Friday, August 14, 2015

Giveaway + podcast interview!

In my friendships with other Catholic moms, the one thing I hear everyone crying out for is community. We all want it, we all need it, and we're all trying to build it.

Ideally you can get that community from your friends in person, but that's not always possible in today's world. The next best thing is finding that community online or in books, and one place that I've found that feeling of community is in Michele's fantastic new book, Rosaries Aren't {Just} for Teething

Michele collected reflections on each mystery of the Rosary from Catholic mom bloggers (most of whose names you'll probably recognize!). These women are in the trenches of motherhood, and they get it—the difficulty but also the joy of being a mother, and the importance of having Mama Mary by your side. This is a great book to take to prayer, and read slowly so you can really savor and enjoy it!

I'm giving away one e-book copy of Rosaries Aren't {Just} for Teething. Good luck friends!! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Also, Amy and Michele invited me to be a guest on their "Little House Mothering" podcast—such an honor!! I had a blast chatting with them about so many fun topics! Hope you guys enjoy it!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The baby races!

I just have a funny, silly story to share with you all today.

Last Saturday, some of our friends were moving, and through a series of events I ended up watching their 1-year-old son along with Frankie and our neighbors' 1-year-old daughter while Frank and our friends helped with the move.

I took them for a walk. The boy in the stroller, Frankie in my ring sling, and the little girl walking along "helping" me push the stroller. Very helpful.

We made it to the park and went on the swings, and I kind of felt like superwoman as I rotated babies from ground to swings (there were only 2 swings). We were there for about 15 minutes before the little boy freaked out a bit that his mom wasn't there, so I put him back in the stroller and we began our odyssey home.

The little girl got tired of walking (it was a long walk for her!) so I ended up carrying her back in my arms while still wearing Frankie and pushing the stroller. We took a lot of breaks. I'm proud to report that there was only one incident of a runaway baby knocking on a stranger's door, and only a little bit of crying, and no one ran into the street! It was a great success.

Except it was really hot out and I must have really looked like crap when I got back, because all the other adults kept bringing me glasses of water and saying, "Here, Tess, you really look like you need this." But hey, I'll take it.

Later on my friend Anita came to help with baby duty, and she brought her 1-year-old daughter too. It was just the two of us in charge of four 1-year-olds in a mostly-empty apartment.

So what did we do? We had a baby race.

Let me set the scene. Here are the contestants (from left to right: Girl 1, Girl 2, Frankie, and Boy 2):

We lined them up against the back wall, a sliding glass door that overlooked the balcony. Anita went to the other side of the room and dramatically poured out a line of Puffs—the finish line. Whichever baby got to the Puffs first would be the winner.

Boy 2 started crawling first, but he only went about a foot before he noticed his mom wasn't there and stopped crawling to scream.

Girl 2 made the next move, but instead of crawling, she turned around to look out the glass door and got completely (and adorably) distracted by the view. She never even noticed there was a race going on.

Girl 1 really got into the spirit of things. She ran excitedly toward the Puffs, but was so carried away by her enthusiasm that she ran right past them and kept going out the front door.

Frankie, meanwhile, crawled right over to the Puffs and started stuffing them in his mouth. He won by default.

And Anita and I almost fell over laughing.

Friday, July 31, 2015

What I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married

"First, I've learned that marriage holds up a mirror to your truest self—and you won't always like what you see..."

Friends, I'm over on Christina's great blog today chatting about some of the lessons I've learned in the first two years of marriage.

Head on over and say hi! :)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Baby shower gifts your friend will love

Last week a dear friend texted me to say that she's going to a baby shower next weekend and she doesn't have kids so AHHH HELP she had no clue what to get. She just wants to find a gift the mom will LOVE and did I have any suggestions?!

My first suggestion was to buy something off her registry. I think most people really appreciate when you get something they asked for (and often NEED) off their registry instead of yet another newborn outfit that will only be worn once.

But in this case the mama-to-be didn't have a registry, so here's what I recommended. I tried to think of fun "extras" that she might not purchase for herself, but that she'll use all the time and love! (And hey—my friend is still looking for a gift and she reads this blog—so if you have any other ideas please share in the comments!)

I told her that if the mama is planning to breastfeed (a big IF but if you're close friends you can usually find out), the perfect thing would be a breastfeeding gift basket! You could package up a copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, some Motherlove nipple cream (sounds gross, but worth its weight in gold), some Mother's Milk Tea and a set of Bamboobies or other nursing pads. If you want to really go wild, you could also throw in a cute nursing cover (not necessary but nice to have in the newborn stage), a Boppy or My Brest Friend pillow, a gift card to get a nice nursing bra, and maybe even a manual breast pump. Throw some cellophane and a bow on all that and you've got the world's best new-mom basket. Your friend will be blessing your name every time she pulls out one of those awesome supplies!

Another themed gift (again depending on the mom's plans) is a cloth diaper gift basket with a diaper sprayer, a cute wet bag (large and small), some of the special detergent for cloth diapers, and of course 2–4 diapers of her choice (I use the Bumgenius 4.0 but the options are endless).

One of the biggest sanity-savers postpartum is a good baby carrier, like the K'tan or Solly Baby or Ergo. This is another case where it's best to know her preference, but if in doubt, I recommend getting the K'tan because it's comfortable and easy to figure out.

Or you could take the guesswork out of it and get her a membership to her local Babywearing International chapter, so she can rent a new baby carrier every month. This is an amazing, inexpensive (my local chapter is $30) way to test out different carriers and I really wish I'd done this before Frankie was 13 months old (but better late than never, right?). One of my friends buys a membership for every new mom she knows which is super thoughtful and useful.

Going down the much more affordable route...

Indestructibles are like board books but better. They seriously can't break and they have the prettiest illustrations. Frankie doesn't have one but I wish he did! The little girl next door does, and her mom attests that it keeps her endlessly entertained.

A new mom can never have enough Old Navy baby socks—they're the best at actually staying on little feet, plus they're inexpensive and cute. Before Frankie was born, my brother-in-law (who works at Old Navy) awesomely bought us about 20 pairs in all different sizes and colors. We have used them almost every day, and the great thing about having so many is that I'm never frantically hunting for a missing sock since I can always just grab a different pair. For a darling presentation, you could do what one of my friends did and package the little socks in cupcake liners in a cute box. You can never have too many!

A super useful gift is a pack of "prefold" (flat, unfolded) cloth diapers. They make the best burp cloths because they're so absorbent. I have a few packs of these and use them constantly! A similar idea is a package of flannel blankets—you can use them as swaddle blankets, burp cloths, anything.

I didn't discover these bibs that double as burp cloths until recently, but I'm completely obsessed and wish I had about 10 of them. They do both jobs perfectly and are super cute too. Any mom would love some of these!

I asked my mom for a teething necklace (jewelry for mom that baby can safely chew) for my birthday last year and I use it all the time. Some great brands include Chewbeads, Smart Mom Jewelry, and The Jones Market. You could get your friend a gift card or pick out some jewelry for her if you know her style.

One of our favorite gifts was a set of stacking bath toys that Frankie has so much fun playing with. Who knew bath toys would be such an awesome present? Throw in some organic baby shampoo or a hooded towel and you have another gift basket idea.

Before I had a baby I scoffed at the idea of using one of those backseat car mirrors that let you see your baby while you're driving. Then I had a baby and that silly little car mirror became my favorite thing. It was a baby shower gift and I think most new moms would love one (even if they don't think they will before baby is born!).

Alright, that's all I got. I really hope this is helpful, and if you have any other suggestions, lay 'em on me. If all else fails, you can't go wrong with books or clothing! Or, as one of my friends said, "beautiful, open-ended, wooden toys that will grow with the child." Yep. :)

p.s. For more along these lines, check out these great posts one and two by super-experienced mama Grace.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Frankie + "Dah-dee"

I don't think we can call Frankie a baby anymore but a toddler instead! It's so cute to see his little personality develop and the funny ways he tries to imitate what we say and do.

He and Frank are the best of pals these days. Nobody can make him laugh quite like his dad can! I think Frank is really enjoying the new-found affection from Frankie after all the months of Frankie preferring me during the baby phase.

Matching outfits at Easter
Here are a few recent stories of those two best buddies...

Frankie said "Daddy" for the first time the night of July 11! First he slowly sounded out "dahhh-dee" and then switched to "dahhh-doo" for a few days. But now it's back to either "dada" or "dah-dee" almost all the time. The best.

One great thing about co-sleeping is that you can see all the funny, cute things your baby does between sleep cycles. A few weeks ago, Frankie sat up in bed in the middle of the night and said, "Dada?" Frank was fast asleep, so Frankie leaned over to plant his face on him, and at first I thought he was biting him! But then I heard his little lips smacking and I realized he was KISSING him instead. Then he dropped down and went right back to sleep like nothing happened!

Another night, Frankie was clearly having a hilarious dream. He was giggling and chuckling in his sleep, and I lay there wondering what on earth could be so funny, and wishing it were possible to know what he was dreaming about. Well, my wish was granted, because suddenly he let out an especially loud laugh and said, "Daaa-daaaa!" all without waking up. How cute to know that he was dreaming about having fun with his dad.

One evening I served soup for dinner, and it was still really hot so Frank began to blow on his spoon to cool the soup down before lifting it to his lips. As I served Frankie his not-hot-at-all baby food, he began to blow on each bite too, laughing and looking at Frank the whole time.

Frankie loves going to Frank's softball games every Monday night, and the real highlight for him is if he gets his own "baw" (ball) to play with and can throw it to me just like Frank pitches it from the mound. He's getting really good at playing catch from watching Frank do it!

Watching dad pitch
Frank has taught him that the dog says "woof", except when Frankie imitates the dog it sounds more like "woo! woo!" in the softest little voice ever. Now Frankie starts to "woof" every time he sees a dog, and once he even got down on his hands and knees to really get into the imitating. Last week we walked past a cat in front of a house, and right on cue Frankie began to "woof" at the cat too! Frank also taught him to "roar" like the lion, which in Frankie-speak is more like "woe!" again in such a sweet little voice.

Whenever he sees Frank's tie rack or his potted plants outside, he points and yells "Dadadadada!" Possibly because I always tell him they're "Dada's ties" and "Dada's plants."

And my personal favorite... every morning before he leaves for work, Frank gives me a kiss goodbye, and Frankie has started to imitate him and give me a kiss right after his dad does! It makes me so happy to see our boy imitating this sweet habit.

I sure do love those two Franks of mine.