Currently, Vol. 7

Listening:

To the rare sound of silence as both girls are simultaneously napping. Rare, as of the last week or so. You see, our dear resident 2.5 year old has been throwing some crazy curve-balls into her normally completely predictable and beautiful napping routine. This is the baby who never napped, then finally learned to sleep on her own at about a year, and from then on took about 2 two-hour naps daily until 16 months, after which time she has slept nearly 3 hours every afternoon, not just willingly but joyfully, often requesting nap time.

Until last Sunday. In the last 7 days, she took 3 total naps. Ensue hand-wringing, apocalypse-is-nigh texts to Tom every sleepless afternoon, and a general feeling that my world was crashing down. It’s safe to say my sanity rests heavily on my children’s sleep patterns.

I guess that all of the sudden she’s just an older toddler, and for some reason, her normal 12:45- 3:45 nap time of bliss isn’t working anymore (sob). The extreme and sudden sleep loss made her exceedingly peevish the last week, which meant a vicious cycle of wanting to “sleep” around 10:30 am (really just an excuse to liaison with her beloved paci [only allowed in her bed] while she fooled around in her room), scream and whine and refuse lunch, sort of agree to lay down around 1, and then never fall asleep. The handful of times she has napped, it has been much later than her previous naptime, so I’m trying to really keep her occupied with playing and activities until about 1:45 so she won’t fight her nap for hours. All I know is, she’s way too young to drop a nap altogether, and as previously mentioned, my sanity depends on it.

Eating:

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Lucy’s undying love for chicken soup, documented in this photo she asked me to take.

Lots of soups. I make a chicken soup about every other week, which both girls (but especially Lucy) really, really love. Then I use the broth to make another soup, a risotto, or whatever.

I made this Homemade Instant Noodle Bowl for lunch (with rice) and it was awesome. We also make this frequently and this too (add cheddar cheese!).

I’d like to start making more of our snacks as opposed to buying them but…y’know. Ideal vs. reality and all that.

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We did finally bake the requisite fall pumpkin muffins

We did finally bake the requisite fall pumpkin muffins

Planning:

September and October have officially been the craziest, busiest months for us, with every weekend booked. That is typical I guess, with the new school year for Tom and the thousands of extra tasks it entails for him (multiple back-to-school nights, tons of parent meetings, tons of student advisory meetings, first progress reports and the inevitable insane parent fall-out…ahem…concern, Open House, etc). Glad to be done with these months. Also glad to see a much emptier November calendar so far.

But we still try to sneak in small family "adventures" and outings, like this pre-grocery shopping visit to the newly opened gluten-free bakery down the street.

But we still try to sneak in small family “adventures” and outings, like this pre-grocery shopping visit to the newly opened gluten-free bakery down the street.

Gestating:

A 24 week baby. About to buy this. Thinking about investing time in doing yoga stretches. Avoiding bending over as much as possible, which isn’t really realistic with two toddlers who leave a trail of clutter behind them at all times.  Finding that napping is pretty much never an option since they girls now are back on opposite sleeping schedules for the most part and I just can’t do a 15 minute nap (it would take me at least that long to even fall asleep). Feeling lots of kicks and rolls and the occasional weird elbow scraping (it is such a weird feeling. And uncomfortable. Lena was the queen of doing that in utero).

Clicking:

Before You Even Ask from Barista Mommy. Couldn’t have said it better!

And a sweet gum ad (I know, but just watch), which reminded me I’m pregnant, as it made me tear up.

And that’s all I’ve got time for, since it’s now two days after I started this, and Lena is waking up from her nap. I’ll leave you with a very mild example of Lena’s new favorite skill: self-feeding-whether-you-like-it-or-not-Mom!

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Love That Grows: How Kids Change Marriage

A Love that Grows

Like most almost-married women, I was hyper-focused on my wedding in the months and weeks leading up to the Big Day. The dress, the details of our nuptial Mass, the centerpieces, the photo shoot, all of it. And of course, more importantly, I was all about the man I was head-over-heels for and with whom I absolutely could not wait to begin life.  I had also read the best Catholic literature to prepare myself for the vocation, so in an intellectual way, I knew– married life is about merging two totally different individuals and learning to live as one, and then eventually giving of yourselves to the children you bring forth together. Bam. We were going to do this!

But, oh boy, were the ideas and the reality two very different things! We got pregnant right away, and so fairly quickly, we have seen all these truths play out in our marriage. The cranky babies, the (many) sleepless nights, the multiple little tasks that take up the days and weekends. It became our new reality. I would look at our beautiful wedding photos and think, “Wow, look at us! So unaware of how much life was about to change!”

Sometimes it seems like a bitter pill to swallow. What happened to the spontaneity of our dating and engaged days? The times when we could just decide in the morning to make a day trip, returning late at night? When we could just sleep in on the weekends to make up for all the late nights and busy days at work? Now, if we stay up too late, we sure pay for it the next day, and sleeping in is never an option with a baby and a toddler around. We have to plan our outings and adventures around nap and meal times, or risk the Over-tired and Hungry Toddler Monsters (and don’t even talk to me about road trips!). I look at our married friends without kids and am tempted to think they have it easier. I almost want to tell our engaged friends to have fun while they can, because marriage and kids change your lives so radically.

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Those may be true statements, but they aren’t the whole picture. Despite the hard work and the bone-tiredness that comes with parenting, I would argue that more is gained than is lost. Yes, my husband and I had fun in the time before kids, but the good times didn’t just stop when the babies came around. Every day, if we decide to see it, we have proof of our love running around the house. They’re funny and adorable and utterly unique. Because they’re human, they can also be exasperating and flummoxing and try our very souls. They have stretched us physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. They have made us laugh together, countless times, and caught us totally unawares with the beauty of their innocence.

For Want of Wonder

I know I loved my husband before we were married, and more so after we said our vows. But after pregnancies, childbirths, and then the day-to-day craziness of raising children together, I can definitely say I love him even more. He takes the kids on weekend mornings so I can catch a few more minutes of sleep. He works long hours, picks up extra jobs, so I can stay home and we can live in comfort. He gets down on the floor to play with our girls, reads book after book, and wants to know all the details of what they did during the day when he’s at work. I could go on and on. Our marriage has changed since children, and it will continue to do so, but I’m beginning to realize what a privilege it is to make your husband a father. These many sacrifices inherent in the early years of raising babies are paving the road of our marriage together. By making me a mother, he’s helping make me a much better person, as all my multitude of selfishness is being chipped at, day by day (and night by night).

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I could never have imagined on our wedding day and the days that followed what our life together would become. But I do know that saying a whole-hearted, reckless, come-what-may “yes” to having children has been integral to the growth of our love. We have learned to trust each other more, and to lean on each other, hard, when times get rough. We have learned to ask for help and to accept the help lovingly offered. We have learned, and are still learning, to find more ways to die to ourselves so that our other half might have it just a little easier. And we’ve come to realize, in a way we never could have before kids, how precious and refreshing time alone together is. So maybe instead of feeling a twinge of envy at our childless and engaged friends I can tell them with total honesty not to be afraid of having kids; if you let it, it could be the best thing that happens to your marriage.

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Babymooning Like Pros

We snuck away last weekend for a little 24 hour babymoon. If you can, you should really always try to do a little getaway without kids, before the next is born. It’s so refreshing to get ready in the morning without worrying about diapers and strapping little shoes. It’s also nice to drive around (or even get lost) without risking the wrath of car-seat-bound toddlers. We’re now pros at babymooning. The first time was a 2-day whirlwind NYC trip, from which we returned to no kids, so the whole idea is laughable, now. The second time was a countryside wine/B&B escape, pretty much the epitome of relaxation.

For this auspicious third baby, we chose to explore Baltimore, which is only about an hour away, and filled with numerous free places and activities. We were planning to come home late and spend the night at home, but then my sister-in-law’s very generous parents gave us a free hotel night on their points. Soooo nice. And in case you ever find yourself in Charm City, here’s what we did in roughly 24 hours:

  • We intended to spend about 2 hours in the Walters Art Museum, which has one of the biggest Ancient artifacts exhibit in the country, BUT it was closed just for that day for a gala set-up. Of course. We were pretty bummed, but I guess it gave us more time to see other things slowly. So we visited the first Cathedral in America, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is filled with early Catholic American historical significance. And it was beautifully remodeled on its 200th anniversary a few years ago.

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  • Explored the downtown area of Baltimore, where the annual half/full marathon was going on, the very one I ran five years ago. I was definitely glad to be on the other side of the sidewalk, especially since just walking for long periods made my round ligaments ache like craaaaazy. We did walk about 8 miles over the course of the day to my credit, which is about 7 miles more than my daily quota.
  • Got lunch at Lexington Market, which was interesting, crowded, and infernally hot. Tom kept grabbing my arm, because he was afraid I was going to get mugged or something. Once we got out and stopped sweating, we ate gyros (made by Koreans), and watched the runners go by. The people of Baltimore sure know how to encourage a runner (I loved having them cheer us on when I ran, and pretty much was equally entertained watching them this time around). Then we got some really delicious and expensive lattes at Dooby’s, where I rested my ligaments for a while, and we steeped in the hipster ambience.

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  • Tried to park near Edgar Allan Poe’s grave site, but it was a zoo. Ended up driving around the same three blocks, three times, over 45 minutes. We’re really good at directions. We both laughed at how much that would’ve bothered us while we were dating/engaged, but how now it was no biggie at all, since there were no screaming banshees sweet girls in the car.
  • Finally drove down to Little Italy, where we got pretty amazing “chip n dip” cannoli at the famed Vaccaro’s pastry cafe. It’s basically a container of broken cannoli shells and a big scoop of cannoli filling to dip them into. Perfect afternoon snack, worth the long wait in line.
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Image via vacarrospastry.com

  • Lazed around the hotel room and rested the ole ligaments some more.
  • Walked around the beautiful Inner Harbor and historic Fell’s Point before our dinner at Mezze Cafe, where we ordered far too many tapas plates. I wish we had come to Fell’s Point earlier in the day (before sunset) so we could’ve had more time to explore. The cobblestone streets and historic town homes were gorgeous.

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And then collapsed early in the huge bed to watch some Harry Potter and read from our current read-aloud. We finished up our babymoon the next morning with perfectly light and chewy Belgian waffles at Miss Shirley’s and Mass in Little Italy. Then sped off to pick up our little munchkins from my parents’, where we found that they hadn’t missed us for one second and would rather stay with Nana and Papa, thank you very much.

And that’s that– an amazing 24 hours of good food, uninterrupted conversation, and more exercise than I’ll get the rest of the pregnancy (kidding! Maybe…)

Five Favorite Books and Apps for Praying (when you’re short on time)

Time in adoration or silent prayer is definitely a luxury in this stage of life. It was always so easy to just stop by an adoration chapel after work or schedule a weekly holy hour when I was single and before the kids were born. Now, it’s a pretty heroic effort to even bring the girls to a daily mass on my own (my general strategy is: camp out in the back, because that is where you’ll end up in .2 seconds anyway, and decide who needs to be chased after most immediately. Then thank the Lord that daily mass is 25 minutes long and wish that Sunday mass could be the same!). Still, there are a couple of tools that I really like for fitting in prayers on a (mostly) daily basis, more than just the usual desperate cries to heaven for divine assistance to get through the dayFive Favorite Books and Appsfor Praying(Photo Credit: Inside St Francis Xavier Cathedral via photopin (license))

Blessed is She

This is a wonderful email ministry that sends you the daily readings, accompanied by a short reflection. It’s the easiest way to get in the daily readings.

Small Steps for Catholic Moms by Danielle Bean and Elizabeth Foss

Each day’s short saint quote, reflection, and call to action take about 3 minutes to read. A great little shot of inspiration to the day!

Magnificat App (and the printed version, too)

I’ve had a subscription to the monthly missal on and off in the past, and I really love it. Daily readings, reflection, morning and night prayer, saints. The app is great too, and if one of you has the print subscription, you can use their email/account on multiple devices. It’s also a very visually beautiful app, much like the print version.

Handbook of Prayers ed. by James Socias

This is a really great prayer book that has all the basics, the parts of the Mass, a ton of different devotions, novenas, etc, etc!  I have not yet plumbed its depths. But what I do love are the two pages that have the morning offering and about 5 other really short prayers that are perfect for starting the day. A bonus is that many of the prayers are also in Latin across from the English.

Catholic Short Prayers app

I just downloaded the Lite version, which is limited, obviously, but still has quite a number of old-school short aspirations, or really quick little prayers to say (and I do mean quick, like, “Jesus, save!” or “Come, Holy Spirit.” and a few other slightly longer ones). The full version also allows you to set reminders and alarms to say prayers.

What are your favorite books, apps, etc, for quick prayers or meditations?

Linking up at Jenna’s for Five Favorites!

Affiliate Disclosure: The Amazon links are affiliate, meaning I get a tiny percentage if you click through my link and then buy something on Amazon. Our savings account thanks you!

Currently, Vol. 6

Pounding this out as quick as I can, since the sun has come out for the first time in a week, and I’ve got some restless natives on my hands!

01. Celebrating: 

We found out the gender of the new baby on Saturday! And also bestowed a name upon him/her, so that Lucy’s mind can be put to rest. It was fun to bring home cake pops of the appropriate color to surprise the girls and Tom (who sadly had to stay home with them, and thus miss the gender-reveal sono for the first time). If you want to know, just shoot me an email! It’ll be mum on the blog for all the relatives who want to be surprised!

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Tom tries to decipher the gender based on the picture alone…hence the confusion…

We also had a great little Michaelmas feast last week, with a roast chicken, whiskey-glazed carrots, and a dragon cake! Followed two days later by a French-ish celebration for St. Therese (crepes with sausage, spinach, cream cheese and Rosé for the adults). Lots of great October feast days to celebrate!

02. Watching:

Arthur and George on PBS. If you don’t necessarily love mystery (ahem) but you do love literary characters in movies with a dash of mystery thrown in, this will be up your alley. It’s about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his foray into real-life detective work.

Downtown Abbey: Final Season! I can’t wait to see how they wrap up the show. Perhaps I will go back to Season 1 (the best, best, best) during the long winter/post-partum phase of life.

I’ve also been craving a complete re-watch of Harry Potter from the beginning. There’s something very autumnal about the movies, and pumpkin pasties+butterbeer whilst watching curled on the couch in blankets sounds delightful.

03. Reading:

Ida Elisabeth by Sigrid Undset. Obscure book by the famed novelist. I just started it for my book club, and already love it. That woman could write! It’s also her only novel NOT set in the medieval period (it takes place in the 1930s) which is different and interesting.

04. Wearing:

Well, apparently the hurricane for us meant that we skipped the normal fall temperatures and went straight to winter last week. We’ve been wearing long-sleeves, sweaters, slippers, fuzzy footed jammies (well, the girls) and rain coats.

Since I’m now dressing me plus the bump, I’m loving these maternity jeans from Gap (which actually came in petite! Glory! And were on super sale), some awesome leggings from my last Stitch Fix (again, actually short enough for me), and lots of tunics and ruched tees.

(We’ve also had to turn the heat on, which seems absurd for the first few days of October, but it has been chilly...)

05. Praying for:

Our little cousin Liam is undergoing radiation right now. Keep him in your prayers! The great and wonderful news that I forgot to share last month, is that his tumor is completely gone now! We are so thankful and continue to pray for him!

06. Clicking:

I was so excited to see this article and will definitely be bringing it with me to my (upcoming, not-yet-scheduled, why-is-October-so-crazy) hair appointment!

This is from last month, but is such a great article, about the difficult and trying side of practicing NFP when it involves prolonged abstinence. I’m really glad this aspect of NFP is getting some attention! Everyone who is faithfully committed to practicing NFP would love to have a little more support and less sugar-coating, I think.

I’m re-reading this article by a Jewish Rabbi, the transcript of a talk he gave last year at the marriage colloquium in Rome.

07. Planning for:

Much like September, October is shaping up to be an insanely busy month, with every weekend booked: birthday parties, a babymoon(!), dinner dates, and a wedding! We were really hoping to take the girls to a pumpkin patch and apple picking, but I’m not sure when we’ll fit that in, especially if the weather keeps up the chill and rain. Here’s hoping for sunnier fall days!

Linking up with Kelly for her Link-toberfest! Here’s the link to my very first quick takes post, from July 2013 while we were in Rome!