Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I'll bet you didn't know that turkeys have tender loins...

...but they DO! And they're delicious. At least the ones I cooked as part of last night's food network style dinner sure were. So, alas, the menu: turkey tenderloin, roasted baby gold potatoes, sauteed green beans, and homemade garlic spread on sourdough rolls.

mmmmm. Iron Chef, here I come.

Now down to business. Who stole my precious little angel and replaced him with the little tantrum-monger who is currently sleeping (thank GOD) in the next room? Honestly. I would like to know. Call me please and we'll negotiate a drop off point.

Good heavens. Here we are, barrelling toward age two at lightning speed when all of a sudden we bypassed the next three weeks and landed smack in the middle of the terrible twos.

Terrible. Awful. Screamy. Loud. Whiny. Stompy. Jumping up and down and sobbing. Refusing a bath. Refusing jammies. Trying to pull off the diaper. (I can't tell you how many times a day I hear the phrase, "Please take your hands out of your pants" coming out of m mouth.) Turning himself into a limp, wet noodle when we try to pick him up. Demanding. Opening the fridge. Not giving in. Testing every boundary. Screaming himself to sleep. Screaming. Screaming. Screaming! SOMEONE STOP THE SCREAMING!

This behavior has only been going on for about one week and I find myself already wondering where, exactly, my whit ends. Sometimes, it's actually funny. The screaming and the drama are so extreme that you just have to sit back and wonder what exactly is going on in that cute little head. I've learned already that being patient is the key to it all. Letting him scream it out usually only takes a minute or two before he's standing there with his eyes closed trying to figure out if he's ready to move on with his life. Usually he is, and we're both giggling in no time.

The hard part, though, is bed time. He's just going going going all the time, right? And life is too fun to have to stop and spend the night in Crib Prison. The screaming and crying that comes from his room is absolutely heartbreaking. Sure, it only lasts about 10 minutes, but he's just so SAD. He just wants his MOOMMMMIIIIEEEEE!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!! WAHHHHHHH! DADDIIEEEEE!!!!!! And for those ten minutes, even though you know he's just testing you, even though you know he'll be asleep in no time, you feel like the worst mommy in the world for neglecting your precious little angel.

The other night he got himself so riled up that I honestly thought he was going to make himself sick. So in I went to find this little person standing inside his crib, shaking because he was so upset. I sat him in his chair and read to him for a while before he gave me the "mommy pick me up" signal. He was so tired. And so clingy. There we stood in the middle of his room, singing songs and swaying back and forth, his little hands clinging to my shirt as though I was about to melt away from underneath him. I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT.

Finally, he lifted his head and said, "Momma, poopoos." So I laid him down on his changing table, did a mock diaper change for him, and rubbed his forehead while we talked about how he is the big brother and how he needs to teach Yaya how to sleep in his big boy bed. We talked about how I know it's no fun that Yaya gets to sleep in Mama's room and Christopher doesn't, and about how soon Yaya will be sleeping in his own room next door to Christopher. We talked and talked and talked. And you know what?


I would have stood there with him all night if I could have. My precious boy. My sleeping angel. I wish we could do that every night.

So I don't know. Maybe it's time to mix things up a little. Maybe we should adjust his crib to toddler bed stage so that we can lay next to him and he can feel more like a big boy (although, the late night wandering is keeping me from doing that at this point). Maybe we should just continue to pump him full of Tylenol to offset the pain of those (SLOWLY) emerging two year molars. Maybe we should call supernanny (which, honestly? that woman is a GENIUS....and most of those parents are complete DOLTS.)

It's hard being almost-two. That's really all there is to say.

On the plus side:
1. Christopher peed in the big boy potty two nights ago.
2. Jacob sleeps from 9pm until 7am. 8 nights in a row. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ave Maria!

I love Holy Days of Obligation. I always have. Even before my life as a grown up who has studied and taken a sincere, educated interest in her Faith, Holy Days have always held a sort of mystique. Stepping outside of your normal routine of regular life during the week and Mass on Sundays really forces you to pay attention, you know? This, of course, makes me wonder about those who attend daily Mass. Do the Holy Days offer something different to these Faithful? For me, no matter how frequently I would attend Mass, these days always stood out as special. They were a time to really focus, to really celebrate our Faith.

There was a time in my life when I was far more frequent a Mass attendee. That remarkable period where I was so totally immersed in Catholic Culture that the peer pressure I was subjected to centered around going to Mass. Or Adoration. Or Confession. A time when I was the recipient of other peoples' efforts to bring my Faith to life.

Those were the days. I often reflect on how easy it was back then. How my four years on top of the hill were, faith-wise, the easiest I've ever had. True, they were years of tremendous growth. Of stretching. And, in that regard, came along with their own challenges. But everything I needed was available to me - whether I wanted it on any given day or not. Honestly, when else can you go to confession to a multitude of priests EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK? Where else can you pop in for Adoration at any time of the day or night on any day of the year? (Those people who can do this? SO. LUCKY.) Boy oh boy. It was so easy. And I didn't even realize it.

My current life still has me immersed in Catholic Culture, but now it's just different. I'm no longer the recipient of other peoples' efforts to create that culture. Now I find that I am the creator of that culture. I now live in a world where, if daily Mass is going to be available, it's becuase I'm motivating the family (okay, myself) to get ready in the mornings. In this world, if my kids are going to understand the extreme privilege of visiting Our Lord in Adoration, it's because I'm the one making the house call. Fostering a love for Our Blessed Mother comes as a result of my loving my children the way that she loved her own Son. Encouraging daily prayer will not come as a result of my prodding, "Did you say your prayers?" Rather, it will develop out of giving my entire family the gift of praying together....and teaching them to respect the fact that sometimes, we need to go into our rooms and take some time alone...just us and Jesus.

Naturally, I am blessed in that the responsibility does not lie with me alone. My boys have a phenomenal, faith-filled dad who takes such a keen interest in practicing his faith. He recognizes that, in order to be a full participant in the Faith, one must study and truly understand it. He is the head of the household, both literally and metaphorically. He directs us well, and he educates us well. Often, though, I will find myself frustrated when Tim reminds me that "we need to be praying more. We need to be praying the Rosary." This is always true, but I admit that sometimes my back goes up when I hear that direction. Rather than humbly thinking, "he's right. We do need to be praying more," my thoughts will sometimes turn to, "he is the head of the family. It's one thing to say we need to be praying more and completely another thing to make sure we DO it."

Not surprisingly, Our Lady always seems to provide the gentle reminder that I need (and it's always immediate.) I can practically hear her whispering in my ear, "but you are the mother. You are the HEART of the family." And I sheepishly remember that she is right. His job is to direct and to guide. My job is to give that gentle nudge into action. By allowing the head and the heart to work together, we're providing that organic combination that is creating our own Catholic Culture right here in our very own home.

That is the lesson that I've taken out of this most beautiful solemnity. On this day that we almost forgot to go to Mass because we've been so distracted with other things. On this day that I spent the entire homily seeing to the needs of my little ones rather than soaking in any little bit of the homily. On this day that I didn't even talk to Our Blessed Mother even once (not even to say, "help!" which is a frequent conversation that we share), I've learned that Mary's path to holiness was through her "yes" to motherhood and everything that entails.

So lies mine.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Things I LOVE

...warm, squishy, sleeping babies who have a drop of milk rolling down their cheeks.

...almost two year old little boys who climb and run and jump and go down big boy slides backwards without any help from their mommy whatsoever.

...pretending to have my own food network show while I'm cooking dinner.

...having friends nearby who I can laugh so hard with that we both start to cry.

...getting compassionate, understanding, loving emails from my dad when I least expect it.

...knowing that, regardless of how hard life gets, I have my best friend by my side. Always. that light up when my little boy jumps. and stomps. and just walks.

...that every time we walk to the play structure at church, Christopher mandates a stop at the mural of our Lady of Guadalupe, sits down, makes the sign of the cross, and waits for me to pray a Hail Mary with him.

...hearing the church bells, right now, as they chime the Salve Regina.

...the peace that comes from knowing that we have our entire lives ahead of us and that it's okay if things aren't PERFECT this very instant.

...sitting with our 4-year old little friend on the park bench and listening to her while she shares her anxiety over her baby brother coming to live with them from South Korea.

...the fact that my friends are adopting this precious little one, and that he'll be here SOON!

...novenas. And friends who willingly pray them when you ask. entire day with no temper tantrums. Well. From the toddler, at least.

...dancing with Christopher.

...good emails that are moving us forward with starting the business.

...precious friends, who, although I haven't spoken to them in a while, are always there to listen, love, and pray.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Welcome to the Family, Jake.

It's 8:32 pm. Tomorrow morning, my little Jacob will be baptized into the Catholic Church. As I sit here, the first time today, I finally have a minute to reflect on what all of that means. We've been preparing so much over this past week. Shopping. Cleaning. Painting. Vacuuming. Cooking. Dusting. All to prepare for the massive celebration that will take place at my in-laws' house tomorrow.

AFTER the Sacrament.

It will be a grand party, that's for sure. Tim's wonderful parents have opened up their home to the 45+ people who are coming to celebrate this joyous day in the life of our little one, and for that I am so very grateful. But just because the party is at someone else's house, doesn't mean that our share of the work has been any less. And I wouldn't want it any other way.

But now, as I sit here with my mind still swarming of what needs to happen tomorrow morning before I even hit the showers, I can see the irony of it all. Or the ridiculousness, really. Our focus ALL WEEK has been on the party. I, for one, have reflected very little on the real celebration of the day. The honest-to-goodness celebration that will be taking place in the Church Triumphant as another soul is added to the ranks. Another member of the Church Militant signing on for battle. The beauty of the ritual. The glory of the rite.

The blessing of the CHILD.

Once all is said and done, it will have been a wonderful party. So many family members and friends will gather to celebrate our boy and to enjoy each other's company. I know it will be just lovely.

But when you ask me how the day went, don't let me get away with only telling you how lovely the party was. Don't allow me to ignore the real celebration of the day - the splendor of my precious son beginning the process of full initiation into the True Church of Christ.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I asked Tim to buy me a pool with a house in the front yard, on the basis that it should be cheaper than a house with a pool in the backyard. Right?

I like Bobby Flay. Really a lot. And I hope I'm not the only one. Right now, I'm watching "Throwdown with Bobby Flay" and it's rapidly becoming my favorite food network show.

My relationship with Food Network can most simply be described as "love / hate." I can't turn it off. It's my channel of choice whenever I sit down lately and I'm always so inspired by the deliciousness of what is presented to me. As a matter of fact, the saddest TV moments for me these days are between the hours of 3 and 8 am (or so) when my favorite foodies are replaced by infomercials of one type or another. (Side note: sleeping is getting SO MUCH BETTER with Jake....we only get up twice during the night right now. Sadly, though, one of those...and sometimes both....are during the generally AWFUL and often IN POOR TASTE infomercials.)

But I digress. The challenging part of my love affair with channel 35 is actually transitioning from sitting on the couch watching delicious food to actually bringing it to life in the kitchen. This is not for lack of skill. I'm not too humble to admit that I've got some mad cooking skills. (And the cooking show I put on for Christopher, which always involves dancing, could EASILY stand up to ANY of those Rachael Ray types.) Sadly, we're not too adventurous when it comes to the edible arts here. I can't even blame Tim for this, although it really is TOTALLY HIS FAULT, because he generally is willing to try new things if I want to do it. The problem is that I am too quick to cater to the ease of cooking a guaranteed favorite. You know what I mean? Why invest the time and energy (and emotion, because seriously? I am totally invested in my cooking) when they may not be a hit?

I know. I need to just get over it and try it out. So that's my plan. Next week, once we're past Jakie's Baptism and everyone has recovered from the stress of the party (more on that another time) I'm going for it. BRING IT ON, BOBBY FLAY.


Well, as usual, the above is NOT what I intended to write when I sat down tonight. What I INTENDED to talk about was our visit to the swimming pool today - about how much Christopher LOVED swimming last week and about how we couldn't wait to get back there when his Nonna arrived today. OH - and also about how cute he was when he was waiting at the door for her to arrive this morning and practically EXPLODED OUT OF HIS SKIN when he saw her walking down the path. It seriously made me cry, what with all the jumping and the waving and the repeated "Nonna! Nonna! Nonna!s."

So we get to the pool and jump right in. This kid has NO. FEAR. (Which, of course adds to my own fear quite a bit.) It's the cutest thing to watch him jump off the side and splash around and come up, all drippy and wet, after I've dunked him completely under. And do you know that he didn't. even. cry. the first time I did that? He was confident and adventurous starting with the first toe he dipped into the pool last week and I wanted nothing more than to capture that confidence on film. My camera was even CHARGED this time.

There we were, all smiles, looking up at Nonna as she snapped away (unfortunately, a little too slowly) when the lifeguard approached her with, "I'm sorry, Ma'am. We don't allow cameras here."


Um. SERIOUSLY? Who does this lifeguard think he is getting in between me and my photo of the first (okay, second....see above note about charging camera) time my son went swimming?! And doesn't he know that my mom is not the speediest person in the world and that instead of snapping away the way I would have done, she only took ONE BLASTED PICTURE? ONE!

Needless to say, I was less than pleased. And then I realized that they probably have very good reasoning for not allowing photographs, etc. at the pool which probably involves protecting children from TOTAL CREEPOS. This, of course, makes me even more mad that there are such sickos out there that I cannot even photograph my own children.

Thus, we arrive at today's biggest revelation: I am no longer totally opposed to the possibility of owning a home with a swimming pool in the backyard. Don't get me wrong, I'm still about 90% opposed due to all of the safety issues EVEN WITH THE PROPER FENCING AND COVERS AND ALARMS AND EVERYTHING ELSE I'D FORCE MY HUSBAND TO HAVE IN PLACE BEFORE I'D EVEN SET FOOT ON THE PROPERTY. But now I also see how much fun there is to be had at the pool, and since my kids won't have the luxury of growing up like their mother did, on the best swimming pool in the world....well, I'm willing to consider it.

Because, you know, buying a house is SO IMMINENT. sigh.

****Bobby Flay just lost the meatloaf throwdown. Do you know that I've never seen him win? Very sad, Bobby Flay. Very sad.****