Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Day 2014


For the first time in years, maybe ever, I didn't write an annual Christmas letter to go with our cards. Aniston missed reading it, so the first day of 2014 is as good as any to write my annual reflection on the happenings of our family.

I entered 2013 with great optimism about things. We had a good rhythm to our household and routines, and I planned to focus on keeping that momentum. It had been more than three years since we said goodbye to Jude, and I genuinely felt peace about our family size. Early in the year, I learned we were expecting our sixth baby!

My business, Trendy Traditions, saw explosive growth in 2013, requiring many hands to help fill all the orders for sacramental celebrations in the spring. It has been affirming to see the business develop during the past four years after pleading in prayer for a way for me to be home with our children. God's providence for our family in such a tangible way!

Joseph continued his service to the state legislature as director of House Bill Drafting. It was our first legislative session with him in that position, and nothing could have prepared any of us for the demands of his new role. From Christmas through May, he is totally unavailable to our family, working all waking hours. It helps to explain why none of the prior directors to hold that position had children. Since the spring is also my busy time, life was very complicated in the first part of the year.

Even with his work schedule, Joseph managed to squeeze in time to volunteer as Miles' Cub Scout den leader and to build a new website for the pack ( From the moment we learned that we were having a boy, Joseph has looked forward to sharing Scouting with his sons, and it is a highlight for them. Joseph also completed a five-year dental treatment plan, and now has a brand new, healthy, and amazing smile! His volunteer work on the pack website also paid dividends for my business, with Joseph building a new website for me (

Aniston had a year of remarkable changes. After spending nine years at the same school with the same friends, she completed eighth grade and moved on to high school. She's attended her first homecoming dance, attended a college night (What?!), begun preparation for Confirmation, and received her driving permit after turning fifteen! We are experiencing the natural separation that begins in high school, where she is becoming an adult and no longer a child―needing guidance and advice but eager to make her own decisions. It is new territory, but we are taking it one day at a time.

Miles is still all about Scouts! He attended the pack's trip to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. Since it was during Joseph's busy season, Miles' uncle Floyd chaperoned, and being retired from the U.S. Navy, he especially enjoyed the trip. Miles won first place in his age group at the pack's Pinewood Derby and was excited about moving to the councilwide competition where he placed second. His imagination is as vibrant as ever, and he currently loves reading Greek myths. Now that he is in second grade, Miles is making his First Communion preparations and is a little nervous about his First Reconciliation.

Ander loves to perform! Whether it is dancing for us after dinner or singing in the shower, he isn't worried about doing it right or a perfect performance. He just enjoys putting on a show. He keeps us in stitches with his witty comments and cute descriptions of things. He also has a knack for storytelling, which provides much amusement for Joseph and me. Ander's genuine heart is a shining spot in our family! He turned six the day after Christmas and enjoys kindergarten with the same teacher he had for preschool. They moved up at the same time!

Genevieve definitely provides the spunk in our family! She has a big personality and is not afraid to express it. The only girl in her class with curly hair, she's already asking if she can change it to straight. I hope she grows to embrace her unique bouncy locks! Genevieve's desire for precision has helped her enjoy ballet this year. It's been helpful to have her own activity outside of wrestling with her brothers, which seems to be her favorite right now.

Conrad Anderson Gillespie entered the world on Thursday, September 12 and has breathed air into our family where we didn't know we needed it. It has been something to behold, watching the older children fall in love with their new sibling. Conrad is an absolute joy, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to be home with him, my first child where I didn't have a return date to an office. Much love, much healing, and much peace.

Every year when I finish writing this letter, I'm reminded of all the little moments in between our milestones―play dates with cousins and friends, the first day of school, spring break at the beach, and many more. And then there is the outpouring of love and generosity―birthday parties, meals after having a new baby, and Conrad's baptism. THANK YOU for sharing this incredible journey and walking with us in faith and goodwill. I sincerely love keeping up with so many friends on facebook and other social media and hope to do more catching up in person this year.

God's peace and blessings to you and yours in 2014!



Thursday, August 8, 2013

Theme Thursday: Statues

It has been on my heart to return to blogging and when I saw a link-up at Cari's, I knew this was my chance to dip my toes in the water again.

I received this statue, Our Lady of Hope, from my sister and nieces as a gift to celebrate our new baby who is scheduled to arrive in five weeks from today!

It was earlier this year that I was first introduced to this depiction of Mary and I fell in love with her. My sister knew none of this, of course, but Our Lady likes to surprise us like that. :)

Check out the other statue posts linked up at Clan Donaldson.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Why I Love My Wife ...

Joseph surprised me with the post below. Even though we missed the link-up, I'm tickled that my husband, who writes all day for a living, took the time to jot down some thoughts in this space.

On this Saint Valentine's Day, I am happy to appear as a guest on Melanie's blog following Joel's example from The Practicing Catholic's event: Why I Love My Wife.

I am reminded of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's famous poem, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways..."

1.  She is a daily image of Christ in my life. With her patience, her forgiveness, and her passion, she truly lives out the vocation of marriage and family. Especially when times are challenging, I can count on her to be the face of Christ to me. That is my greatest support and foundation and helps keep me from falling, as I know I would without her.

2.  She is called to her vocation. Melanie lives her vocation with a passion. She is an excellent mother. Even when I had doubts about the financial realities of her leaving her full-time employment to be at home with our children, she persisted. It was the right decision for our family and the right decision for our children. She definitely puts our children above her own concerns. It's not martyrdom, but a glorious example of having divine priorities.

3.  She helps me be a better man. Without Melanie, I would certainly fall away into darkness, a life focused on work, career, politics, and nothing of greater worth. She keeps my compass pointed in the right direction, helps keep our relationship with Jesus at the forefront with our relationship and children right behind. In short, she helps me keep my priorities straight.

She is truly beautiful. Inside and out, Melanie is truly beautiful. She is radiant in her kindness, thoughtfulness, and empathy. She reflects the light of Christ in all her relationships and endeavors and I count myself lucky to be loved by her, and I often do not feel deserving of her grace.

5.  She is the love of my life. I love to be with her, talk with her, share time with her, and to be her partner is this journey of life. In fact, we feel that we have precious little time to be together. From the demands of work, to the rigors of family life, it is so difficult to set aside enough time to be husband and wife. Melanie, I love you and every day while we are apart, I miss you.