December 10, 2015

Oliver is Two!

I know I haven't blogged in a while, and I can't say I'll do it on the regular, but I have to write a little bit about Oliver because two years have gone by in the blink of an eye, and somehow this sweet little baby...
...has turned into a spunky, spirited two year old seemingly overnight.

He is one of the two greatest gifts that Thomas and I have ever been given, and we thank God for him every day, as we're filled with constant awe and wonder of this little man and his developing personality. 

He does not ever stop talking, and he now sings his ABCs (and proudly exclaims "Yay! Impressive!" at the end).  His most frequently used word of the moment seems to be 'probably.'  It's not uncommon to hear things like "Probably needs new batteries" or "Baby Theo probably hungry" or "probably need a band-aid." He is still the most curious little boy, and I love watching his mind work as he asks more and more questions every day.  He asks "What's that?" about every.single.thing in his books and all the things he sees when we're out driving or taking walks, as well as "What's that noise?" about whatever he hears.  He also amazes me with questions he asks about things like where the bubbles are going when they go down the sink. Although he answered his own question and told me they were going to see Mimi and Aunt Hannah. :)  

He hasn't quite gotten the hang of "my" and "your" or "me" and "you" yet, so he frequently asks things like "Mommy want to hold you?"  or "I want to play in my bed," referring to our bed, which always cracks us up when we try to explain or teach him the right thing to say because it actually is confusing when you think of it from his point of view. 

This boy still eats anything and everything, and one of his favorite lunch foods of the moment is a quesadilla...made with hummus, sundried tomato bruschetta, and feta cheese, you know, all the typical toddler things! He loves spinach smoothies for breakfast, and his dinner favorites seem to be chili and spaghetti. He seems to be a lot like me in that he loves his fruits and vegetables, but also really, really loves his sweets. He constantly hangs out in the kitchen, either watching me cook, trying to help me cook, playing with his toy set of pots and pans, or begging for a snack or a bite of whatever we're getting. 

He sleeps hard after trying a bunch of different tactics to get us to let him out of his crib (none of which work), including yelling one time "I want to read a coupon book!" He goes to sleep with three blankets and all of his stuffed animals piled on top of him, and he's recently started saying "Forgot a kiss! Forgot a hug!" to sneak in a few extras.  Like either of us are complaining about that! :) We absolutely love listening to him sing and talk before he falls asleep, and we especially love it when he wakes up giggly when we go to check on him before we go sleep. He almost always wakes up from naps saying "I want to playyyyy! I want to playyyy!" 
As energetic and fun as he is, he's also very cautious. He loves, loves, loves running around on the playground, but he also takes his times on the steps and refuses to go down the slide. He doesn't seem to like heights, and he is absolutely not a climber (although he is recently testing the rules with climbing up on the side of the couch).  He is sweet and gentle, and looks completely fazed when kids on the playground get pushy with him, and looks at them like why in the world did you do that to me?  I hope the rough side of him doesn't come out for a long, long time! 

Other interests? 


The sprinker...

 His backpack...

Flowers (he smells any that we pass)...

Books, books, and more books...

Helping daddy with projects...

Drawing and using chalk...

mowing the lawn (but really the sidewalk)... 

the beach...

...and anything with wheels.  He knows the difference between the UPS and FedEx trucks, is fascinated by buses, garbage trucks, and fire trucks, and runs to look out the window whenever our neighbor starts up his pick-up truck. He loves watching the construction in our neighborhood, and whenever the trucks aren't down there, he asks where the Power Curber and the Digger trucks went. 

It's been amazing watching him grow and seeing his interests develop, but the biggest treasure has been watching him become a brother. We weren't sure what to expect with the transition to a family of four, and we thought there may be some jealousy or regression issues, but we thankfully have not seen any of that (yet). Thomas and I prayed hard for the two of them to be close growing up, and I think we're seeing the beginning of the fruits of those prayers. Oliver has been in love with Theodore since day one, and watching him with interact with him gives visible evidence of Blessed John Paul II's words that the "presence of brothers and [children] to grow in humanity and to realize the beauty of life at all its ages and in all its variety." 
He is fascinated by him, talks to him in the sweetest little voice, and constantly asks to kiss him and hold him.  He is in awe of every part of Theodore, and I frequently see him staring at him or touching his fingers, toes, and nose, saying "Tiny little nose! Tiny little fingers!" When he cries, Oliver usually says "Check on him! Probably hungry!" He loves showing him his toys and books, and the only thing he was upset about when we brought him home from the hospital was that he's too little to play with him. 
Oh, this boy. 
He is playful and gentle, joyful and sweet, and I couldn't be more thankful to have the privilege of raising him. It is such a blessing to witness the beauty of the world around us through this little one's joy and excitement.

Happy birthday to the boy who made me a mother! I love you!

July 10, 2015

Homemade Donuts...Made with Love and a Little Toddler Slobber

Oliver and I planned on going to mass this morning and then to Krispy Kreme to get a dozen donuts for 78 cents for their 78th anniversary, but I forgot that mass is at a different time on Fridays.  And then I found out that Krispy Kreme's deal was actually for the second dozen donuts if you bought a dozen.  We definitely do not need 24 donuts in our house (and probably don't need a dozen), so that was a no go! Oh, and I'm also a little stubborn and was not going to pay regular price for a dozen when I thought we'd be getting them for 78 cents! Since I had talked up getting donuts to Oliver,  I decided we would make our own.  After a long morning walk at the greenway to balance out all the calories, we headed off to the grocery store together to get the ingredients we needed. 
I used a recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction. They're baked, so they're not your typical donut, but anything covered in chocolate ganache is good in my book! :)  I used a ganache recipe with just cream and chocolate rather than the one in her recipe for the sake of simplicity.  I don't have a donut pan, so I used a jumbo muffin pan instead. 
I tried to wing making white chocolate ganache, but that didn't work out too great, so next time I'll look for an actual recipe! Live and learn! I have a husband that will eat it by the spoonful regardless, so at least it won't go to waste. ;) 

Anyhow, I'm learning to embrace having a toddler in the kitchen rather than trying to kick him out.  It makes things go a little more slowly, but he is so, so sweet trying to help.  He loves mixing, or rather attempting to mix! He gets a look of such concentration and says "Mix, mix, mix!" 
 Having him in the kitchen does help me to slow down, appreciate the moment, and exercise a little patience rather than rushing through to get something made, so I am grateful for that. 

As you can imagine, the chocolate dipping was his favorite part, and I think the pictures speak for themselves!  

He also loved pouring sprinkles on the donuts and just wouldn't stop, so these bad boys are fully loaded! 

The one and only problem with these donuts? We are going to be finding sprinkles for WEEKS!  I had everything laid out perfectly on a towel to catch the sprinkles while we worked on them, and when I took the dishes away, he picked up the towel to help "clean," and spilled sprinkles all.over.everything!  It took longer to clean everything up than it did to make the donuts, but it was so worth the joy of watching him!  
Hope you all have a happy weekend! We're looking forward to sharing some donuts with Thomas when he gets home soon! 

July 7, 2015

Hope in the Midst of Current Events

It seems like everywhere I turn I see news stories that make me fear for our nation's future. From the beginning of attacks on our religious freedom to IUDs being implanted in girls as young as 6th grade without parental consent to reproductive genetics to a "healthy" 24 year old in Belgium being given the right to die, it's really easy to get caught up in despair and worry about the world where my babies and grandbabies will grow up.  I've had a whole lot of spare time this summer to read about and process these things, and I have to admit to being filled with fear and worry about where our nation is headed.

However, I sat in the presence of our Lord in adoration early this morning and was filled with such great hope.  God encouraged my heart and reminded me that he is so much bigger and greater than anything our nation can be facing and any of our doubts and fears.  I am reminded of the promises in his Word, and these words fill me with hope and peace. 

"Do not fear; I am with you; do not be anxious; I am your God, I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
- Isaiah 41:10 

"I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have overcome the world." 
- John 16:33 

"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, or principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor depth, not any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." 
- Romans 8:39

"What than shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for all of us, how will he not also give us everything along with him?"
-Romans 8:31-32

Like I said, God is so much bigger than the issues of this world.  As Christians, we thankfully have the knowledge that Christ is victorious in the end and that he conquered evil when he died on the cross for us.  His love for us is immense, and he will be with us every step of the way in our lives here and now, giving us the strength we need to live in this world and stand up for our faith until we one day meet him face to face. 

I am finding myself more fully committed to witnessing and living out the Gospel in my own life. I am ready to put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17) to be a proactive witness to the faith. I have found authentic and lasting joy through striving (definitely not always achieving, but certainly trying), to place God at the center of my life and through the truths that he has revealed to us about life, marriage, and family. As Saint Gemma says, "I am convinced that only God can make me happy."

I will not sit back and allow Satan to instill fear in my heart. I will not be conquered by evil (Romans 12:21).  And I will not give in to the lies of the devil. I will, however, more than ever before, seek to fill my heart and mind with God's words and promises.  I may not be able to change public policies, but I can do my best to model and encourage a holy life and marriage for my two babies, as well as any future babies we may be blessed with. Hopefully the love in our marriage and family life will also be a witness to the culture around us. We were encouraged by our deacon at mass today to reflect on whether or not our lives are reflecting God's love to those around us.  Does mine? I'm not sure, but that's what our faith is about, and I truly want to be able to share that love with others. It certainly is a lofty goal to strive for, but I will be praying daily for strength and courage, for I know that all things are possible with God. 

"Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man."
- Luke 21:36

June 24, 2015

Soaking up Summer Break!

Warning: Picture overload and lots of rambling to follow! 

Hands down, the best perk of working in a school system is summer break! I am soaking up every bit of time with the sweetest little peanut in town.  We've been filling our days with trips to the pond, morning mass, walks, and reading more books than you could imagine. 
He is just so much fun to be with. When we went to the pond last week, he threw a couple pieces of bread for the ducks, and then he looked at me with the cheekiest smile and shoved bread into his mouth as fast as he could! Thomas and I say this every month, but 18 months really does seem like the best age yet! It's so much fun watching his personality unfold. He talks up a storm and is the most joyful, curious, giggly toddler.  
 Mouth full of bread 

We've also been spending a lot of time coloring, playing with trucks, and playing with blocks. He asks to "play, play, play!" all day long from the moment he wakes up in the morning until the time he settles down for bed. 

We've gone on a couple outings, and last week we went to the dollar summer movies to see Nut Job in 3D.  Oliver cracked me up laughing whenever one of the characters laughed! He made it through about an hour and fifteen minutes before grabbing my hand and asking to go home, which was a lot longer than I had anticipated.  And he was so not taking those glasses off to put in the recycling container when we left! 

Yesterday was a quite a day. We made plans with Thomas to meet up with him for a picnic lunch near his work.  After making the hour drive out to see him, I got Oliver out of the car and locked my keys and both of our lunches in the car.  We hung out at Thomas's office for an hour until Triple A came to the rescue to open the door.  Oliver ended up eating Thomas's lunch, and Thomas's sweet co-workers gave us balls, stickers, and paper and highlighters to color to keep him entertained while we were there!  Thankfully Oliver got a kick out of all of the attention on him, so he was Mr. Flirty and Well-Behaved.  And even more thankfully, those two men of mine still love me like crazy, even on the days I'm just not with it.  After all that nonsense, Oliver and I had a sweet mommy and me date at the kid's museum, which was a blast! It was almost completely empty, so it was perfect for my little dinosaur explorer. :) 
We cherish our time spent with Thomas in the evenings and weekends! As soon as Thomas walks in the door, Oliver runs and screams "Dada! Dada," says "Hand," holds his hand, and says "Bounce! Bounce!" He leads Thomas straight to our room where Thomas tosses and bounces him on the bed with non-stop giggling heard throughout the house! Reading is occasionally involved, and the evenings together are the highlight of everyone's day in our home. 

We love finding things around the area on weekends that little boys love to do, like waterfront walks by all the boats and a trip to the fire station.  That boy sure does love fire trucks! 

We've also been able to spend a lot of my family, which has been so needed.  Oliver can't get enough of his grandparents, and he occasionally whines during the day and says "Pop pop and Mimi! Pop pop and Mimi!" We may or may not Facetime them every day, and he gets so excited each and every time. 

He also adores his Aunt Hannah and Uncle Jesse, and it is the sweetest thing watching them love on him! 

Oh, that Cool Whip container is his favorite toy at Mimi and Pop Pop's house. And the next picture is his new game with Pop Pop where he gets pulled up and down the hallway on a rug.  There's never a dull moment, that's for sure! 

The best part of last week was going home to visit my family when my grandma was in town! Oliver absolutely adores her, and it's so special watching him interact with his great grandma. Every time she left the room, he went around the house looking for her, saying "Mah maw!" "Mah Maw!" 
She has been doing a Slovak nursery rhyme that my grandpa used to do with all of us, and Oliver thinks it's hilarious! I will forever treasure the pictures of these two together. 

Other than that, we've just been trying to cool off from these 100 degree days however we can, and it usually involves water. Oliver is such a little water baby and frequently asks for the pool and to swim.  It's a good thing he thinks the kiddie pool is the best thing in the world! 

It's been such a blessing having all of this quality time with Oliver, and I know we'll be making the most of it over the next two months.  I will be working a couple hours a week at a nursing home starting at the end of this week to save some money for my unpaid maternity leave, so any prayers for a positive experience and a smooth adjustment to a new setting would be appreciated! I really enjoyed working with older patients during my fieldwork, so I think it will be fun to have a complete change from working with little ones the rest of the year. 

My hope is to blog a little more frequently over summer break when Oliver's napping, but we'll see how that goes!