Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Trick or Treating has been postponed until Friday in our town because of Hurricane Sandy. So today I'm sharing photos of our pumpkin carving fun! Happy Halloween! I'll be sure to share costume photos soon!

 Audrey with the pumpkin she picked all by herself!

 Pulling off the top and saying, "Yuck, Mama!"

 Not sure about sticking her hand in there, but she's thinking about it.

 Still thinking about it and can't believe Dada just stuck his hand in like it's nothing.

 Her face says it all!! But then my brave girl digs right in!!

So proud of herself! (Mama was pretty proud, too!) 

Meet "Jack" our smiley jack o' lantern!
Audrey picked out his face and Mama carved him.

 Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


This is the post where I tell you we are a part-time co-sleeping family. Almost immediately, you're probably asking yourself, "part-time?" Please bear with me and let me start at the beginning.

When Audrey was born, I wanted to be a breastfeeding Mama. I wanted to be a cloth diapering Mama. I wanted to be a baby-wearing Mama. I had no desire to be a co-sleeping Mama. I didn't have any negative feelings about it or people who chose to do it, but I just didn't think it was for us. And in the beginning, we weren't a co-sleeping family.

I don't remember exactly when it started, but it was somewhere around when Audrey was 4 or 5 months old I think. Audrey was mostly sleeping through the night, but she would wake up once to nurse. When we decided to stop nursing during the night, it was impossible to get her back to sleep when she woke up. We tried the "cry it out" method, but she never calmed down, and only made herself more and more upset. I tried rocking, singing, and even tried climbing right in the crib to lay down next to her.

It didn't work. We were beyond exhausted. I would be up for hours in her room trying to get her to go back to sleep. And then one night, out of pure exhaustion, I took her in bed with us. I know, I know. The beginning of the end. But she went right back to sleep. We all slept. We were all more rested in the morning. It worked for us.

Audrey has always, and still does, go down perfectly in her crib for her nap and at bedtime. It is the middle of the night when we co-sleep; hence, the "part-time." More recently, she has started sleeping through the night in her crib until 4:30 or 5:30 am. But if she wakes up in the middle of the night, we are past the point of no return now. She will only go back to sleep in our bed. If she makes it until the early morning, I can get another hour and a half to two hours sleep out of her in our bed. Sometimes it's crowded. Sometimes I sleep with her foot in my side. But it works for us.

So there you have it. We are a part-time co-sleeping family, not by deliberate choice, but by exhaustion, desperation, just trying to figure out what works best for us, and now, habit.

I know we need to start taking her in bed with us less since she's almost two. But I think she is also starting to do it on her own, too. If we have another baby, I'm not sure we'll co-sleep again, unless, of course, that happens to be what works for us then. I can see the benefits and but I also see the difficulties. I am not entirely "for it" like I am cloth diapering, or breastfeeding. But I am not against it either.

What's most important to me is that my daughter feels safe and loved. She is healthy. We are all well rested. As mothers, I think it is important that we share what works for us, but that we support other mothers and encourage them to figure out what works best for them. There are pros and cons to just about everything in life. Every baby and family situation is different, so parenting practices are going to be as well. For us, that means we are a part-time co-sleeping family.

Do you co-sleep? Any suggestions on making a smooth transition to being a "big girl" and not sleeping in Mama and Dada's bed anymore?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Audrey - 22 months

My sweet Audrey,

You are 22 months old today and you continue to surprise me every day with how much you grow and change!

This month you discovered and have come to love pockets!

We still haven't been seriously potty training, but you will go if we put you on and you actually told Mama for the first time this month that you had to go before you went in your diaper.

We took the floor out of your Little Tykes car and you love to "drive" around by yourself now. You started driving it to the tubby at bath time, and now you have to drive yourself to the tubby every night and park outside the bathroom door.

You continue to love to be outside, and we've had lots and lots of fun in the leaves this month.

You are sweet and thoughtful and just full of life! You told Mama you love me for the first time this month, without me saying it first, and I'm still smiling from the inside out. In addition to your sweet side, you are also fiercely independent! You want to do everything yourself and if I try to help you, you will yell at Mama, "Audrey know how!" I try not to get frustrated with it because when Mama was a little girl, her phrase was "Own self!"

Titi and B went home to Maryland this month because Uncle Ry Ry finally came home from Afghanistan! It was bittersweet for sure because we were so happy he was home, but so sad that Titi and B left. You often used your teddy bear, dollies, and even a stick to replace B this month while eating or playing. It broke my heart to see you miss him this much, but I must admit, you got creative!

You met your new second cousin, "Baby Katie," for the first time and I saw in you what an amazing big sister and mother you will be some day. You were so sweet and loving while holding her, and didn't want anyone else to have a turn.

You are my heart and soul, and I fall more in love with you and being your Mama every single day.

I love you to the moon and back, sweetheart!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

new lens?

Okay photography friends, I need your help! I think it is time for me to start saving for a new lens, but I don't know what I want to get. I have a Canon Ultrasonic 28-200mm 3.5-5.6 and a Canon 50mm 1.8. I love, love, LOVE my 50 mm lens! I also like the versatility of my zoom lens, but to be honest, I'm not always crazy about the quality of the photos when I use it.

So what is your favorite lens? What should I add next? A better zoom lens? Another fixed lens? What is on your wish list?

Friday, October 19, 2012

L L F M D: Find a healthy escape from the stresses of life.

10. Find a healthy escape from the stresses of life.

No one has the perfect life. We all have stresses that we have to deal with. And while we do have to deal with them at some point, sometimes it is okay to escape from them, if the escape is healthy. We all need to get out of our own head for a while every now and then. For me, my escape is a good book. I get lost in a story and involved in characters' lives. And when I'm done, I'm able to face my own life and obstacles with a fresh outlook or a new approach.

For some people, their escape is a hot bath, or painting, or running, or meditation, or building things. For other people, that escape can be drugs, or alcohol, or self-destructive behavior. The choice is yours whether you choose an escape that is healthy and will help you recharge and face your stresses in a healthy way, or whether you choose an escape that will only make the obstacles in your life more difficult. I hope you find a healthy way to escape your life for a little while when necessary, and return to face your obstacles head on, with a clear heart and mind.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


At the end of February, my brother-in-law left for 4 weeks of training and then deployed to Afghanistan for 6 months. Having a six month old little boy, my sister decided to leave her job and come live at home while her husband was deployed. The situation was bittersweet. We obviously didn't want him to be deployed, but we were grateful for the time we were going to be able to have to spend with my sister and nephew.

And so we did just about everything together for 7 months. Audrey and Blake became the best of friends. Audrey and her Titi developed such a special bond! But we knew it was only for a short time.

As we started to anticipate my brother-in-law's return home, we decided to do a special photo shoot with my sister, Audrey and Blake, to remember this special time we had together. And we got some really beautiful photos.

My brother-in-law returned home on Saturday the 13th. A few days before that, we packed up all of their things and they moved back to Maryland. Again, it was bittersweet. We are so happy that their family is reunited and that he has returned home safely to us, but it was incredibly hard to say goodbye. Thankfully, we have these beautiful photos to remember the 7 months we had together.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Remembrance ♥

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Studies show that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. Yes, 1 in 4! Having lost two pregnancies myself, and having many friends that have suffered through this as well, this is a day I always try to acknowledge in some way. As difficult as it can be to share our experiences, I think it is extremely important that we do so, so that women (and men) know that they are not alone. The loss and hurt of this experience is enough to deal with; but the shame and loneliness so many of us feel is unnecessary.

I now have a beautiful daughter that I thank God for every single day, but I also have babies in heaven that are forever a part of everything I do. If you have read my blog for a while, you know about my losses. For me, the raw and often times debilitating emotions that I once experienced are not a part of my daily life anymore. My faith tells me that my babies are in Heaven, and I have found my peace. But that does not mean that when I think back on that dark time in my life that those emotions don't come flooding back.

I feel fortunate to have found healing. But many people struggle for years with the depression, raw, deep and ugly sadness, numbness, "Why me?"s and "What did I do wrong?"s. For others, their loss is a fresh, new wound threatening to tear back open at any moment.

Part of this day of remembrance is the tradition of lighting a candle from 7 pm to 8 pm on October 15th. Done in every time zone, this will create a continuous wave of light across the entire world in remembrance of all babies lost. I will be lighting my candle tonight to remember my own babies in Heaven, and sending love and prayers to anyone suffering through this horrible, crippling, painful time. It is something that never leaves you, but with time, prayer and the sharing of our experiences does come healing. ♥

Friday, October 12, 2012


Last harvest from our garden until next year!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Looking for new blogs to read!

I just cleaned out my Google Reader lists and can't believe how many of the bloggers I used to follow have stopped blogging. I used to have time to comment on blogs and find new blogs to read. But then I had Audrey and I got in a routine of only commenting on blogs that I already read or blogs of people who commented on my blog. As I've tried to get back into blogging and commenting more, I've noticed that my reader list is mostly craft and photography blogs and not blogs about people's lives.

So I'm asking for help! Please share your favorite blogs to read. If you're reading my blog, but don't comment and think I might not be reading your blog in return, please let me know! I want to start forming those connections again. I want to be inspired by what you're writing, so that I begin to write more myself.

Ready, set, share!

Monday, October 8, 2012

anam cara

On September 1st of this year, my uncle married a really wonderful woman. Her name is Linda. Linda is so incredibly sweet and I adore her. She has the kindest heart, but she has had a lot of heartbreak in her life as well. In 2007, Linda lost her son, Jason. He was only 20 years old.

My uncle and Linda had a beautiful wedding. We celebrated with a handful of people in their home. It was simple and heartfelt and perfect. After the ceremony, we had cupcakes and chatted and the kids ran around playing. Linda loves Audrey and we got talking about being a mom. She told me how she likes to talk about Jason because it keeps him alive in her heart. She also told me about the tattoo she has in memory of him, that includes the phrase anam cara. When she explained anam cara to me, I started to cry. This is exactly how I feel about Audrey. She is my anam cara.

For their honeymoon, my uncle and Linda spent two weeks in Scotland! (Completely jealous over here, by the way!) They must have stopped by today while we were at the grocery store because there were gifts here waiting for us when we got home. Waiting for me was Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O'Donohue and the sweetest handwritten note from Linda.

I immediately opened it up and started reading. I'm going to share a few passages from the book now to explain anam cara. As it did when Linda first explained it to me, the book made me cry and perfectly described what I feel Audrey is to me, though I had never thought of it that way myself.
In the Celtic tradition, there is a beautiful understanding of love and friendship. One of the fascinating ideas here is the idea of soul-love; the old Gaelic term for this is anam cara. Anam is the Gaelic word for soul and cara is the word for friend. So anam cara in the Celtic world was the "soul friend." In the early Celtic church, a person who acted as a teacher, companion, or spiritual guide was called an anam cara.
O'Donohue continues,
In everyone's life, there is great need for an anam cara. In this love, you are understood as you are without mask or pretension. The superficial and functional lies and half-truths of social acquaintance fall away, you can be as you really are. Love allows understanding to dawn, and understanding is precious. Where you are understood, you are at home. Understanding nourishes belonging. When you really feel understood, you feel free to release yourself into the trust and shelter of the other person's soul. 
A little later, he states,
In Celtic tradition, the anam cara was not merely a metaphor or ideal. It was a soul-bond that existed as a recognized and admired social construct. It altered the meaning of identity and perception. When your affection is kindled, the world of your intellect takes on a new tenderness and compassion. The anam cara brings epistemological integration and healing. You look and see and understand gradually refines your sensibilities and transforms your way of being in the world.
I find it overwhelming how deeply this spoke to me. In our culture, the idea of a "soul mate" almost always refers to a spouse and a romantic love. I love that anam cara refers to a connection of understanding and guidance, and of someone who changes the way we see the world.

I don't think all mothers find their anam cara in their children. Some people may find their anam cara in a spouse or friend, in a teacher, parent or clergy member. Unfortunately, and as O'Donohue suggests, most people may not realize who their anam cara is until it is too late. This is the case for Linda. She didn't truly acknowledge Jason as her anam cara until after he passed. But the idea of anam cara brings her great comfort when she thinks of him now.

Linda may not be my anam cara, but I feel a deep connection to her because we both recognize our children as our own anam cara. I am incredibly grateful to her for sharing with me this beautiful Celtic "understanding of love and friendship."

I may not be Audrey's anam cara, that will be for her to determine and discover, but she is certainly mine. In her short time here with me, she has brought me healing and an understanding of myself. She has opened my eyes to a completely new way of viewing the world. Every single day, she teaches me and guides me. She has transformed who I am. And with her, I feel more myself than with anyone else.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

"Every leaf speaks bliss to me, falling from the autumn tree."

I love fall! Here in New England, the foliage is incredibly gorgeous, and every year I am in awe of and grateful for the beauty that surrounds me. There are also so many fun things to do this time of year! Apple picking and a trip to the pumpkin patch were at the top of our list, and we had a blast!