Help Declan and Win a Kindle Fire!

Monday, April 30, 2012
What do a Kindle Fire and a 2-year-old orphan have in common? They both have a lot of spark! (Bad joke, I know). 

This week and next I'll be raffling off a Kindle Fire to help Declan find his family!

Little Declan is almost three years old (just a little older than Hannah) and is looking for a Mama of his own. He is described as “lively" and "cheerful,” with a "calm and kind personality." Just look at what a cutie he is!

He lives in an orphanage in Russia and apparently no one visits him. How can that be? 

Together we can help bring Declan home! By donating to Declan’s Reece’s Rainbow fund here or mentioning him on Facebook, you have a chance at winning a brand new Kindle Fire.

Here's how the Declan Drawing will work:

           1) Mention Declan on Facebook or your blog and you'll earn 2 entries.
               (Obviously, the more entries, the greater the chance of winning.)

           2) For every $10 donated, you earn 2 entries. 

           3) Be sure to let me know that you've donated or Facebooked or
              blogged or emailed about the little guy.

          4) The winner of the Declan Drawing will be chosen at random next
              Friday, May 11th. 

For more information about Declan, visit his Reece’s Rainbow page here.

Let's find Declan his Mama!

7 Quick Takes

Friday, April 27, 2012

1) It’s Infertility Awareness Week and I feel compelled to mention it. Infertility is something very near and dear to my heart and can be a devastating cross to bear. This should be an entire post in and of itself.

2) Next week I’m going to be doing a giveaway for Declan, so stay tuned! I’ll be raffling off a Kindle Fire for people who donate or post on their own blog or Facebook about the little guy. I’m convinced we can find him a home, we just have to get his cute little face out there.

3) Last night, I watched the movie The Help. I loved, loved the book and was pleasantly surprised with how well the movie turned out. No movie will ever be as good as the book it’s based upon, but this movie came pretty darn close.
4) In honor of The Help and general good mothering, I held Hannah on my lap and told her, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” Then she whispered to me, “I wuv you.” Aww, baby girl, I love you too.

5) Abby had an appointment with her neurosurgeon this past week and he was very pleased with her progress. He wants her to have a CAT scan in June to confirm her suture is still open and she will have to continue to wear the helmet for a few more months, but we’re getting so close to the end of this journey. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel! Praise Jesus.

6) This weekend I’m running a 5K race in support of Children’s Hospital. Hannah is running in the “Toddler Dash,” so she and I have been training all week.

 7) I can’t think of a 7th Quick Take right now, so I’ll leave you with these pictures of my little Cindy Lou Who.


Thanks to Jen for hosting these Quick Takes!

Parental Observation #45,2345,674

Thursday, April 26, 2012
Trimming the bangs of an active toddler can prove quite challenging.

We call her Jebediah when her bangs look like this because we think she looks like a little Amish schoolboy.

Dear Anonymous

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your recent comment on my Reece’s Rainbow post. Despite your condescending tone, I do think you made some valid points. You’re right; I should not assume that these children were given up for adoption because of their birth defects. I am sure, at least I hope, that the mothers of these orphans loved their child very much, so much so that they were perhaps hoping to give their child a better life through adoption. And you are absolutely right that we must work to improve the resources available to parents in these countries. 

But the fact of the matter remains, these children are in orphanages and they do need homes. And while it would be ideal to change the government and welfare systems in these countries, such change takes time and these children simply do not have that time.  

Reece’s Rainbow’s primary aim is to help find orphaned children with Down Syndrome the homes they deserve. While there certainly do exist charities that attempt to make a profit through the goodwill of others, I highly doubt Reece’s Rainbow is one such charity. Just look at their website and their blog. This is not a multi-million dollar company. They are simply people trying to make a difference in the lives of children in need. 

I’m sorry that you feel that this is part of a larger adoption “market” targeted towards Evangelicals. I’m not sure where you’re getting the whole Evangelical thing since most of the adoption and adoption advocate blogs I read are Catholic, but no matter. As Christians, we do believe we have an obligation to help orphaned children. So if we are the target audience, then so be it. We should be made to feel responsible because we are. 

You seem slightly cynical and I can understand that. There is much to be cynical about in this world. But I don’t think attempting to help orphaned children with Down Syndrome should be one of them.

God bless you.    

What I Wore Wednesday

I am not so great with taking these pictures of myself, but here you go.
Top: Old Navy; Jeans: bought in London when I studied abroad; Necklace: Lisa Leonard vintage frames (love it!); Shoes (not seen): Toms.
This outfit is so comfortable and I look fairly put together (at least in my mind).

For more What I Wore outfits, visit the Pleated Poppy.

Does Your Child Do This?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Does your child head to the snack bins in the grocery store and proceed to lick the snacks and then throw them back in the bin before you can stop her?  Do you then end up buying 5lbs of yogurt pretzels simply because you don't want some poor sap having to eat your child's already licked pretzel? Do you then get home and try the yogurt pretzels and understand quite well why your child was licking them? They are pretty good.

No? Just me?


Monday, April 23, 2012
I would like to introduce you to someone. My new little guy. I am his Reece's Rainbow "guardian angel," which means I will be praying for him, advocating for him and fundraising for him in order to try and find him a home. Meet Declan

How cute is he? Seriously.

It's almost uncanny because he looks like he could be my child. Declan lives in an orphanage in Russia. He's almost three years old and according to Reece's Rainbow, "has a very calm and kind personality. He is lively, cheerful, sleeps and eats well.  His development corresponds to his age." He has no family and apparently no one visits him in the orphanage. He is available for international adoption.

He was born with  "compensated hydrocephalus and cystic lesions in the head" and while I'm working to learn exactly what that means for him, my first response is "that's nothing." If his development corresponds to his age then these so called birth defects have little bearing on him. I am convinced we can find him a family soon.

I'm going to be mentioning him a lot on this little blog and am planning a fundraiser and giveaway, so stay tuned, but for now I just wanted to introduce you to him.

Here's his Reece's Rainbow page.

Reece's Rainbow

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve become somewhat taken with the orphans from Reece’s Rainbow. I’ve always had a soft spot for motherless children. Now that I am a mother myself, I feel that much more responsible, not only for my own children, but for every child. After reading about the plight of these orphans and learning of the future that awaits many of them in the institutions, I feel compelled to try and do something for these poor little ones.

Many of the orphans listed on Reece's Rainbow are from Eastern Europe and were born with birth defects. Some of these birth defects are more serious than others. Although we cannot know for certain, more likely than not, these children were given up for adoption because of their birth defects. Perhaps their mothers wished a better life for them. That we cannot know. But as a mother whose children were also born with birth defects, I feel fiercely protective of such children. These children deserve more care and attention because of their conditions, not less. But it is less love and attention that they receive simply because of their unfortunate luck to be born in a certain country.  

Many of these children will be transferred to institutions once they turn 5. Institutions are cold, dark places and no place for a child to grow up.  They will be left there without the love of a family and the feeling of a home. We cannot let this happen.

Reece’s Rainbow attempts to rescue these children from such a future and to place them with loving families. My hope is that by talking about it, the word will get out and these children will find their forever families.  Reece’s Rainbow also helps defray the costs of the adoptions so that interested couples and families are not deterred by financial concerns. 

When thinking about or discussing these little ones, I am reminded of what Mother Teresa said about the hunger for bread being less than the hunger for love and that "the most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved."

No child deserves to feel unloved. Won't you consider donating just $5 to help these children come home? To donate you can visit Reece's Rainbow website or visit the particular page of the child you wish to donate to (go for Declan!) and click on the Paypal account to donate that way. You can also mail a check to Reece's Rainbow. The mailing address is:
Reece's Rainbow
PO Box 4024
Gaithersburg, MD 20885

Thank you!

7 Quick Takes: Our California Trip

Friday, April 20, 2012

1) Is it Friday already? We returned from California late Monday night, so it’s been a bit of a whirlwind this week trying to get organized and caught up with life around here. Our trip to California was absolutely wonderful and so much fun. Matthew and I both agree that the best part of the trip was watching our kids receive so much love and attention from their grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncle, great aunts, friends, etc. Those kids were the center of attention the entire time and they relished in that attention. Although now that we’re back Hannah has been asking for Bumpa and Grams and “Bilah” and “Kay-ha” and Sam and “Jah-ha” (my sisters Libby, Katie, Sam and Jacqui) and it’s absolutely breaking my heart. She misses you guys!

2) Easter was lovely too, as you can see from the pictures. We enjoyed a nice Easter brunch at my grandparents, which was followed with the annual competitive egg-hunt which Hannah was able to partake in this year. Hannah loved searching for the eggs and Abby loved chasing my grandmother’s dog (the girl is wild about dogs-who knew?).

3) Abby took her first steps in California!! She must be a California girl at heart. She took three steps to my Mom. Do you think Grams loved that? Just a little bit.

4) My sisters and I hosted a bridal shower for my sister Jacqui who is getting married in August. It turned out so well, if I do say so myself. We totally expected the whole thing to look like one of those “nailed it” pictures, but it turned out okay. Thank you Pinterest people!

5) Every time we visit California I’m always reminded of how much time people spend in their cars. Compared to the East Coast where you drive for like 2 minutes and you’ve driven through all of New England, in California you can drive for days and only make it down the block. And Californians get hit so hard with gas prices. It’s brutal.

6) This is a total vanity “take,” but I had my hair highlighted at my favorite salon in the East Bay. For some reason, this salon is the only one that can highlight my hair and still make it look natural. I love my new blondish highlights! That was a little reward to myself for reaching one of my target weight goals. In 5 more pounds I can buy myself a new swimsuit. It’s all about the little things.

7) I’m starting to sound really superficial. I promise my next post will be serious. In exciting news, while we were in California my dear friend found out she is expecting another baby girl! I’m beyond thrilled for her as this has been a much prayed for child and two girls, what joy. Of course, I’m a little biased towards two daughters.

All right, that’s it. For more Quick Takes, visit the ever insightful and amusing Conversion Diary.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hannah with her aunts, Libby and Katie.

Katie and me. How cute is she? Seriously. And skinny. Geesh.
Bumpa and Hannah and Nane and Abby.
Me apparently explaining something very important to Hannah about eggs.

How cute is my Mom? Seriously. Mom, hope you don't mind I added your picture.:)

Abigail and Daddy. Notice the blue dye on Abby's lips? We caught her sucking on the Easter eggs.

Nan-E and Abby. Two of my favorite people.

The soon to be newlyweds.

How loved is this child?

Pretty girl.

Abby taking some steps

Two sisters in a chair. The end of a long day.

At The Park: A Long Overdue Picture Post

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Looking a tad bored. She wasn't, she loves the park.

Look at those teeth! I just love them!

Hannah knows her shapes. WTH? News to me. We owe you on that one, Barney.

This girl loves her letters.


Right Now

I want to freeze this moment in time, so I don't forget:

  • Abby's wide-toothed grin.
  • Hannah saying "tank you, Mama" or "tank you Daddy" for every little thing. 
  • Hannah's insistence on wearing her "fa-fa" (princess) tutu all.the.time.
  • How Abby giggles watching the beginning of Barney.
  • How much Abby is such a little Mama's girl. She's my little shadow these days.
  • The girls favorite game, which involves Hannah running to hide and Abby crawling after her. When Abby finds her they scream and laugh. We find it so amusing that even though they can't talk to one another, they have their own little language.
  • Hannah loving to color and draw the letter "O." She will say, "Mama, I draw O's."
  • Abby cruising around holding on to everything in order to walk, including the walls.
  • How completely exhausting this life with littles can be, but how I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Holy Week

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Does anyone else feel like Lent flew by? Suddenly I find myself at the beginning of Holy Week, unprepared.

Oh, I made a good faith effort at my Lenten resolutions, but I could have done better. Isn't that always the case? But that's the beauty of Lent. It isn't an all or nothing sort of game. God can use even our measly little sacrifices and attempts at prayer and weave them into something greater, majestic even.

Despite my lackluster and could-have-been-better prayers this Lent, God has allowed me to witness His responses to my petitions. More than a few times this Lent I have found myself thinking "holy crap, does God really hear me?" (Yes, I realize I probably shouldn't be saying "holy crap," especially during Holy Week.)

Although liturgically Lent is coming to a close, the resolutions we have made during this season do not have to end. I intend to carry on with many of mine.

The word Lent is derived from the Old English word "lengten," which referred to the lengthening of the daylight hours during the spring season.I like that. Lent lengthens. Once stretched, it is very difficult for something (or someone) to return to their original dimensions. So I pray that although I didn't stretch as much as I would have liked this Lent, I did grow a little and that God may use even my small growth to continue his work in me and in those around me.

God bless you!

"May Palm Sunday be a day of decision for you, the decision to say yes to the Lord and to follow him all the way." ~Pope Benedict XVI

"We can’t let Holy Week be just a kind of commemoration. It means contemplating the mystery of Jesus Christ as something which continues to work in our souls.” ~St. Josemaria

Operation: Lose Baby Weight

Monday, April 2, 2012

This post is mostly for my own benefit and for my own reference.So feel free to read or skip.

Personally, I don’t even think about trying to lose any weight whatsoever until my baby is at least three months old. My body needs time to rest and recover from the ordeal of growing and birthing a baby. Those first three months postpartum (the 4th trimester as it’s sometimes called) are a time of upheaval.  A time to leave an old life behind and to begin anew. Your family is forever changed and a new little soul added to the bunch, it's going to take some time to adjust. Don't rush it.

Months later, when the time comes to try to actually lose the weight there are countless variables that can affect the rate at which weight is lost. The amount of weight gained during the pregnancy, genetics, hormones, and breastfeeding can all slow or speed weight loss. 

Personally, I tend to gain a lot of weight with my babies. With Hannah I gained almost 60 pounds, with Abby it was closer to 45. I’m hoping with the next one, I can keep my weight gain to around 30 pounds, we’ll see. Fortunately, I've been able to lose the weight I've gained in each of my pregnancies. It hasn't been easy, but it's been worth it.

Despite what they say about being able to breastfeed and eat whatever you want and still lose the weight, I didn't, at least not this time. Although I've been breastfeeding Abby on demand, I don't think breastfeeding contributed to any weight loss until very recently (around 9 months postpartum). 

Even though I watched what I ate and moderately exercised, I didn't start losing any baby weight until 5 or 6 months postpartum. Nothing I would do would make the weight come off before that point. Nothing. Looking back, I think this was largely due to my hormones. I had some other signs of a hormonal imbalance, so hormones are not to be underestimated. 

When Abby was around 6 months old, I started running again. It wasn't pretty and I didn't run very far, but I was doing it. The running helped me lose a few pounds, which in turn helped stabilize my hormones, which caused my metabolism to return to normal, which in turn allowed me to really start losing weight. My body just needed to lose like 2 lbs in order for everything to start working normally again.

Along with exercising, I also modified my diet. I cut down on carbs and cut out a lot of sugar. I eat a salad for lunch every day and I don’t eat desserts during the week. I do allow myself ice cream on Saturdays, but that’s it. And I drink a lot of green tea. For some it may sound like I'm depriving myself, but honestly, I love what I eat.

Right now, Abby is almost 10 months old and I still have about 10lbs to go before I’m back to my pre-baby weight. I figure about 5lbs of that is due to breastfeeding (and weight in my boobs) and will come off when I wean Abby. So actually, I only have about 5lbs to go. Six months ago when I was about 30lbs overweight, I never thought I would make it here. I was tempted to give up and throw in the towel in even trying to lose weight, but I'm glad I stuck with it. If I can do it, you can too!

However, I do wish I had been more patient with myself and more forgiving of my body. It was difficult for me to carry around so much extra weight and I really chastised myself because of it. I had to keep reminding myself that this was not just 30 extra pounds I gained "just because." This extra weight was because I had a baby. So if you're hoping to lose the baby weight, go easy on yourself.

One more piece of advice, I think it's important to make little weight loss goals on top of the end goal of a pre-baby weight. For example, when I lost the first 10lbs I bought myself new earrings. When I reached the 20lbs lost mark, I bought myself new pants. I think it's important to recognize small achievements and to reward yourself accordingly.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, despite the struggle to lose all the weight I've gained because of my babies, they have been worth every single pound.

What are your baby-weight-loss strategies?
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