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 – 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 simple'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 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.