Saturday, April 19, 2014

A lovely baby shower!

Alright, it's Holy Saturday, and I feel like it's ok to turn back to fun/frivolous topics. Like baby showers. :)

There was much debate a few months ago over whether or not I should have a baby shower. I didn't want to have one because my bridal shower was only a year ago, so it seemed too recent since I'd been the center of attention.

But Frank tipped the balance, because he felt really strongly that I should have one. "It's your first baby," he argued. "People don't throw showers for later babies. You should have a shower for this baby and enjoy it!"

When I finally agreed, we encountered a new obstacle: my mom's social calendar. She had a big trip or event planned for every single weekend. It began to look like she wouldn't have a day available until after my due date! Luckily she was able to move some things around and we finally settled on Sunday, April 13, for the party.

I think my mom was born to throw parties, because she is really, really good at it. Any hostess ability I have comes straight from her, and I can only aspire to her level.

We arrived on Sunday to find a table full of delicious hors d'oeuvres (or "snacks on snacks" as I like to say):

Mom proudly showed us her masterpiece—the "baby angel" centerpiece:

My little sister tried to put a paper-towel diaper on it, which cracked me up.

My one request for the shower was that we play a lot of games. I figure everyone loves some good competitive games, especially if you can win prizes. Plus I didn't want the only event to be me opening gifts, because I think that can get boring for everyone else. My mom and sisters did such an awesome job and totally delivered with some really fun activities!

My sister Caroline organized this hilarious game where she interviewed Frank and me before the shower about our expectations for being parents, and then read aloud the answers while everyone guessed who said what. For example, "How many diapers do you expect to change per day?" Frank said 3, I said 1. ;) "Who will be the fun parent?" We each said ourselves! (Frank: "I think you should include that 100% of your family agrees that I will be the fun parent.") "When will baby start walking?" I said 12 or 13 months, Frank said "9 months because it will be an advanced baby." "Advanced baby" cracked me up. That game was really fun and got so many laughs.

My mom passed around a tape measure and had everyone guess how big my belly is, and the winner got a prize. Vanessa (who came all the way from California!!) impressively guessed within half an inch!

There was also a timed pregnancy word search and baby-themed word scramble, again with prizes. Theresa brought these darling little cards for people to fill out notes to the baby and predictions about the gender, name, and weight and height at birth. Frank and I have really enjoyed reading through those since the shower.

I opened gifts, and was completely blown away by the thoughtfulness and generosity of our friends. I can't even begin to list all the beautiful gifts this baby received. A few friends chose gifts especially for Frank as the new dad—he was thrilled to look through those later on! We also really enjoyed the darling packaging some of our clever friends came up with, like Anna's precious "cupcake box," filled with rolled-up onesies and baby socks:

Isn't that the cutest idea? As my Grandma said, "I can tell I'm at a baby shower because every five minutes I hear someone say, 'Awwww!'"

We didn't make Frank attend the shower—instead he had a great time mini golfing with my dad and brother. Do dads/husbands usually attend showers in your family? He did make an appearance at the very end, though—just in time for us to get a photo together, and for the guys to enjoy some cake and ice cream with us.

Finally, Mum crafted these clever party favors, based off an idea she found on Pinterest. She put packages of unpopped popcorn in little boxes that said "Theresa is ready to POP!" and topped each one off with a cupcake.

Those were a huge hit! I tell you, she was born to throw parties.

Despite my initial hesitation, I'm so glad I let Frank talk me into having a shower. I think it helped that we kept the party really small (just family and close friends) and that we played a lot of games. It ended up being a wonderfully fun afternoon.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

There is so much I want to share with you guys, especially about my baby shower last weekend, but it will have to wait until tomorrow.

Even though I've done a terrible job on this blog observing Lent and Holy Week (somehow baby stuff seems to trump all else in my mind!), I do at least want to pause and honor Good Friday.

My family will be eating the traditional Hot Cross Buns, which we only make once a year. Usually we just kind of live on these all day.

For your reflection, here is a small section of T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets relevant to this day:

From "East Coker"


The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer's art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

  Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our, and Adam's curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

  The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.

  The chill ascends from feet to knees,
The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze
And quake in frigid purgatorial fires
Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.

  The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.

Last year's Good Friday post here

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Last prenatal yoga class!

I was kind of a celebrity at my prenatal yoga class on Tuesday night. It was my official "last class" before my due date.

There were a bunch of new students there, including a girl who isn't due until November! I recognized a girl from my birth class and we exchanged emails, excited to see each other again. Meanwhile everyone gawked at me in excitement and asked a million questions.

"What was the biggest difference you noticed between second and third trimester?" "Have you packed your hospital bag?" "How do you FEEL?"

I smiled and one girl said, "You look really calm!"

"I feel really calm," I said.

Thinking of the infant car seat Frank installed over the weekend and the dresser drawer full of soft infant clothing, I said, "I feel ready." I've definitely come full circle.

Our sweet instructor joined in the excitement. She had us focus on lunges and squats during class—"This is good preparation for labor!" she assured us, looking at me.

"Good luck, Tess! You can do it!" she said after class. "Just remember to stay with your breath during labor. And email me pictures after the baby is here!"

As I left, everyone gathered around to wave and wish me good luck. I left with such a feeling of warmth.

Then I walked down the street to the burger place on the corner. They have a deal with the yoga studio that students can park in their lot for free, so all winter I've been parking my car there and resisting the aroma of their delicious burgers. I promised myself that I could go there for dinner after my last class.

So Frank met me there for an indulgent dinner of burgers and fries, and I told him all about my celebrity stint as the most pregnant lady in prenatal yoga class.

I'm so glad I decided to take that class. The other pregnant ladies and the instructor form such a nice little community, and the yoga has helped me feel great all pregnancy. I hope to take the class again during any future pregnancies.

And now I'm drinking red raspberry leaf tea from Whole Foods, and looking up recipes for labor cookies, and waiting. Just hanging in there. I can't wait to meet this tiny love of my life.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Eataly / Icons / A 21st Birthday

We had quite the adventure on Saturday! My sweet sister-in-law Jenna decided to visit for the weekend so she could come to my baby shower on Sunday (more on that later!). Frank said we needed to get in all our partying before Baby, so that's what we did.

Saturday morning we went to Frank's favorite place in the world ... Eataly. I think I've mentioned it before? It's basically a food-themed amusement park for adults. We love going there to sample new foods, pick up special-occasion groceries, and get ideas for future culinary endeavors.

And Jenna got to try gelato for the very first time!!!

I felt like a very negligent sister-in-law that she'd never had gelato before. She loved it, of course.

Next we stopped by Frank's other happy place, the Irish American Heritage Center. Full disclosure: I waited in the car while he showed Jenna around. I think I'm Irish-ed out for a bit. There's only so many times a Cuban girl can work up interest in the Irish gift shop and genealogy research room, you know?

Then it was time for the big event of the afternoon. We were going on an "adult field trip" to tour an iconographer's studio!

We met Joseph Malham last fall when we attended a a talk he gave on icons. Then in February, we heard him speak about his new book on the great film director John Ford (who was Irish-American, go figure). Frank got his email address and they kept in touch. Knowing Frank's love for iconography, Mr. Malham invited us to come see where he works as artist-in-residence at a Chicago parish.

We gathered a few friends who share our love for sacred art, and off we went.

The trip was incredible. Mr. Malham gave us some background information about icons, and then answered our questions. He even let us pick out prints of his beautiful work to take home!

Besides icons, he also does some regular Western-style paintings, like the ones below of John Ford and Pope John XXIII.

After we toured the studio, he also showed us the attached church. That place is gorgeous. We felt like we had walked into an old European cathedral.

After the tour, we walked down the street to the local pub for a few drinks in the sunshine. Mr. Malham joined us and kept us all laughing with his priceless comments and stories.

Next we met my parents for dinner and my little sister's high school play.

Finally we finished the night with our big and exciting surprise... a trip to the top of the John Hancock building to celebrate Jenna turning 21!

Let me tell you, the John Hancock Signature Lounge is where you go when you want to feel like a high roller. Drinks start around $14 (unless you're like me and get a cranberry juice) and everyone except us was dressed to the nines.

A few friends met us up there and we scored a table next to the window. Jenna's 21st was celebrated in the finest of style.

We didn't get home until 2:30 am! I can't remember the last time we were out so late. But like Frank said, we had to get in our partying.

Now Baby is welcome to make an appearance whenever his or her little heart desires. Any day now, I hope!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cute new blog on the block

Do you guys remember my darling friend Alex? The one who prayed that fateful novena with me, and who craftily knew Frank and I were going to get together before either of us did?

Alex recently shared with me that her sweet little sister Caroline, a home-schooled teen living in California, has started a blog with some of her friends. The blog reminds me a bit of Catholic Young Woman—it's a group blog with posts about all different things, aimed at a young, Catholic, female audience. And the posts are so adorable and funny and clever.

I loved Caroline's recent post about literary heroines. Not only does she mention Lizzy Bennet and the great Anne Shirley—and use some spectacular gifs—but she includes Hermione Granger. Hermione! I once wrote an essay when I was Caroline's age about how I would choose to be Hermione if I could be any character from a book, so obviously the girl has great taste. ;)

We all know how hard it can be to get started as a blogger, so I was hoping you might be able to head on over and say hi to Caroline and her friends. You know, give them some encouragement, welcome them to the world of blogging. Here's the link again.

Thanks, guys! I appreciate it!