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 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 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 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/ 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 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 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.