Monday, December 22, 2014

Advent 2014

It has been awhile since I posted any updates on what is going on here.  We have had a very difficult past two weeks.  I had a miscarriage at 9-10 weeks into my fourth pregnancy, and now we are all battling bad colds.  It is the worst feeling when you feel like crying over the loss of your baby but making yourself hold back because of the intense sinus pain that you know would only be made worse by tears.

We named the baby Mary Karol.  I had a dream that the baby had been a girl.  We found out that there was no heartbeat on December 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mary) after an ultrasound I got in the ER, knowing something was not right.  Then the miscarriage began on December 15, the feast day of St. Mary di Rosa.  So the name Mary seemed very fitting when put with my dream.  I still don't have a definitive feeling on the gender of the baby, and the middle name Karol sounds feminine in our culture but is actually a male name in Poland and was the name of Pope Saint John Paul II.  My family has Polish Catholic heritage, and he was the Pope when I was born.

I am so grateful to the people who have helped us... this is already a busy and complicated time of the year, so we have needed the support.  My mom came to stay with the girls when I had to be hospitalized overnight after passing out during the miscarriage.  Our friends from church took the girls both times when I had to go to the ER and fed them dinner.  Another friend took care of the girls and drove them to their dance classes for me as well as bringing us dinner, and one of our neighbors offered to bring us a meal this past weekend.  Having meals made for us has been truly the best thing... it has been one less thing we have had to manage.  My wonderful husband has been holding us together otherwise, being the only one not struck down by this cold.  He has been doing Christmas baking and keeping everyone fed on the days he has been home from work.  My brother who is a transitional deacon has also been very helpful in looking into how to best go about with burial of the remains of the baby... we want to respectfully do something that is in line with our faith.  Other than the specific things people have offered to do for us, having other moms tell me about their own miscarriages has been so helpful.  It seems that almost all of my friends have been through this at least once.  I am sad that any of us have to go through this, yet it makes us all feel less alone when we realize how common this situation really is.

Please pray for peace for our family at this time.  I took several photos of how our Advent was going before this all began, so I am going to share some of those now... as I sit under the influence of this cold while my kids watch yet another movie, ha.  Movies have been helping to get us through the sadness and sickness.

Our advent wreath before lighting it on the first Sunday of Advent... and Mary and an angel.  We put our main nativity set figures around the room and have them travel gradually to the stable.

Our three kings wait to make their move after Christmas, so they will arrive on the Epiphany, January 6th.

Our baby Jesus stash... they hang out in a sugar bowl until Christmas day, when they are placed in their corresponding nativities.  We also have two play nativity sets, and those already have their baby Jesuses and kings so the kids could play out the whole story of the nativity.

My mom started this Fontanini kid-friendly nativity last year... it looks very nice, but the figures are a durable resin type material.  They are constantly being rearranged, and the grass stuff is all over the floor, ha.

Cecilia and Lucy enjoying the play nativity sets

Some of our Advent and Christmas books... we have been reading at least one each day

The sacrifice manger has been getting filled with straws to make baby Jesus a nice soft bed... each time one of the girls does a good deed or makes a sacrifice, she can place a straw in the manger.

Each day we have been doing a reading from the Old Testament on one of Jesus's ancestors and adding an ornament to our Jesse Tree (Jesse was Jesus's 24-greats grandfather).  Last year another mom hosted a Jesse Tree ornament swap online, so we made 30 of one ornament and then mailed them to her, and she sent everyone a complete set!  I love that we have a handmade set of these to use each year!

The girls made St. Nicholas cookies for his feast day on December 6 and we shared them at our homeschool group as well as with some neighbors.

Lucy loves wearing the Christmas Snoopy apron

The girls got up on St. Nicholas morning to find treats in their shoes... holy cards, clementines, chocolate coins, and a few new Christmas books.

Then we had our traditional St. Nicholas breakfast: bread shaped like a bishop's crozier filled with cream cheese and jam, clementines, and hot chocolate stirred with mini candy canes (croziers!).

Our priest has been wearing purple vestments most of December... Lucy is learning to put the vestments on according to the liturgical calendar.

St. Lucy day was on December 13, and since it is Lucy's name day, we always do something special to celebrate... the girls wear their St. Lucy crowns, which is a custom on this day in Sweden, and we bake Santa Lucia bread in a wreath shape like the crowns.  They have fun blowing out the candles afterward.  Chris and I were sort of glad to be able to come home from that ultrasound and make the traditional St. Lucy bread, to do something normal for our kids and our family, while waiting for the miscarriage to begin.

The girls decorated a gingerbread house recently... I always buy one of those kits on clearance after Christmas and then save it until next year.  That way I can tell them not to eat it because it is too old, ha.  They usually decorate it on one of the days getting close to Christmas on which the O Antiphons are prayed... one day the prayer is, "O Key of David, and Scepter of the House of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts and no man opens; Come and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death."  So they build a house to represent this antiphon.  Yesterday's antiphon was O Rising Dawn, which speaks of light... we typically go out on a drive to look at Christmas lights on that evening, but with everyone feeling so awful with colds, we put it off and are hoping to go maybe tomorrow night instead, if we are feeling up to it.  Chris and the older two might be well enough, but I know Lucy and I wouldn't last long.  I am praying we are mostly over this by Christmas eve.

 Cecilia decorated some gift bags that we will fill with some treats to give to friends and neighbors for Christmas.  I have a huge stack of old Christmas cards for crafts... some were given to me randomly and are from unknown people.  Funny thing, one card was a musical one from 1995, according to the date in it, and it started playing when I opened it... and it wouldn't stop.  It played on and on for days.  I was very impressed with its battery life, and it was almost sad when it finally stopped (after sounding quite pathetic as it died down) because it had become part of the background in our house, ha.

I hope everyone has a merry Christmas season and that you have some time of rest with family and friends.