Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lent, 2015

The Eucharistic Minister had good form in ash distribution!
Happy day after Mardi Gras, also known as Ash Wednesday, also known as the day that everyone does a lot of double takes about the smudge of black on my head (though not as much as if I lived elsewhere since, well, Boston and all us Irish Catholics).

We celebrated Mardi Gras on Lundi because Matty has class on Tuesday nights, and due to having the day off for President's Day it worked out really well. I got to spend a lot of time in the kitchen making jambalaya, cornbread and king cake, all from scratch! This was the first time I had done jambalaya all the way from scratch, including the Cajun spice that I mixed myself and I must admit that it was amazing. We put out a little decor from our travels to NOLA, put on some beads and threw Rebirth on the speakers and had ourselves a pretty awesome lil' party (though I did miss the Abitas this year, sigh).

Due to the current situation complete, utter, terrible, chaos in Boston we have been driving in to work each day, having our nanny take the car home, and then doing the loop backwards to pick us both up from work and get our nanny home safely. What was once less than an hour has turned into at least three both ways and it is making me want to die cry both die and cry.
Madeleine is, how do I say this, not a morning person. She likes to wake up, lounge around and maybe think about changing out of her pjs at 8am, though she would be pretty content to wait until closer to lunch to get up and at 'em. Having to drag her out of the house at 6:45 has been a test in patience and replacements for cuss words like I have not had to deal with in quite a while. So this morning with our eye on the 6:45 mass at our old church we figured we would get up at 5 and pray a lot that we would at least be able to carry her safely to the car as she kicked, screamed and generally made for another lovely winter morning.

And then, a Lenten miracle. Not only was she fed, dressed and ready to get out the door with a coat AND boots but she was actually quite pleasant and....this is where things get crazy....she colored quietly in the front pew with just the occasional excited comment about the goings-on in mas (totally appropriate and made our awesome former priest smile a lot). Y'all it was a LENTEN MIRACLE! We even got a chance to chat with said former priest who happens to be on the board for the school that we are applying to for Maddie and he offered to put in a word for her once her application comes up. It is good to be in with God's men on the ground, I tell ya.

So here we are, Ashes on our heads and ready for the next 40 days of preparation for Easter. This is my second Lenten season pregnant and once again I cannot fast, but I am trying to be mindful of what I eat today and not be extravagant (while still sticking to no meat).
Friday is our weekly take-out night and we have discussed moving it during Lent because it does not seem like much of a sacrifice to spend a bunch of money on seafood or something fancy every night that we are supposed to be reflecting on sacrifices, penance and the Easter season. The ads for cheese pizza and lobster bake specials around this time do not lose their irony on me.
As for what I am "giving up" for Lent this year, I have again chosen to give up some of my free time and spend a bit of time meditating and reading the Bible each day. I would love to get up early and meditate on the rosary and maybe squeeze in a Psalm before I begin my day, so that is what I am aiming for.
I tend to feel very close to the rosary when I am pregnant, probably because I learned how to pray it the day before we found out I was pregnant with Madeleine. Something about being a mama just makes me feel that much closer to the ultimate mama! I may even be a mama of two before Easter comes around and then I will have lots of late nights to spend reflecting on the awesomeness that these little babies have bestowed upon us.

I hope you all have a lovely, reflective Lenten season and that someone finds a better way to tie the Easter bunny and Church Easter together than we have been toiling with at our dinner table!
Just had to throw in this pic of my Valentine's Day date with my littlest heart warmer.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Snowy Day Trip to the World of Madeline

You guys, really, this snow! We have had more snow this past month than has ever been recorded in the history books...and this is Boston so you know we know history! There is just SO much snow and no longer anywhere to put it. It really is absurd, and I hope that someday summer really comes so I can think back to it from a warm spot in the sand and laugh. Really, I just hope summer comes...

Of course, the more snow the less we get out, which is the pits. One energetic toddler and one restless, preggo mama plus four feet of snow is just a terrible equation. So, instead of letting the snow beat us down on Sunday, we decided to brave it all and take a trip out to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art to see a special Madeline exhibit that is ending soon: Madeline at 75: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans

I had read about the exhibit when it was in NYC over the summer and was going to try and see it there, but once I found out it would also be in MA, I decided I could wait and save the trip coordination. Little did I know that this winter was going to be a snowapocalypse, especially when I put it in our calendar for the second to last weekend it would be running. However, never to back down from a challenge, my husband the amazing shoveling machine got us out and on the road just in time for Maddie to have a road PB and J for lunch.  The roads were nice and clear, snow and traffic wise, and aside from the side roads we had to take from the turnpike to the museum, it was totally uneventful. Mostly because we saw a YAK farm. Yep, awesome things are going on in Western Mass and I saw my first yak because of it.

The museum was open (which I started panicking about at exactly .03 miles go to) and there was hardly anyone there, so we had the run of the place! The exhibit was amazing; so many great paintings of all different sizes from the Madeline books as well as early comics and other sketches by Ludwig Bemelmans. My Madeleine has been very into drawing all the time so she brought a sketchpad around the museum and did some drawing as she felt inspired to do, Since it was so empty, the museum staff also let us know right before a storytime was happening in their library, so we got to hear one the the 2015 Caldecott winners, The Adventures of Beekle (so cute!) along with another new book called The Hug Machine (which very much reminded me of a certain toddler). After storytime we checked out the regular exhibit of Eric Carle's art and then made our way to the studio where Maddie made her own book, which is about circles and colors and is likely coming to a future Caldecott listing.

On our way out we hit the gift shop and I managed to spend less than what was in our bank account (it helps that we own every Madeline book already and I have forbidden myself to buy anymore tote bags!). We always let Maddie pick out one souvenir and she went for the most awesome thing: a Madeline shadow puppet set! Definitely a perfect new addition to our snowed in arsenal back at home and something I am sure we will get a lot of use out of as we read the books together with the new baby.

We stopped for sandwiches and apple cider donuts at a market near the museum and made our way back into Boston just as the snow started to dump down again but got home before driving became scary. All in all a total win and well worth the long drive just to be out of the house! I would have been super disappointed if we didn't get to catch the exhibit while it was running, so I am extremely thankful that the rest of my gang was into a little adventure too.

The exhibit, Madeline at 75: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans runs until February 22nd if you have a free day to get out there, we totally recommend it!

This is my new favorite picture of these two. 
Her love of books makes my mama heart so happy.
I want all the art we saw for her room!
Working on her book in the studio.
My little artist. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Winter//Discontent

Things are not well. As a matter of fact, they are pretty unwell.

Work. OH work. How does one maintain an open door policy when the need to shut the door and cry is so great? Something has to give, but it hasn't.

Home. My home sweet home that I do love so much but the project list is not moving because it is a daily task just to keep it together with a very energetic toddler who cannot get out and run around and be a toddler. Our commute time home has doubled, even tripled, on most nights so we get home, get dinner and get to bed. The time we spent playing and coloring and getting a few things done is spent on the road staring at brake lights and snow banks as high as the eye can see.

My me time. I see the runners on the Esplanade with their millions of layers and frozen tears and don't remember my own runs against snow drifts with chapped red legs and impossible miles ahead. I just miss it. I am so, so jealous. I want to get up and layer up and go for a run in this terrible shit outside. If I  do happen to wake early to go to the gym and hop on the treadmill it just takes so much effort. Shoveling that I physically cannot do. Sliding up and down the driveway. Calling just to make sure the gym has even opened. I haven't had a good, solid run in maybe two weeks and it is breaking my heart.

This new baby. Oh this poor second child without any hint that she is on her way with the lack of newborn accessories that have been readied. I need to pull clothes out of the basement and wash them and fold them and get them ready for teeny tiny arms and legs, but the idea tires me out and we still need to go get the changing table and bins that we plan on buying to house them because who needs a crib at this point anyways. We are co-sleepers and the crib is in pieces and will eventually make its way up too but not right now. So it stays in the basement with the other things, waiting for us to make a move before these last 9 weeks fly by and she is here. Maybe we should at least get some diapers...but the hospital was so generous with them last time that we could probably last at least a week on those freebies alone.

But then, there is a good day, A Friday night that ends in (and is punctuated by) tears leads into a Saturday morning of having slept in extra late, A toddler who wakes up fresh faced and excited about the day. A grocery and Target trip that is fun (and ends up costing less than our weekly budget calls for), Gymnastics class where there is no need for me to threaten having to leave because her energy is so great that she can't stop tackling her friends. A quick trip to the library where there is a clean spot right out front and a book that I was at least #180 in the queue for ready for me to pick up. A nap that is not met with tears and screaming and banging on the door, but instead lasts so long I have to wake up from my own and sneak into her room to snuggle her awake. My dear husband coming home from all day at school to take Maddie off my hands and let me cook a new recipe and start my new book. A glimmer of hope that despite three more days of snow, maybe someday spring will be here. Maybe we will wake up on Sunday and say 'fuck it' and get out of the house for an adventure anyway.

This is winter, maybe our hardest yet, but there is always a spring, even in the middle of a snowstorm.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Currently // January

These 'Currently' posts are one of my favorites to do but somehow I haven't done one since October...oh holidays/life/ridiculous New England winter blizzard chaos. Good thing there is so much fun stuff to catch up on...so here we go!

Reading
I just finished one of Damien Echol's books, Life After Death, and it was so, so good. If you aren't familiar with him, Echols is 1/3 of the West Memphis Three, a group of young men convicted of murdering three young boys in West Memphis Arkansas then sentenced to life (and death row for Echols) with absolutely no evidence outside of the WM3 being into metal and wearing black. I started following the case in high school after hearing Jello Biafra speak about them and eventually wrote my undergrad thesis on them, which included an interview that I managed to do with Eddie Spaghetti from the Supersuckers (another huge supporter of theirs). When I was pregnant with Madeleine they were finally set free through a screwy method using an Alford plea in which they could claim their innocence but have no rebuttal against the system that robbed them of 18 years of their lives. There are a great deal of movies (Paradise Lost and the new West of Memphis) as well as some great books, but this was the first of Echols' books that I had read and it was really good. It focuses more on his life in prison and his coping mechanisms more than the specifics of the case and it just made me really glad I decided to keep my career away from the system and in the part that actually helps people because my God our prison system is just so fucking terrible. I know this, and I have been in there and seen it with my own eyes, so for anyone that has not this book is a great eye opener to where your tax dollars are being wasted.
I have moved onto my first H.P. Lovecraft book now....keeping it light with my winter reading I guess!

Eating
Like a hibernating pregnant lady still, but now with more awesome smoothies for breakfast because I got a ninja for Christmas and it is the most awesome thing ever. I reintroduced flax and chia into them and have been alternating between this smoothie and some variation of frozen strawberries and banana with greek yogurt and nutella or peanut butter. I am also trying to remember to have lemon water first thing in the morning (and I do manage to have it all day at work), which I think has kept my skin from totally freaking out in this terrible cold weather. Also, really appreciating that Pinkberry just rolled out a ton of new flavors for my third trimester; I know it had to have been just for me, right?

Thinking About
Tiny babies! Especially this one in my belly that is getting huge and wriggly and will be here in just two months. I have started thinking about packing a bag for the hospital and getting all the tiny clothes up from the basement to wash and put away. I am so glad that we are doing this a second time around and I know that I don't need to get the crib out yet (yay, cosleeping!) or worry about buying all the things. We can just relax and wait for her to get here and then figure out the craziness of two kids once she gets here :) Tomorrow we are taking Madeleine to a sibling class at the hospital so she can see the maternity ward and look at the new babies in the nursery, which we are all pretty excited about. I can only imagine that this pregnancy feels like forever to her (I feel ya, girl) so we try and keep her excited with things like this as well as bringing her to all my prenatal appointments. She has seriously become a pro with that heartbeat listening machine and I think she feels that this is her baby just as much as it is Mama and Da's, which is the absolute truth. We are so excited to meet you little lady, now please get your foot out of my rib cage!

Listening 
No long runs and too many good books has kept my podcast listening to zero, but I have had a few solo trips in the car lately where I have found myself blasting either the Black Flag or Murder City Devils stations on Pandora and been pretty stoked on it. In anticipation of being able to run more than a few miles I have thought about picking up the Audible app, but that is still far enough in the future that I will just keep rocking out to the same stuff I have been listening to for the past two decades on the treadmill.

Watching
I recently finished the entire series of The Sopranos and am now working through Orange is the New Black and Shameless. When you only spend about an hour watching tv each day it tends to stretch things out, but I figure that I have lots of late nights to really binge watch after April.

Loving
The awesome relationship that I have with my husband and how damn good we are at problem solving together. I have had some difficult things going on lately in addition the regular stresses of life and pregnancy and he has been juggling a well-earned promotion (with a promoted work load) as well as two hard classes in school, and we have that whole toddler raising situation and, well, things have just been a little overwhelming, to put it mildly. Instead of taking it out on each other we have been able to identify that we are stressed and made some good plans about how to manage it, how to get out of certain situations and how to make sure that we keep ourselves grounded and focused on the things that really matter. Life sure isn't perfect, but having such a rad partner makes even the hard times so much more manageable and always forces me to remember how far we have come in our lives, which coincidentally started 7 years ago tonight! Crazy to think that the super handsome (and might I add super polite) boy in the bar has become the best thing to ever happen to this life of mine.

Glad I finally got a chance to sit down and write; I think I am even going to prepare some posts for the week since I feel like there is so much going on that I don't want to forget to share; and speaking of sharing, here are some wintry pictures from the past few weeks!

Ps. Happy Superbowl Sunday! GO PATS!

First blizzard in our new house!
What happens when you run out of things to do during a blizzard.

Finger painting, a neat freak parent's nightmare.
She could paint all day (well, at least a couple hours worth of it).
Two of the four minutes she cared about being outside. 
And the other two, It took more time to get her dressed...
Target and hot cocoa before the storm!
Seriously, so much hot cocoa. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

5 Things I Love // 1

I love a lot of things and I really like to share these things, so I am starting a new weekly post just to talk and share and maybe hear about what other people love. Love it!

First of all, I hope everyone had a chance to reflect of the life of Dr. King today, whose words never become antiquated. Today more than ever his speeches, his work and his method of non-violence are great examples of how to fight for social justice. Every year I spend some of this day talking to Maddie about Dr. King's message and I can only hope that it helps form her and inspire her to be a change agent in her world.

On to much less meaningful things now: five things I am totally digging.



1. Nars blush in Orgasm. I have had this on my to-buy list for ages and was forced urged by my husband to finally buy it Saturday afternoon before a date night. I love it. It is the perfect color, the perfect amount of shimmer and actually lasts the whole day. Sold.

2. Bastille Kitchen in Fort Point. Speaking of date night, we went on one of those Saturday night for a friend's birthday and decided to grab dinner before meeting up with everyone at Bastille Kitchen. The only reservations on Open Table were really early or really late but instead of going to another restaurant, we decided to wing it and try and get in. Lo and behold, as soon as we walked in the two seats at the end of the bar opened up, which was prime real estate for two lovebirds without their toddler. We sat, ate delicious food and talked and it was awesome. The steak frites I had and the scallops Matty had were fantastic, as was the chocolate mousse tart with bruleed marshmallow that tasted like a smores (YUM). Also, the butter that comes with the croissants has salt soaked in earl grey tea made by the chef and it was awesome. I am looking forward to going back, for sure.

3. My new belly band that has once again given me the ability to run comfortably with this big ol' 7 month pregnant belly of mine. I have been having bad pain in the thinned out muscles under my belly button and hopped on-line to see what other third trimester runners have used in the hopes that others have dealt with this too. I discovered rave reviews about the Gabrialla Belt, including endorsement by pregnant marathoners. I ordered it off Amazon, got it yesterday and immediately went to the gym to test it out on the treadmill (it was a still a bit too icy out to give it a real test). It really made a difference and had I not just had a big lunch with a big need to pee, I felt like I could have run a lot farther than I have been able to lately. I am hoping this can carry me through until I pop this baby out; maybe I will run to the hospital to make sure I am dilated enough...

4. TINY BABY CLOTHES! Once we found out we were having a girl this time around we knew we were all set in the clothing department, but we have wanted to get a special little coming home outfit to put her in for the first trip home. Maddie and I hit up the Assembly Row shops with my AIL and were met by Matty so we picked out the cutest teeny tiny outfits. Anchors and bikes! I die! I am so excited for a teeny, squishy baby!

5. Birchbox, One of the besties got me a subscription for Christmas and I am obsessed. I love make-up and samples and all things beauty and it is just so fun to get random treats in the mail each month. Such a great gift idea (thanks, K!).

And that rounds out five things I am loving; be back next week with some more Stefanie approved randomness :)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Thanks, Vacation.

We left Boston last Wednesday when it was hovering just under the double digit degrees and when my nerves were well under a 10 on a scale of one to having it together.It wasn't until well into the third day of our vacation when it hit me how very badly I needed to be on vacation. Something about pulling yourself out of your daily routine really gives you the opportunity to look at how things are going, what things aren't working and where more energy needs to be allocated.

 I've spent a lot of this pregnancy sick, which is really difficult for me; I don't do rest well and I don't like feeling unable to give life my all, which is exactly what bronchitis, pneumonia and a bit of pregnancy induced asthma created. So we decided to take a vacation; just a week and just the three of us to get away somewhere a little warmer with no house projects or work schedules or alarm clocks. Like I said, it took a few days for me to unwind. A specialist I saw put me on an extended round of steroids that made my anxiety a lot less manageable than usual and left me feeling aggravated and jittery, so after a few days of rest and one breakdown I decided to stop them. I've felt so much better since and was able to run, well, just as much as my pregnant pelvic muscles will allow, but I can breathe so well. It's glorious to be back to running after Maddie and spending time running, swimming and breathing again!

Vacation gave me a chance to pause and get ready for this next chapter of our lives. I've got some big moves to make at work and only a few more months before I take some time to focus on taking care of our new baby girl. Although I've been planning for this for the past 7 months of knowing I am pregnant, I don't think I have thought enough about how I need to unplug from the world (and work) and dive into caring for a tiny baby, a three year old and me. I was able to really process this, make some plans, talk to my lovely husband about our team approach and really start to wrap my head around the fact that I am about to bring another person into our family and all the things that go along with birthing, breastfeeding and raising siblings.

On top of all this relaxing and thinking and sleeping in (yes, well past 7am every. single. day) we also managed to have an awesome vacation! We did a day at Disney, a couple rounds at Downtown Disney (aka free Disney), a day trip to Daytona to see one of the besties and her family (who happened to also be down in FL), another day trip to Tampa to go to an aquarium and hit the beach and a whole lot of time in the pool with a certain little fishy who just could not get out of the water. It was, indeed, exactly what we needed.

Here are some pictures from our trip (sorry if you have already seen them all over social media!). Now I am going to go put a million layers on and take that kiddo of mine to gymnastics class. Brrrr.

My little beach bum!

These two are the BEST.

Even a cold beach is an awesome beach.

Sandcastles and selfies. 

Her first snow cone, which was mine after two bites because POOL!

Maddie's first ride at Disney - Dumbo!

She has all the brave.

Alright life, let's do this!



Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Farewell, 2014!

I wish I could say that I was ending the year on a bang, but really I am ending it on my sick bed (er, at my desk at work being sick). For the second time this pregnancy I have bronchitis, which is just as fun as it sounds. Luckily, I seem to be slowly getting better and not progressing towards pneumonia like had happened in September. It has definitely been the pits feeling crummy over the holidays and I feel sad that I haven't been able to play with Maddie and her new Christmas toys as much as she wants me to, but here is hoping I will be on the mend soon.
2014 was a pretty huge year for our family and I just wanted to do a little end of the year recap to say goodbye to a wonderful year and hello to another exciting one!

The Big News
This year we became homeowners! This was a goal that had been HUGE for us and while the process was anything but awesome, the day that we closed and opened the door to OUR home was amazing and (almost) worth all the chaos leading up to it. Then, the day after we closed, we found out we had O'Shea Baby #2 on the way! A whole lot of excitement in 24 hours! All three of us are very excited to welcome a new little lady into our family and I have a hunch that Madeleine is going to be a pretty awesome big sister.

That Awesome Man of Mine
Matty has been taking classes and will be finishing school in early 2016, which was a huge personal goal for him. He is acing everything, which has me in awe because he is taking really hard classes that I can't even imagine juggling with everything else he does. This year also welcomed a very well deserved promotion for him, again, something he is acing even while being the most awesome husband and daddy in the world.

Maddie
Oh this little lady of ours - she never ceases to crack me up and make me want to take a nap in the same breath! She is a bucket of energy, giggles, creativity and wonder and I cannot imagine being a mama to anyone else. I have no idea how she keeps up the energy levels that she has or where she gets the hilarious things that come out of her mouth and I cannot wait to watch her grow in the next year. She is still in gymnastics class and spends a lot of her day doing "artcrafts", looking at books, practicing her letters and learning everything she can about animals. 2015 will bring the "big sister" title as well as her first day of school and I just know she is going to handle both like a champ.

Personal Triumphs
I am also making some exciting changes at work and hope to share all about it in the early days of 2015 (cliffhanger!). I have been working my butt off and feel really fulfilled with what I do, where I am and where I am going in my career and am looking forward to this next year.
I have continued to volunteer with Back on my Feet and although my running pace has slowed, I have continued to run and am looking forward to a healthy post-pregnancy comeback. I managed to get another marathon and a couple of halves earlier this year, including the third of the Cape Cod Trilogy of half marathons at 13 weeks pregnant. I also joined up with the Dorchester Running Club when they formed this spring and have spent most Saturdays pounding my neighborhood pavement with the most awesome group of ladies. I love that I know so many people in my neighborhood now and always have people I can call up for a run!
I got really lucky this year and had my bestie move from Western Mass back to the city, so I get to spend more time with her, and am looking forward to getting back to my regular yoga night with another bestie after the holidays. I feel so very lucky to have a really amazing group of friends that not only love me, but totally help me out with Maddie and the village mentality necessary to raise an awesome kiddo.

Travel
We did a bit of traveling this year including a first-time trip to Yosemite where Maddie and I had the honor of being in a beautiful wedding. While out west we also hit up San Francisco and got to see a lot of my family. I had a business trip to San Diego in May, which allowed me to see my Grandparents and Aunt, who we will hopefully be visiting again soon after the baby arrives in 2015. We also had some trips to NY, Cape Cod and Vermont and are looking forward to starting 2015 off with a babymoon in FL.

Looking Ahead
I am pretty sure that every year I make financial stability my main goal, but now that we are homeowners I feel a little more positive about making some real progress in this area. We have A LOT of debt to pay back and I have a looming maternity leave that won't see much in the way of pay, but we are really committed to making changes in the way we spend and save in 2015 and will hopefully see some progress in this area.
Personally, I am looking forward to being the mama of two girls and am really hoping to have another healthy, uneventful delivery and a successful go at breastfeeding and co-sleeping with this new babe. I am also very committed to making sure that Maddie has all of the love and security that she needs from everyone and am working on preparing her for life with a sibling the best that I can.
Once I recover from labor, I am hoping to hop back into training and be ready for the Louisiana Marathon in January of 2016 and maybe even bring a little PR. Of course, I will just be happy to be back out there in those long miles, but speed training is definitely on my radar for 2015.
Maddie will be starting pre-K in the fall (!!!) and we are actually going to an Open House at the end of January to start the process which is so, so crazy to me!

So, just a little wrap up of the year behind us and a big welcome to a new year filled with new experiences, more adventures and hopefully a lot less bronchitis!

Happy New Year!