Edel: Real Moms, Swimming Pools and Cathedrals

“The Edel Gathering? So, what exactly is that?”… A common question the last several months, and I tried hard to explain. Coherently. Because why else would a PNW native head to Austin… in July? February. That makes sense. But July? I sounded a little crazy.

As Hallie Lord explained in her opening remarks, the purpose of Edel was several-fold. We were to connect with people. People we knew, people we just met, people we were totally in awe of. I quickly got over my initial habit of eavesdropping on conversations other people were having with Jen, and Haley, and Hallie and so many other wonderful Catholic bloggers.

And you know what happened when I walked around the corner, stuck out my hand and introduced myself? They smiled and introduced themselves back (as if they really had to…) I think I might have even said something super smooth like, “Hi [famous person's first name]! I’m Caitlin, and I just love your blog and blah blah blah, will you please be my friend?”.

They’re real people! Real moms. Just like me. Well, decidedly cooler, but almost just like me (check out Kelly’s karaoke rap if you need proof as to the coolness… mic drop included).

Ok, next purpose: to relax. Which I was medium successful at. I mean, I did look like this for most of the weekend.IMG_2666

Once again, racking up the cool points.

Also, I stayed at a hotel a couple blocks away, so I walked back and forth to change clothes and shower approximately a million times (babywearing in humidity makes for two very stinky and sweaty people). Actually, I had most everything I needed with me all the time (see above cool photo) and Dom is a sleeping champ. So, that part wasn’t so bad. Also, making friends was so ridiculously easy that I felt relaxed just sitting and chatting. Or nursing and chatting. Or eating and chatting. I thrive on making these connections. It energizes and relaxes me,  extrovert much?

DSC_2887Also making friends had its benefits. Like keys to the rooftop pool at our hotel venue, the OMNI. Nothing says relax like discussing NFP, Mass with Littles and our saintly husbands in a luke-warm pool packed with frat boys and lithe little young thangs. All jesting aside, it only took saying “Yay, Mass!” a couple times before our side of the pool was inexplicably empty. And you should have seen the looks Dom got sleeping in the shade. “Is that a baby?” was whispered in hushed, awe-filled tones as people walked to the pool’s bar. Like adventurers on a jungle safari, people in their 20s and 30s watched Dom in his natural state: sleeping.

Careful, Ladies and Gentlemen, he might just open his eyes, coo, or spit up! You never know with those wily babies!

I like to think that just by being there, specifically where our worlds collided, we were witnessing. Witnessing to the joys of motherhood.

Ah, the joys of motherhood (I literally just took a break in typing to argue with my four year old…who argues with a four year old? Come on Caitlin! Get your act together!).

And that segues me to the third reason for Edel, to listen to some awesome, eloquent Mothers give us weary, isolated Mamas words of encouragement to take home with us.

DSC_2917It started with Hallie’s opening remarks. It is good that you are here. Inspired words, given to Hallie by the Big Guy upstairs to pass on to all of us. So, stop. Take a deep breath. Give up all your anxieties and worries (we’re moms who may have just left kids thousands of miles behind, of course we have worries) and just be here. And did I mention we were all women too? Women obsess about everything already, and put them in a group of other women and those obsessions can quickly turn to self-depreciation. My internal monologue went something like this: I’m not cool enough, pretty enough, eloquent enough. I don’t have the right clothes or lipstick. I’m going to say the wrong thing and I’m sure everyone will hate me.

Seriously people, living in my brain is sometimes like a trip to Crazy Town.

So Hallie’s opening words were salve on my soul. God wanted me to be there. To meet these people. To smile and laugh and Just. Be. Here. 

Exhale.

She also spoke a little about the patron of the conference, Venerable Edel Mary Quinn. She not only miraculously appeared to a depressed, desperate mom who almost threw herself off a bridge, saving her life and encouraging her in her vocation, she also really liked to party. Just our kind of gal.

DSC_2919Next in line to inspire us was Marion (I-wish-she-had-a-blog)Fernández-Cueto (stole that bit from you Nell). Her talk was so inspired, and so cogent, I found myself madly scribbling notes one-handed while breastfeeding. It was like a weird flash back to a college lecture, but with a lot more breast milk. Due to the nursing haze and complications of writing on my knee, my notes look a little like this:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…” –>look up later, Isaiah? Maybe… –> READ YOUR BIBLE CAITLIN
Church should be greatest possible experience of freedom…
Some awesome quote by St. Agustine, something to do with unconditional love –> look up later.

Community! Yay! Have to surrender to…. something, Love? 
Story about a French…painter? artist? Something awesome –>look up later

I’ve heard we’ll get audio of the talks, and I’m sure I will listen and re-listen to her words. I joke about the content I wrote down, but the standing ovation she received speaks to the resonance we all felt with her words. Several parts I remember vividly (trying to quote as best I can):

“Remember the pathetic little boy who offered his pathetic little lunch to Jesus to feed the crowd? When we offer our pathetic little life to Christ, he takes it and he multiplies it.”
“Authentic Christianity always brings us into community.”
“If we fail to live our own personal vocation, which is to live in Christ’s love, somewhere in the Church a light will be missing.”

Truncated as those quotes my sound, in the context of her talk and with the audience she was speaking to, it was magic. We were a group of struggling, isolated Catholic Moms, looking for validation and encouragement. Marion, you absolutely delivered.

DSC_2913Then we got a two hour break to swim, or shop, or get a massage, or chat or whatever the heck we wanted to do since no one needed to break up a fight or cook a meal or vacuum the floor. I was going to say change a diaper, but seriously a good 10-15% of women had a baby with them. Probably another 10-15% were pregnant. It was the most absurdly awesome demographic of women.

DSC_2922Haley was up next. I’ve been a mostly lurker (sometimes comment-er) on her blog and IG feed for a while now. Ok, truthfully, I kind of want to be her. She’s got awesome crazy hair, wears red lipstick like it ain’t no thang, and has a giant tattoo of Mary! More importantly, she does a great job living the liturgical year with her kids, celebrating feast days with special meals and activities (check out her cookbook!). She writes powerful, true and sometimes inflammatory words. And is just all around a brave and faithful woman.

Guess what? She’s a real person. A real mom. Just like me. I actually spent time talking with her about normal mom/family things. She has a front yard garden (like me!) and chickens (like me!) and the cutest babies ever (like me!). She even remembered my name later, what?!

Her talk was entitled “My Kids are Killing Me, ” and was about the mortification of motherhood. Sounds…strange? A little dark perhaps? That couldn’t be further from the truth. It was full of humor and tears and love and insight. She ultimately shared her personal transformation from a (her words) selfish 20-something into a faith-filled Catholic mom. And do you know how? Her first baby. An unplanned pregnancy. She and her husband were happy to live in a secular, consumer-driven world, until a little positive pregnancy test changed everything (I’m paraphrasing again):

Until then, I had been imprisoned by a tyranny of…me. And for the first time, I was free to love something else, unconditionally. This baby taught me to love someone just because it was there. It had intrinsic value just by existing. And I realized, maybe I didn’t really even know how to love Daniel…I saw our marriage change from two individuals who were competing to have their needs met, into two people sacrificially loving each other...”

So, so powerful. And such a reality check.

She told the story about how a professor stated a dog could take care of her 18 month old, and therefor didn’t need quit grad school to stay home. Man, want to rile up a room of Moms… She told stories of her kids blowing raspberries in Mass. She ultimately made herself so relate-able and wove such a good narrative, that when she choked up speaking about that positive pregnancy test, we were all teary-eyed with her.

And she made the good point that every small suffering, every embarrassment, every sacrifice of time and energy, it’s a purification. A mortification. And our path to Heaven is full of them.

DSC_2924Jen’s talk was the rallying cry of the weekend. Appropriately placed after an awesome Tex Mex buffet and before the karaoke dance party started.

She was the most inclusive of the speakers. Hammering home that it is difficult to be a faithful Catholic woman today, and that we are all suffering from a great isolation. She related motherhood to a story about a Cathedral Builder:

A rich man came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, ‘Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it. And the workman replied, ‘Because God sees.’ (This version from here).

DSC_2884We are Cathedral builders, says Jen. Every moment of every day. Every little formation of our children turns them into a more beautiful cathedral. And God sees it all. She expanded on the metaphor to say that motherhood itself is a cathedral, and sometimes, though we see the value of building, it can be awfully lonely inside.

As I turned to the tearful women around me, I was struck by how ridiculously blessed I am. Right now, my community is so full and so vibrant and so life-giving, I feel like I’m just brimming. Ladies of St. Joseph, sisters, and friends you fill my cathedral. Help me build it, even. I’ve had my time of sitting alone, so desperately alone in my cathedral… sure that I would wither up and die for lack of connection. But not now. Especially not now, so full from Edel.

IMG_2735To those of you I met, thank you for your kind words, laughter and love.

To those who weren’t there, we all loved you and thought about you. Wishing and guiding and praying you into our Edel Cathedral, whether you felt it or not. Tricia, Cate and I even sang a karaoke song in your honor… while baby wearing (pictures to come…maybe, depending on how brave I am).

DSC_2885During Mass on Sunday, as I entered a physical cathedral, I was struck by the realization that all you Mamas were there. We all gathered around the same Eucharistic table that day, all across the country. All across the world.

So, Mamas, if you need it, throw wide the doors! We must storm each other’s cathedrals. Worship together. Laugh together. Struggle together. Let no woman feel that she is raising her children all by herself. We are never alone.

You are never alone.

And please come to Edel next year.

I’m pushing for Portland.

A lot more baby wearing, with a lot less sweat.

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Edel: A Baby’s Eye-View

Dom and I just returned from The Edel Gathering, and there’s so much that I want to put into writing. To articulate. To keep forever. But I find myself savoring it. Holding it close, like a prized possession. Afraid that once I write it all down, I will fail to do my feelings and experiences justice.

I’m still processing all the truths and encouragements about my vocation, and will verbalize them when I have more than nap time. More than just-before-bed time.  Here’s my recap.

So, instead, here’s Edel as experienced by Dom.

Spoiler alert! There’s a lot of sleeping and eating, and barely any crying. Because he is seriously the most excellent travel baby. Ever.

Ok, well. We’re in the airport. Mom seems like she’s moving a little slow though… Kind of weighted down.IMG_2657

Flying! Yay! Thanks Southwest for letting us bring my carseat on board.IMG_2661

I should probably look at the pretty scenery. IMG_2660

Or sleep. Sleep is good. ZzzzzzIMG_2664

Again with the backpack? Really? Does every mom look like this when they go to a cocktail party?… Coolest lady I know.IMG_2666

The clock says it’s midnight, but it’s only 10PM in my head. I think I’ll stay awake and be adorable. Neener, neener….IMG_2674

zzzz…IMG_2676

More zzzzz….IMG_2678

Good morning Texas State Capital! I think I’ll enjoy….zzzzz.IMG_2684

Oooh Mom is meeting Haley. Her favorite imaginary BFF. Hi Haley! I really like your post about…zzzzz.IMG_2688

Oh! I’m awake. And who are you? Mom’s own baby-holder. I’m a little skeptical. What are your credentials? Never mind. I love you.IMG_2691

Yay! It’s Heather! Hold me!IMG_2694

And we see Nell again! She’s our friend from the airport shuttle…zzzzz.IMG_2696

Hallie! You made this conference possible. I love you so much! So much I think I’ll… zzzzzzz.IMG_2698

And you too Christy! Mom loves your bl….zzzzz.IMG_2701

Cate! Tricia! Mom is so happy she met you ladies for real. And so grateful to Mary for introducing. They all wished you were here…zzzzz.IMG_2702

 

I really liked our new friend Suzanna, and Rose is just my type: Baby.DSC_2909

Wanna swim on the roof Mom? Ok, gimme a sec and I’ll just pass out here on this nest of towels. Zzzzzz…IMG_2706

Dancing! We’re dancing! So are all the other Moms, and some are wearing babies too! Do I hear karaoke? I don’t really know what the heck is going on…IMG_2712

But I think I’ll pass out before you take your next fangirl picture with Bonnie….zzzz…IMG_2714

New friends from Ohio! Sisters actually. Hey, will you ever bring my sisters to something like this? How about your sisters?IMG_2718

Mom, I saw that. Jen really is tall. Tall enough that you grabbed her butt, not her waist in this picture…IMG_2715

Good morning Mom! I slept through Mass, and now it’s time to pack. How about I just lay here, k?DSC_2934

Clouds that may cause some turbulence, eh Captain? IMG_2736

Don’t worry. I’ve got this: Zzzzzzz….IMG_2739

Seriously, you guys. Apart from some stiff shoulders and hips from wearing him for 48 hours, I have absolutely no complaints about traveling with this little guy. I even told him he could cry the whole way home and he would have earned it…

Last week I was starting to dread the logistics of attending a conference with a 4 month old. Even thinking about selling my ticket. Thank you Andy for encouraging me to go. And between Dom’s ridiculously chill nature and the incredible pro-baby feeling at Edel, I’d absolutely do it again. In a heartbeat.

More substance and less name-dropping (blog-dropping?) to come in the next post. Promise. However, probably more pictures involving that son of mine. I’m still waiting on the pics from our karaoke stint… He rocked it.

 

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My Secret Sanity Weapon

Something magical happened over Easter weekend this year: my sister Corey came to visit…DSC_0643

And never left (well, and she found the $50 egg, which is also awesome).

DSC_9527That’s right, she moved into our house and jumped right in to life with three kids.

She has been fantastic. Seriously. The biggest blessing in my life since, well, I can’t remember. Let me explain why:DSC_0023

Cor, can you watch the kids while I run to the store?
Lu is hungry again? And Dom is screaming and Mo skinned her knee? Corey!
Cor, can you put Mo in time out?
AHHHHHHHHH! That’s a giant spider! Corey!
Hey Cor, Dom filled his pants, could you change them…
Um Cor, can you check if Lu’s poopy?
Auntie Corey! I pooped!- Mo
Would you move the laundry Cor?
Hey Cor, thanks for doing the dishes!
Cor, could you watch Dom while I take the girls to their doctor appointment?
Cor, could you watch the girls while I take Dom to his doctor appointment?
Gah! Psycho kids! Corey, can you watch them outside for a couple (30) minutes?
Wanna go for a walk?
Wanna go to the zoo?
Wanna go pick strawberries?
Wanna help me pit approximately a hundred pounds of cherries?
Are the chickens still out? Man, it’s pouring…Corey?

Corey! I’m late! Can you get the girls in the car?
Cor! Did you hear that? What was that? Oh, just the cats? Good thing you’re here when Andy’s in Tacoma, I was ready to go hide in a corner and call the police…
How many books did you read to Mo?
SO MUCH SCREAMING, Cor I’m just going to go sit outside for a minute, k?
Thanks for watching the kids during date night.
Thanks for watching the kids during my Creighton follow up.
Thanks for watching the kids during Andy’s birthday.
Thanks for the hug Cor.
Thanks for listening to me, for letting me vent, and cry, Cor…I needed that.

DSC_2760Most of these request (pleas, sometimes) interrupt her work on another comic masterpiece, and she rarely ever says “Sorry, I can’t right now”.

Cor,  

You make a tangible difference in my every day life. I know Jessie and I recorded “For Good” for your birthday several years ago, but now I have no doubt. Your presence here changes me for the better. Changes my whole family for the better. The girls are so happy to have an Auntie who plays and reads and draws and sings. Dom barely cries before you’ve picked him up and whisked him away to use Auntie magic until he falls asleep. Andy and I get to connect as a couple sans kids once a week! And you and I get to laugh and joke and debate every day. I can feel the brain atrophy abating as we discuss everything from politics overseas to the latest plants at City Farm. You cook and clean and walk and play and so many other things…it’s like having another parent in the house. But better…because you’re also my sister. I can’t help but think that this is the way humans were supposed to exist. Women especially. The social construct that separates families into tiny little units isolated from one another (often by many, many miles) just doesn’t work as well as chatting with your beautiful sibling every morning over a cup of coffee.

Who knows where you’ll be in a year…where we’ll be in five? We could easily be those siblings living thousands of miles apart. So, I relish this time. I am grateful for this time with you. And even if you’re not a daily part of my children’s lives forever, they will at least have this time to remember, and these photos be reminded of your unfailing and awesome love.DSC_9737 IMG_1136 DSC_0283 DSC_0325 DSC_0337 DSC_1065 DSC_1161 DSC_1390 DSC_1395 DSC_1474 DSC_1670 DSC_1765 DSC_2004 DSC_2455 DSC_2660 DSC_2665

You know, I’m not really kidding when I say you could live with us forever, right? You totally could. I mean, please? Will you? Stay forever? Please?!

Love you. So much.

-Your Biggest Fan and Big(gest) Sister

P.S. Please take more pictures of Lulu like this. They are seriously my favorite.DSC_9718 DSC_0328 DSC_2714

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Lulu is Two-two

And judging my the amount of half-nakedness, I would say she had a great day!

Lus BdayStarted off with popsicles for breakfast, half-dressed.

Lus Bday-2Then sweeping, half-dressed (her favorite “chore”).

Lus Bday-4DSC_2300The evening was filled with homemade lemon-blueberry cupcakes (sans pants, though you can’t tell here).

Lus Bday-3Kayla, my piping skillz are coming along nicely, wouldn’t you say? There are some gems there in the bottom left corner…Hardy har har. Maybe I need something better than a ziplock bag with the corner cut off…

DSC_2307Turns out, two year olds don’t care what the cupcakes look like. Only how they taste. Can you tell if she liked the buttercream frosting or not?

DSC_2320How about Mo?

DSC_2334 DSC_2337 DSC_2369Next came opening cards and presents, half-dressed, of course.

DSC_2375And the BIG gift: a bike!

“Where do you want to go, Lu?”

DSC_2386“Oh, the paaaarrrrk. I couldn’t tell… You should probably put some pants on…”

IMG_2427The push bike is just a tad too tall for her right now. But considering how much she’s eating lately, I’m sure she’ll grow into it shortly (pun…intended? maybe… Was that even a pun?).

DSC_2429So, she spent a lot of time helping Mo.

DSC_2434And being helped by Mo.

DSC_2413And even more time just running around with her helmet on.

Happy Birthday Lulu Bell,

There are so many things I want to remember about this time of your life. Here are a few:
-The way you speak. Just this morning you said “Hewoh Storey”: Hello Corey, and it made Cor light up in a way that only an adorable niece can.
-Your incredible spunk. “No” is also a favorite word of yours, but generally you say it with an impish grin and run to tackle-hug me before I even start to count to 3. “Saw saw Mama, saw saw”: Sorry Mom, sorry.
-Your tenderness. When Mo is in trouble, you run to the time out spot with her, saying “Saw saw Momo, saw saw!” trying to hug away her angry tears. You lay (usually) gently next to your Baby Brother, stroking his arm “Dom Dom…”
-Your concern. “Uh oh! Bubble, side! Bubble side! Bubble side!” Yes, love, we know Bubble escaped outside. “Yeah”
-The way you move. Clomp, clomp, clomp. I’ve heard it described several ways: intentional, baby-rugby-player, swagger… You move with a purpose, and often you lean slightly forward and let your shoulders lead the rest of your body. You might just end up with Auntie Jessie’s swimmer’s physique.
-The way you need me, and hold me accountable. “Mama, up. Up. UP!” as I’m distractedly perusing something worthless online. “Just a second love…” You take my hand or push my legs,”No! Mama, up! Up! Sit!” No mom, you say, pick me up now. Hold me. Sit with me and love me. I won’t be two for forever. I won’t need you to cuddle me forever. But right now I do. Right now I have my Abba (binki) and my blankie and there’s nothing else I want more in the whole world than for you to just cuddle me.

It’s hard to argue with that. And you know what?
I don’t really want to.

Love you Lulu, Today and Always
-MommyDSC_2444

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A Day in the Life…

“Mama. Open. Please,” Lulu.
“Just a second, Love. I’ll be right there, ” Me, running off to do a million other things.
Yeah, right. She’s never going to help me open this game. I’ll just have to take matters into my own hands…now if I only had a knife… -Luluday

(It’s pretend, don’t worry).

“Mama, when I have long beautiful hair like Rapunzel, can I have a castle?” -Mo.
“I don’t think so… Where would you buy a castle?”- Me
“Um, the princess store! …Oh no, but my eyes are not brown! Maybe I can get some dye. Maybe there is special brown dye that I can put in my eyes. And then I will have brown eyes like Rapunzel!”- Mo

Jess got Mo some Wonder Woman comics for her birthday. I like nothing better than to see this:day-6day-2 day-3

Dominic is 3 months old today! I’m celebrating by changing out his drawers to 9 month clothes…day-4

It’s a smart, beautiful, giant life ’round here. One day at a time.day-5

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The Bug Days of Summer

Beetle in the house? Fascinating.Bugs-14 Bugs-17 Bugs-16 Bugs-15

Releasing lady bugs at twilight? Magical.Bugs-11 Bugs-12Bugs-13 Bugs-10 Bugs-6 Bugs-9 Bugs-7 Bugs-8

An egg sac of praying mantises unknowingly hatching in the kitchen? Freaky as heck!Bugs-5 Bugs Bugs-3 Bugs-2 Bugs-4

Remember, I seriously have nightmares about this sort of thing. We thought there were at least a couple more weeks before hatch-date. Thank goodness Nikki saw that the swarming mass had emerged. Before they started eating each other. Or even worse, escaped and crawled in my bed…Ok, stopping that imagination train before it goes too far.

Knowing these girls, I’m sure we’ll have plenty more bug pictures to come! They’re one of our favorite parts of summer. Bugs-18

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Dominic’s Baptism Day!

Dom Baptism-17Welcome to the Church, Dominic Robert! Dom Baptism-3 Dom Baptism-4 Dom Baptism-11Dom Baptism-6 Dom Baptism-7 Dom Baptism-8

Thank you to all our wonderful family and friends who were able to join us. Andy and I are so blessed to have such an amazing community to help us raise our babies in the Faith.Dom Baptism-9 Dom Baptism-13 Dom Baptism-12

Thank you to St. Joe’s for giving us special permission to baptize Dom on a Saturday!Dom Baptism Dom Baptism-2
And thank you Deacon Curtis for traveling to Vancouver to perform the baptism. I’m so looking forward to your ordination at the end of the month! The girls still talk about the priest on the motorcycle…Dom Baptism-10The party afterwards was filled with Love and Joy and so many babies! Just beautiful.Dom Baptism-16

And if you need a cake made in the Vancouver area, I will gladly give you Kayla’s contact info. Isn’t this just gorgeous? Dom Baptism-14 Dom Baptism-15

 

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Two Month Well Check aka Giant Baby

2 month-2Well, the stats are in.

And it’s official.

2 month-4Andy and I make giant babies:

Height- 2′ 0.5″ (96%)
Weight- 15 lbs 10 oz (97%)
Head Circ- 16.5″ (99%)

Dom is certainly giving Lu a run for her money. It’s fun to look back and compare a little. While Dom is heavier, I’m pretty sure Lu wins for biggest head. Always. Mentally, I feel better now than I did then, but apparently I was already cloth diapering Lulu by 8 weeks. Sorry Dom. Apparently I care a little less about the environment now than 2 years ago

Not exactly sure how or why our children are so big…. I’m mostly just happy that our kiddos are healthy.

2 month-3And that Dom is sleeping through the night. As in goes to sleep at 10pm (after napping from 7-9ish) and wakes up at 6 AM (maybe one wake up at 4 AM, maybe).

*dodges all the daggers shot from jealous Mama eyes

I know, I know. I am ridiculously grateful. And I am banking every minute of sleep, because, like all things having to do with a Baby, this is a phase.

But it’s a phase I’m sure thankful for.

Dear Baby Boy,

I still call you that. Or Little Man, Little Dude, Dom, Dom-Dom, Dominic, Baby Brother, Baby Dom. So many names apart from your given one, and every single one filled with love. You’ve nestled right into our family, into our hearts, filling that space we started preparing for you almost a year ago.

You’re relaxed and calm most of the time. Absorbing everything around you. And by everything, I mean the cacophony. Having two older sisters means a lot of screaming. But it also means laughing and running and giggling and so much love. The girls never stop kissing your head, stroking your arm. I generally have to tell them “Back away, that’s too much love.” 

Some day you’ll be able to tell them yourself, and I’m sure there will be times that a sister-kiss is the last thing you want. But I really hope that eventually you will treasure that affection. Seek it out, even. Because they are beautiful souls, who want the very best for you. 

I also love to pepper you with kisses. And I’ve already heard from other Moms that that, too, fades with time. But I will try to raise you with the knowledge that I love you more than I can explain, and in a different way than anyone else. Perhaps, though,  the bond I have with you is something you can only fully understand if you’re blessed with kiddos of your own…

Because I certainly didn’t understand until now. Well, until Mo was born, and again with Lu. It’s the same with you. You aren’t just my child. You’re a little piece of my heart, walking around in the world. I can actually feel a hollow in my chest when I look at you. I’m sure there’s an explanation (constriction of chest muscles, swelling of something or the other), but I still feel it. It’s like a space with a string attached, pulling me towards you…

Closer, and closer, till my pepper-kisses are gently placed all over your face. Then that hollow fills and swells. That’s what parental love feels like. It’s a filling and stretching of a hollow place inside, making it bigger and capable of filling up with so much more. Thank goodness, because you’re only going to get bigger.

And I imagine as you get older other things will fill and stretch that space… Seeing you walk and play with your sisters. Holding your hand. Seeing you at a concert or school play. Watching you graduate or dancing at your wedding. Hugging you after you’ve been away…

I’ve already started to experience some of those moments with your sisters, but I can’t wait to feel them in different ways with you, my son. 

Love you, my giant little man,

Mommy

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A Ridiculously Cute Day

I don’t know what it was about yesterday, but my kiddos sure were photogenic:

The day started with Mo reading her favorite book to Lulu.cute day-8 cute day-9

Then Mo showed me her improved, more modest swimsuit mold.cute day cute day-2

Lulu decided the tile kitchen floor was really comfortable. All you have to do is add Blankie. I’m not convinced…cute day-3 cute day-2-2

I can just picture Mo sitting like this, at a bar somewhere in her mid-twenties. She’s chatting with friends, figuring out how to save the world, when someone familiar says her name, she looks up and smiles…cute day-4

Afternoon tea party where they were actually sharing! What?!cute day-5

And then evening run around diaper time, with everyone. Dom’s not quite sure what to make of it, but it’s better to start preparing now, Little Dude. They’ll always be smothering you with Love.cute day-7

There’s your dose of cuteness for the day!

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6 Weeks *Audible Exhale*

6 weeks-6“Hang on. Just hang on till 6 weeks. That’s when life gets easier…” is the advice Andy and I give all new parents.

From 0-6 weeks postpartum, life’s a strange mix of sprint and stop. Everything is a crisis and needs to be dealt with immediately: poopy diapers, empty tummies, projectile spit up. Then the baby sleeps. And you’re left sitting in the debris field of dirty diapers, dirty clothes, dirty dishes. Hopefully you choose to sleep too.

I certainly do.

6 weeks-5And then something magical happens around week 6. The Little One starts giving back.

You’ve been pouring your energy (bouncing that crying baby for hours), sweat (dressing a baby? It should be called baby wrangling) and lots of tears (another wake up? really kid?) into this child, and just when you think you can’t do one more midnight feed, he starts to coo.

And you automatically coo back. It’s unavoidable. It just burbles up from a part of yourself you didn’t even know existed. Suddenly you’re on the floor, face to face with your Little Guy saying things like ha-goo and ah-kooo.

Not even the men folk are immune.Sunshine

Also: sleep. Blissful sleep. Right around the 6 week mark those 2 hour stretches at night… well, stretch out.

You know you’ve arrived at parenthood when you can look at another parent and say (with a straight face) “I got 5 hours of sleep last night! In a row!” and they will look at you (genuinely happy) and say “Yay! That must have felt amazing!”.

Try this on your kid-less friends and they may just decide to remain kid-less for a little while longer.

6 weeks-7However, I think my favorite 6 week milestone is lucidity. Your baby actually sees you. The eyes focus and know you. After 6 long weeks of being largely unnoticed but extremely and immediately necessary, to know that your child knows you exist is amazing.

Then those little eyes go right back to being unfocused or staring at ceiling lights or (even better!) ceiling fans. But it’s okay. That eye contact, while fleeting, is soul-filling.

So here we are, at almost 7 weeks with Dominic on the outside, and I am reveling in all these 6-week-isms. He sees me. We coo. He sleeps…ish.

6 weeks-3It’s already so good, and it only gets better from here.6 weeks-4 DSC_9554 DSC_9627 6 weeks-2 IMG_0998 6 weeks-8

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