Saturday, May 24, 2014

//S A T U R D A Y M O R N I N G//

It's Saturday morning. The birds start their songs around 4:30. I know this because I'm awake nursing my baby at this time, and they're out there chirping and squawking, waiting for the sun to rise. Lying awake, wedged between my husband and my baby, listening to the birds; this is one of the moments of motherhood that are so sweet. This is a moment I want to remember.

Johnny slept until 8:00 this morning.  Truly a miracle because he has been waking up around 5:00 this past week.  It's been a week of bad sleep all around. He's cutting 3 teeth right now, so that's probably part of it.  He also wants to walk like nobody's business, so that could be a contributing factor as well. Maybe the early sunrise is making him wake up early. Maybe we need to get some heavier shades. But I love the early sunrise in the spring and summer and I hate the idea of manufacturing a winter-like darkness when we've finally left that behind us.

Anyway, Johnny slept til 8:00 and Alex and I rejoiced. The only problem was that I had set the timer on the coffee pot to 7:00. So the coffee was not as fresh as it could have been. Having a timer on the coffee pot is about as close as I will ever get to having a butler. It's good, but it's not the real thing.

This week has been beautiful! It rained all day almost nonstop on Monday. Tuesday the sun came out and -boom- everything was green and amazing.  I feel like someone experiencing spring for the very first time. I think it's in part because of our never-ending soul-sucking winter, and in part because I spent most of last spring and summer inside, on the couch, with my newborn.  My friend Jacqui over at Mexican Domestic Goddess, and I had had our babies on May 30 and June 1 last year. We agree that we kind of skipped summer last year. So this year I intend on being outside as much as possible.

We got the garden in last weekend. Lettuce, arugula, beets, cucumbers, summer squash, sugar snap peas, peppers, carrots, and 10 heirloom tomato plants. This is our fifth garden. I'm no master gardener yet, but I've learned a few things along the way.

1) Plant what you know you will eat. Bush beans are easy to grow and high yielding. We did them in our first two gardens for these reason, but we never ate them so they just went bad. Lesson learned.

2) Plant close together.  The more veggies there are, the less room weeds have to take over.

3) Tomato plants don't need much water.  If the leaves looked wilted in the afternoon, then they need some water.

4) Start a new row of arugula every few weeks and you'll have greens for the entire summer.

But there is one score I need a little help on.  Rabbits.  We have a fence around our veggie patch to keep them out, but I can't seem to keep them away from my flowers in the front.  I've tried a peppermint oil based spray that work great last year but this year isn't doing much. I also sprinkled cayenne pepper everywhere, but that's not stopping them either.  Any suggestions? We can't get a cat, I'm allergic.

Friday, May 16, 2014

// 7 Q U I C K T A K E S V O L 5 //

linking up with Jen at conversion diary for my 7 quicktakes

I have to start out talking about the weather because I'm a Minnesotan and that's what we do. Well, as I am sure you're aware, it has been the coldest, most lousy winter/spring since we took up keeping records of such things. And we just can't catch a break. I was going through some budgeting stuff and realized our April heating bill was higher than our December heating bill. I was hoping that now that it's finally May I would be able to shut off the furnace and save a little moolah, but I caved in this morning and turned it back on after realizing Johnny and I both had ice cubes for feet. 


I gave my student recital last weekend. I've been teaching for seven years now but I still get so nervous for my student recitals. I spend months preparing my students, picking out music that will be good for them, helping them learn it, tweaking, fussing, and stressing over it. Hoping I did enough and feeling the weight of responsibility, the day of the recital comes and the only thing I can do is sit there and watch and pray they don't go too fast! 

All my students did great, of course, and left me feeling quite proud! 


My little brother is graduating from high school in just a couple weeks! He and I got together last week and I did some senior pictures for him. I don't plan on trying to become a professional photographer or anything even remotely close to resembling that, but I am trying to learn how my camera works and would like to justly capture all the beautiful moments in my life. So there you have it. And here are some of his pictures. I think they turned out alright, if I do say so myself! 


Alex had his last final of the semester last night--and there was much rejoicing! Now he has a whole week and a half of freedom before starting summer classes. wah-wah

I have to brag about my husband a little bit. He never toots his own horn so I'm going to toot it for him. 

Alex is totally shifting career paths and pursing physician assistant programs. His first two degrees are in Spanish and linguistics so he has to take a bunch of (really hard) science prerequisites before applying to PA school. He goes to class at night, studies every day, works FULL TIME, oh, and he has a wife and a baby that he takes care of. It's a lot of work, and Alex never complains. I admire so much how hard he is working, (4.0 GPA!) and feel very blessed because I know he's doing it for Johnny and me. It's been hard on many different levels to have Alex in school, but I have no doubt in my mind that he is doing the right thing and I know it will be so worth it in the end. 

My mom very graciously offered to come watch Johnny so that Alex and I could go out on a date.  We went to our old haunt Pazzaluna and took a little stroll through Rice Park, which has witnessed both our first "I love you" and our engagement. St Paul was recently voted "best romantic getaway " in North America. I tend to agree!


Now it's time to talk about that mystery of mysteries, the bane of most parents' existence, that eternal enigma: baby sleep! 

A few months ago I blogged about transitioning Johnny to his crib.  He has yet to go an entire night in his crib but we had a couple months of two 3 or 4 hours stretches of sleep on his own before coming into bed with us. Getting to complete a few REM cycles each night was doing wonders for my sanity. But the last few weeks he's been going through some sleep regression.  It's been hard to get him down in the first place, and then he just hasn't been sleeping soundly.  So, now he's back in bed with us, for the most part. When we started putting Johnny in his crib I knew it was the right thing for all of our sleeps sake, but I was sad to not have Johnny in bed with us.  Now I should be happy he's back, right? Well, I kinda got used to having space and being able to sleep in any position I like. But it is nice to be co-sleeping again, even if I have a crook in my neck. And when he won't sleep more than 30 minutes in his crib, and then does three hours straight in our bed, we know that's what he needs. 


Johnny loves opening cupboards and drawers. He recently learned how to open the drawers on his dresser. I thought he would pull all the clothes out, but he just likes to stand or sit in front of the dresser and pull the bottom drawer open and push it shut. It amazes me how smart babies are! He's learned pretty quickly where he needs to keep his fingers so they don't get pinched. He tries to pull the drawer all the way out (but it is attached, so it won't come out). He stands in front of the opened drawer, holds onto the edge and throws his whole little body into trying to pull it out, just like an adult might do when pulling on something heavy. It's also amazing to see those natural reflexes showing up in my baby. 

standing on tippy toes in front of the dresser


Johnny turns 1 in exactly two weeks. I'm not quite sure what I think about it. It's feels like we just got him and like we've always had him all at the same time. 

We're planning a little birthday bash to celebrate Johnny and how well he's doing after this first, rather rocky, year.  I made up some invitations, yes the old fashioned kind that you put in the mail. And I've started making party decorations, partly because it takes me two weeks to do a project like that now, and partly because having a project like this helps me process the upcoming event. When Alex and I were engaged we did a lot a things DIY. Our invitations, center pieces, my veil. Working on those things gave me a chance to wrap my mind around what was about to happen, and savor that feeling of anticipation. When I was pregnant with Johnny getting his room ready and sorting through baby clothes served a similar purpose. 

My baby is almost 1. 

But he's still my baby.

for more quicktakes visit conversion diary

Sunday, May 11, 2014

// M O T H E R H O O D //

Being on the other side of Mother's Day, it feels like such a rite of passage. Actually, my first Mother's Day was 3 years ago.  I had just found out that we had lost a baby at 11 weeks gestation. Going through a miscarriage had been devastating and exhausting, and celebrating Mother's Day just a couple weeks later was incredibly painful.  We were at church the morning of that Mother's Day and there was a blessing said for all the moms. A friend at the end of our pew, who knew of our loss, looked over at me and silently mouthed the words "happy Mother's Day." And that was the extent of my celebration.

Last year Johnny missed Mother's Day by just a couple of weeks.  We went to the farmer market that day and, as I was very clearly with child, many a person wished me a happy Mother's Day. And I was beaming with anticipation.

Now Johnny is here, and he has brought so much joy with him.  And He has given me the gift of motherhood.

Motherhood is one of those things that permanently changes you. I am a mother. I will be a mother for the rest of my life. There is no going back. Every part of me now gives evidence to my identity: my unwashed hair, my tired eyes, my stretched out skin.

Motherhood is this strange dichotomy of highest heights and low lows, extreme pain and wild joy. It begins with probably the greatest pain many of us will ever know. Medicated or un-medicated, pushing out a new life is hard. It is a feat. But then that new life, completely helpless, 100% dependent, is placed on your chest and whether by a miracle or by hormones that intense pain is obliterated and you know only wild joy and fierce love.

Motherhood is physical, demanding the whole body at all hours of the day (and night). I quit my gym, mostly because I didn't have time to go anymore. But I joke that I don't need to go because life is my gym now. Try carrying around a couple gallons of milk with you wherever you go and you'll get what I mean. 

Motherhood is making me grow in holiness, whether I like it or not. My tendency is to be selfish. Being a mother makes me be selfless, as well as patient, and gentle, and loving. I am becoming a better person because I am a mother. 

Motherhood is making me know Christ more. I have never understood the unconditional love that the Lord has for us so well as I do when I look at my son and know that I will love him no matter what. And when he screams because I have just thwarted his plans to get into something that would cause him harm I say, "child, I know your upset, I see your tears, but you have to trust me when I say I know what is best for you." I am seeing a small little glimpse of how the Father must see me. That is a most beautiful gift.

To all who have gone before me on the this road of motherhood, my own wonderful mother who has taught me so much, my grandmother with all her wisdom, my mother-in-law who gave me my best friend, and all the other women who are showing me on a daily basis what it means to be a mother-- thank you and Happy Mother's Day!


We have now established a tradition of going to the farmers market on Mothers Day. This year we followed it up with Mass at the Cathedral.  Here are some snaps from our morning as a family. Enjoy!

The perfect example of motherhood.

Johnny with his namesake: St. John the Baptist

Thursday, May 1, 2014

// M O M C O N F E S S I O N V O L 4 //

It has been one of Those Weeks.

It began Saturday night when I came down with the flu. I've only been sick one other time since Johnny has been born (which is remarkable to me considering how sleep-deprived I have been for, well, almost a year now) and it is not fun being sick with a baby.  It's not fun being sick any time, but it's really not fun being sick with a baby.

When you are sick without a baby, you just call in to work and say "I'm sick" and then you make yourself some tea, and go to bed.

When you are sick with a baby you still have to do all the things for your baby that you'd be doing when you're not sick.

Thankfully the worst part of my bug was over the weekend so Alex was home to help with Johnny and ensure that I slept in and got a couple of naps and hot baths.

Speaking of hot baths, Monday evening after dinner Alex said he would take some time out from studying so I could go take a hot bath.  I was soooo looking forward to some peace and quiet. I got my hot water ready with some essential oils in it.  I got the iPad ready so that I could continue watching The Paradise on Netflix. (recommended to me recently by a friend. It's delightful! It's Downton Abbey meets Mad Men. Check it out.) And just as I'm getting ready to hop in, Alex comes in the bathroom with a cranky Johnny who needs a clean diaper. Changing the dirty diaper revealed some sore little baby butt-cheeks so Alex (who is a great daddy and so attentive to our sweet boy) announced that he would give Johnny sink a sink-bath while I was taking my tub-bath. (yes, we're close like that.) Would he like to just give Johnny a quick bath in the tub? I can wait til they're done to have my bath? No, says he, it's fine, we can all go at the same time......

Well, I think every mama out there agrees that a relaxing bath isn't a relaxing bath if your baby is in the same room as you fussing and crying. Ten minutes into this tandem bathing experiment I am snapping like the irritable, impatient person I try not to be.

Then this happened....

How does it know EXACTLY when the rain will start?

Every. Single. Day

Not only is this chilly, dreary, rainy weather totally and completely soul-crushing, but it does this weird thing to Alex's car- it prevents it from starting. We've taken it to the mechanic before when this has happened and they can offer no explanation. (Any mechanics reading this? Any thoughts?) The result is that Alex has been taking my car to work all week, and Johnny and I have been stranded at home. Which was fine Monday and Tuesday as I was still feeling too sick to want to go anywhere. But now it's Thursday and 5 days of not leaving the house, save to get the mail,  it starting to take it's toll. (Kind of like it did this time!)

Then the icing on this sick-rainy-home-bound cake is that Johnny has had a terrible week of napping.  He's always been a bad napper, but this week it has been extra special.  I'm talking about only snoozing while he nurses and then as soon as I attempt to lay him down, or shift a little so I can lay down with him, we wakes up and he's ready to go again.

Today was the breaking point. Johnny slept for a grand total of 10 minutes and nothing I tried could get him to go back to sleep, and all I wanted was a little time to myself. I allowed myself to cry it out once; one tearful phone conversation with Alex. After that every cup of coffee knocked off the desk, every tiny fist pulling my hair, every baby climbing up on the toilet while I'm trying to rinse out a dirty diaper I would meet with a smile and a (somewhat desperate) laugh. And further more, I was going to get dressed, in something nice and springy, and put on earrings and put on make up and pretend like it was a nice day out. We even  went for a short walk in the rain and I think the fresh air was just what Johnny needed because after that he took a 45 minute nap! Hallelujah!



While writing this up I received an update on a friend-of-a-friends baby who was born with a very serious and very rare birth defect and will probably not live to see a first birthday. My heart ached as I read the update and I almost deleted this entire post because it seemed so ridiculous to be complaining about my "bad" week when this family is going though such a devastating circumstance. I'd like to say that everything we went through with Johnny has taught me to never take my time with him for granted. But to be perfectly honest there are many days that I take for granted how well Johnny is doing, and the great health he is enjoying now, and the fact that we will get to see him grow up! Any "bad" day or even week that we have is nothing compared to what it could be, and should be counted as a joy along our journey.

So here's to seeing silver linings, and finding joy in all things, counting my blessings, and being better tomorrow.  And if you are reading this, please lift up that sweet family in prayer.


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