Postpartum pieces and bits

Life is really real with a toddler and a newborn.  I hope this transition to 2 is my hardest and 3 is easier.  Jinx! IMG_2895

I’m not good at doing things when I’m lacking sleep.  I know, you’re thinking “doing things” is a very broad statement.  What do I mean?  Just that folks. I mean just that.  Doing things, doing anything!  We’ll start with talking.  Words are escaping me right now in an alarming way. I’ll be telling Dave something and I’ll trail off and then completely blank and then literally bite my tongue.

Work it.

Work it.

Speaking of sleep affecting my cognitive powers, this past weekend during Gus’ baptism party I was talking to Rose and some of my girlfriends about Gus’ mysterious 3 am gas attacks.  Someone suggested that maybe I’d had some cabbage, maybe a spring roll?  Yes that was it! Then I realized, no, I was just thinking of that NBC reality show Food Fighters and how they had made spring rolls in the last episode.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And speaking of Gus’ baptism, it was so lovely and we had such a great party afterwards.  It was not Martha Stewart worthy in it’s presentation or quality of food (hello Stop and Shop deli platter!) but we had so many family and friends come and the weather held out so it was such a nice time relax and be with all the people we love.  Oh, there I go again with my brain! My sweet friends here did generously bring some food to add to the mix that was delicious and beautiful so take that Martha!

Gus and his Godmommy Jane.  I think he likes her. :)

Gus and his Godmommy Jane. I think he likes her. 🙂

People are so sweet and generous.  I’ve only just started being responsible for cooking dinner at night again, my friends and family are that amazing!

Probably 5 out of the past 7 days, I’ve discovered around 2 in the afternoon that I forgot to brush my teeth.  This never used to be a problem!

Baby boy poopy bums are much harder to clean than baby girl poopy bums.


Backyard pool time means no bathing suit necessary. #lowstandards

Daniel Tiger’s insistence on teaching emotional language is going to be the death of me and my attempts to raise a decent toddler.  “I’m so FWUSTWATED!”

Gus is not only a Mama’s boy, but he’s also literally clingy.  He grabs onto my hair or my necklace with such a death grip and if I try to pry his fingers open, he starts hysterically crying!IMG_2905

Can a person have a love language that comes and goes?  I am most decidedly not a physical touch person with my kids lately.  SK has always been a very independent kid, but ever since Gus came home, she’s been extremely needy, especially physically needy, especially right when the baby is nursing after keeping me up all night nursing.  I’m just a leeettle touched out.  But on the flip side, one hug or a shoulder rub from Dave makes me melt into a puddle of mush, so I guess I still do like physical affection.

When SK wants me to do something with her but I can’t because I’m holding/nursing the baby she says “Put it down! Put the baby Gus down, Mommy!”


I’m not going to lie, these first few weeks have been tough.  But even in my exhausted stupor, I find myself at least once every day marveling over the fact that I have 2 kids. I feel so unworthy and so overwhelmed (in a mostly good way!) by my blessings especially after last week.  I’m sure you’ve all heard about Sarah Harkins and how she and her unborn daughter Cecilia passed away last week.  Sarah was in my household, although she graduated my freshman year so we didn’t really know one another.  I remember her from alumni visits, though, especially how stunningly beautiful she was and her fun sense of humor.  It’s just been so devastating, I don’t know what to say or write.  Others have written some beautiful things about her though, so I wanted to share their thoughts:

Jenny’s post Sarah and the Saints

My friend Annemarie wrote 3 posts here, here and here

The Washington Post even had a touching piece on Sarah’s life.

That’s all I’ve got folks, nap time’s over.  Happy Hump day y’all.



Isn’t he just a wudge?


We are fully in babymoon mode over here and loving it.  Gus’ delivery was much more peaceful and the recovery has been such a smooth ride compared to my last experience.


 Dave snapped this picture of me with my wonderful saintly Doctor right before the c-section.  She never put pressure on me one way or the other about how Gus should come into the world.  Dave and I ultimately made the decision to do the repeat c-section because it seemed like he was going to be another big baby like Sara, and I was not making a smidge of progress on my own which, again, was just like things were with Sara.  It turned out to be a very good thing that we did the section, though, because when my big tall guy came out, he also had a very tight true knot in his cord!

[I literally just remembered that I did my first ever novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots in May because I was such a ball of anxiety over Gus’ impending birth and the decisions surrounding it.  Give me a sec while I process/cry/praise God for His Mercy & Our Lady for her protection.]

Whew.  I don’t really know how to follow up that realization.  I guess I’ll just share too many pictures.


 Me & Gus at around 6:30 am last Friday,


  and later that day around noon.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe siblings were a little wary of each other at first, but they’ve warmed up since then!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My mom (Mimi, as she’s known to the McGrandkids) and sister Joanie spent a week with us and basically made SK’s year.  She is still asking for Joanie and Mimi every day.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Since Mimi and Joanie left, there’s been a lot of tv consumption, but luckily that goes well with couch cuddles which is what the big sister needs from us the most.  Poor SK came down with a weird minor stomach bug thing right after Gus came home. She’s been good for the past 3 days, so we’re hoping it’s over.  Fingers crossed! IMG_2757

When we’re not watching Daniel Tiger (new episodes appeared on Netflix just in time for our non-stop watching pleasure!) SK has been obsessed with playdough.  She’ll play with it for hours! Of course, it results in hardened flecks of playdough everywhere, especially under her finger nails (shudder) but it keeps her happy and occupied.


And Gus?  He’s generally a pretty happy dude.  He’s a big eater, and while that means nursing is going much better this time around, it also means he doesn’t let me sleep much at night.  He’s an every 2 hour on the nose nurser.  This is really random, but whenever he wakes up in the dead of night to nurse yet again, I think of this obscure I Love Lucy scene:

I think that covers everything.  I’ll try to somewhat keep up with blogging or at the very least get some of my sisters to pick up my slack. Thanks for all your prayers and good wishes, friends. It means the world to us.IMG_2745


A friend of mine who is due with her second around the same time as I am asked me the other day if I was anxious about SK not being my baby anymore.  I had to really stop and think about it.  I am anxious about a whole-lotta stuff lately; hardly a day goes by now without me melting down into a big ugly wet mess of tears and hormones about something.  But anxious about Sara becoming a big sister?  About her not being my baby any more?

Photo on 2013-09-15 at 12.00Honestly? No.  I’m sentimental about it, of course.  I’m trying to soak in these last few weeks, knowing that once the baby comes she’s going to seem HUGE. But mostly I’m so excited for her to be a big sister and to introduce her to this nebulous presence in her life: baby brother.  She seems more accepting of the fact that he really is in my belly, I guess because the belly is getting out of control lately.  But really, she has no idea.  And I can’t wait!

Part of the reason why I’m not worried I think has to do with her personality.  Sara has an independent streak a mile wide and she gets more and more bossy every day.  SK’s got this big sister thing in the bag!  I suppose another reason why I’m not worried is because she is already two, so we’ve had a nice stretch together and she really isn’t a baby anymore.  But you know what?  I don’t think there’s some magic-perfect space between kids and frankly, I think we Catholic moms are too hard on ourselves about spaces between children.  My first 3 sisters are really close together in age and then I’m 3 1/2 years younger than Claire and 5 years older than Mary.  Jim is 4 years younger than Mary and Joanie is 4 1/2 years younger than Jim.  But we’re all really close (and have been/will be) in different ways and at different times.  The important thing is not how close or far apart we are in age, it’s that we have each other.

A little while back when I was visiting my family, I had a talk with my Grandma about her relationship with her brother.  She said that they had really grown closer in recent years since she had lost Grandpa in 2009. Now Uncle Bill is the one who has really known Grandma for most of her life. I had never thought of siblings that way before.  I had always viewed Dave as my life-partner, and he is, primarily.  But my siblings, too, are my companions on this journey.  Mary and I will always be able to joke about the PBS shows we watched as kids. Rose and Jane will always hearken back to their ridiculous fights as teenagers. Jim and Mary will be able to reminisce about the lego and playmobile creations they made. While we are all very different people, we’re all cut from the same cloth, raised by the same parents, and experienced much of the same things growing up. What an incredible gift God and our parents gave us in our siblings!

Photo 97

I hope and pray that Sara Kate and her little brother are joined by more little siblings as time goes by.  But that’s all in the future and way out of my hands.  Right now, I’m anxiously (yes, anxiously!) awaiting this little boy’s delivery and praying for his health and safety.  But I’m also joyful and excited for Sara to meet her brother and for them to have each other.  VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100

7QT: Love, Marriage, Babies & Kids

1.  Before you do anything, click here to read my brother-in-law’s  beautiful open letter to our bishops about living the Church’s teaching about marriage and family, and don’t forget to sign the petition attached to show the bishops we support the upholding of Church teaching! And if you do all that and still would like to do more, please share it with your family and friends!  Thank you!!

2.  Woah, there’s been a lot of talk about marriage on Catholic blogs in the past week.  And then, horror of unexpected horrors, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced that they were “consciously uncoupling”! Anyway, all that to say I was happy to see that Betty Duffy shared her take on the goopy celebrity breakup and tied it in to the recent Catholic marriage discussions.  She’s awesome.

3. And speaking of ridiculous celebrities who degrade the sanctity of marriage, all the hubub around the Kimye Vogue cover has been giving me so many chuckles this week.  I loved Suri Cruise’s thoughts on the matter.

This picture alone is just so comical! Via Suri’s Burn Book

4.Ok, I do read serious things too. Did anyone else read that big Atlantic article, The Overprotected Kid? I liked it, and it reminded me of the great things about my childhood on the mountain.  I had my shabby little “tree house” under the crabapple trees in the way-back yard and I would spend hours down there making “soup” with the wild flowers and weeds.  We’d go exploring all over the hill, in the woods and down to that big pond in the middle of the field.  So many adventures!  It makes me wonder how I can give some of that to my own children.  The thing is, I’m not worried about my kids and safety in their physical environments as much as I’m worried about peer influence.  I can’t let my kids just play for hours unsupervised with the neighborhood kids.  I’m not saying they’re bad kids, it’s just that they’re raised so differently than how I’m raising my own kids.  They say “crap” and “suck” all the time because those are normal kid words in their world.  Worse than that, though, they’re so disrespectful to their parents all the time.

Did anyone else read the article?  What are your thoughts?

5. My baby girl is going to be 2 in a week.  I am very emotional about this!  Frankly, so is she but not so much because of her birthday; she has those pesky 2 year-old molars poking up.  She’s always been one to handle teething pretty well, but occasionally she’ll just break down and become inexplicably volatile and then I remember “Oh yeah, molars!”

6. I also gave her her first little haircut yesterday.  She had several big chunks of hair that were way longer than the rest so I finally plucked up enough courage to snip it all even.  Now I’m the emotionally volatile one!



Not such a bad job though, eh?

Not such a bad job though, eh?

7. And now, for the quick take everyone’s been waiting for.  How’s your pregnancy going, Ellen?  Well.  I had one of those weeks.  You know, the week when you go for your monthly check-up and you gained 6 POUNDS?!?! The pathetic thing was that I was feeling so good.  I’ve been working out and eating mostly well.  You know, feeling like this chick:

And now I feel like this:

Watch out, SK.

Check out Jen and all the other Quick Takers at Conversion Diary.  Happy weekend, everyone!  It’s the last weekend of March, woohoo!

Are you the 2 Percent?

You’ve probably heard the statistic: 98% of Catholic women do not follow the Church’s teaching on artificial birth control. It’s a number that’s been thrown around a lot lately, between the controversy about the HHS mandate’s birth control coverage and the upcoming synod on the family and the issue of bishops allegedly “polling” Catholics about their practice of the Faith. As usual, we’re feeling pretty misrepresented around here. Really, only 2% of us practice NFP? In the various circles of my little Catholic bubble it sure feels more like that statistic should be the other way around sometimes!
So, are you the 2 percent, too? If you are part of that supposed minority who embraces the Church’s teachings with joy, albeit sometimes with difficulty, would you consider signing and passing on this open letter to the bishops that my husband wrote? There’s a link at the bottom to the petition form, although it’s really not a petition — it’s a show of support, and a way to make sure that our bishops know that some of us are grateful for what the Church has given us, and would love to see her message taught more effectively to more people. Spread the word!

St Paddy’s Day/Weekend recap


Top o’ the morning and all the cheesy Irish sayings to you! I know, I know, St. Patrick’s Day isn’t even that big a deal in Ireland, but I enjoy my true heritage and a little bright green shmaltz this time of year. March is so loooooong otherwise!


We did a little leprechaun mischief — they dyed the milk green and put all the cereals in the wrong boxes, and tossed up a few decorations while they were at it. Usually Daddy gets balloons to tie to the girls’ chairs, but unfortunately he was smacked down by another stomach bug on Sunday. So far the rest of us are ok (please please please!) and most importantly, I made it through both of my dancers’ performances this weekend without getting sick.


Here is a link to a little video from my Irish dancers’ performance on Saturday, at a local nursing home (you can see Joanie, our youngest McSister, who is the tallest and most graceful dancer of the bunch!). They also performed yesterday at our local library. I’m supposed to go to Margot’s preschool on Thursday and teach them some dancing as well. That should give me a taste of what it’s like to teach that age — I constantly have requests to open up the class to younger kids, and I feel myself caving as Jackie and Margot are both really ready to start dancing. Plus Claire said she’d do it 🙂


Paul must have had a little premonition of his impending illness, because he decided to make his St. Paddy’s meal on Saturday instead of Monday, which meant we got to enjoy a savory lamb stew (and Guinness, for him). Yum!




Hope you all enjoyed your green weekend! I’m looking forward to seeing some real green outside soon. Enough of this winter and all its germs!

7QT: Whole Lotta Randoms

Linking up for 7 Quick Takes Friday with Jen & the gang.

1. A song for your weekend (and childhood nostalgia trip for me :))

2. Now that we’re a few hours away from his ETA, I guess it’s ok to share that Dave’s been out of town this week.  It’s not a big deal and travel (specifically British travel lucky duck!) is a common thing for Dave with his job and current project.  The hard thing about this trip was it was very last minute so I didn’t have time to get used to the idea and make plans (ideally to visit my mom) to distract us.  It’s actually been a good week, though, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to face my discomfort with being at home alone with the kiddo and I survived!  It helped to have playdates and friends visit, and of course, the farm trip really boosted our moods too!  It really makes me feel for you ladies out there who are single moms, or who deal with deployment or demanding work hours in your husband’s jobs.  We were not meant to do this alone!  And if you have a minute, can you please say a quick prayer for Dave’s flight back today?  The whole Malaysian flight disappearance last week has made me a Nervous Nelly about this trip.

3. When Dave gets home he’s going to need to sleep but I’m afraid he’s going fight it because he’s got some projects he’s feverishly working on here.  One of them is his seedlings and garden prep.  Check out this set-up he’s made for the seedlings in the basement!

photo (18)


Yes that’s a heat lamp AND a heating pad.  I’m surprised the neighbors haven’t called the cops on us yet as it clearly looks like we’re trying to grow a special type of garden if you know what I mean.

4. He’s also working on making a play kitchen for SK for her birthday at the beginning of April. In typical Dave fashion, he’s taking this project to the next level of nerdiness, but consequently the end result is going to be amazing.  Here’s some sneak peek pictures.

Yup, those are some light up burners!

Yup, those are some light up burners!


Oven door

5. I’m so excited for SK’s birthday because I think she’s really going to like her kitchen.  She loves helping in the kitchen and her growing vocabulary reflects that.

Deeyishious! – Just yesterday she started saying that about her play cookies.

Mixin-mixin – That’s what we do with everything we cook.

Other cute words and phrases:

Cuse me, toots – her very polite, but hysterical phrase for when she’s suffering some flatulence.  This phrase was basically the theme of daily Mass yesterday… it’s a good thing it’s mostly elderly folks at daily Mass!

Naaaamie, e aaaaaaaaa yoooouu? – SK has to search for her favorite buddy every day before nap and bedtime.

Oh, and remember how waffels used to have a mysterious h in front of it in SK’s pronunciation?  Well, she recently changed the h to a y so it was “yaffels” but this morning it changed again to just “affels” which doesn’t at all reflect SK’s opinion of that particular breakfast bread product.

Wearing her "sun gasses"

Wearing her “sun gasses”

6. I had a First Communion meeting this week and there I found out for the first time how the First Communion day is going to go.  Well, it was a bit of a rude awakening to discover that because it’s split into two Masses, I’m going to be there and working from about 9am till 3pm.  Of course, this wouldn’t be a big deal except that I’m going to be 32 weeks at that point and probably looking a feeling a little worse for the wear.  It’s a good thing I ordered this leg-hiding dress (taking advantage of Old Navy’s 40% off dresses this week):

7. Obviously, the dress will be paired with my most comfortable arch-supporting shoes, which might end up being my sneakers… You know you’ve really hit adulthood (especially in my family!) when you’re seriously considering taking the plunge and investing in a trusty pair of Birkenstocks to wear with EVERYTHING.

Have a great weekend, everyone!  Despite our crazy wintery day yesterday, we’re supposed to get temps into the 50’s tomorrow!  I can’t wait!  I hope your weekend weather is shaping up nicely too.

Home Sweet Home

Checking in quickly on this Thursday night for a brief post that will be published tomorrow.  I had intended on writing a nice, not-so-brief Quick Takes while the babies were napping,  but plans have changed.  Instead the babies and I will be helping out a friend, and a shorter post will have to do!

So about helping out my friend — without going in to a lot of detail, she needs to go to the doctor, her husband is out of town, so I’m stepping in…after my other friend “St. Louis Jen”  stepped in today by picking her kids up from school and staying with her for a few hours to help.  Jen called me to tell me our friend wasn’t well, and she herself has to take care of a sick family member, so I volunteered to take our friend to the doctor’s tomorrow.  Since I’m babysitting, I’m taking a homeschooling friend’s older daughter with me to help me with the babies (a two-year old, a one-year old, and an infant).  Lucy is staying at someone else’s house.  And thus the title of my post — Home Sweet Home.  I am so grateful for my community.  I don’t live across the street from Mom; Margot, Lucy, and Jackie aren’t in the same class at preschool and I’m not able to make trips to New England in the fall to visit Ellen, but I have been given a true blessing in my community out here.  My girlfriends would do anything for me, and me for them.  We support one another in our vocations, and I can even borrow a friend’s pre-teen daughter as my Joanie stand-in when needed.  Cost:  A McDonald’s milkshake on the way home.   What a gift these friendships are, and what a comfort these women are to me in so many ways.

Now to close with your gratuitous Lucy photo for the week.  She dressed herself this Monday…and yes, I took her out in public like this!  The girl is a major trip.



Baby Names

Linking up today with Team Whitaker to share a little bit about baby names!

Picking names for my children was something I looked forward to my whole life.  Like many other romantic young females at Franciscan University, I would not only practice writing my married name (last name being whoever was my serious crush at the time) but I would also list my favorite baby names to go along with it.  I’m pretty darn sure Annemarie and I had baby naming conversations semi-frequently in our little Marian Hall dorm room.  Those were the days!

When I actually caught myself a serious in-the-flesh man I found out pretty quickly that baby naming conversations for the heck of it were just not going to happen.  Dave was not going to have any of it until we had a baby to name.  Men!  Eventually, Dave was able to explain why it made him so uncomfortable.  He said there was nothing wrong with just throwing names around here and there for fun, but when you have an actual child to name, it’s a far more serious matter.  Dave believes (and he’s convinced me of this as well) that the baby is already named and our job is to prayerfully discern what that name is.  Yes, it can be a fun process and we are the ones who get to go through all the names, but we’re really only discovering what his or her name has been all along.

So!  Onto the babies!

Sara Kathleen

Sara Kathleen

Sara, SK, Sara Kate, Sara Kathleen.  Our lady of many names.  Sara’s name was not a hard one to discern.  Pretty much from the minute we found out we were having a girl, we knew what her name would be.

Sara is named after our good friend Sara.  We both worked at the same small independent Catholic school and she and I became fast friends.  Really, Sara taught me what it means to be a good friend.  When we first met, Sara was not religious at all.  She had not been raised with any faith and she had never been baptized.  But she had a pure seeking heart and she was attracted to truth and beauty.  She researched so much about Catholicism after getting her job so that she could teach her students properly. But even without all her research, she had a better grasp on what true Christian charity is than I did with my lifetime of Catholic faith behind me.  She lived a faithful life to the core, even though she had not been raised with a faith.  She was also the best teacher I had ever known.  She was energetic and fun, but very organized and smart as a whip, a professional through and through.

Sara was diagnosed with a rare and very aggressive form of cancer called cholangiocarcinoma in April of 2011 when she was 25 years old.  Her battle with cancer was a short but devastating 6 months.  Right after she was diagnosed, Sara decided she wanted to be baptized and receive her First Communion, so on Holy Thursday in her home (because she was already so sick) Sara was born into the Catholic faith.  She passed away on St. Therese’s feast day, October 1st 2011.

We found out that we were expecting a girl a month after Sara passed away, so we knew that we wanted our daughter named after our great friend. I truly hope and pray that our Sara Kate will have some of the same attributes as our friend Sara.  I pray that SK grows up to be a hard worker, a seeker of truth and beauty and a good friend.

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100


Our Sara’s middle name Kathleen is a name that I’ve always loved and thought was so beautiful.  It’s a form of Katherine, so Sara’s patron saint is St. Katherine Drexel who was, along with SK’s namesake, a woman of great charity and action as well as a teacher.

Whew!  This is already long so it’s a good thing I’m not going to tell you our name for our boy!  I’ll just tease you a little. 😉



We have figured out this little guy’s first name but we’re still working on a middle name so the whole thing is under wraps for now.  But here are some of the names that we love and have considered (this list may or may not include his decided-on name or middle name):








These are all saints names or Biblical and most of them have a family tie to one side or the other.  You’ll just have to wait and see what it turns out to be!

Thanks, Kathryn, for putting together this fun link-up!


Happy Birthday, Joanie! {& WIWS}

Today is a big day.  15 years ago today, our youngest McSister entered the world.  Jane and Rose were in college and Claire, Mary and I were at Irish dancing class and when we came back, Mom had already been whisked away to the hospital with little Jimmy in in tow.  A few hours later, we heard that we had another sister!

For a while it seemed like Joanie would always be the cute kid sister.

This picture was taken yesterday, right??

This picture was taken yesterday, right??

But even when she was a kid, she was always more mature and confident than a little kid should be.  Maybe it was because everyone was so much older than she was.  Joanie was only a year old when Jane and Brandon got married and she was four when her first nephew was born.  So, she’s never really known a time when there weren’t brothers-in-law and boyfriends and weddings and nieces and nephews.  I guess that makes one mature faster.  


Suddenly, Joanie isn’t a kid anymore.  She is such a lovely young woman. I don’t think I’m offending my fellow McSisters when I say that the rest of us were miserably awkward adolescents battling either acne or chubbiness or both (guilty. And braces.). Joanie seems to have risen above all that.  She’s willowy and poised.  Poised, I tell you! But more importantly than that, she is a hard worker volunteering much of her time at the Little Sisters of the Poor’s home for the elderly, a generous mothers helper to her local sisters with littles, and a sweet daughter, sister and friend.  And you know what else?  She’s cool as a cucumber.  This girl isn’t fazed by anything.  I want to be Joanie when I grow up!

Anyway, Happy Birthday to our big little sister Joanie!  We love you!



And since it’s Sunday and not fah-reeeeezing, I actually had a decent outfit to share with you today!


Maternity, she wore.


Not going to list the clothing deets because, well, it’s all full panel, stretchy, side-ruched boring maternity basics that you can get anywhere, right? Please note, the boots still zip and my calves are not pouring out of the top.  My legs are still hanging in there, even if my face is already puffy! 18 weeks to go, you do the math.

The only bit of outerwear I wore today was that vest and scarf.  Let the thawing commence!

So, we’re going to try to do Jen Fulwiler’s 7 posts in 7 days this week, just FYI.  So, not only will I be spending all of my time reading everyone’s awesome posts EVERY DAY, I will try to be writing some of my own or furiously tracking down the other McSisters and making them contribute.  In other words, Ellen is not getting any housework done this week.  Dave, you’ve been warned.