Leo’s Birth Story

 Caveat : I meant for this to be shorter. Oops!
The Lead Up

The weeks leading up to Leo’s arrival were full of a lot of stress and anxiety for me. I spent quite a few posts complaining and waddled around the apartment twiddling my thumbs and trying different methods of bringing on labor (stopping short of castor oil). Naturally none of them worked and I am pretty sure that I got to the point where I wondered if the little guy was just going to refuse to come naturally. Despite being pretty darn natural and holistic my doctor seemed to agree and scheduled me to be induced on Tuesday, February 26th. I got pretty emotional about this but decided that since I would be over a week and a half overdue at that point, why not?

What the….?!
I didn’t start noticing my Braxton Hicks contractions until the week Leo was due. They weren’t too painful and were very infrequent and that was that. Around midnight on Friday (February 22nd – ’cause you’re writing this down and all) I started to get real contractions! All I can say is that with a pain threshold like mine it was genuinely dumb for me to ever wonder But how will I know when I have a contraction? I knew! They were so intense that when I would have one it woke me riiiiight up so timing them was not difficult. But they simply had no regularity, nothing consistent in terms of duration or time between start to start. So I tried to sleep as best as I could (not happenin’) and note the time when a new one would hit. 
I was relieved when Saturday morning finally came and I could give up trying to sleep. The day came and went with no change. I would have a few contractions back to back (sometimes even three in a row) but then have a huge space of time before the next one would hit. They were getting more intense and more painful all of the time but again, I have a low pain threshold so I just told myself to “man up” and keep on keepin’ on. 
Saturday night was much worse and by the time Sunday morning came I knew I was not leaving the house for mass or anything at all. I sat on the couch or on the yoga ball trying to find some relief from the pain but sometimes the contractions were so hard that I would fall to my hands and knees. There may have been some tears. 
By the time Monday morning hit I was desperate. I had not slept since Friday and while the pain and intensity of the contractions had amped up there was still no discernible pattern! I called my doctor and went in to the office for him to check things out. So he takes a look and starts chuckling. 
“You know why you’ve been so uncomfortable?” he asks me. I simply give him a deadpan look in reply and he says, “Because the baby has dropped and you’re 4 cm. When do you want to go to the hospital?” 
I started tearing up. I never thought I would make it to 4 cm without an epidural. Heck, I’m not entirely sure I would make it to 4 cm PERIOD! Somehow knowing that all of the pain and lack of sleep had been doing something made it all worth it. We scheduled check-in time for noon and I went home to Ben to finish packing (yeah…. I procrastinate) and take a shower. 
The Hospital
By the time we got to the hospital the contractions were coming more quickly and I had decided that I was G-O-O-D AND R-E-A-D-Y for that epidural, thank you very much! So we checked in and I got wheeled up to my (truly) very nice birthing suite. I had to have an IV (stupid StrepB) and monitors for the baby and whatnot but much to my chagrin the anesthesiologist was needed elsewhere and would not be available for awhile. It took about an hour (maybe longer) before I was able to have any pain medication. I was exhausted, in pain, and hormonal so naturally I cried. I was relying on the pain medication to help me to sleep until things got real and I needed to push and all that jazz. 
Anyways, I finally got my epidural (that needle in the back business did not hurt as badly as people told me) and began to fall asleep as Ben went to the cafeteria to get himself some dinner. The next thing I know three nurses and two doctors run into my room and start fussing over me. I am turned on my side and given an oxygen mask and can see by the fetal monitor that the baby’s heart-rate is not doing well. Poor Ben returned in the middle of the chaos and I can only imagine what that must have been like. Eventually the heartbeat did normalize and the room cleared out, leaving an anxious Ben and me. I tried to fall asleep again, occasionally looking at the monitor in fear. Sure enough, we watched in panic as the heartbeat began to fall lower and lower. Again the nurses and doctors rushed in, moving me from my back onto my side and giving me oxygen. One of the doctors informed me that if it happened again I would need to have an emergency c-section. The only reason I was not having one then and there was that my doctor had said to give it more time. 
One of the best nurses in the entire world happened to be my nurse that evening. She seemed to like Ben and me a lot and stayed in the room with us, watching the monitor and me and talking to us about kids and parenting and life in general. After things had settled down for awhile and her shift had ended she had to leave and another nurse started her shift. During this time I started to notice that my feet had begun to tingle. At first I didn’t pay any attention to it but as time went on the tingling spread up my legs and I started to feel the contractions again. They weren’t painful in the beginning but I knew something was wrong. I told the nurse and she increased the dosage of the epidural but nothing changed (except for the pain growing). Eventually I asked her to get the anesthesiologist. She could see that I was serious and she tried to get him to come down. He refused. Just increase the dose, he told the nurse. It was not until I was a sobbing mess that the nurse was able to convince him to come to my room. When he did he examined my back and was shocked to see that the epidural had come out! He kept repeating that “This has never happened before” and assuring Ben and me that it was a fluke. Believe it or not I did not give a flying (la la la) that this was some freak accident – it had happened, it was happening, and it needed to be fixed! So I got a second epidural. He super-glued and super-taped that sucker in and after several minutes I had relief! 
So at this point we had been at the hospital several hours and I had progressed to 5 cm but that was it. At some point they broke my water and after my second epidural they gave me pitocin. Eventually things began to start progressing again and we arrived at the long-awaited moment.
Time to Push
My doctor was going to be there for the delivery but given that it was my first labor he decided to have a nurse be in the room with me for the first portion of pushing. For once I am going to spare you the details. Suffice it to say that after 3+ days of no sleep and 1 hr of pushing, I had gotten nowhere. I was told that I had 2 more hours of pushing before I would have to have a c-section. I was an emotional wreck. I had zero energy at this point and did not see how I could manage to keep pushing 2 more minutes, much less 2 more hours! Yet the idea that after all of the drama of the day I would be unable to have this baby naturally (relatively speaking) was a pretty devastating blow. I basically gave up and just laid there weeping. 
Lucky for me I had a doctor who was a real advocate. He came to my room and took over. I confess that the next hour was nothing but a blur. There was a lot of coaxing and encouragement from my doctor and Ben and a lot of pushing and unbridled emotionalism from me. I lost all sense of time and kept waiting to hear that I was headed for surgery. Then all of the sudden I heard this –
Doctor : “Are you ready?”
Me (in what can only be described as a tone of complete exasperation) : “Ready for what?!”
Doctor : “To meet your baby. Give me one more push.”
For once I followed orders. And on Tuesday, February 26th, 2013 at exactly 2:39 AM we were able to meet the precious son that we had waited and prayed for for so long.

7 Quick Takes

I’m a bit late to the game and not even sure I can type these babies before my actual baby wakes up but what the heck, why not give it a shot? Apologies for the rambling and incoherency!

 
– 1 –

It’s funny what goes through your mind when you’re holding a flailing, wailing baby. There’s the obvious How is it possible that someone under 30 lbs is practically overpowering me right now? or There’s no way that the piece of paper in your mouth was that delicious! But then something absurd occurred to me – I used to teach parenting classes… once a week for over a year and a half at the crisis pregnancy center I stood in front of a room full of real parents telling them what they ought to be doing (or not doing as the case may be). When I started out I was single; not yet dating my future husband and with nary a child of my own. Please feel free to laugh – I certainly did yesterday.

– 2 –

My go-to line when a client would ask me “Do you even have kids?” was either “I’ve babysat a lot” or “I’ve spent a lot of time with my nieces.” It was a question that was usually asked with a lot of attitude, especially when it came from a client who was considering abortion. At the time it made me feel very defensive and even annoyed. I mean, how hard could it be? How different could it be, parenting versus babysitting? The only real difference is that you’re around the kids longer, ya know? 
Before you whip out your brass knuckles please let me assure you – the “teacher” has been schooled! Believing that babysitting prepares you for or is the same as parenting is kind of like a kid who thinks he’s ready to have a puppy because he’s kept his Tamagotchi alive and happy.
There ain’t a button for the real thing, kid
– 3 –

Before we got to hold him 🙂
Pregnancy in and of itself had a huge impact on my approach to counseling and I am so glad that I worked at the crisis pregnancy center during that time. Nausea sounds so doable when it’s hypothetical. Or at least it did to me. Then it hit and man oh man, God only knows how many times Ben and my coworkers heard me say “I’m going to die” during those first two trimesters!!! It wasn’t even that bad as far as “morning” sickness goes – I’m just a wuss (Ben will back me up on this). I can only imagine what it will be like to experience all of that with a little one around. At least I hope and pray that I will get to experience that because as tough as it is, what on earth compares to feeling your child move inside of you? Sure it can get annoying (especially a hard kick to the ribs at 3 AM) but it’s pretty freakin’ cool all the same!

– 4 –
 

I’m not even going to touch on the issue of labor and delivery (YET! Leo’s birth story will venture into that special territory). For now suffice it to say that the books I read and movie(s) I watched did not quite prep me for the real thing. Shocking, I know. On the upside I am almost looking forward to going through it again at some point (if God blesses us with another little one) so that I can try and do a better job! Ben was a little horrified when I told him that and asked for us to please change topics.

– 5 –

So yeah, pregnancy and delivery weren’t what I expected or what I told clients to expect (wince). As a result I guess it shouldn’t have come as a shock that motherhood would be so different. It was and it is. During pregnancy I kept telling Ben that I did not want us to be like most first-time parents – I wanted us to be eclectic, relaxed, and just figure things out as they came. It turns out that you can’t not be first time parents. When your baby gets sick it’s probably gonna freak you out a lot little. You may or may not make an unnecessary trip to Urgent Care. You may or may not clip too much of your baby’s nails and draw blood, thus convincing you that you are the worst parent in all of existence. The thing is that I don’t think you can really know what kind of a parent you are going to be until you are one. Maybe you’ll be the parent you envisioned and handle things with grace, wisdom, and sanctity. Or maybe you’ll be a little bit more like me. In a recent post Jen said

It would be awesome if your kids could have a mom who had the holiness of Mother Teresa, the energy of Mary Poppins, and the domestic skills of Martha Stewart. But if you’re not there yet, saying “I love you guys and I love Jesus and I’m doing the best I can” works too.

– 6 –
Here’s to the moments when we feel like we supermom. Maybe it’s because we cleaned the house, made an awesome dinner, kept the baby entertained and happy all day, and have a nice evening lined up. Or maybe it’s because you kept your cool in the midst of that surprise poop explosion that took place fifteen minutes into a long car trip. Whatever it is, whenever it is – celebrate!
– 7 –

With his first birthday approaching I think it’s safe to say that I will spend the rest of motherhood discovering how little I know and how grateful I am for God’s grace, my incredible husband, my amazing little boy, and the wonderful life I have been blessed with!

~ Happy Friday ~

7 Quick Takes : Recipes Edition

I have had some fun adventures in the kitchen over the past several weeks and I figured why not share them and link up with Jen at the same time!

– 1 –
The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

Idiot Proof Baking
Super delicious cookies! Seriously the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever tasted! They were pretty good when hot but actually much more yummy once they had cooled. 
Ingredients (yield : 3 dozen)
  • 3/4 C butter
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 C flour
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 – 1 tsp salt (depends on your preference)
  • 1 1/2 C chocolate chips

Directions

  • Cream butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla – beat well.
  • Add dry ingredients; mix until just combined. 
  • Stir in chocolate chips
  • Drop onto parchment paper or greased surface and bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • Place pan on wire rack for 5 minutes before removing cookies (important!)

– 2 –
Better Than Brownies Cookies

Quadrupled the recipe. Surprise yield of 16 dozen cookies. Oops.
These cookies are a chocolate lover’s dream. I certainly had my fair share over the holidays! I kept waiting to get sick of them but I never did (one of those good things that’s also a bad thing). I certainly would discourage you from quadrupling the recipe! That is unless you want to be up to your elbows (literally) in chocolate. Who knew the Kitchen Aid bowl was that deep?! My mother-in-law told me that she doesn’t even double a recipe if she can help it. Considering that her cookies are awesome I think I’ll follow her lead from now on and just make several separate batches.
Ingredients
  • 16 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 eggs
  • 1⅓ C granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ C all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 C semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
Directions
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  • Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until completely melted and smooth.
  • In the meantime, stir together the eggs, vanilla and sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.
  • Add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and stir to combine well. Slowly add the dry ingredients, folding them into the batter. Once all of the flour is incorporated, stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Scoop 1½ tablespoons of dough (a medium cookie scoop’s worth) onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until they are firm on the outside. Like brownies, do not over-bake! Leave to cool completely on the baking sheets. 

 – 3 –
Apple Cheddar Scones

My husband and I agreed that while these are some very yummy scones, the next time I make these I will add more cheddar and apple. The end result was great but still felt like it needed a little more oomph! Found out today that this is easily remedied by applying apple butter. SO GOOD!!! I should also say they almost require tea as a companion. I originally made these goodies for a book club I was hoping to go to but after a long day and the onslaught of snow/rain I stayed in. As far as nights in go it’s a little hard to beat sipping tea and eating a warm scone while watching Elementary. Anyways, on to the recipe!
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 C cold butter
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 1 C shredded cheddar (will use more in the future)
  • 1 C diced peeled apple (ditto)
Directions
  •  In a bowl combine the first five ingredients 
  • Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs
  • Stir in buttermilk until just moistened (I had to add several heaping tablespoons of flour after I failed to pay close enough attention to this step)
  • Fold in cheese and apples
  • Pat in a 9″ circle and cut into 8 wedges
  • Separate wedges and place on greased baking sheet
  • Bake at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown 
I got a pastry blender for Christmas and was inappropriately excited to have a chance to use it for this recipe. Seriously, I know it’s a simple cutting action but I have never been able to use two knives to get butter to blend in properly.

– 4 –
Cranberry Brie Bites

Mine did not achieve this perfect golden brown color
I am stealing this recipe from Tablespoon because the pictures are amazing and I cannot seem to locate the original website that I used. The recipe calls for cranberry sauce but I imagine that you could use jam just as easily. The next time I make these guys I think I’m going to increase the amount of brie used per pastry. Basically I think that if you can add more cheese to a recipe you almost have to. Also, we sampled these hot and after they had cooled and we both thought they were much tastier after having cooled. Just a thought.
Ingredients
  • 1 package (17 1/4 ounces) frozen puff pastry, thawed 
  • 1/2 lb Brie cheese
  • 1 cup cranberry sauce (purchased or homemade)
Directions   
  • Thaw the frozen puff pastry, and cut with a pizza cutter.  The puff pastry sheet I used was folded in thirds.  I cut down those lines, then cut the sheet into quarters the other direction.
  • Place each puff pastry square into a separate holder ofmini muffin tin  
  • Fill with brie and cranberry sauce.  
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, or until the puff pastry is golden brown on the edges.
  • Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.



– 5 –
Applesauce Pork Loin

Clearly not my picture
This is the best pork I have ever tasted. I found the recipe at Taste of Home and it’s just perfect – not a lot of ingredients, not a lot of prep required, and a whole lot of flavor as the end result! The only negative thing I will say is that the cooking time has been way off both of the times I have made this. The pork has been completely thawed both times and I have followed every step of the directions completely so I have no idea what that’s about. Oh well – it’s worth the wait! We had leftovers after both meals and I chopped up the remaining pork (including the sauce) and sauteed it with mushrooms then added eggs and it was kind of amazing. 
Ingredients
  • 1 boneless pork loin roast (3 lbs)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 C applesauce
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
Directions
  • Sprinkle roast with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, brown roast on all sides in oil. Place on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Combine the applesauce, mustard and honey; spread over roast. Top with rosemary.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 1 to 1-1/4 hours or until a thermometer reads 145°. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing. Yield: 10-12 servings.
– 6 –
Chicken Suiza Cornbread Bake
Not my photo either – I don’t do garnish. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
I found this recipe at All Recipes and between the reviews and the ingredients I knew I had to try it! It requires a little bit more prep than I prefer with our dinners but again, totally worth it! The one thing I will say is that Frank’s Red Hot Sauce or Sriracha Sauce make a B-I-G difference in the flavor! I wouldn’t include them in the cooking process but some liberal use of either when it comes to eating and you have a scrumptious meal ahead of you!
Ingredients (Crust)
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (15.25 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cream-style corn, drained
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C egg substitute (I used real eggs)
  • 1 (8.5 ounce) package corn bread mix
Ingredients (Chicken Topping) 
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp canned green chile peppers, chopped
  • 4 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms (ran out – used canned)
  • 1 1/2 C reduced-fat sour cream (yeah right – used regular sour cream)
  • 1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 8 oz package Monterey Jack cheese, shredded  

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  • Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir until tender.
  • Dice one or two boneless, skinless chicken breast halves and stir them into the skillet after the onions and garlic are soft. Cook and stir about 5 minutes; the chicken pieces should be cooked through, and will continue to cook as the casserole bakes. Remove from heat and set aside. 
  • In a large bowl, combine corn, cream-style corn, salt, and egg substitute. Beat in muffin mix. Fold in cooked onion mixture. Pour into prepared baking dish.
  • In a large bowl, combine chicken, green chiles, mushrooms, sour cream, salt and pepper. Spoon over corn mixture to within 1 inch from edge. Sprinkle top with cheese.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
– 7 –
Healthy Mexican Chicken Bake
While I did not take this picture this is exactly what the end result looked like

Ingredients

  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 oz shredded Mexican cheese blender
  • 1 C salsa

Directions 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season one side of chicken breasts with half the cumin, half the garlic powder, salt, and black pepper; arrange chicken breasts with seasoned sides down in the hot oil. Fry until chicken is lightly browned on the bottom, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Season the top of each chicken breast with the remaining cumin, remaining garlic powder, salt, and black pepper; flip chicken and cook until other side is lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. If the skillet gets dry, pour in just enough juice from the salsa to keep it from burning.
  • Transfer chicken breasts to a 9×9-inch baking dish; sprinkle with Mexican cheese blend. Loosen all the drippings from the skillet with a little more juice from the salsa and pour on top of chicken breasts. Spoon salsa over cheese layer. 
  • Bake chicken breasts until no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, 20 to 25 minutes.  

Another recipe off of All Recipes! Because I am lazy and did not want to bother with dirtying and washing another dish I used a cast iron skillet and simply put it in the oven when it was time to bake. It is really tasty and goes great with rice and refried beans. Heck, if you wanted to you could shred the chicken after it bakes and just make burritos or fajitas or tacos or, well, you get the idea 🙂

~ Happy Friday ~

Let’s Catch Up

Remember that one time when I was all like “hey I am blogging again!” and then I made good on that for like, oh I dunno, two days? Yeah….. good times….

So let’s catch up!

-1-

Leo and his Papa

Leo is now 10 months old (!) and has a mouthful of eight teeth. He crawls and even pulls himself up on occasion. He has one of the strangest crawls I have ever seen – his right leg basically stays crooked beneath him (like he’s in the sitting position) but the rest of him is in the crawling position. It makes him off-balance so we have had falls aplenty, especially with the hardwood and tile floors. He babbles a fair bit and seems to show a growing understanding with “mama” and “dada” but it’s not consistent yet. He is a sweetheart and tends to be very warm towards others, but he does have a fiery temper and when something happens that he doesn’t like he finds a way to express it! 
– 2 –
Leo was the sheep the grandkids’ Christmas pageant. Naturally he stole the show….
– 3 –
Every time it starts to snow this is all I want to do
 
That right there just might be the best moment in movie history
– 4 –
 
Ben and I continued our tradition of spending New Year’s Eve watching a kid’s movie. This year we sipped wine and nibbled on cheese and crackers while watching Over the Hedge. We didn’t even bother trying to stay up until midnight.
– 5 –
Long story short we put our house on the market about a week before Christmas. It happens to be the worst time of year to list a house so if you feel like sending some prayers our way we would sure be grateful! 
– 6 –
My side project
So a few months ago we decided to get a door for Ben’s office. We wanted it to be a solid wood door so that it would match the other doors of the house but as it turns out solid wood doors are $$$$! So I was on the phone with my mom and lo and behold she has a free door that is exactly the size we need and if we want it it’s ours! I didn’t realize that it was painted so when it arrived I was a little disappointed but hey, free is FREE! I decided that I was going to refinish it and set up shop in our garage. Suffice it to say that my little side project did not end up being so little after all. Instead of taking me a week or two it took me a little over two months and God knows how many hours. Our contractor felt so bad for me that he lent me his sander AND installed it for free! It’s hard to express how good it feels every time I see that door (poorly stained as it is). 
– 7 –
This is one of the best things I have ever seen ❤
~ Merry Christmas and Happy New Year ~

Five Favorites (Vol 10)

Special thanks to Jenny for hosting this week’s link up!
– 1 –
Leo’s Professional Portraits
The Teething / Goofy Face

The Guilty Smile
The two photos above are a result of us finally getting around to Leo’s “6 Month” photos. Of course by the time we did them he was a few days shy of being 8 months old, but hey you do the best you can, right? While the session was an adorable success I made a semi-catastrophic error and long story short, we ended up with a CD and rights to all of the images instead of a handful of prints… MAJOR OOPS! On the bright side, we now have a bunch of super cute photos of Leo that I have had a blast tinkering with on Photoshop Elements. The photos I posted are not the best ones from the shoot but I love them for how they capture his little personality. 
– 2 –
Adobe Photoshop Elements
Yes, I’m stuck with the 10th edition
While Photoshop Elements is not as great as plain old Adobe Photoshop, I still love using it for editing photos. I very much hope that one day I will learn to be a good photographer and/or become much more skilled at using Photoshop. Obviously the best photographers do not depend upon Photoshop for great photos but I would settle for just being good 🙂 
– 3 –
The Blacklist

I really enjoy watching TV. I’ll admit that I don’t have the best taste but every now and then I stumble across a show that I think is truly great. NBC’s “The Blacklist” is definitely that! James Spader is so much fun to watch and the female lead has surprised me with striking a good balance between being tough but vulnerable. It’s the first show I have watched in awhile that keeps my complete attention and makes me want to punch the screen when the credits start rolling and I realize I have to wait an entire week for the next episode. Will you love it? I don’t know but for my husband and me it is definitely a favorite!

– 4 –
Here with Me – Susie Suh & Robot Koch
Speaking of The Blacklist, this song was featured in one of the episodes and I really enjoyed it. I am sure that part of that is simply context but still. I used to obsess over music for hours every day, looking for new artists and songs. I don’t have time for that now so TV shows/movies/commercials (yes, I actually do that) are my main source of new material. Feel free to add your suggestions in the com boxes because seriously I need new music! I once managed to pull three all-nighters in a row and it was thanks to music, not coffee (seriously after the 30th cup you just shake more, you don’t get more awake)
– 5 –

This website has been an absolute godsend for me!!! I use the free version and that allows me to upload recipes, make meal plans for the week (or more), create a shopping list, etc. Perhaps it is simply due to major laziness but the fact that it compiles your grocery list for you is a huge perk for me. Not only that, but it even breaks down the grocery list by areas of the store (e.g. Dairy, Frozen, etc.). It has saved me countless hour and headaches and I just love love LOVE it!
~ Happy Wednesday ~

Back to Blogging

Well I’m blogging again. I’ve been putting it off for awhile now but today I figured what the heck, why not? Why the absence? In a word, Life. I am not entirely sure how you other moms do it but amidst the chaos of baby, cleaning, cooking, exercise, grocery shopping, etc. when I do happen to get a free moment I just want to collapse on the couch and watch something mindless or read something good (or vice versa, as the case may be). At least that is how it has been over the past several weeks.

Leo had a cold for a few weeks and then somewhere in the midst of that he started cutting four new teeth. Yeah, you read that right – FOUR NEW TEETH ALL AT ONCE! So life around here has been looking a lot like this —

Leo and me
The main difference between Mama K over there and me is that I wear glasses. Our insurance finally kicked in, however, so I am hoping and praying that I will be able to get myself to an optometrist in the near future and finally get the OK to start wearing contact lenses again! Which reminds me, if you wear disposable contact lenses make sure that you follow the instructions to the letter. Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, that you are a little bit of a cheap person and plan on wearing those 2 week disposables for, oh I dunno, 6 months…. Don’t. Do. It! Turns out there is a reason you need to ditch ’em. Who knew. 
So yeah, despite my lack of writing Leo has continued to grow and develop. In addition to cutting four new teeth (still in process) he is getting close to crawling. Between not having a good soft surface for him to move around on (so much for all those beautiful hardwood floors) and general clingy-ness he hasn’t been too interested to get down and move about on his own. Or perhaps I should say it’s just been a much slower process than it could have been. At any rate he has been trying out the tripod position for a few weeks and scooting himself about pretty well but it seems that that is no longer as satisfying as it was in the beginning. So now he gets in the tripod position and tries to move forward. It hasn’t worked out yet but I imagine it won’t be long now. 
Kiddo also has developed an adorable/quirky new habit of fake-laughing in order to get others to laugh (or just get their attention). It’s somewhere between a fake laugh and a fake cough and it absolutely cracks me up. He also tries to sing along with us (provided there is no camera trying to capture it, of course). He thinks that sputtering noises are hilarious and if you pretend to be disgusted by his food (or just in general) that gets him giggling pretty hard too.
There is plenty more I could write but then I wouldn’t have anything left to share when I do the link up on Wednesday 🙂 
~ Happy Monday ~
Posted in Leo

Five Favorites (Vol. 9)




1. Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child
by Anthony Esolen

I really cannot say enough good things about this book. My husband received it as a baby gift (dad gift?) and while he read it promptly it took me over a year to pick it up. A person like me needs to read a book like this because it is all too easy to allow fear and anxiety to dictate how I plan to raise Leo and lose sight of the wonder of childhood and the need for kids to be kids, to let the wild in a little. This book had a bigger impact on me, though. It has been like a little wake up call – go look at the stars, start reading good books again, stop wasting so much time on TV and the internet (I know, I know – how ironic), etc. Anyways, I could go on forever but I think I have gone and gushed enough on this particular subject….

2. The Montessori Method 
I have only just begun to explore the Montessori Method but for the most part I really love what I have found. I love the simplicity of it and how nurturing it feels. Obviously it doesn’t work for everyone and I am not even sure if it will work for us, but there are some things that I have implemented already and enjoyed immensely. Who knew that Leo could be delighted and content for 30+ minutes doing nothing but playing with water or that a little container with rice in it could be a source of so much fun! It slows me down, too, and forces me to stop acting like an assembly line for his toys and just watch him and follow his lead. Am I going to ditch the toys he has and go on a shopping spree? No. Am I going to start acting like I just discovered “real parenting” and that anyone who does things differently is still in the dark? No. Am I going to read up on the philosophy and methodology? Honestly, not so much. I plan on doing just enough research to implement ideas, crafts, etc. that appeal to me. Eclectic parenting is what works for us.
3. Leo Sitting on His Own
 
big smiles for mama

crazy, sweet little man

I am getting way less sleep these days due to, well, I have no idea actually. Leo just isn’t sleeping through the night (understatement of the year). Even so I am loving this stage! He is beginning to babble in new ways (“mamamama” | “bababa” | “dadada”) and while that is super awesome, my favorite new development is definitely his ability to sit up by himself! And he loves it too, though he prefers me to sit right next to him. 

4. Dishwashers That Work
It finally happened, guys. Our dishwasher WORKS!!!! It gets hot water and drains and everything! Who is the happiest homemaker ever? Me!

5. Roku
I can only imagine the expression you are giving the computer right now. But Hannah, you say, didn’t you just say that you want to use less technology?! OK, yes, I did. Buuuuuuuuut that doesn’t mean I am going to go all Little House on the Prairie and stop watching TV or surfing the web! It’s all about moderation, right? OK, yes, so I struggle with moderation. What can I say – I’m a work in progress! Anyways, this little device is pretty cool. Since we can’t pick up any local channels on our TV anyway and all we really use is Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Instant Video, the Roku works really well for us. For Ben’s sake I wish it had more by way of Sports (translation : anything by way of Sports) but it’s still nifty not having to haul out the ‘ol laptop and speakers, perched precariously on a TV Dinner tray (no way did we do that. nope. never!)
Alright, folks – thanks for checking out my blog and sorry I have been so AWOL lately. I hope you are all doing well and having a great week!

Don’t forget to check out the fabulous Grace!

~ Happy Wednesday ~ 

WIWS (Vol. I Lost Track)

Yesterday marked the first successful French Braid of my life. I can hear your applause from here – thank you, thank you. Did I take any pictures? No, of course not. Was I able to replicate it for mass today when it would have been more fitting? No way! Ah well, there’s always next time…

We were treated by a yet another wonderful homily today (Ben says one of the top four he’s ever heard) and Leo fell asleep almost immediately so despite the grim weather it’s been a great day! Here’s hoping you are enjoying your Sunday too 🙂

You can almost taste the mischief

Weirdest leg pose ever
Deeeeetails 
Jacket : Charlotte Russe
Shirt : TJ Maxx 
Khakis : Thrift 
Shoes : Zappos (?) 
I need to figure out what to do with those khakis because the color is my favorite but the fit through the legs is too loose and has a frumpy effect. If I had mad skills like my sister-in-law I would just take them in or hem them or do something smart. As it is, I can barely thread a needle (much less use one). Ideas?
~ Happy Sunday ~

Five Favorites (Vol. 8)



– 1 –
My Elliptical

A few weeks ago I bemoaned the fact that I couldn’t quite justify a membership to Gold’s Gym. On a whim I decided to post on a local give/get recycle networks that I was looking for an elliptical. I did not expect any response but a few days later I received an e-mail from an individual who was looking to get rid of her machine and only wanted $65 (this included delivery!). I was skeptical and expected it to be falling apart and basically just a piece of junk, but we decided to go for it and when it got here we were delighted to find that it was in excellent condition and working great! I really can’t express how amazing it is to be able to go down in my own basement and have a solid workout that doesn’t destroy my knees. Best $65 spent ever! 
– 2 –
Cold Shower After Workout

I realize that this may strike some of you as a bizarre “favorite”, but truly there are few things I love as much as a cold shower after a solid workout. It’s like the adult version of jumping into a pool at the peak of summer (though admittedly not as awesome). 
– 3 –
 Family Visits
Nana and Leo (AKA The Wiggleworm)

Kisses for Nana
Visits from family are the best, aren’t they? My mom came down for a few days just last weekend and while no visit is truly long enough, it was awesome to grab some time together! Leo definitely enjoyed the extra attention and getting to love on his Nana 🙂
– 4 –
Leo Giggles

I’m sure this goes without saying after watching that video, but I would do just about anything to hear that little boy’s laughter. That being said, I cannot believe I posted that and allowed you to hear my unbelievably annoying voice semi-yelling recipes. Motherhood…….
– 5 –
Fresh Peaches
DELISH!
So I just got back from an awesome afternoon visiting and thrift store shopping (!!!) with a good friend of mine in Leesburg and what does my husband have waiting for me? FRESH PEACHES! I am not talking about grocery store peaches, folks. I mean those melt-in-your-mouth peaches that must’ve grown on trees in Heaven and fell to Virginia! Time to go eat some more!
Make sure you check out the amazing Hallie!
~ Happy Wednesday ~

WIWS : Teething Edition

Well the weekend is finally coming to a close and that means What I Wore Sunday! Make sure you head over and check out the fabulous Kendra and Emily!

The past several days have been interesting to say the least. There have been some major highlights (e.g. visit from my mom!) and some major… lowlights? I am referring to Leo and his teething crisis. Little man has been in a lot of pain lately and it’s affected his sleep/nap schedule and life in general. Normally we go to the 10:30 AM mass on Sundays because it tends to fit the best with his wake up time and naps. But Leo has been waking up earlier this week so that meant that naptime came early and we weren’t about to mess that up by getting him dressed up and into the carseat. I was fairly disappointed because the priest who says mass at 10:30 AM is an awesome preacher and I’ll be honest, going to a later mass just throws off my Sunday groove. That and oh yeah, the 12:30 PM mass is Latin Low Mass, which I can’t follow because I nospeakadalatin! My consolation was that Leo would get a good nap in and be in a great mood for mass. WRONG!!! Apparently the Tylenol just didn’t help enough because my sweet little boy woke up sad/angry, impossible to please, and clingy! But Leo is indeed a sweet little boy and while he wasn’t angelic during mass he did not scream and his fussing was totally manageable, albeit out-of-pew-worthy.
My poor ‘lil teether

Details —
Skirt : Macy’s
Shoes : Target (seriously, I need a new pair)
Shirt : Forever21
Scarf : Forever21

~ Happy Sunday ~