Robyn Barberry is the doting wife of her high school sweetheart, the mother of three precocious boys, and the art teacher at St. Joan of Arc school in Aberdeen.

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Thank you Robyn for so eloquently stating some of the obvious reasons this proposed ordinance makes no sense. I intend to be present at the council meeting on the 10th to publicly state my opposition.

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Your words are always so inspiring. I also spent 12 years in Catholic school and chose to give my children a Catholic school education. It is the best decision we have ever made!

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Unconditional

An afternoon with my Great-Great-Great Grandmother



Last Saturday, December 10th, 2016, my parents, Collin, and I visited the Irish Railroad Workers Museum on Lemmon Street in Baltimore for their Irish Christmas Celebration. Alongside the apple cider, scones, and Celtic Christmas ornament crafts, we received a tour of two tiny row houses, one of which represented an Irish family’s home during the 1860s. A family not unlike that of my Irish immigrant ancestors. And surprisingly, a family not unlike my own today. A family that could have been mine, not so long ago.







The Feeley family lived in a space the size of my living room and dining room (and my house isn't very big.) James, the head of the household, worked long, hard days as a boilermaker at the B&O railroad, while Mrs. Feeley raised the children and took in extra money by doing other people’s laundry over their hearth, hanging everything to dry in the small yard where their outhouse was.



There was no running water. Food was purchased at the Hollins Street Market, a short walk away. A winding, narrow, trepidacious staircase leads to the second floor. As I carried 5-month-old Teagan up and down the stairs, I thought for sure we'd stumble and meet a certain death. I wondered how Mrs. Feeley managed to make the trip upstairs and down carrying one of her children and laundry and water.The Feeley baby slept in a cradle in the parents’ bedroom while the older children shared a bed across the hall.



A simple ball and cup toy kept the children entertained.



The family worshiped at St. Peter’s Church, where the children attended school. (You can see it from their house. )



Not all of the children lived to adulthood due to diseases, such as cholera and typhoid fever, the latter of which was the cause of a major epidemic in Baltimore at this time. But, the Feeley family prevailed, like my own, passing along their heritage and their faith to future generations.

In 2016, I complain that my house is too small for my four children, my husband, our two cats, and myself. But, when I compared it to the size of the little house on Lemmon Street, I am amazed at how blessed we are. My husband works hard as a farmer, while I spend a considerable amount of time at home with my children. We have a spacious kitchen and an extremely efficient washer and dryer (though I STILL can't keep up with the laundry), as well as indoor plumbing. Our tap water is filtered. I have access to fresh food from all over the world at Wegman’s, but prefer to buy fruits and vegetables from my local farmer, Brad, in the growing season. Last year, I took a nasty spill down the wooden stairs to my second floor, but I survived. (I'm still apprehensive when I'm carrying something or someone.) Baby Teagan sleeps in a cradle beside my bed, while her brother shared a bed across the hall up until a few weeks ago when they got bunkbeds. The iPad is my boys' favorite toy. We are active members of our parish, St. Joan of Arc, where my son goes to school and I teach art. (We can see it from our house.) I pray every day for my children to stay healthy and live long lives. I am eternally grateful for the medical care we have available to us, particularly vaccines to prevent the kinds of diseases that took the lives of many children.

After visiting the Irish Railroad Workers Museum, I look at my household and lifestyle through new eyes.  What would my great-great grandmother say if she heard me complaining that the water in the shower was too hot because someone turned on the dishwasher? How would she feel if she saw me hydrating my flu-stricken sons with a magical potion called Pedialyte so that they could make a full recovery in just a few days? At the same time, how would she feel if she saw me walking my children to church on Sunday? My ungratefulness aside, I like to think that she would be proud. Our foundations on faith, family, and heritage have been passed down through the decades and preserved our Irish Catholic identity. Though modern conveniences, medicine, and workplace situations have changed, we should always remember where we came from and thank God for getting us here.

The Irish Railroad Workers Museum is located at 920 Lemmon St. in Baltimore and is open Friday and Saturday from 11 am - 2 pm and Sunday from 1-4 pm. I'd like to extend a special thanks to Luke and Cecelia for their hospitality and education.

December 17, 2016 10:23
By Robyn Barberry


3 beautiful Christmas songs you have to hear this season


If you’re anything like me, one of the things you like most about Christmas is the music. I have it on at home, in my classroom, in my car…pretty much everywhere I go. I love to hear popular hits like “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” and “White Christmas” (The Drifters’ version is my favorite!), but songs that focus on the true meaning of Christmas, Jesus’ birth, are my favorite. I sing “Silent Night” to my babies as they drift to sleep. I hum along to “O Holy Night” and “The First Noel” because singing is not my gift. I’d rather hear Josh Grobin and Pentatonix serenade me. But, there are three modern day religious Christmas songs that resonate with me the most. You may have never heard of them, but you should take the time to listen to them this season.

1. “Sweet Little Baby Boy” by: James Brown

We all know James Brown as the Godfather of Soul, who capitalized on the phrase “I Feel Good” with his hit of the same name. His funky vibe makes even the grouchiest sports fan stand up and groove when his voice blares through the stadium speakers. But, James Brown had a much softer side, which can be experienced when you listen to “Sweet Little Baby Boy.”

I first heard this song when Collin was a baby. As a new mom, I imagined the love that Mary must have felt for her sweet little baby boy. I had also recently experienced a resurgence of my faith and connected when James’ Brown says “He restored my mind” and “My mother told me this story…The greatest love story ever told.”

I like the soulful vibe and refrain of “Sweet Little Baby Boy” reminding me that Jesus was once like my sweet babies. It’s almost a lullaby. (From James Brown of all people!)

2. “Christmas Song” by Dave Matthews Band

Dave Matthews Band at the center of the upbeat, “Jam-band” music scene of the late 1990s and early 2000. (They’re still around and make for an excellent live music experience.) It’s a large band which features instruments beyond the normal rock realm of guitars and drums. There’s also a trumpet player, a saxophonist, a violinist, and a keyboardist. But, “Christmas Song” is a very simple masterpiece consisting of a combo of one gentle voice and two acoustic guitars.

This song stirs my emotions and invigorates my faith. It tells the story of Jesus’ entire life, reminding listeners over and over that no matter what happened, “his heart was full of love.” It’s an important message about His mission on Earth as well as His mission for us on Earth. And it started with a tiny baby.

I dare you to listen to this song without crying.

3. “Ave Maria” by Chris Cornell featuring Eleven

Yes, of course, you’ve heard this song before, but never like this. Chris Cornell was the lead singer of Soundgarden, a 1990s hard rock superpower from Seattle. Many music critics (including my brother and I) agree that he has the best voice of his era. He produces a unique and powerful sound. Every lyric he sings, he means, and there’s no greater version of that than his version of “Ave Maria.”

In this version of my absolute favorite hymn, Chris Cornell’s remarkable voice presents as an unexpected blend of mega rock star and opera singer. Rather than raging electric guitars and heavy drums, a traditional orchestra consumes the background to act as a meditative force so that you can focus your thoughts on Mary and Her incredible gift to us.

This beautiful song has stood the test of time and I was happy to locate a version that balanced both my modern and traditional tastes in music. Try it. I guarantee you’ll be surprised.   

 

You can find all of these songs on iTunes or Google Play. I hope you enjoy them! Please let me know what you think!       




 

December 09, 2016 04:31
By Robyn Barberry


Four Candles: An Afternoon with Sam Kauffman


Image result for sam kauffman christian
“Could you please be our candle lighter?” the lady with pale blonde hair before the altar asked.

At first, I thought she was talking about the sixth grade boy before me, but then it was clear that she was looking right at me.

The lady, who had just introduced herself to the middle school students and teachers of St. Joan of Arc School, was Sam Kauffman who was visiting us from all the way across the country in the San Francisco Bay area. She was invited to speak to our church and our school to celebrate the first Sunday of Advent with her presentation “Four Candles.” Ms. Kauffman is an internationally known Christian singer and songwriter. Some of her music is even used in prison ministry.

Ms. Kauffman’s presentation was brilliant and beautifully structured so that even my most precocious sixth grade boys were captivated. Her voice was crystal clear as she started us off with a traditional form of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

She told us the story of a broken organ in an Austrian at Christmas and how the music minister managed to compose “Silent Night” on the guitar, scrambling to transform the melody into an instrument that wasn’t his first choice.  It was a story I had never heard, and one which spoke of the idea that hope helps us to see possibility.

As the presentation unfolded, we (I) continued to light the candles as we listened to stories of the prophets (did you know that Jesus fulfilled 44 prophecies made about Him?) and the great preparations the world made and is still making for Jesus. Ms. Kauffman told a new Nativity story about the “Little Star” who didn’t have great gifts to offer the baby Jesus, but ultimately gave us his light.  

Her parting words have stuck with me most. She asked us whether we are a WAM or a WAY. WAM means “what about me?” and WAY means “what about you?” It got me thinking about my own plans for the holidays and how I need to be less selfish and more Christ-centered.

We were so honored to host Ms. Kauffman and blessed to have her share her gifts with us. I particularly liked her modern, upbeat version of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Her presentation was an excellent way to kick off the Advent season, in our church, our school, our homes, and our hearts.

Please check out Sam Kauffman’s website. She offers many more interesting presentations and music to enrich your spirit.

November 30, 2016 03:12
By Robyn Barberry


Making the Grade

Making the Grade

If you ask any teacher what they dislike the most about their job, I can practically guarantee you that the majority would say, “grading.” We’d rather be planning, or teaching, of course, rather than being strapped down to a gradebook, print, electronic, or otherwise.

In math and science or on multiple-choice tests, grading isn’t so bad. There’s always an answer key to act as the ultimate judge of right and wrong. But for people who teach in the humanities, like myself, it’s harder to decide who makes the grade. There is no black and white, only gray.

That’s why in Creative Writing, Drama, and Art, I’ve done three things to make grading easier:

1. I’m up front with my expectations, be it a rubric or checklist or a “Hey! Here’s the skill I’m looking for! If you show me you can do it, you get an ‘A!’”

2. I always offer second chances. Paint may not be forgiving, but I am.

3. I grade each student on personal growth. I start off looking where my students are, set small, measurable goals, and celebrate when they surpass them.

Then comes the tough part. Entering the grades into my online gradebook, PowerTeacher. Since I started teaching 10 years ago, the way we report grades has changed dramatically. I used to fill in bubbles with pencil on a dot matrix sheet at the end of the quarter. I had to write and send letters to parents when a student was slipping. Now, I easily glide through entering scores online and parents can view them right away. (The problem is I seldom sit down in front of a computer. An app would be nice!)

I’ve turned intense end-of-trimester grade entry into a positive experience by listening to music in the background and rewarding myself with a snack when I finish. I’ve also changed my attitude about the grading process by thinking about it as spending a few one-on-one moments with each student. I examine progress and choose comments reflecting that on progress reports. This is my chance to offer up a little prayer for each one of them, particularly focusing on some of the struggles I know they’re facing.

So, as the trimester wraps up for my Catholic school and college educator friends, I wish you the best of luck in getting through this daunting task. Crank up the Christmas tunes, have a cupcake waiting in the kitchen and remember that you’re offering each of your students a few minutes of your time.   

November 30, 2016 02:01
By Robyn Barberry


Mercy at work


On Oct. 17, I sustained a concussion when a metal fence collapsed on me. It brought with it a guy who was about a foot taller than me. It was a freak accident, but one that landed me in the hospital. I don’t remember much of the first week of my recovery. I slept while family members and friends took care of my children. I missed two weeks of work, which was probably the hardest part.

I don’t work an ordinary job in an ordinary place. I have the honor of being a Catholic school teacher at St. Joan of Arc in Aberdeen. My work is my second home and everyone there is family to me. While I stayed home and rested, other teachers and teachers’ assistants arranged to cover my classes so that the students were still getting their weekly does of art. They even planned on staying with me when I returned. Some of my school friends even helped me with getting Collin to and from school. One day he came home and said, “Everyone misses you mom! Especially me.”

Some teachers had their classes make cards for me. Some were funny, like the drawings of me that Lizzie and Seeley made for me. Others were beautiful, like the sweet scribbles annotated by our thoughtful pre-K teacher or the Halloween-themed card created by my student Roman, who is a cancer survivor.


One 8th grader made a tie-dye card and signed it from her entire family, with who I'm blessed to share my school and church life. Every picture and every message made me want to be back at school. Over and over again, I received messages that teachers, students, and their families were praying for me. How blessed I am to teach in a place where prayer is always welcome.

When I returned to school, I felt like an Olympian returning home for a victory parade. I was met with a receiving line of hugs, the first of whom was from my principal, one of the most caring and understanding people I've ever met. Even the big kids were glad to see me. One first grader wouldn’t let me go.

“I’ve missed you for years and years!” she shouted.

“Shh!” another girl said, “Her ears are very sensitive.” (As it turned out, our kind new librarian had talked to all the classes about my symptoms.) Even though I have a headache most of the time, I’m seldom bothered by the noises children make. In fact, the Kindergarten class sang a beautiful song for me. “It’s melt your heart,” a little girl said. It did.

“How are you feeling?” an upper school teacher asked.

“I’m getting there,” I said. (It’s my go-to response. I hate to complain, so I think it’s a nice way of saying “I’m not at my best, but I'm trying.”)

“I know you’re probably getting tired of us asking, but we do it because we love you!” she said.

I was definitely feeling the love, but I was feeling something else, too: mercy.   All of these kind deeds were acts of Mercy, which is especially important as the Year of Mercy draws to a close. There will always be time to pray for the sick; to sing to them; to send cards, letters, and artwork; to help ease their transitions back to school; back to work; and to God’s kingdom.

November 02, 2016 05:17
By Robyn Barberry


Driven

We’ve all heard the saying, “Life is a Highway.” While some people might claim they want to “ride it all night long,” there are many of us frustrated by delays and accidents on our daily commutes and long adventures. Sometimes the road overwhelms us to the point where we need to sojourn to a rest stop and catch our breath.

For me, the quick moments of prayer and hour-long Mass I attend on Sundays are those well-needed breaks from the highway of my life. Being able to “pull over” and collect my thoughts and redirect myself is essential for giving me the energy to sustain the long haul.

But, what happens when I miss my exit and I drive too many long, hard miles alone? I steer off course. I am lost. My ability to handle the frustrations of my ride dwindles, and I find myself swerving into other lanes, broken down on the side of the road, or crashing. If I’m having a bad week, I stop and look to see if I skipped Mass on Sunday or haven’t been injecting my days with prayer.

The good news is that I can always find another place of respite in God’s love. And he offers free 24-hour maintenance. Just like I can pick up the phone to call AAA, I can check in with God at any time, remind myself of my blessings, and petition him for my needs.

Before too long, I’m on the road again, rejuvenated and ready to handle the obstacles ahead of me. I can roll down the window, turn up my favorite upbeat song, and relax knowing that God is my G.P.S.  

September 29, 2016 10:32
By Robyn Barberry


It’s FUNdamental!



On most Friday nights, you can find the Barberry 6 relaxing at home, watching the Orioles or playing Kerplunk. It’s too hard for us to find a place that’s fun, affordable, and accommodating for our 3 boisterous boys and newborn girl. So, when I heard that FUNdamentals, an early learning and activity center in Forest Hill, was having an Olympic-themed event the whole family could enjoy, we signed up right away.

The owner, Natalie Henry, was a classmate in my high school’s “Working with Children” program, which gave students who were considering becoming teachers and day care workers the opportunity to experience firsthand what it would be like to teach preschool-aged students about colors, numbers, letters, and social skills. I remember Natalie being a standout instructor. Everyone wanted to be in her group. She’s creative, upbeat, and burning with energy, which are some of the most important characteristics to have when working with very young children. Natalie usually runs daytime and evening classes for kids from ages 18 months to 5 years, but she’s recently added themed events for the whole family on one Friday night a month.

At 5:30 pm on 8/26, Natalie warmly greeted my two friends, myself, and our combined total of seven children at the door of FUNdamentals. The lobby area was full of bright colors and festive red, white, and blue “Olympic” decorations, including a stage where the “winners” could pose with their medals at the end. Beyond the lobby was an enormous space (bigger than my house, for sure) full of moon bounces, a train table, a ball pit, hippity-hops, and tons of balloons. The little guys ran around on the cushy mat in socks and bare feet. There was so much to do that no one got into an argument – not even my Frank and Leo.


After about half an hour, Natalie very gently sang a song to gather the children around her so she could whisper the instructions to them. She was like the Pied Piper when she led the bigger kids off to a separate, smaller area to do some coloring and a toilet-paper tube and tissue paper “Olympic torch” craft and the little guys to a circle time exercise. They sang some silly songs, including one about sticking bubble gum to various parts of their bodies (the hair had to be the worst!) and played a few games.

The grand event was the series of activities and obstacle courses Natalie set up and demonstrated. There was a balance beam, some “weight-lifting,” basketball, and several other games to keep big kids and little kids engaged in a little fun Friday night competition. Even the adults got little chalkboards to “score” gymnastics.


As the petite gold medalists (they all were, of course) left the arena, Natalie made sure they took photographs at the photo booth and brought home some prizes – glow sticks, kites, anything and everything that could make a kid feel like he or she was a winner. (Even I felt victorious for finding a great place for my family to spend a Friday night --- for a grand total of $25!

While Natalie was acting as ring master, I took the time to talk to her family, who had all come to support her in this big new venture. I learned very quickly that she has always been gifted with children and that owning a place like FUNdamentals was always her dream, but that because she had children of her own, she wasn’t sure how she could balance working at home and running a business. When this place came on the market, she took it as a sign from God that it was meant to be…but she proceeded with caution for fear of having her heart broken.

When I asked her about it, Natalie said, “I’m trying to teach my children not to pray for selfish things. It was a test for me not to ask for this business to be mine. Instead, I asked for God to be my guide, to light my path, and I would follow.”




Natalie runs FUNdamentals with the mind of a natural teacher and the heart of Christian woman. There is no doubt that God made her for this wonderful place and this wonderful place was made for her. All of us left with our spirits uplifted.

We can’t wait to visit again this Friday, September 16th, at 5 pm for Super Hero Night! It’s $10 per child or $25 per family and people of all ages are invited to join in the FUNdamentals at 2211 Commerce Drive in Forest Hill, MD 21050. Hope to see you there!  

September 13, 2016 12:21
By Robyn Barberry


A letter to my baby – on my first day back to work

Dear Teagan,

For almost a year, we have been together. First you lived inside of me; then, in my arms. I haven’t left your side for longer than a few hours since the day you were born. On Wednesdays when your brothers were with your grandmother, I had you to myself. You’d nuzzle up to me in your carrier while we shopped for groceries. We were almost as close as when you were in my belly and there was no one else in the world but us. That was our time. No one can ever take those early days away.

Now, it’s time for you to share me with the rest of the world. Today is my first day back to work. It’s my first day being without you. But, it will be okay.

I teach art to kids in a small Catholic school so that I can provide nourishment for our family and for my spirit. My job could never bring me as much joy as you have in these past six weeks, but if I’m going to be away from you, I may as well be doing something else that I love. When I’m not your mommy, I’m Mrs. Barberry. And I like having both of those names. 

I can’t carry you around all day while I teach. You'd be too heavy. You'd get messy. And, you’re so cute that my young students wouldn’t pay attention to me. The girls would coo over you and comment on your outfit like you were a runway star. Most of the boys would ignore you, unless you spit up. (They'd probably like that.)

My students would compete for my attention, too, because I can’t stop gazing at you or smelling you or kissing you or brushing my fingertips across your rose petal skin. When I’m at work, I need to focus on my students. But, from time to time I glance over at the photographs of you and your brothers on my desk. They remind me that I’m working to make a better life for you. (It especially helps when my students are acting up!)

Your picture is all I have of you today. The one of you draped in my wedding dress and veil on my desk and the one I took of you yesterday in the coral dress my students’ mom made for you. (It’s the picture I’d share with my coworkers when they asked about you.) I snapped one last picture of you in your pajamas before getting you dressed.


 


I drank in every drop of you, Sweet Tea, before your Daddy loaded you up for a fun day at your Lovey’s. I kissed you goodbye as Daddy walked out the door. The second he closed the door, I cried, just as I did for each of your brothers. Even though I knew you were heading to another place where you’d be held close and surrounded by love, I wished that I could be the one to share the day with you. I breathed in the milky smell of your pjs (the ones with the little teal and purple birds on them that your brother’s teacher gave you.)

Throughout the day, I kept checking the clock and counting the hours until we’d be together again. Your grandmother sent a picture of you to my phone. It made me smile and boosted my energy. Before I knew it, the workday was over and you were back in my arms. I asked about your day. You hummed and purred. That will have to do for now.

As much as I wish I could be there for every moment of your life, I can’t. Sometimes the only place where I can hold you is in my heart. I know I’m going to miss some milestones. You may say your first word to a grandparent. A babysitter might be the first witness to your first go-round on a bike. That first tooth might fall out when you’re in someone else’s class. But, I will be there when you need me instead of someone else. I’ll read to you. I’ll listen to you practice your recorder (but only if I can wear ear plugs). I’ll wait for hours with you at the MVA to get your first license. I’ll cheer as you walk across a stage. I’ll sob when you down that aisle. If you call, I’ll always pick up the phone. And I’ll never stop praying for you.


Love,

Mommy




 

 

August 29, 2016 02:05
By Robyn Barberry


Great expectations: The secret to every successful relationship


While Patrick and I were preparing to be married, we attended Pre-Cana classes with Kevin and Gilly MacNamara. During one of our sessions, Kevin revealed to Patrick and me the secret to any successful relationship (especially marriage): clear expectations.

When meeting someone new or intensifying an established relationship, you can prevent conflict and hardship by finding out what the other person expects you to do and not do. At the same time, you let that person know what you do and do not expect to happen between the two of you. Then, you follow through. 

This rule has helped Patrick and me to have a very happy marriage, with minimal disagreements. Chores are spilt up, financial boundaries are established, and parenting decisions are agreed upon and mutually unforced. This philosophy has also helped me to get along better with other family members, friends, colleagues, and students. I’ve even started teaching Collin about the importance of meeting other people’s expectations, starting at school. “It’s a new year, with a new teacher, and new rules. Your job is to keep us your end of the promise, so that she can teach and you and your classmates can learn.”



Today, Collin started second grade in Mrs. Amato’s class at St. Joan of Arc School. In addition to being Collin’s teacher, she is also my colleague. She gave an excellent presentation at a faculty meeting last week about PBIS (positive behavioral intervention systems), or rewarding students who demonstrate expected behaviors. By informing students of, exemplifying, and modeling school rules, teachers make it easier for students to do the right thing.

We all laughed when Mrs. Amato described her method of teaching church etiquette. When the church is empty, she has half of the class stand before the altar, facing the congregation, and the rest of the class slouch, yawn, whisper, and otherwise fiddle around. Then they switch. “That’s what Father sees when he’s giving Mass,” she tells them.

Mrs. Amato even has a bulletin board describing what students should and should not do in her classroom. On the first day of class, she will go over each item with the students. She offers examples of how students can demonstrate our school’s expectations, “respect, responsibility, and leadership” by “using a quiet voice,” “using time wisely,” and “volunteering to help,” to name a few.  There are even morning and afternoon procedures and a protocol for keeping their desks organized. Mrs. Amato's students will have no doubts about the dos and don'ts of second grade.

Students will earn Class Dojo points and other incentives for exemplary behavior and negative consequences for failing to meet expectations. By using a rewards system, students become conditioned to make good decisions that will have a positive impact on the classroom climate.

When Collin gets home from school, we will talk about Mrs. Amato’s expectations, what they are and why they’re important. We will also develop some rules and routines at home that are fit for a big-kid second grader. Ultimately, more freedom, more responsibility, and more expectations will lead to more success at home, at school, and in life.  

August 29, 2016 10:43
By Robyn Barberry


Godparents: chosen by God


I wish I could say we thought long and hard about choosing godparents for each of our children, but it’s simpler than that. Before our babies are even born, we know instinctively who we will choose. It’s almost as if God whispers their names in our ears and we respond, “Yes! He’s the one. Yes! She’s the one.”

In keeping with Catholic tradition, our children have always had at least one Catholic godparent, often a family member. Most importantly, godparents are people who demonstrate the values we wish to instill upon our children. They work hard in their daily lives to make the world healthier, safer, kinder, closer, cooler, warmer, and brighter. They lift our spirits whenever they’re around.

We always wait until after our babies make their way into the world before asking the godparents if they’ll take on this special role in our child’s life. Sometimes it’s a picture frame. Sometimes it’s a card. Sometimes it’s over a nice dinner. But, this time, we couldn’t wait. So, when Teagan’s godparents came to visit us in the hospital, we had to ask right then and there if they’d guide our daughter on a life long journey of faith. After all, they’ve stuck with God through some crazy twists and turns.

Carrie and Buddy are our first godparents who are a couple. I’ve known Carrie since birth (she’s my cousin). In fact, we even attended preschool together at St. Michael’s Overlea.

Carrie (L), Katie A. (M), Me (R)


She continued there, but my family moved away. We stayed close by visiting each other often and spending two weeks together each summer on vacations we’ll never forget. During her senior year at Institute of Notre Dame, Carrie became pregnant. She chose life, and her boyfriend, Buddy, chose to stick around.

My family fell in love with Buddy from the moment we met him. Friendly and funny, he hardly seemed like the typical tough guy police officer. But, he worked hard to graduate from the police academy and put on the Baltimore County Police Department uniform.


(Side note: Over the past year, Buddy also trained hard for an obstacle race and triathlon with Patrick and some other family members.)

They were married in 2001. Carrie and Buddy now have two children whom I absolutely adore. They work hard to send their daughter to Catholic High and their son to St. Michael’s. On the baseball and softball diamonds, Carrie and Buddy are their biggest fans. Unless, of course, you factor in two sets of loving grandparents, my Uncle Tom and Aunt Judy and Buddy’s parents, Cliff and Kathy. Because of them, Carrie and Buddy have learned how to be great parents.

Part of the reason we think God led us to Carrie and Buddy as godparents is because we can learn a lot from them about being good parents, ourselves. They relentlessly ensure that all of their children’s physical, mental, social, and emotional needs are being met and refuse to give up. They ask for outside help when they need it. They go on fun outings together to amusement parks and concerts. They even open their homes to their kids’ friends, including those who live far away and need a place to stay for a week.

Even though their children are getting older, Carrie and Buddy keep their family close to each other and close to God. They’re models of caring, models of faith, and models of what it means to be good human beings with kind, gentle hearts. That’s what we want Teagan to learn from them.



It’s funny that Carrie was visiting when I was pregnant with Teagan and she said she wished she had a little baby girl to dress up. I already know that I wanted Carrie to be Teagan’s godmother, so I laughed a little bit on the inside. Of course, Carrie has already spoiled Teagan with dresses and bows, but more than that, I know that she will teach her how to be a woman of Christ. Lord knows, she teaches me.      


August 26, 2016 11:58
By Robyn Barberry

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