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 ---
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

These days

These days we are staring at precious faces instead of sleeping

We are learning to love gently

and to savor sweet moments.

We are learning that love is stronger than exhaustion.

These days we are treasuring friendships

while learning how to multi-task (yes, he could breathe )

These days we are bonding with our new family of 4 and thanking God every minute.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ten Minute Tuesday

One of my favorite bloggers, friend (of a friend but now feeling bold enough to call her my friend) Rachel has begun hosting ten minute tuesdays. The goal is to spend 10 minutes writing about any old thing. And since there is all of nada in my brain besides lactating, sleep habits of new born vampires, and getting toddlers to obey, that's what this ten minutes will entail. Many apologies. I figure at the very least, it will keep me from having a month in between posts. At most, it will involve at least one coherant sentence.

Anyway...we are on day 8 of life with little Tommy (still figuring out what we'll call him. Thomas is coming off the tongue most often but I get a little crazy about how names sound together and Thomas Ninness seems oh so heavy on the ssss.) So Thomas, Tommy, Tom, Toms (Mary Kate's fav but I think because she likes her TOMS shoes) is really a dreamboat. He's really not even a terror at night because despite not sleeping much at night, he's not really fussing either. It's easy to love him, even at 4 am.

Now, breastfeeding a newborn, I forgot so much. Thankfully a dear friend from Athens was (is?) a lactaction consultant and quickly answers frantic facebook messages. I forgot how flipping often, how quickly it can go awry, how awkward nursing in public can be. My child likes to gulp gulp for 5 minutes and then pass the heck out. I was all worried about this until weight check and apparently those are an efficient 5 minutes because he's up way past his birthweight. I was so giddy after that appointment that I ignored my promise to limit the drive-thru experience and got myself a tea and cookie to celebrate. I justified this because I wanted to get our Natalie a prize too just for being so awesome during all of this. If she gets a peach milkshake, I at least get a tea for all my lactating success, right?

After feeling all "Miss hasitogether" (thank you Grace for the term), ThomasTommyTom decided to humble me last night and not sleep for more than 22 minutes. I soooo want to be all "treasure this time, cherish it blah blah" but that is much easier done with 33 consecutive minutes of sleep than 22.

We may need to rename Ten Minute Tuesday "Keri complains about lack of sleep Tuesday" because if you ask me to sit and down and just start writing, chances are this will be the topic for the next few weeks. Beginning Monday, we start Moms on Call bootcamp so hopefully we'll see some less cranky posts coming out of here. But maybe not, because really, how do you pry these little angels off your chests and banish them to the bassinet. I almost prefer the lack of sleep...

Oh and p.s. part of ten minute tuesday is the understanding that it will be very stream of consciousness/incoherant. Disclaimer made.

12 minutes. done. Sweet dreams to all of you lucky enough to sleep tonight!

Love this photo of my babes- sorry about the red-eye. Fixing that would have required way more than 10 minutes...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Introducing Thomas Perry Ninness (uncondensed version)

We are on day 5 of life with a new baby, a SON, a BOY. We are in love and tired and in love. Before all I can think to blog about is how exhausting newborns are, I wanted to write about that oh so perfect, perfect day.

Monday morning, September 10th, started like any other day fighting unwin-able battles with a 2-year-old. I dropped big sister off at a friend's and cried on the way to my doctor's appointment  thinking that parenting was surely something everyone else does well that I don't. I had no idea how the course of the day would change, into one of the best days of my entire life.

My doctor, who I absolutely adore, said she really felt like it was time to have this baby. I was 6 cm dilated, baby was super low and I was almost fully effaced. While she gave us a choice of waiting, she knew the type of birth I desired, knew how I needed to be sure Mary Kate was settled, and strongly encouraged us to move forward. An hour's worth of phone calls later, I was walking into labor and delivery, Ross's blow up mattress in hand. And thus began a constant flow of grace, of God whispering that all was well, all was right. Mary Kate was with a wonderful mom-friend for my doctor's appointment and her bff's mom assured me she had her. She picked up my extra carseat, and without me asking, remembered her sound machine, big sister clothes, and pillow and blanket to settle in for her first slumber party. Mary Kate was settled. My first big need met.

Ross tied up some loose ends at work while the planner in him came to terms with the sudden change in our Monday. By the time he walked in, we were set up with a great nurse and ready for that blessed epidural (that only partly worked but that's okay.) When I was laboring with Mary Kate, a hymn I had sung since childhood played in my heart, comforting me. With Thomas, the same happened. The words to the song "You satisfy the hungry heart," played in my head over and over. Knowing the Jesus I love was with me, satisfied my need for his comfort, affirmation, assurance, and peace. He did not disappoint.

We were blessed with the best of the best nurses and a doctor who had no other patients delivering that day. My uncle works in the anesthesia department and insured our anesthesiologist knew us before he walked in, breaking the ice (and the bed I was propped on for the 10 inch needle, but that's another story). 4 hours, one bolus dose of meds later and lots of sweet time with my parents and in-laws and we were ready to push. It was so different this time. Ross said it best- that with Mary Kate, I seemed like more of a victim, just waiting to be told what to do. With Thomas, there was a lot less epidural and with the increase in pain came an increase in awareness. I knew what to do and Lord help anyone who tried to stop me. I pushed for over an hour with Mary Kate. With Thomas, it was maybe 20 minutes before I saw this little person on my chest and heard my husband scream, IT'S A BOY! IT'S A BOY! He was half laughing, half crying and I was completely in awe. I've said it before but not knowing the sex is worth every minute of wondering, arguing over two names, wishing I could organize clothes. It is a moment, with each child, that I'll still be talking about when I'm 80. It's that special.

The rest of the night was spent loving and holding and nursing this perfect boy, and looking forward to introducing him to his sister the next morning. It was spent hearing the words "You satisfy the hungry heart, a gift of finest wheat. A gift to us, oh saving Lord, the bread of life to eat." He had satisfied my husband's hope for a son. He had satisfied my need for a controlled, safe delivery and, after 15 weeks of uncertainty, a healthy baby. Every need I had, He met, and then some. I never feel closer to Jesus than when I am bringing another of His souls into the world. And this soul, this one we worried over, prayed over, agonized over, was here and healthy as he could be. The goodness is too much.

The next morning, we were ready for a day of introducing our first love to our second. But before she arrived, there was a knock at the door. In another moment of God whispering, in walked a priest from our church and a seminarian. He asked if he could bless our baby and offer us communion, that "gift of finest wheat." I nearly melted at this surprise, this gift of the Eucharist on a Tuesday morning. Ross asked him many questions about our son's namesake, St. Thomas (more later on this). I then realized that the seminarian with him was someone I prayed for every week as I walked to the nursery at church and saw his name on a poster. He is studying at the North American College in Rome and knows our Father Tim well. It was another moment of how small the world is and a wonderful feeling to bring Father Tim into a special moment for our family. Our son received a blessing less than 12 hours after he was born and his mom and dad received communion. Oh it was special.

As Mr. Baker was leaving, we got that sweet knock at the door and in walked my dear friend, her daughter, and the new big sister. Mary Kate ran up to Thomas, kissed his head and repeated "hi baby, hi baby." She has not stopped wanting to kiss "baby budder" and is everything we could have hoped for in her response to him. I was told that I adored my baby brother from the day he was born and it is fun to see my girl love on this little boy. She is pretty good about loving him on his feet and the top of his head but we're trusting that a few smothering kisses to the face are good for him. Natalie captured some priceless moments that I will forever be thankful for.

We were discharged Wednesday morning, but not before one more, this time loud whisper, that all of our needs during this wonderfully crazy time are being met. Mom and Dad brought MK up to help us pack and MK was being awful. She had to be taken off the floor a few times and there was tension in the room as Ross and I tried to parent her and my poor parents stood unsure of how to intervene during these repeated tantrums. Ross took her out, mom and dad went for coffee, and a combination of fear and hormones rolled over me. How am I going to parent these two needy creatures? How will I ensure MK feels loved and adored while I take care of a newborn? How will they both feel immeasurable love from an exhausted mama? Sobbing, there was a knock at the door that I almost shooed away. In walked a woman from our church, (an angel, I'm sure) and I exploded in tears for her. She is a mom and heard my blubbering. Then she offered me communion. She assured me that Jesus would provide for my every need, and Mary Kate's, and Ross's, and Thomas's. I received Communion, and as it has always, always done, that bread of life soothed my heart. I stopped crying. Mary Kate came back less a toddlermonster and we left the hospital assured of this great new life waiting for us.

I'm sure I'm missing some (even after that novel) but what I will remember about Thomas's birth is how Jesus met us at every stop. Every fear that inched in, He pushed out.  The love in his house has multiplied and everyone is smitten with this newest person. After a summer of fear, there is nothing but hope and excitement for the fall. Welcome to the world Thomas Perry. We adore you!

Dr. Combs, who walked us through pre-term labor and everything in between. LOVE her.

This is SO, SO my husband.

smitten. completely, instantly in love.

both sets of doting grandparents

never love this man more than when I have his baby :)

Thomas, in the company of Godly men

first kiss from his big sister

"hi Thomas. hi baby!"

holding daddy's hand for the first time.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The final countdown

We are t-8 days until baby Ninness arrives and have been taking many of your suggestions in efforts to soak up the time as a family of 3. A Sunday morning zoo trip (the main reason we made that egregious error last Saturday) was a perfect family adventure. I very much so appreciated the kind, "I so pity you" looks from strangers as we waddled around our beloved Atlanta zoo. And while we waited for a tire pump for our stroller, we were able to get a few shots of mama and her two babes. Having never splurged on maternity photos, these are as good as it gets. Like most moms, I treasure a few photos with just me and babe, even if mama needs a good hair highlight and new sunglasses! Enjoy the photo dump and we'll see if this little person makes us wait until next Friday or if we get a surprise sooner!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Let's keep the glass half full and start with the good, shall we?
  • Tomorrow is a very important day as we celebrate the birth of a very important person. My grandmother introduced me to Father Tim McKeown over ten years ago and in those many years, he has been friend, mentor, spiritual advisor, father figure, cool uncle, counselor, cheerleader and encourager. As a birthday gift, if you feel so inclined, would you say this prayer? Whether you are Catholic or not, priests, like all faith leaders, need and depend upon our prayers for them. Graci.
MK on her Baptism day with her "Fadder Tim"
  • More good. We are still pregnant. Thanks to the fervent prayers of many, including Padre Tim, we have pretty well baked little gremlin and find ourselves pretty prepared to welcome this newest Ninness creature.
  • We did not get kicked out of Mass today.
  • One of my dearest dearest friends is pregnant. Don't ask me who she is but I've been praying my rear off for her for a long time. Just know if you are one of the people hoping for baby, don't give up.
  • Our house is finally painted and noone was killed during the process. Marriage still (mostly) in tact, contractor is receiving no more "I'm going into labor" texts from me and only a few of the walls have already been stained by MK fingers. 
The Bad:
  • Ross and MK were on the bike Thursday, (in a very safe, very recommended, very researched child's seat) and a tire on  the bike blew. Both my babes took a nasty fall and Mary Kate has re-told the story 4,245 times. "I fell down daddy's tractor." "Dada boo boo, Mary Tate boo boo." It was probably my hardest night as a parent, watching my girl hurt and hurt and not being able to do a thing about it. It's those moments when I have to sit and pray for a supernatural comfort, since mama can't take away the pain. Thank goodness for helmets, foresight in putting MK in pants and a husband who kept presence of mind to absorb most of the fall. It could have been so much worse.
  • Ross's idea to go to Mass tonight. Possibly prompted by his hope that Jesus would cure my foul mood, we braved a Mass without a nursery. WHEN WILL WE LEARN?? The priest definitely called MK out (jokingly/kindly/but with a tinge of please take that kid out). She did try to get cute and ask "I go see Jesus" because there is a cross in the atrium. Um, no kid. There is a cross behind Father, too. In the rare occasion that we are stupid enough to take her to a Mass without a nursery, we grade her. Today she got a D. It was generous. And it prevented the dinner out we had planned. (Mama's foul mood returned...)
  • I am contracting just irregularly enough to not call the doc. This means I'm generally in some state of pain, always in some state of discomfort, and (as stated above) in a foul mood. I am fine with a few more weeks sans non-sleeping newborn but wish I could enjoy it. Yes, whine whine.
  • 38 weeks pregnant on this body. There's just nothing cute anymore. It's a lot o belly y'all.
  • Name discussions for this kid. As I complained on fb (after complaining about people complaining in status updates), name conversations have been very not pretty. As Ross reminded me, starting these discussions late into the evening on the 2nd evening of college football probably isn't advisable. But I'm gonna quote my very smart sister-in-law in hopes that husband will read and agree "you carried it. you name it. done." I'll add " I carried it, I layed on my tush for 10 weeks. If I want to name it Brad Pitt I can."  I used to love naming my baby dolls. I never imagined that my dream husband would have completely opposite taste in names. Probably good he kept that a secret before we got married :)
  • My child's behavior at 2. Tonight Ross was on "muzzle the banshee" duty at Mass and I was about to walk out and call it a night before the end of Mass (sorry Father Tim.) But I heard a voice, oddly similar to Sister Pat's, that said to "sit down." So I sat and used a few minutes to, gasp, actually pray. Without realizing it, I prayed "please help this baby be born healthy, grow strong, and skip age 2." I wasn't consciously praying it. It just came out. I am trying to remember something I read that reminded moms to not think an illy behaved child means you are a bad mother any more than a well behaved child means you are a good mother. But whoa is parenting this kid  killing  stretching me. Many times, I'll give her a direction and she'll glance at me, sweetly, knowingly, and do the opposite. I think I'm being pretty consistent with consequences and lots of positive reinforcement but it's the knowing glance that kills me. What IS that? Original sin? a demon possessing her presh little body? a side effect of too many "just be quiet" animal crackers? ugh.
  • Brian Van Gorder's mustache and the next few months of college football. I am a big fan of the Van Gorder family and am happy to have Coach Van G back in the SEC but the stache is killing me. And on that topic, don't go defriending me but I'm just not that into college football. I love the fall but admittedly care more about MK's SEC wardrobe than the results of the game. I need to get onboard fast if I have any hope of MK learning "go dawgs" the way she knows "go gamecocks." Guess it's a good thing I'll be busy feeding humans 24/7 for the next few months. At least I won't be bored.
the toms were her idea. i fought for white sandals. should have known what Mass would be like when she started yelling for "red shoes mama!!!"

wearing the same pillow case dress she wore at 2 months old.
and yes, mama needs a new phone.