Tuesday, October 30, 2007


When your living room couch is perpetually in this state . . .
You may want to consider buying stock in this . . .
I would write a little more, but I have . . . ahem . . . a few clothes to fold.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Oh, how we change

Every parent knows that your children change you in so many ways, more ways then you could possibly imagine before the birth of your first child. They change your outlook, your perspective, your capacity to love. Recently, Elizabeth has helped me change in yet another way. She has completely changed my perspective on . . . road construction.

We are surrounded by road construction these days. Fifteen years ago, our area was covered with forest, fields, and narrow country roads. Well, it's now a modern suburb, but we still have our little country roads. There has been a fury of road construction going on to try to update them to meet the demands of the swelling population.

Normally, I would think that road construction projects on virtually every main road that we drive on would be fertile ground for headaches and frustration. But, instead, when we see those orange construction signs, the little girl in my minivan gets so excited that I can't help but get excited, too!

We've seen diggers (Elizabeth's name for backhoes), bulldozers, cranes, pile drivers, and dump trucks by the dozens. Most of the time, we slow down and watch them at work. We actually welcome traffic stops by flagmen because then we have more time to watch the diggers creating trenches or huge pile drivers slamming concrete columns that will later support bridges into the ground . We are both in awe of these massive machines at work! It has been so much fun watching all these goings on through the bright, inquisitive eyes of my three year old girl.

Oh, and one more change in perspective. It was my little girl who opened my eyes to the joys of heavy machinery!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Is that how it works?

Jonathan: Mommy, I want to go to the Dollar Store.

Mommy: What do you want to do there?

Jonathan: Get some money.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Overcoming a struggle

Today is a struggle day. At least it started that way. It began as one of those days where nothing is going particularly wrong, just the normal minor disasters, but today I didn't seem to be handling them very well. The postpartum hormone thing has definitely been tough this time around.

On the way to the grocery store to pick up the one item I forgot to get yesterday but is essential for the supper tonight, I kept telling myself over and over again, "Life is not hard. Your life is not hard. You have so many comforts and conveniences available to you. You have a beautiful home and family. Life is not hard." I continued this all through the grocery store and on the way home. But, it really did not seem to be helping any. In fact, the more I told myself these things, the worse I felt and by the time we got home I was ready to cry. After getting both kids and the groceries in the house, I made myself stop and think for a minute. Obviously, this self talk was not helping any. So, I changed tactics.

"OK, you do have a good life, but today is hard. For whatever reason, whether it's in your control or not, today is hard. You're very emotional and feeling overwhelmed. So, what can you do right now to make it better?" So, looking around my house at the piles of laundry that needed to be folded, the toys scattered absolutely everywhere and the stacks of dirty dishes, I decided that getting the sacks of groceries put away would make me feel better. Once that was complete, I decided to put away various things that had been left out on the counter; a box of cereal, the jar of peanut butter, the salt and pepper, some pot holders and various dishes. By then, Gustin was crying and demanding to be fed, but that was alright because I really felt better. I had taken just a couple of moments to complete a few simple tasks and now caring for the screaming baby didn't seem like such a daunting chore. Life didn't feel as hard.

I'm sharing all of this because I think many women probably have similar struggles. I know that I was always taught that if things are tough you suck it up, remind yourself about how blessed you are and about all the poor children that are starving in Africa, etc. and you go and take care of business. While this approach may be appropriate at times, at others it can belittle the feelings I am having and make me feel selfish and weak. The more I am reminded of my faults and weaknesses, inevitably, the less productive and cheerful I become and my day gets worse instead of better.

But this morning I learned something about myself. I cannot push my feelings aside and pretend to ignore them. It's self defeating and self destructive. Nope, I need to openly acknowledge whatever negative feelings I am experiencing and then give myself the time and space to identify what would be best for me to do to try to relieve them. For me, it's amazing what just being able to complete a simple task from start to finish without being interrupted can do for my stress level. The rest of the house may be a complete wreck, but at least one task was completed that can't be undone. I accomplished something that wasn't getting done while I was spending all my energy trying to convince myself that I was not struggling.

And, now I've finished this post. Aaahhh, I'm feeling better and better all the time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Prayers for Southern California

The coverage on the news in incredible. It's so overwhelming watching the devastation of the fires from a distance. I can't imagine what it is like to be in the middle of this disaster. My prayers tonight are for all the souls in danger from the fire and all the men and women who are fighting so hard to contain it. All you patron saints against fire: Agatha, Barbara, Catherine of Siena, Francis of Assisi and Lawrence, please pray for them!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Baby attack!

Have you ever been attacked by a 5 month old? I promise, it's one of the most amusing kind of attacks imaginable.

Set the stage by allowing the baby to stand in your lap. He will then proceed to grab two fist fulls of hair, one on each side of your head. Next, he'll lean over and start sucking on the closest part of your face. He doesn't discriminate as to which part is best. Cheeks, chin and nose are all the same to him. Once you have pried him off your face and the hair out of his hands (no easy feat, I can tell you!), go find a towel and wipe off the oodles of slobber. I never knew my little boy could be so strong and determined!

By the way, no, he wasn't hungry. He was tired. After drying off, it took about two rocks in the rocking chair and he was out!

Fall is here!

Fall has finally arrived in Texas. Our first cool front of the season went through this morning and now it actually feels like fall.

We planted our fall garden yesterday. In a few weeks we should have little seedlings of carrots, dill, spinach, mesclun, and cilantro poking out of the ground. We pulled up the last of the summer basil and made bunches of pesto to enjoy throughout the cooler months. I love going and harvesting fresh produce from the garden whenever we want it. We don't get to experience much fall foliage, snow or ice sickles in this part of Texas. Nor do we have much need for scarves, boots or long underwear, but at least we get to garden (and have mosquitoes) year round! Maybe next weekend I'll put out some pansies and snapdragons in the front flower beds.

Hopefully I'll be able to post of few pictures of our garden patch soon. I'd snap a few now except it's wet and cold (56 degrees) outside. Hmmm . . . maybe I shouldn't have sent Jonathan to school in shorts today. It was in the 70s when he walked out the door this morning!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

It's time to retire

Elizabeth's favorite car, Lightning McQueen, has to retire.
He's been looking a little beat up lately, but that's a minor complaint. Over the last couple of weeks, he has developed a problem with his wheels. They won't turn anymore. How can you properly play with a toy car if it's wheels won't turn? So, Mommy got talked into (more like suckered into) a trip to the store for a new Lightning McQueen.

It was actually a little weird going through the toy aisle at the store. Our kids get soooo many toys from other sources that we rarely buy them any toys ourselves.

And, now to present the new Lightning McQueen.
And, he's actually a real Lightning McQueen. Elizabeth was so excited! I don't think it has left her side over the last two days. We had so much fun picking out the new car. Did you know that there are 8 different Lightning McQueen's? There's the dirt track one, the Radiator Springs one, the traditional one, a bling-bling one (huh?), etc. Also, while we were at the store I threw all caution to the wind and got her a second car as well (I have been known to be a bit of a tight wad). Here's the new Mr. The King.
The was an old Mr. The King at one point, but his wheels stopped working a long time ago and he hasn't been seen in a few months. Poor old Mr. The King, he was once so loved and now he's forgotten and discarded. I thought Elizabeth would still have some love for the old Lightning McQueen after all the time they spent together. But, alas, he's toast, too.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

SIDS information

To help ease my SIDS fears, I've been doing a little research. I found some great information here and here on prevention and risk factors. Here's some info on how the incidence of SIDS has decreased with the introduction of the "back to sleep" campaign. And, here's some additional information on speculated causes of SIDS, very interesting.

Eric also recommended that I take an infant CPR class. I have been trained in the past, but it's been awhile and I definitely need a refresher. Jennifer F. just posted a link to a video demonstrating infant CPR that is very helpful until I can get to a class.

I hope this information can be of help to someone else, too!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I love...

I loved Jill's list of things she loves, so I thought I would add a few of my own.

I love...

The way that my 5 year old, three year old and five month old all stretch the same way when they wake up. The type of stretch where they kick their legs out straight and stretch all the way down to their toes.

The way that baby's toes are constantly in motion.

The first ever picture day at school.

Elizabeth pushing her cars around in a baby doll stroller.

The way toddlers sing to themselves while they play. Singing the right words is optional.

The fuzzy soft baby hair that grows after all the newborn hair falls out. Snuggling that little head against your cheek is the best.

A silent house after all the kids have fallen asleep. We're going on 20 minutes straight and the baby is still asleep!

UPDATE: Gustin woke up at minute 27. But, those 27 minutes sure were bliss!

Monday, October 15, 2007


I've been debating as to whether or not I should write this post. I finally decided to go ahead and write it but I'm going to try to keep the details to a minimum, but I think you'll get the idea. And, if you're a mom, you'll relate and maybe even laugh.

We always take our kids with us to mass and some Sundays go a little more smoothly than others. Yesterday was difficult. Most of it was just normal stuff, but it all seemed to be happening during the same mass instead of spreading itself out over the course of a few weeks (or months!). But, the last thing that happened was a first for me.

Gustin was being a little fussy during mass so I was bouncing and swaying and patting him in the back of church. Just after the consecration, there was a minor explosion in his diaper. Not surprising, infants do that. But, this time his diaper did not do its job. When I looked down, there was... um... stuff... all over my hand, dress, leg, shoes and the floor, the carpeted floor. I think I froze and just stood there for a several seconds. I was so stunned and I didn't even know where to start with dealing with the situation. The next ten minutes of mass had me madly sprinting to the bathroom, then back to the disaster area, then back to the bathroom, then up to the front of church to get Eric and the diaper bag, then back to the bathroom while Eric stood guard by the... stuff ... so no one would step in it (by now it was communion time and we were in a high traffic area), and then back and forth between the bathroom and the disaster area a few more times. Somehow, during all this running around we both managed to make it to communion, thankfully, because we both needed the graces!

On the drive home Eric and I laughed and laughed. How can you do anything but laugh when something like that happens to you? If anyone in the back pews was watching us, I'm sure they got a good laugh over all the craziness, too. Hopefully, next week will be a little less eventful!

Note to the church maintenance staff: You may want to industrially steam clean the carpet near the northwest entrance to the church. Don't ask me why, just call it a hunch.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

5 months old!

I just can't get enough of this picture. Here's my happy little boy.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A little late: Three things my parents did right

I intended to get this done for Jennifer F.'s group writing project at Et tu?, but I guess it's better late than never. Apparently a whole week to write a few paragraphs is not enough.

Three Things My Parents Did Right

1. Mom read to us every night and encouraged us to read.
We had a bed time routine of reading and prayers every night. I always looked forward to our nighttime reading ritual and I am so thankful that Mom took the time and energy to do it every night. Mom was (and still is) a high school math teacher and always had mountains of papers to grade and regular quizzes and tests to create. She had plenty of excuses to speed up the bedtime routine, but she never gave into them. I think that habit is in large part the reason why I have always been a voracious reader and have a great love of books.

Because Mom was a teacher, she was home in the summer time with us. During the summers we made regular excursions to the library to check out books. I loved going to the library and being able to use my own library card. I truly remember those trips more fondly than any trip to a toy store or fast food restaurant.

2. We ate a home cooked meal as a family every night.
I did not realize that eating a family dinner is not the norm in America until I was an adult, so a couple of years ago I probably would not have even thought to include this as one of the three things my parents did right. Not only did it teach us basic nutrition principles and get us involved with cooking at a young age, but it grounded our family. Eating supper together around the table was something we could count on and it helped bind us together as a family. We sat and ate and talked about our day and none of us were allowed to leave the table until everyone was finished and we said the after dinner prayer. It was a simple prayer and as standard to me as the "Bless us O Lord" before meal prayer, but I don't think I have ever heard it anywhere else. Just in case you would like to add it to your family tradition, here it is:

"We give thee thanks Almighty God for these and all thy benefits, which we have received from thy bounty through Christ our Lord, Amen."

3. Mom and Dad stayed together.
My parents were devout Catholics who lived their faith everyday, but that did not mean that they did not have struggles. When I was in elementary school, life began to get hard, very hard, and it took a toll on their marriage. A series of hardships began to fall on them, one after the other after the other. Dad began to have health problems, followed by a serious injury in a car accident, followed by more medical problems. Eventually, he became completely disabled and was physically unable to work, so Mom became the sole breadwinner for the family. Around the same time as Dad's car accident, the local economy busted and they also faced layoffs, some failed businesses, crushing debt and mounting medical bills.

Dad has said that there were times when he spent his weekly adoration hour literally yelling at God.

Needless to say, all of this was very difficult on their marriage. In fact, more than once Dad walked out the door with no intention of coming back. But, he did come back. And, they would start over working at their marriage. They started over again and again. They persevered because of their faith, their children, their vows, their love of each other, and for the sake of their immortal souls. They continue to persevere and work on their marriage even today. In fact, they are now very active in helping putting on marriage retreats throughout their diocese.

Their example means more to me than I could possibly put into words in this post. Mom and Dad, I love you and am so grateful.

Life Expectancy Calculator

Check out this awesome life expectancy calculator. It's a fairly quick quiz and extremely interesting. At the end it gives you a life expectancy number (mine was 93 years) and a list of very specific things that you can do to improve your overall health and ultimately your longevity. For instance, did you know that flossing daily and living close to family or having close friendships can actually have a significant effect on your life expectancy? I also discovered that my taking a daily iron supplement is not good for my health. Who knew!

Hopefully this will information will give me the extra little nudge I need to make a few changes that I have been intending to make for years.

I hope you all have a long, healthy life ahead of you!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sure sign of a sinus infection

Jonathan: Mommy, my brain hurts above my eyes.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Elizabeth's Love

I have mentioned before, here and here, that Elizabeth loves cars. They go where ever she goes and do whatever she does. Her favorite car is, of course, the little red one that she named Lightning McQueen. This morning when I asked her if she wanted to wear her pink shirt or her red dress, she said...
"Red dress like Lightning McQueen."

Of course.

After getting dressed (we're in Texas, sundresses are still apropriate, even in October) and fixing her hair, I wanted to take a picture of her with her pretty braids. She would only consent to the picture if her beloved Lightning McQueen could be in it, too.
There he is, the little red speck at the bottom of the picture. (Yes, we still have painter's tape on the floor of the kitchen from this fun day. It will come up when all the painting is done, hopefully before Christmas!) But, apparently, I chose the wrong subject for that picture, so I was instructed to try again.
Oops. Nope, still not good enough. Try again, Mommy.
Aaahh, that's better. But, don't forget the other side.
This is actually his best side.
But, we can't forget this one.
Note: Each of these photos was lovingly composed and directed by Miss Elizabeth, herself. You are all allowed to look at Lightning McQueen as much as you want, but please don't touch.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Family trait

Apparently my youngest child has inherited a very distinct feature that has run in my family for years. You may have noticed that Augustine's ears stick out, just a wee little bit, in a very adorable kind of way. When my parents were here for my surprise birthday visit, my mom mentioned that my dad's ears stuck out in the same way as a child. She has pictures to prove it and I can't wait to check them out the next time I am home. :)
Now, here's a seemingly unrelated side story that I promise will all tie back together at the end.

This past summer, my mom and sister had the opportunity to take a trip to England and Ireland. My aunt had recently moved to London, so it was a wonderful chance to visit her and do some sight seeing (not to mention the fact that the free lodging made the trip much more affordable!). They also took a short side trip to Ireland for a few days. They saw so many amazing things over the course of their trip such as this...
I love English gardens!

And this...
These gorgeous cliffs are along the southern Irish coast near a town called Kinsale in County Cork. My father's ancestors are from County Cork and so my mom and sister had their eyes pealed for any evidence of Dad's family. While in Kinsale, they came across the statues of two men that share our surname. Check 'em out...
Now, go back and look again.


Do you see anything familiar?

Check out those ears!

We laughed so hard when Mom showed us this picture. Thankfully, the prominence of this feature seems to have gotten a bit watered down over the centuries. The guy in front has got Augustine beat, hands down.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

I'm disappointed

You paid attention during 97% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

My perfectionist, high school valedictorian self wanted to get 100%! I loved getting good grades in school. I even did extra credit work whenever I could so that in my calculus class I actually had a six week average of over 100%. I was (and still am) such a NERD!! I so wish there were grades for mothering. I detest not knowing if I am doing things right and nothing can build my self esteem like a big, fat A with a smiley face next to it!

Just in case grades are important to any of you, I give an A+ in mothering to Lillian, Blair, Veronica, Jill, and Emily!

h/t: newhousenewjob

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Sunday was my birthday

I'm thirty years old now. Eric is two years older than me so he greeted me that morning with, "Welcome to my decade!"

I had a wonderful birthday. Being an introvert, I'm not a big throw-a-big-party-and-invite-a-lot-people-over type of person. One of my love languages, though, is receiving gifts, especially ones that are surprises. My wonderful husband, of course, knows these things about me and surprised me in the best way he possibly could.

Saturday morning I was sitting in the living room nursing Gustin, the other kids were playing and Eric was in the shower when I heard a knock at the door. I couldn't imagine who would be knocking on the door at that time and I was a little frustrated because I was in the middle of nursing and Eric wasn't available to go answer the door. Then, I heard the door open and a voice call out a hello. After getting over the initial terrorizing thought that a stranger was entering my house, I realized that I recognized the voice. It was my mother! But, my parents live fairly far away, at least a nine to ten hour drive, and they never fly. How could they possibly be here? Eric set it up that they would come into town just for the weekend to surprise me. I was stunned. Travel is very difficult for my dad because of a myriad of health problems, but still, they came. They left home after Mom got off of work on Friday and drove most of the way and got a hotel. Then they got up early and drove the rest of the way in on Saturday to spend the day with us and then after mass on Sunday morning they drove all the way back so Mom could be at work on Monday. What a whirlwind of a trip for them! My sister had already been planning on coming down that weekend and my brother had recently moved to our area, so my entire family was able to be together for my birthday. What a blessing! We are rarely able to be all together as a family anymore and we had such a great day on Saturday. I am so thankful for all the sacrifices that were made to make my birthday so special! I love being thirty!

P.S. Please say a prayer for my dad. This trip was very hard on his body and it will take awhile for him to recover from it. Please pray that his pain can be minimized and that the recovery will be quick. Thank you!