Sunday, December 29, 2013

5 Years Ago

On a Sunday at the very end of December, five years ago, John (aka Bacon Papa) and I went out on our very first date! It had been a long time coming and when we finally saw each other I felt so blessed, because I knew in just a few moments that I had made the right decision in dating him. We started by going to Mass with my family, then grabbed a Starbucks (John ordered a skinny Vanilla Latte and asked me not to judge him for ordering a girly drink) and then went out for Mexican food. Then we went back to my parent's house and played board games with my brothers! Quite the first date if you ask me...because guess what...it didn't end there. We were having such a great time that John also joined us for dinner at a family friend's house, and after a 12 hour first date, he finally headed home. Here's my favorite part: as he left, he gave me a hug. No kiss. Guess who he did kiss though (on the cheek)? My mom!!! What?! I remember coming inside and being slightly disappointed (I really liked him!) and I said to my mom, "I think he likes me, but he's such a gentleman...he just gave me a hug goodbye. Not even a kiss on the cheek." She of course laughed her little butt off. :)

Lest this blog post become too mushy, and since our wedding anniversary is coming up in just 10 days and I will probably write more about how much I love my husband then, I thought I would just share some awesome throwback pictures of the two of us over the past five years. It's amazing/crazy how much has happened in this relatively short amount of time!



This is from the weekend we got engaged - John's romantic engagement plan was foiled by the 12 inches of snow that (surprisingly) covered Dallas, so he ended up proposing to me in my dinky college apartment the night he arrived (after having his flight delayed for hours). It wasn't until the next day that we could even go anywhere attractive to take some "engagement" pictures! This is us in downtown Dallas. Our photographer was a random passerby. He/she (I can't remember) did an adequate job capturing our love, right?

When we first started dating we did fun stuff like go dancing at the world's largest honky tonk, Billy Bob's Texas! John is a great dancer so we had so much fun. He came out to visit me in Dallas so many times and I'm so glad we got to explore the great state of Texas together.
When we first started dating we also did corny things like dance all by ourselves. This was at my graduation lunch (a Mexican restaurant) - since there was music playing, John grabbed my hand and pulled me up to dance with him. I remember being embarrassed at the moment but now I look back at this picture  and I love him for being so romantic!
Once I moved back to CA (we had previously been dating/engaged long distance for six months while I finished college) we got to spend our weekends together which we loved. This night we went out with John's sisters and played darts. You may notice that in this picture I am wearing stylish high-waisted shorts...long before I had two children, I had a slender waist. It was great.
The two of us at our engagement party - we had so much fun celebrating with family and friends and hearing some great toasts! One of my favorite things about John actually is his ability to give a great toast. In just a few words, or sometimes quite a few words, he shares how much he cares about a person and it is so special. And pretty rare nowadays - not everyone can do it with a big smile on their face like John can. :)
Johnny & I in Nebraska for a friend's wedding - this was the second big trip we took together after getting married. The first was our honeymoon! I love traveling with John. He has such a great sense of adventure, and he is so easygoing that he doesn't get bothered by delays or inconveniences. He also has a great sense of direction so he makes sure we never get lost!
The next big trip we took together was our babymoon (while I was pregnant with Jack) to San Diego. We had such a great five days and since we went out to dinner every night, and went to the movies, the zoo, and for long walks on the beach, it definitely felt like we were dating again!
As I was writing this post and I reflected on the fact that five years ago we went on our first date, I was thinking about how John shows me that he loves me today (five years later). He no longer showers me with red roses, or dinner out, on a weekly basis (mostly because I am much more frugal now!) but instead, he does things that are so much more important to me. Things like changing the air filters in our house. Or replacing the batteries in all of the smoke alarms. Or bathing our dog, who was really, really smelly and really, really annoying me because of his doggy stench. And guess what? I feel so much more blessed to be loved by him today than I did back then.

(Correction: it was only four years ago!!! Oops. We counted wrong. I could edit this whole post accordingly but that would be such a bummer. I guess it just goes to show how quickly the years have flown by...so quickly that four seemed like five! :))



Sunday, December 22, 2013

Two boys

Our two boys are doing so well. Jack is such a sweet and loving older brother (so far). He's very "interested" in Liam (by that I mean he wakes up from his nap and says, "Baby?! Baby?!" because he wants to see Liam) and likes to say hello, touch his face (nose mostly), give kisses, and look at him, but he generally doesn't seem jealous or disturbed by the presence of another little one in our home. We continue to pray daily that the adjustment from a family of 3, to a family of 4, will be peaceful!

Jack holding Liam on our first afternoon at home

Side by side of our two baby boys faces...Jack on the left at 2 weeks old, and Liam on the right at 2 days old!
Liam is quite the chunker. :)

Another side by side of the boys, this time in the carseat.
Liam on the left and Jack on the right. Jack is that lovely shade of tan because he was so jaundice...Liam was/is a bit jaundice but we didn't have to do the bilirubin blanket like we did with Jack, or take him for repeated blood work, praise the Lord!

Most of the time, we still can't believe that we were blessed with another precious baby. Liam is so wonderful, and seeing Jack and Liam together has brought us so much joy. I know that most people (because I hear this on a daily, or at least weekly, basis) think that having two kids under the age of two is a huge challenge, but I know that John and I are up for it! I am so glad that Jack has a sibling, and that we have Liam in our life.

Friday, December 20, 2013

He's here!

He's here! Liam Thomas Flynn,  heretofore known as Baby #2, has arrived! He finally made his entrance (5 days overdue if we are officially counting...since I was the one who was pregnant for 10 months...I was counting!) on December 10th at 3:35 am. He was a big boy (praise the Lord! If I gained 50 lbs. and had a teeny tiny 5 lb. baby pop out of me, I would have been so disappointed!) weighing in at 8 lbs. 14 oz. and 21 1/2 inches long. Here's a picture because if you haven't already seen one...you want to!


Look at that squishy face and full head of hair!
As far as the details of his arrival...don't worry, you will just be getting the key points here. Mostly because I am not of the persuasion to give you a play by play of what is an incredibly amazing but also intimate, and painful, experience! (In the future, I do however want to blog about the hours leading up to my labor, because I had the best day with my mom, youngest brother James, and Jack... but that's an entirely different post and I'm on a limited time frame here (sleeping newborn for now but who knows when that will change!)). Anyway, I was VERY very blessed when it comes to Liam's birth. I attribute it to the countless prayers that others (& myself) offered up, and especially for the prayers that I believe my dad sent my way. Because Liam's birth was basically...easy. That is not a word I ever thought I would utter about childbirth. I labored at home for an hour or so, but wasn't even really sure if it was "labor" or just the Braxton Hicks contractions that I had been experiencing on & off for weeks...I mean months. Since I was overdue and generally feeling yucky (very yucky in fact), we had my mom come over to stay with our sleeping boy Jack and we headed to the hospital to get things checked out. After an hour or two of my favorite hospital labor game, "Am I, or am I not in labor?!" it was determined, thanks be to God, that this baby was going to be born, and we got admitted around midnight. Since I had been in some significant pain for the previous 3 hours, I immediately asked for an epidural (these things take time so you need to get your request in ASAP in my opinion). About an hour later I realized why I had been in so much pain, and why it was so quickly feeling SO intense...I was progressing at warp speed! This was a huge blessing but was less than comfortable (to say the least). 

Okay, this is getting too detailed, and I promised myself (& you, gentle reader) that I would not get too personal with the ol' birth story, so back to the highlights. Shortly after I got the epidural, it was game time. Meaning...time to push this baby out. Both John and I were in shock! The moment we had been waiting for was here, but man, did it arrive quickly. At that point, I basically said, "I'm not ready yet!!! I just got the epidural...can't I take a nap for an hour or two?!". This was because with Jack I took an almost four hour nap (after being in labor for 9 hours) after my epidural kicked in, which was amazing, because I really needed the rest. But Baby #2 wasn't waiting for mommy to catch up on any beauty sleep; he was ready to arrive. Our wonderful nurse & midwife gave me a few minutes to labor down naturally (I was so appreciative that they didn't rush me!) but before long, our midwife came in and said (in her awesome New Zealand accent), "Alrighty Kelly, let's have a baby!". (Yikes, is this getting too detailed again? Fortunately, like I said, I was immensely blessed with this delivery, so here we are at the end of the tale.) One practice push & three real pushes later...Liam Thomas Flynn was in my arms. John and I were in shock. It took 2 1/2 hours to push Jack out! And this kiddo (Liam) who was much larger, just came right out! What a gift. Looking at him with his full head of hair, chubby cheeks, and adorable baby body, will always be one of my favorite moments of his life.

Liam and I just a few hours after delivery!
I recovered very quickly (& was walking around and everything!) and basically spent most of the day in shock that he had safely arrived, without hurting mama much at all. My "birth plan" (unwritten, of course, because I really don't believe you can plan these things too much! There are just too many variables and I don't like to set myself up for disappointment) had been as follows: #1 - get baby out safely & #2 - minimize pain/discomfort to mama. Check, & check! Even the nurses & midwife were in shock at how well everything had gone. Again, I don't attribute this to anything that I did or did not do. I don't like labor. I didn't prepare for it by doing anything other than eat, sleep, go to work, and spend time with family and friends, for the 10 months leading up to it. So I really believe it was a result of prayers, prayers, and more prayers.

Speaking of prayers, I have to share with you a bit of detail about Liam Thomas' name! We came across the name Liam when I was 35 weeks pregnant. For the prior 6 months, we had decided that our boy's name was Thomas Jerome Flynn, with the nickname of Tommy. For some reason at 35 weeks, I realized I did not like the first name Thomas though! So the hunt was on for a name we truly loved. Liam is English/Irish and means "strong willed warrior" or "resolute protector", and we loved it. Thomas felt like a great middle name (so many patron saints to choose from) and so that was it. About a week before Liam arrived, my mom let me know that someone left a St. Thomas More prayer card at my dad's grave, and she thought I should have it. I absolutely love St. Thomas More after I spent a semester studying him in college, and had discussed his life numerous times with my dad (what I would give for another one of those conversations!) and Mom remembered this. I (sadly) had forgotten about St. Thomas More (or maybe not forgotten, but he wasn't at the forefront of my mind). This prayer card was exactly what I needed to get through that last week of pregnancy though, since I was missing my dad immensely (there's no other way to describe it) and wishing that he would have been able to meet my second baby boy. I spent the days leading up to Liam's birth reading the prayer below and I am so grateful to the person (unknown to us!) that brought it to his grave. Now Liam Thomas' name is even more special to me.

A prayer from Saint Thomas More

Almighty God, teach me to do Your will.  Take my right hand, and lead me in the right path. Draw me after You.  With bit and bridle bind fast my jaws when I come not near to You. 


Give me, good Lord, a full faith, a firm hope, and a fervent charity; a love for You, good Lord, incomparably above the love of myself; and that I love nothing to your displeasure, but everything ordered to You.  

Give me warmth, delight, and quickness in thinking upon You, and give me Your grace to long for Your holy sacraments and, with tender compassion, to remember and consider Your most bitter passion. 

Lord, give me patience in tribulation, and grace in everything to conform my will to Yours, that I may truly say: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 

The things, good Lord, that I pray for, give me thy grace to labor for.  Amen.

Okay, here are some more pictures of our sweet, cuddly, adorable baby boy!

Smiling in his sleep! Look at that face.

Finally caught the munchkin with his eyes open (let's get real, he sleeps 90% of the time at this point!). He's thinking, "Mom, seriously, stop taking my picture. Feed me."

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Holidays with a toddler

While my sweet 18 month old takes a nice long Sunday afternoon nap, and Bacon Papa watches a football game.... and since I am still waiting on baby #2 to arrive, I thought I would share some helpful holiday tips. Just a few things that we've learned so far since the holidays are very different when you have little ones around.

#1 Tree/home decorations

The name of the game when decorating for the holidays with a toddler running around is shatterproof. Meaning...shatterproof ornaments! Best find ever...both kinds that we found look great but can be thrown and if thrown, will survive. Of course instead of just allowing daily games of ornament chucking, we spent a few days teaching Jack to touch them with one finger (only!) and not pull/tug/rip them off the tree, so we actually haven't seen too many ornament grenades flying around here, but it does give us so much comfort knowing that our family Christmas tree isn't a total safety hazard (aside from the lights...and the branches...and the fact that it could topple down on him....yikes). We introduced the tree really slowly because I thought we might also be introducing Jack to a new sibling very soon, so I didn't want to overwhelm him. First it was just the tree. Then the lit tree. Then the lit tree with...dun dun dun...ornaments. Ornaments are great and beautiful and totally necessary but of course really complicated when one of your son's favorite words is "BALL!!!!" and his favorite thing to do with balls (naturally) is throw them. Anyway, introducing the tree elements slowly worked really well for us (we didn't even have to put it up on a pedestal 5 feet off the ground, or surround it with baby gates...both things we considered). As far as other home decorations, except for the awesome Fischer Price Nativity set from Nana (still "Gnana" in Jack-speak), everything is up and out of reach (on the mantle...on the dinner table...on a high sofa table but not end tables, etc.). 


Such a great advent gift - Jack is having so much fun (every day!) playing with this Nativity Set.
#2 Gifts

I love purchasing gifts (I've always loved shopping!) but have a hard time spending money as we try to live within our means. Budget is not my favorite word...but sale/coupon/deal...now those are words I like! Since I had some time of my hands, and enough energy to drive/walk around as many stores as needed, I definitely found & used some great sales/coupons/deals, and that felt great. After I purchased all of the gifts, I tried to fight my goal-oriented nature, and instead of wrapping them all immediately (I love to finish a job!) I stored them in the guest room closet and then wrapped them all one morning when I had time (while drinking coffee & watching The Today Show...I will be honest and say that maternity leave hasn't been torture thus far.) When I finally did wrap them, I cut myself slack there as well. Yes, I used Christmas wrapping paper, but no, I did not waste time/energy/money attaching a Pinterest worthy bow and handmade card to each one. I used a sharpie and wrote out "to" & "from" in about 12 seconds flat. It was awesome. 

In other gift "learnings" I realized that although we got Jack a few things (one large present & two smaller items), and we know he will really love them (I can't wait to see his face!), people aren't lying when they say kids are more excited about the box. I mean really, he loves boxes. At least one of the gifts came in a big box so he'll be a happy kid, right? :)


Jack's big gift is WAY cooler than a dog bed, but as you can see, hanging out with Blake on the dog bed is pretty much the coolest thing, so I guess I could have saved some time/money and just gotten him one of those right? It's definitely a shatterproof/comfortable/multi-purpose item...
#3 Family Photos

I still have no idea how we will capture a family Christmas photo with a newborn (at this rate, the kid could be just a few days old!) and a toddler, so we practiced a bit today with just Jack. He is such a cutie, and loves to smile (although when he does his eyes are often closed like mama's) but is so easily distracted. Fortunately John just snaps continually on the iPhone and after about 30 shots we normally get one or two. Today we tried to give Jack something to play with (the aforementioned shatterproof ornament) which was neither win nor lose. It didn't help much (he kept looking down at it, instead of holding in festively as I imagined, in most shots) but we did get one good picture! Generally I think what I've learned now that I am a mama in charge of family photos are these three things: 1) A few deep breaths help. Like most things in life, the more patience you have, the happier everyone will be. 2) You might get "dressed up" five times before you actually get a decent photo. 3) Sometimes it is okay to just give up after five minutes and say, "let's do this another time" instead of forcing yourself, your husband, and your kid to carry on for the sake of a "holiday" photo. There are a LOT of holidays and nobody's ever told me that I needed to capture every single one to be a good mom.


The "festive" version - with my large pregnant body not blocking the cute wreath, and Jack holding an ornament. Such a goofy smile on that adorable kid.

Me and my handsome boy - I wonder if this will be one of the last pictures we'll take before baby #2 arrives?!
(40 weeks + 3 days pregnant at this point!)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Waiting on baby!

It's two days post "due date" and we are still waiting on baby #2 to decide to arrive! For me, becoming a mother (even though I was one of five children, meaning that I got lots of "practice" with my brothers :)) included a steep learning curve. I've been doing the mama thing for awhile now, but as a type A, choleric-sanguine working mama...it is driving me crazy that this little one is not arriving as anticipated, and that there is nothing I can do about it! For the past week, every morning I wake up totally surprised that I am still pregnant. But then as I go about my day I realize that there are plenty of reasons that this little one has decided the timing isn't quite right to come out, and I will have to grow in patience, and pray for peace, in the meantime. 


Baby bump @ 40 weeks + Jack having fun at the park with mama
I decided to go out on maternity leave after Thanksgiving (originally I planned to work from home until baby arrived) because I wasn't feeling great (so exhausted, and lots of Braxton-Hicks contractions & back pain, which have been making my life less pleasant since around 31 weeks). Although it was hard to let go of the work projects/events left unfinished, I am so grateful that I had this past week at home with my family, and that I got to enjoy a little bit of time to myself as well. I finished all of our Christmas shopping (we definitely embrace a simple view of gift-giving and don't go crazy, so that was pretty easy) and even wrapped all the gifts, went for a 2 or 3 mile walk almost every day (some days this was me walking around the mall, grocery store, Target, etc. :)), snuck in a few naps, and got lots of time with my #1 boy, Jack. SO many people told me to go out on maternity leave early to spend time with my firstborn, but it was so hard for me to believe that it was a good decision. It just seemed like it would be better to work up until baby #2 arrived and then spend four months with both of my kids. Now I can see that this time with just Jack was so precious and very much needed for both of us. I know people who have 3, 6, or even 10 kids, and their kids are all so loved & cared for...so I know that it can be done, and can be done very well...but as a mama it is so hard to imagine spreading myself even thinner and making sure that both babies (Jack is still a baby at 18 months old, right?! I mean he can say "helicopter"....and "avocado"....and babies can't really pronounce 4 syllable words...hmmmm...but he's still our baby!) get enough love. I guess we will find out shortly, and maybe baby #2 decided to delay the ol' arrival date so that I could pray about this a bit more.


This little man is going to be a big brother oh-so-soon! But not just yet apparently...
I guess another great thing about waiting on baby has been the fantastic things I've been cooking up around here! The cold weather and slower pace of life, combined with my pregnancy cravings (unlike my sister-in-law Katie I do not crave bran muffins or sparkling water...oops! :)) resulted in some delicious meals. I'll just share two recipes that I think are super easy & totally doable for stay-at-home or working mamas alike!

#1 - this salad! I am LOVING arugula lately which is really bizarre, because I normally don't even like it. But I am finding so many ways to make it delicious and it turns out it is really, really good for you (you may have already known this). 

#2 - these tasty whole wheat dinner rolls! the big craving of this pregnancy has been butter...not straight but on top of carb-y goodness! Most nights with dinner I wanted to add some sort of biscuit/bread/roll/breadstick so after 9 months of this I decided to try my hand at some at home varieties. Meaning...I bought yeast. SCARY! I mean that is some serious baking if you ask me. What I love about the recipe is the fact that it includes step-by-step pictures and helpful hints.

On that delicious note, time to go eat something tasty, and pray that baby decides to arrive....when the time is right.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bacon Papa for the Win....

Here's a list of Bacon Papa's wins this week - I have to share these because I have a tendency to just share the hilarious/annoying things that my dear husband does, but he really is SO AMAZING. I am so blessed to have him be mine. I can hardly believe that this January we will celebrate 3 years of marriage (4 years together total since we only dated for 6 weeks and had an 11 month engagement :)).

Ranked (In order from greatest to still-awesome)

1. What he said last night: "Babe, you are just so pretty. I mean you just have a glow about you today. I think you are going to have the baby soon!!!" (Update - no baby just yet.)

2. His response shortly after that, to the question I unfortunately asked  him ("How much do you think I weigh right now?"): 20 lbs. less than my actual weight. (He guess this number with a genuine look on his face...which leads me to believe he was serious....which makes me love him even more for not seeing the very large pregnant woman that I am.)

3. What he brought me at work today: A brownie blitz cupcake!!! Basically a chocolate cupcake with fudge-y frosting and brownie bites and chocolate drizzle on top, and who knows what else. Oh, I know what else...lots of calories. Either way, DELICIOUS.

This is a great picture of Bacon Papa from a year ago or so.
Notice that he made me breakfast. It includes bacon!
You may also notice, if you have discerning eyes, that his plate is an egg white/veggie scramble thing (super healthy). Mine is a stuffed omelet, smothered in cheddar cheese and topped with avocado. YUMMY.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Second Time Around

It has been so interesting to be pregnant this second time. I still can't believe how quickly the weeks have flown by...now we are just 2 weeks from baby #2's due date! For some reason all along I've felt like I wouldn't even make it to the due date (it just seems like this little one will come early!) but I guess we'll see what actually happens. 

When it comes to physical changes this second time around, oddly enough I don't feel as HUGE at this point in the pregnancy as I did with Jack. (This is odd considering the fact that I've gained 50+ lbs! Even as I type that, which I do because I might as well claim it since it's already happened, I can hardly believe it!). With Jack I gained much less but I just felt like this massive version of myself. I remember thinking that the bump just extended so far from my body that it might explode. This time it is still a big fat bump (and we are expecting a big fat baby!) but it feels more normal, because now I know that a fully developed human is hanging out in there, so of course I should have a good sized baby bump. This is not to say that I am enjoying being a very pregnant woman...I'm not...but at least I feel more at home in my body as this second baby makes a home there.

As far as emotions this pregnancy, I am equally excited to meet this little babe. And that's a good thing, because I would be so sad if I was less excited just because we've been here before! This little baby is so precious to us. I actually had two showers thrown for me this pregnancy, and both were really special. I was so glad that we took the time to celebrate our second child in just the same way we did with our first. My Aunt Nitzi threw me the first shower, a lovely lunch with close family and friends, and as I opened each gift I still had the same awe and excitement that I had when we were expecting Jack. Then at work today my coworkers threw me a wonderful baby shower as well! Everyone's love and generosity meant so much to me. Originally I thought that since this was our second child a shower wouldn't be necessary, but aside from being so appreciative because of the lovely things that everyone gifted the baby, I was really appreciative because of the way that it made me feel! Even though I've given birth before, as I near my due date, I find myself very anxious about labor and delivery and the first few postpartum weeks because as I mentioned...I've been here before. I know what to expect. And that is a beautiful, precious baby, after hours of pain and discomfort, and then weeks of sleep deprivation and sacrifice. Every minute is worth it but that doesn't make it easy or enjoyable. My point is that little did I know how much I needed to celebrate (again) the exciting parts about having a newborn: the cute (and oh so small!) little outfits, the warm and cuddly blankets, the sweet smelling baby bath & lotion. Holding these things in my arms reminds me of what I get at the end of nearly 10 months of pregnancy...another child in those same arms! And for me at least that helps quiet the anxiety and fear and for that I am incredibly grateful.

When it comes to my career, I definitely am doing things differently this time around as well. Instead of going out two weeks before my due date (which I did with Jack), I'm planning on being in the office through 39 weeks and then working from home until I go into labor. Although it's been exhausting, it's also been invigorating in many ways. I love my job and I've been so busy accomplishing things and organizing coverage for my leave that the days are literally flying by. And that is no cause for complaint from me because each day that passes brings us closer to meeting this baby! The only downside is that I definitely am experiencing quite a few more unpleasant remarks since I am still working away. For example, someone stopped me at the office yesterday and said, "you just get bigger and bigger every day!!!" She had a big smile on her face and I would like to assume good intentions, but as a big fat pregnant woman, that doesn't make it much easier to hear. I also hear a lot of "what are you still doing here?! you must be due any day now! when are you going on leave???" Ultimately I am happy to still be working because I'm taking nearly four months off after the baby arrives, and that time at home with a baby in my arms is a bit more valuable to me than time at home waiting for baby to arrive!

This second time around, I feel just as blessed to be bringing life into the world. Sometimes I still can't believe that we have another baby in our family! 

The baby bump @ 37 weeks!

One other huge difference with the second pregnancy...you can watch Baby #1 sleep while you think about what Baby #2 will look like, be like, act like. I can't wait to see the two of them together!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Brothers!

I haven't blogged in awhile - which makes me a bad blogger I think. I ordinarily give up on things that I'm not good at, but I do enjoy sharing our life, because even though it is challenging at times, we are very blessed. On the topic of blessings, tonight I am SO GRATEFUL for the gift of my two youngest brothers. (I like my third, "oldest" younger brother too, but he's in Texas, busy finishing up his last semester of college, and not the subject of this post for that very reason.) 

Back to my two youngest brothers. They are so wonderful! They fill my life with so much joy, and laughter, and excitement, but more so than that, they are Jack's favorite thing in this world. I mean more than cookies, tractors, trucks, trains, his blankie, you name it....David and James are his favorite part of life. At just over a year old (before he said Dada by many accounts, but thank goodness long after he learned to say Mama) Jack learned to say, "DA-wid!" (for his Uncle David). A few short weeks later he was calling James "JAY!" (a great nickname as it was my dad's! :)). It was amazing to us that some of his first few words revolved around his uncles! Notice that both names end in ! This is because when Jack says their names, it is always with a serious amount of excitement.

He spends every Tuesday with my mom (he is so blessed to have a day with Grandma while we are away at work) and this summer he was just in heaven being around my brothers all day long. It was quite the adjustment when they went back to school in August and I'm pretty sure the best part of his Grandma day now is when the boys get picked up at school (although I think Jack enjoys the cookies that Grandma indulges him with too...). 

If he hasn't seen them for a day or two, he will now ask me about them, in the sweetest way. He looks up at me and says "Dawid? Jay?" and then a few seconds later, "Gnana?". Nana , or Gnana...think the "gn" sound from gnochhi + "nana",  is always included in the list because they are a little tripod, and he wants to know where they are/when he is going to see them, but the boys come first (this breaks Nana's heart...what grandma doesn't want to be #1? but like I said, my brothers are Jack's favorite things in this world!). Every time he asks about where they are it warms my heart, because we are so blessed to have them play such a large role in his life, and ours. We live 1 mile away and see my mom and brothers so often that Jack just understands that they are a part of his orbit, as my mom says. And that is such a blessing, especially as we all miss my Dad on a daily (or hourly) basis. Jack looks just like a little Phillips too! His hair is just the same as my brothers, and when he wears a plaid shirt and is smiling I always think about how much my dad would adore the little man is he becoming. 

As we await the arrival of baby #2 (just 3 weeks until my due date! my how this pregnancy has flown by) I feel so blessed that Jack gets to experience being a brother so soon, because I have been so blessed by my own siblings. I know Jack is going to be a really great brother too. When I picked him up at daycare today, he said, "Hi Mommeeee!!!!" and then proceeded to gently rub the baby bump. Just because. Just a little "hi there mommeee and baby" rub. It was so sweet! 


Uncle James, Jack & Johnny at the county fair this summer.

Jack's favorite place to be...in Uncle David's arms!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Perspective from my iPhone

This morning, Breadwinning Mama shared her 10 trappings of modern motherhood which got me thinking about my own smartphone (iPhone). To be honest, at this point, I see my smartphone as more of a blessing than a curse. Fortunately my work-life balance is pretty darn good, and although I do check emails right before bed...and right when I wake up...and throughout the day/on the weekend...I don't feel like a slave to technology because at this point in my career it is normally just a quick check, and not something that draws me away from my family/friends/more important things! So that is great. What I love about life with an iPhone is that it keeps me connected to my family while I'm away at work (for better or for worse...see exhibits A & B below), and since I always have it on me, I can capture great photos as we move (so quickly) through daily life. So for this blog post I thought I would share just a bit of perspective from my iPhone. :)

First, my most favorite & least favorite text messages from the past week:

Exhibit A: Most favorite - A text from John where he uses "Jack language" to say I love you. We just melt every time we hear Jack say "Blah Lala Lou!" I can't believe how quickly he has grown up. When I receive a great text like this from John, I think about how fantastic it is that he can instantly send me a quick note and make me smile during my busy work day.



Exhibit B: Least favorite - A text from John regarding a mysterious rash on Jack's face. NO PICTURE. Statement that ends with a question mark. This is a working mama's worst nightmare. (I'm at the office thinking, "What kind of rash? How big? How red? How itchy? Food allergy? Insect sting? Ahhhhh!!!!")  


Okay, and now on to my second favorite part of life with an iPhone. The super cute pictures I always catch without having to carry around a camera! Speaking of cameras, I don't even know where ours is. If I found it, the battery would probably be dead, or missing. So really, without an iPhone, I would have ZERO pictures of my beautiful child...except for the ones that my amazing sister occasionally captures (she has a great camera, keeps it charged, and remembers to pull it out and use it...hence the adjective amazing prior to the word sister.) Anyway, here you go.

How handsome are my boys? We had such a blast at the pumpkin patch on Sunday,
 even though we didn't stay for long.

Believe it or not, Jack was SUPER EXCITED to see tractors. I mean literally he just kept yelling,
"TRACTOR! TRACTOR! TRACTOR!" Unfortunately he just wanted to SEE the tractor.
Every time we tried to sit him on for a photo...tears. Big tears. Even when we tried to have him pose with
some of his favorite people (his god-sisters Gianna & Clare). Oh well!

The four of us! It's so hard to get a good "family" picture even with one kid still in the womb
 (I mean how hard can it be to make a baby bump look good?) which makes me worry about the day we attempt real family portraits of the four of us someday.
Jack was very distracted and was not as eager to smile as usual but at least we captured the moment, right?

Love this picture of my beautiful boy checking out the farm animals, especially since I was
raised on a farm, so pigs, chickens, and cows were a huge part of my childhood. :)

This was Jack's opportunity to pick his pumpkin out.
He didn't understand that he got to actually pick one though.
He was more interested in just staring at them all!




Thursday, October 17, 2013

A little insight into Bacon Mama's life this week


Baby #2 is the size of a pineapple this week! Wowsa. Probably weighs around 4 lbs, which is kind of scary since we still have about 7 weeks to go and just taking a wild guess here…I think both of us are going to grow substantially in that period of time. On the note of pineapples, did you know that pineapple is supposed to help induce labor? At least according to this article.  Overdue mamas get pretty desperate, so I guess it's worth a try.


 Heard around our house this week:

“Honey, I don’t know how to say this, but…I think that skirt is too tight.”
Result: purchase of additional maternity clothes from gap.com – thank goodness they are having a Fall sale with 35% off!
Thought process: two new pairs of pants and two new shirts are definitely cheaper than actual therapy for the pregnant mama who is feeling F-A-T!

 
“I WATCH!!!! I WATCH!!!”
(This needs some additional detail: Jack loves to watch videos of himself (as a baby) on our iPhones and now knows how to tell us that he would like to do so. “I WATCH!!!”)
Result: we now have to hide our phones unless it is a time/place where it is appropriate for him to sit and watch a few videos.
Thought process: originally I loved this “video watching” activity (because I love seeing how much he has grown/changed, and I thought that watching videos of himself was better than watching the junk on TV). Now that he drains my phone battery on a daily basis and throws a tantrum if he can’t watch…not loving the activity as much as I was before.
 

“Really glad my brain just turned back on and I gave him the pacifier!”
(Requires additional detail as well: due to an “I WATCH!!!” fit in the car on the way home last night, Jack was screaming his head off for 5 minutes…I mean really screaming and crying…and John (via Bluetooth) was trying to reason with him. Suddenly Jack was silent. Ol’ Johnny boy thought his magical words had done the trick. Wrong. I remembered that not only did I have a pacifier within arms’ reach, but that my son still really likes them.)
Result: with the onset of third-trimester pregnancy brain, I now plan to keep a pacifier in my sight so I don’t forget what a magical mommy tool it can be.
Thought process: for us, pacifiers have been a saving grace! At 16 months old, Jack is certainly not addicted to them (i.e. he doesn’t “need” one…goes all day at school without it and really just uses it to fall asleep or if he is extra fussy, but then spits it out), and it never affected our nursing relationship (huge fear of mine since breastfeeding was so important to me! But after his first 3 days of life, when I realized it was not really going to work for mama to be a human pacifier…we popped one of those bad boys in and have enjoyed the results ever since. Baby #2 will be a paci baby or a thumb sucker if desired as well!).

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday Mornings

I really love Sundays at our house. We wake up early with Jack and make a great breakfast (today it was two varieties of cottage cheese pancakes and turkey sausage...two varieties of pancakes because the first Martha Stewart Recipe was awful in that it stuck to the non-stick pan no matter what we did, and was just generally a gooey mess) and then head to 10:30 am Mass. My mom & brothers go to 9:00 am Mass so we try to get to our Mass early, so that we can see them as we head in/they leave..but of course today that didn't quite happen (probably because it took us 1 1/2 hours to make our delicious but delayed breakfast?). So when we got there at 10:40 there were no seats (challenging for a 32 week pregnant woman and her husband since they need a seat to contain a certain 16 month old child). Fortunately an usher saved the day by finding a pew he could squeeze us into, which was great because we ended up getting to sit with our best friends/baby #2's godparents, and since Jack adores their entire family I knew Mass was going to be a breeze today. And it was! And what a blessing that was for all of us. But that's not what this post is about. This post is about the week prior, and the weeks prior to that, when our angel child Jack has been a bit challenging during Mass.

Disclaimer: he is actually very well-behaved on the toddler-contained-to-one-space-for-60-minutes spectrum. Even if he wasn't my child, I really don't think I would be bothered by him. But he is my child, and while I'm definitely never bothered by him, sometimes I do find myself embarrassed, not necessarily because of the tiny, noisy-but-normal things he is doing, but because of certain adults' reactions to his behavior (which as I mentioned, is minimally distracting and normally adorable!). A few weeks ago this woman kept turning around and just staring us down. I mean it was really clear that we were ruining life in general for her. John was embarrassed too and mentioned that he "almost said something!" (thank goodness he didn't, I would have been even more mortified!). I just felt so frustrated that she was making us feel badly about having our son at Mass. But I quickly jumped out of the guilt/embarrassment zone and into the righteous indignation zone. Because honestly, when I looked at that 60 year old woman, glaring at us with every peep that Jack made, I thought, "Lady, be grateful this kid is in Mass! We are doing our best to raise him to be a holy man of God, and 20 years from now when you are in the grave, he will be praying for your sorry soul!" Probably not the most virtous internal response but I was a bit peeved by her reaction, and hey, it's true! The children that we are working so hard to form into practicing Catholics are the future of our church, and will be the ones (God willing) leading the next generation in the Faith as well. We may even have a little priest of our hands (he really does love the sign of peace, and he already clearly knows how to say "Jesus!!!" so things are lookin' good, right?).

Anyway, Mass was great today, but if it's difficult next week, and the week after, and especially in the coming months once Baby #2 arrives and we are equally matched (start praying for us now!) I hope I won't lose my own peace & joy (like I said, our Sunday mornings are so great!) because that definitely defeats the purpose of spending time with Jesus, right?

For more on this topic, head over to a blog I love here.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Business Travel

This week I am out of town for three nights at the National Employment Law Institute's Annual Conference. Believe it or not, I am very excited to be here! Missing my boys (like crazy) but I really do love my job (which for those of you who don't know...in simple terms...it's a mixture of Human Resources (recruiting, so external hires and internal transfers/promotions) and Compliance (legal stuff). I love that I get to work with our employees directly, but that I also am doing data analysis/strategy, and that most of the time, it feels like I am "back in school" because I am learning so much about employment law/federal regulations/best practices. Anyway, it's nice to spend 3 days training so that I can be even better at what I do.

This view (our conference is on the 32nd floor of the Westin St. Francis) isn't too shabby either...

 
But on to more important things. I wanted to share some of my "best practices" for business travel, because the first time that I left Jack as a new mama (he was 4 months old and I had to head to Indianapolis and then Orlando, two weeks in a row!) I was so overwhelmed at the prospect of leaving him. (What complicated that trip more was that I was still exclusively nursing...that's a blog post entirely of it's own though because I have lots of learnings/advice when it comes to transporting...oh say...200 oz. of pumped breastmilk across the country for your precious baby.) I don't travel often (2-4 times a year probably?) but I think even if I was just on a day trip, it would still be challenging to leave my family if I didn't have some good things in place.
 
So here's how we make it work:
 
1) Leading up to any travel - I spend every minute that I can with John & Jack. I snuggle, read books, and play play play! I can never get enough of my boys but it is especially important to fill up the love tank before you head out of town. Here's how I spent my Monday night:
 
How cute is this little man? Just playing on some homemade drums. (I'm not crafty...but I am creative! He loved when I grabbed this stuff from the kitchen cabinets and realized that he could make lots of loud noise with it all!)
 
2) The day that I leave - we make sure that the refrigerator is stocked, laundry is clean/put away, Jack's back pack is packed for his 3 days at daycare (including his lunches...the kid eats well! This week he had polenta & pork, black beans & carrots, corn bread, yogurt, cheese, grapes, peaches, and avocado), etc. Part of this pre-work makes John's life easier...but he is incredibly capable and could totally handle it on his own...so part of it just gives me piece of mind and reminds me that even when I'm away, my boys are taken care of. It always feels great to leave things "in order" so even if I am tired, or worried about other priorities (projects at work? washing my hair? calling back a friend that hasn't heard from me in weeks?) I don't let this priority slide.
 
3) Planning time to video-chat! I had an issue with my iPhone's wi-fi, and luckily a friend came to the rescue with an app I could download so we could video-chat without it (I can only FaceTime with wi-fi...booooooo AT&T!) which was great because seeing my baby's face is a NECESSITY. I love to talk to him in the morning & evenings and just watch him play and run around. Now that he can talk video-chatting is even more fun; it melts my heart when he says "Hi Mommyyyy!" and I love that he can hear my voice and see my face. Sometimes I think about how bad it is that we (John & I but also society in general) are so connected to our phones & the internet...but other times I see the benefits (like video-chatting with your 16 month old son with a few quick clicks) and I am so grateful! (How could I not be grateful when Jack kisses the phone screen?! So adorable!) John is also the best Bacon Papa there is and sends me videos (of Jack just hanging out & playing, or of him sleeping, because we are obsessive parents like that and we love to watch him sleep, haha) which is so fantastic.
 
4) Embracing a little "me" time. Believe it or not, I have a hard time taking time to myself because I just adore my family and want to be there for them/with them any chance I get. But sometimes mamas need to recharge too. Johnny does his best to encourage me to do this even when I'm home (a pedicure here or there, lunch with a girlfriend, or a solo trip to Target) but half the time I feel guilty taking "me" time so I fight it or push it off. Since I'm away from my family on a necessary business trip anyway though...I try to let myself sip my morning coffee while reading the newspaper with a great view, or I enjoy a leisurely meal with colleagues, or I just watch some girly TV (while answering emails!) because I can.
 
My homemade ravioli (stuffed with beef short ribs and smothered in an amazing sauce) definitely hit the spot...
5) Family. Honestly the only other thing we do/have to make business travel work is reach out and/or accept help from our family (this includes our dear friends who are like family!). My mom always steps in to help John & Jack while I'm away, and this week, our friends (& baby #2's godparents :)) invited John & Jack over for dinner two of the nights I'm away which is just the sweetest thing. It brings me so much joy and comfort knowing that they are with people they love, eating a great meal and playing and hanging out, while I'm away. I feel so blessed to have people who love and support us as we raise our little family.
 
Anyway, that's all the advice I have to share for now! Time to head to bed before another busy day!

 
 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Let's welcome Bacon Papa!!!

I can't tell you how excited I am to share this post. What a wonderful man I am married to...

Bacon Papa here, taking the plunge into a desire I’ve had for some time, writing a blog for The Bacon Mama or being a guest blogger? I think that’s what you bloggers and readers call it. When I say being a guest blogger, I mean writing with some major grammatical errors and then passing it over to the talented Bacon Mama to edit and post. :)

You might be asking, “Why do you want to blog on the bacon mama’s blog spot?” Well, I want to share what it is like being the bacon papa and maybe inspire a person or two. First and foremost, I love God the Father and aspire to be the best earthly father to my children and the best Joseph to my beloved wife. So what’s it like to be a (kind of) stay at home father? Even though I am working 4 days a week in my family business as a health insurance provider (half the time out of our home office), I still make it my job to support my wife in the area of home duties, in order to allow for her to focus on loving and spending quality time with the family. After working all day, she needs to refill her batteries during the weekday evenings and on the weekends. I love taking care of my family in this way. Just like any human, I am not perfect and there are days that I fail at this and Kelly ends up having to pick up the slack, which she does gracefully with a smile and plenty of love. She is truly an amazing person who I look up to, a lot. She inspires me to be better at everything I do, because she does so much and she does it pretty awesomely. 

So back to what it’s like for the Bacon Papa. I try to ensure our mornings on the weekdays are as peaceful as possible. Especially on the days that we are getting Jack ready to head off to either Nana’s or school/daycare, which he absolutely loves, I see how important it is that our mornings are peaceful, joyful, and smooth! Lately in order to be St. Joseph to my family, I have been spending a lot of time weekly/daily in prayer, whether that is in adoration, saying a novena or doing the morning prayer out of the Magnificat, which normally takes longer than just the guided prayer, because I definitely pause throughout and enter in to deep personal prayer and spend time on my daily intentions. I love praying for my family and our surrounding influences in our lives, whether that be Nana and Jack’s uncles, or our great group of friends near and far, or Mima and Papa and the Flynn family. I love praying through our struggles and lately I have really been being called to a deep reliance on faith as we navigate life, with all that it brings.  

Okay, so some more on what it is like being married to a working mother and wife. Our lives are a bit different than most of our surrounding friends. With two working parents it can be pretty chaotic at times and aside from trying every day to be centered on Christ, in order to get through the busyness that each day can bring, I also plan, plan, plan! (The Bacon Mama is Type A so I’ve learned a lot from her.) It is such a blessing that Kelly has the career that she has and that she is very passionate about her vocation as a wife, mother and employee. Anyway with my more flexible schedule, my job in life is to support and cheer on my rock-star of a wife, who (as you all know) has multiple jobs right now, with the most important one being brewing our baby #2.  Having a pregnant wife who has a lot of responsibilities at work (but also a big heart for her family) often means grocery shopping, helping with dinner (although Kelly’s been cooking most of the meals lately, she’s just way too good of a cook) and always handling most of the post-dinner clean up. Together we bathe Jack and then as a family read books, pray and tuck our little train-loving monkey into bed. I say train-loving because last night we dressed Jack in his PJ’s (handed down from Aunt Lisa and Uncle Mike) and this pair had Thomas the Train up and down both legs. I think Jack was either too tired or was having too much fun playing peekaboo and getting swooped up in mama’s arms and sung to, because he didn’t notice that he had trains or “choo-choos” on his legs as he went to bed. But this morning when I went in to get him out of his crib, he was sitting up in his crib playing with his blanket (known as “nigh-nigh”). I turned on the light and he finally saw the trains and was immediately happy. He found each train, pointed to it and said “choo-choo”….it was great. Next he wanted to share it with mama so we shut off the amazing sound machine (highly recommend one of these for any expecting parents), turned off the light and went to go show mama, which he was super excited about. Typically every morning we walk to mama and papa’s room and jump in bed with mama before we get our day going. It’s a pretty special moment. Family is such a gift and I am so thankful for our little bacon clan and really looking forward to bringing into our little home bacon #2.

I would like to close this with a shout out to other bacon papas, first, it’s okay to be a bacon papa and support your wife, as long as she is happy with what she is pursuing. Take pride in your vocation has a husband and father and do it with passion, because your role in your family is as important as being the main earner in the family. Now to all the readers out there, life is full of many different experiences: joys, sorrows, tears, and laughter, so I end with this…I encourage all to read the book of Psalms. Scripture is truly a gift from God and I encourage you to get in and read those words. I promise you that it will bring you joy in times of sorrow and it will bring you even more joy in the times of joy. Give thanks for this day and the very breath you are breathing while reading this. I hope you enjoyed this little interjection from the Bacon Papa.


Bacon Papa, out.