Monday, June 30, 2008

Just Her

The past several posts have been all about me, and seriously - Who wants to read that?

Angela was trying to feed Rachael and Bella was sure that she needed some. That bite, specifically.

Mama made a big mistake last week. My blueberries started to ripen, and I was SO excited to share fresh fruit with my Baby! I picked a deliciously blue berry and gave it my Isabella, with the result of instant enjoyment. The problem: Now she thinks SHE is the blueberry harvester! Being 1, she does not quite have the "ripe" concept down, and bit into an all-green one. Did that deter her? Certainly not; I am losing berries by the fistful every time I blink!

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Night for ME

When I read that title aloud I realize just how self-centered, selfish, and (forgive the term) "yuppie" it sounds. I am a MOM, I LOVE being a MOM, and furthermore I love being a Stay-At-HOME-Mom. The truth of the matter is, that being called to the vocation of a SAHM does not automatically give you all the strength you will ever need to never be by yourself again. We all need our "recharge" and I have seen lately where mine has been lacking. Hence my post seeking good reading material for some quiet time.

Well Friends, I did it! On Tuesday evening I went out right after dinner all by myself to Starbucks with book in hand. I resisted the urge to announce to everyone, from the barrista to the women's book study beside me, that this was my first night out in a long time, and that I have a wonderfully supportive husband at home with our Baby. I ordered a fancy-schmancy drink, settled into an over-sized chair, and read for almost 3 hours! Pure bliss.

*Hint for Starbucks Fans: Buy a gift card, go online and register the card with your info. That cheap refill I talked about then becomes a FREE REFILL! No Joke! You can refill any beverage as a coffee, tea, or iced of either (normally 50 cents) as long as you're sitting in the store. Also, when you register by July 14th they send you a coupon for a FREE BEVERAGE of your choice. Check it out! I'm always on the lookout for free stuff, especially in the form of treats!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Me, a Gardener?

Yes, that's right, I've taken the plunge and started my very own square foot garden! 15 Roma tomato plants, 7 Basil plants, 6 Bell pepper plants, and 2 jalapeno plants, all in a 3ft x 8 ft space!
There are a few lofty goals I have dared to set - to can tomatoes in the fall and to make fresh pesto. No, these may not sound like lofty goals to you, but put them in perspective. To reach these goals I will have to keep the darn plants alive. In other news, I have fresh BLUEBERRIES!!! This is VERY exciting, as I LOVE fresh berries, and it means that there are at least 2 plants that have survived despite my total lack of a green thumb. I think God offers us little bits of happiness in the taste of fresh berries, especially right out of your own front yard!Incidentally, I do believe I chose the right year to start this gardening project - we have gotten rain every week thus far this summer! Even so, I am tempted to open a poll for how long people think I will manage to keep the things alive. Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Strawberry Fields Forever

We really enjoyed strawberry picking last week! Bella was a doll, loving the outside and playing with Lucy and Rachael, content to steal cereal and of course the strawberries right out of the bucket!

I, too, had a great time. It was a sunny, breezy day, temps in the mid 70s, surrounded by friends. We could not have asked for anything more! Despite being a little hard on the knees, strawberry picking is fun! The best part - SWEET YUMMY FRESH STRAWBERRIES! They taste SO sweet, kind of like we were transported to California for their growing season! I will say that they were much smaller, but that was perfect for Bella's snacking pleasure!

Time off for Good Behavior?

As Angela mentioned, I have been talking about what to do with time all to myself. Patrick has been after me to take some time to go out and do something without Bella. He seems to think I need time to myself. What could he mean? I was out by myself just last week! Never mind that it was to the grocery store after Bella went to bed, and that I had "to market to market to buy a fat pig" stuck in my head the whole time. No, clearly that is not a sign that I need more adult mental stimulation!

In reality, Pat has been doing a great job lately of encouraging more time for whatever I want to do. The trouble is, I find the decision of WHAT to do rather difficult. Sometimes I daydream thinking "the possibilities are endless!" but when faced with the actual question I am left at a loss. I know there are plenty of activities I would enjoy, but none of them seem to top the priority list these days. I, like Angela, came up with a mental list of "to-do's" for my freedom. You may notice that they are all completely focused on productivity.
-reorganize Bella's closet to maximize space for #2
- clean out boxes still in my basement since college. (don't judge me, I'm a sentimentalist!)
-CLEAN, donate, CLEAN (why is this never crossed off, although we moms spend our whole days doing it?)
-learn Italian
- clean, thin-out, reorganize basement.
-figure out a way to get paid for my nursing knowledge, then do that.

I did finally come up with 2 options that were more necessarily selfish. 1) shop for summer shirts that are nursing and early pregnant friendly. Wish me luck! 2) READ.

I absolutely LOVE reading! Always have! (My mother once complained when I was much younger that I spent too much time reading.) I have recently realized that the past 5 books I've read were all about 'getting your child to sleep through the night' (didn't work) and 'losing those pregnancy pounds' (also didn't work). I need to read something that either has a better chance of making a difference, or out of which I expect less. I will request the books online, and on my night out I will pick them up from the library, head to Starbucks, and READ for several hours while flopped in an over-stuffed chair, sipping on a way-too-expensive-and-Caloric-drink. YAY!
*Tidbit for the day: Starbucks policy states that as long as you are in the store, coffee refills are only 50 cents, and that you can refill whatever drink you order as a coffee, tea, or iced of either. Call 1-800-STARBUC to verify.

So, dear readers, WHAT BOOKS??? I love a good biography, mystery, adventure, spiritual, classical literature, historical and fiction. I do not like Sci-Fi or romance. (Well, a good Jane Austin or the like is an acceptable romance.) I have a few on "the list" but am craving suggestions. I plan to read more Fr. Dubay (AWESOME spiritual challenges) but also need something a little, uh, lighter. Like "Count of Monte Cristo." :) So, tell me what you would read or re-read. Tell me what book captured your heart, or at least your attention for a while. I will consider my options, and maybe one day actually read something that doesn't rhyme, while sitting in a chair out of earshot and eyesight.

After a few hours of that I will be so eager to scoop up my Little Beloved again, shower her with kisses, and find an appropriate thank-you for my kind and thoughtful husband.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Avast, Ye Blaggards!

"It's just one ant."

"When was the last time you saw just one ant???"
from "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" 1989

My house and home has been invaded. It started many many weeks ago, with a few little ants on my kitchen counter. I hurriedly performed the miracle act that has prevented the mass influx in past years - I cloroxed everything. Everything off the counter, washed, cleaner liberally used, floors washed, dishtowels laundered. I went to bed breathing a sigh of relief.

Fast forward several weeks, and I am still fighting those damned little bastards. In 2 weeks I used an entire spray-bottle of that miracle cleaner. No bacteria could possibly have been colonizing, but there were those little pests, happily making their way into my sink. My counters stayed empty enough for a TV cooking show, excepting the marching line of 6-legged infantry, preparing for guerrilla warfare. It's a good thing we have had such a rainy season thus far with the amount of water I have been using, running the laundry and dishwasher. I am, in other words, a suburban-housewife-turned-vigilante. This is WAR!

For those who know my personal shopping record, you would be impressed to know that I stood in that poison aisle of Walmart for 25 minutes staring at the possibilities. Not only did I read those darn labels, all promising a 100% death rate, take-no-prisoners approach, but I bought name brand!!! This was serious. We ended up emptying the entire spray bottle in one place, the black ant mecca under our landscaping pallets. Well, at least we hit them where it hurt. *whew* All done, and I went to bed with an aura of peaceful victory. Desperate times do call for desperate measures, after all.

Fast-forward less than a week. Hm, their numbers are even greater than previous estimates, and their determination would be admirable in any other creature. My morale is low, my energy and brain power has sunk even further. I am near defeat. Maybe I should bake them a cake and make them feel at home. My infant picks up a book off the floor and ends up chasing the ant up her arm. My Morale is BACK - Who do they think they are? Aarrrgggggg, mateys, there's a new wind in the sails!

This time I have spread poison granules around entrances to our house (on the outside, of course). *insert name-brand cursing* I have once again begun the massive disinfection, dis-crumbing of our counters. "Bless me Father, I have sinned, I have a toddler and an ant infestation and I can't remember the last time I swept my kitchen floor." I thoroughly swept my kitchen floors again finally. I completely and thoroughly washed the high chair. Then I dealt them what had darn site better be the final blow - I resorted to my mother's advice! My kitchen absolutely stinks of white vinegar. It's forming a line barrier against the back door, it's all over my kitchen counter, and it's in my window sill. I think I will be smelling bad salad dressing forever. Why couldn't we at least used balsamic? (that was rhetorical.)

I am bound and determined to rid ourselves of the black blaggards, who have become the bane of my existence. Ant poison traps and mobile infants with a strong gravitational pull to their mouths do not mix well. Any other suggestions out there?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Thank God for Dads!

Happy Fathers Day to my wonderful, amazing Husband, who is a self-sacrificing, giving, kind, and loving soul. Patrick exemplifies what so much of the world is in desperate need of - a morally-strong Man, involved in our home and with our daughter.

He sacrifices himself as God our Father does, emptying Himself for Love of His family.

He takes the quiet backstage like St. Joseph, protecting and providing, forming the strong foundation from which our family will grow in holiness, striving for sainthood.

He makes us smile and laugh, and showers his daughter with love and affection at every opportunity! When it comes to Isabella (and futures Little Ones, too, I have no doubt) he stretches me just beyond my comfort zone, and provides that perfect balance, preventing what would otherwise surely become "mothering neurosis." He lets Bella do/eat/try things that make me raise an eyebrow, and asks "why" a lot. This is why kids NEED good Dads - someone has to offer that balance, stretch mom's limits and let the kids try different things.

I could not ask for a better father for my children, and am blessed to have such an amazing man for Isabella to call "Dada!!!!!"


This past weekend we had to move Isabella into a new category - she is a WALKER! After more than a month of being "almost there", right on the brink of letting go, she took the plunge (sometimes quite literally) and loves it!

We have been calling her a "stepper" for a couple of weeks, as she's been letting go and taking 2,3,4 steps, then suddenly "Holy Cow, what am I thinking???" and sitting down. Notice: not always falling, but sitting. Thursday was the first time she stood up by herself and then took a few steps and then sat down, all without the aid of props. (She has been standing up without props for a couple of weeks, but the steps always began with her holding on to something first.)

Saturday we had a busy and wonderful day, starting with my niece Ashley's last TeeBall game, which involved a lot of sunshine and heat. After a great nap on the way home Bella was ready to greet our guests and have such a fun time playing with Paul and Lucy, and stealing the pacifier from Jane! Somewhere in there she decided to walk 15 steps! Then more! AUGH! Suddenly she was taking as many steps as she needed to reach a destination without any more thought!!! She even walked from our kitchen (hard tile) to the living room (carpet) without falling! Well, at least until she was several steps into the carpet.

Now, please do not be fooled - active as she is, she is not what I would call "proficient" at walking. She has that funny toddle, accompanied by lots of splats, or grabbing onto things to catch her balance. She does look silly, being such a pip-squeak and toddling across the floor. She bends down, picks up toys, and keep right on trucking a lot - I think this might be her favorite part, as it's much easier to carry toys in one's hand than in one's teeth when that One is not a puppy dog!

I am actually quite happy with this development. Her pretty dresses can start to stay a little cleaner... at least until she plays with the mudpuddle on my parents' deck like yesterday! Since she has not been confined to one floor of the house for a while, walking does not seem like that much more "trouble." I am still thankful, however, that she is so small. That in and of itself seems to limit the amount of trouble my Little One can reach, at least!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

11 Months?

To think what can change in a year. I know it sounds silly, or cliche, and hopelessly sentimental, but I have been thinking a lot about that!

One Year Ago:

I was madly in love with someone I had never seen in person.

I dreamed night and day about my Baby.

I was celebrating my LAST SHIFT as a nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital. (eating a lot of cookies and chips-n-salsa, true to a nurses' party.)

I could go on, but I will spare you. I guess my point is that every one's life changes from year to year. We accept change, sometimes excitedly and sometimes begrudgingly, but either way we all know it is necessary to keep life from becoming static. Even more so, to keep ourselves from becoming static and complacent. We face challenges not knowing how much we will be changed through them, and in the end we can be thankful for them.

I loved being a nurse, but I knew without a doubt my place was going to be at home with my Child. Even though I had never held her in my arms, didn't even know she was a SHE, I had total peace one year ago tonight knowing that I was doing the best thing for our family. Every day I am thankful that I am privileged to stay at home to be a full-time wife and mother.

I often think about my work as a nurse, my years at Hopkins with the same people, forming friendships and facing professional challenges. I was ready to leave when I did, but the finality of it had not sunk in. Instead I was totally and completely wrapped up in the Baby I would be holding soon. One year later I realize how much life has changed for the better, without a doubt.
At 11 months old my Isabella is busy busy - just starting to take steps, learning and discovering, playing silly games! She is the center of my universe in a way I was only imagining just one short year ago. ...and I'll get back to you in a year and let you know what changes June 2009 sees!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Project: The Wall

As I mentioned a few days ago, we have officially started our backyard renovation project. Last Friday my brother Eric put his trusty skid loader and digging skills to work, and Voila! We have a giant mud hole where our grass formerly was!

After that, however, he built our retaining wall!!! This is really the exciting part, as we've had 3 pallets of wall stone sitting in our front yard for weeks, thanks to God's watering excess in our area. Eric did a beautiful job with the wall, despite a sudden realization we had miscalculated the height of the wall AND the morons who laid the drainage pipe beside the house did not bury it deeply which mandated an adjustment of wall placement. *sigh* If only all contractors were as smart and reliable as mine.

We have such big plans for our little yard, and it's SO exciting to finally see the first part taking shape! We still have a LOT of work yet to do - repainting the back of the house, laying the patio, and then finally the new deck. Yikes!

When the project is finished I will post before and after pics of the backyard. Until then I will just post the steps as we do them. I'm so excited!