Ghost Huntress

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I'm not sure whether to be amused or concerned that my daughter loves watching Ghost Hunters. Whenever the show is on she becomes so engrossed in the television, as evident by the picture above. (That's her in her little Bumbo chair watching TV.) I've tried introducing her to children's educational shows, such as Baby Einstein, but she seems none too interested in them. But put Ghost Hunters on and she's suddenly sitting with rapt attention.

My Diet

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Without going into too many boring details, I thought I’d share my post-baby diet plan. The diet is actually specifically designed for breastfeeding mothers (I’m using the Parents Magazine plan), so I haven’t drastically cut back on my calorie intake. I’ve been on the diet about a week and I’m thrilled to say, it’s working! I don’t even know if I’d even call it a diet, more like eating healthy.

During the week (I allow myself a little more leeway on the weekends), I cut out all sweets, and substitute my usual sandwich at lunch for a salad and a cup of soup. I’ve also begun to eat Greek yogurt (rather than something sweet) for an afternoon snack. I drink two cups of green tea per day and try to minimize the amount of sugar I eat. By following this plan, I’ve cut down on the amount of carbs and sugar I eat and let me tell you, the pounds are coming off. I should have been eating like this my whole life!

My goal is to get back down to my pre-baby weight. Although I’ve lost several pounds so far, I’m realistic about how long it may take to lose all the weight. They always say "it took nine months to gain the weight, so expect it to take nine months to lose the weight." However, a little confession, I gained about 55 pounds with Hannah, way more than the recommended 25. So I’m not sure if that whole nine months to lose the weight mantra applies to me. But six weeks after having Hannah, I had lost about 35 pounds, which means I have about 20 more pounds to lose. So far so good.

I’ve given myself little incentives along the way to help encourage me. When I lose the first 15lbs (which means I only have about 6lbs more to go), I can buy myself a new swimsuit. When I get back down to my goal weight, I’ll do something special for myself. I’m not sure what yet. Any suggestions?

It’s important for me to get back into to shape for two reasons, one being my own vanity, and two, I want to have another baby soon. So really baby number two is my ultimate reason for wanting to lose the weight. Not that I’d put off having another baby because I didn’t weigh exactly what I did before Hannah, but it would be nice to be close. So wish me luck!

Family Visits

My Dad is coming to visit on Thursday! He's on his way over to Denmark for work and thought he'd stop by Boston to see (and meet) his only granddaughter. I can't wait for him to meet Hannah!

While he's here, we're planning on taking a trip to the New England Aquarium. I'm a really looking forward to it because I know little Miss Curious Hannah Claire is going to love it. I'm sure she'll be mesmerized by all the fish and animals swimming around.

As you may have noticed, I added a little ticker to my sidebar counting down the days until we head out to California. I can't wait to go home and introduce everyone to Hannah. I know my sisters are just dying to meet her. It kills me that they've only seen her in pictures and haven't met her in person yet. Soon enough!

Spring Cleaning/Organizing

Monday, April 26, 2010
I spent a good amount of time last week trying to organize all of Hannah's (and my) clothes. I'm such a minimalist and really like things to be organized, so although it was a lot of work, I really enjoyed doing this and am happy with the results. Plus, I was able to give a bunch of my clothes to Goodwill and plan to try and sell some of our clothes that are in good shape to a local consignment shop.

You can see the results of my efforts below. This is our bedroom and although it's not quite how I'd like it to be yet, it's getting there.




Saturday, April 24, 2010
Thursday night at my cooperator’s circle I met a woman who has a little daughter a couple weeks younger than Hannah. Her daughter is also her first child and named Isabella. I told her how much Matthew and I love that name and how we may name our next daughter that (guess the cat’s out of the bag for our next girl’s name). She said it’s funny because Hannah was one of the names they were considering for a daughter and they may name their next girl Hannah. Ha! Great minds think alike.

I’m hoping we can get our girls together for a little playdate sometime in the near future. It would be fun for Hannah to meet another little girl. Plus, I need some friends ‘round these parts.

Nature's Greatest Gift: A Child

Friday, April 23, 2010
I love this!!!

Happy Earth Day

Do the Earth a favor, have a few more children.

I recently stumbled upon an article at Faith & Family Magazine, which supports the idea that large families “are the new green.” Read it here. Big families (which I’m assuming is considered to be three or more kids) tend to get a bad rap. They’re often considered irresponsible and environmentally damaging. But the truth of the matter and what’s obvious to anyone who is actually from a large family, is that big families are often more conservative (in the environmental sense) than smaller ones.

Families with many children understand first hand the phrase, “reduce, re-use, recycle.” Kids from large families have been recycling clothes and wearing second hand outfits long before it was popular. Rampant consumerism is not often present in large families and children (and parents) must learn to get by with less. Toys, clothes, cars, beds and almost all material items are passed down from one child to the next. It is a rare luxury to receive something brand new. How many 2.5 kid families can say the same?

So the next time you see a mom toting around a bunch of kids, thank her for doing her part to help save the planet. I'm serious.

3 Months Old

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dear Hannah,

It’s only been three months since you came into this world, but I can’t remember my life before you and certainly cannot imagine my life without you. Sweetheart, you have forever changed our lives, for the better. You’re growing so quickly and becoming such a charming little girl. Everyone who meets you comments on how beautiful, good and alert you are. You always have a smile for everyone you meet. And I pray you always stay that way: beautiful, good and kind.

Hannah Bear, you’ve made me a mother and for that I am so grateful. Motherhood really is as wonderful as they say, being your mother has been the joy of my life. Both your father and I feel so blessed to have you as our daughter. We may be biased, but we think you’re the best and cutest little girl in the whole wide world.

We love the way you:

Wake up all smiles for Mom and Dad in the morning
Stretch as you’re still waking up
Toot in your sleep
Like to squeal and yell
Love to watch Ghost Hunters
Stare at your feet
Are such an easy going girl
Laugh when you’re in your swing
Make your zoolander face (as your Dad calls it)
Scratch the back of your head
Kick and poke at me to wake me up in the morning
Snort just before you’re about to nurse
Are ticklish on your belly and neck
Smell after eating
Will let anyone hold you
Enjoy being complimented
Are so proud of yourself when you stand
Study everything and everyone around you
Stare at us with your beautiful blue eyes
Like to cuddle up with your Daddy
And brighten the day of everyone around you.

Love Bug, happy 3 months, we love you!

New Favorite Snack

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Plus these

Equals healthy and delicious. Yum!

First Swim

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Hannah's First Swim!
Subtitled: Now You See Why I'm Going On My Diet


Leo’s funeral was really nice, or at least as nice as a funeral can be. The church was packed and I kept thinking, wow, I hope I affect this many people during my lifetime. I better get on it.

Hannah was the only baby there and I think she had a profound effect on a lot of people. Everyone loves a baby, but there’s something almost necessary and reassuring about a baby at a funeral. A testament that life goes on. She was the perfect distraction as people put it. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that she’s really social and smiley, so I think her presence put a good number of people in a better mood. Leo’s wife, Helen, especially loved having her there and even thanked me for bringing her. It was my pleasure. After the funeral we came home and Hannah and I took about a four hour nap. We were exhausted.

Leo will definitely be missed. He certainly was a character. He and Matthew were very close, Leo called him his #1 nephew. So I know Matthew will miss him, but we’ll try to keep his memory alive in little ways. After the funeral we went to Friendly’s (a local restaurant chain) and had some frappes (what milkshakes are called in the Bay State) in honor of Leo. He loved Friendly’s frappes. My kind of guy.

After the exhaustion of the funeral we figured a trip down to the Cape would be a nice way to relax, so Saturday morning we headed down. The weather was rainy and cold, but as always, it was great to be there. We continued our house hunting and did several drive bys and peeked in a couple of windows, but didn’t find anything too promising. The search continues.

I had a dentist appointment today. Wow, this post is becoming increasingly boring, sorry. I’ve really been looking forward to this appointment because after I had Hannah my teeth became super sensitive. I was worried I had like 15 cavities, but the dentist assured me that my teeth were in great shape and that I “must be doing something right.” (Lots of sweets and no flossing it is then!) He said that the sensitivity is most likely due to the drop in hormones after giving birth and that it should go away in time.

And lastly, I have finally begun my post-baby diet. I’ll write more about it in detail, but it basically entails eating soup and salad for lunch every day. I can do that. Although, it also involves eliminating sweets, that may be tougher, but I’m determined to lose the weight. Wish me luck!

If You Have the Chance

Thursday, April 15, 2010
Please say a little prayer for Matthew’s uncle who passed away on Tuesday. The wake was this afternoon and the funeral is tomorrow morning. Leo was such a character and had an incredibly generous heart. He started and was involved in so many philanthropic endeavors, including a charity that housed the working poor of Boston. So many people have homes because of Leo.

I feel so lucky that I was able to get to know him, if even for a short time. He certainly was a memorable person and I hope I can do as much as good during my lifetime as he.

Leo's Obituary here.

Wordless Wednesdays

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Poor Hannah, sometimes her helmet slides down in front of her eyes. I just had to snap a picture this time.

Accidental Attachment Parenting

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Before I became a parent I had all sorts of notions of what motherhood would look like. If Hannah’s birth (and first few months of life) taught me anything, it’s that oftentimes being a parent means rolling with the punches. We can plan all we want, but sometimes life just does not go according to plan.

When envisioning our future lives as parents, we certainly did not intend to use Attachment Parenting (AP) methods. I thought sleeping with your baby was a bit too much and breastfeeding when the child could walk and talk, well that was just weird. (Actually, I still think extended breastfeeding is a little weird. My philosophy is if the kid’s got teeth, she’s out of there.) But almost three months into this parenthood thing and we find we are accidentally practicing Attachment Parenting.

Attachment Parenting was a term coined by Dr. William Sears, a pediatrician with eight children of his own. He believed that infants with parents who are more sensitive and responsive to their needs tend to become healthier, physically and emotionally, adults. The natural bond between parents and infants is to be encouraged by mothers breastfeeding their babies on demand, “wearing” them often (in slings or carrying them), picking them up when they cry , and even sleeping in the same bed with them. The theory is that by responding to the infant’s cues, the connection between parents and child is strengthened and therefore makes the process of parenting easier.

Now, who knows if this is true. Dr. Sears also makes other claims like AP produces children who are more confident, more intelligent and more socially adept. (It’s important to note that there have been no conclusive studies done to verify these claims.) Matthew and I don’t practice AP for these reasons, but rather as my husband says, “it seems like the loving thing to do.” In our opinion and contrary to what many opponents of AP say, Hannah isn’t trying to take advantage of us, or play mind games. If she’s crying it’s probably because she needs something. Plus, adults aren’t told that they can only eat on a schedule, “sorry, it hasn‘t quite been two hours since you last ate, so you have to wait another 25 minutes.” Could you imagine? So why force babies to? And Hannah spent nine months squished up inside of me, so it would seem only natural that she would enjoy the feeling of being held close by either Matthew or me. Despite their controversy, these methods seem fairly obvious and are probably "accidentally practiced" by many parents.

However, it is the custom of co-sleeping (the baby/child sleeps in the bed with the parents) that seems to be the hot button issue for many parents. Proponents of co-sleeping claim that it promotes family unity and makes it easier for night nursing. Opponents say that it puts the child at risk for SIDS and disrupts intimacy between the husband and wife. I can understand both sides of the argument, but here’s where I have a little confession to make: Hannah sleeps in our bed. We certainly didn’t intend for this, but I must admit, it works for us. She usually starts the night out in her crib, which is right next to our bed, but she manages to make it into our bed by morning. I usually pull her into bed with me for her middle of the night feeding where she sleeps contently with me until morning. Plus, with her recent surgery, I think it was comforting for all of us to be snuggled up together during the night.

As Danielle Bean (famous Catholic blogging mother) says, “do what works for your family.” Every family is different and there are endless parenting styles, this just happens to be ours. I’m not apologizing for it nor am I trying to say that our way is the better way. It’s just that for now, Attachment Parenting is what works for our little family.

But Grammie, don’t worry. We do plan to transition her back to her crib soon. I’m not a big proponent of the “family bed” (the parents and all the kids sleep together). Of course, I say that now…

Tree Houses

Saturday, April 10, 2010

It is my firm belief that childhood should be sweet. Days should be spent climbing trees, riding bikes, swimming in pools, eating cookies and reading books. I spent about half my childhood in a tree and to this day cannot pass a tree without assessing whether it would be a good one to climb or not.

As Matthew and I resume our quest for a home, we have several key components we are looking for, a nice kitchen, two bathrooms, room for a garden, etc. But one main requirement for me is that our house must have a good quality tree in the backyard because I recently discovered this company. They’re based out of Pennsylvania and design and build these incredible tree houses. I’m pretty thrifty, but this is one area where I would be willing to splurge (although we‘re not getting electricity or anything ridiculous like that in the tree house.) Plus, my Dad is a structural engineer, so he could probably help us to come up with a creative design. I already showed Matthew the website and informed him of my plans. (He already knows about my love for trees.) I can’t wait!

Chocolate Chocolate Cookies- Updated

Friday, April 9, 2010

If you like chocolate, you must try this recipe! I made these cookies last night and they were a big hit. I've been experimenting with reducing the sugar in most of my baking recipes. Some recipes call for so much sugar (in my opinion), so sometimes I only add in half or 3/4 the required amount. And the taste doesn't suffer for it at all. (Goes to show how much sugar we are needlessly consuming.)

Here's My Version of the Recipe:

1/2 Cup Butter Softened (next time I'm going to experiment with less butter)
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Sugar (the original recipe calls for 3/4 cups, next time I'll see if I can reduce the sugar amount even more)
1/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup or so of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (I actually use gluten-free chocolate chips, which is made with evaporated cane juice instead of sugar- although I'm not entirely sure what the difference is between the two)

**I made the recipe again this time using a little less than 1/2 cup sugar and instead added 2 tablespoons of unsweetened applesauce. Oh my gosh, the cookies are much more moist and so much tastier. You must try this!

Mix ingredients. Bake at 365 for about 10 minutes.

Next summer I'm hoping to open a stand at our local Farmer's Market down on the Cape and sell organic and reduced sugar baked goods. I am also hoping to sell pajama pants that I plan to sew. (I have big plans for myself and this sewing endeavor- haha.)

Little Miracles

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hannah had outgrown her bassinet, so we attempted to donate it to Goodwill, however they wouldn't take it. My MIL had the idea to see if we could donate it to a pro-life organization. Such a great idea!

So yesterday I called the pro-life organization, Friends of the Unborn, to see if they wanted a gently used bassinet. They said they would take it. So today Hannah and I stopped by to drop it off. Let me just say, this place is awesome. It's actually a nice large house and serves as a shelter for 15 young, pregnant women. They also provide the young women with classes in which they can learn about basic life skills and how to care for their baby.

When we showed up one of the women who works there said she had just received a call from a woman who needed a bassinet. The woman is taking in her sister's children. (Her sister is a drug addict and can no longer care for her children.) So this unknown woman needed some baby items, including a bassinet. The Friends of the Unborn volunteer told the woman that they didn't have any available, but then shortly thereafter, I showed up. How cool is that? As the volunteer said, "that's just how the Lord works here."

Naturally, I was so impressed by this organization and the work they are doing that I offered to do some volunteer work. I couldn't help myself. I've been looking to become more involved in the pro-life movement and God presented this opportunity to me. I had to take it. I will probably only volunteer here and there (obviously Hannah is my first priority), but I am SO excited to help out. I can't wait to get started!


Wednesday, April 7, 2010
My heart is breaking about the (re)current crisis in the Church and I have so much to say on the issue, but for now I thought I'd just link to what these two women wrote. In my opinion, they sum up the situation perfectly.

Peggy Noonan: The Catholic Church's Catastrophe

Beautiful Chaos:1 Timothy 3:2

Laughing Hannah


New Apron

Monday, April 5, 2010

As an early Mother's Day present to myself I splurged and bought this new apron. I'm so in love with it.


We had an absolutely lovely Easter. We started the morning off with a homemade breakfast. I made a goat cheese omelette and yummy cinnamon rolls (thank you Pillsbury). Then we gave Hannah her Easter basket. I love having kids, or rather a kid, because even though she has no idea, I love preparing and presenting her with a little Easter basket. We gave her a little stuffed bunny and a pink wooden cross. We also gave her some candy, but that was more for us than for her.:)

We headed into town and went to Mass at the Cathedral in Boston. Actually, we went to a Latin Mass at the Cathedral. Only my second Latin Mass ever. It was really nice, despite the fact that I was flipping through the little guide they give you trying to figure out where in the Mass we were. The priest gave a roaring homily, and I mean roaring. I don't think I've ever heard a priest get so passionate during a homily. He practically yelled, "the stone was rolled away."

One thing I remember from his homily is that he mentioned the fact that the linen cloths in which Jesus's body was wrapped were folded neatly and placed on the stone slab. He asked if we knew why they were folded so neatly and in my head I thought, "yes, his mother taught him well." Haha. Apparently that wasn't why though. In Jesus's time, when a master was eating dinner and got up to leave the table, if he folded his napkin it was a sign to the servants that he would be back. So the priest said Jesus was leaving a sign that he indeed would be back. I still think it's because his Mom raised him right.

After Mass we headed down to Newbury street for a little stroll. The weather was absolutely beautiful, it was such a perfect day for a walk. Easter Sunday always seems to have nice weather. It's as if the Earth itself is rejoicing with Heaven.

Then we headed to Matthew's cousin's house for a little bit where of course Hannah was the belle of the ball. Being her mother, I love to watch people fawn over her. She is pretty cute.

After that we finally headed home. We were exhausted, so we watched a movie about Roger Maris and his record breaking season. Can you guess who picked that movie? Not me. Although, I must admit, it actually turned out to be a really good movie. Later in the evening, we took another walk along the beach (where we live) and walked down to a little shack that sells burgers and shakes and we both got milkshakes and headed home.

All in all, this Easter was pretty nearly perfect. I just wish we could have seen our California family. Next year. Speaking of next year, I can't wait for next year because then Hannah will have at least a vague idea about hunting for Easter eggs. I love having a kid.

I meant to take a family picture since we were all dressed up, but alas I completely forgot.

Good Friday

Friday, April 2, 2010

We adore Thee, O Christ,
And we bless Thee,
Who by your Holy Cross
have redeemed the world.

Copied from Building Cathedrals.

Maundy Thursday

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The flesh is willing, but the spirit is weak." (Mark 14:37)

Hannah's Surgery: A Mother's Perspective

This post is a bit late, but I wanted to write a recap on Hannah’s surgery from an emotional mother‘s perspective (my own).

Hannah’s surgery was a success, praise God. The entire experience was a very emotional and overwhelming one for me. Yet, we were (and are) so grateful and blessed by the many, many people who were able to pray for Hannah and for our family. Thank you so, so much for your prayers, they made all the difference!

Despite the anxiety that surrounded Hannah’s surgery, there is so much that I learned about life, parenthood, faith, the power of prayer and myself.

Prayer is extremely powerful, which, while obvious to most, I never fully realized until this moment. It is not to be underestimated. So often people say “I’ll pray for you,” but sadly the phrase seems almost devoid of meaning. I admit I am guilty of offering to pray for someone and then completely forgetting to. Yet, as I learned from this ordeal, asking for and offering prayers is not something to be taken lightly. It was not going to be enough for people to offer their “well wishes” or “good thoughts,” I needed, was desperate almost, for people to truly pray to God for Hannah. I was counting on those prayers, which is why when the time came to ask for prayers, I asked only for help from certain people, those whom I knew would really pray for my baby. And I am convinced it was the prayers of those good and faithful people that aided us during this stressful time. I will never underestimate the power of prayer again and perhaps more importantly, when I say I will pray for someone, you better believe I will.

I’ll admit, at various times before the surgery I was so overcome with fear that I allowed myself to consider the worst. I worried that Hannah may not make it through the surgery, or that perhaps she would suffer brain damage, or that something, anything, might go wrong. I. was. scared. In retrospect, I may have been a bit melodramatic, but in the moment it was how I felt. Even the day before her surgery, I was so overcome with fear and anxiety I could barely concentrate, even to pray. But as I offered prayerful mutterings, which basically consisted of “Please Lord” and “Jesus, I trust in you” (which was pretty much all I could manage), a still, small voice kept repeating to me, “the Lord did not give us a spirit of fear, but rather of power, and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7) And I realized that these morbid thoughts of mine were neither helpful nor productive. Looking back, I think the Father of Lies was trying to paralyze me with fear, perhaps so I wouldn‘t pray or wouldn‘t trust in God‘s Providence. Whatever the reason, I knew I needed to get rid of those thoughts, so with all I could muster, I declared “get behind me, Satan” and my great anxiety was eased. Of course, it never disappeared, I am a mother after all, but my dark disposition dissipated (there's an alliteration for you).

An image that kept coming to me over and over during the days leading up to the surgery was one of the Stations of the Cross and a scene from the movie, The Passion. The scene is when Jesus meets his Mother. He is struggling to carry his Cross through the streets of Jerusalem. People are yelling at him, jeering, spitting on him. Mary, His Mother, is seen off in the distance. She rushes to get to her son, but as she approaches, she sees his anguish and suffering, and she hesitates, for just a moment, to go to him. I kept thinking about that hesitation. How it was almost too much for her to bear, she was so overcome by the magnanimity of the situation that she almost did not go to Our Lord. Of course she did go and comfort him as only a mother can while at the same time her own heart was breaking. I am not Mary, but I could empathize with Our Lady in that moment. The heart of a mother wishes anything but the suffering of her child.

Ultimately, I learned that as a mother, I need to get over myself, to be frank. Of course I was scared, of course I did not want my child to suffer, what mother does? These circumstances were not enjoyable, to say the least, but my child needed me to be there for her, to smile and to be strong for her and gosh darnit, I was going to. There was no room for my own fears or anxieties. Isn’t that the ultimately the point of parenthood? As painful as it may be, we must learn to put others before ourselves, to put the needs of another before our own.

Once the entire ordeal was over I felt nothing but gratitude. Even now, I am so utterly thankful. I was (and am) grateful that Hannah came through the surgery with flying colors, grateful that we had so many people praying for us, grateful that the guardian angels did such a wonderful job watching over my daughter, grateful for the prayers of the saints, especially St. Clare, grateful for the skill of the doctors, grateful for the compassion of the nurses, grateful for the strength of my husband, grateful that Hannah’s condition was treatable and grateful for a God who is more powerful than any one person and every situation.

Deo Gratias!
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