Friday, December 27, 2013

More summer pix--posted in winter!!!

Hello, everyone,
An unexpected blessing came at a time when I really needed it. That was the discovery of a petting zoo only five minutes from home and totally free. That was the time right after our move, the time when things were starting to go back to normal, but had not gone back to normal at all yet. As I always do, as I keep on doing now almost in the same way as I did before, I had asked my Mom for help. About one week before being called to Heaven, she had told me that her time was arriving--and that she felt she'd be able to help much more from Above because she was too weak and could no longer help me on this earth. Yes, that was my Mom. That is my Mom--a mother who placed motherhood ahead of everything else, even ahead of her own needs, of her own health, of her own well-being. She was a mother who, from the very moment she had learned she was carrying me, had stopped living for herself and had lived only as a mother first and as a grandmother later on.

Well, I'm getting off topic--but she is in our minds and in our hearts every single day, every single hour, every single moment, day after day and night after night. It was a time when finances were simply disastrous, at a much lower point than I could even believe it would actually happen to me. I didn't know what to do. Maximilian's first birthday at home was approaching. I knew Catherine had bought some very nice presents for him, but--what about his mama? Catherine wanted me to say that all present came from me, but I couldn't accept that. Wasn't mom going to buy anything for him? If only his sister could buy him birthday presents, he should know about it. I had done that before--and had spoiled the fun for everyone. Against Catherine's will, on Easter I had told the children that it had been their sister who had bought the basketball set for them. On Nicholas' birthday I had told him and everyone that it had been his sister who had bought the water and sand table for him, to play and share with his brothers. It had been the same other times as well. 

In response to my request for help, that petting zoo was like some magic brought back into our lives, some very easy getaway at almost no cost and demanding almost no time at all. 

And--not only that. My prayers had been answered. I won't claim finances to have even remotely gone back to how things used to be in the past--but at least were starting to go back to a lower normal than before, but a normal after all. My presents for Maximilian were not as nice, as expensive, or as big as the ones Catherine had bought for him, but I was able to get him some things he liked. On the very day of his birthday he'd need to go for an ultrasound. That was not a very fun thing to do on one's birthday--but the great news was that there was nothing blocking anything. I mean, there was nothing of any real concern to account for a little symptom that apparently was only related to poor care during all those years at the orphanage. That made the day for my older children and for me. For Maximilian, what made the day was something much simpler: two visits to the petting zoo, one coming back from Hasbro Children's Hospital and another one in the evening. Presents would be opened on Sunday, when Catherine didn't need to go to work.

I forgot to say something else that, at least to me, is extremely important about the petting zoo: it provides wondrous opportunities to take awesome pictures!!! Please see that for yourselves.

Stephen feeding a goat

Warren and Nicholas feeding a donkey

Thomas is feeding the donkey now.

Stephen's turn to feed the donkey

Lots of goats to feed

Gerard with Maximilian and Philip petting the donkey

The poor ducks are running away in terror--because of the cute little "terror" named Philip running after them, who would really like to catch them all and hug them tight one by one. That doesn't sound like something the ducks would enjoy, does it?

Please don't even look at the side of the house. I always took it for granted that my family and I would always live in much better looking houses than this. Yet, we're building good memories in this house--and we are starting to like Middletown (and, of course, Newport, which is right next to it). That Saturday morning our neighbors across the street had had a huge garage sale, and there had been a family garage sale at St. Barnabas, a Catholic Parish in Portsmouth. Things were looking much, much better, and that morning I bought lots and lots of items. Am I the same person who when Catherine was small would criticize mothers who bought things in garage sales or thrift stores for their kids. I used to think that a child of mine would never have any second-hand item. Then, as from a financial standpoint things started to change for the worse, I used to think that maybe Little Tikes and other plastic and fully washable toys could be the exception. Then I realized that clothes could be washed too. And--why not some decorations? After all, those were meant to go on the wall,, not to be hugged or handled. Why not some themed picture frames with inscriptions or legends matching the picture for which they were intended? I didn't want to buy second-hand stuffed animals--but some were simply irresistible. And--honestly, it was so much fun to look for hidden treasures! Yes, definitely God didn't want me to go throughout life on this earth without learning the countless lessons in humility that countless times both by word and example my parents and grandparents had uselessly tried to teach me. They used to have everything and every reason to be proud and yet they were humble. I was never able to make it and still always had the pride of what they had been. Well, Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, you can be at ease in Heaven: I finally learned most of your lessons. So, let me post and openly show off some pix of my kids' excitement over some of the many "treasures" I had brought home earlier that day.

Philip immediately ran to the car--and I was asking Gerard to get him with everyone else to pose for some pix first.

The sand-and-water table is not from any garage sale, but the one that Catherine had bought at Walmart for Nicholas on his birthday a couple of months before.

This solar system interactive game looks brand new. 

Maybe they are a little too old for that horse--but I couldn't resist it!!!

I couldn't resist that locket for my "little girl." She may be taller than me, a lead therapist for children with special needs, and a helper (and a doer) every single time . . . but to me she's still my "little girl."

It was the night of Saturday, 08/17/13. Catherine, the twins, and the five younger ones camped in our own backyard. I went outside to take some pictures, and then again trying to play a trick on them. In the middle of the night I'd approach the tent without saying one word, with different clothes, and with a piece of clothing covering my nose and mouth as a bandit's mask. Yet, I didn't succeed in scaring absolutely anyone. Boo on me!!!
In the picture above: Gerard holding Maximilian, with Nicholas to his right and Stephen to his left

In the back: Catherine with Thomas. At the front: Warren and Nicholas.

Getting ready to watch a movie

No, that's not a witch. That's my hair!!! With the flash it looks redder than it actually is.

From left to right: Warren, Catherine, Thomas, Nicholas, and Gerard watching a movie inside the tent

Catherine watching Philip as he rides his bike with training wheels

Oooops!!! He was laughing, though.

The electric car didn't seem to work, and Gerard is pushing Maximilian in it.

Gerard with Maximilian at the petting zoo

Look at that smile!!!


Philip before his first visit with the neurologist. Philip likes to be done anything any medical provider may do on him. He doesn't get scared at all. On the contrary: he even enjoys it!
Look at Maximilian standing up during a P.T. session!

We all have heard that "the best things in life are free." Without overlooking the much deeper meaning of that saying as it touches upon faith, love, selflessness, and togetherness, from a much more trivial perspective I can say that the Middletown beaches are an excellent illustration of such saying. The one for which parking is free is much nicer, much more accessible for the disabled, much safer, and much less rocky than its contiguous one, for which you have to pay parking. It looks like everybody wants to be with Warren, right?

Catherine decided she'd take Stephen to the water--all on her own.

It looks like Warren is playing a little trick on Maximilian, doesn't it?

You can see Gerard--and in the background, you can also see Warren pouring some water on Maximilian.

Run, Nicholas!!! Warren is throwing water on you!!! In the background to the left: Catherine with Maximilian. 

Catherine with Maximilian

Catherine and Warren with Maximilian

It's your turn, Stephen. Catherine and Warren are holding him.

What are you doing, Nicholas?

Philip is at the very beginning of his intended sandcastle.

Gerard is trying to make Maximilian warm.

Look at the older brother's love and pride in Gerard's eyes!!!

Stephen is floating.

Maximilian wanted to get sand all over him--and . . . what could be any more fun for Gerard?

Now Warren is joining in the fun. All you can see of Maximilian are his face and his arms.

Catherine is making sure that Stephen warms up after the water.

Is that Maximilian or some sort of "Sand Man"?

That's a very nice picture of Thomas, correct? P.S. If you disagree, you'll have to deal with me!

It's Back-to-School Bash at Philip's school. I rushed with Philip to the event right after being on the beach, where Catherine stayed with Warren and the rest of the crew. Gerard came home with me in order to help me change Philip in the blink of an eye and leave. Teri Croteau is an amazing teacher who loves Philip almost as much as if he was her own.

Another picture of Teri with Philip at the school barbecue

Nicholas with a P.T. at Vanderbilt Rehab Center at Newport Hospital, RI

Nicholas has an amazing personality and finds enjoyment in everything he does.

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