Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Me and Running

Believe it or not, I used to run.  A lot, actually.  I started running my senior year of high school when I quit volleyball and soccer so I could run cross country and track for my school's team.  To be honest, I wasn't that good, but my natural niche for running--along with my competitive nature--made me good enough to do decent at that level.

The next year I walked onto my college track team at the University of Wyoming, a Division I school.  My race was the 800m (half mile), and I competed in several meets that year.  I mainly saw running as a good way to stay in shape and unfortunately wasn't really motivated to improve as a runner. 

Running at that level is a pretty painful endeavor--it is very mental and requires a lot of discipline.  I felt more pressure than I bargained for because from my perspective I was just doing it for "fun," but my coach expected more than that {and rightly so}.  Even though it was a great experience, I felt a sense of relief when I transferred universities in the middle of my sophomore year and quit running competitively entirely for the most part.
I didn't run consistently again until four years later when I decided to run a half marathon.  After twelve weeks of training, I ran the race with a friend, felt really good while I was running, and finished in one hour and fifty-one minutes.  And then I mostly stopped running again.

Why this trend?  Well, because running isn't fun.  Mostly, not even a little fun.  I mean I have had fun running, and I have had great runs, and I do always start to feel a little better about running five minutes into my run...but it's just so painful {which is mostly my fault--you see, I have a hard time just going out for a leisurely jog.  I have to run hard and fast or else it's just not worth it to me.  My goal is always to get it over with as quickly as possible...and the faster I run, the faster it's over}.   

So basically, this is my relationship with running:  I do it because I can and because it's good for me and because I like to train and set goals--but I don't do it because I love it because I don't love it...but I wish I did.  I don't hate it, but I don't love it either.  I guess it's a love/hate thing, heavy on the hate.    

Thankfully, as a Mom to small children, I feel like my "exercise" is built into my life--lifting weights babies all day, vacuuming {over crumbs}, unloading groceries {with one hand}, carrying two babies up flights of stairs {and bleachers at soccer games}.  And, of course, taking walks {whilst pushing a double stroller}.  These are all great forms of exercise in my book.    
Another reason I don't run {much} anymore is because for the past 4+ years, I have been pregnant, nursing, or both.  I am one of those people who gives up all strenuous exercise during pregnancy {though I am a firm believer in being in good shape for pregnancy and do take a lot of walks}. 

And, after Augustine was born, I never started exercising again because I didn't want to delay the return of my cycle. 

Which is fairly irrational.    

BUT, when your baby is 14 months old, still nurses through the night, you don't have your cycle back, and you are afraid youwillnevergetitbackandneverhaveababyagain you pull out all the, no strenuous exercise for me.

After Gemma was born, however, I consciously decided not to be irrational :).  Cycle or no cycle, I was going to pick a race and train for it.  When Gemma was 16 months old, it was still a "no cycle," but I decided it was time to run.

Now I have run a couple road races in the past few years without training for them. 

It's painful. 

That pesky competitiveness doesn't let me show up and walk/run--oh no, I run way faster than my body is expecting or ready for and then feel like I am going to die, literally afterward.  See, running is fun...

So, this time I trained for 5 weeks and then ran in a 5K.  It was still a challenge and I pushed myself to meet my goal, but my recovery was so much better!  I actually placed first in my age group, which felt great...but is mostly comical and doesn't say much about my running.  It was a pretty small race, after all, and at 30 years old, I got the advantage in the 30-39 age group.  Still, it gave me hope that I still had a little something left, if I ever decided to become a runner again.

So, anyone who is thinking about becoming a runner, do it!  It might not be fun {or maybe it will for you}, but you CAN do it.  Just one foot in front of the other over and over and over...and it really does feel great when you finish!  Really!       

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


*This was from Labor Day 2011 when I was pregnant with Gemma. Somehow it got lost in the draft box {...with 48 of its friends...I'm so bad at blogging}.

Last Monday {Labor Day}, Luke and I thought it would be fun to rent a boat and spend some time on the lake in our neighborhood.  As we were approaching the rental stand--beach clothes on, picnic and towels in hand--Luke said, "If there's enough wind, we will get a sailboat; otherwise, we'll just get a paddle boat."  Because what fun would sailing be without any wind, right?  Right??

After speaking with the boy renting out the boats, Luke decided to go with the sailboat, which I was excited about.  I have enjoyed sailing the few times we have gone before, and with Augustine on deck, a paddle boat seemed like a lot of work.

So, off we went.  Augustine and I munched on our lunch, while Luke attempted to eat his sandwich--as he steered with one hand and magically balanced our boat across the water with the other by pulling and releasing a rope.  For those who haven't been sailing {with an amateur}, it requires a fair amount of concentration and focus.  I had to spoon fed Luke his pasta salad and take over the steering ever-so-briefly while he popped open his bottle of hard cider, but before we knew it a half an hour had passed and we were uneventfully on the other side of the lake.

That's where the trouble started.

In an effort to go perpendicular from where we had come, Luke maneuvered the rope and steering rod over and over again...but each time we could only get so far before having to catch the wind going the other way, resulting in our little boat doing circles for about 30 minutes.  At that point, Luke gave up on venturing into that part of the lake and we started heading back to shore. 

Up to this point, none of us felt like our lives or livelihood or good humor had been threatened.

Now is probably a good time to mention that Augustine started the boat ride wearing a t-shirt, diaper, and swimsuit, but after a few false "potty" alarms, in which I took off everything below his waist and held him over the side of our moving sailboat to do his business, we decided to leave him naked for awhile.  BUT awhile after that, we couldn't believe that he still hadn't peed, so we put his diaper back on just to be safe. 

Sure enough, only minutes later, I reach down to feel his diaper, and the warm sensation tells me that he has just peed {we are in the midst of potty training}.  "O'well," I think, "we are on a boat, so it's not like he could have gone on the potty anyway." 

So, here we are, on the opposite end of the lake from where we started, trying to get back to the dock.  I figured 30 minutes out, almost 30 minutes going in circles, and now 30 minutes back.  Ain't no thing. 

But it didn't turn out that way.  In fact it took us two hours, nearly capsizing on several occasions, Luke peeing in his empty cider bottle while sailing through rough waters, me nursing Augustine through the worst of the waves, a light rain, and some threats on my part to get back. 

Let's just say there was definitely enough wind!  

And what ever happened to Augustine and his diaper?  Well, like I said earlier, I knew he peed in his diaper, but then he was squatting down in the boat to play in the water that spilled over the edge of the boat when we nearly tipped {more than once}, making his diaper soggy and inflated.  At some point Luke noticed and said, "Augustine's diaper looks really wet!"  "Yeah, he sat in some water and made it balloon," I said, while flippantly reaching over with one hand to take it off for his comfort.  And, let me just tell you, there was a lot more than pee and pond water in that diaper...and now it was all over my arm!  By the time we got back, we all needed a shower...and I needed therapy.

*Day 3 of the 7 day blogging challenge down.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: A Trip and Family Culture

Ok...bear with me.  I know it's not Friday anymore.  It's Monday.  But, I was hoping to get some more pictures for this post before I published it since I took, you know, one over the course of four days.  But since no one can get those pictures to me for awhile, I am just going to post this anyway.  Take that Day 2 of the 7 day blogging challenge.  I got this--totally got this :)  

1)  I took the kids to Massachusetts to visit my husband's family last weekend because he was on a long road trip for soccer--go ahead, tell me I am the daughter-in-law of the year.  A self-proclaimed martyr right here.  I kid, I kid {sorta}.  

2)  While we were spending our days cooling off in the pool, walking the mall, playing in the sand, visiting the aquarium, and eating ice cream like it was our job, my hubby was adjusting to a three hour time zone change, traveling from VA to Phoenix to LA to Vancouver, playing three soccer games in five days, and being generally exhausted.  On the bright side, being away from Gemma home meant he was sleeping through the night, which is always more than I can say.

3)  In all seriousness, spending time with my in-laws can be quite stressful for me, but I had this amazing Confession the day before we left for our trip {Thank God for that}, and I think it really helped.  I went into the weekend encouraged to have a positive attitude and inspired to be charitable, patient, meek, and merciful.  I wouldn't say I knocked the ball out of the park in practicing those virtues, but just having them on my mind and praying for them did seem to make a difference.  Baby steps.

4)  Augustine's favorite part of the trip was visiting the New England Aquarium.  Both he and Gemma love all things fish.  His eyes were glued to the tanks as he excitedly identified several of the fish he has seen in books--and, of course, in Finding Nemo {pretty cute when he shouts, "it's Nemo!!" but even better when he shouts, "it's a powder-blue surgeonfish!!"  Thank you very much, Animal Encyclopedia}.       

5)  My favorite part of the trip {in close contention with eating ice cream from Dairy Twist every night...} was watching the kiddos interact with their aunts/uncles/grandparents.  In the past, they have both been shy and clingy during our visits, but this time {thanks to Skype?}, they both seemed pretty comfortable just doing their thing and enjoying the family. 

6)  Perhaps on this trip more than any other, I realized how differently my husband and I were raised.  I am not here to say which way is better, as I am sure there are pros and cons to both of our upbringings, but as a psychology major, it is really quite intriguing.  {Obviously, parental/family influences are huge, not to mention the impact of culture/geography--growing up in the midwest vs the east coast}.

7)  Some of the differences seem really minute, like the fact that my husband's family never locks their doors, or even shuts them for that matter.  And then you have my family where everything was always locked {totally developed some OCD up in here}.  And there then are some weightier issues that would be boring to talk about here but that I definitely have opinions on.  I want to sit down with Luke and decide how we want those issues {and even the minute ones} to look in our family.  I want to write out a "family culture."  A mission, of sorts, to outline what is good and acceptable and expected and normal for us.  A little family identity, if you will.  I think that's important.

This is day two for me of the seven day blogging challenge hosted by Jen.  I wanted to join the party sooner...but, alas, my computer was broken.  It has been great reading blogs all week via my iPad, but typing on my iPad?  No time for that!     


Sunday, July 28, 2013

What I Wore Sunday: Mint

Happy Sunday, Ladies!! 

This morning our family enjoyed blueberry pancakes before Mass.  As we had run out of the "just add water," variety, I whipped up some of these {+blueberries}, and they were amazing!  Both my little ones gobbled them up--slathered in a think layer of peanut butter, of course, because that's how we do it around here.  As an added bonus, the recipe uses half whole wheat flour, as well as apple sauce instead of oil--a keeper for sure.

We decided last minute to attend the 8:30am Mass instead of the 11am Mass, so I only had 20 minutes to get the kids and myself ready!  Since I didn't have a lot of time, I grabbed the dress I just bought to wear to my brother-in-law's rehearsal dinner { less than two weeks!  So excited for Christian & Jacquie!}.  I tried it on at Marshell's, whilst corralling my two youngsters into the dressing room stall over.andover.andover.  At one point, I did have to run out of the dressing room with my shirt half off to grab an escapee.  Fun. 

Amid the chaos, I was able to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and I fell in love with this dress.  I really like the color, and it makes me feel feminine.

 Dress: Pinky{?} via Marshell's
Chunky Heels: Merona via Target
Earrings: handmade from New Mexico--Christmas gift from my aunt
Bracelet:Stella & Dot--raffle prize at MOPs
Ring: Francesca's
Little Miss is wearing a dress from Children's Place.
In his homily, our priest cited an article he read about the plight of America {sorry, I don't remember the source--I was listening, whispering a book to my baby, and trying not to be drawn on by my toddler all at the same time ;)}.  Basically, the author of the article suggested that we are a nation of hedonism, relativism, and materialism {and one more equally uplifting -ism that I can't remember right now}.  As depressing as it was, I know there is truth to it. 

He also mentioned that Princeton professor, Peter Singer {the same winner who supports infanticide}, believes that anyone who prefers the human species to any other species is guilty of "speciesism," in the same vein as racism {gag me}. 

On the bright side, he also talked about Pope Francis' beautiful new Encyclical, "Lumen Fidei" ("The Light of Faith").  You can read an overview of the encyclical here.      

Hope you all have a great Sunday!  Visit Fine Linen and Purple for more WIWS!

My computer has been broken for the past month or so...making it impossible for me to blog.  However, I have been reading blogs galore, via my iPad and have really been wanting to participate in Jen's 7 days of blogging I am starting today!  Wish me luck!   

Sunday, June 30, 2013

What I Wore Sunday {4}

Hello Ladies! 
I am looking forward to seeing what you all wore to go see our Lord today!  I need some inspiration, as I am experiencing a bit of a drought in the fashion department.  When we moved to VA, we only brought what we could fit in our Toyota Camry, in between the space taken up by the four of us.  I left a lot of clothes and shoes [as well as access to my sister's closet] behind.  Also, our budget is super tight right now, so I am not doing much clothes shopping at all. 
Today I wore a repeat outfit [except with different shoes and earrings ;)], but here are some WIWS pics from March that I had in my draft box but never got around to publishing.     

Cutest little koala baby ever!

"I'm going to do spaghetti legs until you pick me upppppp!"

Our priest gave an inspiring homily today about what it means to be truly free.  Our culture's view of freedom is basically being able to do what you want to do when you want to do it.  Whereas, a Christian view of freedom is being able to choose to do what one ought to do.  The opposite, of course, is being a slave to sin.  I feel like I am preaching to the choir, as many of you may have heard a similar talk at some point, but I came across this really good article that you should all read :). 
Here is a little excerpt:
Oftentimes we say, "Well, you know, because society says it’s okay, it’s okay." That is not true. All of us know what adultery does to families. All of us know that we are restrained from going up to another person and slugging that person in the mouth. There are consequences for those actions and society controls those actions, because it is a failure to love one’s neighbor. If we begin to tamper with human life and to say, "Well, this older person’s life is no longer valuable, therefore we’re free to kill her" or "This person’s suffering is so great, we’re free to kill him," where does it stop? How do we stop it? We’re the ones determining the value of the human person. Based on that kind of thinking, one can justify Nazi Germany, one can justify an act of terrorism, because humans are free to choose to do those actions. 
~Archbishop Samuel Aquila [written in 2004 when he was Bishop in Fargo]     
Deets on the clothes:
Sheer-ish top: Target, I believe
White tank underneath: Ambiance
Pants: Express
Shoes: NY & Co
Earrings: Old Navy
Bracelet: no idea...I've had it forever
Gemma is wearing a beautiful dress that was a gift from the Mom of one of my good friends.
She looks so fancy and pretty in it :) 
Have a great week!  Thanks to Fine Linen and Purple for hosting.

Friday, June 28, 2013

7 Quick Takes Sunday: Cute Videos + Random Rambling

1.  Gemma has a thing for her Daddy.  She lights up and gets really excited when she sees him.  It's precious.  Last weekend at his game, she went crazy when they introduced the players and Luke walked onto the field, so I decided to have a friend record her reaction this week...and she did not disappoint :).

2.  Luke's good friend and teammate, Henry, also plays for the Ugandan National Team.  He was in Africa a couple weeks ago playing for the team, and he came back with an awesome uniform for Augustine.  He wore it later that day when we went to go kick around the soccer ball.  It a good two sizes too big, but he still rocks it!  I love his finesse attitude after scoring--ain't no thing. 

3.  Our little Gemma is starting to sleep almost through the night {only getting up once to nurse}.  It is so great.  Luke and I should be going to bed earlier and relishing in 5-6 hours of uninterrupted sleep, but we aren't.  Still, it's amazing.

4.  My family and friends {and anyone who has tried calling/texting me} knows I am horrible about answering calls/responding to texts/having my phone with me/having my phone charged.  I can seriously go weeks with my phone on silent mode.  If I'm lucky, I will see it light up and answer it or I will see a missed call and return it.  I often read text messages, answer them in my head, and forget to answer them for real.  It's really bad.  Most often my family reaches me by trying my phone first...and then calling Luke's phone {which he always answers}.  I have been trying to get better about this for awhile but for some reason just haven't made much progress.  Anyone else have this problem and/or suggestions to help me keep my phone with me more often?  It doesn't help that Luke works from home because I can usually talk to him in person, but he is going to be traveling a lot in the next couple months, and I know it would mean a lot to him if I did better with this. 

5.  Several of the ladies from FOCUS are joining me for a Saint Peg Doll Exchange, and I am super excited!  I always want neat, Catholic toys for my kiddos, but they are often hard to find and a group of us are channeling our artistic sides and making our own {just like these that my friend, Mary, made}.  We have each chosen one Saint to paint in exchange for the dolls everyone else paints.  I am still deciding between St. Sebastian {patron of athletes}, St. Augustine {patron of theologians--and beer--and our little man's namesake}, and St. Patrick {patron of Ireland--which holds sentiment for me and the Pro-Life mission I did in Ireland--and my Mom's namesake/Augustine's middle name}.  There are just too many awesome Saints to choose from!  {Saint Gemma would also be in the running, but I think I am intimidated about painting girls--guys seem easier?}.

6.  Luke and I are way behind the times when it comes to popular tv shows {except when it comes to the Bachelor/Bachelorette, in which case we are only a day behind everyone because we have to wait until Tuesday night to watch it online...but we do watch it every.Tuesday.night online because it is just my favorite show...which is a whole other shameful post in itself.  Tangent over}.  Anyway, until a couple months ago neither of us had seen a single episode of Lost.  But now that we are into Season 3, I'm like all excited and nervous and wanting to talk to someone about it...and no one has any idea what I am talking about because they finished watching it in 2010 like the rest of America.  Any other show recommendations out there?  Keep in mind that we don't have a tv, but we have Netflix and I am super easily scandalized {for real}, which is why is took me years to feel comfortable talking about how much I love the Bachelor.    

7.  These are really my quick takes from last week, but by the time I got them finished it was, I just saved them :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!  Go see Jen for more Quick Takes.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Our Surprise +

I wrote this on June 9, 2011, after finding out about our little Gem.  I think it got stuck in "drafts" because we weren't ready to tell people we were pregnant yet...I think it's safe to tell people now ;) 

A few weeks ago, I was so sick and more exhausted than I could ever remember being.  I postponed a trip to my beloved Colorado to see my family over this exhaustion--it was that bad.  Within the previous two months, Augustine had had roseola, a week long stomach bug, two canine teeth cut, and an ear infection...needless-to-say I was getting very little sleep, especially when we throw into the mix that Luke was traveling for soccer off and on throughout this period. 

It all came to a head when Luke was on a five day trip to play games in Charleston and Orlando.  Augustine was sick, I was sick {and I rarely get sick}, and I was so tired I could hardly see straight. 

But things didn't get better when Luke got home.  I was still sick and tired.  Among other ailments, I had a sinus infection and couldn't smell or taste anything for a week! 

One evening, as I was making dinner, I got a tiny whiff of the Ranch breading for the chicken I was making and almost hurled.  A few times that week I had felt nauseous, but Luke and I had attributed it to either taking my antibiotic {for my sinus infection} on an empty stomach or to the fact that I couldn't smell anything right {I somehow thought my nose was confusing my stomach and causing it to be upset}. 

But that night at dinner, after taking a few nibbles of my Ranch chicken, I dramatically picked all of it up off my plate and moved it to Luke's plate in utter disgust.  "I can't eat that!" I said, "It's going to make me throw up!"  Mind you, I couldn't really taste it...but the little bit of flavor that was getting through was not going over well.  Of course, it was a new recipe that neither of us had ever tried before, so I kept telling Luke he didn't have to eat it if it was gross.  But being the great guy that he is, he spent the rest of the dinner convincing me that it really was good {to this day, I have my doubts and really don't think I will ever be able to try that recipe again!}. 

That night, as I rolled over to go to sleep, I realized I hadn't taken my antibiotic that evening.  Normally I would just get up and take it, but that night I was just too tired to even lift my head off my pillow.  "What is wrong with me?" I thought.
In the morning, I thought about taking my medicine again.  But out of the blue I got this nagging feeling that I should take a pregnancy test.  It was a crazy idea.  After all, I {to my knowledge...} had only ovulated twice since becoming pregnant with Augustine in March 2009, and based on my calculations there was no chance that I was pregnant.  But just as the thought went through my head, I saw an empty red, silo cup on the counter and figured it was meant to be.  I grabbed the cup and went straight to my bathroom, knowing that first-thing-in-the-morning pee is always best and that I didn't want to take my antibiotic until I knew it was safe if I was pregnant. 

As I searched for the test under our bathroom sink, I debated whether or not to go get Luke.  Finding out I was pregnant without Luke by my side had never appealed to me, so we always took the tests together...but at the same time, I knew the chances of pregnancy were very low, and I didn't want to hurt his feelings by getting his hopes up.  So as he worked away on his computer in his office down the hall, I took the test. 

Just as I was laying the test down on the counter to watch the results appear, Luke walked into our room and knelt down on the floor, facing away from me, to sort through the laundry basket. 

I couldn't believe it {yet, strangely, could believe it considering my life of late} when a + immediately appeared.  Without saying a word, I walked over to Luke and began tapping him on the back side...over, and over, and over.  He thought I was just messing around and didn't even turn around!  Finally, I said, "Luke!!," waving the test excitedly in my hand.  He looked up completely surprised and thrilled. 
Fear not--this is not my actual pregnancy test.
Suddenly everything made sense.  I wasn't going crazy after all.  I wasn't suffering from a mid-life {quarter-life?} crisis.  I wasn't an emotional, irrational mess for nothing.  There was a reason I was so tired I could barely function, there was a reason I physically removed food from my plate at dinner the night before, there was a reason my immune system was shot.  It's funny because looking back, I knew the only time I had been that tired before was during my first trimester with Augustine...and the only time I had felt that nauseous before {for those of you yet to experience it, it is quite the distinct sensation} was during my first 20 weeks with Augustine.

Since that fateful date, about a week ago, I have been tired and sick and nauseous...and excited and thankful and happy.  We can't  wait to welcome another little one into our family!  Although we don't know the exact due date, due to the fact that we kinda dropped the ball on keeping track of my fertility signs, we suspect the baby will be born in late January or early February.  Once we get an initial ultrasound in a few weeks, we will have a better idea. 

Please pray for us and for the baby!  Thank you!! 

**A little disclaimer**
Please do not let our "surprise" pregnancy deter you from using Natural Family Planning.  Since we were not trying to avoid pregnancy and were, in fact, very much hoping to get pregnant, we were not very attentive to my fertility signs.  We have used NFP very effectively to avoid pregnancy in the past, as well as to achieve pregnancy, and I would recommend it to everyone.  It is a completely natural, healthy, and moral way to space your children when practiced appropriately.  I should probably just write a separate post about it...but in the meantime, if you haven't heard of it, you should do some research on it.   

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

In Case You were Wondering...

I am trying to clean a bunch of posts out of my "draft" box--hence all the posting I have been doing tonight...and will probably continue doing for the next couple weeks. 
Just doing a little house blog cleaning.
Some are really old--like up to four years old--but I figure I may as well publish them anyway.  I don't even know if they will show up in the current newsfeed or if they will just be accessible in the archives.  But happy reading either way!  It turns out I used to actually blog quite a bit...   

Learning this...

(and reminding myself daily):

Cheerfulness is a necessary consequence of our divine filiation,

of knowing that our Father God loves us with the love of predilection,

that He holds us up

and helps us

and forgives us.

Remember this and never forget it:

even if it should seem at times that everything around you is collapsing,

in fact nothing is collapsing at all,

because God doesn't lose battles.

~St. Jose Maria Escriva

I have to remind myself often that cheerfulness is necessary, given my distinction as an awesome daughter of God!! To be God's child and not be cheerful is to live a lie. For what more could one want? God loves me and wants what is best for me. I must trust and not worry.  I must hope in all circumstances, rather than getting upset when little things don't go my way.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

lean not on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

and He will guide you path.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Seventh Month

Mom thinks I changed a lot this month--I had a lot of firsts and seem like such a big boy to her now. I started solids half way through the month. For the most part, Mom offers me food twice a day, but I don't consistently eat yet. Sometimes I eat quite a bit, other times I hardly eat at all. In addition to rice cereal, oatmeal, fruits, and vegetables, I enjoy puffs and yogurt melts (finger foods). I am not at all interested in my mesh feeder yet, but Mom is excited for when I am--it will be so cute! My favorite food is carrots!!
With Aunt Bonnie, Uncle Mike, Aunt Cait, and Tavian in Chicago.
[6.5 months-ish...and, yes, from the same trip as my 6 month post] :)
From the day I started solids, my poops immediately changed. Leading up to starting solids, I was pooping nearly every time I breastfed, and most of the time it would leak out onto my clothes! Mom was doing lots of laundry. Well, the solids have essentially eliminated the leaking diapers...but now my clothes are messy from the food! To help with the mess, toward the end of the month Mom started bathing me every night before bed. I love it, and Mom loves how clean and fresh I smell.

No crawling yet, but I am certainly mobile! With a little maneuvering, I can get almost anywhere I want. Rather than playing on the rug in the living room, as soon as Mom sets me down I almost always roll until I get to the hardwood floor. Mom and Dad used to pick me up right away and put me back on the rug, but now they let me play there...although they don't understand the appeal, especially because all my toys are still on the rug!

Early this month, I didn't sleep too well because I was sick. But lately I have been getting up only twice to eat and that's it. Occasionally I will whine another time, but I can usually get back to sleep myself or with the help of some music.

Although I am trying solids a few times a day, I still nurse every three hours during the day.


Written 7/26/10

Wow! I have been a huge slacker in the world of blogging lately. I wish I had a good excuse, but I can't even come up with one--let alone a good one! Perhaps it is a general slacking in life that is spilling over into the cyberworld...or maybe it is just too hot to blog??
During our September 2010 visit to Colorado.

But just a quick update: Life is Good.

My husband is lovable and supportive and great.

My son is the cutest being I have ever laid eyes on.

And I am thankful each day for my many, many gifts, graces, and blessings.

Hopefully you will all hear from me again soon!

Sixth Month

Another draft that never got published.  In Augustine's voice, btw {knowing that makes the first few sentences significantly less creepy...}.  Written July 2010.

Me and cousin, Tavian, on our trip to Chicago with Mom and Aunt Cait.
Sleeping is definitely my biggest struggle, but even at that it isn't too bad. I continue to wake up and fuss several times a night. My music box helps a lot, and we are kind of in a pattern of me getting up at 10:30/11 pm, 1/2 am, and 4/5 am. If all goes well, the music helps with the first and last waking, and I eat in the middle. Unfortunately, I didn't have my music box in Chicago--although the first two nights were decent, the last two were difficult. My first night back at home was great, but we will have to see how it goes next month...

My morning nap is without fail about an hour and forty minutes after I wake up for the day. It makes going to Mass impossible most days, but Mom knows my sleep is important. I take another nap or two throughout the day, although I don't sleep very well at work {when Mom takes me with her to nanny twice a week}, which makes Mom feel badly.

Eating is still the same as last month: every three hours, with a little cluster feed as bedtime approaches. At the very end of the month, I ate my first solid food: organic whole grain rice cereal mixed with formula (it was my first time having formula, too). The next day I woke up sick, so we will postpone more solids for a week or so.

Mom is amazed at how I can get around just by rolling! I didn't master rolling until the middle of the month, but now I am a roly-poly. Sometimes, Mom will leave me in the middle of a blanket for a few minutes, and when she returns I am off the blanket (sometimes rolled onto the hardwood floor!). Toward the end of the month, instead of sitting in my bouncy seat in the bathroom, Mom let me play on her bedroom floor while she showered.

Friday, June 21, 2013

At Home Preschool

Just over a month ago, Luke suggested that I start a more structured approach to teaching Augustine at home. 

The conversation started when Luke asked me:
"Are you supposed to be, like, teaching him something?" 
Lol. :) 
"Of course, I am," I thought, "And I do."  Luke knows that I spend all day teaching the kiddos in one way or another, so he wasn't being offensive at all {though, truth be told, sometimes I am teaching them the wrong things...sigh}.  Yet, it also made me realize that there was a lot more I could be teaching him if I made it a priority and had a little guidance as to what was appropriate for his age.
What he meant by his question was:
"Maybe you could start doing some preschool lessons at home with Augustine."

Our back door where we hang lots of our preschool masterpieces
and colors, numbers, & letters to practice.
He thought Augustine {and I} could benefit from a more organized and formal curriculum, as opposed to Augustine mainly learning through conversations, observations, explanations, and books.  We read a lot of books.  So I spent like 5 minutes researching online and came across a free curriculum at     

And it's awesome.  If you have a preschool aged child who is not in preschool {or even if your child is in preschool and you want some fun supplemental material}, go check out the site. 
A watercolor "Noah's Ark" and verses to practice.
We have been doing preschool for five weeks now, and Augustine loves it.  Some of the stuff we are learning he already knows {see, I was teaching him something, Luke :)}, but it is still a good review.  We have been doing a ton of coloring, pasting, singing, practicing, and reading!  His mind is a huge sponge, and I had no idea he was ready to do so much learning. 
"Adam & Eve" and A is for ants.
I am planning on adding in one specifically Catholic activity or coloring sheet or song each week just to make it a better fit for our family, but I really love the Christian emphasis already in place.

Salt, glue, food coloring, paper, and water.  Good times.
Augustine is enrolled for preschool two mornings a week in the fall {since you have to sign up for those things like forever in advance}, and while Luke is still leaning toward sending him, I am definitely on the fence.  I am enjoying teaching him at home so much!  If we don't go the "out of the home" preschool route, I will definitely find some other social activities for him to do where he also learns to take instruction from other adults.  But even if we do send him to preschool, I am planning on continuing the abcjesuslovesme curriculum with him at home.

One of the best--and most surprising--consequences of following Luke's suggestion is that I actually feel more productive and less stressed out...even though I am putting more time and effort into our days than I used to.  Feeling like I am doing good by my kids, regardless of the time/energy/etc involved, goes a long, long way in bringing me personal fulfillment and peace.  And I also thrive on the added structure and routine to our days, though we only go by a very loose and totally flexible preschool schedule. 

There you have it, my thoughts on preschool at home in the summer.  Probably a topic that is not on anyone else's mind--because who {especially those with school-agers} would want to think about school in the summer?! :)       

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Soccer Mom

You are never too young to play soccer.
Augustine has been kicking a soccer ball since he could walk,
but since moving back to VA, he has really been into it.
He loves watching Luke play and cheering for him.
During the games he will ask me,
"Daddy just scored?"
 "Daddy get hurt?" 
At the last game he yelled from the stands, 
"Be careful, Dad!"
{He also yelled, "Dad.  Dad!  Hey!  Heeeyyy!!  Daaaddd!!"
It's hard to explain to a three year old that just because he can see his Dad, his Dad can't see {or hear} him...or stop playing in the middle of a game to have a conversation. :)}
At Luke's game a couple weeks ago, Augustine took 7 cents from his pocket to the merchandise trailer, and our sweet friend who runs it let him "buy" anything he wanted.
He wanted a soccer ball.
I can confidently say that at every moment since his birth we have had an average of four soccer balls, of varying sizes and materials {leather, fabric, plastic, etc}, hanging around our house...
but none have had the appeal as the ball he picked out himself.
The night we got it, he was kicking it around with some friends on the field after Luke's game.  Some of the bigger kids dribbled away with it, and he came up to me in the most genuinely sad and concerned way--with his bottom lip trembling and all--and fought to get out the words, "Mom, my ball," with tears forming in his eyes. 
{Anyone who knows my child knows a much more typical
response would include frustration and a loud cry}.
He hasn't stopped playing with it since.
The other day Luke grabbed a Sharpie and wrote
"Gunner Verc"
on it.
I know this sounds crazy, but I had to keep myself from crying.
Watching him share something like soccer with his Dad is enough to make me emotional...
but then when I add in how fast he is growing up and
becoming his own little person
with his own little ball
with his own little name on it...
well, that makes me cry.
I wonder if he will continue to enjoy the game as much as his Dad has. 
The chance of him becoming a pro are very small, but I wonder if he will choose to play in high school--and if his teammates will call him Gunner {his nickname}--or even just, "Verc," like his Dad was called by his teammates.
This whole Soccer Mom thing is getting real, and I love it!
Bring on the orange slices and Gatorade!  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Prayers for Connor

Yesterday morning, the kids and I attended daily Mass.  As the service came to an end, a woman and her daughter quickly made their way to the exit with a large bag full of banana bread.  Then, as each person left the worship area, the lady joyfully handed them a small loaf of bread and asked them to pray for her nephew.  She explained that he was in surgery, and when I asked if there were any special intentions for the surgery, she disclosed that he was 15 years old and had tried to kill himself.  My heart breaks for that boy and for his family.  I am so moved by the way his aunt and cousin petitioned for prayers for him with a simple act of kindness.  Collecting the ingredients, making the batter, baking the bread, buying disposable loaf pans, and labeling them with a simple request took time and energy, but this woman acted out of love for her nephew and out of trust in the power of prayer.  Sometimes I lack in my zeal for petitionary prayer because I figure God knows everything I need already, and if He doesn't grant me something it must not have been His Will.  But the problem with that is that God wants us to come to Him with our desires and prayers--even if He doesn't answer them the way we think He ought to. 

I can tell you I have thought about that young man and his family a lot since receiving the loaf of bread from his aunt.  He has been constantly in my prayers.  And now, I ask you, too, to keep him and his family in your prayers. 

And, if you don't mind, I have one other prayer request...

My aunt and uncle lost their home today due to the fires in Colorado.  Tragically, they are out of the country traveling right now, so they had no chance to grab anything from their home before it was destroyed.  My uncle said on Facebook that all they have are the clothes they are traveling with and one laptop they brought with them.  I have not been able to get them off of my mind today.  I cannot imagine what they are going through--not even being able to grab a photo album or a cherished and sentimental item before losing their home.  Any prayers would be greatly appreciated. 

The power of prayer really is remarkable.  I think God and I will have a coffee date tomorrow morning.  


Friday, May 24, 2013

Family Pictures {Augustine & Gemma} December 2012

These Little People are my world.
He hugs her--a lot. 
Sometimes she likes it,
and sometimes it feels {and looks}
more like a choke hold to her and she screams.
Several times a day, I find myself saying,
"Be nice to your sister." 
"Be gentle."
I can't believe it's starting already...
maybe payback for all the fighting my sisters and I did growing up. 
Is there anything sweeter than the man you love loving on your babies?
Our babies are blessed with an incredible Father.
We just get each other. 
Of course, I would have gladly welcomed a boy or a girl
when Gemma was born, but I am so happy God gave me a girl this time.
I want to do all the things with her that I didn't get to do with my Mom
...and all the other things, too.
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.
You make me happy when skies are grey.
The one who made me a Mama
and showed me that I could love a child
more than I ever knew possible.
Augustine is talking non-stop these days--
sometimes a little too much, if you know what I mean.
When the kids and I were in CO a few weeks ago,
Augustine talked Luke's ear off on the phone.
It was his first legitimate phone conversation,
consisting of more than just, "Love you, miss you, bye."
He talked about his plane ride, soccer, his friends--guy stuff.
Gemma kisses in her sleep--for real.
Whether Luke is going in to rock her in the middle of the night
or I am going in to nurse her,
she often gives us a few sweet kisses on our chest.
Last night, I went in to console her when she was more awake and she said, "hug, hug," and gave me the sweetest hug before she started nursing.
When I raise my voice out of frustration, Augustine often asks me,
"Mom, you a bad guy? {or, "Mom, you a mean guy?}. 
When I say no, he says, "You a nice guy?"
to which I reply, "I'm always a nice guy {ha!}"

He teaches me something{s} every single day--usually about love,
sometimes about dinosaurs or yaks. 
Gemma is full of personality. 
She is a go-getter, determined, and stubborn.
She is an extrovert, always smiling, and earns the admiration of passers-by everywhere we go.

Lately, we have been amused by her saying,
"Your welcome," {instead of "thank you"} every time we give her something. 
It makes Augustine crazy. 
She definitely has him wrapped around her little finger.
Each day when Luke comes home from soccer
she runs to the door with her arms in the air yelling,
"Dada, Dada!!"

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Family Pictures December 2012

In December I cashed in on a great Living Social deal and had our pictures taken professionally.  I love snapping pics of my kiddos almost daily--and I will cherish those spontaneous, candid shots forever--but there is something special about having a professional get behind the lens once in awhile. 

Gemma's face in this one is priceless--
Luke and I look so happy...not so much our children.

We typically go the Portrait Innovations route for professional photos, but I couldn't pass up this great deal, and we ended up with so many wonderful memories captured...and a lot less stress {seriously, I am always on the verge of developing an ulcer by the time I walk out of P.I.--"Here, are the 2,394 pictures I took of your children.  Let's narrow it down to five in the next 15 minutes"?!!?  If you've been, you understand}.
Sometimes they just need a hand to hold.
So as not to overwhelm you with too many pictures all at once, I am just posting family pictures in this post.  I will do three other posts--one featuring the kiddos, one of me and Luke, and one of our Christmas pictures.  If pics are not your thing, you may want to skip my next few posts...but this blog is mainly for me to look back on and remember what life was like at different stages of our marriage and family life, and I definitely want to remember this time in my life.

So it was a little bright out...
I want to remember that we had just moved to Colorado a few months earlier. Gemma was almost one, and Augustine was almost three. We chose to have our pictures taken in an open field with a barn a couple miles from our home. It was chilly out but not too cold for the middle of December.
I wish I could bottle up moments like these and keep them forever.
  Gemma started walking just two weeks later, taking her first steps on New Year's Day and never looking back. Augustine's little mind was a sponge that fall/winter, singing his ABC's, identifying colors, counting. Luke had finished fall training with the Rapids a couple weeks earlier and was adjusting to working full time in the office {at home}. I was loving our new home! Few days went by that the kids and I didn't see Aunt Cait, "T," and "Fawicitee."
We couldn't help but laugh hysterically at Augustine's "smile." 
Every time we said to say, "cheese," he made this face.
 We had just gotten home from a great trip to Minnesota to visit with friends and witness the Baptism of our Godson, Dominic.  We drove through the night both ways--it just seems to be easier that way with wee least a wee baby like mine who really doesn't like her car seat. 
I was wearing a new scarf and new earrings, bought specifically for the pictures--I needed some yellow for our color scheme.  We didn't have a lot of expendable money at that time, and on Christmas morning I realized my hubby had wrapped those items and placed them under the tree for me--clever guy.  Unfortunately, that may have been the last time Gemma let me put a headband on her for more than five minutes without pulling it off. 
*Quick disclaimer: uploading these pictures was a huge pain, and I don't know why.  It took forever--no, seriously.  So, I am not even going to bother with trying to fix that random watermark picture(?) or stress about ending all abruptly.  I just need to get onto the next batch of pics!  

Sunday, May 12, 2013

What I Wore Sunday: Mother's Day

Mother's Day picture with Mother Mary after Mass
Not a great WIWS picture, but it's all I've got.  :)  The dress is from Ross {Surprise, surprise.  Since I pretty much only wear dresses to Mass, Ross is great place to get cute, inexpensive ones that I don't feel bad about if I only wear them a couple of times}.  I won't even go into the shoes and earrings because, well, you can't see them.

I had a great Mother's Day. 
Highlights include:
*the kids sleeping in until 9am, which is unheard of in this house {it must have had something to do with them staying up late for Luke's game last night}. 
*pancakes made by my hubby for breakfast
*a card and dance from my three loves
*staying in my pew with both the kids and my husband during the entire Mass--as in, we didn't have to take a fussy/squirmy baby to the back of the church {I think this was Gemma's Mother's Day gift to me :)}
*M&Ms and coffee for lunch, per my request
*a relaxing and delicious BBQ with friends this evening

Now the kids are tucked into bed, and Luke and I are looking forward to a quiet evening together.

Mother's Day has been a wonderful day for me to reflect on the blessing of Motherhood.  It is not something I take for granted, and I am forever thankful for my sweet children.  As Luke and I pray for another baby in our family {should it be God's Will}, I join in prayer with all those who struggle with infertility or who have lost babies due to miscarriage and still birth.  I also pray for those who have had abortions in the past, for their healing and their conversion of heart.  Being a Mom is hard at times, but I truly can't imagine anything else more rewarding.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mamas, especially my Mama in Heaven.  I know she is looking after me and praying for me incessantly, and she would be just enamored with Augustine and Gemma!!

Go see Fine Linen and Purple for more ladies in their Sunday best!          

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Greetings from VA!

The past month of my life has been quite a whirlwind! Remember how I was saying I needed to take a trip to somewhere warm and sunny and watery and that there was a slight chance we would be moving back across the country?

Well, I booked the trip {to Phoenix = sun!} as a surprise to Luke for his birthday...and about two hours later he told me we were definitely moving and that we needed to be in Virginia the very day that we were supposed to leave on vacation. Um, come again.

I could have stayed another week.
Without giving too much away, I told him that that wasn't going to work, and we ended up going on vacation {yeah!} but driving straight to VA when we got back.

And when I say, "straight," I mean we left Phoenix on a plane at 10pm on a Tuesday night, arrived at the Denver airport just after midnight, loaded up the car, and didn't stop driving {except to pee and eat} until 6am Thursday morning! At which point Luke slept for an hour and a half and then went to soccer practice. We must be crazy.

Thankfully, the kids slept really well both nights we traveled and didn't lose their minds completely during the long, LONG car ride. I remember thinking when we stopped for dinner on Wednesday evening that we must be in the home stretch...only to realize that we had only gone half way. HALF.WAY. 13 hours down, 13 to go. I almost cried.
Reading to his baby in his new bed.
We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived in VA to a fully furnished three bedroom apartment near Luke's practice fields. In an attempt to live simply, we had decided to move across the country in just our Camry, to rent an unfurnished two bedroom apartment, and to borrow or buy off craigslist the furniture that we needed. Perhaps God thought that would really push me over the edge because we were informed last minute that a furnished, three bedroom apartment was being offered to us for the same price as the unfurnished two bedroom! Thank you, Jesus! It wasn't until we arrived that I realized how difficult it would have been to acquire and move all the furniture we would need.
Relaxing with Daddy.
For the most part, we are adjusting well. Augustine misses his friends and that breaks my heart. He often asks if we are going to Tavian's house and many mornings when we leave the house he asks if we are going to "play with friends." Cash and Dominic have also been inquired about, and he lights up anytime we mention any of his cousins, aunts, uncles, or Bapa. He has had fun reuniting with friends at our church Mom's Group and enjoys playing with three little girls who live in an apartment near ours. Last week he was super sick--a high fever and green boogs {like science experiment worthy}, which the {slightly dramatic?} doctor diagnosed as an ear infection, tonsillitis, and strep throat!? Oh my. He was a bit pitiful, but a real trooper considering the circumstances, and was content to watch shows on the computer and drink juice as he recuperated.
Being silly :)
Gemma is Gemma. The cutest and most happy, while simultaneously mischievous and stubborn... plus a finicky sleeper and eater. She is so super lovable though that you just can't help but want to smother her with kisses all day long. She has her Daddy wrapped around her little finger for sure! She loves to be outside, says, "HI!" to everyone who crosses her path, and is very generous with her kisses. She just had her 15 month check up and has plummeted completely off the growth chart for her weight. Thankfully, her pediatrician is not worried--she is extremely active for her age and advanced in her motor and verbal skills. He said a lot of babies who nurse through the night have high metabolisms and aren't super motivated to eat real food if they are still nursing. Meal times are a bit stressful for our family as we try to encourage her to eat, but I am trying not to worry too much about it. I can't believe how much Gemma has changed just since leaving Colorado a few weeks ago. Sigh. Unfortunately, she seems to have caught a mild version of Augustine's illness, as have I. Seriously, the germs of winter/spring 2013 can leave my house anytime they want and NEVER come back again!!

Luke is doing really well with soccer. He is the Captain of his team, and both games he has been here for have resulted in 4-1 victories. And last weekend he got a great assist! Our manager for Little Kicks has been out of town for over a week, so that has been keeping Luke super busy!! He can't wait for her to return. :)

Given that we lived here for over four years and were only away for seven months, moving back to Virginia could be considered more of a "coming home" than a "moving away"--we have many great memories of our first years of marriage and the births of our babies here. Moving to a new part of town than we used to live in and being away from my family {whom I miss dearly} are big transitions, but overall it has been easier than I thought it would be. We already have friends and communities here, and we know Richmond and the surrounding areas really well. Plus, our lifestyle here is so familiar--soccer practice for Luke in the mornings, games on Saturday nights, and many of same activities we used to do {MOPs, church Mom's Group, story time} on weekday mornings. We are no where near being in a "routine" yet...we will probably hit that stride right about the time we move back to Colorado!

Yesterday Gemma and I were messing around with the Ipad, and we started looking through old pictures = not a good idea. I don't feel wanting here on a daily basis, but when I spent a few minutes looking at pictures of the kiddos playing in the backyard and in our Colorado house, I got awfully homesick very quickly. I know the Lord brought us here for a reason, and I feel SO blessed for all that we have here and for this time in VA, but I know it won't always be easy. If you would offer a prayer for our transition, that would be very much appreciated. Specifically, I pray that the kids adjust well and thrive here and that Luke's business ventures do well. Also, I know Luke worries a lot about how we will fare when he travels, so we could use some prayers in advance for that, too. Thank you! I promise to update again soon...real soon ;)