A weekend of firsts

Mark had a couple of fun Firsts things this weekend!

The first First: Sunday Mass was not his best hour.  He was squirrely and generally all over the place.  I try and keep him in the main part of the church for as long as possible, but sometimes he has to go to the “cry room”, which is really more “let me touch all the chairs room” for Mark.

There are some short steps that go up to the bathroom from inside the cry room, and Mark managed to go up one of the steps all by himself (while hanging on to the wall)!  This may not seem like a big deal, but Mark has basically seen stairs only a handful of times in his whole life, so this was a pretty big deal!  I don’t have any pictures of this because, well, Mass, but trust me.  It happened.

The second First for Mark was Using A Spoon For Its Actual Purpose!  Woot!  I have picture evidence of this, so I’ll let the photos of him eating mango yogurt speak for themselves (sorry for the not-great focusing… I wasn’t really paying attention to my phone as I was taking pictures).

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Hooray for proper tool usage!  Also, side note, see the balloon in the background there?  We’ve had that up for a month now — it was a present for Mark’s first birthday.  Apparently, it’s from… wait for it… the DOLLAR STORE!  Gasp!  Some high quality helium over there, yo.

The last First for Mark is really amazing.  Mark is starting to communicate with us and react to us in ways  that show he understands what we’re saying!  I asked him if he wanted some milk, and he went to the refrigerator, which is in the OTHER ROOM.  Then, a few days later, I asked him if he wanted to go Night-Night and he walked to his room and banged on his door to get in.  And I put him down!  And he went to sleep!  Amazing.

Okay, enough of my mom-gushing for now.  Enjoy the short week!

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The incredibly lazy only-photo post.

There’s just no way that I’m going to be able to put together a real life post.

Instead, here are some pictures of Mark when we went outside after dinner.  🙂

(Note: Yes, I am personifying the voice of Mark.  No, he can’t make full sentences, or anything close to them, yet.)

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“I’m just gonna sit here and think for a little while.”

 

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“Tree!  I will MOVE you!”

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“Check out this long grass!  It’s awesome!”

 

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“I really want to eat this.  How would I go about doing that, exactly?”

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“Mama!  I’m gonna get you with this grass!”

Seven Quick Takes: toddler snacks, the letter “S”, ceiling fans, and it’s so hot I might melt

I’ve had a few posts in the last week or so (if you didn’t see my review of Something Other Than God, go read it), but I thought it would still be good to look at the seven things for the week:

1) Toddler snacks

This isn’t something that happened, but a plea.  Could someone (anyone? everyone?) give me some good snacks for a one-year-old?  Mark is prepping for his teenage years by eating us out of house and home.  I’m looking for some good snacks to give him in the morning and afternoon.  The trick is, he doesn’t have very many teeth yet and the idea of “biting pieces” to him means “shove as much as I can of it in my mouth and then spit it out” which is just so not, not attractive.  Ideas?

2) Car sounds

Mark LOVES making the “car sound” that seems to be innate to every little boy on the planet.  He especially enjoys making it while playing with his toy turtle (it has wheels, so it’s kind of like a car, right?) and it’s precious and adorable and I don’t ever want him to stop.

3) Speaking of those teeth…

Mark has three (but almost four) teeth and has realized that he can make the “ssss” sound with his front teeth.  He’s getting really good at it and I need to find some things that start with “s” so he can try saying them.  I finally settled on doing this scene from Singing in the Rain.  (Skip to 17 seconds in for just the part that was making Mark crack up before his bath tonight.)

4) It’s been REALLY HOT…

… for the PNW.  Like, I don’t even want to go outside kind of hot.  It’s supposed to cool down for the weekend, but the last several days have been in the high 80s and low 90s.  With no air conditioning, it’s just too dang hot.  So…

5)…we turned on Mark’s ceiling fan!

Yes, we obviously used the ceiling fan last year when it was hot out, but he doesn’t really remember that (obviously).  Now, he just looks at it over and over and over again when we’re in Mark’s bedroom.  This is especially helpful when I’m changing Mark’s diaper, which he HATES with all of the hate his little 22 pound body can hold.

All in all… win.

6) It’s BERRY SEASON!

This is a scene that is pretty much going to be repeated a thousand times in the next few months.

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7) This is amazing.  

I don’t know anything about the science behind it or whether or not it’s really feasible in the long run or anything.  But, if we can use the measles vaccine to combat some forms of cancer… woot!

Hope you have a great week and remember to check out the other Quick Takes over at Jen’s.  

Review of “Something Other Than God”

I mentioned this book in my Seven Quick Takes last week, but it was so good, I felt like I had to devote a whole post to it.

As I mentioned last week, I recently read (really, frantically devoured) Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiller.  Before her book, I’d never really read a modern conversion story (I read Dorothy Day’s story for one of my religion classes in college, but nothing since then), and as a cradle Catholic, I don’t really have the same sort of story.  Yes, we all have our little conversions here and there where we come back to the Faith or are renewed by it.  But, the story of going from an atheist to a Catholic is really interesting.

While the book is laid out in chronological order, the more important structure is how Fulwiler’s conversion is so methodical and logical.  She goes from a complete doubter of any sort of god, to seeing how a logical belief in God and in the Catholic faith makes the most sense.

No, I can’t relate to her story in going from no faith and belief in God to the most structured and ancient of Christian denominations.  But, Fulwiler’s life (college, professional work, being a mother) is something that I can relate to.  I can connect with her on a level of being a mother and having a new understanding of mortality.

One of the parts of the book that struck me the most was when she has one of the first inklings that she’s searching for God (without, of course, knowing that’s what she’s searching for).  At this point, he first baby was born not long ago and she’s realizing mortality and the desire that all of us have, deep down, to know that there’s something after this life.

She thinks about her baby eventually dying and becoming part of the fossils that she saw in Mexico when she was growing up.  For the first time, she realizes that this idea doesn’t really bother her and she wants to know why:

“I sat like that for what felt like hours (though was probably just a few minutes), lost in thought, breathing in the icy wind that wound through the skyscrapers.  Finally, I stumbled across the answer, and the words rang through my mind like a bell: I don’t think it’s true.”  

She realizes that atheism can’t account for the bond and the love that she had with her husband and her baby.  It explained the chemical reactions, but she was starting to realize that there was more to that at the core of who we are as people — she starts to consider the idea that we might have souls.  This idea, of course, wrecks complete havoc on her firm atheistic beliefs and is the foundation of the rest of her conversion story.

Finally, one thing that surprised me about the book was how she doesn’t really talk much about her confirmation into the Church (she was baptized a Catholic as a baby).  At first, I was a little disappointed that there was so much background to her conversion and I thought the lack of reflection on her actual baptism to be a little unsatisfying.

But, then I realized why I (think) she did this.  The important part of her story is the journey of how she became Catholic, not the actual moment itself.  The moment of any sacrament is deeply personal; it loses something when he have to put it into words.  In hindsight, I’m glad she kept those moments to herself, forever something between her and God.

I highly recommend Something Other Than God and you can get it all kinds of places (but, here’s the Amazon link).  If you’d like a little intro to Jen and her writing, check out her blog, Conversion Diary.

Mother’s Day

This is my second Mother’s Day!  Last year, Mark was only three (or was it four?) weeks old when I got to celebrate being a mother.  Because I’m Catholic, I hold firm to the belief that life starts in the womb, so I was a mother before Mark was born.  But!  I wasn’t pregnant with him until August, so it’s still only my second Mother’s Day!

I realize that I haven’t held this position for very long, and there’s probably lots of people out there other than me who could wax eloquent about the many different facets of motherhood (past, of course, the baby stage where I am now).  But I thought I would offer my reflections on what it’s like being a mom with the new eyes that I still have.

Plus. this is going to be hilarious for me to read in about fifteen years when I’m the mother of a teenager.  Can’t pass up the opportunity to be able to laugh at myself later, right?

So, without further ado, the Top WHATEVER NUMBER things I’ve learned about being a mother in the past year.

1. It’s a lot harder than it looks.  I think being a mother is like being  a teacher in this way.  If you went to school, you had teachers.  “I can do that,” many say.  “I’ve been seeing people do it for the last thirteen years.”  And so it is with mothers.  Most of us were blessed with mothers (some who were good and others who could perhaps have used a little work), and we thought to ourselves, “I can do that.”

But it’s so much harder than it seems.

2. Despite the fact that it’s hard, it’s totally worth it.  

I never realized how hard being a mother is.  It’s not even hard in the “it-takes-forever-to-get-out-the-door” kind of hard.  It’s the all-consuming, completely-draining kind of hard.  No matter where you are or what you’re doing, you’re still a mom.   Whether I’m with Mark or not, all I do is think about him and what he might be doing or what he might be needing.  When I’m apart from him, I’m thinking about who he’s playing with and if he ate the food I sent with him.  When I’m with him, I just marvel at seeing the world from his perspective.

It’s all-consuming.  But, honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

3. It’s the greatest blessing I could ask for.  

I remember that when I was in high school, I wasn’t sure that I wanted children.  Ever

Then, I grew up a little.  I saw my friends getting married and having kids and I knew that I was called to be a mother.  I was overjoyed when I learned we were pregnant.  My life changed at that moment and became about someone other than myself in a whole new way.  Every decision I made from there on out, whether it was exercising or not eating that other piece of cake, became about Mark.

I was worried at first that I wouldn’t be up to the task.  Worried that I would somehow find that I didn’t have the mothering gene, that I would be selfish.  Instead, I found that I didn’t even really care to worry about my own needs anymore, as long as Mark was taken care of and healthy and happy.  It was in this sacrifice that I realized how blessed I am as a mom.

4. You’ll probably never live up to your standard.  

I was blessed with a wonderful, loving mother.  I have friends who are amazing mothers.  I saw what all of them do, and I started to think that I had to be perfect, just like them.

It took me awhile, but I finally came to the realization that I don’t have to be perfect.  I don’t look at Pinterest and think about how I can make my life look like all the shiny pictures.  Instead, I think about how I can find things that will make Mark happy and help Ryan and I to have the best family we can.

I won’t be a “slacker-mom”, but I’m not going to drive myself mad trying to make myself perfect.  I’m just going to strive for the best I can.  And I know that’s good enough.

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Now that I’ve waxed eloquent for far too long, I’ll just say that I had a wonderful Mother’s Day today and I loved being with my Mark and Ryan so, so much!  They truly have made me who I am and I’m thankful.

Seven Quick Takes: A book, a job, more of Mark, and #bringbackourgirls

This week has, again, managed to take me through the ringer.  This time, it wasn’t the focus on school that did me in (though, I’ll be honest, grading four of these To Kill a Mockingbird papers tonight it slowly sucking out my soul).  I’m hoping for some time for rest, rejuvenation, and a Mark who isn’t completely sicky sick.

1) Like everyone else on the Internet…

… I’m reading Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler.  It’s just so awesome I can hardly talk about it.  I’ve never read a modern conversion story, and I’m really liking hers.  It’s brutally honest, well-written, and inspiring in all kinds of ways.  For example, it’s been awhile since I’ve been to confession (it’s just what it is, okay? I’m trying to be better), and hearing her story has made me want to be a better Catholic in so many ways; I’m planning on going to confession this weekend.  In addition, the way she talks about realizing what it really means to live for someone else has come to mind multiple times in the past week and has given me pause in difficult moments.  Thank you, Jen, for inspiring me!  If you haven’t picked up her book yet, you definitely should.

2) I’m also reading, for the tenth time,…

… Romeo and Juliet.  One of the things I like about teaching is getting the chance to share stories that I love with my students.  But, one of the downsides is having to read something you aren’t  completely in love with over and over again.  While I love Shakespeare, this is not my favorite play.  I have to almost physically restrain myself from being snarky about how depressed Romeo is in Act I, scene i.  Teenage angst… uuuuuuugh.

3) As I teased in the title…

… I have a new job!  I actually got the job awhile ago (and quite my current job, yipes!), but I was waiting to tell my students until more toward the end of the year (sort of now-ish).  While I’m sad that I won’t be standing in front of a classroom anymore, I am proud to announce that I will be working for an online school teaching English and Literature classes at the middle school and high school level.  This will mean some financial sacrifices on our part, but it means a lot less work for me and I’ll be able to spend MUCH more time with Mark.  I’m nervous about being good at my new job and translating my teaching to the online platform, but I know it’s the right decision for my family for right now.  Thank you to those of you who prayed for me while going through that discernment process — it helped so, so much!

4) Prayers for…

… my current coworkers.  Things are a little stressed at school, and people are starting to feel it.  If ya’ll could offer up some prayers for them, that would be amazing.  Thanks.

5) Mark is still…

… sick.  As I kind of mentioned above.  He was pulling at his ears and all cranky and stuff on Tuesday, so Ryan took him to the doctor on Wednesday morning.  He got a bill of “there’s nothing for him to do, we just have to wait it out”.  Then, we went BACK today (because, apparently to Mark, I’m out to ruin his life) for his well-child appointment.  Where he got SHOTS.

I am not on his list of favorite people today, for sure.

6) Like uncle, like nephew.  

Recently, I’ve been talking with my mom and my sister about how much Mark is like my brother John.  When John was younger, he loved nothing more than to go outside.  He would bang on the door to the backyard and yell “Side!  Side!” over and over again.

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My brother also couldn’t eat enough bananas.  My mom put the bananas on top of a small cabinet (near the back door, now that I think about it) and John would cry for the “Nanas!” all the time.  If Mark would get his way, he would only eat bananas all day every day.  You and I both know this would be the Worst Plan Ever, so I limit him to a few pieces every day.

7) #bringbackourgirls

If you haven’t been hearing about the tragedy occurring in Nigeria with the schoolgirls being kidnapped, you can read about it here.  While I’m not entirely sure that the whole hashtag movement is really going to make a difference, I do know that the power of prayer is amazing.  Pray for the girls, their families, and their abductors.

If you want to pray for a specific girl, you can choose from the list.  I’ll be praying for Ruth Amos.  Pray that they all return to their families and are safe.

If you want to link up or read the other 7QTs, you can go read Jennifer’s post (which is always good, but is particularly funny today!).

Five Faves (vol. 9): Teeeeeeething.

Mark is still sick.  I don’t think he has croup anymore (can it just go away like that? because I think it might have), but he’s all snotty and coughing and teething and hating on all kinds of stuff.

And, oh, the teething.  He’s working on his fourth tooth (top front left) and it’s a-killin’ him.  What better way to show my solidarity with him than by posting my Five Faves of Teething Things?  Andherewego… (P.S. — There are almost no pictures because I’m pretty sure you know what 90% of these things look like.  And, plus, Mark making the suck-fish face looks exactly the same, no matter what thing he’s sucker-fish-facing on.)

1) Frozen Bagels

Easy.  Get some mini-bagels and put them in the freezer.  I’ve found that the wheat ones work the best.  They just tend to defrost faster than the white flour ones.  Baby then can gnaw on them as they get softer and it’s great.

Some people tie a string around them and tie the other end to the high chair so that when the baby tosses the bagel, it doesn’t go on the floor.  Mark just starts eating the string.

Sigh.

2) Frozen cucumbers

Pretty much the same as above, just slice them in about 1″ slices.  Make sure you take it away from babe before it gets too soft and they can choke on the seeds and skin.

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Look, Mom! No hands!

3) This teething ring thingy

I don’t know what it is, but Mark only likes this teething ring.  We keep it in the fridge and it’s great for bringing him down from his hysterical “oh-my-gosh-my-mouth-hurts!” panic attacks.

I think he likes that the water part is cold, but the part that he hangs onto (the blue part in this picture) actually warms up pretty quickly.  Mark hates holding things that are cold.

4) Doors, cabinets, etc. 

I always know when Mark is teething because he tries to eat EVERYTHING.  Most especially, he likes to try and eat things that he couldn’t possibly get in his mouth — doors, windows, the dishwasher, etc.  He tries to gnaw on them with his sucker-fish face.

This is not as attractive or as sanitary as it sounds.  Also, never in my life did I think I would utter the words, “Stop sucking on the oven door!”

5) Sophie the Giraffe

I know, you can’t read a “list of things to buy for baby” where this isn’t on the list.  I, too, was skeptical.  “No way am I ever paying that much for a teething toy!”  If you learn nothing else from being a parent, you learn that saying you’re never going to do something means that you’ll be doing that exact thing in a month.  So it was with Sophie.  The price went down on Amazon, I had a gift card, and not that long later, Mark was happily gnawing away on the giraffe’s head.  As one does.

Five Faves isn’t being hosted on Moxie Wife this week, so you’ll have to head over here instead.  

Open Letter to a Mom Coming Back to Work

A friend of mine is just returning to our school after being on maternity leave for the last couple of months with her little one.  Having gone through the struggles of returning to work myself, I dashed off a quick note to her to share that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  This letter is very loosely based off of that note.  

Hi Mama,

Welcome back!  I know that you are full of all kinds of conflicted feelings and emotions right now.  I want you to know that I get it.  I want you to know that I’ve made it to the other side.  I want you to know that there are so many women out there who feel or have felt exactly as you do right now.

First, let’s talk about all the adults that you now find yourself surrounded by.  They are all excited to see you back at work (even if you’re still a little wary about the whole thing).  They all want to come by and tell you hi and ask how your little one is doing.  This is a little complicated, though, isn’t it?  On the one hand, all you want to talk about is your baby (they are, after all, the Most Important Thing).  But, if you start thinking about that cute little squishy face that someone else is holding and cooing at right now, you’re going to lose it and start crying (maybe even just reading that made you cry).  It’s okay.  Every single mom (and some of the dads) that you run into at work have gone through or are going through the same thing.  Some will communicate it with a knowing glance or a gentle touch of the shoulder so as to not ask all of the Direct Questions (how is she? is he smiling yet?) that will cause you to break down.  Just know that we all get it and we’re thinking about you and hoping you get through this day, this hour, away from your baby.

You will spend a significant amount of this time away worried about your baby.  And, if you’re a breastfeeding mama, much of this worry will come from pumping.  You’re going to feel overwhelmed with concerns like, Am I maintaining enough of a supply?  Do I have all of the parts for my pump?  Is it all going to work?  What if I have less time to pump than I thought I did?  What if one of the pieces of the pump malfunctions?  What if I forget the caps to the little bottles?  And on and on and on.  Pumping is stressful and if, like me, the only time you have to pump is during lunch, you’re going to find it hard to relax (as all of the websites will tell you to do) as you’re scarfing down your extra-large salad because you’re more hungry now than you were when you were pregnant.

I wish I could tell you it’s going to get better.  Instead, I can only tell you that it gets more tolerable.  It’s never going to be easy for you to leave your baby with someone else.  But, you’ll be better about knowing that it’s what you need to do for right now.  You’ll get through it.

Finally, let’s think about the things you’ll get to experience that full-time stay-at-home-moms don’t get to.  You’ll get to see the smile on your child’s face when they see you walk in the door.  Later, when they’re older, they’ll run to you because they’re so excited to see you.  You’ll have the experience of them telling you what they did that day and dragging you around to show all of the different things they played with.  You’ll watch them meet all kinds of new friends and see them navigate their social world all on their own.  You’ll see them learn a kind of independence and an ability to be comfortable with different people from an early age.  You have all of these great things before you.

But, you don’t need to worry about that right now.  All you need to worry about is getting through this next day so you can get home and snuggle your baby.  And you will.

-Ann

Croup. Boo.

Mark had such a great time for his birthday that he proceeded to be a little sick monkey the next couple of days.

He had a bit of a cough when he got up on Friday morning, and then was making the dreaded “seal bark” cough by last night.  He woke up just once, poor thing, with his coughing at about 5am.  I snuggled him and got him to go back to sleep for a couple of hours.

I, of course, didn’t really sleep at all last night once I knew what he had.  I even turned the sound on for the monitor to make sure I could hear him when he coughed.

Poor Mark.  So, no update or pictures of the sicky (is there anything sadder than a sick child?).  But, prayers and good thoughts for a quick recovery would be much appreciated!

Seven Quick Takes: Celebrating Mark turning one!

I know, I already gushed in yesterday’s post about how I can’t fathom the idea of being the mother of a one-year-old (and, yes, that trend will probably continue with every birthday from here until the end of time).  But, I also promised that today’s post would be all about Mark.  So, here it is!  Seven quick takes on the man being ONE! (Note: because I wanted this post to actually be live on his real, true birthday… all of these photos are unedited.  Sorry.  Sometimes life is like that.)

1) This last weekend, we had a party for Mark. 

We chose to have the party the weekend before is actual birthday because my family was in town for a wedding and that way they got to celebrate with us, too.

A few pictures from the awesomeness:

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We had lots of people come and it was great to see everyone and all were overly generous with their gifts and love as always.  It was a great time!

2) Mark’s current favorite toys.  

As I mentioned, people were very generous AND Mark is the only grandkid on both sides of the family, so… he was a little spoiled.  These toys are his current faves.

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3) I got my crafty on and made this poster.  

Okay, this technically doesn’t have Mark in it, but it’s all about how awesome he is and all of the things that he likes and does right now.  I got the idea on Pinterest — I take no credit whatsoever for coming up with the idea myself. (Also, note: it’s not really cut off like this.  I had to do it that way to take his name off of the top.  Sorry!)

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4) We got to hang out with Mark’s birthday twin!

Peanut ALSO turned one today!  She and her mom came over and we tried to do a photo shoot, but the babies weren’t really wanting to hold still at all today.  Eh.  What can you do, right?  (Also, they really do like each other… they go through this weird period of feeling like they have to meet each other all over again.)

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5) Cake smash!  

Mark smashed his cake on his high-chair at his party, but I decided to let him do it again today, but with just his diaper on and on the floor so he could really go to town.  Ryan and I decided that we would jump in on the fun, too.

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6) The big present from Mama and Dada.  

I found this at a consignment sale a couple of weeks ago and thought it might be fun for Mark.  He seems to like it!

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7) I know that there should technically be a 7th thing, but I can’t think a think.  

Seriously, when did birthdays become so draining?  Whew!  This Mama is going to bed!

If your’e wanting to stay up and party with the party people, check out the other Quick Takes People!