Sunday, December 16, 2012


Gaudete means JOY.

"I needa help daddy mow the gass"
Sunday morning Mass with our sisters

loving Mack

cutest gamecock ever

refusing to nap with mama but happy to sit and smile at her.
baking cookies for Natalie's birthday. stolen from her blog

some of T's first smiles

MK and Joy at 9 months old. Made me sad to find this. They are both so big now, with much more hair :)

A year and a half later...

Plenty to pray for these days, so much to be grateful for. Looking at these pictures reminds me to quit complaining and start praising. Thanking God for the JOY in our lives.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Provision and Perspective

Today I ventured out with the gremlins to Costco. I am never opposed to this little activity because I totally justify all the hardship of schlepping two kids through the big box store by sharing a pizza with MK. We got through the shopping with minimal screaming (Thomas gets a C+ but we were nearing mid morning snack time.) As I was debating who should go into the car first from a safety perspective, I sat my purse down in the front seat and closed the door. Not even knowing this was possible, somehow the car locked. By the grace of God, only my purse and diet  coke were inside and all children and holiday festive drinks were outside. The provision began there. It is not cold today. I had both kids outside of the locked car. No less than 5 people stopped to ask us if they could help or to offer their phones. There was even beer should things start looking really bleak. I had earlier heeded MK's request for pizza (so selfless, I know) so she wasn't hangry. My only concern was Thomas who was due for lunch but I figured that worst case scenario, I could sit on the bumper and nurse him. It would be uncomfortable and embarrasing but I still smiled and thanked God for the ability to feed him should I have to. There were many a mama in the parking lot so I was quickly able to borrow a phone to call Ross. It seemed that being locked out of a car with a tiny infant and squaking toddler wasn't going to be that awful. In more provision, Ross works five minutes from costco and our house is just five minutes more away. He was not in a meeting yet and was able to answer my call on the first ring (maybe because he didn't recognize the number? :) With no lecture giving, he was home to get the spare key and at my car in 15 minutes. I could not manage to feel stressed out when I felt, at every turn, that God was with me in this little moment of inconvenience. He worked out all the details and took care of us in what could have been a rough morning.

And then. The stink eye. Totally calling myself out here, but there was a sex in the city episode where Carrie is given "the FACE" by a friend of her ex-boyfriend. While I was standing in the parking lot, trying to keep my kids from getting hit (we didn't have a phone so I couldn't go inside and Ross was in a massive hurry so he couldn't come fetch us from inside), a 20 something girl and her mom tried to pull in next to us. It took me a minute to move the carseat, the grocery cart MK was still sitting in and our bags. She was visibly peeved at this oh so massive inconvenience so when she got out of the car, I simply said, "I'm sorry. I got locked out of the car and am trying to stay out of the middle of the road."  No joke, meanie 20 something rolled her eyes and said "well, it's a good thing your baby is so cute" and huffed off. I don't know why bratty 20 something girl bothered me so much but she did. Why did she have to be so mean? She was driving a luxury car and seemed very healthy, capable of parking 2 spots farther so as to avoid woman holding 3 month old and shielding cart with toddler. And then after my explanation, to still be so blatantly rude. I got in the newly unlocked car and took a deep breath. I wrote her a note (a relatively kind, Christian-like note but still, a note), put in on her luxury dashboard and tried not to let her meanness negate all the goodness that had come our way just minutes prior.

Trying to ignore how this hurt my feelings, I thought about all the people who endure a much worse version of this unkindness everyday. People who are addicted, homeless, mentally ill, physically handicapped, socially awkward, they all suffer this kind of meanness all the time. My silly mean girl just pricked me with her rudeness unlike the full assault other people feel every day. It gave me something to pray about this week, including the hope that little mean girl might be compelled to show kindness the next time she is made aware of someone's rough day, even if it is insignificant, like mine was.

It also made me think of how hard it is to stay focused on the gifts, on gratitude. So many of us have read Ann Voskamp's, One Thousand Gifts. I was doing a great job seeing all the provision, all the graces until I was faced with some negative. Then it became difficult not to dwell on the one, tiny bit of negative, and let it overshadow all the good. Every single one of our days has bad parts and good. It's a discipline to choose to focus on the positive things. Even if the bad is really really bad and the good is just a little bit good (not true of today but sometimes, yes) , Ann Voskamp so eloquently reminds us that special graces come from recognizing, naming and pondering the good. All of a sudden the bad doesn't feel so bad. Nice reminder for me today!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Great take on Mary

Y'all, this isn't original material but my dear friend Natalie sent this blog to me. This past Saturday, we celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception which celebrates that Mary, who bore Jesus, was born without sin. I love team whitaker's take on this and can hear her words (opinionated, headstrong, southern gal?? ya think??) coming from my mouth.  Even if you don't agree with the theology, you have to think the picture is stunning.


"I think, aside from artificial contraception, the most misunderstood teaching of the Catholic church is our take on Mary. Look, I’m an opinionated, headstrong, stubborn southern gal. I usually tell it like it is. The church’s reverence of Mary, the mother of God, has always intrigued me. As a woman, and now a mom, I always admired that the church gave Jesus’ mom – you know, the one who rode on a donkey while nine months pregnant, labored and gave birth to him in a stable and endured endless ridicule – her due credit. She was a total rockstar, y’all. Today, we celebrate that HER conception was immaculate. In order for Jesus to enter this world without stain, he had to grow in a holy womb. As Fr. Ron said yesterday, “Jesus and sin don’t mix.”
I love that, as a mom, I have a role model in which to hold myself accountable. No, I’ll never be as holy as her, but in my moments of weakness as a wife and mother, she really does get it. It’s true, I’ve asked for her intercession. I’ve asked her to take my prayers to God, much the same way that I ask a good friend to pray for me. Same-same. When I lament my lack of patience, my frustrations, my fears and my worries, I know she understands. Yesterday, it was an honor to celebrate her conception, her joy, her sacrifice and her role as the mother of Jesus.

New traditions

This is our first Advent/Christmas season with a child who is beginning to understand. She is excited and joyful and a sponge for learning all about this holy time. We are loving all things December this year and realizing how much joy young children bring to these special days. While our attempts at making it holy are hit or miss (as with anything you try to do with toddler monsters), I know things are starting to sink in.

First we took a quick trip into the big metropolis of Marietta for the Life University Lights of Life. It was the best $5.00 we have spent and we'll do so again. Listening to your child ooh and aah in pure joy is such a precious gift. They had a little market area complete with funnel cakes and caramel apples (resisting them was a Christmas miracle in and of itself!) and animatronics. I had never seen these little displays but Ross and MK loved them! Watching these people I love find joy in lights and petting zoos and electronic puppets was so wonderful!  We capped off the evening in my favorite way with a meal of terrible for you food. My husband knows my love language well!  My inaugural visit to fuddruckers was awesome and might be a new favorite "kill your pretend diet place."


The weekend ended with a wonderful first Sunday of Advent and lighting the first purple candle representing hope. We read a little reflection (thank you to Fr. Tim's sister for the great Advent devotions!) and talked about it. Since then, we've lit the candle each night and while MK sits sweetly some nights, other nights she screams while we try to read three whole lines of Scripture. Again, hit or miss. I'd say A for effort on all our parts though (including MK's efforts to potty train herself as evidenced in the no-pants photo below.) Also realize there's a beer right there next to our advent wreath. Real life folks, real life.
Then last week I decided the birth of Christ is as good a time as any to step out of my comfort zone and learn something new. Like how to bake cut-out cookies. I've only (unsuccessfully) tried my hand at slice and bake but really wanted MK to have the real experience (as long as real means dough from a box). So I ran to target and grabbed myself a rolling pin and flour and other items I've never had in my kitchen. A sweet angel lady gave me some tips and I exchanged about 20 emails/calls with my baker-extraordinaire sister. In another Christmas miracle, we ended up with delicious sugar cookies for our family and our neighbors. MK's favorite cookie cutters were the star and heart so we talked about the star leading the wise men to Jesus in the manger and our hearts loving our friends and family and baby Jesus. It was a precious, precious day of using a fun activity to teach our girl about what this all means. There is not a bit of OCD in me (Ross wishes for a smidge) so I happily delivered messy, oddly shaped cookies covered in sprinkles and happily cleaned the tornado this little craft created. MK has already asked to bake cookies again and me-maw sent us a care package of more pre-made dough so we'll be back at it soon! I can honestly say it was one of my favorite days with my girl and I understand now why this is a part of so many families' holiday traditions!

There are 15 more days in this special season of Advent and I am loving each day of looking at Christmas lights, talking about Baby Jesus and making memories with our little family!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Slow takes, on a wednesday

1. MK has been sick this week so we've spent lots of time at home. I've felt differently at the end of these last few days. A touch of cabin fever, yes, but mostly I've felt some semblance of satisfaction in this vocation of motherhood/wifedom. I've felt uncharacteristically happy in this home making business, the making of beds and folding of clothes (NOTHING is in my dryer right now. cray cray), and even (pigs flying high here) the preparing of meals. I've always been better when I'm busier so maybe this sick toddler and needy newborn are good for me. Stay tuned next week when I'm on the edge of the cliff again. I wonder if this forced slowing down helped. Could it be that I'm happiest when I'm doing the job I know I was created for? Cray cray again.

2. We had a wonderful thanksgiving. With no offense at all to our amazing families, I kind of abhor traveling with children. Need I re-post for the 3rd time the pic of MK's locked legs and arms screaming for 3.5 hours after our trip to Savannah in April??  I've resigned that our families may talk smack about us when we're not there, but mama just can't deal. Come see us. anytime. But Lawd please don't ask us to  come see you. Anyway, we did travel this Thanksgiving because my husband asks very little of me so I pack the car every November for the relatively short trip to greenville as a gift to him. I realized that as kids get older and their rookie mamas start to chill the hell out,  it does get easier to be in someone else's home. Yes, they'll always sleep a little less great in a pack-n-play knowing their beloved Sha Sha is downstairs just willing them to wake up, but it does become a big help to be with these people who love these babies like you do. I found myself missing my elder gremlin by Sunday because she was always off somewhere, with someone, being cared for by someone else, and surviving it all quite well. I'd say we'd start traveling more but I have birthed a 2nd carseat hater. God dislikes me mucho.

3.I am just finishing Choosing Joy by Dan Lord and can't recommend it enough. Thanks to the aforementioned toddler wrangling during Thanksgiving, I spent many a baby feeding reading this little gem. As someone who kind of sucks at experiencing joy, this was a new take. If I can get my act together/get a baby on a nap schedule, I'll come back with some of the highlights.

4. I know I just talked about feeling all warm and fuzzy about domestic life over here, but I couldn't leave it all warm and fuzzy. I've written before about how 'glass half full' my husband is and how it takes a WHOLE lot to get that guy down. Since it takes a WHOLE little to get me down, I've been trying to make those first few minutes when he walks in the door a little less "pick a diaper to change. now. please (if I remember the please.) It is so not cool that the time dad gets home coincides with the hour all children turn into hungry wolves because these hard working menfolk really do deserve to come home to something other than wolves and angry mother wolves. So while I may be up for most improved in the domesticity department, I'm still getting a big, fat Needs Improvement on being someone my husband wants to come home to. How do you girls do it? How do you manage to have a semi-clean home, food on the table, kids looking un-homeless and not cuss within 5 seconds of your husband's arrival? And furthermore, how do you manage to stay awake for more than 10 minutes after the last needling (credit for best word ever to Grace) is in bed?  I watched a great 60 minutes piece on a couple who spends 16 hours a day together in a car filming lions in Botswana. When Lara Logan asked them how they spend that much time together, the presh husband said he never wanted a job where he worked 12 hour days and came home angry, grabbed a scotch, and got to spend 1-2 hours with his wife. All I could think when I heard that was that Ross would be happy with a half hour of semi-sane, happy wife. I guess there's a reason there are 4,245 books on putting your marriage first because it ain't easy with these little creatures demanding to be fed/bathed/prayed with at every turn :)

5. If anyone has an extra dose of self-discipline/ "shut up and do it-ness", please pass along. Thomas is 12 weeks. I think. Maybe 11? Whatev. He'll be 3 months old in 12 days which is plenty of time for me to have put down the 5 whoopie pies (thank you Sha Sha) and picked up the running gear. I was supposed to start Tuesday. But Mary Kate is way sick and Ross has a stooopid schedule this week. So we try again tomorrow. Must stop drinking diet cancer and start fueling with stuff that will give me enough energy to stay up for at least one round of Jeopardy with my hubs. Anyone want to sign up for an expensive race with me? About the only thing that could motivate me to train right now is the thought of spending and then wasting money. Or maybe the promise of a cupcake and dc at the end...

6. Please go fill your heads with some un-narcissistic ramblings. I just had 20 minutes and what does one do with that much time if the dryer is empty?  I did just empty Ross's cell phone pics onto my email so come back soon for some adorableness with a side of narcissism again!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Variety is clearly not the spice of life. 7 quick takes. again.

--- 1 ---
I so need to come up with my own material and stop piggy backing on poor Jen over there at Conversion Diary but to be fair, some of these were things I would have morphed into a post if I had time or two available hands.
--- 2 ---
Speaking of available hands, I almost always have one, if I'm lucky. My presh boy likes to be held and is dern adamant that I not trick him with sling or moby or bjorn or ergo. I know I will miss the days when he is most happy feeling my skin against his little face but man, somebody's gotta do laundry around here. Though I'm starting to think that should be Ross. He does 88.9% of the housework anyway but when I left for work the other night, he FOLDED 3 loads of laundry and by folded I mean, actually folded. Nicely, neatly, kind of perfectly. Honey, you are sooo much better at that than I am (being that you actually removed the laundry from the dryer instead of simply picking out needed item piece by piece). You're hired!
--- 3 ---
On a totally unrelated note, I wanted to blog earlier in the week about a lady at Mass Sunday. For whatever reason, the 9:00 Mass has exploded into a packed out house, complete with a children's choir every week, unannounced children's performances and a nursery at capacity. We don't know what's up but we miss the ole days when the 10:30 got all the crazy. Anyway, we got there early so MK got a coveted spot in nursery and all the angels rejoice. In front of us sat a precious lady, probably 70, 75 years old, heavyset with beautiful gray hair wrapped in a french twist. She wore a cardigan over her shoulders and just screamed sweetness. She was sitting when a family of 6, including twin toddlers, tried to squeeze in the pew in a space meant for 2 people, max. Instead of doing as I would have done, which is step out so as not to be TRAPPED in the middle with banshee family, she SCOOTED OVER! She let them have the coveted, easy exit aisle seat. She even smiled at them as the kids had their meltdowns (in fairness, they were pretty good. But even perfet toddlers are still toddlers and there were 2 of them with 2 big brothers!) She smiled when she got bumped and pushed and when she picked up sippy cup after goldfish cup off the floor. That lady exuded grace. And she made me feel like a jack behind for getting annoyed at the kids and the sound system and the packed house that was cramping my mass style. I hope I'm just like her when I grow up.
--- 4 ---
On another unrelated note (whoever said these things had to transition anyway?), I got a text from my friend Anna today saying Congrats! I thought she texted the wrong person but low and behold, I had won a giveaway on Sherri's blog. Sherri is transitioning from real estate guru to personal stylist with Edit.  The Edit team is led by Lauren who I knew from college.  They are masters in the personal styling world. Sherri, who was also an ADPi, has joined their team and as a part of her hazing, she is coming to my closet to put together outfits from what I already own. Yeah, she'll regret this giveaway for sure. She asked for comments on how we'd describe our current style. My answers "coveredinbabyspitup" or "easytopopoutaboob." I'll be sure to report back whatever magic she works in my repetoire of boring and boringer.

--- 5 ---
We are heading to Athens tomorrow and I am muy muy muy excited. I get to tailgate, eat bad food, feel all the gameday excitement that I love, and then, here's the kicker, go
HOME (to Elizabeth's home), put my babies down and have girl talk while Ross goes to the game. If you know me at all, this is the perfect combo. I am sooo in need of some hometown love (e is from savannah) and in need of feeling normal again, even if it means schlepping the gremlins all over Athens. Ross even said MK could wear bulldog attire. As if I weren't going to sneak it on her anyway. Prob won't press my luck with Thomas though.

and yes, DEAR, I know I'm not the best fan in the world but our kids look dang cute in Jawja outfits.
just realized she's holding a knife. lovely. 

--- 6 ---
Ross caught me re-reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and asked me how many times I was going to read it, as well as Moms on Call and The Happiest Baby on the Block. You didn't think you'd escape without a sleep post, did you?? I informed him that I would keep re-reading until I figured out the magic formula. Then I will share all my miracle findings with sweet Frances and there will be at least 2 less crazy mamas on the planet. We are making progress but it's 2 steps forward, one giant jump backward. To my dear friends Ashley, Joan, Ali and all the other sleep deprived women of the world, I truly am praying for you. It ain't easy raising up these future nobel peace prize winners, I tell ya.

--- 7 ---
Thanks to an extra pair of hands from my sister-in-law, I took the kids to see Santa at Phipps. I am not in the "must make this a family tradition every year" camp but I am in the "have an appointment in early November and escape the long lines" camp. Rae Ann sweetly agreed to come with and walked MK around so she wouldn't see the kids in front of us screaming. She did pretty well considering she walked up and said "no santa, no santa." I am still figuring out what "santa" looks like in our family. I don't want my kid to be the odd kid out who doesn't even know who the big bearded man is, but I really do want this to be a spiritual, meaningful season while fun and exciting. We'll figure it out as we go along and I know I'll always love these photos that so capture this season.
perfectly captures life right now

having to hold MK's hand down from pulling at her lip. She licks it instead. Lord help me.

it looks so sweet but I imagine Santa is saying "please don't scream. please don't scream."
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, November 9, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 195)

--- 1 ---
Life these days feels like a see saw. It is up and down with no real predictor of success, other than the number of consecutive sleep hours from the previous night. Yesterday- awful. Awful like crocodile tears, hopelessness, anguish. I questioned whether it might be a touch of post-partum depression. A wonderful trifecta of a listening husband, some solid time in prayer, and a late afternoon call with a friend who did suffer with it and I felt a little more hopeful. I went to bed feeling sad that I was not the mom I want to be but felt just enough resolve to start again fresh today. And today is better. The weather is gorgeous and a friend convinced me to haul those two babes out of the house for lunch on a patio so I could feel the sunshine. Vitamin D all around. I walked around in the sunshine holding my sweet boy while MK ran with her best friend. I kissed that perfect little head and smiled, remembering my high school yearbook quote. "The sun'll come out tomorrow." During some pretty hard days in high school and college, I tried to remember that. It is so, so true. The sun does come out, in every way. It just takes a little faith and good people around me to remind me.

Good friends make the sun come out a little faster!

--- 2 ---
I am learning a lot these days about sacrificial love. Fr. Silloway, an Atlanta priest I knew from our Catholic Center days at UGA, has said that if you are not sacrificing, it probably isn't real love. On days when I lament the hours of "me time" and the ability to just get in the car and go, I remember these words. Yes, there is a lot of sacrifice. My book pile is getting high. The blog gets neglected. Thank you notes go unwritten and hair most certainly goes unwashed. But there is also an indescribable amount of love. The sacrificing part just reminds me that it is authentic and right and just as God intended it.
My kind of sacrificing.

--- 3 ---
People who have small children and dogs and clean houses baffle me. HOW does one do that?? You are never  going to walk in my house with a white glove and leave without some stains on that glove, but even I would prefer a wee bit more order and cleanliness. Mr. "not happy unless physically touching my person" is not helping. Nor is his hatred of most slings/carriers. He knows I'm trying to cheat him of his right to be skin to skin and doesn't stand for it. Thankfully, we had about 35 minutes of success with outward facing action yesterday. I'm pretty sure he's too young to be outward facing (if you even believe babies should look outward. Our friends at Ergo would say no.) but I simply kept a hand on his little head most of the time and we didn't have any major wobbles. Good news: it was just enough time to sweep and throw a load of laundry in. Bad news: laundry is still in the dryer and it yielded enough time to sweep, not to sweep UP the piles. Baby steps people.

--- 4 ---
I am still trying to find the balance of getting out, being around people, seeing the sunshine, and not killing myself in the process. We are working on two extremes lately with either too much time out or too much time in. One physically exhausts me. The other mentally exhausts me. I've got to find a happy medium. If Mary Kate could stop running away from me in parking lots and Thomas could nurse without gagging, choking, thrashing the nursing cover from side to side, outings would be much easier. Also if they could both carry their own diaper bags and buckle themselves into carseats.
--- 5 ---
Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Thomas has good nights and bad. I have been counting down the days until the blessed 8 week mark when so many, including Mary Kate, achieved a full night's sleep. Thomas heard me singing his praises all too often and decided to regress. A lot. Moms on Call says they won't starve and let'em cry. La Leche says my kid will be in therapy if he doesn't sleep in my bed and nurse all night. A friend's blog said she got her 6 week old nursing every 4 (?!) hours and sleeping until 5:30 am. I haven't figured out what works for us yet and am reminded that parenting is one big, fat game of trial and error.  I know that much of the bad days (see numero uno) have to do with pure exhaustion. 8 weeks of very little sleep plus the months of bad 3rd trimester sleep equal a cumulative level of exhaustion that people have used in warfare. I just miss sleep. That's all.
--- 6 ---
Last night I went to a work appointment and while I was gone, Ross and Mary Kate apparently played a mean game of hide and seek. Their game was real, unlike my version where I hide in the bathroom to make a call or have 24 seconds of peace. As he told the story of their before bed play time, I got a little sad. The day had been brutal, no doubt. But I was struck by how little I "play" with my girl. I take her places to play. I bring friends over for her to play with. But when we're home, I feed Thomas or change  diapers or try to do a few small chores all while suggesting to her things she could do. Rarely these days have I just played with her. We aren't making sacrifices for me to stay at home just for me to bring out a new puzzle or game for her to play with alone. She is in church nursery twice a week and mops childcare once a week so surely I can sit down 2 days a week, even as the less fun parent, and just play. It'd probably be good for all of us.
--- 7 ---
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, November 5, 2012

If I can get my act together...

It's that time of year again. That time when women everywhere are scrambling for a photo where everyone's eyes are open, smiles don't look forced and heads aren't cut off. If we find one, we may end up with actual Christmas Cards. If you, ahem, didn't get your act together to send out your son's birth announcement, making a Christmas card feels all the more important. Enter my friends at tiny prints. So, for your viewing pleasure, something for everyone.

Winter Boy Birth Announcements Today's Special - Front : Stream
Winter Boy Birth Announcements Dots and Joy - Front : Calypso
For the mom who needs to combine a Christmas card with birth announcement

Studio Basics: Christmas Cards Technicolor Peace - Front : Winterberry
for the family willing to bribe their kids for a cute photo
Flat Holiday Photo Cards Handwritten Love - Front : Bright Red
for the couple focused on the right things this Christmas season
Flat Holiday Photo Cards Soft Wishes - Front : White
when 3 little words send the perfect message
Folded Holiday Photo Cards Bethlehem Town - Front : Almond
for the family wanting to share the Good News

Christmas Cards Happy Christmukkah - Front : Peppermint
for the family celebrating more than one tradition

Go here for special offers from Tiny Prints and get excited about sharing in this sweet holiday tradition.
And for my sister, Natalie, and all the other pinterest fanatics out there,

Back soon with reflections on Thomas's beautiful Baptism!

*post sponsored by Tiny Prints*


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The inevitable wall hitting

It has happened. I figured it would. And frankly, it happened about 5 weeks later than I assumed it would. But I did not escape it as I had begun to hope I would. I hit the wall. More accurately, I slammed, head first, into the wall. Driving home from dinner tonight, it hit me. I have 2 children. 2 children who are wonderful and delightful and precious, yet still manage to feel like 22 children most days. As Ross said in the parking lot of St. Angelo's, "The salad days are over." Yes, sir, they most certainly are.

I feel like on any given day, I could flip a coin for a blog topic. One side would be the peaches and roses and McEntyre's cupcake version. The other would be the what the hail holy heck have I gotten myself into version. Guess which one won today??

Really, I couldn't have asked for an easier transition to two kids. I had THE perfect delivery. I was at Cathedral Bible Study exactly a week after Thomas was born. I have not called the doctor once with any delivery/post partum related issues. I can't complain. I shouldn't complain. But as I mulled over whether or not to vent/complain/melt down to Ross tonight, I decided I get to have a few moments of shock. I told him, "it would be like Bill doubling or tripling (or gazillionizing) your workload. It's just catching up to me." And catching up it is.

Lack of sleep is catching up. Disciplining a toddler is catching up. Trying to make this a home my husband actually wants to come home to is catching up. A whole new human soul entering a family isn't small potatoes and I think it's okay to acknowledge that. Especially a soul who needs his very own personal washing machine and dryer. Good heavens the laundry!

We are making it fine, truly. We are out almost every day with one commitment or activity or another. Mary Kate simply could not love this boy child more. And we are just now making our own meals (hence the pizza dinner out!).  But one day Mary Kate is going to have a baby and I hope she reads back through here and thinks, "oh my gosh, my mom, the mom who made a 5 course meal every night and had fresh baked cookies on the table after school and hand-smocked my Easter dresses- she struggled too!!" (Please tell me you read the sarcasm in that!)

After I had Mary Kate, Father Tim so sweetly told me that he could be a saint any day with a full night's sleep. So I'll attribute all the million minutes of un-saintly behavior and thoughts to Thomas's early morning parties. I know the wall will break down soon as we get out of this crazy/blessed/challenging newborn time. Until then, I'll savor the feel of Thomas's round little head fitting right into my cheek and the sound of Mary Kate singing her Bible songs. I'll treasure the comfort of laying my head on Ross's chest, trying to absorb his cheery outlook and strength. And when I run into this wall again, as I know I will, I'll take a deep breath and know it's just a season.

There are worse reasons to be tired!

my precious loves

Sunday, October 14, 2012

7 quick takes, Sunday edition this time

pretend that says Sunday
--- 1 ---
This morning's gospel reading was from Mark chapter 10. "Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for those who have wealthto enter the kingdom of God!"  The disciples were amazed at his words.  So Jesus again said to them in reply, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!  It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."

I wondered how Father Frank, preaching to a very affluent parish, was going to address this.  I was happy to hear him challenge us to what "abundance" we have in our lives that keeps us from Jesus. In this story, Jesus tells a man to go, sell what he has, and follow Him. He was referring to this man's actual earthly possessions. For some people, I guess God does ask. I think of Katie, of Kisses from Katie, who did leave everything she had for Jesus. But for many of us, there are other barriers to growing closer to him, that don't include physical money. For me, I know I spend precious time when kids aren't crying or eating or pooping on the internet. Not in scripture, or reflection or quiet time. The world wide web certainly is my "wealth" right now and it is keeping me from more precious time spent with God.
--- 2 ---
On a similarly profound note, I went shopping for skinny jeans 4.5 weeks post partum. I am clearly donating all my brain cells to my milk supply. Stooopid.
--- 3 ---
I took Mary Kate to a birthday party yesterday without little Thomas. It was our first outing just the two of us and I cherished it. We will definitely be dividing some on the weekends. I forgot how much fun that kid can be when I'm not trying to entertain her with a baby nuzzled against me. She's such an amazing little girl.
--- 4 ---
I am putting together a short devotional for our MOPS meeting Wednesday. I was looking through Always There: Reflections for Moms on God's Presence and was struck by a reference to Gary Thomas's Sacred Marriage. He asks the question, "What if God designed marriage to make us holy instead of happy?"  He showed examples throughout the Bible of strong marriages and says "Happy, though some may have been in certain moments, holy is what saw them through." I have thought of this often in the last few days and while I consider myself very happy at this time in life, I know "happy" is a feeling that is fleeting. Holy, if I put in the right effort, is something I can be every day.
--- 5 ---
Tonight our little family of 4 sat on the patio of our favorite St. Angelo's. Ross and I had a Killian's Red, MK colored and ate pizza, while Thomas slept. It was gorgeous outside. We talked about our hopes for school for MK, where or if we should move, and how we both felt pretty content lately- and what a gift that is. I looked at him and boldly said, "I feel like we've got this. I feel the opposite of overwhelmed." I know it takes one tantrum and one gassy baby to send that the other direction but it was a nice night as a family and I treasured it.
--- 6 ---
All that said, the transition to 2 hasn't been seamless. While sooo much easier than the transition to 1 big ole fussy girl baby 2 years ago, the logistics involved in just getting in the car are still kicking my rear. You need to be much more organized than I am to get 1 adult and 2 children anywhere even remotely in one piece. This doesn't bode well for the season o' traveling that begins later this month. I will channel my inner Ann Voskamp though and simply be grateful that my biggest problems these days are trying to figure out how to make a size 5 diaper fit on a size 1 baby because mama forgot to restock the diaper bag. again.
--- 7 ---
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Thursday, October 11, 2012

One Month with baby Thomas

In an attempt to give Mr. Thomas the same blog love as I did Mary Kate, I wanted to record some details of our first month with this precious boy. I could sum it up in one sentence. I am in love.

He is a dream, y'all. He is like every other baby in that he cries when he wants to eat, loves to be held, wakes up a few times a night, and poops every 2.1 minutes. But he also is an awesome eater, is starting to smile, and stares so sweetly into your eyes. There isn't a person in this house who isn't gaga over this boy.

We went to the doc today and Thomas is 9 lbs, 7oz, (up from 8.6 just last week!) and 20 1/4 inches long. This puts him in the 38% for weight but 8% in height. It makes me giggle, this little short, round person I have. Obviously we are not the least bit concerned about this stuff right not but it still makes me laugh.

Life is exhausting, I won't lie. He is up a few times a night, 2 on a good night, 3 on a bad one. Thankfully, he mostly eats and then goes back to sleep. I have started a bad habit of letting him come into bed with me after the last feeding (usually 4 or 5 am). But I love that just a little bit of snuggle time next to mom sends him back to sleep until 7 or 8, usually giving me some alone time with MK first thing in the morning. I think if I let him cry just a little bit, he'd go back to sleep at night but we tried that one night and Mary Kate woke up and cried for over an hour. I am afraid that when we start sleep training T, we're going to need to re-train Mary Kate. Oh how I miss sleep.

But life is exhilarating too. The more Thomas wakes up to the world, the more I see his gorgeous blue eyes, the more deeply I fall in love with this boy. Some of my favorite parts of my day with Thomas Perry:

  • nursing him when he looks up into my eyes, with a little hand on my neck.
  • getting MK out of bed and the first thing she asks is to "kiss kiss!" her brother
  • hearing MK give me a play by play of any of his needs. "Thomas hungry." "Thomas ready to eat." "Poor Thomas, Thomas crying." "It's okay buddy, It's okay." "Don't cry buddy." "I kiss Thomas tootsies."
  • watching an already beautiful bond between Thomas and his big sister.
  • having him fuss in his bouncy seat only to put him in my arms and have him fall asleep in seconds. I love that I comfort him so.
  • Watching Ross with his son. He adores him. He jumps at the chance to feed him, change him, hold him- anything.
  • remembering where we were with Mary Kate at this point and thinking about how adjusting to Thomas has been so much easier than it was with my girl.
  • praying over him in the middle of the night. It feels like no one else in the world is awake and it's just us. I pray for his health and happiness, his present and his future. I pray that he knows how greatly he is loved, by us, but more importantly, by Jesus. I pray that he loves us and Jesus right back.
  • the feeling of accomplishment I have when both kids are fed, dressed and in the car (screaming or not), ready for our day. I truly feel like this deserves a medal :)
I know there is more but Ross has been sick so we're a man down in this house and that is taking the fatigue to a whole new level. This little person is the best addition to our family, more than we could have ever dreamed. In June, when we faced the risk of losing this little guy, countless people pulled together. Our moms dropped their lives and moved into our home to care for us. Our sisters took care of MK whenever we needed. Our friends took her on play dates. We had our house cleaned and had meals delivered by generous people. All of this so I could stay on my back and keep this baby baking. My best friend's grandmother prayed and prayed from her basement apartment in New York, as did the elderly women on my own grandmother's handicap pew at Blessed Sacrament Church. A village of love, with their prayers and service, enabled us to bring this perfect boy into the world. He is healthy and beautiful and I feel such a debt of gratitude that I've had the last month with this angel baby.

To our little boy, you are a treasure. You are the perfect addition to this family and we wouldn't be the same without you. We truly thank God for you!

clearly enthralled as we wait on the doctor at his one month appointment

blurry but sweet

happy as can be on dad's chest

my favorite little guy in the world!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Ups and downs

Tonight I was crawling into bed for my 8:30-12:30 nightly sleep fest. Ross was saying goodnight and gave me a hug. I held on a little longer than usual. When he asked why, I told him it was because I liked him all day today. We laughed but today we didn't argue or, as we say, throw little digs the other's way. This is no small feat when in the trenches of newborn no-sleep land.

I try to write positively about Ross and our marriage on this blog. One, because those things Are true. But two, because this is not the space to air any marital grievances. However, anyone who has been in a room with us for 15 minutes or more will see the flaws-more in ourselves as individuals than our marriage, but still. We are two strong willed people with strong, but very different personalities, and strong opinions that aren't often kept to ourselves. It makes for admittedly too much bickering sometimes. The upside is that nt much gets swept under the rug with us :)

All that said, I wanted to repost something I read tonight that I love and will take to heart. From Hallie At The Moxie Wife:

When life gets messy, I’m generally more encouraged by catching glimpses of loveliness than I am by sharing war stories. That’s just me. One way this manifests in my life is in the content I produce for this blog. It’s more sunshine and roses around here than not. And that’s how I like it. But sometimes after having written about the lighter side of marriage someone will leave a comment saying something to the effect of, “I wish it were like that for me and my husband.”

Oh, sweet sister, I feel you.

I’ve always felt called to keep the most intimate details of my marriage (good and bad) private, but anyone who’s ever been married for a while knows that you don’t get to your 11th anniversary without hitting a few bumps in the road. Dan and I have spent our fair share of time navigating love’s stormy seas and I’ve hated every last minute of it. There’s just something so isolating and lonely about being out of sync with your partner in love and life.
Over time, though, — thanks to the wise advice of trusted friends, gentle promptings from God, and more experience than I might have preferred — I’ve picked up a few tricks for making it through those times of hardship. I thought I’d share them with you in case one or two of them might help a fellow gal in the midst of trial…

  1. Reminisce – Sometimes when Dan and I are struggling, it helps me to remember a time when we were really in sync. I like to think about happy memories and look forward to a better day. I always have to be careful not to give in to despair, though. Sometimes it feels like we’ll never discover that couple again, but that’s just silly. Without fail, that lovesick couple returns and their love is even stronger for having weathered the latest storm together.
  2. Take the Long View – I try to remind myself that this struggle won’t last forever. Every marriage is comprised of a series of peaks and valleys. I find solace in the knowledge that this too shall pass.
  3. Pour Love into Him - Some marital problems come about as a result of outside pressure that one spouse is facing. It’s tempting to volunteer unsolicited advice and correction — especially if you find your husband taking some of his angst out on you. While we should never let ourselves become doormats, a little extra mercy goes a long way during times like these. After the storm has passed you two can sit down and talk it all out. For now, just show him that you love him, believe in him, and are there for him even when he is at his worst.
  4. Stay Humble - If it does feels like your husband is short changing you in the love department it can be easy to fall into a victim mentality and convince yourself that you’re the better spouse. Believe me, I know. No one throws a pity party with as much panache as I do. In most cases, though, it’s just not true. We all have ups and downs and each spouse is called at different times to do the heavy lifting. Think back to a time when you were struggling and your husband carried you. Be grateful that he was there for you during your time of need and remind yourself that we all experience periods of weakness.
  5. Find a Pressure Release Valve – Find someone – be it a spiritual guide, friend, or family member – in whom you can confide. Just one (or maybe two). As tempting as it is to share your heart with every friendly face that crosses your path, only bad things can come from exposing the intimate struggles of your marriage to the world at large. Going through hard times without a compassionate ear and wise guidance isn’t smart, either, though. If you are not able to release a little of the pressure you’re feeling in the company of a trusted friend, it will end up being directed at your husband which probably isn’t what your marriage needs right now.
  6. Take Care of Yourself – Marital struggles can be incredibly stressful. Be sure to take time to pamper yourself a bit. Buy yourself something you’ve been coveting, take a long hot bath, nap, have drinks with your girlfriends, and/or go outside, exercise, and breathe in the fresh air. If you’re not getting the support from your husband that you need right now, make sure that you take care of you.
  7. Pray – When your marriage is on the rocks, it’s easy to become resentful – especially if you feel like you’re an innocent victim. As hard as it may be, be sure to pray for your husband and marriage each and every day. When a person prays for someone who has offended him/her, it guards against resentment because it’s almost impossible to hate someone you’re praying for. And of course, whether or not you’re struggling with resentment, your prayers will go far in helping to heal your union.
  8. Do it for God – Ultimately, every act of wifely love is not just a gesture of kindness toward our husbands, it’s an act of service for God. He is the one who gave us our husbands and tasked us with caring for them. On those days when choosing to love your husband feels nearly impossible, set your eyes firmly on Him who gifted you with your marriage and love your husband for His sake.

I know that for those of you down in the trenches, you might read these words and think, “It’s just not that easy,” and you’d be right. It’s not as easy as following a little list of tips and waking up to find that everything is rosy. These crosses of marriage are hard, and painful, and they make you stretch yourself in ways that you might just as soon have not. The above suggestions won’t take that cross away. For me, they’ve simply helped to make carrying it a little less painful and a little more infused with hope. So, I share them in the hope that they might do the same for you. But even if they don’t, just remember: for every cross there is a resurrection and yours is coming, my sweet friend, whoever you may be.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lots of thoughts, most unrelated, most barely coherant

We are a few days shy of Master Ninness's one month birthday and are happy to report that we're all still alive and well. A few thoughts, admittedly to get the mushy husband post off the home screen...

  • As I sat to write, both kids woke up from their naps. MK is yelling "mommy, mommy" despite the benadryl I drugged administered before nap. Crapola.
  • One of my host families told me that going from 1-2 kids didn't generate twice the work, it generated 20x the work. Um. Yep.
  • Our dryer broke last week, upping the work load to 30x it's previous level. It's fixed now but there are 4,245 articles of clothing to be washed and dryed, almost all requiring pre-treating and almost all the result of some newborn bodily function.
  • I am not the girl who gives 100%. Sometimes I do, and when it's absolutely necessary, I do. But mostly, I do what it takes to get by. Not proud, but just a humble admission. I am not a details girl and don't get bothered by a to-do list. But this new season, whoa. Even me, in my "I'd rather spend the time watching re-runs of the cancelled Real housewives of D.C." mode, is getting annoyed. I am in a constant place of playing catch up and things never seem to be finished. The to-do list that I previously didn't care about, or the one that got completed because of the one kid thing, is now my achilles heel. It drives me crazy that the work never seems to be finished. But since we don't think we're finished having babies, I assume I'll always feel behind. I'll just choose to get used to that feeling rather than, you know, attempt to complete the danged list.
  • I have read some things that I loved lately. I love Simcha and all she writes but this part made me feel oh so much better. "Don't underestimate how much being tired affects you. Being chronically tired month after month, even year after year--and maybe feeling like your husband doesn't fully understand just how tired you are--it has a cumulative effect on your spirit. You don't even know how tired you are after a while. But it makes you stupid, and sad, and discouraged."  Emphasis on the last line please.
  • While feeling like mean mommy the other day and hoping MK doesn't feel totally rejected (especially when she spends 1/3 of her life in the corner these days), I read something from one of my favorite blogs, Memories on Clover Lane. She wrote it in a different context but this line touched my heart. "I also think it's important for them to learn that babies are life changers and require gentle, tender loving care from their mommies who need to be with them in order to do that. Life as we know it should stop a little and honor this brand new life that we have been so blessed with."  I like the little push it gave me to be okay with hunkering down and being a little less rushed, a little less 'on the go' and to be okay with MK having a lot little more Ipad time.
  • While we're on the topic of encouragement, I got the non-cyber type last week at a prayer group that my friend Natalie has started. It lasts one hour, has way cheap childcare, and is simply for the purposes of getting together and praying for each other as women. It. was. phenomenal. In the middle of a crazy hectic week last week, it brought me back down to earth, gave my soul a life and made me take the deep breath I desperately needed in that second week of newborn life. One of the girls in my break-off group suggested Philippians 4:8. "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."  I have reflected on these words a thousand times since then. It helps me divert my thoughts from how many consecutive MINUTES I slept last night to thinking about the sweetness in my arms during the HOURS I was awake. It helps me not think about things of the past and focus on the gifts of the present. It helps me remember that God gave me these blessings and intends for me to see them as such (even if I mostly see the back of the head of the older blessing since she's in the corner alll day.)
  • Last week my dear friend Chrissie dropped by on her tour de Georgia from Charlottesville. We were talking and she mentioned something her pastor said. "You can love all the right things but in the wrong order."  We talked about this in many contexts but it made an impression on me. I'd also add the idea that you can do all the right things but in the wrong order. For me, it boils down to making sure I love God first (and act on that love in scripture study, prayer time, etc), husband second (and act on that love in ways that don't include crying about how tired I am), children next and so on. Let's be real and know that most days, I have that list backwards and in some seasons, caring for your kids simply takes up every last stinking drop of energy/love/affection left in your body. But I like the reminder and hope it kicks my butt into putting the right order.
  • Today some sweet friends put together a sitter share. For the price of two combos at Chick-fil-A, I dropped MK off with a sitter she knows, friends she loves and I bolted. I listened to my own music and drove in peace. I then at lunch with a precious friend, again, in peace. I hate to spend money on sitters during the week because I do feel like this mommy gig is my job. But this mommy gig is also kicking my arse these days so a break was as refreshing as the sweet tea for lunch.
  • Speaking of sweet tea, how am I the only person to not know you can purchase this in the DECAF version?? Joni might be the most talented nursery designer I've ever seen and one of the trendiest mommies I know, but introducing me to decaf sweet tea,? Nobel prize please. Also, there goes the .2 oz of water I was drinking a day. My body won't know what to do without the 742 oz of aspertame it gets from the diet coke, caffeine free diet coke, and crystal light tea. Yes, I'm a foul excuse for a milk producer and human being.
  • Okay, so I shouldn't drink so much caffeine/aspertame because of the whole nursing thing but I'm going to risk jinxing myself and say that my son is a tank and mommy has super milk. I braved the pediatrician with both kids and MK's ipad/appendage this week and was blown away to see an increase from 6lb 14oz to 8lbs 6oz in two weeks. I don't think I'd survive if I were up all hours and the kid weren't gaining. From MK, I know how hard the nursing deal can be and I'm so thankful that this isn't one of our current challenges. Stay tuned for next week when the mammary gods have me writing about how awful nursing has become.
  • My husband, who is almost as frugal as I am, told me to offer my sister an insane amount of money to come organize little Tom's bedroom. He was serious. And this should show, as my friend Christina would say, how "cray cray" our house is right now.
  • We are in our final week of being blessed by meals from my MOPS group. While I only know how to generate 3.4 meals (.4 being hot dogs), I will now make sure I bring some sort of sustenance to each new mom in my group. I had no idea how much this act, easy for some, herculean for others like me, can bless a tired mom. It makes those witching hours not so witching and is one less thing to tackle on the to-do list that never gets touched. I am serious, I never got how much this blesses a family and am so, so thankful, especially since I'd rather change poopy diapers all day than plan and execute a meal.
  • I abhor the after baby body. If I were focusing on my Philippians verse above, I'd be all zen about how the extra skin around my tummy housed that precious boy but I'm not feeling zen. And I'm going to stop there because complaining about this is too self-indulgent and, quite honestly, bitchy. Even for the queen of self-indulgence.
  • I'm not doing a lot of facebook status posting because I'm always tempted at 4 am and I promised myself that I wouldn't post anything during the middle of the night. As mama used to say, "nothing good happens (or posts) after midnight." That said, today I had to post about a precious little sight. After a less dreadful night with Thomas, I got both kids up, hoping to give Ross a little extra shut-eye. When I came out of changing T, I saw him on the sofa, asking MK to hold her baby Emmie. He proceeded to hold Emmie, rocking her and talking sweetly to her. Watching my daughter and her father melts me into a puddle.
  • Today I asked Ross if my pre-baby spandex pants were "too much" from the backside view. He answered honestly. He left for work. I cried. Then I called him and cried.  He realized he fell into the "does my butt look big" trap that every man knows. He apologized. I apologized for being a hormonal freakshow. He assured me all was forgotten. I wrapped a jacket around the inappropriate yoga pants and continued on my day.
  • Okay, off to tackle a few items on the to-do list while both kids have blissfully found their way back to sleep...
love this little guy and his receding hairline

Saturday, September 29, 2012

7 Quick Takes, Anniversary Edition

--- 1 ---
This week was our 3rd anniversary. It is my greatest desire that with each anniversary, I fall more in love with this handsome guy. I believe with all my heart that the greatest gift we can give our children is to love and respect our spouse. We are 3 years into this gig and 3 light years away from perfecting our marriage. But there is a strong foundation of faith and a deep love surrounding our imperfect selves. I am so, so thankful God sent me this man.
--- 2 ---
In 3 years, we have birthed 2 children, been through the difficult illness and loss of Ross's beloved Monty, welcomed another dog (God help me.), transitioned me from a job I loved to a job I love more, traveled to a few beautiful places, near and far, and walked along side each other as we became parents while barely knowing how to be married. I wouldn't change a minute of it and look forward to more of all of it.

--- 3 ---
For our anniversary this year, Ross had the great idea to eat an early dinner at Park Tavern, the restaurant at Piedmont Park. It may have been one of his best ideas yet. First, there were only a few other people there and nursing Thomas was easy. Secondly, Mary Kate could walk around, play with rocks, do as she pleased while we relaxed. Third, it was half price bottles of wine. Fourth, the meal was super reasonably priced making el cheapo here happy. Fifth, it was outside in gorgeous weather, making husband and Mary Kate very happy. We had a wonderful waiter, a beautiful setting, and a delicious, stress- free meal (with 2 kids!!!) 
--- 4 ---
I love this man, for a million reasons that he'd love for me to share with you all but that might also nauseate you. Suffice it to say, he is an attentive, caring husband. He is a perservering, hard-working provider. He is a tender, consistent, and devoted father. And he gave me 2 of the greatest gifts in the world. When we got married and chose to use Natural Family Planning, we knew that meant being open to children and maybe quickly. He did not insist we had x dollars in the bank or had our lives figured out (not that I'd judge anyone who does- just shows his faith). He gave me a gift I've wanted since I can remember, to be a mother. He fathers them so well, so much better than I could ever mother them.

--- 5 ---
We are still learning about each other. He is learning that women (well, this woman) wants to feel beautiful and nurtured and cherished- even if nothing about that is practical or rational (and often is not.) I am looking at beautiful flowers that he sent to our home that are a reminder that he hears my heart's desire to be pursued, even when I have filthy hair and milk stained shirts. I am still learning that he needs to be respected, even when I (in alll my wisdom) may not deem it necessary. We are tiny babies in this journey of marriage and we fail many times throughout most days. But as I prayed in a prayer group yesterday, I know that God will honor my desire to fall more deeply in love with him with each passing day and year.

--- 6 ---
I hope that in 50 years, he has made me more adventurous, more aware of the beauty outside of these doors. I hope that I have softened his heart to those who have less and need more. I hope I have learned to have more fun while he learns to savor a good book. I hope that we still find each other attractive and make our grandkids squirm by kissing in the middle of the kitchen. I hope we have learned to argue less and accept each other more. I hope that we have each grown closer to Jesus and in doing so, have grown closer to each other. I pray against anything that would come between us. I hope he loves me even with my terrible wrinkles and squinty eye while I love his thinning hair and skinny legs :) I hope our kids and grandkids know that even if we bicker, there is a deep, deep love.

--- 7 ---
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