Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Yuletide!

Here are the kiddos on Christmas eve, just after we got home from mass, and just before we ate dinner and put them to bed. Needless to say, we snapped about one of these happy pics

for every five of these fussy pics.

We didn't travel this year, the first time since we've been married, which was a huge load off. Thanks to family who came to us and made the holiday much less stressful and much more enjoyable! It really was a fabulous Christmas, pink tutus and all.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Smile at Christmas!

Christmas decorating at our house is late and slow this year. We've been busy raising little ones and going out of town so the decorating has taken a back seat until the past few days. We started the process on Saturday by picking out a tree with the kids and setting it up. On Saturday night Kevin and I (mostly Kevin) put up stockings, holly boughs, nativity scenes and the like.

While I totally dropped the ball on the advent wreath, I muddled my way through making a Jesse Tree, which Monica understood and enjoyed more than I thought she would. Each ornament is a piece of salvation history and Scripture from creation to the birth of Christ. There are many different sequences and I'll probably tweek some of the ornaments for next year. But for a first try, it has been great!

I think the best part of the Advent season is watching Monica really experience the Advent season - snow, decorations, advent traditions and carols. A few mornings ago she walked out of her room and saw the tree all lit up and exclaimed, "Monica smile! Monica smile at Christmas!"

I hope you all have the chance to "smile at Christmas" and bask in the wonder of God's coming to earth as a babe.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Quite possibly the cutest baby eva.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why do two year olds...

Finger paint with their food?

Spoon yogurt onto their eyelids?

Wipe their noses on furniture, clothing, and babies?

Get off the potty just to poo on the floor?

These are the mysteries of toddler-dom.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This Dairy Free Life - Thanksgiving Edition

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! I hope you have a fabulous turkey, potato, cranberry and pumpkin filled day.

Since I am still on a strict no-dairy diet, this holiday season should prove to be challenging, and to be perfectly honest, not as tasty. This became even more clear when James reacted to cinnamon that I had been eating. Perfect timing for cinnamon season...pumpkin pie, cookies, spiced cider,etc.

Now for the silver lining. I found this website: It has hundreds of recipes, product reviews, restaurant recommendations and the like for dairy free folks. A lot of the recipes are free of other allergens (soy, egg, gluten etc) as well. So, I will be eating dessert this Thanksgiving: Crumbly Apple Crisp with a Maple Finish. I might skip the maple, since I'm not a huge fan, and the cinnamon will be minimal to nil. However, I'm just looking forward to a little sweet to end my meal!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

More Than It Seems

After a particularly long day and a stop-and-go fight with Friday afternoon traffic, Kevin asked, as I was wiping Monica's rear, "Do you ever ask yourself, 'Is this really what I do all day? Clean up other people's poop?'"

I didn't even look up as I said in a rather testy voice, "No. It's just what I do." After some reflection, I realized that I should have said, "Nope. I ask myself: "Is this really what I do all day? Clean up other people's poop, pee, spit up, and drool?" He left out a few things...

There are periods of time when I really struggle with the physical, 24/7 mothering required for two very wee ones. It's easy to lose sight of the goal when the days are filled with seemingly endless messy tasks. While at the park a few days ago, Monica stumbled to the ground and my first thought was not for her welfare, but frustration that once again, I'd have another grass stain to pretreat before doing laundry for the fourth time in two days. My conscience kicked in just then, and I realized how sad it was that I was more concerned about a pair of hand-me-down leggings than my daughter's tears.

The grass stain frustration caused me to examine my thoughts and attitudes toward my children and mothering over the following days. I realized that I was very focused on the seemingly endless "busy nothings" of the day--cleaning, cooking, nursing, and wiping noses, mouths and rears. I had lost sight of the whole point of the endless tasks, the point that makes the endless tasks so much more than "nothing." Mothering small children is anything but glamorous. It is exhausting, dirty, and often frustrating. But there is nothing like a baby kiss or a two year old looking up at you after you wipe their poopy self and saying "I wuv oo Mama." And even deeper than the affection is the fact that these small acts of love are building the foundation for a life of love and relationship. The family is the first place that James and Monica will learn what true love is. Love that forgets itself and looks toward God and other first.

I came across this meditation by Venerable Elisabeth Leseur, which really summed up my prayers and thoughts:
We pray, suffer, and labor in ignorance of the consequence of our acts and prayers. God makes them serve his supreme plan; gradually they take their effect, winning one soul, then another. They hasten the coming of the kingdom of God and by the other beings, acts, and desires they give birth to, they will exert an influence that will endure until the end of time.

Elisabeth was childless, but I think this insight is like gold for mothers looking to love their children and share God's love with them, especially in the midst of daily monotony. Wiping bottoms with a smile may not be pleasant, but it has the potential to plant a seed of generosity and true charity that will last for eternity.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


In honor of today's victory,

Baby's First Fist Pump.

Go Blue!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Taking the First Stab At Productivity

I thought that if I write a post about non-childrearing related projects, I might have some accountability to finish, or at least start them!
So, I really need to do a book review of Finding My Voice. I read this book months ago, and it just really needs to be written and put to rest.

I have a just-started quilt from my grandmother in a beautiful cathedral window design. I would love love love to try my hand at quilting and these cold winter months are perfect for projects like this.

Here goes nothing...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Trick or Treat!

Here are some pics of the kiddos in their Halloween garb. Monica had a great time and is still saying "Trick or Treat!" just for the fun of it. I'm pretty sure they're the cutest lady bug and peapod ever.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Miss Monica!

Two years old today...hard to believe it was that long ago that we met our little girl for the first time! The days are long the years are short...

We love you Monica, and we pray that you have many more healthy, joy-filled years ahead of you!

On another note, we no longer have two kids under two! That's kind of comforting...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Anne of Green Gables Steered Me Wrong

Do you know what croup sounds like? My impression of croup, until a month ago, was that it is a deep rattly cough that sounds like it's originating in the lungs. Why did I have this idea? Was it from asking our pediatrician, my mother, or even random internet chat rooms? Nope. I extrapolated this false assumption from Anne of Green Gables.

If you've ever read or seen Anne of Green Gables, you may recall that she saved Diana's sister from croup by giving her syrup of ipecac, which basically makes you throw up with the intent of ridding your lungs of mucus. That's the last time I take any medical advice or treatment cues from Anne Girl. Croup has nothing to do with mucus clogged lungs. It's the swelling of the throat and central airways which produces a tight barking cough...which is exactly what James had when he caught his first cold. I remember very vividly sitting at the dinner table while he was barking in his bouncy seat and saying to Kevin, "What is croup anyway? Isn't more in the chest? James' cough is tight and in the throat. In Anne of Green Gables, Anne gave Diana's sister syrup of epecac to save her from croup and that wouldn't help a cough like this. So, this must not be croup." Looking back, I can't help thinking how ridiculous that was. Why would I take medical treatment cues from a children's fiction book written a century ago?

Needless to say, that night was really bad for James, so bad that we rushed him to the ER at 2am. From about 9pm on, he was up every 40 minutes or so coughing. I would go into his room, give him the pacifier or rock him to sleep, only to be back in there not long after that. By 1am, I was laying on the floor in his room trying to get some rest in between comforting sessions when I realized that, if I wasn't hearing him cough, I wasn't sure if he was breathing. That is when I picked him up out of his crib and went to Kevin, knowing we had a serious problem.

I threw some clothes on and put James in his car seat to go to the ER. Kevin stayed behind until he got one of our neighbors to sit in the house with Monica. That drive to the ER was probably one of the scariest times of my life. As I drove through town at over-the-speed limit listening to my little guy cry and cough, I could only thank God that he was crying because then I knew he was breathing. Kevin followed about 15 minutes later. We went to the university hospital in town and Kevin, not thinking completely clearly at 2am, took the longer route through campus. Mistake. As some of you may remember from the old days, 2am is last call at the bar, and just after 2am is when all of the bar crawlers stumble home. So here's Kevin, trying to get to the hospital to comfort his wife and son while weaving through the winding one way streets of campus and dodging drunken students. Fortunately no one was injured!

By the time Kevin reached us, James already had a dose of steroids (to reduce the inflammation) and a breathing treatment (to open the airways). We ended up having to be admitted since James needed two breathing treatments within two hours. We ended up waiting in the ER exam room until 7am, when we were finally taken to our room at the children's hospital. We only had to stay for about 12 hours, which was long enough for me to be truly thankful that we were only dealing with croup, and not the other long term health issues that so many of the other children on the floor were experiencing.

Suffice it to say, I'll never forget what croup sounds like, and when in doubt, I'll give the doctor a call instead of relying on faded memories of my favorite children's novel!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

This Dairy Free Life

James has already taken us on some domestic adventures, one of them being a huge lifestyle change for me: living completely dairy free. When I say completely, I mean it. James, like Monica, has a dairy intolerance, meaning that he cannot digest casein (the protein in milk) properly. So, anytime he gets casein in his system (via breastmilk) he gets abrasions in his colon and blood in his diapers. Oy.

I cut down on dairy about two weeks before his due date in preparation for such a situation. Monica was also dairy intolerant as an infant, and once you have one child with that condition, it is more likely that you will have another. Even the little bit of dairy I was getting right before and after James was born (via occasional cheese and small amounts of dairy in dressings and prepared foods) was too much. By three weeks, he had colitis symptoms. So, I have been completely dairy free for over three months. Milk is in so many things...cake, cookies, brownies, nougat, cereals, granola bars, pretzels, chocolate, sherbet, some deli meats and sausage, bread, salad dressings and the list goes on.

Many people may ask why I am even doing this. Why not just switch to formula? Believe me, it's a tempting option. However, James is a really good nurser. He is growing very rapidly (as evidenced by recently posted pictures) and he is happy. Monica had the same issue as he did but she was NOT a good nurser. She was fussy and miserable and therefore, I was pretty miserable. There's no morale buster like a baby screaming at your chest 8+ times per day. We also found out that she was having a hard time eating and getting enough food for proper weight gain. For Monica, switching to bottles was a stab at achieving sanity once again.

Dealing with Monica's dairy free life helped prepare me for my dairy free life. I learned a lot of shortcuts for getting the calories I need without relying on milk, cheese and ice cream. Using rice protein powder, adding extra oil, feasting on potato chips and treating myself to coconut milk yogurt and coconut milk ice cream have been essential. I also did a lot of web research for Monica's dairy free diet and found MSPI Mama. She has a great blog with tons of recipes for people dealing with Milk and Soy Protein Intolerance (MSPI).

Though I totally miss pizza, and that will be the first thing I eat when I can have dairy again, I am at peace with my current way of life. James will not be nursing forever, nor is it likely that he will be dairy intolerant forever. Monica has grown out of her intolerance and enjoys cheese, cookies, cake and the like with the best of them.

I've decided that living dairy free is a sacrifice I'm willing to make for James. Yeah, it means skipping out on dessert (most of the time), pizza, and eating out at restaurants as much as I would like. But, living dairy free will not be forever. There will be a time, once again, when I'll get my cheese and eat it too!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ready for the Game

We got ourselves and the kids all decked out for the football game today. Now we hope our Wolverines deliver a big win!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Attempted Re-Entry

Here is my attempt at a re-entry into the blogosphere. It's not that I have been all that much more busy or stressed out. "Whelmed" would be an appropriate term for my day-to-day status. Not OVERwhelmed, just whelmed. But whelmed still didn't seem to leave a lot of time for blogging.

However, there have been so many times lately when "I should blog about this" has run through my head, and yet I've done nothing about it. So, today is the day. I'm back.

My latest bloggy moment was one of joy and silliness. I put on some music and Monica started dancing, which looks like she's trying to launch into the air, but sadly, her feet are stuck to the ground. She throws up her arms and laughs hysterically, and that laughter is totally contagious. When she starts "dancing", how can I keep from dancing? So, Monica is doing her Monster Mash around the room and I'm dancing with James, who is also giggling and making a funny growly baby noise. It was the kind of moment that would look really strange to Joe Shmo on the street, but bring tears to my eyes when I think of it. Those are the kind of silly, heartwarming moments a mom of 2 under 2 needs.

The other blog-worthy happening was not quite so joyous, but funny, now that it has passed. I often take the kids to a near by park when the weather is nice to pass some of the morning. James is still in the "I can't be awake for very long without getting cranky" phase so I try to get out the door quickly when he wakes up from a nap. I try to feed him before we go, if at all possible, since nursing on a picnic bench while Monica roams free at a large, fence-less park is not ideal. However, James is the kind of baby who will only eat when he's ready. Yesterday, we really needed to get out of the house, so I took my chances with having to feed him at the park and I was reminded why I don't normally like my odds. James did eventually want to eat, at the exact same time Monica wanted to climb up the big climbing wall. I told her not to get on the wall because I couldn't help her, which only made her mad and so she decided to take off toward the parking lot. So here I am, running after her with James nursing under a cover and yelling at Monica to stop right there and "Listen to Mommy!!" Another parent was there with his toddler and he looked at me like I was a bit crazy. To tell you the truth, I felt a bit crazy. I can laugh now, but I'll probably just let Monica play in the backyard next time I'm hit with this situation.

Here are a few choice photos for you:

Snuggle Bug

Mmmm...Spaghetti (I know, I know...we really need to regrout the tub...)

Mr. Jowls

Swimming anyone?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

As Promised...

...updated pictures of the kiddos! Yes, the last post was over two weeks ago, but, as you can imagine, we're busy and tired in this house! So, here's as little slide show:

James will be two months old next week, which is hard to believe! We've made it through the toughest days, and we're all still in one piece, and actually doing really well. The adjustment to two kids has been pretty smooth, but has also had its difficulties. It's hard not to be able to give Monica and James everything they need at the exact moment they need it, but I figure that's part of being in a family. In this context is where we first learn to wait our turn and be patient. I think Kevin and I are learning to have more patience too, at least that's the hope and the goal.

James is smiling and cooing a lot now, which is fun and rewarding. His little gummy grin gets me through, and Monica's funny little quips make me laugh when I need it most. Mommy-dom is many things, but right now, it is rarely dull.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Yes, We're Still Alive!

Obviously, life has been very very busy around here, but I really am meaning to post some recent pics in the next couple of days. James is growing like crazy (to the tune of about a pound a week right now!) so it is definitely time for you all to see the not-so-little guy.

Monica is adjusting well, though most every time I sit down to nurse she says "Poo poo! Change diaper?" and most of those alarms are false. She just wants me to put the baby down and pay attention to her! Can't say I blame her, since I do have to spend a whole lot of time feeding James at this point.

James is eating well and sleeping relatively well for a newborn. I could definitely still use some more Zs, but I've accepted that exhaustion is inevitable at this point, but also not permanent.

I really prefer the summer baby as opposed to the late fall/winter baby. We're able to get out and do so much more. Today we went to a park with sandboxes, a huge play structure, and a splash park, which is a play area full of souped up sprinklers. I met a few other moms and their kids, which was key. No way was I going to be able to manage Monica, the aimlessly wandering toddler, and nurse/care for a newborn at the same time. Thank God for mom-friends!

I think my ability to get out also has to do with my willingness to take a risk and the sheer need to avoid total insanity. I don't think Monica and I would fare very well staying in the house 24-7 with very little contact with the outside world. That's pretty much how I functioned in Monica's early months. Though, to be fair, it was probably less about the weather, and more about Monica's fussiness and fear of dealing with said fussiness outside of these four walls.

So, fear not, we are still alive and well, just strapped for time in regards to blogging. You have my word for a picture update in the next few days.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sweet Baby James

He's here!

James Francis made his debut on Thursday at 3:32pm at a sizeable 8lb. 8oz. and 20 in. long.

We came home on Saturday and everyone is doing well. James loves to eat and lets us get a bit of sleep. Monica calls him "Jim" or "crying" and likes to mimic him when he really gets squawking. We all have adjusting to do, which seems like that's all you do in the early weeks, really. Newborns change so fast!

Monica hasn't been too interested in holding James, as you can see by this pic:

But she will give him little kisses on the top of head and "hugs" which means she touches the crown of her head to his, kind of like these guys:

I'm excited to get to know our little man and continue to make him more and more a part of our family. We are truly blessed!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

All Aboard the Party Bus

Here's a picture of Monica's favorite play time activity. I like to call it The Party Bus. She piles nearly all of her stuffed animals on the musical car and drives very wrecklessly around the house. I guess it's some sort of "imaginative" play, which is fun to see, but it's a little painful when she runs into my ankles.

On another note, I'm still pregnant. The due date was yesterday, which came and went without much fanfare. I'm definitely having contractions and moving in the labor and delivery direction, but no baby as of yet. I can't decide if knowing there's progress and still no active labor is more nerve wracking than the situation with Monica, in which nothing happened until I went into labor which lasted 24 hours. However, it is a comfort knowing that this labor will be further along when it does start and therefore, will most likely be shorter.

We started a novena to St. Gerard a couple of days ago, but now I'm thinking that we should have started it over 2 weeks ago. Alas. All in God's timing, no matter what. I hope we'll have some good news to post very very soon!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

T Minus Two Days

Yup, still pregnant.

My due date is on Monday and the gracious contentedness I cited in the last post seems to have waned...a lot. I've had a lot of prelabor symptoms which keep me hopeful that this little guy will make his appearance soon. However, there is really no way of knowing, and it's starting to drive me batty. I was 8 days late with Monica, so it's not as if I have a history of early deliveries. There's just this serious urge to meet our son and not be pregnant any longer.

I've been re reading Story of a Soul (as you can see in the side bar), which is the autobiographical work of my patron saint, Therese of Lisieux. I try to read through it about once a year, as it is very encouraging and humbling and grounding. This read has been no exception. In the chapter I finished this afternoon, St. Therese is recounting her excruciating wait to enter Carmel, the contemplative convent she believes is her true spiritual home on earth. Her sole desire is be with Jesus and to live the life of work and prayer she believes she is called to. However, she wants to enter the convent at the unheard of age of 15, which presents a lot of problems in obtaining permission from the superior, the local bishop and even the pope himself. It seems to her at times that her heart's desire, her life's dream, will never be realized.

I feel you, Therese. It is totally irrational for me to think that I will always be pregnant, but there are moments when I really wonder whether this child will join us or just feel the need to stay in the womb forever. I know on an intellectual level that this is preposterous, but I'm not as rational or intellectual at 9 months pregnant as I would like. Reading about this saint, this spiritual friend, who had similar feelings (despair, hope, longing) is a comfort. I'm not alone in the human struggle of waiting and frustration. While I cannot really connect with a burning desire to enter a convent, I do understand the desire to fulfill what you truly believe is the next step in God's plan for you. Those times when it is so close you can almost see it and feel it are some of the most challenging.

So, deep breathing and prayers for patience are the order of the day...or the next several days. And, with past graces as proof and the support of friends and family on earth and in heaven, the last few days of this chapter can be peaceful and joy-filled.

Friday, June 4, 2010

My Favorite People

Here's a recent picture of Monica and Kevin. I just love it! That is the best picture of Monica I've seen in months. Seriously. I could just eat her up!

And, here's one really-pregnant-belly picture. That smile is not completely genuine, as it was super hot and I was feeling quite large. However, being only 10 days away from due date, I know it's almost over.

I was laying in bed this morning thinking about how a chapter in life is about to close (pregnancy, parenting only one child) and a new one is about to open (two kiddos!, newborn-ness). There are moments when reality really hits you between the eyes and you realize it's time to appreciate the present and not exclusively focus on the future, which is very easy to do while at the end of pregnancy. The serene and quiet moments of reading to Monica and snuggling with her before naptime have become more cherished and memorable in the past few days. Life is going to take a monumental turn very soon. The grace of contentment is one that I am enjoying to its fullest.

Friday, May 28, 2010

One Last Road Trip

We're making the two hour drive to my mom's house for one last my-side-of-the-family get together before the baby arrives. To those of you wondering, yes, I'm tired. And yes, I'm not so comfortable. However, I'm still able to take a walk, pick Monica up, and clean a bathroom every once in a while. I'll be glad to have more mobility again very soon!

I've been meaning to post a recent picture of Monica but she is not the most photogenic these days. She used to be a total ham for the camera. Now she gives me blank looks, like this:

Love ya, babe, but where are those fabulous grins you used to give the camera???

We hope you and yours have a fabulous Memorial Day weekend. Let's remember to give thanks and say a prayer for all of the veterans who have given their lives for our freedoms!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sugar and Spice, Meet Snakes, Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

Over the last few days, I've been reading a couple of books, Why Gender Matters by Dr. Leonard Sax and How Do You Tuck in a Superhero by Rachel Balducci. Both have got me thinking about boys and girls and the changes that having a little boy will bring into my life. I have only one sister and so living with a little boy is still something of a mystery. Today I had an experience at the park that may be a glimpse of our future.

Monica is just learning to go up and down stairs without scooting on her bum so we were practicing this on a flight of stairs on the play structure. As Monica gingerly went down the stairs, a four year old boy went streaking passed. He stopped at the top and looked at her, fascinated. (keep in mind that I've never met or seen this boy in my life.)

Little Boy: I didn't know she could walk!

Me: Yup. She can walk. Sometimes she even runs.

LB: Wow. Run?

Me: Yes. Sometimes she goes so fast I have to run after her!

LB (totally intrigued): Run after her right now!

Me (Looking at Monica standing stark still at the bottom of the stairs): I don't think she wants to run right now. So, I don't have the chase her.

LB (considering this thoughtfully): She could race.

Me: I don't think she knows how to race. Maybe she'll run a race when she gets older.

LB: I bet I could win.

Me: I bet you could too. You can definitely run faster than her.

LB: I could win a race!

Me: You could race around the playground right now to see how fast you are.

LB: Yeah! (scurrying down the stairs) I'm missile fast!

Boy takes off and careens around the playground, Family Circus style. Returns to the stairs, breathless.

Me: Wow! That was missile fast.

LB: Oh yeah!

Boydom, here we come.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Get Your Oink On

Kevin ran and finished the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati nearly two weeks ago. It was a tough race day (read: lightning, thunder, pouring rain, blisters, chafing, and going out too fast), and I'm really proud of him! Marathons are never easy, and it was challenging to train for a marathon with a toddler and pregnant wife.

Due to the rain and craziness at the finish, we didn't take any pictures, but the marathon folks snapped some along the route. Click here, choose the Flying Pig Marathon and enter our last name. There are quite a few pictures, but I don't think we'll be ordering any of them. When we saw the pictures, the reality of Kevin's hair loss really set in and the pictures really brought out, well, the pain of the event. But that is how many marathons are: just.plain.painful.

The last time Kevin ran a marathon, we were still sans kiddos and he had plenty of time to prepare for the race. With a full time job and more demands at home, three hour runs on the weekends became too much, and without the time for speed work, it's just too hard for Kevin to get the times he really wants in the marathon. So, we've made an executive decision that shorter distances are in order for the foreseeable future.

I'm looking forward to running again as well. But, now that walking quickly after Monica as she toddler-sprints down the driveway to the road has become almost unbearable, I am reminded that real running is just out of the question. But hey, I'm 35 weeks now! Little Man will be here before we know it, and I'll be able to hit the pavement again. For now, I'll enjoy getting my "oink" on, meaning I will take full advantage of napping, lounging, and eating ice cream to my heart's content.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Some Quick Takes

1. Daily occurance: Kevin and I standing in the driveway, shoulders hunched in despair, staring at our totally weed infested lawn. Clover, crabgrass, and poky things aside, part of me feels a bit bad for begrudging dandelions their place. They are a very sunny yellow. That hue in a daffodil or day lily is very becoming but God help me if I'll tolerate it in a dandelion in my grass. I think the most discouraging thing is the hardiness of that sunny weed-flower. I know we could spray some serious chemicals or hire Tru Green, but with a dog and more importantly, a toddler who loves to play in and yes, sometimes even eat dirt and leaves, chemicals don't seem to be a wise an option. Our best solution now is to dig them If anyone has another non-caustic solution, let me know. We'd be happy to entertain other ideas.

2. A friend of mine just gave birth to identical twin boys this morning, sans Cesarean. Awesome. After having a long and difficult labor myself, with one baby, I have to give her some serious kudos. Her labor was induced and was over 24 hours-that means no eating and not a whole lot of sleeping. I really am just so proud of her. Birth stories for moms can be likened (on some level) to scar stories for little boys. You probably wouldn't want to re-live it, but it is something that really bonds you with other women. However, I think women win out over little boys because the result, a precious little baby (or babies!), is a very gracious gift compared to a scar.

3. Kevin is running the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati this weekend. (We'll have to ask St. Clare of Assisi for some intercession because thunderstorms are in the forecast!) One of my favorite parts of marathon spectating is seeing the city we travel to-Boston, D.C., Chicago...but I'm not sure how much I'll see in Cincinnati since there isn't a really sophisticated public transportation system and there aren't a lot of loops in the route. But, we have some reservations at a highly rated Italian restaurant. Mmmm...carb up!
We are making the trek without Monica, which I think will feel a bit odd. Both Kevin and I have left town with her staying with the other parent, but this is the first time she'll be without either of us. It's only one night, and I know she is in fabulous hands. I think it will be tougher for me than for her in the end.

4. Bathroom humor begins at a young age, apparently. Kevin taught Monica to say "Toot, toot!" when she, or anyone else for that matter, lets out some gas. We'll be sitting at the dinner table, she'll let one fly, exclaim "Toot, toot!", and dissolve into hysterical laughter. I had no idea she'd be that interested in flatulence at 18 months. From my experience with other kiddos and let's be honest, adults, she'll be laughing at gas for many years to come.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

"Building up a culture of life is the single most important way to build a culture that respects the environment.” -Brian Burch, President of Education Fund

The Bony Baby Complex

I have a confession to make. I have a serious complex about doctor appointments...Monica's doctor appointments that is. Since she was a few weeks old, Monica has been on watch for appropriate weight gain. I won't get into all the details, but she is a small fry, and this is the one span of time in human development when thunderthighs seem to be culturally preferable to a leaner, beanlike look. I say "seem to be" because, in reality, childhood obesity is a serious and growing issue in America and even infants can be obese. Yet, how many people do you know walk up to a skinny baby, pinch their skinny legs, and say, "Look at those precious bony legs! I just want to eat them up!"

Intellectually, I know that Monica is really healthy. She's on track in all areas of development; we are doing our best to give her extra calories in her still-milk-free diet, she eats regular meals, and we never refuse her food within reason. But when your last three well-child exams have included a handout about children who "fail to thrive," you may begin to second guess yourself and your kid.

Tomorrow is the big 18 month appointment and I've been giving myself pep talks for it by rehearsing what I will say if the failure to thrive info is handed to me again. As Kevin said, it's time to just tell the doc and nurse that we are doing our best and can't help our kid's genetics or the fact she can't have a lot of high calorie foods and that there are times when all she will eat is potato doused in ketchup. Lord help us; we do our best.

All of you parents out there with bony-legged toddlers, hats off to you. Even without the "yummy" thighs, your children are beautiful and precious.

Update: The doctor appointment went well! We did not receive any information on failure to thrive dietary recommendations nor any weight-related chastisement. And, we will soon try to start Monica on some whole milk yogurt. Kind of a big deal for this kiddo who has been milk-free for over a year! All in all, no Bony Baby worries were necessary.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hang Up and Drive

Can you form bad cell phone habits in toddler-dom?

If so, we should nip this in the bud.

Friday, April 9, 2010

He is Risen! Happy Easter Friday!

Easter ain't over yet! It's an 8 day celebration! Happy Easter Friday to you all. May you have true and lasting joy in the Risen Jesus.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Blessed Good Friday to you all!

Good Friday Prayer
O Jesus, Who by reason of Thy burning love for us
hast willed to be crucified
and to shed Thy Most Precious Blood
for the redemption and salvation of our souls,
look down upon us here gathered together
in remembrance of Thy most sorrowful Passion and Death,
fully trusting in Thy mercy;
cleanse us from sin by Thy grace,
sanctify our toil,
give unto us and unto all those who are dear to us our
daily bread,
sweeten our sufferings,
bless our families,
and to the nations so sorely afflicted,
grant Thy peace,
which is the only true peace,
so that by obeying Thy commandments
we may come at last to the glory of heaven.


Thursday, April 1, 2010


Tonight is the beginning of Triduum (three days), which refers to Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil/Sunday celebrations. These are truly some of the best and most grace filled days of the year!

It was seven years ago that Kevin and I were confirmed in the Catholic Church, and these have been 7 years of rich blessing. Even in the midst of the current media frenzy and scandals, we continue to have faith and remember that God is in charge and leading his Church on.

Enjoy these high holy days, really entering into the life, passion, death and resurrection of Christ. This is the pinnacle! After all, "Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the "Feast of feasts," the "Solemnity of solemnities," just as the Eucharist is the "Sacrament of sacraments."

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Big Reveal

As I said in a previous post, Kevin and I found out the gender of Little One on the Way, but decided to keep it as a surprise for everyone else. After a few months, we decided the secret was not a fun one and the "cover up" was just getting silly.

Due to the availability of relatively accurate ultrasounds, people are used to knowing the gender of their baby and everyone else is used to finding out as well. When people see the belly, one of their first questions is, "What are you having?" to which I would reply, "We found out but we're not telling." I guess it would have been easier to just say "It's a surprise" but we did know so it wasn't a surprise to us so I felt bad lying. The "we found out but we're not telling" response usually just created awkward silence or further questions as to why we weren't telling and was too much in conversing with strangers and kind of sad/awkward with family and friends.

On the plane to visit Kevin's parents in AZ, I had a long conversation with the passenger next to me, and told her the gender. Kevin shot me a sharp look and I just said, "Hey, she won't tell anyone we know." Then I told the flight attendant. Then Kevin told his barber...and then we realized the whole "secret gender" thing was just silly. We were willing to tell people who have no stock in this child's life, but those who care the most aren't allowed to know?

So, here goes...

It's a BOY!

Little Man should be here sometime around June 14th, but the name is still TBA. I really thought this baby was a boy from the very beginning, but when it was confirmed, I was a tad sad that Monica will not have a sister so close in age. I guess, having grown up with a younger sister myself, I just assumed this is something she needs and should have. Now that I've had some time to get used to the idea of having a boy, I'm excited for Monica because she gets the gift of a brother, which I always thought would be fun, though I did not have the chance experience it. Kevin is excited to have a son to share man-things. Not that he can't share his love of hockey, college football, running, hiking and general ridiculousness with Monica, but I think having a son to do all of those things will be special in a different way.

So, on with more adventures in parenting. Ready or not, here HE comes!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Joys of Toddler-dom: Emerging Personality

One joy (and also a challenge to be honest) as of late has been Monica's emerging personality. She knows more of what she wants and knows how to get it! She is more willful, and better able to express likes and dislikes, needs and wants. She isn't talking a lot yet, but that little face is full of expressions. Even in the past couple weeks she has started making more faces to communicate what she is thinking and feeling. Sounds like someone else I know all too well...let's just say the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. I wear my heart on my sleeve...or I guess, more accurately, I wear my heart on my face. I've never been a good liar nor adept at hiding what is really going on inside my head. It looks like our daughter is shaping up to be similar.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Short and Sweet

It's been a couple weeks, so here's a short rundown...

  • Kevin was in Japan for a week. Monica and I survived with visits from friends and family and lots of prayers. Here's the souvenir Kevin brought back this time. If you're thinking, "Who the world is Anpanman?" check out this site. Good for a chuckle.

  • Kevin returned from his trip mere hours after Monica got sick with some intestinal bug...made for some messy, explosive dipes. Ugh. She's healthy and happy now, thank goodness!

  • It's been really sunny so we've been outside a lot playing in the dirt and melting snow. Lots of laundry.

  • I'm 26 weeks now, and at the point where I feel bigger than is really comfortable. I'm also blaming Mommy MushBrain for the lack of postings. Honestly, I think at least half of my brain cells are on loan to the baby! However, this too shall pass, and I'm making every effort to enjoy my time with one kiddo and nights uninterrupted by a crying infant.

  • Kevin is training for the Flying Pig marathon and is in the longest, most draining part of the training (read: running 20+ miles on Saturdays). I've realized it takes the cooperation of the whole family for him to do this, from the time spent training, to the extra food, to buying new shoes more frequently, not to mention those little packets of energy gel.

  • Speaking of extra food, I just realized everyone in this house is clinically skinny...except for me. That even includes the dog. Awesome. I think I'll go make myself a hot fudge sundae.

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    The Joys of Toddler-dom: Toddling!

    Now that I have posted a few times about the perils or toddler-dom, I think it's only right that I post about some joys. Yes, toddlers are challenging and well, irritating sometimes, but they are also great for hugs and laughter. It seems like Monica went from infant to toddler overnight. I think the change really happened when she started walking. The toddling ability opened up a whole new world of possiblities, discoveries, and mischief.

    I love that Monica can grip my finger in her fist as she walks next to me, and I love that she can run toward me for a big hug, and throw her arms around my neck. I'm not the biggest fan of the running away, but it comes with a territory. Now that Monica can really walk, she loves to play hide and seek (which is really easy since hiding around the corner brings peals of laughter) and just explore the outdoors, picking things up and saying "See! See!"

    Yes, some things about life were logistically easier when Monica wasn't totally mobile, but this new milestone means more exploration, learning, and development, which is just what childhood is all about. Here's to you, Toddler!

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    The Perils of Toddler-dom: Infectious Diseases

    In Monica's first year of life, she had one cold. Granted, she had her share of gastrointestinal stress and diaper rash, but infectious diseases were nearly nil. She even bypassed a case of hand-foot-mouth after an entire weekend of exposure. I was sure that I have a child with bionic immunity.

    Was I ever wrong.

    Not that Monica is constantly sick, or anything. She really is relatively healthy. It's just that she's now a toddler...who can toddle at the speed of light and put her mouth on anything she can get her hands on, which is everything 24 inches or less from the ground.

    In the past 2+ months, she got a cold, which lasted for three weeks and resulted in an ear infection, three episodes of nasty cold sores (which we thought were impetigo for a while!), and roseola (which she passed on to some friends' kiddos. Sorry Erin!!!).

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    The Perils of Toddler-dom: Shoulda Seen That One Coming Part 2

    Before you read this post, be sure you've read this one.

    While I was glad to have Kevin home and not be alone anymore, I was not all that encouraged by the 3 Iron. Kevin tried to get it under the door in hopes of pushing the drawer closed, but the clearance between the bottom of the door and the threshold can't be more than two centimeters. So that idea was out. We decided to shine a flashlight under the door and saw Monica facedown on the floor screaming hysterically. As much as we tried to get her to close the drawer, I guess she wasn't in the place to follow any direction.

    A few minutes later, we heard the firetruck pull up to the house and two firemen came to the door with a bag of tools. They also tried asking Monica to close the drawer, which was just as ineffective as before. At that point, I was pretty sure they were going to have to cut the door in some way. Before getting out the saw, they hauled out the crow bar to remove the door knob. After the door knob was off, we turned on the light and saw that it wasn't the bottom drawer that was open but the middle drawer, so there was no way that we could have been able to shove anything over the door to close the drawer. The middle drawer was open all the way so after a few hard shoves, the drawer popped out and the door finally opened, with Monica still facedown on the floor in hysterics.

    I picked her up and held her close while the firemen packed up their gear. After a few hugs, she started to calm down. Other than being exhausted from the crying, she was fine. If you're in a situtation to call 911, I guess this was the situation to be in. All of Monica's teeth and limbs are in place and accounted for and no caustic chemicals were consumed. Thank God the situation wasn't more dangerous. I think we'll be taking potential hazards more seriously so they don't become more 911 calls in the future!

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    The Perils of Toddler-dom: Shoulda Seen That One Coming

    Like most toddlers, Monica likes to pull open drawers and toss their contents about the room. During one of these episodes in the bathroom, Kevin remarked how if Monica went into the bathroom, closed the door and opened the drawer to ransack it, we wouldn't be able to get her out. "Hmmm," we thought. "We'll have to keep that in mind."

    This afternoon, I was folding laundry and the house seemed all too quiet. I went looking for Monica and heard noises from the bathroom, which was dark and closed off. I called for Monica and tried to open the door, but it was blocked. Monica shut herself in the bathroom and I could not, for the life of me, get her out. She had fulfilled Kevin's prophecy. She had closed the door and opened the drawer to ransack it leaving me shut out of the bathroom and leaving her stuck in the dark screaming like a banshee.

    She's at the point where she will sometimes follow simple directions like, "Get the ball," or "Shut the door." For a couple minutes I tried asking her to shut the drawer, but she just screamed and cried. It was dark in there and I'm sure she was scared. That's when I started to get scared. What if she was hurt? What if she got something in the drawer (lotion, soap, medication) and had eaten it? I called Kevin who suggested bending a coat hanger and putting it under the door to try and push the offending drawer closed. That didn't work and I started my own set of hysterics, so Kevin decided to drive home from work.

    In the meantime, I called 911. A few minutes later, Kevin flew in the driveway, grabbed a 3 Iron from his golf bag and charged in the house.

    To Be Continued...

    Saturday, February 6, 2010

    Funny Find

    For those of you more clued in to blogosphere happenings, I may seem a bit slow. However, I had to pass on the info for Cake Wrecks. It's a really funny blog showcasing seriously ridiculous, strange, and hilarious professional cakes. Worth the surf.

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    Dudes' Weekend

    Kevin went up north with some friends for the weekend, and I flew solo with Monica. While I was reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? about 50 times (I swear that is no exaggeration), Kevin was participating in the following activity:


    (Caption for Harry Potter nerds only!)

    If you want to read more about what is happening in that pic, check out this blog post. If you want to know why you shouldn't go near the dumpster, you'll have to ask Kevin personally.

    Tuesday, January 26, 2010


    We all went to my 20 week ultrasound this morning and saw the baby. It was really encouraging to see the little one on the screen! Most days, I get really focused on feeling pregnant (read: nauseous, tired, achy, moody) and I forget that there's a child in there. So, good to see you Little One!

    We were surprised with Monica's gender at the birth, so this time, I wanted to find out ahead of time. Kevin was not so sure so we just had the tech write the result on a piece of paper so we could take it out later. Since Kevin was really really not sure, I hid the paper away for the remainder of the day. We took it out at dinner and looked at the result together, and it's a...surprise to you and everyone else! Sorry but we're going to keep it a secret from fam, friends, and the blogosphere.

    Monica (obviously) did not really react. When she sees the ultrasound pictures of the baby, she says, "Puppy!" If that presumption continues, she's going to be sorely disappointed in June. Kevin ended up being sad about finding out. Not that he is sad about the baby's gender, but he is sad about missing out on the surprise in the delivery room. I feel a little bit of that, but I am looking forward to mentally and emotionally connecting to this baby in a different way than I was able to with Monica.

    I'll post a little pic of Baby Dos as soon as I can. The motherboard on our laptop died a couple weeks ago and we're in the process of getting a new computer and extracting our other data. Oh, technology...

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Sea, Sand, Sun, and Unfortunate Events

    We're all hanging out in Clearwater for the next couple of days, and the weather is fine! Each year that goes by I become less tolerant of the winter and more passionate about sunshine and warm weather. So, when Kevin called me from work a couple weeks ago and asked, "You wanna go to Florida?" I thought I might just be in the middle of a fabulous dream. But no pinch was necessary. Kevin is attending a three day conference and Monica and I are hanging out at the beach and the pool. (Pics to come!) The weather was sunny and about 70 degrees today. There has been no ocean swimming, but the heated pool is a favorite.

    Monica really does love the beach though. She just toddles around, picking up interesting things off the ground (read: shells, leaves, rocks, and garbage) and smiling a lot. She's not really into climbing on the playground as of yet so toddling and the occasional swing sesh is about all we've got at the beach. I never really thought about what 15 month olds do at the beach or at the park. At first, it didn't seem like much: toddling, picking up stuff, babbling. But I see now that there is a whole lot of discovery and limit testing that goes on. I realized how much I take for granted in walking through sand in barefeet with relative ease and staying focused on a destination (i.e. the water) and being able to walk up inclines without looking like I'm rock scrambling. This is an age that requires a lot of patience for repetition and very simple activities.

    Kevin was busy with a late business dinner so I took Monica out for dinner by myself. Arg. It was a series of unfortunate events.

    We went to a well known seafood restaurant that seemed tasty, but not too touristy. I was right on both accounts, but it was a tad too upscale for soloing it with a milk intolerant toddler. When we walked in, I told the hostess that we were a party of one and a highchair. She gave me a blank stare and said blandly, "Just a high chair?"

    Seriously? If the girl had stopped to think for a second, she probably would have realized that
    1. A toddler would not be hanging out by herself for a meal at this restaurant.
    2. I cannot fit into a high chair.

    After straightening out debacle #1, we moved on to others. The highchair's buckle was broken, which I thought wouldn't be a huge deal...except that the chair didn't fit underneath the table and Monica was trying to stand up in it every other second. So, I caught one of the four hostesses (not the one from Debacle #1) and asked for a high chair with a functional buckle. She was only able to find other broken high chairs. It wasn't until she got the manager to assist her that they found a functional high chair.

    Debacle #3 was the menu. I only got one menu which had no children's options. Arg. I chose a chicken dish that I thought Monica would like and ordered that, except that I realized about 15 minutes later that the sauce was probably really buttery so I talked to the waiter about plain ol' grilled chicken. He asked me about any other options on the childrens's menu...that I never saw. Apparently there was a separate children's menu that the hostess did not offer. Excellent. So, I changed our order only to receive the dinner sized crab cakes instead of the appetizer size.

    Debacle #4 was the timing. By the time the food came, Monica was already full from the bread that I had been giving her in small bits to distract her from fussing and destroying the table while we waited for food. She ate almost none of her meal. I guess we'll be eating grilled chicken and steamed veggies for lunch tomorrow.

    But, honestly, aside from tonight's restaurant adventure, the trip is going really well, and I am incredibly thankful for this chance to get away from the cold grayness that is January in Michigan! More to come...

    Thursday, January 7, 2010

    Happy Fifth Anniversary Kevin!

    These five years have been full of growth, change, and fun! I hope and pray there are many more.

    Thank you for helping me to become a better wife, a better mother, and a better woman. I love you!

    Tuesday, January 5, 2010

    Trespasses Against Us

    Trespasses Against Us by Christian M. Frank, the latest installment in the John Paul 2 High series, is a breath of fresh air in teen literature. Today's secular teen fiction tends toward the erotic and sensational but does not have much to offer in the way of quality, realistic, and morally sound literature. There is also Christian teen fiction, but sometimes the characters and stories are so clean that it does not mirror real life. However, Christian M. Frank is looking to change that.

    Christian M. Frank is actually a team of people who took their pen name from their alma maters, Franciscan University of Steubenville and Christendom College. The initial "M" is for Mary, the Blessed Mother, who "keeps the peace between [them]." This team of people is looking to write books that are realistic, exiciting, morally sound, and geared specifically toward Catholic teens.

    One strength of Trespasses Against Us is its characters. The teens in the series come from all different types of families: small and large, single parent and two parent homes, divorced and remarried, permissive and oppressive. The characters have a conversational style that is typical of young people, but the authors do not resort to crass and offensive techniques to keep the reader's attention. The plot is also fast-moving and exciting; it incorporates technology (i.e. texting, email, instant messaging) that many teens use on a daily basis. There are some very dramatic and violent events which may not be for younger readers. But these are events happening in high schools around the country and the team of authors takes on a difficult task in tackling them from a Catholic perspective.

    The authors also do a great service to the reader by making sound, Catholic teaching accessible and applicable to everyday life. One challenge many teens face is applying religion to everyday choices. Trespasses Against Us uses the plot and framework of the series (a significant amount of time is spent in a Catholic high school classroom) to connect Scripture, the catechism and papal teachings to situations facing the characters and somce of those situations may even be similar to those of the reader.

    In short, Trespasses Against Us is an exciting, entertaining, and educational read. If you have or know of a teen who could use something fresh and worthwhile in their literary diet, try introducing the John Paul 2 High series. I don't think they'll be disappointed.

    This review was written as part of the Catholic Book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company . Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Christian M Frank's Trespasses Against Us.