Our Boys

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How being a mom defines you

First, I've been away from my baby for almost a week now. He comes home tomorrow and I miss him like crazy but I am so happy for him that he had this time with his Gammy and Pap. Second, I am all full of pregnant crazy. I've had a lot of time this past week to think, plan, organize, and worry. Let me tell you when you are pregnant and all that's going on, look out! I am surprised that Brett has come home from work at all. 

With that being said, I can't get over how much I have realized this week that being a mom truly defines who you are. You can't ever go back. I know people say that you have to make time for yourself. Don't lose who you are as a person. Don't give up things you loved before you had kids. Well folks, I agree, but I am 100% now convinced that this just isn't possible. I'm not saying that I no longer have things that I enjoy just for me. I love a long talk with my girlfriends. Browsing the aisles of Target makes me giddy. Coffee is still my guilty pleasure. I revel in a few minutes of peace and quiet. But it's different now. I'm a mom. Wow! You can say over and over again that kids change your life, for the better, but your life is changed forever. I don't think I realized the magnitude of that until Owen went on vacation for a while. It took me 2 full days to get over the fact that he really wasn't here. What has my priority been while he's been gone? Doing things that I can't or find difficult to do when he's here. Cleaning, organizing, cooking, etc. The truth is though, everything I do in some way big or small has to do with him. Whether it be that I have switched to natural cleaning products, decluttering the house is really just about making room for more toys, getting organized with dinners simply means more time with him and less time planning, shopping, and cooking. The list goes on. These things seem so simple but when put together they make up this whole new life that I have with a son and another son on the way. Gone are the days spent lounging around putting things off until later because there will always be a later. I can accomplish 20 times the amount of errands and chores that I used to. Efficiency and time management becomes the new game.

I am still a lot of other things - wife, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, neighbor - but each of those roles is now influenced in way that it wasn't before. 

I'm a mom. That's a powerful statement. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Owen's Visit to Camp Gammy and Pap

I recently wrote about my first night away from Owen. It was a much needed getaway for Brett and I to reconnect and enjoy each other's company without the tug of our little man. Well, we have now had an extended "getaway" except he's the one who has "gotten away". My sweet little baby is spending a week "on his own" with my parents - Camp Gammy and Pap as I like to call it. He is having a blast and much to our dismay, we don't think he misses us or needs us as much as we like to think he does.

It took me a few days to get used to him being gone. I was still feeling that little pit of anxiety that I had to get everything done immediately because at any time he could wake up from his nap and my attention to chores, etc. would be lost. I have used this time wisely though. I have napped a lot, resting this poor pregnant body has been a must. I have organized our house and decluttered lots of stuff that needed to go. I have grocery shopped and prepared meals and feel organized and good about what I'm feeding my family. But most of all, I have dedicated some time to two people that I have neglected a little bit.

Brett and I spent the weekend almost as if we were "young and carefree" again. We went to the movies and saw the Dark Night, we went shopping, we went out to breakfast, we sat on our patio and chatted for a while. We basically just enjoyed being with each other. I wrote before how important it is to me for us to stay connected as a couple. It is something I have struggled with since the day Owen came home from the hospital. He demands a lot of time and attention, but in order for us to be good parents, we have to be good partners. This last weekend and these evenings this week, we have had a chance to remember what it's like to be "just us" and it has been wonderful.

The other person I have been able to spend some time with is this little boy growing inside me. I remember being pregnant with Owen and loving moments when I was completely present and feeling him move. It was like he was almost here already and I was getting to know him. I haven't done a lot of that this time around. As I've stated many times, Owen requires a lot of attention. Sitting with my hands on my belly and talking to BB2 doesn't happen a whole lot. I try to do this at night, but I'm so tired. Without Owen around, I have been able to connect with the baby and feel so much closer to him than I did before. I'm starting to visualize what it's really going to be like with a new little guy here. I've talked to him so much more this week and began doing some practical things to prepare for his arrival as well. It's amazing just how different it is the second time around, but we just now decided some details of his room and purchased a crib. I can't wait to meet him and have him be a part of our amazing family.

I hope this isn't misconstrued by any means. I miss Owen more than I can describe. Every time I watch a video sent by my mom or dad or see a picture of something fun they are doing, I want to wrap my arms around him and get one of his wide mouth kisses. I'm so thankful that he has family that he loves so much and that love him so much that being away from us is perfectly OK. I think we are both enjoying our time apart, but I can't wait to hear that little shriek when I pick him up!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Over a year, ready to wean?

So while I'm feeling so honest about motherhood this week, I should share that I've been struggling giving something up. Something very special and something that has taken up quite a bit of my life over the past...14 months. Breastfeeding. Yep! I'm still doing it. This is one of those topics that's tough to talk about because most people are very opinionated about it, especially the weaning part. I have lots of friends who have stopped at various points in their babies development for many reasons. Some stopped early on because they just didn't produce enough milk. Some set a goal and once that goal was reached, they quit cold turkey. Others keep going and end up not really knowing how to stop and it becomes more difficult because their baby starts to depend on it for comfort. We are in a weird gray area.

After Owen's first birthday, he gave up the bottle with no problem and switched to whole milk and a sippy cup. We ended out nightly nursing sessions with no problem at all. I swore I would stop nursing him in the mornings. Then we had his surgery to look forward to (I do plan on posting about his surgery soon). I decided I wanted to be able to nurse him when he woke form his anesthesia which turned out to be a very wise choice. Now here we are over 14 months old and still nursing in the mornings. So why the gray area? I don't have to nurse him. When we visited my parents, they would get him up int he morning and allow me to sleep in. If we missed a day or even two in a row it was no big deal. If we are home and I get him up and we want to, we sit in our chair and cuddle while he nurses a bit. I know there's really no problem here, but I think it's time to stop. I would like to have a bit of a break before Baby Boy #2 arrives and I also do not want Owen to want to nurse when I go back to work in a few weeks.

Breastfeeding has been a breeze for us. It came so naturally and the only obstacle we have encountered is when my production went way down and that was because I found myself knocked up again. It has been a very special bonding time that Owen and I have been blessed to share and I guess emotionally that is something hard to give up. he is my baby boy and always will be. Now I know I can't nurse him forever, the thought of him going off to Kindergarten asking for "just another quick drink" makes me giggle. I know there are some people who might not see anything wrong with that. That's not me. But the truth is, I think our time has come to move on and give up our morning time together.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Our First Night Away

This was a first. Brett and I were able to get away for a night without our baby boy! On first trip to PA this summer my mom arranged for us to spend the night at her friend's condo at a ski resort a little over an hour away. She didn't have to ask us twice. While I don't love leaving the little guy, I knew he was in good hands and this would give Brett and I some much needed quiet time together. We left early on Thursday morning and drove straight to the condo just to make sure we knew where we were going. Then we decided to be a little adventurous and drive even farther "out there" to visit Falling Water, the amazing Frank Lloyd Wright house. We stopped at a local restaurant on the way for lunch, the See Mor Cafe where we stuffed our face with home cooked meatloaf, chicken pin wheel, and blue berry pie. The house was amazing. It fascinates me that there are people with such vision, who could look at a piece of landscape and imagine what could be. We went out to dinner that night and enjoyed lingering even after we were done eating.

We don't get out together a lot any more. Brett works long hours, our weekends are usually full of commitments and babysitters are to come by. So this truly was a wonderful getaway. As much as I love spending time with Owen and even more spending time with Brett and Owen as a family, it is so important to me that Brett and I maintain our relationship. I read a quote once that said the greatest gift you can give your children is to love their mother/ father. So true! Brett and I laugh that our hope is that we can embarrass our kids long into their teen years by showing each other more affection that kids want to see out of their parents. Kids learn what a marriage is from their role models. I want to be a good relationship role model for our kids. I want them to learn respect and communication from us. I want them to learn how to laugh with their partner and how to have fun doing just about anything. I want to teach them that disagreeing is part of being married but with disagreeing comes compromise and the ability to see things form another person's perspective.

My dream is to one day be sitting at a large family dinner and look around and see our kids looking into their partners face the way I look at Brett and the way he looks at me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Some mom honesty

To be perfectly honest, I want to be a stay at home mom to my sweet boy Owen and his new little brother who will be arriving sooner than later. Also, to be perfectly honest, staying at home makes me crazy! I think it's a grass is always greener situation, but in case you didn't know, parenting a one year old is hard. Very hard!

For approximately 11 hours, I am the sole caregiver to a very active, very loud, one year old boy. Now don't get me wrong, I love this guy more than I ever thought possible. He makes me smile and laugh and cry all at the same time. Mostly though, he makes me want to be a good mom because I know that he deserves my love and attention and teaching during the day. But again, to be perfectly honest, it's exhausting. We can only run so many errands and plan so many play dates. In the end there are times that we just have to be home and with each other. Sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes it's a very difficult thing.

So here's my honesty that might not seem too pretty or something that a lot of moms want to admit. I crave adult interaction and at times, take walks with Owen just to see who might be outside and might want to stop and talk for a few minutes. I plan things for us to do to take up chunks of time during the day. I can't wait until nap time when I get 1 hour (yes, that's all he naps) to sit in peace and quiet. Unfortunately, that's also the one hour that I try to squeeze in a day's worth of chores. I love when he can settle on a toy or an activity and I get a few minutes where he is not demanding my attention. Those are the ugly truths of parenthood.

So how then can I say I would prefer to be at home with him? That's easy. There are tough time and times that I literally have to close my eyes for just a second to regain some patience (like when he touches the same glass door on the bookcase for the 5th time in a row after having a  time out 5 times for doing it); but, when I open my eyes and he is leaning against me kissing my shoulder with his big open mouth, my heart melts. When he walks around the house with his hand to his ear pretending it's a phone having a very loud conversation with who knows who, I laugh. When he feeds me his lunch, I am proud. He is a sweet, lovable, funny, wild little boy who I would prefer to spend my time with over anyone else.

To be honest, I love being a mom. It's the single hardest job I have ever had and it's the single most rewarding job I ever will have.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Fun

This summer is flying by and I think it's because we have just been so busy. Not in a bad way, but in a "taking advantage of being home and having a very active one year old way".  After spending the first week in PA, I got right back into stay at home mama mode - my favorite!!!! Owen and I have been playing in the back yard from morning until night, swimming, swinging, digging in the dirt. You name it and we've done it. We've also had lots of play dates with friends from work and friends in the neighborhood. Here's a little glimpse:
Our little artist
The baby pool at Gammy and Pap's house in PA
A little uncle love
Too cute!
We turned the pool into a ball pit - SUPER fun!
Brookfield Zoo with Camille and Isabella

Reading to Tucker

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer Eats

In case there are any of you that are living under a rock, it's summer!!!!! And that means I am done with school and have stepped right back into my favorite role - being a mommy and a wife at home all day long! We are just now getting into a routine as we spend the first week in PA visiting with my family, seeing the Cubs get whooped by the Pirates, and saying goodbye to my brother Scotty. Scott is spending the next several week in Basic Training for the army just as Ben did last summer. I'm so proud of both of them.

Well, here's my domestic diva contribution to you...a summer salad recipe. On the way back from PA, we stopped at an Ohio Oasis for our one big stop - diaper change, walks for the pups and for O, potty breaks for us, and lunch. I really hate eating on the road because there never seems to be much variety. Well, this stop I was in luck because they happened to have a Panera (along with several other greasy joints). I hate spending $10 on lunch, but I decided that since it was a necessity and I would be eating it while crammed in the back seat with no leg room, I was getting something that I would at least enjoy. I settled on the Strawberry Poppy Seed Chicken Salad. Oh. My. It completely tasted of summer. I quickly opened the Notes on my phone and jotted down all the ingredients so I wouldn't forget all of that heavenly goodness packed into this salad and the very next week I set out to create my own. Brett and I had it for dinner and even he was in agreement that it was pretty tasty (and pretty healthy too).

My Own Version of Panera's Strawberry 

Poppy Seed Chicken Salad

The nuts - toasting is probably optional but I love toasted nuts on a salad and love to do them with a little sugar. Simply place in skillet on low-medium heat, sprinkle sugar and stir constantly. You must watch them because they will burn. continue sirring until the sugar seems to have disappeared (it's actually caramelized on the nuts).

The chicken - slice your boneless skinless breast into chunks or thin strips, however you like i for a salad. Place in Ziploc bag and cover with orange juice, a quirt or two of lemon and lime juice and a generous dump of pepper. Marinate for as long as you've got time. Cook until done.

The dressing - feel free to buy a store bought dressing, but this recipe is super simple.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T. vinegar
2 T. sugar
1 T. poppy seeds
dash of salt and pepper
-Mix all ingredients together.

Start with a bed of washed and torn Romaine lettuce. Top with a handful of blueberries, a handful of thinly sliced strawberries and fresh pineapple, some mandarin oranges, a sprinkling of the nuts, chicken and dressing. Obviously, I'm not giving you amounts. This salad has a lot of fruit, so you could adjust accordingly. I do advise to thinly slice your strawberries and pineapple. The mixture of flavors is perfect and you wouldn't want one of those overpowering even just one bite.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Owen's1st Monkey Themed Birthday Party

We planned Owen's party for the day after his actual birthday, May 12. All week the weather did not look like it would be in our favor and my plans of our backyard being host to a beautiful spring party seemed lost. When we woke Saturday morning, it was pouring. The patio was soaked, the grass was wet...but, no need to worry. The boys all set to work setting up tents and planning out the garage for the food and a table or two. While it wasn't the beautiful sunny day I had hoped for, the party was perfect and a lot of work and love went into every last detail.

I absolutely loved the monkey theme as soon Brett and I settled on it. I didn't want to stick to sock monkeys, Julius or Curious George so we went with a little bit of everything and centered it on our blue and yellow colors. Things couldn't have turned out better.

I worked with an amazing seller on Etsy to create the PERFECT t shirt for Owen to wear on his big day (he wore it to the zoo also since I wanted to get more than one wear out of it). Missy from Tiger Chic Designs matched our colors perfectly, and designed the perfect party hat for the monkey to wear!

Other than that, we pretty much did everything ourselves. The favors included a few things from the Target dollar bin (Paul Frank key chains, notepads and pencils; monkey water squirters and masks), some things from Oriental Trading (beach balls with monkeys, monkey tattoos) and a package of animal crackers (not monkeys, but close). I got the treat bags from the clearance bin at Party City (they were Curious George and I got 12 for $1). Each bag was tied with blue curling ribbon and had a monkey that I made from construction paper templates and glued together with a thank you note from Owen on the back.

As for food, it could not have been more simple and perfect! We rented a hot dog steamer = AWESOME! Steamed hot dogs and buns and all the toppings for both a Chicago dog and a 'Shorty's with Everything" (Shorty's is a local hot dog shop in Washington, PA). My parents also brought a nacho cheese pump. I think the nachos were the biggest hit. In additional we had yummy pasta salad, a veggie tray and a great display of fruit skewers. On the tables were buckets full of blue and yellow candy (sixlets, gummy bananas, and blue raspberry rings) and well as blue and yellow chocolate covered pretzels that Brett and I hand dipped.

What I was most proud of was the cake and the cupcakes. I wanted cupcake toppers but didn't want the expense of ordering them, so I set out to make them. They turned out to be slightly time consuming trying to figure out the best way to do it, but after I figured it all out, they were very easy. They looked adorable atop yellow cupcakes in blue and white striped papers.

The cake was in the shape of a monkey! I found the design on Parenting.com and it turned out to be so much easier than I thought. I made it Friday night and took so much time to make sure it was perfect. Everyone commented how cute it was and I was feeling pretty proud. When it came time to sing, I carried it to Owen's seat and as I fixed the tray on his highchair, I bumped the cake and it fell to the ground!!!! Cool, calm and collected, I pieced it back together and 30 seconds later Owen dove into it.

Because of the weather, we didn't have much in the way of decorations. I originally planned to hang tissue paper pom poms around the yard, but when the threat of rain appeared in the forecast, I decided it wasn't worth the time. Basically the colors from the table cloths, other things I have already mentioned served as the decorations. We also had a 5 foot inflatable monkey gracing us with his presence.

Honestly, the day could not have been better! Owen was blessed with a birthday party full of lots of friends and family that mean a lot to him and to Brett and I. That was my one simple goal. Our family truly is blessed and it really showed on this special day.

Happy Birthday to our baby boy!!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A 1st Birthday Celebration at the Zoo!

It's hard to believe that Owen's first birthday has come and gone. It has taken me this past week and then some to recover both mentally (my baby is 1!) and physically (we had an eventful weekend).
The birthday boy in his super cute birthday tee!
His birthday fell on a Friday and this little boy was blessed with family that drove from all over and took time off of work to spend it with him. My parents and brothers arrived on Thursday night and on Friday we were all off to the Brookfield Zoo, along with Brett's stepmom and sister and Owen's amazing babysitter, her two kiddos and an extra friend. The weather could not have been more perfect and the zoo was not overly crowded, short of a small mad rush of kids on field trips at the beginning. Owen was a trooper and powered through nap time although he did fall asleep for a short time.
Brett and I have always loved zoos. We once spent an 8 hour day at Brookfield, just the two of us, enjoying watching the animals. I think Owen has inherited this love of animals as he was mesmerized by anything that was moving. Those sleeping furry things did nothing for him, but as soon as they moved, he was in awe. he loved the aquarium building; standing in the glass and watching the fish was his absolute favorite. The highlight of the day was when he was standing in the underground dolphin observation area and a dolphin swam by very quickly. It startled him and his reaction was priceless!

What a wonderful day to spend celebrating with our little boy!

The perfect spot for our little monkey to see the real monkies!

Owen (getting sleepy) and Dad with a very observant gorilla in the background.

Daddy making Owen his first Mold A Rama! This was special for Brett because he rmemebrs making these as a kid when visiting Brookfield. Owen's first Mold A Rama was a gorilla (they didn't have a monkey) and then Grandma Kate bought him a dolphin too!

A very sleep 1 year old

Mesmorized by the fish

Owen with Mommy, Daddy, and Baby Clancy #2!

Happy Birthday, Owen!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Life 1, Bogging 0

No. I didn't crawl into a deep dark hole, curl up and refuse to go back to work or interact with the rest of the world! Let's just say that life has gotten in the way of blogging, unfortunately. I've always enjoyed sharing our ups and downs with friends, family, and those of you out there that I probably will never meet. But when things get rocky or even just busy, sometimes the smartest thing to do is to know what to let go of. Taking time each day to sit and type and upload pictures just happened to be that thing that I needed to let go of for a while. So...what kinds of crazy things have gotten in the way of blogging? Oh, you know, being a working mom to a crazy little guy, trying to maintain some control over the four legged creatures in our house and trying desperately to still be a semi-good wife to the love of my life. You know just a few little things and maybe a few big things here and there. Here's just a few highlights I've missed blogging about...
In November, we traveled to St. Louis to visit a good friend of Brett's from high school and his family. They were such a great hosts to all (even Lucy and Tucker made the trip) of us. Owen loved the top of the Arch.
Owen's first Thanksgiving...we spent it at home in our PJs. Brett and I ate frozen turkey dinners. Not kidding.

We celebrated our first Christmas as a family of 5!!!
Everyday is a new adventure!
Our Valentine's traditional date at Chipotle and Oberweiss was a little different this year, but for the better!

Owen loves the warm weather and his first 1st birthday present - a Little Tykes 3 in 1 Trike. When my parents came to visit in March they took Owen to Toys R Us to pick out his present a little early.

Owen posing with Gammy, Grandpap and his new trike.

Happy Easter!

      And last but certainly not least, Owen is going to be a big brother! We are expecting another little one in October!!!
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