27 February, 2012

Minneapolis is for Lovers {President's Day Weekend}

I have a secret love affair of President's Day weekend.  It's one of those long weekends with no obligations and no celebrations that give students a day or two off from school, or employees a day or two  off from work.

For many years we used the four day weekend to take the youth group up to West Virginia to go skiing.  Due to the economy, we haven't done the trip in a couple of years.  And thankfully not this year because, um, there isn't any snow.

Some time last year we got word that Eric's cousin, Paul, would be getting married over President's Day weekend in Minneapolis.  At the time I was a little disappointed that we'd have a three month old and it'd be too cold to take her out and about for all the festivities.  However, with such a warm winter, we decided to brave it.

We bundled up our Little B and off we went!




It was a weekend of firsts for Evie:  first plane ride, first hotel stay, first time away from home for more than 24 hours, first time wearing disposable diapers for three full days, first time meeting Eric's extended family, and first time attending an all day event (wedding & reception).

It was also a weekend of firsts for Eric and I:  first time taking a baby through security, first time taking breast milk through security, first time pumping in an airport (me, not Eric), first time being responsible for someone on a plane, and first time sleeping with Evie in a separate room.

The airport and plane ride to Minnesota were easy as pie.  Evie was asleep for most of the hustle and bustle.  She even slept through most of our day at the Mall of America.  It was so nice having Eric's parents, sister and her husband to help us!

Evie and I took naps in the afternoon and then we headed to the Rehearsal Dinner, or as they called it, the Groom's Dinner.  We had delicious Indian food and beer, and mango ice cream for dessert!  It was great to introduce the family to our little girl, and to see all of Eric's family for the first time in almost two years.

On Saturday we had a leisurely brunch at the hotel. Eric and I tag teamed sitting in our hotel room while Evie slept (read: we took naps too!) and visiting with family.


Saturday afternoon we drove through some Minnesota country side (snow!) to a tiny rustic chapel for Paul and Laura's wedding.


Their wedding ceremony was a little non-traditional, but heartfelt and beautiful nonetheless.

Eric's favorite part of the ceremony (I was in the basement consoling a screaming baby) was the unity candle.  The bride and groom are both volunteer fire fighters.  Instead of lighting the candle together, the officiant lit it and the couple blew out the "fire" together.  The candle even looked like a house!

My favorite part was the get away car - which was actually a fire truck!  How cool is that???


The reception was awesome!  It was a huge ball room with the biggest wedding reception dance floor I've ever seen.  Because the Bride is vegetarian, the whole reception was vegetarian.  We had fruit skewers for an appetizer / salad, and veggie lasagna and roasted veggies for our entree.  Instead of a cake, they had an ice cream sundae bar (just like us!).


They also left decks of cards and barrels of dice on the tables. Family and friends spent the night playing card and dice games, and dancing from 5pm - 12:30 am!  Talk about a party!





I took Evie back to the hotel around 10, but Eric stayed at the reception and then closed down a nearby bar with his siblings and cousins.  Part of me was disappointed not to go out, and part of me loved falling asleep in the middle of the bed watching TV (cable! yay!).

Sunday morning was the family brunch with the bride and groom.  More delicious food (the only meat served was bacon!) and visiting with family.  We went over to the groom's parents (Eric's aunt and uncle) for a light luncheon before heading to the airport.

Our flight home was a bit more eventful.  Evie pooped loudly as we were going through security. Mmmm.  And then proceeded to scream for the first 30 and last 30 minutes of the flight.  So glad to take an exhausted and hungry baby on a plane during her bewitching hour.  I almost cried but held it together just long enough to make it to the bathroom after the flight.  A few sweet ladies comforted me and told me she wasn't that bad and that the rude man that complained about her must not have kids :)

It was so nice to get home and get Evie back in her routine.  I think she enjoyed being able to stretch her legs and not be in her car seat or be held.  She slept a record eleven and a half hours that night!

Monday was a much needed chill day.  Eric was off from work so we took advantage of the sunny 55 degrees and took Evie out for a 3 mile walk in her new B.O.B stroller!




PS If you're ever in the Minneapolis airport with a wee one they have a nursing room with all the comforts of home!


26 February, 2012

Wedding Cake Fun {A Link Up}



Even though I recently did a post on the ABCs of our wedding, I thought it would be fun to show off our wedding cake and ice cream sundae bar in a little more detail.


We initially didn't even want a wedding cake, but after tasting the cakes from our reception venue we agreed to do a small one for those people who HAVE to have wedding cake, and so we could have the ceremonial cake cutting.  But, I don't even remember the flavors! That's how little I cared.

  We sent the baker a copy of our wedding invitation that Ashley designed and they matched the embellishments.

Our florist made a mini bouquet to be our cake topper. But then...


I had seen this little cake topper in a wedding magazine but after I hunted it down, I learned it cost $80 for a 2" figurine.  No thank you.

My parents, however, knew how much we loved this little guy and purchased it for us as a surprise.  It was so fun walking over to cut the cake and seeing this precious topper.  We keep the figurine in our china hutch.


Eric and I were so tired of going to weddings and watching the bride and groom daintily feed each other cake so we agreed to Bring It On.  And as you can see, we clearly did.




And then his mom cleaned his face.  Note the look on my face.  Haha.

What I REALLY wanted as our wedding reception dessert was ice cream.  Any one who knows me well knows of my love and affection for a perfect ice cream sundae.

Our wedding reception venue was more than happy to put together a sundae bar for us.  They included tons of toppings, just like going to a frozen yogurt place.  It was a huge hit!  Eric's cousin even used the idea at his wedding.

I mean, what's not to love about a wine glass full of ice cream covered in candy? Bliss.



I hope you enjoyed! (We did!)


22 February, 2012

40 Days to Wonder - 40 Days to Die to Self

I love our Catholic (and Christian) tradition of Lent.  As Matt Maher sings it's, "Forty days to wonder, forty days to die to self"

Because I work for the Church my life naturally flows on a Liturgical calendar, and because I work with school aged kids, my life naturally flows on a school calendar.  This means every year instead of making New Year's resolutions as someone who thrives on a calendar year might do, I live for the spiritual rejuvenation of Lent.  And this year our county's Spring Break happens to fall during Holy Week, which means a week of true quiet and reflection!

Lent snuck up on us this year - as did Thanksgiving, Christmas, MLK day and President's Day.  Such is life with a new baby, right?

On Monday Eric and I got serious about discerning what to give up or do for Lent.  We talked out a bunch of ideas and then tonight discussed our plan.

Last year I gave up Facebook and found that the time away from the screen helped my schedule.  The year before was a bad year - Eric and I read a nightly Lenten reflection but we ended up not liking it very much and would just laugh.  In 2009, I had one of my best Lent's to date.  I gave up all drinks except water and then used the money I saved to buy food for the soup kitchen.  You can read all about it here, on my old blog.

Other things I've done include a daily blog of things I am thankful for and a daily picture of the gifts of God in my life(back in the film days!).  And we can't forget the year I gave up talking to an ex-boyfriend!

This year I was inspired to do something creative again.  I was at bible study a few weeks ago and we were talking about the Beatitudes.  They can be boiled down to four things that separate us from God: wealth, pleasure, power and honor.  None of these things are inherently wrong, it's just how and why we use them that can become disordered.

Since I have been reading The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life , I was particularly moved by our discussion on  "Blessed are the poor in spirit" - and how this can mean that we need to detach ourselves from things being our god and instead use our things to glorify God.

Looking around our apartment, there is a great deal of "stuff" that is not glorifying God.  It's just taking up space, making me stressed, and is wasteful.

So this year I will be tackling a new area of the apartment each week of Lent.  Simple Mom is doing her annual Project Simplify so I will be linking up with her for four of the six weeks.


My calendar reads:
  • Week of Feb 27 - Laundry Room
  • Week of March 5 - Kids Stuff (Simple Mom)
  • Week of March 12 - Kitchen and Pantry (Simple Mom)
  • Week of March 19 - Closets, Counters and Drawers Oh My! (Simple Mom)
  • Week of March 26 -  Choose Your Own Adventure (Simple Mom) - My Closet & Dresser
  • Week of April 2 - Bookshelves and Entertainment Center
We will be donating household and clothing items to a local charity, any unopened food or pantry items to a food pantry, and any gently used baby or maternity items to a local crisis pregnancy center.

Eric will be assisting me in some of the areas.  In addition, he will be attending daily Mass one week day each week.

We will each also read the daily Mass readings and then discuss them at night and read a brief meditation from The Magnificat.

This might look like an overachiever Lent, as most of mine tend to, but given my job and work environment I usually need something far reaching to achieve the Church's call for Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. 

Check back for weekly updates on our progress!


15 February, 2012

Evie: Three Months

3 Months


Measurements
Weighs: probably 14 lbs (guessing)
Height: 23-25 inches (guessing)
Eats: 750-1050 mL a day, about 7-8 feedings a day with a bulk of them in the evening. 
Diapers: One size cloth on smallest snap setting, with one brand already on a looser snap setting, Size 2 in disposables
Clothes: still in a few 3-6 months, but mostly in 6 months


Firsts for Evie

January 18 - Nails clipped

January 22 - Slept through the night

January 28 - Sacrament of Initiation (Baptism)


Milestones

Discovered she has ears and will reach for them if I touch them.

Can see her hands and will focus on them.

Sees the toys on her play mat. Reaches for them and talks to them.


*Almost* sleeps through the night: 10pm-5am, 6am-9am

Graduated out of her 4oz bottles. Usually takes 5-6oz in a feeding now.

Recognizes Mom and Dad.

Can follow a toy or person with her eyes.

Knows her wake up and bed time routine and is comforted when we start it.

Senses a wet diaper and cries.

Cries have become more distinct: food, gas, sleep, wet diaper.

Sucks on her hand to self sooth, though this usually means she's hungry.

Will sit propped up on the couch on her in Bumbo for a few minutes.

Has conversations and smiles with mom and dad. Sometimes with strangers.

Hit her 3 month growth spurt right at 12-13 weeks. She was fussy, sleepy, and couldn't decide how much to eat or when to eat.  And then a few days later none of her clothes fit!


Likes/Dislikes


Likes going on walks or car rides

Dislikes stop and go traffic

Likes having her diaper changed

Dislikes bath time

Likes being outside

Dislikes the bright sun in her eyes

Likes her play mat, bouncy seat, and swing

Dislikes being left alone for too long

Likes snuggling with mommy and daddy in the Ergo or sling, or on the couch


Other

Evie is getting too big for a standard size swaddle blanket, but still likes to be "burritoed" at bed time. She's fine to take naps without it, but typically sleeps longer if she's wrapped up.

We now have 3-4 brands and styles of bottle nipples and binkies. She does great with all of them.  She only sucks on the binkie long enough to be soothed and then projectile spits it out.

Around two and a half months she's started a better "schedule" during the day: bed at 10, feed around 5, sleep until 9, feed and play until 10:30 or 11, sleep until 2 or 3, feed, sleep until 5, and feed and play until bed time at 10. Some times she's up more during the afternoon, depending on how good her morning sleep was.

Her feedings have consolidated. She eats the same total amount during the day, but feeds less often.  We had two days of major vomiting around her growth spurt and when she first started condensing her feedings.  I suspect neither of us knew just how much she could handle in one sitting! 

Evie is back to pooping daily, and even multiple times a day. Most of month two she only pooped every three to five days...and when she finally went, Look Out.

She is generally a happy baby, and is getting even easier, especially with eating. She's eating faster and neater!

Evie used to wake up every 2-3 hours and would be up for at least an hour at each feeding. Now I can have her up, fed, changed, and asleep in about 40 minutes. VICTORY!

I am pumping 4-5 times a day, and freeze about 200-300 mL a day. Very slowly weaning off the pump. Our freezer is packed and we're giving Evie about 2-4 oz of formula a day (usually at bed time).

What they say....



She looks like Eric, but looks like you when she smiles.

She's sooo good.

That's awesome that she loves to snuggle with you.

How is she sleeping?

How do you like being a parent?

Are you finally adjusting?

She's so long! She'll be tall, just like her Daddy.


We are...

Calling her all sorts of nicknames, like Baby Girl, Snuggle Bear, Little Bit, and Little B.

Loving that Evie only wakes up once, if at all, during the night.

Soaking up every smile, grin, and (attempts at a) laugh.

Mesmerized at watching her learn and discover things.

Learning how important it is to prioritize her naps, feedings, and comfort.

Wondering where the time has gone! Our baby is 3 months old!


14 February, 2012

My Funny Valentine

We had a simple fun two-day Saint Valentine celebration.

Monday we drove to Lawrenceville to visit with Rebecca and Alyshia and their sweet babies, plus a house full of moms and kids that Rebecca was so sweet to host a Valentine's party for.  I am so glad she included us!

Today Evie and I hung out around the house.  We both needed a day to rest after a crazy weekend.

This evening we went to church for a Mom's group couple's night.  A priest came and talked about marriage and raising kids - and how to support each other through these difficult years.  We were able to sit with two couples (and their babies) from our play group.  It's been nice to get out and meet some other young families...and where better than at church! After we got Steak and Shake milkshakes and settled in on the couch for an episode of a screaming baby How I Met Your Mother.

We hope you had a nice relaxing and simple Valentine's day with your loves, who ever they may be!


Yep, I just posted that.

11 February, 2012

Pagan No More {Evie's Baptism}




On January 28 we had Evie and Zachary baptized.  We were so blessed to share the day with my brother, David, his wife, Paige and his son, Zachary.

David and Paige asked us to be Zachary's Godparents.  We asked my sister Katie, and Eric's long time friend, Sam (yeah, they're dating!) to be Evie's Godparents.



We asked Deacon Dennis, who married David and Paige, and gave the homily at our wedding Mass, to baptize the kids.  He was super excited!



 My grandparents started a tradition of buying each of the grandkids a baptismal gown for their family to have their kids baptized in.  We were touched by this gesture, however, we had an even better offer.

Eric's mother wore her mother's wedding dress. Irene saved the dress all these years, hoping her daughter, Leeann would get married in it, but she chose not to.  Irene then asked us if we wanted to have Evie's Baptismal gown made out of it.  I teared up at the offer.

I had heard of a family whose mom made her daughter's First Communion dress from her wedding dress and thought I'd like to do the same for my daughter, either for First Communion or Baptism.  However, when I thought about cutting up my two year old wedding dress I just wasn't ready. (I know, it's not like I am going to wear it again...it's just Too Soon.)   Needless to say I was more than touched when Irene offered her dress to us.  Evie's dress is four generations old!



I also pinned a little Sacred Heart of Jesus medal that belonged to my late grandmother on the underside of Evie's dress.  I wore this medal on my garder at our wedding.  It was my little way of including my late grandmother and our wedding day into the Baptism.


My nephew Connor got to blow out the Baptismal candles after the ceremony.  We thought it was pretty cool since he's their older cousin, David is his Godfather, and Deacon Dennis baptized him, too!




After the Baptism, my parents hosted a party for family and friends at their house.  My mom did an incredible job decorating but unfortunately I forgot my camera and no one else's pictures turned out very good.


We shared a bottle of wine at the party (see it there on the right, pretty fancy, huh?).  The story goes that my Dad had given a bottle just like it to his parents as a thank you gift on his and my mom's wedding day.  Well, my grandfather then shared it with all the family and friends at the party.  My dad wanted to continue the tradition and then bought this bottle for David and Paige's wedding, however, we forgot to serve it.  So my dad thought he'd try it again for our wedding, and forgot again.

Since both fruits of our marriages were receiving a sacrament on the same day, Dad thought it would be the perfect day to share the bottle of wine.

Cheers!

Welcome to the Church, Evie and Zach!  God bless you :)