Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Last week a friend of mine had her second baby, a little boy. Her oldest, also a boy, is the same age as Hannah and they live around the corner from us, so we get together often. Yesterday the girls and I were able to visit them I was able to hold that little newborn baby. Ooh, I loved it! I didn’t want to give him up, but Abby started getting a little jealous, so I reluctantly handed him back to his mom. (She was so cute looking up at me like Mama what in the world is going on? I’m your baby!)It was only 8.5 months ago that Abby was that size, but it seems like so long ago. It’s true what they say, you forget how small newborn babies are. 

Before we headed over to visit baby Teddy, we swung by Target to pick out a “big brother” toy for John. We perused the “boy toys” aisle and I had so much fun trying to decide between a Thomas the Train toy or a matchbox car. I tried asking Hannah for help, but she was none too interested in trains or cars. Whoever says there’s no difference between boys and girls clearly has never had children. Hannah wanted to check out the princesses and she’s never even seen a glimpse of Cinderella or any other of those Disney princess movies.  I got such a kick out of those boy toys. Little boys crack me up with their love of all things trains and cars and bulldozers.  And it made me realize, I want a boy. 

The thought of having a boy both excites and scares me. I love boys and would love raising one, but we’re so used to girls around here, part of me is afraid I wouldn’t know how to parent a boy. But I do think we need some snips and snails in this house.

At the End of a Long Day

Quiet Time

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Hannah has been boycotting her nap the last couple of days and it's driving me a little crazy. I rely on that nap time to rest a little myself, to tidy up the kitchen and check my email. I need her to nap. So yesterday, after struggling to get her down for a while, I just stuck her in the crib. The crib is generally reserved for timeout and she doesn't usually like being in there. But I threw some books in there with her and left the room. And miracle of miracles, she sat in the crib and "read" her books for about 40 minutes. It was wonderful. 

Today I threw Abby in there with her and they are having a ball giggling and playing together. So I have to time to write this blog post and drink my tea. 

I'm not sure what I'll do when she learns to climb out of the crib, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

My walls look so white and bare! Does that ever happen to you? You start to notice things about your home only in pictures?

7 Quick Takes

Friday, February 24, 2012

1.  We heard from Abby’s geneticist yesterday. All of her blood work came back normal. This is really reassuring, but not terribly surprising. The geneticist estimates that our chances of having another child with craniosynostosis are between 5-50%, a wide margin if ever I saw one. But you know, we have kind of accepted that this is our lot in life and have begun to structure our lives to accommodate this fact. We definitely want more children and if those children have cranio, well, so be it.

2. Hannah knows the alphabet. Thank you Super Why! That TV show along with reading B is for Bethlehem 47 times a day has effectively taught my daughter all the letters of the alphabet. And who says television isn’t educational? 

3. Lest you think Hannah is a genius, she now thinks her name is “you.” Not entirely sure why, but there it is.

4. My Lenten Internet fast is taking shape nicely. I’ve decided that I will only allow myself to go online while my children are asleep. This is hard! But, it’s made my time online a lot more productive (I have a to-do list for when I’m online, what I need to look up, who I need to email, etc.). Naturally, this has freed up a lot of my time and has allowed me to spend more playing and reading, especially with Hannah. So far, so good!

5. After a lot of thought and talk and prayer, I think I’m going to train to become a doula. I’m doing it, Kerry! I’m mostly inspired by my friend Kerry, we like to talk “birth” all the time and I love it. She’s a birthing genius and has already attended a million and one births, so I’m a little intimidated about the prospect of training alongside people as experienced as she. But I was telling Matthew the other night that with my life experiences I feel like I’m being led down this path. I am passionate about birth and helping women achieve their best birth possible and I feel with my eleventy billion hours of labor I have a small amount of knowledge of what methods and techniques help a laboring woman.  I like to think that I have something to offer pregnant women. So, yikes, here goes nothin'.

6. This is depressing, but last night we watched a movie about human trafficking called The Whistleblower. The movie, which is based on a true story, is about a whistleblower who worked for the U.N. peacekeeping forces in Bosnia following their civil war. While there, she witnessed incredible corruption within the U.N. and in other international police keeping forces that were basically facilitating and turning a blind eye to the human trafficking of young girls. It is estimated that there are around 2.5 million people (mostly women and children) who are sold into slavery every year and roughly 14,000-17,000 of those people are trafficked into the United States. It blows my mind that this issue is not talked about more. It's a billion dollar industry, so I suppose that's why people keep quiet. Shameful. Here in America we'll talk until we’re blue in the face about drug trafficking, but never a mention of trafficking people. As the mother of daughters, this is something that freaks me out. I don’t know exactly how to help end this atrocity, but I know something must be done.
7. In lighter news, I’m helping to plan my sister’s bridal shower and am having a ball choosing menu and decorating ideas. I don’t want to post any of my plans in case she sees this, but I’ll show you one of the cute food ideas I have.

Photo from Annie's Eats.

Guaranteed mine won't look that pretty, but isn't that such a cute idea?!

For more Quick Takes visit Jen at Conversion Diary.

Sweet Abby

Thursday, February 23, 2012
 Sits in the high chair now.
 Valentine's Day flowers from Daddy. (He gets each of his girls their own bouquet. Love.)
 Looking in the mirror, her new favorite activity.
All smiles.

I love my baby.

What I Wore--Thursday

Shirt-Old Navy, Pants-Old Navy, Boots-Boden. Do you sense a trend with my black jeans and brown boots? This is my go-to outfit. Every girl must have one.

I'm going to refrain from critiquing myself about my weight or hair or chubby face--whoops, I almost made it.

Hosted by the Pleated Poppy, who always looks so dang cute. 

My Plans for Lent

Tuesday, February 21, 2012
I think I say this every year, but I love Lent. For the last several weeks I’ve been thinking and praying about what to do this Lent to truly make it a purposeful one. There are a few things from which I have decided to fast. One is coffee. Yikes, I may regret actually writing that down.  No turning back now.  Lately I’ve felt too dependent upon it and I don’t want to feel that addicted, for lack of a better word, to a food or drink, so it’s gots to go. 

Secondly, I plan to limit my internet time, but I will still keep up my blogging for the sake of the grandparents.  I'm not entirely sure how to do this, any suggestions? Along with blog posts, I’m going start a journal to my daughters. The journal will be comprised of letters to them about what I want them to know about life and about being a woman. I’m really excited about it.  

As far as prayer is concerned, I want to make it to daily Mass once during the week. This is going to be a toughie because with two little kids it won’t be easy to corral them, but I figure 30 minutes isn’t going to kill any of us. Or will it…? Debatable.

I also plan to pray the Rosary every day. I have a special intention to which the entirety of my Lenten Rosaries will be devoted.  Last year my intentions were primarily for a healthy birth for my child and for my friends struggling with infertility. I didn’t get the birth I wanted, but you know what, two of those friends got pregnant, so it wasn’t all for naught. 

What are your Lenten plans?

Thoughts on Love

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

There are only two words in the vocabulary of love: you and always. ‘You,’ because love is unique; ‘Always’, because love is enduring. 
~Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Quick Takes

Friday, February 10, 2012
1. Abby is sick. I think she has a stomach bug because she's vomiting every time I nurse her and I don't know what to do. She can't really take a bottle and I'm worried about her becoming dehydrated. I'm calling her doctor as soon as possible this morning. At least her sister can still make her laugh.

2. Matthew gave me Season 2 of Downton Abbey as an early Valentine's Day gift. I love him.

3. Hannah had her two year check up yesterday and in the words of her doctor is a "very healthy girl." She weighs 27 lbs and is 34 inches tall.

4. Abby got her new helmet this week and it is humongous. My poor baby looks like Darth Vader. I'll have to post a picture. At least while she's sick I'm letting her go without that dang helmet.

5. I'm still running several times a week and I'm down another pound or so. I can't tell you what seeing the scale go down does for my motivation.

6. My thesis is wrapping up nicely. Did I ever mention it was on single-sex education? I've always been fascinated by all-girl and all-boy schools, probably because I went to coed schools and was always curious about the "other side." We're pretty sold on sending our daughters to all-girl school for high school and possibly middle school too. Writing this thesis convinced me, plus Matthew pretty much wants them around boys, oh, never.

7. Matthew and I are going out on a date this Sunday, just the two of us. Woo hoo! I'm trying to figure out what to wear. All I know for sure is that I'll be wearing my boots. I love those suckers.

Okay, these Quick Takes were fairly boring. For more interesting Quick Takes, check out Hallie's blog at Betty Beguiles.

Go Tim Thomas!

Boston Bruins star goalie posted this on his Facebook page yesterday:

"I stand with Catholics in the fight for religious freedom."

Which followed with “In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

So great to see a celebrity (at least around here) standing up for religious freedom and the Catholic Church!

Co-Sleeping: Part 1

Wednesday, February 8, 2012
To preface this post, I want to say that co-sleeping is something we do, but does that mean I think it something you should do.  Co-sleeping is not an issue of parental morality, but rather preference.

I should begin by saying that never in my life did I think we would be co-sleeping or “sharing sleep” (as Dr. Sears calls it) with our children.  It happened one night…on accident.

When Hannah was only a few days old I took her out of her bassinet in the middle of the night to nurse her and then proceeded to fall back asleep with her in my arms. When I awoke the next morning and looked down to find my sweet newborn babe asleep in my arms, I panicked. I was afraid the parenting police would be after me. How could I have been so careless as to fall asleep with my baby in my bed? What kind of mother was I? Yet, there she was unscathed and perfectly content. After my initial shock, I began to realize that I too was feeling happy and rested.

Following this little incident I began playing a little more fast and loose with co-sleeping. Some nights she would sleep in our bed for half the night, sometimes for the whole night. One thing I began to notice was that on the nights she did sleep in our bed, we both slept much better

However, what really sealed the deal for me was after Hannah’s surgery. I couldn’t bear to have her apart from me, so from then on she was by my side…in our bed.

Again, co-sleeping is not for everyone, but here are a few aspects of it that we enjoy:

1) More sleep for both Mama and baby. Sleep deprivation seems to be a complaint of nearly every new parent. Subsisting on only a few hours of sleep each night for months at a time is considered a rite of passage in American parenting. However, and you may hate me for this, I have never suffered from lack of sleep caused by one of my babies. I believe I can attribute this to co-sleeping. When my babies need to nurse in the middle of the night or need the comfort of their Mama, I am right there. There is no need for them to cry out or for me to even get out of bed. We are both comforted by the close presence of one another and we both sleep better for it.

 2) Breastfeeding is easier. Abby still nurses at least once in the middle of the night, maybe twice. The beauty of co-sleeping is that I really don’t know how often she nurses because neither one of us is fully awake for it. Our sleep rhythms are in sync and we both wake when she needs to nurse and then doze off as soon as she’s done, if not before. Doctors often remark that co-sleeping mothers and babies share the same sleep cycles, meaning they go through periods of light and deeper sleep at the same time. I can attest to the truth of this. It’s quite amazing that I will wake up about 30 seconds before Abby when she needs to nurse. Naturally this makes breastfeeding in the middle of the night much easier. It also helps encourage a longer breastfeeding relationship between mother and child (which in turn can keep the return of the mother’s fertility at bay). I’m not in any rush to wean Abby from her night feedings because it really does not require much from me. If I had to get out of bed to nurse her at 2am every night, it would probably be another story.

3) Comfort. I’ll admit it, I love having my sleeping babies cuddled up next to me. People like to say co-sleeping families are too indulgent of their babies, but in all honesty, I’m indulging myself.  To have their chubby little bodies pressed up against mine or to hear their little snores or to get to hold their hands while we drift off to sleep, it’s lovely. I also take comfort in knowing that we’re giving them a sense of security and safety while they sleep.

4) Family closeness. This is purely speculative, but we like to think that we are a closer family-- both literally and figuratively--because of our co-sleeping. We spend our days and our nights together and we enjoy it and each other.

Of course, co-sleeping is not always bliss. It certainly has its challenges and drawbacks, but I will address those and other concerns in a separate post.

Any questions?

Monday's Meal

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pesto Pizza with homemade crust
Dogfish Ale


Are You Ready for Some Football?

Sunday, February 5, 2012
My Niners are out, so I'll  be honest, I'm not really sure who I'm gonna root for. I shouldn't say that too loudly here in Massachusetts.

One thing I do know for sure, I'm making 7-layer dip. Yum!

Oh, what the heck, Go Pats!

Craniosynostosis Support

Saturday, February 4, 2012
I've noticed that lately some of my blog traffic seems to be people searching for information regarding craniosynostosis. So if you are a parent of a child diagnosed with craniosynostosis, welcome!

I'm going to try to put together a link of all the posts I've written regarding our experiences with craniosynostosis. For those that don't know, both of our daughters have/had craniosynostosis, which is the premature fusion of the skull sutures. One daughter had sagittal and the other had unilateral coronal. Fortunately, both of our daughters were diagnosed when they were only several weeks old and therefore qualified for the endoscopic version of the surgery. Both have had to wear helmets following the surgery (one is still in her helmet). But other than the cranio, both of our children are healthy and thriving. We are lucky.

I've also noticed some of those searches are specifically seeking information regarding nerve damage associated with or caused by craniosynostosis. I can't speak to this directly as neither of our children have suffered from nerve damage. However, I do know that some doctors cite nerve damage as a potential deterrent from having the endoscopic craniectomy (the name of the surgery to remove the strip of fused bone) rather than the traditional CVR (cranial vault reconstruction- when the entire skull plate is removed and sculpted and then placed back into the skull).

The endoscopic version of the surgery is a relatively new procedure and perhaps some doctors are wary or simply unaware or unable to perform it. I have read about some doctors encouraging parents against the endoscopic surgery, and instead encouraging them to wait to have the full CVR when the baby is slightly older. I am not a doctor, but unless your child is sickly, I think this suggestion is hogwash. If your doctor is advocating for this, I would strongly suggest getting a second opinion.

Obviously, the endoscopic surgery does require immense skill to perform and not every neurosurgeon is trained to do this procedure. In fact, there are only so many doctors throughout the country who are experts in this surgery. We are fortunate to live in an area where there are several doctors who can perform this surgery.

Both my husband and I are huge advocates of the endoscopic surgery. The endoscopic surgery is much less invasive, which means a smaller likelihood of complications and much less time spent in the hospital (one night as opposed to six or seven). Furthermore, the research is beginning to show that the children who have had the endoscopic surgery are faring better long term than those who had the traditional surgery.

So if you are fortunate enough to have your child diagnosed early enough (the endoscopic surgery is usually done prior to 12 weeks of age) that both types of surgeries are an option, I would strongly encourage you to go with the endoscopic surgery. Yes, it is scary, very scary, to have your infant undergo major surgery, but in the long run (and in the short run too), it will be worth it. And then the surgery will be over and it won't be something looming in the future to dread.

If you have any questions at all regarding craniosynostosis or the surgeries or what to expect, please feel free to email me. I know how nerve racking it can be to hear that diagnosis of craniosynostosis, but it will be okay. All will be well.

I think these are listed somewhere else on my blog, but again, here are some organizations that offer support to cranio families. They are wonderful.

Cranio Care Bears ~ they send care packages to families undergoing surgery for craniosynostosis. They're awesome.

Cranio Angel Network ~ they send handmade flower headbands and pirate do-rags for kids who have undergone cranio surgeries. Also awesome.

Cranio Kids ~ Forum and stories for families with cranio. Lots of support here.

Jorge Posada Foundation ~ Offer a mentoring program and information regarding craniosynostosis.

Hope this information helps! And please, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me! God bless!

Around Our Home

Friday, February 3, 2012
 One of my little decorations for Valentine's Day.

 My photo wall. I had so much fun putting this together last summer.

 Our bedroom. I just added that canvas painting above our bed. I love it.

 And our beautiful crib that is never used. I'll have to do another post about co-sleeping...

 My new photo canvases that I had made of the girls. I love how they turned out. I'm addicted to CVS photo canvases now.

Christmas cards. I don't have the heart to take them down, even though it's now February. Sigh, I suppose they'll have to come down soon.

 Our "family" wine--Schug Wine. And my spice rack.

How I was able to take all these pictures. Hannah's little kitchen is to the left of the TV and above it I made two little silhouettes of the girls. That's a Happy Birthday banner hanging above the blinds.

It's About Time

This is great news! Finally, Susan G. Komen has cut ties with Planned Parenthood. To be honest, I shied away from supporting anything with a pink Komen ribbon precisely because of their ties to PP.

Of course, all the PP cronies are all up in arms about it. But you know what? After Cutting Ties With PP, Komen donations up 100 Percent. Awesome.

Now if only the Girl Scouts could follow suit.

Updated: Barf. Komen caved. I think they should promptly return all the money that has been donated to them in the last day by pro-lifers. If I had donated money, I would be calling them up right this minute asking for a full refund. Ridiculous.

Baby's First Ponytail

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My baby has a ponytail? When did this happen?!?

Please ignore the sock in this last picture, don't know how that got there

The ponytail only lasted as long as it took me to take the picture and then she promptly pulled it out. Oh well.

Totally Addicted

This show has been on our instant Netflix queue for a while and I've pretty much ignored it for the last month. British TV show set during WWI? Sounded kinda boring. But on the recommendation of a few other people, I decided to give it a shot and watched the first episode.


I finished the first season and was unable to wait until Netflix acquires the second season so I'm watching it on my computer. Check it out, if you're able.
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