Sunday, September 11, 2016

7QT {09.11.16} -- Random Brain/Photo Dump

It's Sunday. I've been trying to write this post since Friday. I'm alone at Starbucks for an hour or so -- the first time I've been alone anywhere that I don't have to clean since Dominic was born. Let's get to it before I get a call that Mr. D is starving and inconsolable. (Tardily linking up with Kelly.)

1.  I feel like we're settling in to life as a family of 5. Charles started back on an in-service rotation last Monday, which was also the day after the last of our family/company/helpers left, so that was our kick back to reality. I'm still figuring out how to get out the door consistently on time, in part because Dominic is still pretty unpredictable. Tonight, Charles starts his first week of nights (plus a more-than 24 hour shift on Saturday/Sunday) since D was born. I'm not going to like, I'm terrified, but I also know that we'll get through it, and I'll feel like I've got a much better hold on life as a family of five on the other side of this week/end. Just trying to take it one day at a time, instead of overthinking it. Trying being the operative word. Let's just say I bought paper plates, I intend to use them, and I generally hate paper plates.

2. Speaking of Mr. D, he turned one month yesterday. He's cooing and smiling and only hates tummy time 50% of the time. The other half he just finds a fist to suck on and goes for it. Boy loves to nurse, and even takes his "cow paci" sometimes. He still sleeps insanely well at night (counting my blessings while they last), and is basically my little appendage. He's a good, sweet boy, and the big kids are in love. 

That tongue.

3. He also got baptized two weeks ago. Boom! Good-bye Original Sin! Hello New Life in Christ! 

All the heart-eyed emojis.

4. Clare started pre-K (?!?) at the end of August. She's loving it. Her class has 14 girls, no boys, several friends, and the same teacher as last year. #winning. 

First day. Front porch. Not at all cliche.

Bonus: This year, Peter is enjoying his Clare-free time, "helping" me around the house, reading lots of books of his choice, and playing with whatever he wants whenever and wherever he wants. Then, he's excited to go pick her up -- it's just enough alone time for him!

5. Clare is also back in weekly gymnastics and dance. This year, her dance class does both tap and ballet, and she's loving having tap shoes. She especially seems to love them during nap time. #notwinning

Ahem. Throwback pic to her first class . . . in June.

Excited for her tap shoes!

6. Life with your third newborn is decidedly different than life with your first. Example: at three weeks, Clare had been to Target and Mass. At three weeks, Peter had been to Target, Mass, the grocery store, and one or two parks. At three weeks, Dominic had been to Target, Mass, the grocery store, a few parks, the zoo (twice), the children's museum, a handful of other stores and several restaurants. Yet, somehow, I'm trying harder to soak up his tiny-baby status, because I know it won't last. 

First trip to the park

7. I would be remiss if I didn't make mention of today, since it's the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It's a day that I, like pretty much everyone, will never forget. I can recall my "where were you" vividly -- huddled around a dorm TV. I cannot help but pray today -- for the lives lost, for lives irreconcilably changed, in thanksgiving for those who served in the aftermath, for the changed world that has emerged. I pray to remember, and I pray for peace. I also reflect on my own life in that time, and pray in thanksgiving for the gift of faith. I pray in thanksgiving for the life I'm now living. 
Happy week (and waning hours of the weekend)!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Savoring the Season

It started with a check yourself moment Monday morning. I began to feel sorry for myself, because the holiday day was starting to look like a pretty ordinary morning. And, with Charles off, wasn't I supposed to have a lovely, photogenic family day?!? It lasted about 30 seconds before I snapped out of it, reminding myself that the media, and especially social media, are not purveyors of 100% accuracy in their portrayal of life. Besides, our afternoon plans were for the pool and burgers on the grill. What is more hashtag-worthy than that?

So I righted my thinking, got over it, and got on with my day, which proved to be perfect in that it gave me, not an Inta-worthy photo, but deep, penetrating, soul-feeding contentment. That happiness is so very much better.

Four hours after my momentary pity party, I found myself reflecting on the whole thing. It was a strange Labor Day Weekend. On the one hand, the calendar had flipped to September, so we (societal we) were all about apples and pumpkins, scarves and boots. Fall, in all its glory, had arrived. On the other hand, here we were, celebrating the waning days of summer, on the last "official" (if artificially designated) day of summer. Knowing the days ahead will bring the fall of the media and the catalogues in fits and starts for weeks, months even. Knowing that the public's taste for autumn will come and go all too soon. The Christmas catalogues, surely, are already being prepared for mailing.

So there I was poolside, nursing Dominic, while Charles took the big kids to play in the water. Watching the scene before me, my eyes welled with the simultaneous recognition of how blessed I am and how fleeting it all is. 

Change, like fall, is in the air. Charles' and my minds are occupied with figuring out what follows residency--and where. Mulling possibilities and futures and dreams.

Clare was running and splashing and squealing -- oh! how she squeals! -- in French braids and her purple tutu tank that will surely be too small next summer.

Peter was there, a home body away from home, but happy with his people. His safe place. Fumbling his toddler-ish way from baby to boy, his cars and his family never too far away.

And tiny Dominic, 4 weeks old, and already filling out, growing. I'm going to blink, and he'll be Peter's age. Clare's. And they'll be...I don't want to think about it.

I want to rebel. Stop rushing time. Stop declaring the commencement of fall before summer ends. Stop running headlong into Christmas before the turkey is roasted. Stop wishing away today's challenges, tempted by the promise of tomorrow.

Instead, I want to savor the little girl squeals (even though they pierce my ears), the cars under foot (even when they make me curse under my breath), the sweet baby who has dozed off in my arms (even when it means the laundry won't get folded). I want to savor the present, not because it is perfect, but because it is good, intrinsically, life affirmingly good. Because I can already feel it slipping through my fingers. 

I want to savor this season, because I only get to taste it once.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Naming Dominic Jude

I love when people share a little bit about how they came to name their children what they do. I'm an old-school name nerd.

The main man himself

Dominic's name was the longest, hardest, and easiest for us so far. 

We (I?) decided that being Team Green (not learning the gender of baby until delivery) was something I really wanted to experience, probably right after Peter was born. Our biggest "drawback" to going for it was the daunting prospect of coming up with names for either a boy or a girl.

We had tossed ideas around in the past, and pretty much have a girl name settled if we are ever so blessed. At least a first name. Middle names around here seem to be up for debate until the last possible minute, so you never really know!

Anyway, that left us with deciding on a boy name! There are, of course, two types of people in the world: those who struggle with girl names and those who struggle with boy names. We are the latter.

We had tossed around ideas and possibilities in the past, but when there's an actual baby to name, stuff gets real! Compounding the challenge this go 'round was my due date: August 8, which happens to be the "feast" (liturgically: memorial) of St. Dominic, to whom Charles and I have a long standing devotion. I said that if I had a baby boy on my due date, we *had* to use Dominic as a first or middle name.

So Dominic started its rise toward the top of our name list, along with a surprise contender: Jude. At one point, before I was even pregnant, I found Charles' St. Jude medal--one I didnt even know he had -- while sweeping. I decided it was a sign and started to consider Jude as a name, even watching it grow in popularity among young Catholics. At some point, we threw out the idea of Dominic Jude together, and we both sort of agreed that we really liked Dominic Jude.

But did I want to "save" Jude for another first name down the road? Did we want to use Jude as a first name now? Did we want to choose a middle that we just can't use as a first for whatever reason (like being too weird or used by close family/friends)? So began our trip down the long, winding middle name road. We had SO many middle name possibilities. 

I chatted with Kate, who gave me plenty of ideas, which was both helpful (great ideas!) and not (more ideas!).

We knew that middle names would be a game-day decision either way. We were somewhat settled on a middle for a girl, but for a boy? Still not sure.

By the time we were walking into the hospital for my August 8 induction, it was clear that we'd be using Dominic for a boy, but I remember thinking that I was pretty settled on a different middle name.

Once he was born, and he was a Dominic, everyone in the room found out that we were still debating a middle name and threw out some terrible (for us!) suggestions, most notably, Chase! I mean, my Paw Patrol obsessed bigs might have liked it, but it's just not our style. *Giant wink*

As I was holding him, for the first time, I felt like I knew: his middle name was Jude. 

Finally, after what felt like forever, the room cleared out of alllll the people, and Charles and I had a chance to talk middle names with privacy. I told him that I was really feeling Dominic Jude and, miraculously(?), Charles agreed right away.

It was the longest naming process, because it really did last theee longest. Twelve or fifteen or twenty-four months. It was the hardest because 1) two names and 2) all of the doubt. It was the easiest because the due date gave it away and the name we ultimately settled on had felt so right for so long.

St. Dominic, pray for us.
St. Jude, pray for us.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Baby Dominic's Birth Story

It's a boy!!

Dominic Jude

{Skipping over the announcement post, and getting to the real meat: birth story! Also, all the usual birth story TMI warnings.}

Clare's Birth Story
Peter's Birth Story

So, much like with Peter, I was pretty much done with being pregnant several weeks before birth. Also much like Peter, I went through weeks of irregular early labor/Braxton Hicks/whatever contractions. A few times, things looked promising...until they petered out. Blah.

So we get to 39 weeks. I had an appointment that Monday, when I was 39&0. Since we were planning induction for the next week, we had to do a cervix check (to see how favorable I was for induction, etc.), and things were promising: 3cm/80% effaced/0 station.

My doctor was sure that I'd go Monday or Tuesday. Or in the next few days at the outset, but scheduled a pitocin induction for Monday morning just in case. Ha! Famous last words!
So Monday came and went. My in-laws arrived to watch Clare and Peter on D-Day. That  was helped put my mind at ease. Greatly, since, even though I had several people offer help, it just made everything so much easier to know I didn't need to worry about it.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, weekend. All the walking and eating and pedicure-ing did nothing to move Baby along. By Friday, I resigned myself to induction, because it was so much easier on my mental state.

At least Baby would (presumably) have the awesome birthday of 08.08.16!

Sure enough, Charles and I were up and moving bright and early Monday morning. Ate breakfast--enough to sustain me in labor, not so much as to be a huge disaster if it came back up. Fun times! Gave the kiddos final good-bye kisses. Headed out.

As predicted

It was grey and rainy. I felt at peace about everything, but I also can't say I wasn't nervous about the unknown. We parked and made our way in to admissions. Ironically, it was the first time I'd ever set foot in St. Joseph hospital. Ironic because of the thousands of hours Charles has spent there. Literally thousands.

Anyway, we got checked in and make our way up to labor and delivery, and got the administrative side of things going. Flattering hospital gown. IV. A million questions from nurses and residents* and the anesthesia team. Another (always fun) check on progress.

When all was said and done, they started pitocin at about 8:30. For the first two hours, we watched the Olympics, ate ice chips (disappointingly old school--at least give me real water, people!), and hung out. Contractions were getting regular and were more uncomfortable, but still not too bad.

My main complain the whole time was that my nurse, who was so kind and very competent, was also an insane chatterbox. Like she made small talk constantly--even through contractions--to the point of being really annoying, and keeping Charles and I from having any conversations (important, ridiculous or otherwise) of/on our own.

I had my second check at 10:15ish without much progress, but after that, things started picking up. Contractions were getting really hard to sit through, and I was definitely breathing/not talking/wouldn't be walking through them. 

I got out of bed to use the restroom with the intention of laboring on the yoga ball after, but standing felt so good, I decided to stand/sway through them instead. 

By now, the contractions were pretty regular and pretty intense. I was definitely breathing/ working through them. I'd found through the last weeks of pregnancy that praying the Hail Mary through uncomfortable contractions/checks/whatever was really comforting and helped me to relax greatly. 2 or 3 Hail Marys really got me through each contraction. I'm sure calling in divine comfort and assistance aided me to that end as well. 

I also found great comfort in the Crucifix. Because I delivered at a Catholic hospital, there was one in the room and I happened to have positioned myself so it was right in front of me while I was up and out of bed. Maybe my guardian angel helped me get there. Regardless, focusing on Christ and His sacrifice, and trying (however pitifully) to unite my suffering to His, also helped me work through contractions. 

At noonish, they came to check me again. Progress! Officially declared to be in active labor!

Throughout my pregnancy, I had debated the epidural question, in part because of how fast I went with Peter. Finally, I had come down to  the realization that natural onset of labor would likely go too fast to bother, but if I was induced I was going for the meds. I wasn't trying to be a hero, and didn't see any reason to work through 6 more centimeters unmedicated.

So, since I was officially "in labor" the plan was to get the epidural, break my water and go from there. 

According to everyone, the anesthesiologist on call was The Best, and soon he and his nurse were in my room working their magic. 

Sure enough, in spite of the world's most uncomfortable labor position, and even though I had breathed and tried to relax and pray and was straight coached through a lot of rough contractions by Charles (who also got his hand squeezed like I was trying to do serious damage), the epidural worked its magic and the pain? Gone!

So, back the residents came to check again and break my water. But now? 8 and then 10 centimeters! Baby time!

They let me labor down, thanks to the epidural, while the team got things ready for delivery, then it was time to push.

I was actually nervous, because the epidural was so fresh and because I had no feeling of pressure or needing to push or anything "baby is coming"-y. That was one thing about Peter's birth--I definitely experienced that primal urge to push!

But, as it turns out, I'm one of those people who is naturally fairly good at pushing, and even without feeling it, I was pretty effective. I pushed through about 4 contractions and then...there he was!
It was interesting, because from the angle I was at, I could see that baby was a Dominic* at the same time as everyone else. No big "it's a boy!" announcement--just a lot of comments that yep, it was a boy.

They did immediate akin to skin (I was feeling very Mama Bear--give me my baby)! He was slow in pinking up, though, so the newborn team pulled him over to the warmer to clear mucous and get color in him. I got all teary waiting and watching--talk about hormones! I'm sure his initial set of Apgars was less than stellar, but once they got him going, a few minutes that felt like forever later, he was fine. They put him back on my chest and we snuggled (and Dominic started rooting), while they finished the slowest set of repairs ev-er for a barely second-degree tear. 

Finally, I got to sit back and nurse and let people know that the baby arrived. About this time, Charles and I were finally given a minute alone to finally decide on a middle name--Jude winning at long last*--to share with family and friends.

After a couple of hours, we were moved to a recovery room--the giant corner room, actually (perk of delivering where Dad works!). My in-laws brought the big kids to visit.

"Reading" to her brothers

"Baby Domnick, I love you."

My little mama

We ate and rested and nursed and got bored and got the heck outta Dodge 26 hours after birth, when we got the all clear on bilirubin! I don't care what anyone else says, there's no place like home!

Since then, things have been great! So far, we're enjoying the sleepy newborn phase, the sweet tiny baby snuggles, the help/company/baby holders, and Charles' days off + relatively easy schedule this month.

As nervous as I was about the induction, it could not have gone more smoothly. I was on the piton for about 5 hours from start to baby, and once labor kick started, things progressed fast: a little more than two hours from the onset of hard contractions to baby; one hour from 4 cm to complete -- it looks like those contractions while they were placing the epidural were as bad as they seemed. I'm sure all of those things will impact decision making if we have more kids. I'm mostly just grateful for a good experience, and for a healthy baby boy. 

Yeah. We're all smitten!

First family pic -- not cropped. :S

*Blog post forthcoming

Friday, August 5, 2016

7QT {08.05.16} -- A Watched Pot Never Boils

Here I am. I'm 39 weeks, 4 days pregnant, and feeling every single bit like that watched pot. So long as L&D are not happening, I'm trying to keep walking and keep busy, which means I'm linking up with Kelly this morning.

1. At this point, I've had irregular contractions more or less every day for weeks. These range from totally fine to pretty uncomfortable, but I'm still waiting on the big daddy contraction: the one that says get me to the hospital NOW! I've had 2 or 3 instances where I was hopeful that things were picking up, but only to have my hopes dashed. At my appointment on Monday, the doctor thought things looked promising to happen soon, but just in case, the plan is to induce this coming Monday if Mr./Miss Sassy pants here doesn't decide to come on his/her own.

2. In preparation for the next month of recovery, ceaseless breastfeeding and momming through the fog of sleepless nights and busy days, we got a new rocker/glider for the living room. It only took 3 shopping trips to find the perfect one, but on trip #3, we found it at the first place we looked. We wanted: something really comfortable, something that would last and work in future homes (more investment, less throwaway), something wipeable (for easy clean-up of spit-up, milk spills, whatever else kids do to furniture). This guy was delivered last weekend and fits the bill perfectly. Charles calls it my captain's chair, and while I'm sitting in it now as I type, I am mostly just looking forward to settling in with my little snuggle bug. The one who's still waaaay too comfy snuggling on the inside.

Post-chair delivery photo courtesy of Charles.

3. Want some bump pics? I'd love to say that these are my last 3, but the way things seem to be going, I'll get a 40-week picture on Monday morning. :-P

4. Last weekend, I was able to do something that I really wanted to do for each kid before baby comes: take them on a Mom-date. The original plan was to go to ice cream or something, but because of schedules, ironically, things got more elaborate. Clare and I went to dinner (she wanted pizza), then we did a little back-to-school shopping, grabbed a treat (she picked gelatto), and ate dessert by the fountain at the shopping center where she made wishes and ran around like the 4 year old she is.

5. Saturday morning, Peter and I went to breakfast, ran errands, and then had coffee/juice/giant cookie at Starbucks. He took soooooooo long to eat that dang cookie, but by golly, he ate the entire thing! It was nice to spend time with them before the baby. They are so excited and are going to be such good big siblings, but it IS going to be a real adjustment for them, too. Especially Peter. (Side note: he's already too big. I'm not looking forward to the come-home-from-the-hospital and your former baby is a giant/kid phenomenon.)

6. Last weekend was a flurry of activity (Clean! Get haircuts! Finish projects!) and preparations for arrival of the baby and the family that comes with it. Charles' parents are here until sometime next week. Then my dad and stepmom, and then my sister. So, we were busy, busy bees trying to make it all happen. One thing we finally did was set up the swing in the living room, since it did require some toy moving and rearranging to make happen. Anyway, Clare immediately decided it needed some love and put her baby down for a nap in it--sweet girl. 

7. OPENING CEREMONIES ARE TONIGHT!!!! Do you hear that baby?!?! Come out and watch with us! I'm super excited, and not ashamed to admit that when I saw when my due date was for the baby, I was excited to have a totally justified reason to sit on my bum and watch way too much Olympic coverage. I'm not watching dressage at 5am because I care. I'm watching it because Baby is hungry. 

And that's all I got. Happy weekend!! 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Finding Joy

Summer = popsicles on the deck, no?

Maybe you can relate.

I have an amazing life. I am blessed beyond measure. I am happily married to my best friend. I have two amazing (ex-utero) children. I am on the brink of welcoming another little soul to this big, bad world. We have all of our material needs met. We're doing the best we can on spiritual matters. We have amazing circles of family, friends, support -- both here in Wichita, and itching for us to come home to Arizona. 

I also have small children. I am 37 weeks pregnant in this sticky August heat that seems not to be going away anytime soon (at least according to the weatherman). I have a husband who works long (and currently very early!) hours. 

So, at the end of the day, where's my focus? On the moments that made me laugh so hard that I cried? On the joy of stopping my girl on the stairs and embracing her in a monster hug for no reason at all? On Peter's hilarious statements, lacking in any sort of connecting words?

No, I focus on me. On my problems, concerns, complaints. On how the kids are fighting or loud or not respecting my need for personal space between the hours of 3 and 5 pm.

One way that I'm hoping to combat that plague is by looking for the joy in my life. Identifying it. I mean, it's right there for the taking. I just have to do it. And I hope to share those moments here. To capture them. To make them my focus, instead of my blur. To count my blessings. 

My name is Ashley, and in my life, I am finding joy.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

When It's All Bottled Up

I have barely touched a keyboard in months.

I want to. I want to find my creative mojo and write. I want to share the thousand things in my head and in my heart. I want to tell you about how beautifully God is shaping me with this whole marriage and motherhood thing. I want to tell you about how miserably I fail time and time again. I want to capture this moment in my life, because I see how fleeting it really is.

But yet. 

But yet. The words are just not there. Not where I want them to be. I have so many drafts sitting unloved. Unedited. Untouched. Unfinished. Unpublished. 

People talk about the death of blogging. Sometimes, I see where they are coming from. Sometimes, I feel the frustrating imbalance between not really caring how many hits I (don't) get, being happy to be a small-time blogger. Sometimes, I dream of more. Then I think about the time commitment, and it's time I just don't want to spend . . . on that. Not now. It's not the right time. Not for me. Maybe someday. 

Someday, I want to dream a big dream. I want to write or teach or DO. But right now, that's not where I'm called to be. I'm called to be Mama to these kiddos of mine. And that's more than okay. That's where God wants me. Doing God's will is always the path to joy, even (especially?) in the face of self-sacrifice.

But these thoughts, these ideas, these experiences? They aren't good when they are bottled up. I'm not good when they are all bottled up. 

Can I promise that my hope of wading back into the blogging waters will be fruitful? No. But my fingers are itching, and that is something I haven't felt in awhile. I'm hoping to run with it, and see where I land. I hope you'll come along for the ride.

Also, where else will I share pictures of my crazy kids being crazy?

Monday, July 18, 2016

37 Week Bumpdate . . . AKA the end of the road

Ok, fine. I still have 3 weeks to go. I still have 2 weeks before I told baby that s/he could make his/her appearance. But I think we all know that this is going to be the last bumpdate I manage to post. I just feel so blah about it.

Anyway, without further ado: 

Feeling: Okay, I guess. I'm hot and tired. I have various aches and pains. I have plenty of irregular contractions that aren't going to be sending me to the hospital anytime soon. One minute, I'm convinced that there is no way I'm going to make it to 40 weeks. The next, I've convinced myself that I'm going to be induced in the end. I'm pretty emotionally done, but as I mentioned, really would prefer Baby to stick around a couple more weeks. Basically, your classic preggo at the end of pregnancy, with the added bonus of an August due date. :-P

Wearing: The same things over and over and over. I'm mostly pretty sick of my wardrobe and mostly pretty ready to move on to the next phase: getting sick of my transition wardrobe. Also, I underestimated how short a couple of my t-shirts would get by the end of pregnancy, so that's making the situation even worse, if I want to be presentable when I leave home. 

Sleeping: Pretty well, all things considered. I'm doing the beached whale roll over every couple of hours, and I wake for the day pretty early -- even earlier than the kids, and that's saying something! -- but overall, I can fall asleep and go back to sleep, so I can't complain too much. 

Missing: It's summer. I would really like to enjoy a cold alcoholic drink on the deck while Charles grills and the kids run around like maniacs. I love my La Croix, but it's just not the same. At all.

Bonus: I've actually taken a lot of bump pictures in the last few weeks that never got posted, so here's your chance to watch me grow. And if you're really lucky, I'll add an actual 37 week picture later, when I'm not bedraggled from being at the pool this morning. :-)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

28 Week Bumpdate

Feeling: Ok. I’m feeling bigger by the day, and I’m starting to feel the aches and (hip!) pains of pregnancy, but nothing a heating pad, hot shower, or Tylenol can’t fix. 

Wearing: Maternity t-shirts and jeans, with a cardigan when necessary. I’m eeking 2.5 pairs of jeans and a couple of pairs of leggings out through the spring shoulder season. I don’t want to buy more pants when I know that, as soon as the weather turns, I’ll be living in skirts and dresses the rest of the summer. Spring in Kansas really makes my Arizona show loud and proud — what friends from colder climes view as shorts weather still finds us in pants and layers. 

Eating: No real change on the food front. Whether it’s baby or spring or both, I find myself wanting lots of fruits and veggies, which can’t be bad. And I’m drinking tons of water (or at least I'm trying really, really hard--depends on the day!!), and trying to eat plenty of protein. 

Craving: Baby has pretty much established his/her love for cheeseburgers, chocolate, and raspberries. Peter liked his beef. Clare liked her sweets. No gender hints there!

Sleeping: Sleep is getting a bit more elusive. I find myself waking every hour or two, but sleeping hard in between.

Missing: Nothing new.  

Bonus: The 20s weeks of pregnancy feel like they are creeeeeeping by. But then I think how fast April went, and how fast May going. Suddenly, by the end of May, I’ll be in the 30s, and that always goes fast (until the end when it doesn’t). Which is a long, very complicated way of saying that even though it feels like time is moving slowly right now, I know that the end of pregnancy is going to be here before I know it.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

7 Quick Takes (05.15.16)

I don't even remember the last time I did 7QT, but here goes! Linking up with Kelly. (For reals, yo, I started this on Friday, then naps and quiet didn't happen and now it's Sunday, and I'm actually trying to get stuff up.)

So, since I haven't done much blogging recently, here is a photo dump update.

1. First, I gotta brag that I got not one, but two posts published this week, thanks to some Mother's Day time at Starbucks. Birthdays and parks. That's what motherhood is made of, am I right, or am I right?

Park Kids

2. Speaking of birthdays, Peter's second was pretty great. Even though Charles was working nights, we managed to celebrate with gifts and breakfast on the big day, and had a gaggle of friends and a few family members over for a shindig on Saturday.

Cake and gifts and bikes, oh my!

3. Last week (two weeks ago?), the kids and I took a whirlwind (emphasis on whirl) trip to Arizona for my grandma's memorial/burial. It was my first time flying with both of them, and I I have to say that I was really nervous about the whole thing. I'm really proud of how they did--great on the flight and for most of the week. By the last couple of days, they were pretty exhausted from being dragged around, nonstop stimulation, and being on some weird hybrid of Central Daylight and Mountain Standard times that basically meant that they were getting very, very little sleep at night. Overall, it went well, but I'm still none too eager to do it all over again.

Snacks on the plane like pros.

4. One night at my dad's house, when I went to get ready for bed, I found them sleeping like this. The photo quality is awful (iPhone and all flash, go figure), but it just melted my heart. I love that they love each other, even though their volume/fighting doesn't always show it.
He was actually sleeping on her! 

5. Before we left, we went with our playgroup on a little excursion to go strawberry picking. Fruit picking is pretty foreign to me, since the only thing that really grows in Phoenix is citrus, and enough people have a surplus in their yards that going picking is not really a thing. Anyway, we had so much fun, and my kids devoured our pickings for a pre-flight afternoon snack!

Getting' our country on

6. I've written before about how Mother's Day was really hard for me for a long time. This year, for the first time in 17 years, I can honestly say that I had a wonderful day. Yes, I had those twinges of sadness, but Charles and the kids made my day with the sweetest flowers and funniest cards and food and coffee and laughter. I felt too blessed to be burdened with sadness.

3 bouquets from my 3 loves

7. Next week, Clare is going to have her first dance recital! Of course, that means a dance-heavy week and lots of time with poor Peter stuck at dance stuff, but I'm pretty sure it is going to be adorable. I'm also pretty sure that one or both of Charles and me will cry on the big day. We're nothing if not a couple of big saps.

Blurry picture day pics

Have a lovely weekend! week!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

My Heart Wasn't In It

This is the rainy season in Wichita. Rain is in the forecast several days each week. That rain may or may not bring with it severe storms, thunderstorm warnings, the works. It will probably bring rain and a day or two of being cooped up. I learned my lesson last year that I need to get my kids out to burn energy as much as possible on the days when the weather is halfway decent in order to save my sanity the rest of the time.

All of this to explain why I told my kids that we could go to the park to play and eat lunch on our way home from story time on Wednesday a couple of weeks ago, even though I really, really, really didn’t want to go to the park: it was a couple of degrees cooler than I would have liked, and a whole lot windier and wetter, thanks to storms the days before. 

The whole drive, I offered alternatives that were basic rewordings of: let’s go eat lunch at home and we can play later. No, they want to go to the park. 


So, we go to the park and all of the reasons I didn’t want to go to the park start proving perfectly accurate, right before my eyes. It’s cold. (Okay, fine, it’s a tiny bit chilly.) It’s wet. The kids are dropping peanut butter sandwiches in the dirt. They are setting soaked in puddles and caked in sand. I They finally “finish” eating and I give them 5 minutes to play before we load our wet selves into the van. Royal we, of course, because I’m dry and annoyed.

In a desperate attempt to get some good playing time in before The Wicked Witch makes her leave, Clare sprints to the play structure, Peter on her heels. 

And, oh my gosh! Something, on this particular day, has clicked in my girls’ brain. Instead of playing on the baby equipment and being timid timid timid, she is going down the big slides and climbing back up. She is going up and down the up-to-now terrifying twisty tube slide. She is climbing and sliding and laughing. We stayed a whole lot longer than 5 minutes!

That triggered something in me. I was so dang proud of her for overcoming her fears, her preference for taking the proven road instead of pushing herself. At one point, while helping her climb, I literally teared up. These moments are what parenthood is all about. There is nothing better than watching your kids fly. And that Wednesday, my girl flew.

What a lesson in parenting, even when we don't want to! I'm not good at doing things -- anything! -- when my heart isn't in it. Sure I can push through and get it done, but probably not up to the standards I'm capable of. That day, my heart wasn't in my own promise to go to the park. Sure, I pushed through, but I had every intention of half-***ing it. 

But parenting? Parenting isn't about us. It isn't about us at all. It is about emptying ourselves, sacrificing what we want, for the good of our kids. And the reward? That is even greater.

My kiddos that day at the park

Monday, May 9, 2016

To Peter On His Second Birthday

{SO belated in posting!}

Dear Peter,

One is such a weird age. You start as nearly a baby and end as a legit toddler. This year saw you walking, talking, moving into a big boy bed, and getting ready to be a big brother. And you’re going to be a great big brother, once you get over the fact that someone else will be competing for my attention! (You’re quite the Mama’s Boy, if we’re being totally honest!)

You are sweet. You have the best little smile. You give the best hugs, and are SO naturally affectionate.

You are smart. People — sometimes including Mommy and Daddy — underestimate you, because your speech has been a little slow in coming. You are putting more and more words together, though, and now others are starting to see can see what we’ve known for awhile. That little brain of yours works in overdrive. Probably the result of all the books you get us to read.

You love to color. You probably have a better natural writing grip than your sister, and can sit with crayons for a long, long time. You also like to show off your skills on any other surface available, if you get your hands on a rogue crayon/pencil/pen. We do our best to keep those things out of reach, and have also made ample use of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. 

You love food — especially your first-thing-in-the-morning yogurt. And you devour it with passion — which is a nice way of saying that you are THE messiest eater. You’ve also inherited your mama’s love of ketchup. 

You are a daredevil, but you are shy. It takes you awhile to adapt to a new situation. That means that me leaving you in the Church nursery or with friends while I run to the restroom freaks you out. But climbing to the tippy top of the play structure or going down the highest, fastest slide? That doesn’t phase you in the least. We’re just waiting on the ER visit that we know is coming.

You are charming. With that little grin and impish sense of humor, you try to get out of whatever mischief you get into. You try to deflect attention by making any object into a hat or pointing out the baby in Mama’s belly. Yeah, we’re on to you, Buddy!

It is such a joy being your Mama, Big Man. I’ve grown so much as a mother, and learned so much about love in our two years together, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds.

Love always,

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

20 Week Bumpdate

How far along: 20 weeks (and 1 day, if you're being all technical)

Feeling: Pretty good, truth be told. I'm starting to feel the occasional crick in my back and whatnot, but the stomach feels good, the viral yuck that passed through the whole dang house in the last month or so is finally gone. I've had a few days where I woke up totally in nesting mode, and needed to scrub bathrooms or clean out cabinets or whatnot. Which is fine, except for the day that I really, really wanted to wash all the newborn stuff, but had to resist, knowing that I'd need to rewash it this summer. So I limited myself to sorting and putting it in a bag to be a load later this summer.

Wearing: Pretty much all maternity all the time. I still have a handful of non-maternity things in the rotation, but they are mostly things that I bought or have put aside in part because they are so flexible.

Eating: Still just trying to keep it reasonably healthy and every couple of hours. The cravings have dropped off a little, but yesterday, I freakishly decided I needed a bowl of cereal mid-afternoon. I think it is the first time in my life that I have eaten cereal for anything besides breakfast.

Craving: Ice cream. Is it Easter yet? 

Sleeping: Pretty well. I have to get up a time or two each night to use the bathroom/deal with a kiddo/whatever, but I'm sleeping and falling back to sleep easily, so no complaints there.

Missing: An afternoon caffeine boost. Some afternoons just drag on forever, you know?!? 

Bonus: Mid-pregnancy beauty shot from our little Monkey. This was from my anatomy scan at 18 weeks. Looking healthy. We're standing by our decision to be Team Green, so we'll find out whether this little wiggle worm (and baby is a serious wiggle worm--I've been feeling pretty strong movement since 17 weeks!) is a boy or girl at delivery!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Roasted Potato Soup

{I have said many times that I am not, and have no desire to be, a food blogger. But I love food, and sometimes, I have to record a recipe or blather about baking. My apologies.}

Have you ever had the privilege of reading a recipe review that looks something like this:

"It was terrible! I substituted baby formula for the half and half and didn't use any salt. I also omitted the potatoes and used soft pretzels instead. I will never ever EVER make this recipe again!!?!"

Okay, so you didn't make the recipe you made...something. Maybe it was edible. Presumably didn't kill you, since you wrote the review. I know some of them aren't quite that bad, but it's frustrating to read a review and then hear about how great it was . . . after they totally changed the recipe!

Anyway, I felt like a bit of a recipe Frankenstein Friday night while making potato soup inspired by this Barefoot Contessa recipe. I saw the episode in the week (ironing + Food Network gets the ironing done, okay), promptly forgot about it, then re-remembered it Thursday night (i.e. the day I do my grocery shopping when the getting new stuff ship had long sailed). But I thought it might be a fun way to spruce up "boring old" potato soup, which was already on the menu for Friday.

So, instead of leeks, I used onions. And boring old russet potatoes. And veggie broth. And no arugula. Or crime fraiche. Or crispy shallots.

So this is what I did do. No process pics, because I didn't know how much I was going to enjoy my concoction to know that I needed to document it.

2.5 pounds of potatoes (I eyeballed a quarter of a 10-lb bag.)
2 medium onions
2 quarts (8 cups) of vegetable broth (I used homemade, but you could use store bought or chicken)
Whole milk to taste (again, what I had; you could use half & half or cream or whatever)
Thyme -- a few sprigs
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Peel potatoes and cut into large chunks. 
2. Dice onions into large chunks.
3. Coat onions and potatoes with oil, salt and pepper. Spread on baking sheet. Add thyme on top.
4. Roast in 400* oven for 45 minutes or until cooked and golden brown
5. Remove thyme twigs
6. Transfer potatoes and onion mixture to food processor in batches (I used 2) with a little broth. At this point, you do not want a smooth mixture, but a chunky one. Transfer to a pot or Dutch oven, and add the rest of your broth.
7. Simmer and season to taste. I made the soup mid-afternoon and let it simmer for a couple of hours, but it would be just as good after 20 or 30 minutes. A bit before serving, add milk to taste -- we don't do a super creamy soup, so I used maybe 1/4 cup (eyeballed, of course). Honestly, it was pretty good without it, if you're a non-dairy person.
8. Try not to eat it all before you serve.

On Friday night, I served it with a salad and crusty artisan bread. I ate leftovers with a sprinkle of cheddar. I can't help but feel like the dish calls for some good white cheddar, or maybe a grilled cheese or another toasty sandwich on sourdough. Yum!

Monday, February 22, 2016

16 Week Bumpdate

What's a Catholic mom-blog type blog without baby talk?

I guess I haven't really shared the news here, though I certainly shared it with family around Christmas,

and with the rest of the world via Instagram and FB.

Anyway, I'm trying to get back on the blogging bandwagon, especially now that I have some second trimester energy. But I also still have a boy who resists naps with all of his might, and an early-rising girl, which makes computer time pretty hit and miss. 

So, without further ado, this is us at 16 weeks with #3, also known as The Monkey. 

Please forgive the still-wet hair. Was trying to get a picture before the late-day bloat made me look even bigger.

How far along: 16 weeks. Officially due August 8, but I am going with "early August" to hopefully keep the late-pregnancy crazies away (at least a little).

Feeling: Not too bad. I had some on and off nausea through first trimester, especially if I didn't eat frequently enough or eat enough protein. It was nothing debilitating by any means, but it was probably the worst I've felt any pregnancy. I also spent those weeks bone tired -- fall-asleep-standing-up kind of tired. I still feel pretty run down (thus too much time staring at the TV/phone, not enough time doing anything more productive), but I feel like a functional human, albeit one wishing I could consume considerably more caffeine than ACOG recommends.

Wearing: A mishmash of stuff. In the last couple of weeks I've finally admitted that I needed to bust out the maternity garb. I can still wear a few loose sweaters and flowy tops, but mostly I'm in maternity shirts (with normal cardigans, because winter -- even if it feels like spring sometimes). Pants are in that awkward stage where maternity is still uncomfortably loose and non-maternity is already uncomfortably tight. Boo!

Eating: Incessantly. I feel like I'm always starving. I aim for something reasonably healthy every two hours, but not promises that it is either healthy or not more frequent.

Craving: Arizona. Seriously, mention food from Arizona, and I will probably spend a few days craving it, until I either move on or find something that can be a kind of sort of passable substitute -- for the craving if not for the food. Lately, it has been Oregano's, ever since Charles mentioned how good it sounded to him. Or really good restaurant salsa. 

Sleeping: I'd actually be sleeping pretty well if my sweet children (read: ex utero children) would just cooperate. 

Missing: It has been a rough couple of weeks, and I'm not going to lie -- there were a few evenings that an adult beverage would have really hit the spot.

That's all folks! 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Struggle is Real: My Reading Woes as a Mama of Littles

Stop me if you've heard this one.

Growing up, calling me a book worm was probably a little too tame. I was more of a "book boa constrictor." I devoured as many books as possible. I spent my summer days pouring through stacks of library books half as tall as me, until my mom sent me outside for fresh air and sunshine in the afternoon. My cousins, on more than one occasion, hid my book from me to force me to interact with real, actual humans. 

And, in part because I read so voraciously, and in part because of my mom's guidance, I read a good mix of quality fiction, a little nonfiction, and the Baby Sitters Club (and other cotton candy books). 

All the way through law school, I read for pleasure as much as I could. I had learned to not start a novel the week before finals. I can proudly say that there is only one book from all my years of education that I didn't (at least) skim -- Walden -- which I keep meaning to pick up again. I suspect I'd have much deeper appreciation for it now than my too-cool-for-nature teenage self. 

When I was teaching English, I didn't read for pleasure nearly as much as I would have liked, but that part of me still felt fulfilled, as I spent hours dissecting reading to prepare for class. Plus, when I did read, I had a great excuse for reading fluffy YA material: I wanted to read what my kids were reading (and using for book reports). 

Then came the babies. Since Clare was born, reading has been at a pretty predictable ebb and flow. It goes like this: I don't read books for too long. I find myself spending too much time doing that idle web browsing of nothingness that is not so much not-fulfilling as soul-sucking, so I pick up an easy read. I tear through it. So I pick up another, and find myself tearing through four or five books of little substance. 

Great! I have my reading groove back!

With that feeling, I pick up a weightier book. A classic. Something that's really worth reading. And while I enjoy it, I need to give the book a little more attention: I can't read in 3 minute spurts before another Angelina Ballerina book is thrown at me as a little bug climbs into my lap. And don't get me wrong -- I love reading to my kids (mostly!), and I love that they love books as much as I do -- it's just that those little spurts make it hard for me to do much by way of quality book reading. So, I stall out on page 57, and since I'm "reading" that book, I go a few weeks before I pick up something light and start the process all over. 

I don't mind reading fluff, but I don't like how little non-fluff I've been working into my diet.

This year (starting yesterday when I finalized this resolution), I'm going to try a couple of new things, and I'm recording them, because it helps when I say stuff "out loud."

1. I'm not going to feel bad if I read mostly fluff. Reading fluff is better for me all around than non-fluff.

2. I'm giving myself permission to buy a few books. I'm not blowing the budget on books (which I easily could), but I'm buying more than I have in the last 5 years.

3. I'm reading real books. I think eReaders and eReading apps are great for certain seasons, but when I'm reading on a device, I'm distracted by all the other junk on my phone and don't read as much, or with as much focus. 

4. I've chosen one book (Kristin Lavransdatter), as the book that I'm going to focus on as my "quality book" when I'm wanting to read better something better. I'm not, though, putting pressure on myself to finish it before I start something different. It's a long book. I'm not even putting pressure on myself to finish it this year. 

5. I'm getting back to spending my morning quiet time doing spiritual reading -- either Scripture or a religious book. I was doing really well until Christmas then . . . too much feasting, not enough praying.

So that's it. That's my reading plan. For now. We'll see how it goes.