Tuesday, June 29, 2010

in need of organizing tips

With a big move quickly approaching, I find myself eagerly awaiting a full basement...aka, way more storage than we've ever had thus far in our marriage.  Specifically, though, I'm wondering...

How do you organize your child's clothes?  We all know that babies outgrow their clothes much faster than we ever thought possible...so how do you keep from being overwhelmed by it all?  Labeled bins?  Vacuum sealed bags? 

I'd really love any insights on the best ways to do this. 

Hey, thanks!

Friday, June 25, 2010

dear drake

My dearest Drake,

Happy anniversary, love!  It's ridiculous to me all that you put up with when it comes to being married to me.  Between the quirks, pregnancy mood swings, slight OCD tendencies, and everything in between, I am so keenly aware of your love for me each and every day, a love that is strong yet gentle, selfless, self-sacrificing, and inspiring on every level imaginable.  When I think back to this day

as we approached the holy altar together, my eyes well up with tears of great, great joy.  Minutes later, we would be wed, committing ourselves completely to one another, clinging to our Lord and to each other in the days ahead.  What a supreme honor to be your bride.  We had a little bit of fun, too, eh?

And now we find ourselves two years later - two ridiculously busy, life-changing, beautiful years later. An eventful Costa Rica honeymoon, conceiving our first child that same week, one semester of Masters classes for me, weeks of bed rest with a move interspersed, the birth of our beautiful Thomas Michael, determining how to make our firm decision for you to be the bread-winner and me to stay home with our children work with one income, grad school discernment/applications/interviews, staring joyfully at a positive pregnancy test weeks before our firstborn's first birthday, a doctoral school decision, and all the decision-making that has filled the last few months.

But you know, I wouldn't trade this for anything that the world has to offer...because I've been able to experience it all with you by my side.

With you, the world seems a little more forgiving, life makes a little more sense, and holiness seems more within our reach.  You brighten my days, comfort my nights, and leave me always in awe of the man that you are.  Your presence, your touch, your kiss are constant reminders of the love God has for me...and one way I know He loves me is through your gentle and constant embrace.

I love you, Drake - truly, fully, and forever.

We're signing our lease for the duplex tomorrow.  I have some paperwork, one check for the down payment, one check for the first month of rent, and our drivers licenses all ready to go. 

And. I. Am. Pumped.  Great (and hugely residential) neighborhood, a shaded front yard, driveway, garage, full basement, washer and dryer, lots of storage, bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, living room, mailbox.  Bonus?  Great landlords who are ever so kind, prompt in responding to emails/phone calls, and who themselves are excited about us moving in.

God is so good. So very, very good.

And on an unrelated note, He led me to a pro-life OB office who accepts our insurance and who had room in their schedule for me starting in mid-August.  I only continue to see His hand in every aspect of our lives - amen, amen, amen! 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

simple reminders

There's a lot of stress around our home lately - in addition to the day to day tasks, there's our ever mobile toddler who can now get into just about anything, is showing signs of tantrum-throwing, and is always busy.  Always.  Then there's all the logistical things to work out for our move - transferring to new doctors, finalizing moving plans, organizing our stuff and all the lovely people who have offered to help with that said stuff, determining what will go where, what we can do without, etc.  I've hardly touched my sewing projects these last couple weeks and find myself wiped out when I do find myself with a bit of free time. 

Oh, and this pregnancy.  To put it nicely, this has been one hot, swollen, pregnant summer for me.  Admittedly, I'm not dealing too well with all the raging hormones, weekly injections, and daily worry that accompany me and my ever-growing belly.  There's a huge part of me that wishes we could finish up the pregnancy with our current OB and an even bigger part of me that's nervous/anxious to transfer to a new OB whom I have never met.  I'm so thankful to be pregnant - but it has its crosses.  Maybe you know what I mean.

But then there are some daily reminders that keep me going.  My husband tells me (and shows me) numerous times a day that he loves me.  His reminders about my beauty help keep me going sometimes, swollen ankles and all.  Sweet Thomas and that curly red hair that frames one gorgeous set of eyes - I couldn't have chosen a more beautiful combination myself.  And our little girl who really seems to be having a heck of a time in the womb (we're all hoping her one person party will last at minimum until the end of September, preferably into October).  And lately, in the midst of all that's going on in our family, all our planning, all our things to do, I'm reminded to seize the opportunities for sanctity...to pour my love out onto my family, to forget myself, to give and be open to receiving love.

I think St. Therese talked about only enduring the present suffering and not thinking too far ahead because only the Lord can handle more than the present moment.  Here's to today!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

sprinkler park!

We took a little family outing to a sprinkler park nearby - not only was it fun to play in the water and sand, but it was so cute to watch Thomas interact with the other kids.  Whenever we go to library programs, play places, play dates, etc., I'm always astounded at how social he is!  He gets out of his stroller, sticks close to me for a minute or two, and then just goes up to kids armed with a huge smile and lots of waving.  It's adorable, and I'm not sure where he gets his outgoing nature...it surely isn't from his introverted momma!

Thomas and Daddy checking out a water-squirting seal

Woah there!

Some sand time...hopefully he wasn't taking notes from the sand-throwers out there

Kindly declining the photo-op

Water break!

Playing in his own personal pool (aka a large mud-bottomed puddle)

The mark of a good day: curly wet hair, dirty hands, and a smile!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

the missionary life

I think it started in high school that I had the aspirations to become a missionary - someone who traveled internationally, eating with the poor, spreading the Gospel, being the face of God for orphans, widows, old, and young alike.  I thought this was a way that I could impact many people and bring them closer to Christ...and, as an added bonus, it would glorify me a little bit as well.  Nice!

Those sentiments didn't change too much in college - in fact, I felt more compelled to pursue the missionary life.  I remember quite clearly nearly sprinting to the chapel one random weekday afternoon as I couldn't focus on my homework or internship tasks.  I just wanted to goGo somewhere, do something that I deemed more relevant than my research paper, leave the tasks at hand to serve.  I, like the woman in this fantastic article  I distinctly recall begging God to reveal my vocation to me, asking Him to send me somewhere...or at the very least give me peace about my current situation.

And it was because of that pleading that I realized the opportunities to serve are a part of every moment, no matter the vocation.  Fast forward a few years to the present. 

I'm a young wife of two years and mother of two.  I'm not a world traveler.  I don't have an advanced degree.  Heck, I don't very often use my undergraduate degree.  I don't work outside the home.  I have no paycheck to my name. 

Drake and I were asked somewhat recently if we regretted starting our family right away, foregoing life as missionaries, and being, in some ways, forced to dedicate ourselves to our family.  Without a moment of hesitation, I replied, "We are missionaries." (I'll admit that I surprised myself a bit).  "I'm a stay at home mom.  I don't get time off.  I'm on call 24/7.  I live the spiritual and corporal works of mercy through serving my family, through pouring my love onto them."  I think everyone was taken aback a bit, but I knew I was just stating the facts. 

The life that God has chosen for Drake and I is a beautiful one.  It's hidden, humbling, difficult, and often misunderstood.  I go to bed more exhausted than I ever have before.  Family life, though beautiful and rewarding in many ways, is where the Lord has asked me to serve.  Right here in Illinois, within our home, through the daily joys and challenges.  It's sanctifying in ways I never thought possible.  And though family life might not be the vocation that people immediately associate with "changing the world," I know it to be true that family is the single most important institution in the world.  It's about saving souls, fostering a community of love, and striving for holiness day in and day out.  If that's not going to change the world, I'm not sure what will.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

a (delightful) day trip

We (and by "we" I mean my family, of course) had quite the successful day-trip up to the suburbs today, making it safely there and back.

First stop was JoAnn Fabrics where I stocked up on fabrics for nursing covers that I hope to sell via a little online business.  I'm trying to use time now to make some baby items (nursing covers, burp cloths, and hoodie towels specifically...hopefully in coordinating colors so people can mix and match them).  I'm hoping to open the shop a month or two after Baby #2 arrives.  Oh, and with several coupons and my mom's employee discount, I saved nearly $75 on fabric.  It. Was. Wonderful.

Oh, and speaking of Baby #2, we're not divulging the name this time.  I found it a bit stressful last time hearing name opinions from so many when we were on the fence about our firstborn's name, so you'll just have to wait until the Fall.  Sorry.

After amazing JoAnn savings, we had another delightful stop - Portillo's.  If you're from the northern suburbs, I need say no more about the gloriousness that is Portillo's dining.  And if you've never had it, please add it to your bucket list.  You'll be so happy that you did.

Our third stop was a duplex in Lombard that we'd been eying on Craig's List.  And, my friends, we think this is quite possibly "the" new place, for the next few years or so, that is.  A garage, yard, full basement, washer/dryer, driveway all give it a very home-like feel.  It's a two-bedroom in our price range, and the landlords could not have been any nicer.  They're even okay with us not moving in until August.  We're sending in our application on Monday as we continue to pray that God would make it clear to us if this is not the place for us.  It's the first place we've looked at that both Drake and I could picture ourselves living in...and it's actually less than 10 minutes from some dear friends, including the only other young Catholic mom I know in the suburbs.  Plus, it's a less than 30 minute drive from the grandparents and close to several other family members.  So we are very hopeful about this place!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

maybe one day

With our upcoming huge life changes, we've been in the process of looking for a new place to live.  We've got our price range, amenity needs, and general area nailed down.  But we've still got to find a place - we're trying to keep weekends open as much as possible to allow for all the travel back and forth, enabling us to see the places in person.  We've utilized Craig's List, suggestions from family and friends, and a host of apartment/rental companies.

So far, we've got nothing.

We're checking out another place on Saturday - I'm hopeful but trying not to get my heart set on it.  Seems that lately we're running into Craig's List scammers, companies changing their prices and going back on their word (making it more expensive, of course), or just general too little bang for our buck.

Did I mention I'm trying to remain hopeful?

I'm really going to miss central Illinois - and part of why is the drastic price differences/cost of living.  But, God is calling us to do this.  We're confident about that.  And I'm learning that when God calls you to something, He'll get you through it...but that doesn't mean the process will be easy or even all that enjoyable.  I'm also confident that all this will contribute greatly to the sanctification of our family.

God willing, we'll live in a house one day - a house that we own, maintain, and about which we make decisions.  But that day's not today.

And so, Drake and I continue to pray about our future residence, entrusting it to the hands of our Lady.  Holy Family, pray for us!

Friday, June 4, 2010

so cold but oh so tasty!

Thomas had his first try at ice cream a few weeks ago - I don't think he's decided quite yet if he likes it or not.  The taste is delectable, but the freezing cold on those baby teeth is a little strange.  Here's a little photo documentary:

Looking forward to a (hopefully) nice cool summer!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

a little lady

That's right - Steed baby #2 is a girl.  And unfortunately I don't have the ultrasound pictures on a CD to upload onto the computer, so you'll just have to wait until mid-October (or thereabouts) to see this sweet angel.  But thanks be to God, she's healthy, and so am I.  So we're hoping and praying that healthy trend continues for mom and baby.  We've reached the halfway point already - she'll be here before we know it!  But let's hope she stays in the oven a little bit longer than her brother did :).

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

a glorious weekend

As I mentioned in the previous post, Drake and I had been looking forward to this past weekend for quite some time.  And I'm so thankful that it met, and in many ways exceeded, our hopes for time spent together doing things we don't normally have a chance to do. And this was in large part in thanks to our babysitters - so a sincere thanks again to Stephanie and my parents for taking such good care of our sweet first born.

Friday: After an "exciting" morning of an unexpected 5:15am Thomas wake-up, scrambling to get everything ready, dropping off Thomas at Auntie Steph's, and catching the train a full 10 seconds before its departure (whew!), we found ourselves heading to Chicago.  Here's the classic "let's take a picture of ourselves even though we've been up since 5am" photo:

The day was really packed, but we took everything in stride (literally - lots of walking!).  Overall, we experienced the trifecta of public transportation options in the city (train, bus, el), ate delicious food, checked out a few apartments, stumbled upon a Catholic bookstore complete with an adoration chapel (which also happens to be right across the street from Argosy), took a quick trip to Wrigleyville after a Cubs loss (this was, perhaps, only foreshadowing our second unexpected trip there), and thanked God for a wonderfully promising meeting Drake had with a very well-connected man who just might be able to secure him part-time employment.  Praise God!  

Saturday: Thankfully the day was a bit less busy.  We spent time with some family friends, got Thomas ready for his first overnight with his grandparents, and got ourselves ready for a wedding of some dear friends from undergrad.  After the wedding, we spent time with the Aderholds.  It was so great to be with old friends and spend time with my adorable god-daughter.  We headed to the reception several hours later, and we were forced to lift our jaws from the ground after seeing the dessert table!  Rows and rows of hand-crafted deliciousness, complete with a swan made from white chocolate-covered strawberries, and a chocolate fountain taller than Drake.  It was unbelievable.  The food was excellent, toasts were great, dance floor was packed, and Jon and Maggie are (finally!) married.  Great way to end the day.  Oh, and sorry...no photos.  I made up for it tomorrow, I promise!

Sunday: We had planned on sleeping in, going to a late mass, taking it easy, maybe doing some driving around to find apartments/houses for rent.  But most of that changed when Eileen's house-sitter, Jim, offered us free tickets to the Cubs game that afternoon.  FREE?!  We had a full 20 minutes to decide and try to re-arrange our schedule as well as figure out things with Thomas.  But thanks to my mom's willingness to have him a few extra hours, we were able to get ourselves to Wrigley.  It. Was. Amazing.  We are huge Cubs fans!  We navigated our way to the city (didn't have time to catch a train), paid for parking and food, and sat in the upper deck in $63 dollar seats for which we paid $0.

Welcome to Wrigley!