We Wish You A Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Hello, hello! I hope to be able to start writing more regularly in the New Year. Can you believe it's almost Christmas Eve. Man oh man, December flew by. We've been busy. Here are a few Christmas card outtakes for your viewing enjoyment:)

Who am I kidding, this is a pretty good pic, but do you like my ghetto attempt at a black backdrop?

This actually ended up being our Christmas card.

Merry Christmas!

Blogging Break

Thursday, October 13, 2011
Between two babies, two part-time jobs, a husband, a home and a master's thesis, I've been a tad busy. Needless to say, blogging doesn't really fit into the schedule right now. Hopefully, once my thesis is more underway I'll have more time to write, I do miss this place.

God Bless!

Happy First Day of Fall!

Friday, September 23, 2011

My favorite time of year. Bring on the leaves and the pumpkins and the cranberries.

A Great Post on Pre-School

Thursday, September 22, 2011
Sarah at Clover Lane has a great post on pre-school. Read it here.

I love when she says, "it's just one more trickle down effect of our too-hyper, competitive society, with children (babies really!) sent to institutions instead of home with their mothers. They don't need to be "socialized" at 1, 2 or 3! That's bologna. They need their moms. They need to have security, they need naps, they can learn so much at home without 30 other kids jostling around spreading germs to each other. They only get so long in our homes before they are gone, why push them out as babies?"

They need their Moms. I couldn't agree more.

Did I mention that I had looked into our parish pre-school for Hannah? Obviously, we still have a little while before we need to think about pre-school, but I wanted to check out the parish program. Initially, I was really excited thinking it would be a great fit. A Catholic pre-school, at our home parish, we could even walk there. But it turns out the pre-school is 5 days a week from 8:30-2:30. Umm, this is for 3 year olds mind you. I emailed the principal to see if they would accept a student for 2 hours, twice a week. She basically said no. This little "preschool" program wasn't school at all, but daycare.

That seems to be the case for a lot of local "pre-schools." In my opinion, they're just too many hours, too many days a week. I don't need Hannah learning Spanish and doing Algebra when she's three, I just want her to make some macaroni necklaces and finger paint. Even when she's in kindergarten, if she goes to a regular school, I would only have her go for 1/2 the day. Little kids do not need to be in school all day. They need to run around outside and take naps and be with their Mom. They have the rest of their lives to be working all day, the rat race does not need to begin at the age of three, or five even.

Anyways, that's my pre-school rant for the day. Go read Sarah's post, she says it much better than I do.

Camera Suggestions?

Monday, September 19, 2011
I really dislike my camera. It's definitely seen better days. The buttons are all jammed and sometimes the flash works, sometimes it doesn't. Most of the time, I'm just pushing a lot of buttons until it takes a picture.

I'm no Ansel Adams, and have no plans to become a professional, or even a semi-professional photographer. I just want to be able to take nice pictures of my two little darlings.

From what I've read and what's been recommended to me, I'm debating between the Pentax K10D and the Canon Rebel. Does anyone have any thoughts on these two cameras? Or any other recommendations?



Grilled Eggplant Sandwich

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Y'all, you must try this sandwich. It's delish.

I wasn't always an eggplant lover. I think the trick is drying out the eggplant a little before cooking or grilling it.

Ciabatta Bread
Mozzarella Cheese
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Slice up the eggplant and lightly salt. Place paper towel over eggplant to dry up any excess water. Leave for about 2 hours.

Lightly drizzle olive oil and sprinkle some pepper on eggplant. Grill eggplant for about 10 minutes each side. You can also opt to broil eggplant. Put slices of mozzarella cheese on to melt.

Lightly toast ciabatta bread. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle bread with salt and pepper. Place eggplant on toasted bread. Add slices of tomato and basil. Enjoy!

Update on the Girls

Saturday, September 17, 2011
Since many of you are only here reading my blog for one reason, well two little reasons, I figure I'd better meet my Hannah and Abby picture quota along with a little update on how they're doing.

Hannah is growing so much. That sounds so cliched, but it's true. She’s beginning to leave babyhood behind and entering the wonderful world of little girlhood. She’s been talking (babbling) up a storm lately. Although we only understand about half (not even) of what she says, she assumes she's speaking our language. She’ll babble something and then look at us like, “you understand, right?” Her new favorite phrase is “oh, daddy.” It’s really cute. Whenever Matthew walks through the door he’s greeted with a delightful little squeal of “oh daddy!” Do you think he loves it? Umm, that would be a yes.

Along with growing physically, she’s also growing emotionally. She has finally learned to say the word “no,” which means we’ve been dealing with some temper tantrums lately. Oh joy. She’s quite persistent in her wants, very willful (that's Matthew's nice way of saying stubborn). I wonder where she gets that from.

Abby, my little love, is growing like a weed. She’s already wearing 6-12 month clothes. We joke that in a few months she and Hannah will be the same size. People already think they’re twins (which is weird because, I mean, c’mon), but in a year they probably really will look like the same age.

Abby loves to move. She’s always kicking her legs and wanting to roll around. We put her down on her play mat and she’ll roll across the living room. And she’s so strong too. She can hold her head up no problem even with her helmet on. She must have neck muscles of steel.

Speaking of her helmet, it's working really well. Her head shape has already started to change. Last week her head measured 5mm change, which is great! It's nice to see that all this hard work is starting to pay off.

Have I mentioned before how much Hannah and Abby love each other? It’s adorable. Hannah will squat down and peer under Abby’s helmet to talk to her and Abby will get the biggest smile on her face. Sigh. I love them.

Okay, can I just add, I swear my children wear pants. Looking at these pictures you wouldn't think so.

7 Quick Takes

Friday, September 16, 2011

1. The weather has officially turned to fall. It’s in the 50’s today and I am loving it!

2. Hannah caught a cold about a week ago and then passed it on to me, so we’ve been recuperating this week. Poor little Abby has a stuffy nose too. I suppose that will happen when your big sister constantly coughs in your face.

3. I started coaching this week. My team is so cute. I’m coaching 6th grade girls soccer and I think we’re going to have a great season. I also started teaching last Saturday. I’m teaching 4th and 5th grade Math. Love it.

4. We’ve been thinking and talking a lot about homeschooling lately. School is still a ways away for us, but it looks like we may be headed towards homeschooling preschool. I know people bring up the “socialization” argument, which really is bunk in my opinion because it’s not like we’re going to keep her locked in her room all day. She’ll be able to take music classes, story time, play soccer, etc. Plus, one of the many advantages of having two girls close in age is that they're always around kids their own age, each other.

5. The prospect of homeschooling Hannah both excites me and terrifies me. I love the idea of creating a curriculum designed to foster her curiosity and uniquely created for her personality and temperament. On the other hand, I alone am responsible for her education. Scary.

6. I started my postpartum modified diet yesterday. I’m cutting out sugar and desserts and eating a salad and soup for lunch during the week. On the weekends, I allow myself to indulge a little. This plan helped me to lose all the baby weight after Hannah, so I’m really crossing my fingers it will work again.

7. So far our busy schedule is going pretty well. Although, I recently learned that in order to earn my Masters from my grad school, I need to complete my thesis by May 2012. Initially, I was going to take a break from working on it this semester, but in light of this deadline, I’ve decided to work on it now, so that’s another obligation to add to my already busy schedule. C'est la vie.

For more Quick Takes visit Conversion Diary. Jen's Quick Takes are always so funny.

Post-Partum Weight Loss

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Coming to terms with my post-partum figure has been a lot more difficult this time around, a lot more. I think it's mostly because it's summer time. When Hannah was born in the dead of winter, I could hide my chub under sweatshirts and puffy vests and none was the wiser. Since Abby was born in June, I didn't have that luxury. My pooch is out there for the world to see, and they do see it.

On Saturday one of my students (I teach a Math class in Chinatown every Saturday morning) asked if I was having a baby. That was awesome (although I did laugh--you gotta have a sense of humor about these things). Then yesterday, another woman asked when I was due. Although, in her defense my friend that was with her asked how my baby was, so maybe she was a tad confused. So that's pretty much where I am with my weight loss goals-- still looking 5 months pregnant. Yeah, that's fun.

But reading back through my blog, I discovered that I didn't really start losing weight after having Hannah until she was about 3-4 months old. So, I'm hoping that will start to happen with Abby. Hopefully the breastfeeding will kick in soon and the weight will start coming off because people, I have 30 pounds to lose. 3-0. That's a lot of lb's.

I was lucky enough to lose all the weight with Hannah (I gained about 60lbs with her), so I'm hoping I'll be fortunate this time around too. My problem is that I just gain so much weight when I'm pregnant. My midwives think it's just how my body deals with being pregnant. And I know it's not that uncommon for normally petite and small women to put on more than the average 25-30 lbs during pregnancy, so I don't feel too bad, I just pray to God the weight will come off.

Accepting my body has been a good lesson in humility. In my previous life, before children, I used to be a runner, so I was fairly toned and thin. Now, well, it seems I'm always pregnant or nursing and as a result my weight has fluctuated so much in the last two years. But you know, my girls were worth every pound.

Cracking Me Up

Monday, September 12, 2011
These made me laugh out loud.

I especially love, "I had too much for lunch and now I'm tired" and "I'm hungry but my roommate has friends over..." haha!


Thursday, September 8, 2011
Now that life is beginning to follow a routine a little more, we've allowed ourselves to start looking toward the future. We've started talking a little about where we'd like to live and what type of home we'd like to live in. Now, with that said, we are in no way starting up the house hunting process again. Just the thought of that gives me a panic attack. The "where" question is obviously a much bigger question (and one I will save for another day), so for now I'm dwelling on the "how."

The problem is I love apartment living. Small spaces are a piece of cake to clean and it's easy to keep an eye on my little ones because they can't go far. If something breaks, the maintenance men fix it. The heat is free. Apartment living is simple and I like simple.

However, I want my girls to grow up in a house. More than a house, I want them to have a backyard. However, and this a big however, I want a small house. Contrary to what I always thought when I was playing MASH growing up, I no longer want to live in a mansion. In fact, I'd love a 2 bedroom home. I don't even know if houses come in the 2 bedroom variety, so I'd be willing to have three. But I'd like the home to have an open layout inside, meaning I'd like the kitchen, living room and dining room to remain connected and not separated by walls. I love that open feeling in homes.

When I started thinking about houses I realized bungalow style homes would perfectly blend my love of small living spaces with the desire for a house and a backyard. I especially like the 1920's bungalow style homes that are all over California. So when I started perusing the internet searching for bungalows I found a few that I think are so cute and cozy. Check them out.

This one is my favorite. It's in Portland, OR.

Now that I've said all that, I fully reserve the right to change my mind. I might feel completely differently if/when we have more children and those children grow bigger and cozy turns into cramped. But for now, I love the idea of bungalow living.

Congrats Jacqui & Ross!

My little sister, Jacqui, and her boyfriend Ross got engaged over the weekend and we're so excited for them! I know she sometimes reads this blog, so I thought I'd give her a shout out, hey Jack!

Hannah and Abby are excited too because they want some Trenk cousins. Haha, just kidding Jacqui. NO pressure;)(Although, I would love some little pigeon toed nieces or nephews:)

Love you!

Happy 3 Months, Abigail!

Monday, September 5, 2011
I cannot believe you are 3 months old already. It seems like you've been a part of our family forever. So much has happened in your short little life and yet, through it all, you've remained our happy, smiley girl. I know I've said it before, but you are such a trooper, Abby. In honor of your 3 month birthday, I thought I'd document all that you've already done and been through at 3 months:

*Endured 3 days of labor
*Survived countless kisses from your big sister
*Undergone major surgery and a second hospital stay (and all that entails)
*Been forced to wear a helmet for the first year of your life
*Smiled, giggle and laughed
*Enjoyed watching the little animals in your mobile
*Played with the dangling animals in your mat (your hand-eye coordination is impressive)
*Rolled over
*Survived rolling off the bed
*Cooing and "talking" (you are my little chatterbox, Abby)
*Been absolutely adored by everyone around you. You have a way of making everyone around you smile, Abby and I pray you always keep your kind and happy disposition.

We love you, Abigail!

(Super Girl Abby!)


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Matthew had a dream last night that I gave birth to triplets-all girls. He woke up at 4:30am this morning in a cold sweat. (Not really. Well, yes to the 4:30am part, no to the cold sweat. Cold sweat just sounds good.)

In the dream we delivered one baby, but then much to our surprise, two more came out. Matthew said he was like "what the *@!" and was mad at me because I didn't tell him we were having triplets. Apparently he kept asking, "you didn't see this on the ultrasound?!?"

To reassure him that the likelihood of having triplets is extremely low, I looked up the statistics for multiple births. The odds of conceiving triplets naturally is 1 in 8,100. However, when I told him this, he asked, "yeah, but what are the odds of having two kids with craniosynostosis again?" Touche. We do tend to "beat the odds."

Uh oh.

(The likelihood of having a child with craniosynostosis is 1 in 2,000. But the odds of having two kids with different types of cranio, well, it's probably more than 1 in 8,100.)


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Yesterday, I read this post by Catholic Icing about creating a schedule for your family. Like many people, I thrive on a schedule. Routines keep me sane. Considering how busy our fall is going to be, I started thinking about a daily and weekly schedule for my little family, which led me to thinking about the long term and how I envision my girls' childhood.

In fact, I've been thinking a lot lately about what and how I want their childhood to be. I think, in a word, I want it to be lovely.

Matthew and I try to be very intentional in our parenting. We have an idea of how we want our home to be and we work hard to make it that way. When Hannah and Abby think back on their childhood I want them to remember fondly time spent playing, baking, reading, laughing and cuddling with Mama and Daddy.

So when I step back from the hustle and bustle and really think about it, here are a few ideas I hope to carry out in the coming months:

* I want our family to pray together, even if it only means grace before meals and a Hail Mary before bedtime. At this point in time, that may be all I can ask for.

* I want our family meals to be healthy, nutritious and homemade. This means I will need to write out a menu meal plan each week, which I plan to do each Sunday.

* I want my children to love to read. Hannah will be attending storytime again this year, but I also want to set aside time each morning to read with her. Although we are very deliberate in reading with Hannah (and usually read to her many times throughout the day), I want to be sure to carve out time each morning solely for reading.

* I want to spend less time on the computer or watching TV. I think that will be easier once our fall schedule commences and we have less time to spend in front of the television. But I never want my kids to think that the computer or TV is more important or receives more of Mama's attention than they do.

* I want to incorporate "nature walks" into our daily routine. As young as they are, both Hannah and Abby really love being outside and I want to try to encourage this as much as possible. Lately, we've been taking walks as a family after dinner each night and we have all loved it. While the weather is still nice outside, I want to continue this as much as possible.

* I want my children to be well rested. This means naps every day and earlier bed times.

* I want Hannah to spend more time with me in the kitchen. She loves to help me stir things, so I want to build on her natural curiosity with cooking.

* I want my children to love music. I usually keep Pandora playing classical music in the background all day, as I believe this adds to the peaceful feeling in our home, but in order to be more intentional in this area, I've signed Hannah up for a Music/Dance class (I am so looking forward to this).

* I want to encourage my children's natural proclivities. That may sound broad in scope, but what I mean is that I want to be sure to always encourage them in what they seem to naturally gravitate towards rather than what I want them to like. For example, I think Hannah really loves to dance. I never really took dance and no one in my family ever really took dance, but if Hannah really seems to enjoy it then I want her to at least let her try it (hence the Music/Dance class).

* Lastly, and most importantly, I want my children to feel loved. Seeing as they are still so, so young, I think it is vital to their development that they feel absolutely, completely and unconditionally loved. Children deserve to feel loved. If I accomplish nothing else on this list except for this one thing, then I shall be a successful mother indeed.

This list could go on and on and maybe I'll continue it another day, but is there anything you would add to the list?

A Day In The Life

Tuesday, August 30, 2011
It's 4ish and I've already poured myself a glass of Chardonnay. Both girls are napping (a rarity) and it's been a glass-of-wine-at-4 kind of day.

I've seen these "Day in the Life" posts around on other blogs and figured I'd give it a whirl. I'm sure in 20 years I'll be amused at how my life was at this point in time and I'll probably cry wishing I had my little ones to cuddle. Anyways, here it goes.

6:30am- Abby starts to stir. Nurse her back to sleep, doze myself for a few minutes.
7:15- Stirring again, try to nurse Abby again, but notice Hannah is awake, so figure we’re up for the day.
7:20- Change and dress Hannah. Change and dress Abby
7:40- Make myself coffee and a piece of toast. Bottle for Hannah. Hannah “reads” her books and plays with her toys. Nurse Abby.
8:30-Time for Barney. (I try to have Hannah play for at least an hour before I turn to Barney.)
Hannah watches Barney. Abby plays on her mat. Unload dishwasher. Decide what’s for dinner. Write dinner menu on our kitchen chalkboard. Get ready for the day.
9:10- Head to the mall. I have something to return (a basket from Crate and Barrel) and want to let Hannah play on the playground they have there.
9:30-Arrive at the mall. Debate whether to get a Starbucks, opt not to. Head to playground (the stores don’t open until 10)
9:40-Hannah has the entire playground to herself! She jumps and leaps and climbs the stairs. Abby is fussing, so I nurse her.
10- Another little girl arrives at the playground. She has monkeys on her socks, Hannah is interested in the monkeys and tries to touch them, the little girl does not like this.
10:20- Leave the playground. Proud of us that we played there for almost an hour.
10:40- Get myself an iced tea lemonade from Starbucks before we leave the mall. Head to TJ Maxx thinking maybe I can find a basket there. (I've been trying to find a basket to match the one we already have in the living room. I need another basket to keep Hannah's books.)
10:55- Arrive at TJ Maxx. Abby is fussing, Hannah is tired. Know I’m pushing my luck trying to go to another store, but go anyways. Quickly look around TJ Maxx, no basket. Get sidetracked by the cute yoga pants, make a mental note to come back sometime.
11:10-Leave TJ Maxx. Both girls are tired and probably hungry. Mentally chastise myself for even bothering to try to find a dang basket.
11:15 Drive to Goodwill to drop off a big bag of blankets and clothes. Girls are crying in the back.
11:20-Girls stop crying. They fall asleep.
11:30- Drop off donations. Briefly chat with a very pregnant lady who’s also dropping off donations.
11:40- Arrive home. Proud of how much we’ve accomplished before noon. Hannah naps. I nurse Abby.
11:50- Scarf down a salad while Abby is whimpering.
11:52- Nurse Abby.
12:00 Prepare Abby’s bath. Take off Abby’s helmet. Bathe Abby. Wash Abby’s helmet. She gets one hour a day off from wearing her helmet.
12:30 Abby is cleaned and bathed. Lie down with her to try to get her to fall asleep. Nurse her to sleep.
12:32- Turn on Heartland (a show about a family that owns a horse ranch) on Instant Netflix. Reconsider city living. Want to move to Montana and buy some horses.
1:15- Finally check my email.
1:20- Matthew is home, decide to head to the gym downstairs to do my “walk” on the treadmill. Throw in a wash while I’m down there. (The laundry room is right next to the gym.)
1:30- I have the gym to myself. Yay! Watch the news as I speed walk. My Ipod battery dies. Decide to just watch the news. All about the damage caused by Irene. Realize how glad I am that we had no real damage here.
2:00- Walk 2 miles. Change laundry to dryer. Head upstairs.

Okay, I'll finish the rest tomorrow. I'm not usually this busy, but such is life.

7 Quick Takes--Halloween Edition

Friday, August 26, 2011

There's a lot of downsides to having a kid in a helmet, but on the upside, there's a lot of possibilities for a cool Halloween costume. I've already been planning a few possible ones. Here they are.

1. Roller Derby Girl

2. Evil Knievel

3. Thor (probably not this one)

4. Astronaut

5. Hermes

6. Marvin the Martian

7.London Bobby (probably not this one either, but the mustache would be cute:)

Any other suggestions?

Thanks to Jen for hosting!

Post-Partum Care

Recently, I've realized that in order to have the busy yet peaceful Fall that I envision for us, I need to be in tip top physical shape. I need to take care of myself if I'm going to be able to take care of everyone else.

So I've started my "exercise" routine and began to monitor my diet a bit more. I've also been reading up on post-partum hormones and diet in the book, Fertility, Cycles & Nutrition by Marilyn Shannon. This book really is a must read for every woman.

From re-reading through the book I've realized the importance of continuing to take my prenatal vitamins while breastfeeding and learned that I should also be taking flax seed each day too. Fortunately, I recently bought ground flax seed, so now I just need to be conscious of eating a Tablespoon or two each day. Usually I've been adding it to my smoothie, but yesterday I made Zucchini, Banana & Flax Seed Muffins. I was worried they might taste gross, but they're actually really good.

Here's the recipe. I adapted it from Martha Stewart's Every Day Food Recipe.

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 mashed banana
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. banking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Bake at 350 for about 30-40 minutes. Makes 12. Enjoy!

Earthquakes, Hurricanes & Storms, Oh My!

Mother Nature has been busy!

The Virginia area experienced a 5.8 earthquake earlier this week. A 5.8 is pretty big, even by California standards. And I was so bummed I didn't feel it! Mild earthquakes are usually harmless and can be kinda fun. Although, I say that as a Californian where earthquakes are the norm and every building is designed to withstand them.

Hurricane Irene is making it's way up here. Hopefully it doesn't cause too much damage. Although, it should only be a tropical storm by the time it reaches Massachusetts. We're looking forward to it up here, but praying that those South of us aren't affected too much.

It's times like these that I'm so happy to have a roof over my head.

Abby's Helmet: Day 1

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Mama, I can barely see."

"This thing on my head is heavy."

Isn't she the cutest?

Fortunately, most of the day has looked like this.

So far, so good. Only about 270 more days to go...

Fall Planning

Fall is just around the corner and I can practically smell the change in the air. I absolutely love the Fall in New England. The leaves are beginning to turn color, school is starting, the harvest is coming and the slow, easy life of summer is about to give way to the structured schedule of September. To be honest, I can’t wait.

My scheduling skills have been in hyper overdrive lately. Not to toot my own horn too much, but if I had a superpower it would be organizational skills. I’m pretty good at mapping things out and planning ahead. I find that the more organized things are, the more peaceful life can actually be.

Since this Fall is going to be crazy, yesterday I broke out my big calendar, sat down and started mapping out the next three months. In a few weeks I’ll be heading back to work (very part time- 3 days/week for about 1.5 hours per day), which has propelled me into getting our home and our schedule prepared.

Hannah will have her storytime at the library once a week and I’ve volunteered to be on the board of the Children’s Library. Our library here is amazing and I’m thrilled I get to help out. I also decided to sign Hannah up for a Music/Dance class once a week. I wavered back and forth on whether to do this, but ultimately I’ve decided she’s been so good this summer, going with the flow of everything and has adjusted incredibly well to her big sister role that she deserves something all her own (even if Abby and I will be there-ha). And hey, you’ve seen her dance; she’s going to love this.

We also have a bunch of New England-y type activities we enjoy during the fall, such as driving to see the fall foliage, attending all sorts of fests: cranberry, oyster, chowder and this year I think it would be fun to add apple picking to the to-do list.

Yet, what really spurred this need to organize and plan was finding out that Abby will need to go to the hospital to have her helmet checked and adjusted a lot more often than we realized. For the next month she needs to go to the hospital each week and then every two weeks after that until she’s 6 months old. I laughed when I heard this because that's is often, my friends.

We did not realized her helmet wearing was going to be this intensive. But as much work as that will be driving to the hospital so often, we’re glad. These people are really on top of fixing Abby’s head shape and we’re willing to do whatever it takes. But man, that drive to the hospital is going to get old. Having to go to the hospital so often changes a lot of things. It limits what we’re able to do and where we’re able to go. But you know, it’s not permanent and for that we’re grateful. And for my Abby, I’d do anything.
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