Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Teresa gets around

Here are four videos of Teresa's new mobility.

First, her first crawl...if you can call it that. She steps with one foot, drags the other leg, and cries the whole time.


And here she is standing at her musical table, cruising a little:


Now our little sugar plum goes after her ball:


I took a second video to try to get a better shot of her crawling after the ball, but she does some other amusing stuff instead.


Anybody know how to tighten outlets? My vacuum plug is forever pulling out of that one and others around the house.

Teresa's first "word"

Who needs real pets when you can watch an aquarium of fish on your computer? Ever since I changed my screensaver to 5 goldfish with a changing aquarium background, Teresa has enjoyed watching them swim around.

Yesterday morning, we watched them together and I told Teresa they were fish repeatedly. She stared at them and said, "tsch!"

That's cute, I thought. She can mimic the end sound of the word I repeated for her.

Hours later, I picked Teresa up and brought her over to the computer to watch the fish. Without any prompting from me, she said, "ish." Yay!

I was home alone, so this video is the best I could do while holding the baby.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Shuffling and clucking

Teresa LOVES shuffling along the couch back. She's also taken to clicking her tongue against the roof of her mouth. Enjoy!


Just Playin'

Nothing too special but it will make Memere smile anyway...



We've been impressed by Teresa's growing range of consonant/vowel combinations, such as sssuh-ssssuh, bob-bob-bob, and the ever present "Da!" But sometimes she just prefers a good ole squeal:


Friday, November 13, 2009

Book Review: Thank God Ahead of Time

The second book that I received from The Catholic Company through their Reviewer Program was Thank God Ahead of Time: The Life and Spirituality of Solanus Casey by Michael H. Crosby, O.F.M. CAP. I chose this book because I've been interested in this holy man since I first read about him in a Word Among Us article in November 2003. I think my friend Fran read the same article that month, because she felt inspired to seek Fr. Solanus' intercession on my behalf while praying with me just days later. Either way, God was telling me something: learn more about my disciple Solanus Casey. His life and spirituality will touch your life and your spirituality.

The author of Thank God Ahead of Time, Michael Crosby, is one of the key people behind Solanus' cause of canonization. As part of his role, Crosby compiled all of Solanus' existing writings (including a journal and a ton of letters) and the testimonies and letters of many who knew Solanus personally (between 1870 and 1957). Crosby prepared several volumes of this material and sent it off to the reviewers who would determine Solanus' sanctity. Then he sat down and wrote Solanus' biography and spiritual "story" - this we have in a single volume,
Thank God Ahead of Time.

Overall, I like and recommend the book. It's a bit dry/dragging in parts (especially the beginning), and Crosby's writing style is academic, stilted, and lacking in pizazz or poetry (the last chapter on Solanus' spirituality is particularly blah). But he does a fine job of conveying the story and soul of this humble, holy, inspiring servant of God, Capuchin Father Solanus Casey. His life was interesting enough to carry the book.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes by or about Solanus:

"Those who embrace [marriage] should do so determined to bear the burdens of the holy state they enter. They should remember that their duties and privileges are one and the same and must be taken as such if peace is to reign in the individual soul, in the family, and in human society." (p. 60-1)
Lord, help me to accept the challenging responsibilities of my vocation with gratitude and thereby know joy and peace.
"Life is to live and life is to give and talents to use for good if you choose. Do not pray for easy lives, pray to be stronger. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle but you shall be a miracle. Every day you shall wonder at yourself, at the richness of life which has come to you by the grace of God." (p. 122-3)
Yeah, baby!
Of Solanus: "When he was speaking with you, you felt that he was constantly God-centered, on fire with love for God, and constantly God-conscious, seeming always to have his eyes on God. He seemed to see everything as flowing from God and leading back to God." (p. 126)
If only I could do that a fraction of the amazing that he was like that ALL the time!
Solanus played the violin very poorly but thought he might be of some entertainment to the other friars during their recreation time. One recalled: "As he began to play, one of the men went to the radio and kept turning up the volume. Without saying a word, Solanus left the room and went down before the Blessed Sacrament and continued his playing. Each Sunday night after that he would go with his violin and 'play before the Lord' for a half hour or so..." (p. 142-3)
I especially like this story because I used to play my guitar for Jesus in the tabernacle when I was a volunteer at a monastery in Oregon. The Lord loves to hear us make a joyful noise unto Him...even if others don't!
People flocked to see Solanus and ask for his prayers and blessing, but the friar was ever humble. Said a brother priest: "I am convinced that he was not aware that others held him in such high esteem. ... He loved his God and he knew that God loved him. That was all that mattered." (p. 159)
One of many of Solanus' character traits we must strive to emulate.
"I hope this finds you well, which means of course hopeful too. This latter is something that is sadly overlooked (these days) to the great detriment of spiritual progress as well as physical." (p. 174)
Wow, hopefulness as an essential part of spiritual and physical wellness? I don't think about that (or pray for hope) often enough.
"Our Faith - Religion, is the science of our happy dependence upon God and our neighbor - of our living in his grace and dying in his love." (p. 228)
That statement is packed with truth. And it's just how Solanus lived: dependent upon God and others, living in grace and dying in God's love. His last words were, "I give my soul to Jesus Christ." Beautiful!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Little Pink Kitty


Thursday, October 8, 2009

7 month skills showcase

She reaches forward and lifts her bum a little, she frantically waves her arms, she vocalizes with several consonants and lots of "eeeeee!", she razzes (especially when I'm trying to feed her), she claps, she folds her hands "in prayer", and she is even starting to wave a little.


Didn't it sound like she said "Hi!" back to me? :)

PS Teresa loves to watch herself in this video.

Teresa picked a good melon


Teresa's cute purple cool-weather outfit was a gift from her Aunt Ellen. :)

In the background you can see her BeechNut cereals (rice and oatmeal) - it's the only brand I've found that doesn't contain soy. Every morning she eats a couple tablespoons of one or the other mixed with expressed breastmilk.

You can also see my NatureMade Prenatal Multivitamins - one bottle almost empty and two new bottles for the future (not yet put away since I needed to enter the reward codes from the boxes online). When I was buying them at the grocery store recently ("buy one get one free" sale plus two $1 off coupons meant they were a GREAT deal!) the cashier asked me if I was expecting again. Her question surprised me but I quickly explained that I continue to take them because I am nursing but I could become pregnant again any time. What surprised me even more than her question itself was the joyful, hopeful tone in which she asked it. She would have been delighted to hear if I was pregnant again, even with Teresa less than 8 months old (we had been chatting about babies, including her grandchild). How refreshing!

Teresa sitting on her papa's shoulders

Let's ease back into posting on the blog with a few videos, shall we?


Monday, September 21, 2009

Another media spotlight on us

David and I were mentioned and quoted in a recent story in the Catholic Star Herald newspaper of the Diocese of Camden, NJ. You can read it on page 3 of this special marriage supplement (available online as a PDF) - the article is about using Catholic websites to find your spouse. We remain very grateful for and the role it played in introducing us and fostering our relationship.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Give a hand for Teresa

On Thursday Teresa took up clapping. I first noticed when we were at the Lap Lovers storytime at the library. My mom insists she taught Teresa to clap during her visit earlier this week. Either way, we love to see the little one clapping - and she seems to love it, too!



Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Security in Charlotte

Hi all...David here. So thanks be to God, we have a loan and we'll be living in a house. One of the many priorities that need to be addressed will be the security system. Anyone have any good tips in addition to resources for companies here in Charlotte that are reputable. CPI was used by the previous owners, but after checking some online reviews, I'm hesitant about jumping into their services. It does seem that most of the companies will go through the cable line which is also different from when my folks had their security system.

Thanks and keep the prayers coming because we can't do it without Him.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Swimmin' and Splashin'

David took Teresa "swimming" in our apartment complex pool again recently. She seemed to feel very comfortable in the water (securely in his hands) and even smiled a few times.


Teresa has discovered the joy of splashing this month. In the following video David is wiping the water off her face and then she splashes more on herself unwittingly. :)


Speaking of splashing, it's definitely time for Teresa to start bathing in the big bathtub. Any tub seat reviews or tips you want to share?

Teresa got the hang of jumping

She loves jumping in her Jumpster. She especially loves jumping when someone's watching her jump and showering her with praise. ;)



Teresa standing supporting herself



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lunging for food

Teresa is showing high interest in the food we eat: she loves to lunge for it whenever it is within her reach. We're constantly pushing plates away when she's sitting in our laps at the table, but she has gotten her fingers in our food a few times. Here's a video of her going after David's treat:


Video from July 25

Due to Teresa's food sensitivities up to this point (I'm still not eating dairy or soy), we decided to delay the introduction of solids until she is at least 6 months old. Well, that's only 9 days away! I'm excited for this next step, sharing God's wonderful gift of food with Teresa and letting her experience all the delicious tastes and fun textures.

Don't worry - ice cream bars will not be on her food list for a long, long time! I'll probably start with rice cereal after her well baby visit on August 18th or after we move into the new house August 22nd. Yay!

Playing with her feet

Many a parent has told me, "wait until she starts playing with her feet." I didn't fully realize what entertainment value these appendages have for babies until Teresa got comfortable holding on to hers. Pretty neat!


Video from July 28th

High five

David called me in to see this. I was very impressed.


He did it again at the table the next day. Then, just to see what she would do, David held a large flat object in front of Teresa and said, "high five!" Yep. She reached out and touched it, too.

So she doesn't discriminate when non-people/non-hands want a high five. Good girl. ;)

Thursday, July 30, 2009


This is the kitchen sink in the soon-to-be-ours house. Cosmetically, it looks just fine. I can get over the fact that it isn't stainless steel. But there are two things about it that really bother me:

1. Situated against the end of the counter, it has no counter space to the left.

2. The left-hand side of the sink (the one with the garbage disposal) is really small.

I have to rethink the way I use my kitchen sink now. In our apartment, I prefer to have dirty dishes (that can't go in the dishwasher) stacked to the left of the sink. I don't like putting them in the sink unless they need a soak. But if I put them to the right of the sink, where will I put the dish drainer? Can it sit on the top counter ledge without falling off?

And how will I do dishes? Currently, I wash in one side and rinse in the other. But that small side doesn't look like it will accommodate the rinsing of large dishes. My mom suggested washing in the big sink by starting with just a little soapy water and rinsing over it to increase the water. I'm afraid I still won't have enough space to rinse big pots and such. Maybe I could use the sprayer (lift the spigot) and rinse from a greater height to accommodate large items.

Finally, what good is that little side with the disposal? What can I do in it besides rinse off food gunk into the disposal?

I'm open to any and all ideas, especially from anyone who has worked with a sink like this. Thanks!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fun feet and colored shapes

Teresa has been playing with both of her feet for over a week now; her right hand is much better at grasping her right toes but her left hand skills are improving. Alas, she may have inherited her mother's lack of flexibility - the feet haven't made it up to her mouth (yet).


A set of colored shapes I got at a thrift store has also been helping Teresa develop her ability to manipulate objects. Although this video only shows a second of her loudly banging the shapes together (something she loves to do), it does let you see how she is already able to pick them up between her thumb and forefinger.


Teresa has silly parents

I just wanted you to see how well Teresa sits by herself and maybe catch her flapping her arms in front of her the way she does so often these days. But David made this a funny video...


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Seeking input: Washer & Dryer

Appliances are at the top of the list of things we will need for our new home, specifically a refrigerator, a washer, and a dryer. We are prepared to spend the bulk of our small "moving in" budget on these parents are strong advocates of "buy once, buy right" when it comes to appliances. The Maytag washer and dryer they bought for their first home lasted 25 years (washer) and 30+ years (the dryer is sitting in the garage at their river house, ready to quick-dry wet winterwear). I've been told they don't make them like the used to, but I'd really like to purchase appliances that are going to last us a long, long time...and perform their functions efficiently. I'm a big fan of high efficiency appliances that save resources (such as water) and energy (and therefore money).

In this post I am requesting any an all advice about washers and dryers, especially if you've acquired some recently and are familiar with current options. Here are some of the questions running through my mind:

  • I think that Maytag and Whirlpool are good brands - am I right? What other brands are trustworthy? Kenmore, Frigidaire, LG?
  • Are the high efficiency models worth it? Do they clean and dry well? How about with cloth diapers?
  • Have you dealt with incomplete draining and/or mold growth in a front-loader?
  • If I go with front-loading HE models, do I need to buy the pedestals as well? What do you use those drawers for?
  • I am considering shopping for appliances at a local Sears Outlet store, where "cosmetically flawed" units are discounted. I don't mind a scratch or ding if it saves us money. Have you ever made a purchase at a store like that?
Please share your experiences and ideas with me via the comments, email, or Facebook message. Thanks!

Photo credit: chris.corwin

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"You have served my purposes, Bear...

...and now I toss you away!"


Friday, July 10, 2009

We're buying a house!

We accepted the sellers' counteroffer yesterday and signed the contract papers last night. Today our mortgage loan was approved at the fabulous rate of 4.5%. We're scheduling the inspection for next week and getting other ducks in a row. What an exciting time!

Here's a picture of the backyard through the screen door:

The deck canopy and wooden playset are staying. The yard is flat and well fenced, and there's plenty of sun so I can grow a garden. What a blessing!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Brusha brusha


When I went to the dentist's office to have my teeth cleaned a few weeks ago, I took Teresa with me (David was working that day). I nursed her right before I went in and she played in her car seat for a while. When she started fussing the dental hygienist recommended I cross one of my legs over my other knee and hold Teresa in the pocket while the cleaning continued. It worked! Teresa was fascinated by the whirring equipment.

While we waited for the dentist to arrive and make his inspection, the dental hygienist gave Teresa a baby toothbrush with a fat, rubbery handle. She recommended I allow Teresa to play with the toothbrush even before she gets teeth to help her get used to it. Teresa took to it right away. Because the brush end is small, I have to supervise her closely to make sure she doesn't choke on it. She enjoys chewing on both ends, and I'm impressed by her coordination!

PS The dentist gave me another clean bill of (dental) health - no cavities, yay!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Third time's a charm?

Today David and I made an offer on a house. This is the third time we've completed offer paperwork since we started house hunting almost 2 and a half months ago. We never expected how time-consuming and energy-draining this process would be, nor did we realize how much we had to learn about real estate markets, home purchase financing, and so much more. But we've taken in stride some tough lessons, difficult decisions, and frustrating delays and now we're really, really, really hoping everything will go through for us to purchase this house. We feel great peace about it.

We're going to wait to share any details about the house and its location until things are more settled. But I wanted to post this news quickly and thank everyone for their prayers and understanding as we've searched for a home for our little family. We've let all sorts of things (including relationships) take a back seat during this time, so we're looking forward to getting back on track and picking up the slack soon (how's that for mixing idioms?).

Your support and continued prayers are greatly appreciated. God's will be done!

Monday, July 6, 2009

An unexpected Facebook friend

This morning I had an email informing me that someone had requested me as a friend on Facebook. Someone with the same last name as the Filipino boy I sponsor through CFCA . . . someone who looks a lot like Manuelito, too. Could it be? A message from the person confirmed it: my dear sponsee found me on Facebook. How's that for modern technology?

I shouldn't be too surprised, since Manuelito indicated in a recent letter that he's interested in studying computer technology at college (go him!). Apparently he goes by a different first name on Facebook - I sent him a message to get to the bottom of that. I can't understand most of what he and his friends have written to one another via Facebook since it's in Tagalog. But it's so good to see his pictures and know that he is mastering the tools available to him so that he can get a good job, be a blessing to his parents and younger siblings, and - hopefully - prepare to support a family of his own.

This unexpected event reminds me that my Facebook profile/presence should always be a witness of Christian virtue...I must be mindful of everything I share and what impression it might make on my friends (near and FAR) who see it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dairy-free, soy-free treats

I have a sweet tooth. I love desserts, especially chocolate ones. Since I've had to forgo foods containing dairy and soy for Teresa's sake, I've discovered just how prevalent those ingredients are, especially in boxed mixes. So many desserts - even those made from scratch - contain dairy...I challenge anyone to find a restaurant that serves a dairy-free dessert. Thankfully, I've found a few sweet treats that I can enjoy these days:

1. Enjoy Life chocolate bars

My friend Jennifer found these at Whole Foods: dairy-free, soy-free, and nut-free chocolate bars. She got me two different flavors: dark and rice milk. Both are excellent!! I've tried 2 other dairy-free, soy-free dark chocolate bars (by Dagoba and Green & Black's - both organic) and both were very bitter. But Enjoy Life's is not. Yum yum!

2. Purely Decadent "ice cream" made with coconut milk

During my mom's recent visit she treated me to a pint from Harris Teeter. I got the chocolate flavor and it was absolutely delicious. I like coconut milk in recipes, so the flavor in my "ice cream" doesn't bother me at all.

3. Made from scratch chocolate cake

I have a recipe clipped from an old magazine that doesn't call for dairy or eggs. It's so easy to put together and the results are moist and delicious. David spreads frosting on his pieces, but I don't think it's necessary. Here's the recipe:

Cinnamon-Chocolate Cake (12 servings)

2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
6 T cocoa powder
2 t cinnamon
2 t baking soda
3/4 cup oil
2 T white vinegar
2 t vanilla
2 cups water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Stir in oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water until well-blended. Frances tip: Grease a 13 x 9" baking pan with the excess oil from your measuring cup. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 25-30 minutes until cake pulls away from side of pan. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar.


In putting together this post, I discovered that Enjoy Life also makes chocolate chips, so I may have to purchase a bag to try in our pancakes (made with rice milk). I've missed chocolate chip pancakes!! Now the only thing I need is to find a decent dairy-free brownie recipe. I've tried a couple and they weren't any good at all.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Early June Teresa videos: Random

Teresa happy in Bumbo (up high) while Mama washes dishes:


Teresa fell asleep in Papa's arms:


Teresa all cute in her summer dress:


Teresa pulls paper off the table:


Early June Teresa Videos: Playtime

Teresa playing in her exersaucer for the first time:
(I think my conversation with David in the background is funny)


Teresa sucking on her exersaucer:


Teresa playing in her exersaucer after some practice:


Teresa fell over on her toy:


Grandpa meets Teresa

My dad came to visit Teresa for the first time last week. He got a lot of "big grins" out of her, as he called them.

Teresa also had some sad times while her Grandpa was here. Here are two videos from his visit: