What I like about you…

AKA: The Half that makes me whole part II
Ken has been going through some old papers recently-cards, mementos, receipts-back from when we were dating. I keep encouraging him to throw them away. Most are letters from me to him and they are embarrassingly gushy. A lot of mushy, mushy, I love you “forever and always” type of stuff. He was reflecting earlier that often times in his past relationships there were “I love you forever” moments, but this time it was for real.
It’s not that I’m not still head over heels in love with him. Just ask Sara Lynn how often she catches us “mooching.” It’s just over the top. For example, take this excerpt from our first Valentine’s Day together: “May our future bring us closer together and may our love grow into a beautiful flower.” And that is one of my milder lines.
But, despite that, here I am again, writing to my babe. Talking about how happy he makes me and what a wonderful husband and father he is. I guess I just can’t help myself.

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Dear Ken,
After that last post I was thinking, did I accomplish my goal? Did I explain to my readers why you are my best friend? I spent a good deal of time conveying what an awe-inspiring husband and father you are, but I’d like to take a few minutes to make sense of what I like (love) about you.
Let’s begin with this morning. You were up and ready to rumble getting us out the door for sporting events. First, Jenna’s 8:00am soccer game and then onto Mark’s flag football game. Not only that, but what a team we make in getting these kids to and from practices. You are a champ to jump in and let me know you’ll be off work in time to run around and pick them up, even after working all day.

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Next up, Dates with Dad. You make sure every month come heck or high water you spend time with our kids. I love that ever since Megan was 5 years old (and with each one turning that magical age of five) you’ve taken her on a date once a month. I love that you teach our daughters how they should be treated by a young man and teach our young men how they should be treating women.

And then, there is you and me…and how we’ve been dating since October 19, 1990. I look forward to every Friday night and our Holy Hour of Adoration together while the kids have Youth Group and then our little snack after. Not only do I get one on one time with Jesus, I get some precious alone time with you.

Speaking of church, from the beginning, you insisted that we attend Mass together as a family. Even when our “family” was just you and me. Now a days, thanks to you, we were able to, as a family, complete the Five First Saturday Devotions. You also lead us in making sure we attend Mass on First Fridays as well.
Of course, there are also confessions and our perpetual Fifty Four Day Rosary Novenas. And I love that you listened to the promptings of the Holy Spirit when it was suggested to you that we renew our consecration to the Blessed Mother, just in time for the 100th Anniversary of the Miracle of Fatima.
And don’t even get me started about an Openness to Life!! “Whatever you want, baby” began as a cute catch phrase during our engagement. Who knew it would also be the mantra of our marriage and little bundles of joy?

Homeschooling with you as my partner, not to mention-principal, has made my job smooth as silk. I certainly appreciate you doing school prep with our upper grade students and keeping the entire class (and teacher!) accountable for their work.
I love that you listen to me, for your ability to follow along with a story that weaves its way around like a plate of spaghetti. I love how patient you are with me, especially when my money tracking book is unmanageable, again, and even though you are an accountant you never criticize me for my ability to not subtract two simple numbers. I love that I can come to you for anything and how you always seem to fix my problems. I love how much fun we have together: the laughing, the teasing, the inside jokes.
I truly do love you and will continue to do so “forever and always”-even if it sound like a common cliché.
Your adorable Boo, Laurie

The Half that makes me Whole

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When I was about five years old I went up to my mom one day and staring at her with my big brown eyes asked her a very important question:
“Mommy, who is your best friend?”
She promptly answered, “Your dad.”
“Eww,” I responded. “Daddy can’t be your best friend! Girls have to have girl best friends and boys have boy best friends,” I explained. You can see I thought a lot about this.
Growing up that conversation never left me. And although I loved my dad dearly, I couldn’t understand how this grumpy Italian could be anyone’s best friend. But I’m glad he was my mom’s.

I, too, am married to my best friend. If you know me for five minutes you’ll know I also have a best “girl” friend, Haylee, but I don’t think she’ll mind if I talk about my dear husband. Ken might mind because he’ll read this post and in humility say, “Wow, she’s got a great husband. Wish I could meet him.” That’s just one of his best features.

Let me walk you through a typical day in the Shepardson Household. The alarm buzzes at 5:55am. I don’t hear it. I never hear it despite needing to be up by 6:00 to get Sissy ready for school. But Ken does. He gets up and immediately kneels at the foot of the bed to begin his day in prayer. Then he rubs my leg to rouse me to greet my day. On most days he encourages me to pray the morning offering with him even though I’m not ready to speak yet. Then he gets ready for work.

Ken NEVER misses a day of work. Okay, he has at least 11 times while I’m in the hospital giving birth to one of our children. But really, he never skips work. He takes his role as a provider very seriously. And, yet, when he’s not at work, he doesn’t bring it home. He doesn’t worry about it. Doesn’t fret. He used to bring his laptop when we went on vacation but he doesn’t do that anymore either.

When he does get home, he goes into dad mode. After sliding an LP onto his record player he enjoys one of his classic rock albums while he serves the family dinner and leads us in prayer. I’ll admit, praying to Led Zepplin is sometimes awkward.

After dinner he works on kitchen clean up. He is a master dishwasher loader!
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The best part is he’s around to make sure the kids do their work. This is huge!!

After dinner he’ll read some mail and pay some bills. By 8:15 it’s time to sit down to read and pray. One night he’ll read from the Bible, another evening may be a catechism lesson. Also, he has a novel or saint biography that he adds to the rotation. On Thursday evenings we review the readings for the upcoming Mass on Sunday.

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Ken even reads to us while we’re on vacation.

After reading we pray the family Rosary, with dad keeping us on track, even when he dozes off, err, I mean while he’s deep in meditation.

Before retiring for the night we send the kids to bed, Ken writes his plan for the next day, and we settle down to watch a TV show, enjoying some us time.

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Stay tuned for The Half that makes me whole, part 2!

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Aaron Robert Augustine

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It’s been seven plus weeks now. I figure I should introduce to you our latest addition. Here is baby Aaron, born July 16, 2017, the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Maybe he’s going to be a Carmelite. Craig says he’s going to be a baseball player.

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Craig is quite the baseball fan!

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Aaron is an easy baby. Doesn’t cry much. Doesn’t spit up. Takes a pacifier. But what is truly remarkable about Aaron is he shouldn’t be here. I know I keep harping on my age but really, women my age don’t typically have babies. Daily I whisper in his ear, “You are a miracle-God has a plan for your life.”
I am truly in awe of God’s goodness. Why did he choose to bless us again? I mean, if He had come down and asked Ken and I if we wanted another one we both would have said, “No” or maybe even, “NOOO!!!”. Maybe, just maybe we would have said, “No, thank you.” But, “Yes!”?? Um, that’s not where we were.

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So, why did God choose to bless us again? We, who are so selfish? Because HE is good. And He has a plan. And even though we don’t deserve it we get to be a part of that plan. God has a plan for Aaron’s life. He has a plan for your life, too. Can you see it?

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25 Years and Counting

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June 20, 1992 we said, “I do.”
Ken and I never should have gotten married. Actually, we never should have started dating. When we met, some 30 plus years ago, I was a 17 year old High School Senior and Ken was a 22 year old college graduate. I didn’t have many boyfriends, and rarely dated. Ken had a lot of female friends, and had been involved in several serious relationships. We weren’t even friends. At best we were acquaintances…he was just some guy I knew.
Four years later, we were still involved with St. Nicholas’ Youth Fellowship. Only, by now, I was 21 and had just completed by AA degree at the local community college. I was accepted to Franciscan University of Steubenville and was eager to go away to college. Thanks be to God, we couldn’t afford it. Because, if we could, I wouldn’t be here today.
That September (1990) Ken had just gotten out of a bad relationship and decided he just wanted to date. I had hesitated that night about going to Youth Fellowship. Perhaps I needed to be “done” helping out. What did I really contribute anyway? But, as it turns out, I had nothing else to do, and so I went. Good thing, too. That was the night Ken started flirting with me.
It was awkward…He kept asking me all these questions, “How come we’ve never gone out?” “We should go out to dinner.” “What kind of food do you like?” Etc.
Um, does he “like” me? Do I like him? Do I want to go out with him?
As I mentioned, I didn’t go out much. I thought it would be fun to go out on a date.
My dad was super excited. Ken was 26, Catholic, and he still went to church. Well, most of the time. But Daddy didn’t need to know that part.
Our first date was on October 19, 1990, a day we still celebrate. We would have gone sooner, but unbeknownst to me, Ken had already lined up two other dates, with two other women.
He was fifteen minutes late picking me up and during that time I developed butterflies in my stomach, which was weird, because, um, why was I so nervous? “Did I like him?” I questioned for a second time.
That evening he took me to a nice restaurant, Maxwell’s By the Sea. I do wish I had been in a cocktail dress. But when I asked him previously where we were going he said he wasn’t going to tell me. Hmm, why so secretive? Then I asked what I should wear. He responded, “California Casual.” (To this day my beloved will insist he said, “California Dressy,” which he did not. And since it is MY blog, I get to tell my version of the story…)
Anyway, ratty tennis shoes or not, I had a wonderful time. We talked, and talked, and talked. And when he brought me home that evening I thanked him and gave him a big hug goodbye. Cause, that’s what we did. Only I didn’t kiss him, so Ken thought we were “just friends.”
I went inside, closed and locked the door, looked in the mirror and said, “I could live like this for the rest of my life.”
Once dear one realized I was attracted he was more interested in pursuing a relationship. None of his friends voted for me. They thought one of the two other women he was seeing would suit him better. But, fortunately, I had the Holy Spirit on my side. And within a month he stopped seeing the other ladies and put me on the two year plan. We would date for a year, get engaged, and then marry a year after that. Did I mention I married an accountant?
So, when I said we never should have gotten married, that was from a human perspective. God had a plan for our lives. God STILL has a plan for our lives. And here we are, 25 years, and almost 11 kids later. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But wait, there’s more…

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My husband and I have 15 children. I’ll let that sink in for a moment. Ten of them are roaming the earth; four are in Heaven; and one is still brewing in the pot. Of those we have the privilege of raising we have five boys and five girls. Hence the name: Going to Overtime. Our tie breaker will be here in six short weeks. For the past three years I’ve been telling everyone we were done. Sara Lynn was born two weeks before I turned 45. I mean, women that age didn’t have children, did they? And here I am again, having just celebrated by 48th birthday and pregnant. Wow! That’s insane. Well, maybe. I consider it a miracle. And so to give the Glory to God I have created this blog spot to share with you that ordinary people can do great things. Not that I’ve consider myself to have done anything great. Just that God has chosen to do great things through us. So, get ready, get set, let’s Go to overtime.