll watch through the lens of his Catholic Faith--thereby making it a forum for talking about two of his greatest loves: movies and Catholicism.  To say that I am proud of this young man is an enormous understatement.
Here is a little teaser from his site (which currently includes a couple of blog posts and will also feature, in the not-too-distant future, not only more posts but also podcasts), an excerpt from his "About Me" page:

While the majority of my development into a functioning, moral human being came from my Catholic upbringing, movies have always been there to fill in the gaps, or even more accurately, help me apply my Catholic principles and viewpoint to tremendous stories in which the morally correct answer may not be immediately evident......That, and movies are just so dang entertaining and helped develop my sense of imagination and wonder growing up.

To put it all into a nice, easily-digestible package, I'm just an average Catholic struggling his way through sin to, hopefully, live a moral life immersed in grace who also happens to love talking about movies. My hope is that this project will allow me to combine these two great loves of mine into something that you might find entertaining, inspiring, informative, or all of the above.

(You can read the full "About Me" post here.)

We are all meant to give glory to God in our own unique ways, depending on our God-given talents and gifts, our interests and abilities, and most especially, our particular vocations in life.  Why not, then, through movie reviews?!  Isn't this the greatest idea for a truly original blogsite (said my youngest son's mother in her not-at-all-biased humble opinion)?!  Couldn't it fill a void for the Catholic movie-goer who's never sure which films are worth the time and which he should avoid?  It could fill a niche, I think; and as I said, I am just so excited about the whole thing.

My youngest son has always been fascinated by movies and the magic that goes into producing them.  I think this started with "The Lion King" when he was about one or two.  But his deep love of movies and movie-making really blossomed and flourished when we let him watch a short film called "The Making of Jurassic Park," because he was obsessed with being allowed to watch that PG-13 movie at a much younger age than his brothers had been allowed to watch it--he was always trying to play "catch up" with his heroes!--and we didn't want him to be traumatized by the much-too-realistic dino attack scenes.  He couldn't get enough of that behind-the-scenes look at Stephen Spielberg's groundbreaking blockbuster.  He wanted to be the next Spielberg--that was his big dream.  In third grade, when they had a "Career Day" at school, he said that he wanted to be a movie director when he grew up.  He actually directed a short film to show his class that day, using his Jurassic Park toys and the stop-motion filming technique he'd learned (with me as his videographer), and he called it "T-Rex T-rouble."  (This short film is actually fairly impressive for a third-grader and still exists for posterity on a VHS tape that I will keep forever!)

I can't think of a better way for my movie-loving boy to spend his free time while he's stationed overseas than building his new website; and it is my dream for him that he will be "discovered" online, that his posts will go viral and someday, he'll be able to actually make a living from the movies, about which he has always been so passionate.  And what a beautiful (and unexpected!) way for a layman like him to give glory to God.