Tuesday, October 30, 2007

the price of coffee

Since fall has definitely arrived here in MD, I have been enjoying the crisp weather, and taking advantage of perfect outdoor time. This past week Pat's mom Connie has been on town, so my motivation to do things has gone way up. Imagine how much easier it is to make it to daily Mass with my little screamer if I know I have help! YAY! And cleaning, organizing - I know that next week will bring the reality of being at home with Bella and getting nothing done for a while.

Saturday evening we walked to Main Street to the quaint little coffee house; nothing like a hot cup o' joe on a crisp fall evening! Now when Pat and I first moved into our house right after we got married, my sister-in-law Angela, Sara (who was 4 months old at the time), Patrick and I would make this trek several times a week! Distance: 1 mile each way. Hills: 4. Difficulty: you try being out of shape 4 months post-partum and pushing a stroller with a fast-growing little girl in it! Well, 2 years ago it didn't seem so hard. Saturday it was VERy hard! (maybe it has to do with ME being the one out-of-shape and 4 months post-partum now...)
Now, the weather - It was a cool evening, after dark, and I had on a t-shirt and light jacket which I knew I would be ditching soon. My mother-in-law from California had on a wool coat. Patrick didn't have any jacket, the tough guy. Isabella was snuggled in her stroller as cute as can be: a knitted blanket under and over her, the sling in case she decided she hated the stroller halfway through, a lighter blanket in case she ended up in the sling, the diaper bag (read: a mom's fashionable purse), and on her head a little knit cap. She looked SO funny Patrick and I each burst out laughing. An evening walk took more wardrobe planning than a Broadway musical!
On the way back she started to fall asleep just before the last big hill, about 5 minutes from home. I did not want her to fall asleep 5 minutes from home, I wanted her to eat and sleep when we got there! So I jiggled the stroller; I talked to her; I poked her; I stole her pacifier. Then, I did the unthinkable: I jogged. *gasp!* Unfortunately, all this backfired - the little girl who loves all kinds of motion, whose eyes were half-mast for a few minutes, immediately fell asleep with the increase in movement. *sigh* At least it made for really cute pictures! And of course I was happy to provide such entertainment to the adults.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Orchard Fun

What is more perfect on a beautiful crisp fall day than a trip to the orchard for fresh-pressed, unpasturized apple cider? Yes, unpasturized. The pasturization process does not make for good fermentation! check back in 6 months for outcome of project.

We drove a good ways for this oh-so-special cider, and it was well worth the trip. Pat's mom Connie is out for a visit (yay for Gram!) and we had a great time. Of course Bella just loved it, running around and getting the full appreciation of such an opportunity, right? ha! She hung out in the sling while we picked out some fresh produce and a fresh-baked raspberry pie (YUM) and taste-tested their apple cider. This last part was very important, as we will not be partaking the in purchased product for quite some time, and we had to have quality assurance!

Remember when we were kids and everything was interesting and fun? We could run around and be silly and play pretend and sing silly songs making up your own lyrics... life was just fun. I remember when I became suddenly more self-conscious and awkward. Well, having kids is great; it's an immediate ticket back to the world where everything is fun and it's ok to be silly! Hence the faces in the cut-out above!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Seeing Double

It is my great privilege to introduce (or at least post about) the Roberts Twins! We went to Pittsburgh this weekend for another wedding (God Bless the newlyweds Michelle and Andy) and a weekend of fun! First, allow me to point out that a *simple* roadtrip is anything but simple with my darling infant, who seems to think the best way to stay occupied in the car is scream. Oh Joy. However, I did notice great progress from the last time we made this journey a month ago! She really did quite well all weekend, with me sitting in the backseat with her for a good part of the trip. hhmm, and my chiropractor asks me why my back is out of line... I think maybe the key is not to let her nap in a quiet place and to surround her with lots of people and loud events. She was full of smiles all weekend and was happy to be passed around and meet her "cousins" and new admirers! ;-) Michael was rather smitten with her! kinda... we'll work on it.
Nicholas and Michael are absolutely adorable, toddling around together looking for trouble, and Robin calmly follows after them, scooping up the one who just got knocked over or feeding cheerios to the other. Once when John opened the door to their hotel room there were both Michael and Nicholas looking up at me covered head-to-toe in toilet paper and looking happy as could be! I mean really, who can find interesting activities in a boring old hotel room better than toddler boys!
I have been thinking about Robin as a WonderWomanMom with her hands full. I, with my daily routine with one little infant, think I have no time for anything and that the days just fly by and nothing gets accomplished. *note: we are fed, dressed, and alive by the end of the day=success, less than 3 hours of screaming+a few smiles=great day!" Then I see Robin whose little ones are constantly on the move. I believe that mothers who God gifts with twins He should also gift with the ability to bi locate, so that when they take off down the hotel hallway in 2 directions you do not have to guess which one will make it to the stairs first. I will say she does so with true expertise, though!
Now, John as Dad - hehehe... the camera could not capture the true essence of this picture - John in on the phone with Nicholas on his shoulders, mussing John's hair, while Michael is on the ground pulling at the socks on John's feet. He does this so naturally without a second thought, it made me laugh. I guess as long as they're trying to get your attention you at least know where they are and what they're doing!
Apologies for the lack of pictures: This is what happens when you only remember to take pics once in a whole weekend. Carpe Momentum!
It was so great to spend time with such great friends and to finally get to meet these beautiful boys! Robin says "everyone should have twins" and that she was praying that we would, too. Lord, DON'T trust me that much!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

My Little Pumpkin

'Tis that time of the year again, with the crispness in the air, the beauty in the leaves, and we make spectacles out of our children. Yes, we take these precious, innocent little babes and stuff them into ridiculous outfits and pose them for ridiculous pictures. And they're so adorable!

We took some adorable pics with the cousins Sara and Rachael - of course, Mama is not-so-smart... I stuffed Bella into this Pumpkin Suit, oh so cute. Note that in the next picture the outfit looks different - I put it on backwards! duh. She wasn't too thrilled about being stuffed into it the first time, as it's a warm evening and this is a warm suit. So just in case I didn't press my luck enough the first time, we took it off and tried again. The right way this time!

They were so funny! Of course Bella and Rachael didn't care all that much, but Sara was sweet. She was especially interested in the hats the babies wore, so she got herself a set of bat-dielyboppers. I was NOT supposed to be in the picture; we just needed someone other than the 2 year-old to hold the babies!

After we stripped them of their adorable outfits we let them stretch on the floor for a little while. They are really cute, if I may say so myself :) When I look at 3-week-old Rachael I realize just how much Bella has grown!

After a few minutes they had had enough - I'm not sure who started it, but they are very compassionate girls, and when one starts crying... well, you see. Now when they erupt, what do their loving, caring, concerned mothers do? Laugh and take pictures, of course! They suddenly burst into tears and Angela and I crack up and grab our cameras; the timing was just too funny! Don't jump to call child services, after our quick photo-op we scooped them up, at which point they calmed immediately!

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Relative Weekend

This past weekend Patrick's Aunt and Uncle came to visit from SoCal, which was so nice! We had a lot of fun. Sunday we hit Mass at the Basilica which was beautiful of course, and then breakfast, which turned out to be a TERRIBLE experience - no more Ellis' for us! There was no one else there, and we're thinking that just over an hour is fine for some eggs, right? Wrong! 10 minutes to take our order. After 45 minutes we asked them about it and she said it was coming right up. A few minutes later we told her we had to leave and to please box it up for us - then it took her 8 minutes to box it up and swipe our card. augh! Unfortunately, this left Maggie and Jerry late for the tour. So Pat drove like a crazy man through DC and then dropped them off on a street corner. Ha! No, we met up with their scheduled tour, whose driver was kind enough to wait for us! how great is that! If anyone needs a recommendation on a good tour, go for "DC Party Tours" - they had a great time, all worked out well, as they got to spend 3 hours touring the major monuments with a guide who knew what she was talking about, and we spent 3 hours with the Brembergs! Much better for all parties involved. Just ask Isabella, who would not have gotten quite the full appreciation for the monuments yet. Maybe next year. Or maybe in 5 years. Or maybe...
Poor Isabella is still congested and gnawing on everything that comes within 5 inches of her mouth, but MUCH happier! She was so happy and smiley for this weekend. Today we spent some time with Aunt Angela, Sara, and Rachael. Bella loved watching Sara, and was happily babbling and cooing at her! It was So sweet! and of course Sara loves her 2 babies :)

This picture is just precious! Bella was sleeping on my bed and I grabbed the camera for a pic since she was just so peaceful! Well, when I zoomed in to get her face I caught her (what I like to believe) in mid-dream - she smiled while fast asleep. What a perfect image of God :)

Friday, October 12, 2007

queen of denial

My poor little Isabella is congested, having trouble sleeping, and playing with her tongue along her gums. Now, this could be either of 2 things, neither of which makes me all that happy. 1) She could have a cold. However, since I am breastfeeding exclusively, she is supposed to be getting antibodies from me that help protect her, and I am incapable of using the (using a better term, here) bulb syringe, so she needs to be able to blow her nose before she gets sick. So I remain disbelieving that she has a cold. (cough cough) 2) she could be teething. SHE IN ONLY 3 MONTHS OLD! SHe is not allowed to get teeth until she can having something to chew with them, or I can rub whiskey on them to make her feel better. SO I remain disbelieving that she is teething. Unfortunately, this only serves to leave me in a state of disbelief while my daughter is still not feeling good. ugh! In the meantime, we're both sleep deprived and wishing she would eat more. Any suggestions out there?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

in loving memory

I meant to post this yesterday, October 10th, but time got away from me.
Grandmothers are the greatest. Especially if you're blessed to have one who takes her job seriously - seriously silly, full of surprises and rule-breaking. "The reason grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is that they have a common enemy." I don't know about the enemy part, but grandmothers are the ones who let you get away with special treats that parents simply can't.
October 10th is a day of special memories for me. It was my grandmother's birthday, for whom I am named. Every year I take a few minutes to thank GOd for such a special lady in my life, and all the great things I remember about her. I'll share just a few quick but important ones.
~ She loved the simple details in nature, and took the time to point them out to me all the time. She would walk around the yard with me, pointing out the littlest flower or song of a bird, and talk about St. Francis. She was the adult who still took time to notice a beautiful sky or listen to the birds sing. Because of her, I still remember to notice the little details in the beautful world around me, something maybe all of us could use a little more of.
~ She loved our Blessed Mother. When I was little she would tell me how Mary loved Jesus more than anyone else, since she is His mother, and how we can learn from her to love our Lord better. It's funny how a simplistic childhood explanation and nighttime rosary everytime I stayed there really stuck with me - I have no doubt that my devotion to Mary stems from her influence.
~ She was so in love with receiving Jesus in the Eucharist. I remember, shortly after my First Holy Communion, I was at Mass with her, and she leans over and with an excited gleam in her eye says "we both get to receive Jesus!" Ok so at the time I thought she was a little crazy. I believed as much as any 7 year-old who was well catechized, but let's not push it lady. As my love for my Catholic faith has grown I think of that often! She really, truly appreciated the Sacrament like all Catholics should! The highlight of her day was Mass. I sure could learn a few things from that !

I have LOTs of special memories of this slightly daffy old lady, who could take a joke, even if it was at her expense. And I have no doubt I have a powerful prayer warrior storming heaven for me! She knows I could still use her influence :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Job Description- position wanted?

Mother, Mom, Mama, Mommy, Ma

Long term, team players needed, for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities. Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.

The rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5. Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf. Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers. Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects. Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks. Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next. Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys, and battery operated devices. Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product. Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.

Virtually none. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you

None required unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

Get this! You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for life if you play your cards right.

this was an email forward I received a while ago. My daughter may only be a few months old but I am beginning to really, truly undestand and appreciate this! Especially after the past few days!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

everyday marriage

"Turn your everyday married life into a prayer, because whether you realize it or not, everything you do in the context of your sacramental marriage -- from your work and other roles, to the little pecks on the cheek you give each other to your getting off the couch when you're tired in order to play with or serve your family, to the arguments you have, to your lovemaking-- is prayer. Marriage is perhaps the most beautiful prayer in the world. It is a prayer that was written by God at the beginning of time...It is the pearl of great price buried in your own backyard. " ~Gregory Popcack

Monday, October 8, 2007

you must stop slapping people with fishes!

So I'm listening to the readings at Mass today, pondering the depth of the story of Jonah. Now, if I were a biblical scholar, I would talk about the significance of the 3 days in the whale. If I were a moral theologian I might reflect upon avoidance of GOd's call in my life. I could compare the old and new testaments. If I were a good congregant (that is a word, right?) I would be able to tell you what the priest had to say about it. But I am me, so instead my thought was "what does Whale stomach smell like? I wonder what those Ninevites thought of Jonah when he showed up stinking like rotten fish?" Ha, and people think my husband is the theologian of the family!

It's interesting how stuffed-full of good stuff the bible is. Some readings, like today, really bring that to light. There is of course the whole listening to God (or trying not to) in the story of Jonah . Moral of the story, "Life stinks when you don't listen to God". (i know, bad one) The Gospel had me thinking of 2 things - the story of the Good Samaritan and the answers to the kid's questions. Now, the parable takes up the majority of the focus in this reading. However, I was focusing on the early part. "Love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." Does this strike anyone else as some heavy-duty committment? I would say that this one Command sums up the entire Christian life. For if we really, truly, loved the Lord like that, following Him in all aspects of our lives would easily fall into place. We would be the Good Samaritan. We would convert the Ninevites. It's that darn first part about loving Him so entirely, completely. Not just your mind, not just your heart, but with our WHOLE beings. whew. No wonder Jonah ended up swimming for a while. Thank God for patience and Mercy :)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Laughter, the best medicine

A Baby's laughter rivals the praise of the angels in heaven, I have no doubt. Bella laughed today! I had thought she did once the other day, but today it was definately for real! After Mass the 3 of us were hanging out at home and she was in a good mood as she finished nursing. I mimicked her snort which she found very funny, and her happy little coo suddenly erupted into a full-out LAUGH! I LOVE IT! So of course Pat and I proceeded to spend the next 10 minutes making her laugh since we enjoyed it so much. I was laughing, which made her even happier :)

Yesterday we were at the Bremberg's, visiting with the Brooks', too. So many cute kids! I was sitting on the floor with Bella in my lap facing outward which is one of her new favorite positions. Little Lucy came scooting over to us, which amused Bella to have another baby eye to eye with her! The 2 little girls were pretty fascinated, Lucy more so of course :)
The smiles and coos make life that much better. I know for sure that I heard th most beautiful sound in the world today!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Introducing Rachael

By Popular (Christine's )demand I am posting pictures of My new niece, Rachael Ann. She's so adorable! Bella is so lucky to have a big AND little cousin right across the street! This morning we went for our usual walk around the neighborhood. Let me tell you, for a simple walk, there's nothing simple about our little entourage! Angela pushes the double stroller with Sara the toddler and Rachael the newborn, unless Rachael is with Angela in the sling. Bella is usually in the sling with me. Sometimes we have Pat with us, in which case we have Bella in the stroller, with the sling as back-up. When Angela's mom was with us, we also had the dog. WHEW! for a walk!
But I love walking with toddlers. They notice the things you don't, and take joy in every little detail. Leave it to Sara sign everything she sees, leaving us looking around for it, certain that she saw whatever it was she's trying to tell us! Whether it's a basketball hoop, a bicycle, a motorcycle, a butterfly - she points out all kinds of little details we adults often don't notice. We have a great time circling the neighborhood every day for some fresh air and, dare I say it, exercise.

Friday Mass

Today is the feast of St. Faustina. Isabella and I went to morning Mass, something I'm striving to make routine for us. She did, in fact, scream the entire way there, until she was coughing and making herself more upset. Nothing like a good temper tantrum from the backseat to put you in a great prayerful state of mind for Mass, right? We get there in one piece, contrary to what she would have had me believe. So my daughter has quite a reputation, even at church. One of the ladies comes up to me beforehand and says "She's quite a 'live wire', isn't she. Do you think she'll actually be good for Mass today?" I reply "I doubt it" thinking to myself what a great opportunity for humility. oh joy. Well, Bella will not stand to be judged, apparently. She was a perfect saint all through Mass! One of the beautiful families there adopted a little boy from Africa not too long ago (their 10th child!) and he was playing in the back beside us. Bella was watching him and cooing - she was such a doll :)

Then we get back in the car and she begins screaming again. I'd hate to arrive home with that same sense of peace I received at Mass; I wouldn't know what to do with my day!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

routine roadblocks

Ever wonder how long someone can go without taking a shower? I will not admit just how many days it has been since I washed my hair. For the past few days, every time I had stepped foot in the direction of getting clean, some major roadblock had come up. Well, really, the roadblock is only about 12 lbs and awfully cute. For example, this morning, we had… well, a 4 diaper morning. Which means that now, although she is happily playing in her fish seat, I have to wait until laundry is done! Can you imagine if we changed outfits 4 times in one morning? And of course, it’s a morning that I was up and motivated to get to Mass!
Speaking of which, Happy Feast of St. Francis to all the Franciscans out there! Francis is my confirmation saint, chosen back in 9th grade for his example of patience and humility. Sometimes I think about how ironic is it, that those are the 2 things with which I continue to struggle, and had no idea of such when I chose him! My meditations of the day will be his “Peace Prayer” (I know, probably not written by him, but it’s a very Franciscan reflection) and his prayer “I must decrease, He must increase”.
By the way, I did get a shower this morning. God Bless the inventor of the baby swing!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

singing with a toddler

So the other day I’m sitting in my brother’s living-room with my sister-in-law Angela, singing “the ghosts go flying” (think ants go marching Halloween style). As we sang “and they all go flying down… to the town… for some fun... halloween.. oo-oo-ooo…. We started cracking up and Angela says “gee, and we have college degrees!” Yes, not that long ago I was a busy professional. I worked 12 hour shifts with a long commute. I spent free time keeping up with current events, news, and some politics. I was reading multiple books concurrently, working on house projects, and going out to dinner fairly often. It’s amazing how things change!
I no longer have patients with complicated needs, juggling many tasks in a hectic shift. I have only the needs of an infant with which to concern myself. I haven’t looked at a newspaper or online news in months. (I just read blogs! lol) Although I found those things important, and as far as news still do, my life revolves around simplicity now. The needs of a child are simple. Meeting them is not always simple, but their desires are instinct and their responses are pure love.
I like the simple life. My whole day is a reflection of God’s amazing grace and His beautiful creation. No no, please don’t think I spend my day reflecting on spiritual matters. What I mean is that at the end of the day, if I take a few minutes to think about my day, I see how a simple life is such a gift. I don’t need professional recognition; what I need is more toddler songs.

checking out the world

Bella is more and more aware of the world around her. She loves to look at the colors on the quilt under her, or at a toy in front of her. She turns her head to the sounds of Patrick's or my voices, and usually gives us a big smile, too! I absolutely love it, and never tire of making her grin.

She loves the little "Baby Einstein" floor mat, with its blinking lights and bright colors. She'll happily look up at it and coo long enough for me to put away clothes or load the dishwasher. More often than not, however, I find myself sitting on the floor right next to her watching her amazement with the dangling bug and rattle ring.

The top picture is of 2 year old cousin Sara who was "helping Baby play" - toddlers don't get how you can play if you're not touching it!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Ascent to the blog world

SO people have been telling me to start a blog. I keep laughing at them, thinking to myself “what on earth could I write? Who would be interested?” Then I realized that I don’t care. I write because I like to write. My husband is happy that I have somewhere else to put words rather than just in his ears! Family and friends can enjoy stories and pictures of Isabella – Our Bella. She may not be doing much right now, but I find each day new and exciting with a child! G.K. Chesterton says:

“A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life...his routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life."

So welcome to the ramblings of a “retired nurse” and new stay-at-home mom - which, by the way is my favorite job yet!