before, after, & some thoughts

So I got a makeover … just a little one. For your edification, I documented the process with my netbook’s camera:


This is the day before the makeover so you could see me with my regular makeup. ¬†I accentuated the before-ness of it by taking advantage of bad lighting and afternoon fatigue ūüėČ


Here’s my morning-before shot. ¬†I had my regular powder on my face but no other makeup.


And here is the “after” shot! ¬†Read on if you want more details, or skip to the bottom for some quick thoughts on beauty and happiness. Continue reading


What it’s Like with Two (Kids) II



Our friend Tess is over for dinner and next to the table there’s a toy storage bench that doesn’t quite fit snugly against the wall because your home is 100 years old and has beautiful, thick deep and high baseboards. The only “game” your 2 year old has occupied herself with lately is launching all manner of toys down the crack between the bench and the wall – similar to how you load a washing machine. You wonder if she’s figured out that she won’t need to clean up the toys if they are hidden in this way.


As you discuss birthday parties and the delectable treats her mom creates you vaguely hear the toddler calling out “Miss Tess! Miss Tess! Want to put Josh down the hole too.” Swiveling around, your husband sees her tugging on the baby’s arm as Miss Tess tries to interpret what she, an innocent bystander, just heard and realizes she is being asked to help with this naughty plot. You note that you, the authority figures, are not being asked for help, as if this way you won’t object to it.

More shenanigans.
More shenanigans.

And you wonder if, with 3, kids skip the step of asking-for-help-of-inocent-non-parent-bystanders and go straight for stuffing their younger siblings into 2 inch deep cracks on their own. Then you wonder which is preferable. Then you thank God that either a) you are not yet expecting #3 (and we’re not, thank you Lord!) or b) you have some time to prepare for #3, mentally, spiritually, and physically. And you make a mental note to teach the baby to stand up for himself so as not to get put into holes.

Happy weekend!


What It’s Like with Two (Kids) I

An early photo of one of us with two.

Whether conceiving your second child was long awaited or is a big surprise, you’re likely wondering how exactly it is going to go, and how well it is going to go, for all of you, when the new baby arrives. Several friends are expecting their seconds this year. So: Matt and Mary, Mike and Sarah, Pete and Christine, this one’s for you.

Your toddler is two and in her Sounds Phase because when you were descending the stairs together and she brushed against a heat register she liked the sound and you had read How to be a Great Parent by Dr. Nancy S. Buck when she was a baby because that’s when you had time or rather energy, and you don’t any more so even though the register is falling off the wall you let her make sounds and delay going downstairs because Dr. Buck encourages parents in the book to not say no so often because the kid’s desires are ok and it might even express a need for fun or freedom, so she plays it like an instrument and enjoys the sound until you entice her down the stairs with promises of a yummy snack likely containing sugar, but the concept of listening to the different sounds that things make when banged on has taken root.

And she is running around with a red heart shaped measuring cup that you got at a cute bridal shower long before she existed, doing who knows what because she is two and a child of you, and the baby is sitting between the dining room and the kitchen playing with something or other on the floor and you are just trying to get dinner done before Daddy gets home. It’s all about survival at this point and not burning the house down. As you ‘stir the gumbo’ you vaguely hear the baby squawk and see him reach as his older sister walks by and you slightly sternly adjoin him to calm down because he is okay because he doesn’t need the red heart shaped measuring cup because Rebecca had it first and he has other toys right there, and then you turn back to the ‘gumbo’ only a few minutes later to hear a more insistent squawking and this time as you half turn your attention towards that general direction you see said sister dashing off, this time with a slightly more guilty gate while brandishing said red plastic heart shaped measuring cup and you realize that in fact she is the one you ought to scold because in both incidences of squawking it is she who caused the hubub. She is using the read heart shaped plastic measuring cup to bang on brother’s head to hear and learn what sound it makes. But she is already out of sight when you finally put the pieces together, brother is half pacified since the concert disturbance has ceased, and daddy’s arrival is imminent, you really really, really hope, in fact why isn’t he home yet? And you can hardly keep from laughing your dupa off out loud because I guess any very young human would wonder what sound a red plastic heart shaped measuring cup makes on a smaller young human head, and you totally missed this interesting phenomenon the first time and it must have been fun for her, because she took the trouble to circle back and make the sound a second time.¬† So you vaguely say something in the general direction of the dining room to the two year old who has fled about not hitting her brother and you again tell said brother that he is okay all the while wondering why he trusts you after another instance of failing to protect him and then telling him the same thing regardless of responsibility about his okay state once the truth of his innocence is discovered.

And as you review the entire last 7.53 minutes or so you have no idea actually how long it was because every 5 minute interval between 3pm and 6:03 pm until Daddy gets home feel like 48 minutes and you think desperately again that if your spouse doesn’t walk through the door finally, finally –¬† late – at that exact minute you really will go crazy because you will forget to tell him about it and laugh about it after they go to bed if he doesn’t walk in that very next second but actually if the dinner burns in that next second you will forget to tell him even if he does come right away. So you review it again in your mind and think about dashing to the dining room to get the quote book to write it down but dinner might burn and the culprit might hear you laughing and think that banging on her brother’s head with a red heart shaped measuring cup is funny and therefore sanctioned so you review it again in your mind to remember it better to tell people about it and then you have to stop reviewing it in your mind because you laugh every time you think about it and if she catches you laughing she will think that banging on brother’s head not only makes an interesting sound, but is something Mommy enjoys which in fact you do enjoy but only in the company of adults as a story of What It’s Like with Two.

Mischievous look from number one while number two gazes at number one in admiration.

The Little Things

If I had to ask God for one gift each day it would be for patience.  I really need it right now.  I am struggling with the little things each day that require patience.   It is trying not to lose my temper when my son spits water on the couch or when he has a potty accident a few feet from his little potty.  (He is not trained yet.  We are in the child-interested-to-get-to-know-the-potty-phase).  Patience is not getting mad when the check out line at Aldi is too long, and I have the loudest toddler in the store.   It is being calm when my toddler collapses in protest in the entryway to the gym (blocking other members) because he cannot push the elevator button that is near the door.  It is not getting annoyed when I change a wet diaper only to have to change it a minute later because he had to go again.

Patience is needed for the ordinary things somehow require a great deal of effort.  For example, at Aldi, after I pay and bag my groceries, I take my son and the cart out to the car. I pop trunk, load the groceries, and wheel the cart back with my son. Then we push the cart into the cart corral and get our quarter back.  We go back to the car. I load him in his seat. I get in the car, and then I sigh a sigh of relief and exhaustion.  Our shopping trip was a success. We made it.

So when the other day, a nice older gentleman¬†offered to take our cart back and give us a quarter, I was blessed. ¬†He even waited for me to unload the groceries and put my son in the car. ¬†He said, “I bet this will help you out to make it easier.” ¬†That was so kind of him. It is these little gestures that make my day and make me feel like this mom thing is not too overwhelming. ¬†It is so nice when people really want to help, genuinely smile at my son, and don’t just tell me I have my hands full. ¬†(Yes, people tell me that with ONE kid, but to give them credit I am usually carrying a lot of actual things in my hands at times.) ¬†Happy Wednesday!



When I was expecting my first child, I had a lot of hopes and dreams for what my life as a stay-at-home mom would look like. ¬†In addition to caring for the baby, I would get to know my neighbors, I would form a close community with other new moms, I would make meals for folks that needed them, I would volunteer at the homeless shelter, I would be more involved in my parish … and so on. ¬†A friend assured me that yes, it would also be the perfect time to learn to sew, because I would have all this time when the baby was napping, and eventually I’d run out of closets to clean! ¬†As I told you all a few months ago, that’s not exactly how things worked out. ¬†Part of the sadness of that first year was losing all the things I had hoped for. ¬†But God is good, and the closet-cleaning, getting-involved season of my life has finally come to me. Continue reading

Maybe, He’s Right


What I half comprehended as he brought a fussy, demanding little toddler up to bed: “I’m just gonna take the nuk away.”

Approximately, what my mommy-lactating brain said internally: ‘sure at some point hopefully soon – but we have to ease in to it – she’s so attached at night – we were successful taking it away during the day – I did that – I knew what I was doing – but we have to talk about it together and then prepare her and talk with her about it – ”

What happened half an hour later: Husband came down the stairs and said, “No more pacifier.”

What my brain did more of: ‘and I don’t know if I’m ready for the battle and I don’t know how – and I don’t know how to battle – and what way to do it – what’s best for her? – she just got a new brother – isn’t it too early for her? – isn’t it too early for me? – there’s no real danger for her having the pacifier still – especially since it’s only when she’s in her crib – I don’t want another monster on our hands – WAIT! – I haven’t over-analyzed this topic to death yet – I haven’t thought about it enough yet – I still need the internal struggle – we can’t do anything until we are ready – WAIT!’

What I said, approximately: “What?! You just took it away from her? What did you do? What did she do? You didn’t even talk with her about it? You didn’t even talk with ME about it? We HAVE to talk about these things. You don’t know what you’re doing. I need to give input. Just you wait until tomorrow, and overnight tonight, all night, for that matter. You’ve hoisted a major burden on me and on her. It’s gonna be H-E-Double-Toothpicks and it won’t even work.”

The result: our one and a half year old was weaned from her nuk that night. And it was smooth. She maybe asked for it 2-4 times that week, but there was no battle and she was really, really, just fine. She was fine (still is); and it was smooth and simple.

Maybe he’s right. Maybe, just maybe, daddy instincts are just as good as mommy instincts. Maybe his authority carries as much weight (or more!) than mine. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe I should let him do things more often. Maybe I should resist less. Maybe I should submit more.

She’s two and a half now. I don’t remember how long this has been going on, but she does have her fingers in her mouth a lot lately. We both wonder if this a good thing. His views are stronger than mine (that we need to ween her from it). It is something we need to tackle from a training perspective, eventually. Maybe this Fingers in the Mouth phase is her substitution for a pacifier. Maybe she needs it for security, for teething, for fun. But maybe not. And, maybe, he knows what to do about it. Maybe I’ll follow his lead. Maybe, he’s right. He has been before.


evidence-based parenting: “Science of Mom” book review

as it turns out, a vegetarian diet is not that good for babies! Maggie appears to have known this all along.

“Studies show that breastfeeding for at least three months leads to-”

Show me the science.”

In her new book Science of Mom, inspired by her blog of the same title, Alice Green Callahan gives us an expert look at a variety of common parenting questions Рthe ones we all get a little tense about, like breastfeeding, infant sleep, and vaccinations.  Callahan has a PhD in nutrition, and is well-versed in the ways of research.  In each chapter of her book, Callahan provides an in-depth, nuanced exploration of the topic at hand.  She tells us what research is out there, who did the research, how they did it, and precisely what they found.

What she¬†doesn’t do is offer polished, packaged takeaways. ¬† Continue reading

The Small Success of the Week

I made sweet potato wedges on the fly, without planning, without a recipe, without any ingredients (other than the sweet potatoes, of course!). And they turned out!


Sometimes, when I am busy and anxious about many things (nothing too serious, just everything piling up in life), it’s really helpful to focus on something, any thing, even a very small thing, that is working. In this case, something I tried without knowing what I was doing, turned out just fine, and required only approximately 5 minutes of work total. And now, I have something to feed the beast (my 11 month old). That’s saying something, because of the grocery dearth we’ve been experiencing all week.


Bonus Round! The beast. I’ve been admiring our son’s long, long, jealousy-inducing long eyelashes, and I can’t seem to capture them well on my camera, but I got a hilarious shot that sort of shows them off! Enjoy!

2nd Bonus Round! “Blessed is the man whom thou dost chasten, O Lord…When the cares of my heart are many, thy consolations cheer my soul.” (Psalm 94: 12 & 19, RSV)

Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone. Hope your labors are fulfilling and fruitful.

Mary Clare