Thursday, January 28, 2010

Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

Today is the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas in the Catholic Church - this just so happens to be our son's patron saint.  How did we celebrate?  Took a class at The Little Gym (and left disappointed that it's too expensive), a special treat at lunch time, and, most importantly, mass this evening.  In upcoming years, we'll likely do feast day parties with friends and family.  It's too bad his birthday and namesake day aren't a bit further apart on the calendar, but at least it will give us reason to celebrate and be creative during the chilly winter months.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Pray for Us!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Milestone Obsession

Ever notice how parents tend to speak in milestones?  It's as if there's a trigger in our (I'm guilty of this too) brains that instantly makes a connection between a child's age and pending milestone.  "Oh yes, my son is 8 months old."  "Oh!  Is he crawling?"  or "This is Thomas, and he's 11 months old." "Well, he must be walking all over the place!"

Thomas has been on the "later" end of the spectrum for meeting some of his milestones, and that's likely why I'm hyper-aware of this conversation tactic.  Sometimes it takes multiple daily reminders that Thomas is right on target for his adjusted age (aka subtracting 6 weeks from his February 17 arrival).  But that's not something I'm going to talk about with complete strangers that I meet at the library or in the check-out line.  I simply cannot allow another person's comment to belittle my parenting in any way, particularly someone whom I do not know and who does not know Thomas.  That gives other people way too much power and takes glory away from God, who, should be glorified in all things.  And regardless of all that, Thomas is a beautiful, healthy, joyful baby who never ceases to amaze me.  So that's reason to rejoice enough whether he takes his first steps at 12 months or 15 months. 

From now on, I vow to only ask what a parent's child has been doing lately rather than formulating my question based on Everything You Need to Know About the First Year.  It all too easily leads to parents feeling inadequate, anxiety-ridden, and discouraged.  And why is it that parents love to compare their children to other children?  Forgive me if I'm wrong, but that's not what parents need.  They need support, love, and encouragement for taking on one of the greatest and most humbling vocations - raising a child.  I, for one, could not be prouder of my firstborn and am overwhelmed with thanksgiving for this precious gift.  Seems that the miracle of life is something parents should celebrate, emphasizing milestones less and beauty more.

Thanks be to God for the gift of life!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, ST!

This blog post is dedicated to my best friend, Stephanie Thomas - not only is she a huge inspiration in my life, but she's probably the person with whom I have the most fun and with whom I share most deeply (second to Drake of course).  Stephanie, I love you, and I wish you nothing but God's grace and love in this next year of your life!  Happy 24th!

Drake and I took Stephanie out for her birthday to Rock Bottom Brewery (many thanks to Carly's suggestion!) this past's a little photo documentary.

Partaking in the most gigantic pieces of carrot cake we've ever laid eyes on

Drake being artsy with the camera

We're not usually the types to take food pictures - but the sheer height of this carrot cake was quickly deemed picture-worthy

The photo's a little blurry, and it's way past my bedtime, but ST was lookin' good for the occasion

This about sums up the had by all! (Photo taken thanks to Drake's long arms)

As I posted these photos, I realized that they don't do the evening justice.  But regardless, we love you, Stephanie, and we're thankful for the gift of you in our lives!  Happy 24th birthday!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

a good deal

I called Comcast today with the intention of canceling our cable.  We SO seldom watch TV that we didn't think it worth it to continue to pay for it.  We were paying around $56 for cable and Internet and would need to pay nearly $70 for Internet alone if we canceled the other service.  But that all changed when sweet Comcast customer service rep, Iris, told me about a deal that would allow us to pay $36.96 per month for the next six months for cable and Internet combined.


Comcast didn't want to lose us as valued customers.  Despite the fact that they express this exact same sentiment to every single customer who calls with the intention of canceling a service, I didn't care.  I simply agreed to the arrangement in a spirit of joy.  I do love a good deal.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thomas: Milestones

Here are a few of Thomas' latest feats (in no particular order):
  • Crawling.  Everywhere.
  • Pulling up to his feet when given the opportunity (aka whenever he happens upon a somewhat sturdy place to grab above his head).
  • Drinking water from a sippy cup.  Heck, it's even a pretty coordinated effort!
  • Still eating fruits and vegetables like a champ.  His love for cantaloupe and broccoli is second to none.
  • Sleeping through the night...this has been an on-going struggle since day one, but lately it's pretty consistent...Drake and I are quite pleased.
  • Loves being read to - sometimes reading time can last for almost 20 minutes!  
  • Reaches for crucifixes/Mary statues constantly - I guess you wouldn't find this in What to Expect the First Year, but it sure is sweet.  Sometimes hanging out near our Holy Family water font is a favorite activity.  And we swear he's trying to say "Jesus."  
  • Manipulates toys/games.
  • Knows his name, mommy, daddy, several different animals, animal sounds.
Seems that there's something new everyday at this age - amazing!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Lessons Learned: Being Fully Present

I've always been a planner.  I like to know when things are going to happen, how they are going to happen, etc.  But a lot of that changed when I was put on bed rest in my pregnancy with Thomas.  Knowing that everyday he was in the womb would serve him well in the world helped me to try to take one day at a time.  I had to for the sake of my own sanity!  And now that almost a year has gone by since his birth, I realize that this is a lesson I'm still learning daily.  The time truly flies by even though everyone warns you of that when the baby comes, and I've really tried to soak in each moment as much as possible.

While our family set-up lends itself to my being the primary 'calendar-keeper' and puts me more in charge of making plans, keeping track of appointments, birthdays, Church group commitments, and so forth, I'm much more open to what needs to happen in the unplanned present moment.  Being a mom really dictates that I be flexible, open to change, and able to adapt in a second's notice.  And praise God for this vocation that has helped me to grow in that regard!

Here's a photo of the little teacher himself...just for fun.

And wouldn't you know it!  As I was writing this post, our plans for the afternoon completely changed.  God is funny :).

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year Challenge: Budget

A few weeks ago, Drake and I decided we would give ourselves a budget challenge to ring in the new year with a particular emphasis on groceries.  Yep, we're real party animals :).  Even though it's pretty difficult to stick to the budget and requires a lot of creativity and sacrifice, it helps tremendously that both of us are on board with this.  It helps us keep each other accountable, gives us another person with whom to brainstorm ideas, and, ahem, helps us save money!  We know that money will come at a premium these next few years with Drake in grad school, so the purpose of our budgeting is not only to save money for that time but also to get ourselves in the habit of staying faithful to wise financial decisions.

A few things that we're already doing have helped our overall money-spending/saving:
1. Breastfeeding Thomas - thankfully I was blessed with a good milk supply, and I'm hoping to nurse him until he's 12 months.  We haven't spent a dime on formula/bottles.
2. Cloth diapering - not only do I love cloth diapers, but they have saved us a heck of a lot of money.  We are fortunate to have a washer and dryer in our apartment unit, and we pay a flat fee for water.  We purchased cloth diapers that Thomas (and, God willing, more Steeds) will be able to wear from birth to potty training.
3. Grocery shopping at Aldi - admittedly I have to swallow my pride when I go in there, but I soon get over it when I find milk for $1.49!  I also feel good about shopping there versus Walmart, and our Aldi really has much more than just the staple food items we need.
4. Entertaining pot-luck style - we don't want our money saving ventures to mean we never have people over, so we typically will kindly ask people to bring a dish to share.  And so far, we've never been turned down because of this request :).
5. I've made Thomas' baby food since he could start eating pureed fruits and veggies.  And now that he can eat most anything, he just eats whatever Drake and I eat.  Once he's a voracious teenager who does nothing but eat, then it will affect our grocery bill...but for now, there are little to no changes in that regard.  And thankfully he loves Cheerios and graham cracker, so we're not spending extra money on puffs.   

Other things have been tremendous blessings for us, such as the generosity of family and friends that have bought Thomas more clothes than we have room for and grandparents who spoil Thomas (and us) constantly.   I've been able to cash in on some amazing garage sales and consignment sales, and we've been able to borrow baby things from friends as well.

Groceries are tricky though - and I think one of the toughest parts is buying nutritious foods for less money and not settling for an all-carb diet.  I'm constantly on the look-out for coupons and closely follow several money saving mom blogs that advertise sales/deals/giveaways.  Any food money-saving tips?  Let's hear 'em!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cold Weather Challenges

I woke up this morning to head to the gym as per my usual routine, impressed that I was able to pry myself away from an incredibly warm and comfortable bed.  After getting ready, I headed outside.  That's when I regretted my decision to get up.  As I exercised on the eliptical I soon learned that it was -2 degrees outside with winds blowing at 15 mph.  Ick.

Now, to be clear, I have typically been a fan of the cooler weather.  But now that I'm out and about with a 10 month old, my views on the weather have taken a drastic turn.  Oh spring, when will you return to us?

The reasons for my change in perspective are as follows:
1. Thomas hates getting bundled up.  Just ask Drake.  Or Auntie Steph.  Oh, and he hates mittens too.  I'm hoping to work some magic with my sewing machine to concoct something effective for those cushy little hands.
2. What does he hate even more?  Getting put in the car seat bundled up.  Forget about it.  Running errands/getting in and out of the car for anything is a real picnic.
3. Our parking lot is a death trap, and daily I wish our landlords would make salting a priority.
4. This freezing cold makes me long for a garage.  Scraping the car is already getting old...and it's only January!  Hopefully it will make me appreciate even more the luxuries of a garage some day.

Wish me luck in tonight's sewing adventure!