Thursday, September 15, 2016

Family Photos & a (Final) Moving Announcement!

+JMJ+

Dear summer, where did you go??? The blog has been dormant these past few months, but we have certainly been busy with all kinds of fun celebrations and family time - like both of the boys' birthdays, a vacation in the Carolinas, and all kinds of new experiences for Gabriel, including a "Mommy and me" summer swim class, starting gymnastics classes (he loves it!), and beginning a Catholic cooperative preschool one day a week at a friend's house.

It's been a remarkable time in our lives in a lot of ways, and I'm very pleased that we were able to carve out an hour to get some professional photos taken of our family back in August. The last time we took family photos we were living in Pennsylvania, Gabriel was 15 months old, and I was in the first trimester with Peter! Now, less than two years later we are outside of Boston, Gabriel is three years old, and baby Peter is 15 months already (14.5 months when the photos were taken). Incredible.

Here are a handful of my favorites, with all photo credit going to Alex Peacher.








If you've been following our journey for awhile, you'll remember that we have moved a lot as we have followed my biomedical engineer husband's career in consulting. But, the kids' milestones are not the only big changes that have been happening around here this summer....

Without further ado, I am pleased to announce that my husband has accepted a full-time position in North Carolina...! This, of course, means moving away from some of my family that is in Boston (which is undoubtedly bittersweet), but I'm very confident that our Midwestern hearts will find peace and joy as we seek out new community and opportunities down South.

Someday I will get around to writing this story more fully on the blog, because it's one that is truly woven by the Lord's hands. Divine Providence has slowly been pushing us toward this place and this decision for several months - long before we could even possibly know.

I cannot wait to see what He has in store for us down South, nor can I wait to finally set down some roots and let them grow deep. Thank you in advance for any prayers you send our way as we embark on this latest adventure!

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.” 
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend in Philly

+JMJ+

To say that my blogging slowed down after Peter was born would be quite the understatement. Believe it or not, our little Peter baby turned one year old last week!!! I have plenty to say and lots of photos on that topic, but because I'm a tad bit obsessive about documenting things in chronological order (I am my own worst blogging enemy, I know) I feel the need to first back up a bit to Memorial Day....

Before I dish about our long weekend, I should go ahead and give a little disclaimer that yes, I do know what Memorial Day is all about and there's no doubt I'm grateful for the men and women that sacrificed their lives during their military service. We managed to honor and pray for those men and women in our family prayers and take a little vacation over the holiday weekend (why is it that I feel the need to point out the obvious - that you can do both - so that no one on the internet accuses me of not having a patriotic heart? Le sigh).

He had SO much fun identifying ALL the American flags on our road trip

Anyway.

We have already been living near Boston for a year and a half (the longest we have lived somewhere in our married lives!), but I'm happy to say that we've been able to maintain solid friendships with much of the incredible community we had during our nearly-a-year stint in Pennsylvania.

We were blessed to see a good number of our Philadelphia friends when we journeyed to participate in the World Meeting of Families (remember that time we saw Pope Francis and attended a papal Mass? So does our 2-year-old!! No regrets) and a couple of them have even visited us in Boston, but we decided a long time ago that we should make a trip in the spring and Memorial Day weekend worked quite nicely.

Since we used to live outside of Philly, we didn't feel the need to go about all the "touristy" things; rather, our main goal was to see as many friends as time and circumstances would allow. When we weren't busy whiling away the hours chatting and laughing with friends in our Airbnb (which was SO much better for our family than a hotel, by the way) we allowed ourselves to get nostalgic by driving around our old stomping grounds.

Random family photo from a bit of unexpected down time when NEITHER
of the boys napped when they should have. Still (mostly) smiling!

On Sunday morning we went to our old parish for Mass which brought back so many fond memories! Naturally, we took photos and made sure to visit the Holy Family and Padre Pio statues we used to stop by after every single Mass.



In the other chapel they had a gorgeous display of Our Lady, Undoer of Knots and I wrote down my own message and added it to everyone else's on the knotted display.


Then, Divine Providence blessed us in a completely unforeseeable way when we had a last-minute idea to check the wait time for the BEST restaurant we were (still are) in love with; we rarely ate there because the restaurant is typically packed with a ridiculous wait time that is beyond unreasonable with small children. Lo and behold...there was zero line and we got seated immediately!



Waiting for the most heavenly food to soon appear at our table

Just trust me when I say that everything about our lunch scenario was undoubtedly a small miracle. And delicious. So, so delicious.

After lunch stroll through the old borough

By Monday morning we had seen everyone we could for the weekend, so we took a crazy chance at getting caught in horrific return traffic by spending the morning at Philadelphia's Please Touch Museum and leaving in the early afternoon. The museum was awesome, the kids had a blast getting all their wiggles out before a day in the car, and the drive home was 2 hours shorter than it had been on Friday! Win, win, win.

Probably his favorite activity of the day (that he did multiple times) because hello, it's an excavator
Part of a traveling Curious George exhibit
BROTHERS.

Picking out his groceries (and yes, he got to scan them, too!)

Truly, if you have young children and find yourself in Philadelphia you should make time for this hands-on museum. They had multiple infant/toddler playgrounds that were great for both the boys (especially baby Peter), the staff was incredible, and Gabriel got to touch, climb, and simply play to his heart's content (at least until lunch, after which we had to hit the road).

The Please Touch Museum was certainly a highlight of our trip, but hands down the best part was catching up with some incredible people we are blessed to call our friends (including Gabriel's very first playmate other than his cousins - who he is old enough to have real conversations with now!).

The long weekend shared with such kind, supportive friends in a place we adore truly invigorated our hearts in all the best ways which I cannot find sufficient words to describe.

I hope your Memorial Day was equally blessed! And may the Lord grant eternal rest to all those we remember on that day and forever.

"You won't understand the unabashed power of a community until you're a part of one."
-Anonymous

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Big News Around These Parts...

+JMJ+

Nope. Not a pregnancy announcement! But can you believe that sweet baby Peter is 11 months old?! Yesterday I realized that Gabriel is already 2 years and 9 months - which means he could actually attend a Montessori pre-school if we wanted to go that route (what?!). But I digress....

The main reason I have neglected the blog for a couple of months has a bit to do with this thing called being a mommy to small children, but much more to do with the fact that...I have a job!

No, I haven't changed my Stay-at-Home Mom (SAHM) status; instead, I have found something flexible that I'm passionate about and wanted to pursue in my free time. As of last month I am now an Independent Consultant for a great company, Pure Haven Essentials!



Pure Haven Essentials (PHE) provides everyday personal care and household products that are the safest on the market. Everything is 100% non-toxic, cruelty-free, gluten-free, made in the USA, and nearly all the products are vegan as well. As a consultant I get to inform people about harmful chemicals in products, help them learn how to become ingredient detectives (and therefore better-informed consumers), and teach them about the safe and effective alternatives PHE provides!

If you would be open to learning more about this toxic chemical issue or about our products specifically, I would LOVE for you to consider attending my upcoming Facebook Party (click on the link for the official event invitation)!





All of the other parties and workshops I present at are more local and in person, so this online party is an exciting, one-time event I've decided to host in order to share this information with my friends and family that are far away as I work on launching my business. It will contain the same information I would share with you in person, but it's broken down into 10 short videos and I am giving away a FREE PRODUCT to whomever participates in and wins the raffle!

I recently added a new tab to my blog explaining a bit more about our non-toxic products and mission, but other fun ways you can learn more about Pure Haven Essentials include "liking" my business page on Facebook, browsing my personal website, or simply asking me for more information! :)

I sincerely hope that none of this information comes off like a sales pitch, because I genuinely think our products are amazing and am SO happy to pursue this latest endeavor and share about it with others! I adore my children and am beyond grateful to stay home with them, but I'm also elated to have a new role that utilizes many skills that don't necessarily get put to good use during this stage of my life as a mother with young kids.

Thank you SO MUCH in advance to any of you that choose to attend my online party. I cannot wait to share some information and products with you that could quite literally change your life. I would be so humbled if you would join me on this journey!

"Almost every successful person begins with two beliefs: the future can be better than the present and I can make it so."
-Anonymous

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Celebrating Motherhood

+JMJ+

What a week. The boys got hit with a mysterious 2.5 day fever and it rained for at least 4 days straight. Being cooped up with whiny little sickies doesn't exactly bring out the best mother in me, BUT I was given so many chances to try again. To be more patient. To apologize when the crying and whining from the stubborn toddler with self-inflicted hunger loses his cool and I lose mine, too. To be kind or present or playful when I am just so tired from the sick baby waking me 5 times at night. To ask the Lord for help. 

And here we are. 


Some (all) of us are still tired, but we made it through. The boys still know they are fiercely loved and both of them still fight to climb into my lap at the same time. This is what motherhood looks like for me right now and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

In honor of Mother's Day, I would like to take a moment to recognize and honor that motherhood can take many forms - some of which are invisible to the naked eye. This day brings a mixed bag of emotions for women as some cope with the loss of a mother, the loss of a child, feeling overwhelmed by their abundant fertility, or longing to know what it feels like to have a baby to call their own. I think Simcha Fisher got it right with her advice for priests on this secular holiday when she said, 

"I really do think you can thread the Mother’s Day needle without getting poked if you offer something like the following blessing before the end of Mass: 
On this Mother’s Day in May, which is Mary’s month, we remember that our Blessed Mother was honored above every other human being besides Jesus Himself when she was asked by God to bear His Son. We ask God’s blessing on all women, because all women, no matter what their state in life, are specially privileged to bring Christ into the world. Mary is our model in joy and in suffering, in trust and in sorrow. We ask Mary to intercede for our earthly mothers and for all the women who cared for us, and we ask the Holy Spirit to increase our love so that we will always honor the women in our lives. We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen."

While I'm at it, I might as well give Michael a little shout-out when I say: thank God for the man behind the above photo who lovingly protects and provides for us every step of the way! Your love has helped me become more wholly myself than I ever was before I became a mother.

May you all have a blessed Mother's Day! 

"To be a mother is a great treasure. Mothers, in their unconditional and sacrificial love for their children, are the antidote to individualism; they are the greatest enemies against war."
-Pope Francis

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Peter: 0-9 Months

+JMJ+

I always told myself that I would do my best to document things for ALL my children as well as I have done for Gabriel (my firstborn). You know - the photos, the baby book, the videos, and even writing down milestones. Part of me actually thought I could jot down monthly updates for Peter just as I used to for Gabriel...but then Peter was born and reality hit. In those early days I could barely blog about anything, let alone find the time to organize photos and write down all the details of Peter's daily life. However, I am happy to report that I have still managed to take lots and lots and lots of photos and videos. 

I wasn't able to write monthly updates, but I decided to instead write up a "months 0-3" post...which slowly turned into "months 0-6"...and has officially become "0-9...that is almost entirely photos."

Peter baby, just know that all the time I didn't spend writing monthly blog updates about you has been well-spent snuggling with you, playing with you, or resting so that I can (hopefully) be as energetic and engaged as I can for you and your brother.

Without further ado, let's see how this boy has grown!

The First Few Weeks

From the earliest of days we learned a few things that would mostly ring true even as Peter got older:
  1. He barely cried; at night when he would wake up to nurse he would just make little grunting noises and gradually got a bit louder if I didn't wake up right away.
  2. He was incredibly patient which quickly led me to start calling him "patient Peter"; I always had at least 5-10 minutes from the time he got hungry to wrap up whatever I was doing (very helpful with a toddler!) before his little grunts would ever escalate to a brief cry.
  3. Peter could EAT. 
In regards to that third point I don't mean that he ate every single hour of the day like his older brother did; I simply mean that he ate a lot and grew rapidly. In the hospital every single nurse commented that he "didn't look like a newborn" and I kept thinking to myself, "but of course he is a newborn! He is so tiny! Crazy nurses." Within a couple of weeks, though, I began to see what they meant. 

This boy never really had that newborn string-bean look. In fact, it was an ongoing theme for the pediatrician to re-weigh him at every early appointment because he literally could not believe he had actually gained as much as he had. Here's a succinct look at his weight gain in those first couple of weeks:
  • Birth weight: 7 lbs. 12 oz.
  • Hospital discharge weight (2 days old): 7 lbs. 2 oz.
  • First doctor's appointment (3 days old - when most babies are still losing birth weight): 7 lbs. 8 oz.
  • Two-week check-up: 8 lbs. 14 oz.
Going home from the hospital!


At his 2-week doctor's appointment

Not even one month old, but looking an awful lot like a 3-month-old already....

One Month

Height and weight: 22 inches (an inch longer than birth) and 10 lbs. 6 oz.

Supposedly it's "impossible" for babies to smile socially before 6 weeks, but both of our boys seemed to do this much earlier. Perhaps you don't believe me and think those smiles were just from baby gas, but people who met Peter in real life agree with me that his smiles seemed to be genuinely of a social nature much earlier. Other than that these days were filled with lots of sweet newborn naps, snuggles, his baptism, and the emergence of several funny baby facial expressions! 

Also, we discovered that Peter was surprisingly okay with "tummy time" and would just relax on his stomach. Basically his entire life he has been a laid-back, patient baby that rarely cries and his response to tummy time was yet another example of this.


Two Months

Height and weight: 25 inches long and 13 lbs. 8 oz.

All newborns sleep a lot in general, but by two months we could tell that Peter seemed to sleep for longer stretches at night than we had anticipated (hooray!). He even managed to fall asleep for a nap simply laying in the playpen all by himself...more than once (what?!). And he continued to astound his pediatrician with his rapid growth. See for yourself:






Three Months

I am sure 3 months was much of the same plus new and improved skills, but I don't recall too many details other than his evermore emerging HAPPY personality. This was also the month we journeyed to Philadelphia and tried our hardest to get him a kiss from the pope; he handled the entire ordeal (including all the hours in the car) like a champ.


He actually wakes up smiling like this. :)


Four Months

Height and weight: 26 inches long and 15 lbs. 6 oz.

Around this time he began rolling from his front to his back! According to my photographic evidence he also discovered and began playing with his tongue quite a bit....




Five Months

I do not remember exactly when Peter began rolling back to front, but I'm sure it happened by 5 months. It was around this time that he began some serious teething - and before we knew it the boy had 2 teeth! All of that teething led to him wanting to be near me alllll night long for comfort and before we knew it we were a full-blown bed-sharing family (which led to much better sleep for my husband, myself, and Peter).




Six Months

Height and weight: 28 inches long and 17 lbs. 10 oz.

At six months we begin introducing some solids into our babies' diets and considering Peter had been showing an interest in foods for awhile this made him very happy! He devoured mashed potatoes, liked pureed carrots, detested pureed green beans, and enjoyed the occasional mum mum (baby rice cracker). He was this age at Christmastime when he flew on his first airplane and we were surrounded by family, so there were lots of great memories made as he met all of my husband's family for the first time.





Seven Months

By this age the bed-sharing was more cumbersome than restful, so when I think of Peter being 7 months I think about all the baby sleep books I devoured (for the record this one is my favorite). Here's a few other highlights from that month:

  • Peter began sitting unsupported for extended periods of time, which led to 7 months being the month of the "pillow fort" (what I called it each time he sat and I promptly surrounded him with pillows).
  • His hair got so long in the front that I gave him his first minor trim!
  • About halfway through the month he learned how to get up on his hands and knees in the rocking/pre-crawling position.



Right before his first hair trim!


Eight Months

We began giving Peter some solid foods at 6 months, but we weren't doing it with consistent frequency. By 8 months he was practically begging us to give him more, so we finally made it a regular thing for him to eat a "real" dinner with us each night (which usually consists of an entire banana PLUS something else). To say that he has an appetite is understatement. ;)

Another major event was that we sleep-trained Peter to help him re-learn how to sleep in his crib near our bed. He handled it well and started having a consistent bedtime and sleeping through the night, only waking once or twice to nurse still.

This month Peter really honed a lot of maneuvering skills so that he was constantly transitioning back and forth from his stomach, being on his hands and knees, and sitting. One day I even found him doing a perfect bear crawl pose! For a couple of weeks instead of crawling forward he continually pushed himself backwards around the room - and just a few days shy of turning 9 months he began crawling!




Nine Months

Height and weight: 28.4 inches long and 18 lbs.

Peter just turned 9 months this week, so I cannot wait to see what this age has in store for us. But here he is in all his glory - the happiest 9-month-old on the block. :)






"Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man."

-Rabindranath Tagore