Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Quiz

I got this New Years quiz from Joanna at BabyGatorsDen. (Check out her's one of my favorites!) I thought it was fun, but my sleep-deprived brain had some difficulty coming up with some answers! 

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Became a Mommy of two children under the age of two!
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My New Years Resolution was to get pregnant yes! Check out my 2012 resolutions here
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Well, I did, obviously. Also two of my close friends had babies, one 6 weeks before Joseph was born (a little girl) and one 12 days before Joseph (a little boy). And two of my absolute best friends are set to give birth in 2012!
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Several members of my husband's extended family passed away, along with some family friends of my parents. But nobody in my immediate circle.
5. What countries did you visit?
Just the fact, the only place we went was NY, to visit family.
6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
A weight loss success, and a new job for my husband so we can finally buy our house!
7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
October 13th (Joseph's birthday). 
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Carrying my precious little boy for 9 months, and then delivering him. He was 9lbs 9oz...I consider that quite an accomplishment!
9. What was your biggest failure?
Feeling like i'm not in control of our household. I felt like I was doing great until I had two little ones underfoot. Now so much gets pushed aside...a clean, organized house, meals on the table when Dan gets home from work, thank you notes sent on time, etc. But that's one of my New Year's Resolutions!
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No!! In fact, I only had one cold, at the beginning of my pregnancy. I didn't even suffer from high blood pressure during this pregnancy.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
My smart phone. It has been a life saver during middle of the night feedings. 
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Stephanie's. She has been such an amazing, loving big sister and adjusted very well to such a big change in her little life. There's nothing I love more than seeing her give kisses and hugs to her "Baby Jo-Jo."
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I really don't feel comfortable answering this question on a public blog. But, there was one woman who so completely disgusted me with her behavior, especially the things she wrote on social media networks.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Towards clothes for Stephanie. I need to kick my Gymboree habit before we go broke...
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Being able to expand my family. I have always wanted to be a stay-at-home Mommy and have four children. We're half-way there!
16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
That song...I can't think of the title. But it goes "We don't care about the money, money, money, we just want to make the world dance, forget about the price tag." Stephanie loves this song and sings it all the time. It cracks me up whenever I think about it. 
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Happier
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter. I really, really need to work on losing the baby weight. (And now the added holiday weight...)
c) richer or poorer? Richer. Thanks to our (annoying at times) living situation, we're able to save a lot of money.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Organized and de-cluttered my house. I let it slip too much of the time.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Obsessing over little things that I have no control over. 
Also, spending mindless time on the computer. (I stole Joanna's answer on this one because it is SO applicable to me as well!)
20. How did you spend Christmas?
We spend Christmas Eve at my mom's with her extended family. Then we host Christmas dinner at our house. 
21. Did you fall in love in 2010?
Yes, with my adorable baby boy.
22. What was your favorite TV program?
Modern Family. And Revenge, although I had to stop watching it when Joseph arrived. I can't stay up that late.
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I don't like to use the word hate. But there is someone that I strongly dislike right now. I need to work on getting past certain things. 
24. What was the best book you read?
I read a lot of books before the baby arrived, and honestly not one of them sticks in my mind right now...
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
My ipod. I got it for my birthday last year and didn't really start using it until this year. 
26. What did you want and get?
A new baby :)
27. What did you want and not get?
A house
28. What was your favorite film of this year?
We went to see Pirates of the Carribbean and I Don't Know How She Does It. Neither one of them was amazingly wonderful.
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I went apple picking with Dan & Stephanie (baby Joseph was inside), and then we went out for a Mexican dinner. I turned 27.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Losing the baby weight before the end of the year. I was SO CLOSE until the holidays hit. I was sure I would do it, and was really disappointed when I reached the point where I realized it wasn't going to happen.
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
Maternity clothes. Now, jeans, tank tops & cardigans. Easily thrown on in the morning.
32. What kept you sane?
My husband. He is always my rock. 
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
What is wrong with me? I can't even think of any...
34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Ok, can't think of this either. Well, there was the RI pension thing, which I probably should have been more interested in...
35. Who did you miss?
My best friend. We have toddlers the same age and we always dreamed of having play-dates and coffee dates several times a week when we became mommies. Unfortunately, she lives one state away and we don't get together nearly enough for either of us to be happy.
36. Who was the best new person you met?
All of my online blogger mommy "friends." Even though I don't know any of them personally, it's so nice to read their thoughts on motherhood, and to get their thoughts and opinions on things through Twitter. 
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
There are certain things you have no control over, and it's best just to accept that and go with the flow.
38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
La la la, la la la la, Elmo's World. This is because my daughter started watching way too much TV when her little brother was born. We're going to work really hard to remedy that in the new year!

I hope everyone's 2012 brings them health, happiness, and love! Be safe :) (And let me know if you decide to do this quiz on your own blog! I'd love to read it. I don't know how to do the fancy linky thing that was on Joanna's blog...)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Fives: New Years Resolutions

I have several things I've been working on in my life that I decided to turn into New Years Resolutions. I know that many people make resolutions only to forget about them a week into the New Year. But these are things that I think are really important for my family, my health, my well-being. Therefore, i'm going to work really hard, and hopefully be successful in achieving them.

1. Lose Weight
    Obviously this is a quite common NYR. But since I just had a baby, I think it's really important to my general health to lose the extra 21lbs i'm carrying around. I have 10lbs of Joseph weight (well, 6 is holiday weight. I was down to only needing to lose 4, it's now up to 10). The rest is my Stephanie Pregnancy weight. To keep myself accountable, i'm going to post my failures and successes on my blog. Once a week or so you can expect updates on how i'm doing in this department. I haven't decided whether or not to sign up for Weight Watchers or just try losing it on my own. Right now, i'm working on small changes (drinking more water, eating more fruits & veggies, and consuming less refined sugar.) I also have a goal of exercising every other day using our Wii Fit, and on alternate days doing an ab workout that I found in a magazine. If after a few weeks this doesn't seem to be working, i'll consider WW.

2. Be more organized
     This is a pretty generalized resolution. To be more specific, I want to be more organized with the things we do on a daily basis. I want to set out our clothes at night for the next day so that I can grab them quick and get us dressed in the morning. I want to have weekly dinner menus set up so that I don't have the "what are we having for dinner tonight?" conversation with myself on a nightly basis. If I create the menu on the weekends, I can go grocery shopping once a week and get all we need, with one mid-week mini-trip to stock up on milk and fresh fruit as needed. I also want to have Joseph's bottles washed and prepared every night before bed. And I really, really want to work on having Stephanie put her toys away as she finishes playing with them so that we don't have 15 things to clean up at nap-time and the end of the day. I work better when things are organized and orderly, so hopefully doing these things will help keep me relaxed and calm, especially during the early morning and early evening "rushes."

3. Be "in the moment" with my kids
     I already blogged about this, but it's still something i'm working on and striving to get better at on a daily basis. You can read about it here.

4. Take some "me" time every day.
     I think all moms feel guilty about doing things just for themselves. I know I do. I want to be super-mom, and get everything accomplished, and always do fun things with my kids, always have nutritious meals on the table, be super organized, keep a spotless house, and be happy all the time. But in reality, none of that get's accomplished if I don't have some time for myself. I'm a better mommy and wife when i'm calm and relaxed. So every day I want to make sure to fit 15 minutes into my day to do something for myself. I love to read, but haven't read a single book since Joseph was born. To remedy that,  i'll use my daily 15 to sit and read, preferably in the morning with a cup of coffee or at nap-time with a cup of tea. I find that when I do this, I get rejuvenated and have more happy energy to devote to my family. Including it on a daily basis should help us all be happier and more productive.

5. Have more patience.
     There are no "tips and tricks" for this one. I just need to work on it, catch myself when i'm starting to snap at Dan or Stephanie, and take deep breathes before I speak to them if something is upsetting me. I have a history of being impatient with people, so this is something i've worked on all my life. But, I want to jump-start my efforts, because it isn't fair to my family to have a frazzled, irritated wife and mommy all the time. I think that the previous 4 resolutions will all help me to be happier and calmer, and hopefully that will create a more patient me.

I know that none of these things can happen overnight, but using them as benchmarks all year long will be my goal. If they are in the back of my mind, i'll know they are there and things that I should be working on. I'm looking forward to a happy, healthy New Year with my beautiful family of four. Feel free to share your resolutions with me in the comments section! I hope all of my readers have a wonderful New Years, and please be safe!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Road Trip with Two Kids

Later this morning we will be heading on a roadtrip to spend a few days with my in-laws. It's only a 3 to 5 hour drive, but with two kids under two, and a mommy who gets carsick, it has the potential to seem like an eternity. However, in an effort to stay positive, i'm doing as much as possible to ensure  that the ride is as smooth as it can be.

To start, i'll be doing the driving. I actually became the driver when Stephanie was a baby and I discovered that turning around to entertain her made me nauseous. So Dan sits in the passenger seat and is on "entertain the children" duty. As a bonus, he gets to nap if they do.

I also stocked two bags that we will keep up front with us. One contains snacks. (Earth's Best yogurt & fruit pouches, 100 calorie packs of craisins, a snack trap filled with goldfish, and water.) These are available to pass out anytime Stephanie gets whiny. They're fairly healthyish, so I don't mind if she fills up on them today instead of eating balanced meals. The second bag contains car toys. I plucked a few of her new presents from her big Christmas gifts pile, and stuck them in the bag. This way, she's only seen with them when she first opened them, so she'll get to play with them for the first time. The toys include a book/maga doodle combo, a LeapFrog Talk & Text, and some books. As an aside, we don't have a portable DVD player. The lack of such a device is a major source of debate in our house. I am all for it, because it will keep the kids quiet and our sanity intact during these trips. Dan is against it, saying he wants our kids to read in the car, and besides, he never had one growing up. My response to this is a) our kids can't read yet, and for all we know reading will make them carsick and b) he never had to travel 3-5 hours several times a year just to see his Grandparents. I think i'll eventually win this one, especially now that he has to be the entertainer of two children.

We always make sure to stop frequently along the way. If Stephanie is napping, I keep going as long as possible. But if she's awake, we stop at several rest stops so she can stretch her legs and run around for a little while. Sometimes this back fires on us, since she fights getting back in the car. But in the long run, those few minutes of getting-back-in-the-car tantrums are worth it for her to get out of the car and stretch.

Lastly, I try to leave at the perfect time. Today that will (hopefully) be right after Joseph has had a bottle and Stephanie has had breakfast. I want her to be up long enough where it doesn't seem like she goes from crib to high chair to car, but not so long that she's started to get tired and cranky. We're also leaving late enough to not run into morning commuter traffic and early enough to not hit afternoon commuter traffic. Of course, all of this is contingent on the total and complete cooperation of two we'll see what happens. I'm optimistic though! And I'll be sure to update you all on how our trip went.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas 2011: Photo Edition

We had a wonderful Christmas! It was my second year hosting dinner, and it went much smoother this year. (Which was surprising...I thought for sure I would be more stressed out/frantic/unprepared this year. But it went off without a hitch!)

 After a Christmas Eve gathering at my parent's house on the 24th, we came home to prepare for Santa. Dan read Stephanie The Night Before Christmas (a tradition his dad started with him when he and his brothers were little), and we put out milk and cookies. Then Stephanie spent time at the window, looking for Santa.

Both kids slept fairly well. In fact, they slept so good that Dan and I were up before them. When Stephanie eventually woke up, she refused to come out to the living room. We hyped up the "Let's see if Santa came!" thing, and she was afraid he was still in the house. Eventually, we convinced her to come out. She was thrilled with the pile of gifts stacked under the tree. 

The table and chairs were the biggest hit. She went right over and sat down. When we asked her if she wanted to open presents, she said no.

(Notice Joseph hanging out in his swing. That's where he spent Christmas morning.)

After a little while, she finally agreed to open presents. The first one was a dollhouse, and as soon as she opened it, she wanted it out of the box.

The morning continued in this fashion. Every present needed to be taken out of it's box and played with before she could open another. Since this took awhile, we piled Joseph's presents on the couch, with the intention of having her open them when she finished with her own. However, when she was done, we ate breakfast (homemade banana chocolate chip bread, delicious.) Then we all got dressed, and as we finished up my parent's arrived. We exchanged gifts with them, and then my Grandparent's showed up. More togetherness and presents, and then my mom and I put the finishing touches on the dinner buffet.

The rest of the afternoon was spent eating, continuing to exchange presents, and watching Stephanie as she entertained us all with her dancing, jumping, and singing. My sister and her family arrived in the afternoon for dessert, and more presents. It was adorable to watch Stephanie and her cousin Ree play together, giddy with the excitement of Christmas day.

By the time everyone left, we put Stephanie straight to bed, and had our stocking exchange. (Read about our stocking tradition here.) Then we fell into bed, completely exhausted. One of our last thoughts before going to bed? We never opened Joseph's presents from Santa. Oops. I don't think he minded too much though...

                                                    Hey was my 1st Christmas!

All in all, we had a wonderful day, full of family, love, good food, and, well...lots of presents.My children were very spoiled, and i'm feeling the effects of that now. The anxiety of trying to find homes for all of the new presents is driving me crazy! But, I know eventually things will get organized, and everything will get put in it's place. Until then...I think i'm going to ignore the mess and clutter and relax before we head off to New York for Christmas with the in-laws on Thursday. Merry Christmas everyone, I hope all of you who celebrate had as wonderful a day as we did.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday Fives: Christmas Songs

As I mentioned here, I absolutely love Christmas music. This week's Friday Fives is a list of my favorite Christmas songs.

1. Silent Night
    This beautiful, holy song embodies the true meaning of Christmas. Whenever I hear it on the radio, it immediately brings to mind an image of our darkened church on Christmas Eve, stuffed to bursting with parishoners. I remember the chills I get as I listen to the voices of the people who have come together to worship and celebrate. It never fails to fill me with a sense of peace and serenity, and I always pause when I hear it to let myself remember why we celebrate Christmas.

2. Christmas Shoes
    I was in High School when I first heard this song, and immediately fell in love with it. The story of the little boy who wants to buy a pair of shoes for his dying mother never fails to bring tears to my eyes. The line "I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight" gets me every time. And at the end, when it's actually a child's voice doing the singing...I bawl. The song is a true embrace of the spirit of Christmas. (The book based on the song is a good read, too!)

3. Jingle Bells
    This is one of the only Christmas songs that I know every single word to. For that reason alone, I sing it all the time. Stephanie and I sing it together, and dance while we sing. I also like that it never specifically mentions Christmas, so I can sing it all winter long without getting yelled at by Dan for singing Christmas songs when it's not the Christmas season.

4. Christmas in Dixie
    For some reason, this song reminds me of my childhood. I didn't hear it for the first time until I was an adult, so I have no idea why it invokes that image. It's also not a very popular song; I actually heard it on the radio this year for the first time. (I know it from a Country Christmas CD that I bought a few years ago.) It's a song about a father who was laid off from his factory job, and is trying to make ends meet while also providing a happy Christmas for his little girl. The message is one of a father's love, and I think every parent feels a similar emotion. We just want our children to experience the magic of the season, without having to feel the burden of grown-up concerns.

5. Little Drummer Boy
    I think I like this song simply because of the catchy beat. It's easy to sing, and fun too. Stephanie loves it, which I think is why it made it onto the list. If I start humming it, she will sing along in her little toddler way: "pum pum pum, dummer boy!" It's pretty adorable. (She also sings O Christmas tree, and even has the tune right!)

Ok, all this writing about Christmas music has me wanting to listen to some, and since both kids are napping (!), I think i'll put on the radio and make a cup of Christmas tea.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's Quiet...

Right now in my house it is 8am, and I am the only one awake. Dan was at work until 2am, so he's sleeping in and going to work late this morning. Stephanie was up until 8pm last night (her usual bedtime is 7) so she's still sleeping. And Joseph always sleeps after his first morning bottle. So i'm sitting her with a cup of coffee, catching up on some blog reading, and just....enjoying it!

This time of year is always rush, rush, rush, and with a baby and a young toddler (who is totally hitting the "Terrible Twos" right now), peace and quiet is pretty rare. I love keeping busy and preparing for the holidays, but things have gotten a little tense and stressful around here lately. We're trying to get everything done, we have obligations/parties/gatherings 3-4 times a week, Joseph is having tummy troubles again, and there is some ridiculous extended family drama going on. Dan and I have been nit-picking at each other, and getting on each other's nerves. We finally sat down this weekend and talked about the fact that this is my favorite time of year, and I need to enjoy it, instead of being so stressed. I'm working on that, with my new mantra of "whatever gets done, gets done. If it doesn't get done, oh well." That is really difficult for me, but you know what? Right now, it's working. I want to enjoy the season, I want to enjoy my new baby, I want to experience Christmas through the eyes of a toddler.

 And so, instead of using this minute of peace and quiet to wash the dishes that sat in the sink overnight, or make lists for later this week, or get breakfast started, i'm sitting. I'm relaxing. I'm enjoying the quiet. I'm looking at the twinkling lights of our tree, i'm listening to Joseph's rhythmic breathing, i'm taking deep breaths, i'm relishing the moment. And i'm not beating myself up about it, or making myself feel bad for not accomplishing anything. Because all mommies need a minute or two to themselves. And now, Stephanie is awake, so there goes the quiet!

 I hope all my wonderful readers can find a minute today to just experience some peace and quiet. Even for five minutes. Trust me, it's a wonderful feeling, and has been a fabulous way to start to my day!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Fives

*I'm totally aware that it's Saturday night as I post this. But I did technically start working on it yesterday, so that counts, right??

So many blogs that I read (or used to read...I don't have as much time to read all of them anymore) have weekly blog topics. (Like Wordless Wednesday for example.) I have wanted to do something like this, but didn't want to just copy someone else. So, I've decided to create Friday Fives. Every Friday I will post 5 things. They could be anything...recommendations of books, songs, kid's toys. Or five things that I am happy or sad or frustrated about. Or 5 hot topics that I feel the urge to write about. Anything! But every Friday I will list 5 somethings on my blog. (Are you so impressed with the eloquent way that I just phrased that paragraph? Surely I could come up with another word than "somethings" but alas...nothing is coming to mind.)

So, for today, Friday Fives Week 1, I will list my 5 favorite Christmas traditions. (I LOVE Christmas, so it was hard to pick just five...)

1. Listening to Christmas music. I start much earlier than most people (day after Halloween) because I love it so very much. Some songs bring back memories of my childhood, some make me tear up, and all of them bring a sense of peace, joy, and happiness to my heart.

2. The Stocking Reveal. When I was a kid, my parents saved their stockings to open until us kids went to bed. Then they opened them up, just the two of them, on Christmas night. When we were a little older, they let us in on the fun. We sat around our living room, and took turns opening one present at a time. (They were all wrapped.) Before we opened each gift, we had to guess what we thought it was. It was one of my favorite traditions then, and something to look forward to all throughout Christmas day. (It alleviated that post-Christmas let-down. The one that occurs when the presents are all unwrapped, the dinner is eaten, and the guests have gone home.) Now that I am married with a family of my own, Dan and I continue the tradition. We each buy 10 stocking stuffers and wrap them up. Then, after the kids are in bed and our jammies are on, we sit around and open the gifts one at a time, trying to guess what each one is before opening. It's a great time to spend together just the two of us, and relax after the hustle and bustle of the day.

3. Classic Holiday Movies. I adore all the old Rankin/Bass movies. Rudolph, The Year Without a Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is coming to town, etc. When I sit down to watch them, I am transported back to my youth, and for 30 minutes or an hour I feel like a kid again. The magic of Christmas is there, and all the stress that seems to come with the season melts away. When they're over, I do my best to hold on to that magic, and remember that the season shouldn't be about the stress. Even though i'm an adult, I have small children who I am thrilled to experience all the wonders of Christmas with.

4. Christmas lights. Every year Dan and I drive around different neighborhoods looking for Christmas lights. I adore seeing the sparkling, twinkling lights shining in the dark night. This year, we went for our yearly drive with Stephanie and Joseph. Joseph slept the whole time, but Stephanie was beyond excited to experience this tradition of ours. She shrieked with delight every time we spotted a lit up house, and begged for "more! more! more!" As we drove around, the four of us together in the cozy car, I felt so happy that I have these three amazing blessings in my life, to share the magic of my favorite time of year.

5. The Christmas Story. There are so many many things about Christmas that are special and magical. But the most important is the miracle that took place on the first Christmas. I always pause during this time of year to remember that Christmas is not just a commercialized holiday. It's not just about the tree, the lights, the music, the cards, and the gifts. It's about the birth of Christ, and while I know not everyone who reads this blog is Christian or religious in any way, I am, and to me this is the most important part of Christmas. The reason for the season. I am doing my best to teach Stephanie why we celebrate Christmas, and the importance of the birth of that baby all those years ago.

So there it is. A day late, but my first Friday Fives. Now to think of a topic for next week...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2 Months

Dear Baby Joseph,
Today you are 2 months old. I won't dwell on how fast this past month has gone, because I know I will have that same sentiment every single month that passes. Time is fleeting, and i'm doing my best to enjoy every second of your babyhood.

You are definitely more of a baby now than a newborn. Your cheeks are filling out, and are incredibly kissable. You recognize faces, especially those of your mommy, daddy, and big sister. You are very alert and aware of your surroundings, and you turn your head when you hear a noise. Your smiles are more frequent, and they light up your whole face. Usually you will be staring and staring at one of us, and then out of the blue flash us one of your trademark grins. They never fail to make us smile back at you.

You now sleep for longer stretches at night, which makes mommy very happy! You will go to bed between 9:30 and 10:00, and sleep until 3 or 4. One night you even went all the way to 5:00am! That was fabulous, and I hopped out of bed that morning feeling like I had just slept for a week. Middle of the night feedings are still my favorite way to bond with you. Daddy and Stephanie are asleep, so my focus is 100% on you. Our Christmas tree sparkles in the corner, creating just enough light for me to feed you, but not overstimulating either one of us, making it easier to fall back asleep when you're finished. You are a champ now at going right back into your bassinet for a few hours.

We celebrated your first Thanksgiving at the end of November. You are an amazing blessing in our lives, and we were extra thankful this year that God put you in our lives. We also celebrated your Baptism. We are Catholics, and Baptizing you in the church was an important milestone for our family.

Every day you grow and change a little bit more. And every day my love for you grows more and more, even when I think it's impossible that I could ever love you more than I already do.Your smiles, cuddles and coos are so precious, and always fill my heart to bursting with pride and happiness. I can't begin to tell you the joy you bring to my life. It is my goal to make sure that you always know how very much you are loved, because baby boy, you most definitely are. I love you a million billion!

*Check out Joseph's one month letter here

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Network of Moms

I am amazingly blessed with a fabulous support system of mommy friends. Equally amazing is the fact that many of these women were my friends before becoming my mommy friends. Which means we've grown up together, going from single women, to wives, to mothers at pretty much the same time.

There is my high school best friend, who is newly expecting (yay!). To me, you are a mother once you conceive, and I welcome her with open arms to this "club" of motherhood. I cannot wait for her to experience all the wonders that come with raising children, and to have someone else to commiserate with about all the tough times.

My best "met when we were grown-ups" friend has gone through both pregnancies with me. Her son is 6 weeks younger than Stephanie, and we struggled together to get pregnant with our first little blessings. My journey to pregnancy was much less traumatizing and emotional than hers, and when I got pregnant first, my joy was marred by sadness because she was not. When she announced 6 weeks later that her own little miracle was on it's way, I was able to really and truly embrace and enjoy my own pregnancy. Throughout the past two years we have emailed each other almost daily with our hopes, fears, triumphs, frustrations...every aspect of pregnancy and motherhood. We shared our second pregnancy together too, although she won't be welcoming her second little boy until April. I am eagerly looking forward to having her there to talk with about having two little ones under foot. I can honestly say that, without her, I don't think I would survive this journey with my sanity intact.

Another close friend recently became a first-time mom. I've known her for four years now, and I've watched her struggle at times to figure out what it is she wants from this world. We had a play date recently, and I was awed to see how much motherhood suits her. She has a contentment about her, a sense of "this is what I was meant to do." I can tell already that she is a great Mommy, and I am so happy that she has found her joy. Watching her interact with her little girl truly warms my heart.

I have a college friend, who actually started out as Dan's friend. When I met her, I was a freshman, and she was a senior. She was a confident, secure person, who seemed to have it all together. I was insecure, not quite comfortable in my own skin, and trying to impress my new boyfriend's friends. This meant that I was more than a little intimidated by her, and wished I could have some of her confidence. As the years went on, she continued to be someone that I admired, but wasn't necessarily close with. Then we became mommies at almost the same time, and bonded through this common link. Our little girls were born six weeks apart, and we compared notes, supported each other, and helped each other through those first few rough months of new-mommyhood. I eventually started nannying for her daughter, which meant she was the fellow mommy that I saw most regularly, and even though I no longer go to her house twice a week, she continues to be a source of support and friendship.

During my first pregnancy, my sister announced that she too was pregnant, and due before me. The whole family seemed to hold their breath waiting to see my reaction. (They were afraid I would think she was stepping on my toes, stealing my thunder, etc.) In fact, the complete opposite was true. I was THRILLED!  My sister and I have always been close, but going through pregnancy and motherhood together has bonded us in a way that is indescribable. Our daughters will grow up together, and we can already see that they are more like sisters than cousins. Watching them together often brings tears to my eyes as I imagine their future and all that it holds for them.

I also have a fairly new friend, who I first met when I was an early childhood teacher, and took care of her 3 month old son. We went through our second pregnancies together, and her second son is 2 weeks older than Joseph. We are both mommies of two, and will often facebook message each other in the middle of the night, or first thing in the morning to check in and see how one another is doing and how the babies slept at night. It's fun to have someone experiencing the same thing at the same time, and we have fun chatting during playdates with our four little ones.

The internet is also a huge help and support to me as a mom. Facebook and Twitter have brought me together with so many women, who in an instant are there to offer support, advice, and a shoulder to cry on. Most of them are people I have known at one time or another throughout my life. Friends from high school and college, or friends of friends. I don't see them regularly anymore, if at all, but they are invaluable to me. All it takes is a tweet or a FB status, and I can receive feedback that helps me to feel less alone. Blogs and bloggers have the same effect. There are fantastic women out there who put their thoughts and fears out in the world, and several have become online friends who never fail to uplift me either through their blogs, or by direct interaction through social media.

I cannot stress enough the importance of this network of women in my life. They inspire, comfort, assist, commiserate with and uplift me. They also give me the nudge (or sometimes swift kick) that I need to either get something done, get over something, or stop complaining about something. If you're a new mom who is struggling or feeling alone, I strongly encourage you to find your own network of moms. Nobody knows what you're experiencing except someone who is going through it at the same time. Thank you to all my mommy friends. I truly cannot tell you how important you all are to me!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A few of my favorite things

Some of my favorite things about being a Mommy:

-Watching Stephanie giggle hysterically 

-Listening to Joseph's breathing in the middle of the night

-Experiencing new aspects of the world every day through the eyes of my children

-Deciphering what Stephanie is trying to say, and delighting in the fact that she comes out with something new every day

-Cuddling Joseph and breathing in that new-baby smell...I know how fleeting it is

-Rocking with Stephanie at nap & bedtime

-Baby smiles

-Sharing my love of reading with both of them

-Joseph's baby coos

-Listening to Stephanie ask for Mommy when Dan goes in to her in the middle of the night

-Knowing what unconditional love is

-Staring in wonderment at these two beautiful children and wondering how I came to be so blessed

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Making Time

Some days I am so busy preparing food, serving food, cleaning up food, washing dishes, doing laundry, running errands, changing diapers, etc., etc., etc., that I forget to actually play with my children. Oh, I'll read Stephanie a story while feeding Joseph his bottle, and I've even passed off "standing on a step stool 'helping'  while I wash dishes" as quality time. But some days I truly don't take the chance to sit on the floor and play with her. (Joseph is still so little that I think I get a pass on that for now. We get a lot of quality interaction in during middle of the night feedings.) I know that it's the Christmas season, so i'm busy buying and wrapping gifts, planning Christmas dinner, having gatherings with friends and family, and baking. But that's really not an excuse. I need to make an effort to ensure that my kids know how important they are to me, and to do that I need to take time each day, put everything aside, and play.

The other day I asked Stephanie if she wanted to color with me. Her face lit up, and she shrieked in delight. We spent about 15 minutes at the table together, and you would think she had won the lottery. What a good lesson for me, especially during this time of year. The quality of the time we spend together is more important than any gift could ever be. My New Years resolution starts early this year, and from here on out i'm making an effort to spend more "fun" time each day with my children.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

I adore this time of year. It is, without a doubt, my absolute favorite time, and I look forward to it all year long. I love it all...the lights, the music, the decorations, the shopping for gifts, the baking, the cards. The sights, sounds, and smells of the season always warm my heart and make me smile a little bigger. Last year was my first Christmas as a mom, and it amazed me that this time of year became ten times more special and fun than it ever had been before.

Shopping for my husband and extended family is fun, but shopping for children's toys is magical. Anticipating my daughter's reactions as I shop for gifts makes me so excited. This year she knows what presents are, and loves to unwrap them. I can't wait to see her face when she walks into the living room on Christmas morning and sees the pile under the tree. But more than that, I'm excited to experience the entire season with her. I hope to instill a love of this time of year in her, and so far she adores it as much as I do.

She asks for Christmas music in the car, and can immediately identify whether or not a song is a Christmas one. Whenever we see decorations in stores, or lights on houses, she yells out "Christmas lights! More Christmas lights!" She asks for her Christmas bib when she sits at the table for meals, and when Joseph wore his snowman jammies she yelled "Baby Jo-Jo Christmas!"

We decorated our Christmas tree this past week, and it was such a fun family experience. The tree had been up with lights on it for a few days, and so one night after dinner I brought out all the ornaments and told Stephanie it was time to decorate. She took to the project immediately, and would continuously grab an ornament, run to the tree and hang it up. (Her version of hanging was to just put the ornament on a branch. It usually fell to floor as she ran to get another one, so I would hang it for her.) She had a grin on her face, and an infectious giggle throughout the entire process. It made Dan and I happy to see her enjoying this family tradition as much as we do.

Since Stephanie isn't even two yet, she innocently enjoys the magic of the season without fully understanding or anticipating what Christmas Day will bring for her. I'm taking advantage of this by really trying to instill in her the true meaning of Christmas. We read books about the first Christmas, and every night at prayer time we talk about how Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, and the whole season is about celebrating Him. We also talk about how there are some children who aren't as blessed as she is. She doesn't really understand that, but I think it's important to talk about. I keep it age appropriate by telling her that some children don't have a warm coat or lots of toys. We went through her toys and chose a few to donate to those in need. Again, she doesn't understand this, but I want it to be something she grows up hearing so that she never loses sight of the fact that we have so much and should never forget to be grateful for it.

It is only December 3rd, and there is so much more we get to do to celebrate the season. I'm looking forward to doing Christmas crafts with her, as well as baking cookies and other treats. I'm doing my best not to stress over my to-do list. I want to experience the magic of Christmas right along with her, and if that means that not everything gets done, so be it. Seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child is a blessing, and I am thankful every day that I have two little miracles to celebrate with this year.
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