Lazy Sunday

Thought you might enjoy a few photos from our weekend.  Michael got “new” bunk beds yesterday, since he has outgrown his toddler bed.  One nice thing about living in a dorm – furniture available at your whim.  Thankfully, he doesn’t seem to notice the flower motif on his comforter.  We had to drag out my old college bedding until he receives gender-appropriate sheets for his birthday in a month.

Showing me his favorite part in his favorite book of the week.  This is the exciting  part.

Below is a look at Michael’s room revamp.  I don’t know if I quite have the eye for decoration (we shall see when I have a real house to work on), but I love the challenge of a reorganization.

The lamp was a casualty of the move.

Loads of new storage under the beds, right in time for birthday & Christmas gifts.  Yay!

The only “before” picture I could find was several years ago (yes, that is Michael as a baby).  You’ll have to imagine most of it.  The little art desk and large storage shelves used to be in the spot his dresser currently resides.  The dresser was under the window, as you can see in the old photo.  And a tiny toddler bed was tucked in the corner, left of the dresser and window.

That’s all for now.  Hope you enjoy your lazy Sunday!

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7 Quick Takes (vol. 3)

It’s been a hectic week around here.  Thought I’d share some of the fun we’ve been having.

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Saturday was devoted to Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training.  This month’s class was focused on presenting The Prophecies during Advent season.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.  Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel. – Isaiah 7:14

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel. – Micah 5:1

I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh: a star shall come forth out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel. – Numbers 24:17

We spent nearly five hours pondering these three verses, attempting to describe the exact moments of presentation – not to mention determine our direct and indirect aims for the children who will receive them.

A particular pattern has arisen during my monthly catechetical training.  At first, I find the required level of detail tedious during our discussions.  Just go ahead and tell me the exact words you want on the album page!  However, my brain eventually rises from the fog of everyday life and snaps to attention.  And I have suddenly returned to my undergrad theology shoes.  Diving into the underlying Montessori philosophy and psychology stirs up a desire to know more.  I always thought a bachelor’s degree was the end of my education, but now I am not so sure.

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Recipe for a relaxing Sunday: chocolate, babies and rest.  With Ryan working on another app deadline, Michael and I took the opportunity to snuggle our favorite baby friends and indulge in my most-favorite brand of dark chocolate.  It is an amazing conglomeration of cocoa products, cane sugar and vanilla.  Apparently I didn’t just stop at the good stuff though.  My food journal (more on that another day) holds me accountable for cookie dough, pudding and milkshake consumption as well.  Which leads me to the next point…

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As of Monday, I am back on the healthy-eating wagon.  An appropriately-timed appointment led to my healthy lifestyle “prescription.”  Remember that wonderful doctor I’ve mentioned before?  He also happens to own a holistic practice that heavily encourages good diet and stress-free lifestyles.  His philosophy is not to require perfection, but to encourage following a reasonable baseline.  Basically, what is the least amount of effort one can commit to that continuously yields results?

It was quite humbling to sit before this man and admit that my will-power is basically non-existant.  I keep making excuses for my bad eating habits, justifying myself the pleasure because I have suffered so much in other ways.  And yet, my unhealthy habits directly correlate with the cause of my suffering.  Endometriosis causes fertility issues – and endometriosis worsens when eating sugar, grains and alcohol.  I can’t afford to eat these products, but I haven’t trained myself to say no to them either.  So, we made a plan of attack I will actually commit to following (pitiful though the effort may seem to my perfectionist eyes).  In two weeks, reevaluation of progress occurs.  Here’s to crossing my fingers and hoping the least painful option works!

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We checked out a ton of new library books on Tuesday.  This one is Michael’s favorite over the last couple of days.  Doesn’t everyone love a good high-diving horse story?  One of my favorite childhood movies featured a girl determined to soar through the sky on her trusty stead.  Reading about Atlantic City also saddened me to think about hurricane Sandy’s devastation of the historic town, especially the boardwalk.  A piece of history is no longer with us.  My heart aches to think of the loss.

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Inspiration took over on Wednesday, and I’ve been cooking up a storm ever since.  For some reason, knowing that I can have one utterly unhealthy dessert each day gives me the motivation to cook Paleo for the rest of my meals.  I also really, really wanted to make strawberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  So yummy!  Thus far we have been partaking in recipes such as:

  • Cajun sweet potato fries
  • Turkey meatloaf
  • Strawberry shortcakes
  • Tomato basil soup
  • Cauliflower pizza crust

My go-to cookbook has been Make It Paleo by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason.  Every recipe includes a gorgeous photo (hence my inspiration) and tastes awesome.  The authors also strove to keep their recipes simple with minimal ingredients – which means I tend to have most items already stocked.  The only challenge for me is time management.  Late dinners have been butting up against Michael’s bedtime, and that makes for a slap-happy child at the dinner table.  He seems to enjoy the food as much as his parents, between all the wiggling.

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Thursdays are gymnastics days!  A friend of mine hooked us up with the local gymnastics club this fall, and it’s one of the best activities we have invested in for Michael.  He’s definitely not on par with the gal in the above photo – but he learned how to “stick the landing” today.  It was exciting.  The kid has been doing great, especially since I threw him in the four-year-old class with no previous experience.

Week 1 was all about balance beams.  Michael had an intense expression of concentration that first day.  He had never touched a balance beam in his life, but he jumped right in, wobbles and all.  I couldn’t tell if he was having fun until his eye accidentally caught mine and a huge grin invaded his face.  “This is so fun!” he exclaimed before resuming his serious attitude.

Week 2 focused on bars.  I couldn’t believe how brave my little boy can be.  One of the stations required him to jump from a three-foot high mat and grab onto a bar located higher than his head.  It was like an extra-long monkey bar, with his feet dangling above the ground.  After initial help from his coach, he didn’t even hesitate to jump alone on the second round.

This week introduced trampolines.  Few things are sweeter than watching a child bounce with total abandon.  They are so joyful.  Michael is not coordinated enough to do more than travel up and down, but I can envision his potential.  The poise gymnastics naturally facilitates will help him in future athletic endeavors.

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Thanksgiving approaches, so I share with you Michael’s thoughts on the subject.  My favorite is his gratitude for dinner every night.  I’ve been working hard to provide good meals this week (and wash all the dishes by hand, as we have no dishwasher in our tiny apartment).  It’s really nice to be appreciated.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes (vol. 2)

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Better late than never, right?  I woke up this morning with the writing muses swirling in my head.  So many wonderful ideas were pouring forth, in that moment of calm before my preschooler was allowed to walk through the door.  But then life happened, and now it’s technically Saturday morning, and I’m determined to write something anyway!

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Good things this week: I am back in the gym post-surgery.  Ok, let’s be honest – it’s been much longer than a month since I’ve graced the doors of an athletic facility, recovery or no.  Being in the weight room is awesome.  But shimmying into workout clothes and walking out the door (even though a gym resides a mere 400 feet away from said door) is not so pleasant.  Luckily I have an efficacious husband who recognizes the value of exercise.  We made a deal last Sunday – I will workout three times a week if he puts it on the schedule during Michael’s bedtime.  Now I am very motivated.

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Efficacious (adjective) = capable of having the desired result or effect; effective as a means, measure, remedy, etc.: The medicine is efficacious in stoppinga cough.

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Bad things this week: Being woken up at 1:30am Wednesday morning to discover our country still under the tyranny of an anti-Colonialist, narcissistic president.  I might have cried and raged into the night for an entire hour.  That might have happened.  Then I succumbed to sleep’s siren call and healing powers.  All of Wednesday I pondered the election results.  How can so many of my country-men fail to recognize the terrible plight our country is in?  I was literally shocked to discover the veil covering so many eyes when reality is so black and white to me.  However demoralized my day began, the feeling just wouldn’t stick around.  It dawned on me that I don’t even really like Romney – and I’m actually glad he’s not going to be the one to step into the void.  I had put so much energy into supporting his campaign because there was no other option and, taking a step back, it’s clear that I swept quite a few concerns into the recesses of my mind.  Next time I want a truly conservative candidate.  I’m tired of lowering expectations to deal with the greater evil.  I am tired of settling for what the Republican machine spits out.  I don’t want a lukewarm option, or a slightly better than average option, or even a good option – I want a GREAT option.  And so I will trudge on for the next four  years.  But I don’t deserve what was voted into our country, and I refuse to accept it.

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On a lighter note, I’ve decided that pants are overrated.  Who wants buttons and zippers and the squeezing of internal organs?  Not me.  Oh no, sir, I prefer the comfort of a stretchy waist band.  Which is why I am considering going “pants”-free this winter.

What about yoga pants with the stretchy waist, you ask – aren’t those excluded from your options, being part of the pant family?

And I return the question to you – can we even categorize stretchy cotton and spandex as real pants?  They are the illusion of pants.  Is it not perfectly acceptable to pair a dressy shirt and cute shoes with black yoga pants and still maintain one is pants-free?   I might even be persuaded to combine leggings with boots and a long sweater (so long as my backside is well covered).  Because everyone knows that leggings are most certainly NOT pants.

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It is getting late and my husband is calling for me to shut off the computer.  Me thinks that is sensible, as I am no longer sure the last paragraph is comprehensible.

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A little treat from last week: Michael’s Halloween costume, Cat in the Hat:

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

A Few of my Favorite Blogs

I’ve come to realize that it’s rather difficult to think of witty blog posts at the end of a tiring day.  And since I’m still recovering from surgery, it’s easier to piggy-back onto some of my favorite blogs to highlight their awesomeness.

  • Wellness Mama – She is my go-to for all things natural.  In fact, I spend a great amount of my free time researching and agonizing over her blog.  I really want to change EVERYTHING in my life RIGHT NOW!  Then I take a breath, stop, and acknowledge that will never happen.  Instead, I’ve decided to take baby steps and try one new thing each month.  This month is homemade laundry detergent.  And marshmallows.  Yum!
  • Conversion Diary – This is my favorite blog: something interesting, poignant and timely for my own life can always be found.  Jen also has great book suggestions when I am yearning for something deeper than the latest romance novel on display at the library (where I find most of my reading material these days – hastily snatched between armfuls of kids books and Disney songs).
  • Creative Minority Report – Always good for some light political reading (if such a thing is possible).  Plus, they blog several times a day so I am never lacking fresh reading material.
  • Patrick & Farrah – Farrah was my college roommate and we had so much fun together during those (mostly) carefree days!  Now we live across the country, but I enjoy keeping up on her life and delicious raw foods recipes from afar.
  • Little Stay at Home Mama – Another good friend from college, she never ceases to make me laugh with her hilarious blog posts.  She’s been on hiatus recently due to baby #3, but I am super excited for her entry back into the blogosphere!
  • Bean in Love – Sheena is Farrah’s sister and another fab blogger.  She is so creative with home projects and sewing on a budget – I am totally in awe of her.  Maybe one day when I have a house I will attempt a few of her ideas.  Mostly like, however, I will continue to admire from afar.
  • Time Flies When You’re Having Babies – Ana is yet another friend from college (apparently all of us majored in mommyhood & blogging) who is always good for a laugh.  She also posts a lot of photos, which I enjoy because it’s so much fun to take a peak into her daily life.

Have any suggestions for other great blogs?  I am always up for a good read!

Where Has October Gone?

It’s true, I’ve been slacking in posting since late September.  But in my defense, it’s been a hectic month around here – and not in the typical Halloween-is-just-around-the-corner fashion.  It all started on the Feast of St. Therese…

I discovered I was pregnant, which was both a source of joy and concern for me.  My first pregnancy four years ago with Michael was uneventful (until labor, when he became breech and I had an unexpected c-section).  Since Michael’s birth, however, I haven’t had such good luck with subsequent pregnancies.  The last two years have been spent working with multiple doctors and going through the gauntlet of testing to address my health issues.  A part of me hoped that St. Therese would be linchpin, the “one thing” that would ensure the health of this pregnancy.

But I didn’t have a lot of time to ponder these deep thoughts, because our little family was traveling to Denver in two days.  Packing took precedence!  Ryan had a business conference in the Mile High City, so Michael and I were tagging along to visit friends who also lived in the area.  The week in Denver was wonderful and ended far too quickly.  I couldn’t help chastizing Ryan for failing to book us an extra day to visit after his conference ended.  Little did I realize that the timing was already perfect for our flight home.

Here’s where my story takes a turn and hindsight allows me to see God’s plan working throughout our Denver trip.  During the week, I had a lot of private emotional ups and downs regarding my pregnancy.  One moment I was full of hope for our tiny child, the next I was convinced that another miscarriage was in progress.  I knew her name was Maria Teresa, but I couldn’t tell you why.  I also felt tired and worn out, but wasn’t sure if I was experiencing normal pregnancy symptoms or something worse.  During this time, I felt like I couldn’t really talk about my pregnancy because so much was unknown.  I didn’t want to raise anyone’s hopes just to turn around and give them sad news a week later.

I also had a profound talk with my friend during our visit.  So much had changed since we last saw each other in June.  In August she went through an ectopic pregnancy, and she shared her experience with me.  She told me about catechizing the hospital surgeon to ensure Catholic ethics would be followed during her surgery.  She kept a scrapbook of mementos from her child’s short life.  The hospital even gave her a death certificate and the remains of her child to be buried.  I had no idea that she was laying out a plan for me in the days to come.

We flew out of Denver early Sunday morning.  Sleep did not come easily the night before and my body just didn’t feel right.  The next day, Oct 8th, I had an onset of severe abdominal pain.  Ryan rushed me to the hospital and ultrasound testing showed an ectopic pregnancy.  I was in total shock.  How likely is it that two friends experience the same rare pregnancy complication within weeks of each other?  What are the odds that those two friends, who live a thousand miles apart, will visit each other and discuss this very phenomenon days before it happens again?

The craziness was just beginning.  Once Ryan and I knew the situation, we sent out prayer requests to friends and family.  We anticipated a Catholic medical ethics chat with my doctor and surgery later that evening.  What we didn’t expect was the push-back from our families about me losing part of a fallopian tube.  I also began to wonder if this surgery could be expanded to include some diagnostic work for my other reproductive issues.  If I was going under the knife once, might as well make it worth my time!

My doctor was amazing.  He was willing to respect our Catholic views concerning the ectopic pregnancy, but he also wanted to make the most of my surgery.  We decided to postpone surgery until the following day when a full laproscopic team would be available.  He expected to find some other underlying issues and wanted to treat them, not just diagnose them.

During the night, things began to change again.  I realized that I was no longer in pain and didn’t need the heavy duty meds.  A second blood test confirmed that my hCG levels were decreasing and the baby was passing naturally.  This was  a blessing because it took away the necessity to remove my fallopian tube, and gave my family more peace about the surgery.  I also got the sense that Maria Teresa volunteered for the job – the child who presented a situation that would potentially fix my overall reproductive health.  The sad truth was, until that moment, I was not open to having diagnostic surgery.  I was in denial that my body really needed it.

Surgery lasted for over two hours on Tuesday night.  Ryan said that my doctor looked quite pleased with his work when he emerged from the operating room.  Diagnostic work showed that I had endometriosis covering about 30% of my uterus/abdomen and adhesions on my ovary and c-section scar.  Turns out that endometriosis causes ectopic pregnancies.  If I didn’t fix this problem, the likelihood of future ectopic pregnancies was high.

The next two weeks were spent healing from surgery, trying not to jump back into physical activity too quickly.  I woke up from the hazy world of prescription meds around Oct 15th and wondered where the month had gone!  I also discovered that Oct 15th was not only Teresa of Avila’s feast day (patron for our Maria Teresa), but also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  It felt like an extra blessing from God to have those special days align.

Unfortunately, the drama was not quite finished.  I had a second bout of abdominal pain and ER visiting a few days ago, Oct 28th.  Another ultrasound showed blood pooling in my abdomen.  Doctors aren’t sure if this is due to complications from surgery or my cycle trying to get back into the swing of things.  I’ve spent the last couple of days resting, sleeping, and being so thankful that my mother can take Michael for a few days when crazy health issues crop up.

When I ponder the last thirty days, it amazes me how many blessings have cushioned our hardships.  Friends and family have been a wonderful support – feeding us, caring for Michael, helping me maintain house and home.  Most significantly, I am at peace about the loss of Maria Teresa.  She came into our lives with a very clear purpose.  Her sacrifice will enable our family to grow, and one day our suffering will be turned into joy.  She brought us hope.

7 Quick Takes: Family Edition

As this is my first every Quick Takes (and a brand new blog), I thought it might be fun to introduce my family. Here goes!

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Our wedding was June 10, 2006.  It was the most wonderful, joyful day of my life when I married my best friend, Ryan.  You see, the two of us grew up together in the same small town, same Catholic church, and same group of family friends.  However, Ryan and I didn’t really become close until high school.  He was my best guy friend, the one who listened to all my teenagery woes – until he wasn’t just my best friend anymore.  We survived five years of dating, a year apart in college and 20 months of engagement before this happy day could occur.

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Ryan is a man of many hats.  Six years ago he started out in grad school.  I, the ever dutiful wife, followed him into student housing and bided my time until we were blessed with a child.  Four years ago Ryan applied for a hall director job at a nearby college.  We have been living in a dorm apartment ever since! (It was a step up from the student housing, let me tell you.)  Two years ago the stars aligned and Ryan began an app development company with two buddies.  Last January he decided that it was time to walk away from grad school and dive into his quickly expanding company.  Between his jobs as hall director, app developer and computer consultant on the side, my husband spends his remaining free time in husband and daddy mode.

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The second most amazing day of my life occurred when Michael entered the world, December 19, 2008.  I spent his first few weeks just holding him, staring at his darling face and wondering where in the world did he come from?  Michael was a super chill baby who I carted around everywhere with me.  He was an instant favorite with the college kids, grandparents and aunties alike (not terribly difficult when you are the only baby on both sides of the family).  I also noticed rather quickly that he tended toward a flair for the dramatic.  After nearly four years, that personality trait still holds strong.  So does his love of companionship…

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What do I do with all of my free time?  Ha!  When you are a stay-at-home momma for a quality-time child, there really isn’t a lot of time to spare.  I keep busy with the general household duties, pathetic attempts at homeschooling and a couple of ministries around campus.  I am also training as a catechist for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.  It’s so exciting to watch Michael experience the atrium while I am simultaneously learning the ropes as a future catechist.

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What is the most awesome part about living in a dorm, you ask?  Well, free rent and utilities definitely top the list.  Oh, and free babysitters – college girls love kids!  And there tends to be a lot of free food as well.  Free stuff.  That’s great.  Plus, if I want to get all serious on you, it’s so good to have easy access to daily mass and weekly Adoration.

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Since this is the family edition, I have to give shout-outs to our extended family too.  We are blessed to have a lot of our family living nearby.  Michael’s grandparents are all within an hour’s drive of our home – which means we get to see them a lot.  One of his aunties practically lives down the street (two more aunties did live across the street, but have since graduated from college and moved on).  Having extended family in town was a dream for me as a kid (everyone lived five hours away), and I am so pleased to make it a reality for Michael.

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Finally, our most recent family photo:

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!