7 Quick Takes...On Monday

Monday, January 31, 2011

We’ve had some major colds in our household the last few days and I’ve been feeling like crud. Thus, this post is a few days late, I apologize.

Anyways, I thought it would be fun to write about 7 books I’ve recently read or am currently reading. In no particular order, here they are:

1)Unplanned by Abby Johnson. This book truly deserves a whole post unto itself. The story of a former Planned Parenthood Director and her slow conversion to the pro-life cause. At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to read it. The first chapter is just brutal, as she describes her assistance with an ultrasound guided abortion in horrific detail. I didn’t want to read it, but couldn’t manage to put it down. It was that compelling. And to see the quiet unfolding of God’s plan in her life, all that was orchestrated to bring her to the Truth was extremely moving. Bonus, I just heard today on the radio that she’s planning on converting to Catholicism! Although, truth be told, you could see that happening from a mile away while reading her story. This book is a must read.

2)Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo. I saw the author interviewed on TV a few years ago and was extremely intrigued with her claims that the vast sums of aid money given to African countries by foreign governments in fact keeps them in a perpetual state of poverty and economic and political infancy. The author, an African, is a Harvard economist and a former Wall Street banker (legitimate credentials in my book). While her arguments are considered controversial in the global economics arena, I tend to agree with everything she says.

3)The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Juliet Ashton. I loved this book! Such an interesting and fun read. The setting of the book (the Channel Islands), the time period (post WWII) and the structure and style of the story are all very unique. The book is written as a series of letters between the characters as they attempt to rebuild their homes and their lives immediately following the end of WWII.

4)Crocheting for Dummies. This book doesn’t really need an explanation does it? Except, I do wish the instruction had been a tad more simplified. Geesh, what does that say about me? How sad is that.

5)Before I Go by Peter Kreeft. This is one book I pick up from time to time simply to relish in Professor Kreeft's humor and wisdom. The book, written by Peter Kreeft (love him), is a series of short letters to his children about what matters most in life. A definite must for any parents’ library. (Bonus: my copy is signed with a note from Professor Kreeft to me. Matthew works with him from time to time and asked him to sign my copy. Yay for me!)

6)Pope Benedict and the Sexual Abuse Crisis bv Gregory Erlandson and Matthew Bunson. This book also deserves (and will receive) a post entirely unto itself. It’s a book I was curious to read and am supposed to write a review for the Catholic Company. The review has taken me several months to write, primarily because I can’t quite decide how I want to say what I want to say. Make sense? The book is written as a defensive expose of the abuse crisis and Pope Benedict’s role in managing the everything during his time as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (back when he was Cardinal Ratzinger). A provocative read.

7)I guess I don’t currently have a seventh book. Any recommendations?

What's Making Me Smile Today

We gave Hannah a wooden Melissa & Doug animal puzzle for her birthday. She just loves these little animals and totes them along with her wherever she goes. Just recently she got into the habit of putting them in her little walker and pushing them all around the house.

I love having a kid in the house, even if she pooped and peed all over the carpet this morning.


Friday, January 28, 2011

My sweet pea (I'm trying out different nicknames for this baby. Hannah is my love bug, so I was thinking of sweet pea for baby #2. What do you think?)

Little feet

Playing with his/her face

Speaking of Vaccines...

Just for the record, I'm not a conspiracy theorist and I don't believe the government is trying to poison us with vaccines or that vaccines cause autism, but I do think this chart is telling. I do believe there are too many vaccines being pumped into little bodies.

We've opted to delay Hannah's vaccination schedule and she'll only receive a few of the recommended vaccines. Our pediatrician fully supports this as he too believes there are too many unnecessary vaccines for little ones.(Have I ever mentioned how much we love our pediatrician? We do.)

I copied this chart from the blog Peaceful Parenting. Like I said, I think it is very telling in how dramatically the recommended vaccination schedule has changed since the 1980's and how many more vaccines the CDC has added to the schedule.

Food for thought.

How Crunchy Are You?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I found this cute little quiz designed to determine how "crunchy" you are. We're fairly "granola" so I wasn't surprised when we scored in the "super nutty, ultra-crunchy, granola earth mama" category.

For example, a few areas where we're considered crunchy are: we breastfeed on demand(well, I breastfeed), we co-sleep, we eat mostly organic and natural foods, we don't eat red meat, we don't vaccinate (at least not yet), we try to utilize natural healing methods as opposed to antibiotics, and so on. You get the idea.

However, a few areas where we're definitely "creamy" (what's the opposite of crunchy?) are that we will opt for circumcision if we have a boy. I know that's a sensitive subject for many granola mamas, but sorry kid, you're going to be circumcised. We don't cloth diaper. I'm a cloth diapering dropout. And last, but, not least, I definitely shave my legs and underarms. Haha, I don't think Matthew would go for that au naturel look.

So, how about you? How are crunchy are you? Take the quiz here to find out.


Monday, January 24, 2011

It's currently 0 degrees farenheit. And that's a whole lot warmer than it was a few hours ago. We could really use some global warming up here in the Northeast right about now.

At least it's a little warmer in DC right now (a refreshing 21 degrees). Please say a prayer for all the participants at the March for Life. Go Pro-Lifers!

West Coast Walk for Life

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The 7th annual West Coast Walk for Life was held yesterday with over 50,000 attendees, the largest crowd yet!

I've only been to this Walk once, but it was such an inspiration to see all the young people out in droves supporting life. Go Californians! I'm so proud.

Let's hope the March for Life in DC gets its biggest crowd yet too!

Birthday Serenade


Hannah wasn't quite sure what to make of all the waiters singing to her. Her face was priceless.(Sorry the video is sideways, it was taken from my phone and we haven't figured out how to flip it yet.)

Happy 1st Birthday, Hannah Claire!

Friday, January 21, 2011

How Crunchy Are You?

I discovered this cute little quiz designed to determine how "crunchy" you are. We're fairly crunchy, so I wasn't surprised that we scored in the "super nutty, ultra-crunchy, granola earth mama" category.

For example, areas where we are considered crunchy: we breastfeed (although Hannah is weaned because I'm pregnant again. Sigh.), we co-sleep, we eat mostly organic, we don't eat red meat, we don't vaccinate (at least not yet), we avoid pharmaceutical medicine and opt for more natural cures, we use midwives, etc. You get the idea.

However, a couple of issues where we're "creamy" (I don't know what the opposite of crunchy is) haha, is circumcision and shaving (legs, armpits, etc.) If we have a boy he will be circumcised. Sorry kid. We don't cloth diaper. Maybe if we had a diaper service in the area, but no way am I washing dirty diapers every day. And I definitely shave. That was kind of a gross question (in my opinion). I know a lot of hippie/crunchy women don't shave their armpits or legs. Not me, no thanks. Besides I don't think Matthew would go for that.

So, how crunchy are you? Go here to take the quiz.
To find out how you rank on the crunchy scale, take the quiz here.

7 Quick Takes

1. Hannah’s first birthday is tomorrow! I can’t believe it. I once heard a mom say that during this time with little children the days are long, but the years are short. That makes perfect sense to me. We’re planning a low key day, but I’ll be sure to post plenty of pictures after the fact. I’m also working on a video montage of Hannah’s first year of life. I feel so blessed to be her mama.

2.Speaking of Hannah, she took her first steps a couple of days ago! My baby girl is walking, well toddling. It really is pretty awesome.

3.Today was another snow day and most schools in the area were cancelled (including the school where I coach). It’s beautiful outside, but I’m starting to get a little stir crazy.

4.In my attempt to fulfill my New Year’s resolution of making new friends, I’ve joined a Mother’s Group and yesterday I had coffee with a woman who had her baby with my midwives. Our Mom’s group has only had one meeting, but the ladies are so fun and we’re planning on meeting once a week. Future friends, here I come!

5.I’m hoping to plan a little surprise getaway for Matthew and me. Once basketball season ends (in early March) I’m going to arrange for us to spend the night at a fancy hotel in Boston and maybe even enjoy a delicious dinner in some local restaurant we’ve been meaning to try.

6.This story is disgusting. I can’t help but wonder if this man was/is possessed by a demon. I’m serious. Not only did he carry out late term abortions, but he kept various severed body parts in jars in his office. Satan’s hand is all over that.

7.The anniversary of Roe v. Wade is coming up this weekend. I find myself extra sensitive to abortion arguments while I’m pregnant. From my experience, a mother’s instinct is to protect her little one at all costs. For a woman to have an abortion is a clear cry that society has not met her needs, that she feels she is in such dire circumstances that she would go against all her mama bear instincts. Abortion is horrible, for women and for children.

Why I haven't been blogging very often this week. This is what happens when I sit down at my computer and who can resist this face?

For more quick takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary.

Hannah & Her Elephant Walker

Tuesday, January 18, 2011
As an early birthday present, we gave Hannah this elephant walker. (Thanks Grams and Grandpa for the Toys R Us gift card!)

She loves it, however, she recently discovered the walker is not only fun to use for walking, but that she can do this with it. Now she loves being pushed around in her little chariot.Uh oh.

Oh Great

Monday, January 17, 2011
Did anyone hear about this study?

UCSF conducted a study of pregnant women and found 100% of them (the sample size was only 238, but still) were found to be contaminated with toxic chemicals. Many of the chemicals found in the women are in fact banned, but are believed to come from pesticides and phthalates (chemical plascticizers-it makes things shiny). Pthalates are known endocrine disruptors and can potentially lead to birth defects.

The article from Natural News goes on to recommend ways for everyone, but especially pregnant women to protect themselves from toxic chemicals. You can read the article here. But the main points are to try to eat USDA organic as often as possible, use all natural soaps and detergents, drink more water, try to avoid air fresheners, perfumed candles and opt for stainless steel cookware rather than non-stick pots and pans.

Weekend Recap

Friday night my team had a basketball game (we won!). The girls played great and it’s so fun to watch them improve with each game. One of the parents came up afterwards to tell me how impressed she was with their passing, etc. and what a testament it was to my coaching. Ha! I try, but never having played basketball, I’m not sure if I can take credit for the team’s success.

Saturday morning I had my teaching session in Chinatown. My students have their finals next Saturday so we spent a good amount of time reviewing. We played vocabulary charades, which they love. I feel like they’re pretty well prepared for the final exam.

After teaching, I came home to find Hannah fast asleep, so Matthew and I were able to enjoy a lunch just the two of us. It’s a rare treat to eat a meal sans Hannah, so that was nice. We were able to discuss politics, the war in Afghanistan, and other such adult topics. After lunch we lounged around and watched a move. Later that afternoon, I was able to get a much needed haircut. My hair grows like crazy when I’m pregnant, so I look much more presentable now. For dinner, I made a homemade pesto pizza. Yum.

Sunday morning after Mass we went to Panera (oh my goodness, they make the best mochas). We met a nice elderly lady who was smitten with Hannah. She commented on Hannah’s name and how it was a biblical name. We always smile when people tell us her name is Biblical or that Hannah was Samuel’s mother because, yes, that’s why we chose it. Haha. Hannah is named for the Hannah in the Bible, a woman of great faith who kept her promises to God.

Later in the day we went shopping at Old Navy because they were having a major sale and stocked up on clothes for Hannah. Hopefully she won’t need any new clothes for the next 6 months or so. We walked away with a ton of loot for her and both agreed how easy it would be if the next baby was a girl, if only for the fact we wouldn’t need to buy any new clothes.

In so many ways another girl would be so easy and slip so easily into our family. People often ask what I hope the baby is going to be and I can honestly say, I have no preference whatsoever. In my opinion, having a baby is a win-win situation. Girl, win. Boy, win. Yes, a girl would be easy, but a boy would be an absolute delight too. I only want this baby to be exactly who God made him or her to be. If he’s a boy, of course I want a boy. If she’s a little girl, then of course I want a girl. But I’m already starting to get antsy to see who’s in there! Is it A or is it M? Haha, try to figure out those names, Mom and Dad! Actually, we’re not totally decided on the names, but getting there.

After shopping Hannah took a nice long nap and I was able to work on my little craft project: to make Hannah’s “1” shirt for her birthday and her “big sister” shirt. I was inspired by this mom who made her daughter's "big sister" shirt and assured me it wasn't too difficult. I was able to finish both shirts and they are soo cute. I must say I am quite proud of myself for making them. (I'll have to post the "1" shirt later.)

Sunday evening while watching the Patriots game we also brewed some beer (a favorite pastime of ours). We’re brewing a stout, so in a few months we’ll see how it turns out.

This post is beginning to bore me, so if you’ve read this far, thanks! It was a busy, but somehow relaxing weekend.

Why I Love My Husband

Monday, January 10, 2011

Kaitlin, over at More Like Mary, has started a weekly (I think) post about why she loves her husband. What a great opportunity to build up our husbands.

I've heard so many women complain about their husbands and their marriages and I'm always appalled by it. I've always believed such complaints shouldn't really be aired in public. It just tears down our husbands and marriage in general. Plus, if those women's husbands were saying similar things about them behind their backs, I'm sure they would be livid.

So, I always try to speak positively about married life any chance I get. Of course, this doesn't mean my husband is perfect or that we have a peachy keen marriage. In fact, being married is probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Marriage is not for the faint of heart.

So here are this week's Why I Love My Husband:

1) He always indulges my food cravings and often insists on getting takeout once a week. This may not seem like a big deal, but between taking care of Hannah, being pregnant and coaching every afternoon I do become tired around dinner time and he knows it. So to try and make my life easier, he takes dinner off my hands.

2)He still buys me flowers. (When we were dating people would say that he would stop giving/sending me flowers once we were married. Cynical people.)Almost every time we go grocery shopping he'll add a boquet of flowers to the cart at the last minute. It's sweet and I love having fresh flowers in our home.

3)He's kinda clueless when it comes to looking at ultrasound pictures and it makes me laugh. We had Dos's big ultrasound today and all is well. Dos looks great and is perfectly healthy. Praise God! He/She was playing with her feet, which was really cute to watch. But having the ultrasound today reminded me of when we had Hannah's 20week ultrasound and the technician was scanning over her spine and Matthew asked in all sincerity, "so, now, are those the baby's teeth?" Hahaha, I laugh about it even now. He's so cute.

Read more Why I Love My Husband posts here.

Sunday Night Dinner

Broiled Swordfish seasoned with lemon, salt and pepper.
Salad with pears and dried cranberries (unfortunately we didn't have any goat cheese, but I would have added that in too.)
And for dessert, homemade brownies with chocolate chip ice cream.

Verdict: A hit!

Perfect Blueberry Muffins

Friday, January 7, 2011

Made these muffins this morning. I would definitely recommend the recipe. As a special ingredient she uses yogurt so the muffins are extra moist. Delish!

21 Weeks

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I realize I haven't posted too much, if at all, about my pregnancy with Dos.

For my own memory I want to record a few things so I don't forget.

This pregnancy has been really different than Hannah's, which makes me think the baby is a boy. I could be wrong. I had a sense Hannah was a boy, and obviously I was wrong on that one. So we shall see.

I definitely was more nauseous this pregnancy. I had morning/afternoon/evening/night sickness for about a week straight, which incidentally is actually what tipped me off to the idea that I might be pregnant. But I can't complain since it really only lasted a week.

Cravings with this pregnancy have been really interesting. I basically crave any and all things Mexican. Spice, yum! Matthew jokes this baby is going to come out looking like Manny (from Modern Family). I also am really enjoying carbs and meat. For the first time in a few years, I have eaten steak. (We generally don't eat red meat and have a mostly vegetarian diet.) I figure my body must need the iron.

I also haven't gained much weight. Strike that, I've gained the recommended amount of weight so far, which compared to Hannah's pregnancy is a huge difference. With Hannah I gained so much weight, but fortunately lost all but three pounds of it. I know I can't count on that again, so I'm trying to be more conscious of my weight gain this time around.

At 21 weeks, I feel good and my baby bump is out in full force. I've started to feel the baby move and he/she is a kicker like their older sister. I love being pregnant and cannot wait to meet this little one. We have our big ultrasound on Monday and I can't wait to see Dos in person again. Every time I see him/her on the screen or hear the baby's heartbeat I swoon. I am in love.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hannah’s First Birthday (Wow!) is quickly approaching. Mentally, I’ve been planning this momentous occasion for a few months now. Lately, I’ve come to settle on the idea of a bubble themed party. (Hannah loooves bubbles.) And yesterday, I discovered this Bubble Party Package which comes with invitations, decorations and other sort of knick-knacks to throw a full on bubble party.

My dilemma is this: should I buy the package (it‘s only $12.95)?

By purchasing this set I feel like I am fully committing to throwing an all out birthday party. In theory, I’m pretty anti-huge kid parties. Parents tend to go overboard for their children’s birthdays and I always figured I wouldn‘t follow suit. As a kid, I was perfectly happy with a pool party and some cake and ice cream. My kids should be content with the same.

However, I am suffering some serious mommy guilt lately. I feel guilty that my baby will only be the baby of our little family for a few more months. I know, I know, in the long run I’m giving her this tremendous gift by giving her a sibling and believe me I feel more than blessed to be having another child and love that Hannah and Dos will be so close in age, BUT, and this may not be rational, but I feel like spoiling her like crazy for the next few months to show her how much we love her and that we’re not attempting to replace her by having another baby.

On the other hand, I don’t want to set a precedent for over the top birthday parties. Plus, I was reading last night that a big bash can actually be overwhelming for a one year old and that the first birthday celebration should be kept fairly small.

What should I do?

*The pictures in this post are from the Bubble Party Package. So cute, right?

Hannah's New Favorite Hideout

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


This news may be a bit late, but have you heard about this miracle?

Baby James Fulton was born nearly three months ago and had no heartbeat for 61 minutes. 61 minutes! Doctors managed to resuscitate him, but initial MRI scans showed significant brain damage. He has been in the hospital since his birth and was recently released to go home. After many, many prayers and petitions, a recent follow up MRI scan shows no brain damage! His brain and brain activity is normal. Can you believe that? 61 minutes with no heartbeat and he now has no brain damage! His parents are convinced the prayers have healed their son and a miracle has taken place.

Baby James is named after Bishop Fulton Sheen and during their time in the hospital they asked people to pray to Bishop Sheen for his intercession in the healing of their son. Apparently, this is not the first time the good Bishop has interceded for a baby with health problems. They are now going through the process to report the events in order to give credit to Bishop Fulton Sheen and speed his canonization. Amen to that. I have long been a fan of Sheen. I just love him! Maybe we should name our next child after him? Hmm.

Reading about Baby James and Baby Tess brought me right back to our experience with Hannah’s surgery and her time spent in the hospital and PICU. I know firsthand what a harrowing experience it can be to have your tiny child, your baby, in the hospital and I was so inspired by the faith of these two women. I followed their blogs daily, checking in for updates and praying right along with their friends and families.

Looking back, I can’t even remember how I discovered their bogs. Funny how God brings people together and asks strangers to pray for one another. But women (and presumably men) throughout the country were praying for these two families and for the healing of their children. And the prayers worked! I said after Hannah’s surgery that I would never again underestimate the power of prayer and this was a wonderful reminder of just how powerful the prayers of good and faithful people can be.

I would not wish anyone to experience having a child in the hospital, but in some small way I am glad I did. It has made me that much more empathetic to parents (and families) with hospitalized children. It has also made me better appreciate the health of my child. After Hannah’s time in the hospital we were so thankful that her condition was not chronic. Her Synostosis could be fixed with a relatively simple surgery (although to a mother with a newborn-no surgery is simple). Doctors could heal her. So many of the children in the PICU had been there for months, even years and their health was not something doctors could so easily heal.

I pray that both Baby James and Baby Tess continue to grow into healthy young and active children. I think I may have mentioned in when I wrote about Hannah’s surgery, but God truly is more powerful than any one person and every situation.(And thank God for good doctors.)

Alert: Totally Nerdy Post

Monday, January 3, 2011

Today is J.R.R. Tolkien's birthday. Apparently there is a little tradition to celebrate his birthday by toasting him at 9:00pm (in whatever time zone you're living in). All Tolkien fans are invited to raise a glass and toast his life by simply saying "the professor."

So, being the nerds that we are, we're going to toast the good professor at 9:00pm tonight.

I'll leave you with a Tolkien quote from The Hobbit for your reading enjoyment.
"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

New Year's Resolutions

I just love the New Year. The chance to begin anew, to start fresh, to try again. I find the possibility of a brand new year all invigorating. Plus, it’s a great chance to learn something new or adopt a new hobby. So, naturally, with that being said, I love making New Year resolutions. And generally, I’m pretty good about keeping them. (Except last year when I said I was going to run a marathon after having Hannah. Yeah…that didn’t happen.)

However, this year, my resolutions are nil. This year, I have an overwhelming desire to resist change and simply relish in the status quo and I think a lot of that, most of that, has to do with the fact that another baby is coming in about five months.

Maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones, but any thoughts of change stress me out. I have an overwhelming desire to simply sit on my little nest and gestate. Ha!

It seems so many New Year’s resolutions have something to do with weight loss or physical change. At least that’s what all the magazines would have you believe. Weight loss is a moot point for me right now, which admittedly is kinda fun. Fortunately, there are so many other areas in my life aside from the physical that I can attempt to improve upon.

Every year I say I want to pray more. But since I’ve learned that I don’t do well with vague resolutions, this statement often does very little to inspire me. I am lazy. I need concrete methods to improve my prayer life. The past few months I’ve adopted praying the Angelus daily and have set my cell phone alarm to noon so I can remember to do so. I want to keep that up. I would like to go to Mass, well ideally, every day, but I know myself and I know at this point, that’s not realistic, so I would like to go on additional time each week. So either every Wednesday or Friday I will attend Mass. Our parish is within walking distance to our house, so I really have no excuses. I would also like to try to read the Bible as a family, but at this point I don’t have a specific approach to go about implementing this, any suggestions?

Intellectually, I hope to read and write more. I'm sure more seasoned moms are thinking "with two babies? Yeah, good luck." I plan to finish my thesis and to further research best practices in education. I hope to keep up with the current eductional research despite being home with two little ones.

Emotionally, I want to open myself to living here in Massachusetts. I think with moving several times in the past couple of years, I have closed myself off a little. I figure we may be moving soon, so why bother making friends or putting down roots. I rationalize that when we finally settle down, then I’ll make friends and get involved in the community. But as I recently read somewhere, “our apostolate is where our feet are” (sorry, I can’t find the source of that quote. If you know, please let me know.) With that said, I plan on getting involved in our local pro-life organization, which helps high school girls complete their GED. I am hoping to put myself out there more to meet moms with young children or even single ladies (almost all my friends in NYC were single and we had a blast together).

When I start to think about it, I guess I do have a physical goal: to have a natural birth with this baby. I feel really confident with my midwives and believe I am making the necessary steps to set myself up for success with this baby’s birth. I suppose this topic is entire post in and of itself, so I’ll write more about this later.

Okay, so apparently I do have a few resolution. I could go on and on if I really start to think about it. But these small changes will hopefully help me develop into a better woman, wife and mother. And this year, that’s all I aim to be.

What are your 2011 resolutions?

Happy New Year!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Many blessings to you in 2011!

We're back from California. As great as it was visiting friends and family, it's nice to finally be back in our own home.

What a year 2010 has been. I can't wait to see all that 2011 has in store for our family and yours. God bless!
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