Mar 21, 2013

Pictures, with a Side of Honesty

     I was going to post some random, but nice{ish} pictures I’ve taken recently, and then sneak away before you noticed the lack of words.  Then, I was going to title the post ‘Ordinary Days’ cause doesn’t that seem nice?  Perhaps these days are ordinary, but they are hard as h-e-double hockeysticks. 


     I really, really hate even typing this, but here we go: James is a pretty difficult baby.  He fusses a lot, especially if I dare to dethrone him from his perch on my hip.  While I used to brag about his awesome sleeping skills, he has since reverted to waking every 2 hours with maaaayyybbeee a 4 hour stretch from 8 to 12.  While I am very happy to rock my baby to sleep for his naps, I’m less than thrilled that he wakes up within fifteen minutes of me laying him down.  He also has a weird case of head thrashing, which accompanies the 2 hour stretches at night.  I’m losing my mind a little bit.  Little man does have a cold, is probably teething, hitting a growth spurt and so on and so forth, or so I tell myself every day. 


     I couldn’t wait to be stay-at-home mom, which is not exactly the norm amidst women in the 21st century.  Here is another confession though: When it just one little bambino & yourself…oh, it can be so boring!! I pretty much survive on playdates and visiting the local family.  I absolutely love spending time with James, but was not prepared for the never-ending merry-go-round feeling the days would take on.  The days I don’t make plans…cue Groundhog day! 


     James Patrick, lest you read this one day and think I didn’t love you and enjoy you… I adore you.  Just because you are hard doesn’t mean you aren’t precious and perfect.  I live off your every smile, drink up your every belly laugh.  I love you so much it hurts and you are just the baby for me.  You are the perfect firstborn, my refining fire, teaching me more about myself and about God everyday.  Yes, sometimes it seems like a dizzying day of nurse, tummy time, reading books, walks around the blocks, and rocking only to start all over again but I wouldn’t trade it.  I am so stinking blessed to stay home with you.  When you don’t let me put you down, underneath the frustration is me cherishing every little bit of your neediness… I know it won’t last, love.  I won’t always get to rock you, and you won’t always want  me to be your constant companion.


    So I’ll make the best of this hard as heck ordinary days.  You are so worth it, my boy!

Sometimes you sleep long enough to let me cook.  Then the kitchen looks like this

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I’m always trying to stay caught up with recording your latest feats in your baby journal.  And need to fill out my March Madness bracket

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The exersaucer is my friend, since you will sit in here for 5 mins while I grab a bite to eat.  You are still a little short for it, so a textbook and some non-skid mat make for a perfect fit

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You have become quite the blankie boy recently and love to snuggle up with your Aden & Anaias blankets.  Don’t worry friends, I take it away once he is good and asleep…safety first!

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At home date nights= puzzles. {Thanks for the idea Trish!}

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Mar 20, 2013

Family in Flannel

     Well, it is the first day of Spring so our cold flannel wearing weather is going to be coming to an end soon.  Very soon, I hope…come on, warm weather.  Since James received this adorable hand-me-down flannel shirt, I figured we better take a family photo sporting our most favorite attire.

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Mar 15, 2013

James v. Snoopy

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It didn’t look good for James.  In fact, the refs had to get involved.  Don’t be too smug Snoops, as I’m sure your fur is STILL wet from all that slobber..

Mar 14, 2013

How James Patrick got his Name

     For a girl who has been brainstorming baby names for as long as I can remember, I was surprisingly indecisive when the time came.  For starters, I really wanted to see my baby before I made a final decision.  Even though I was 99.9999999999 % sure he would be a baby James, he remained just plain ‘ole baby Croft when he was in my womb.  Yup, that meant no embroidered blankets or monogrammed onesies as baby shower gifts.  Some of my friends gave me a hard time but in the end I was really happy with our naming process.

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     Marcus and I both happened to love the name James.  Not only does it have perfect family ties (Marcus’ middle name is James and James is my father-in-law’s first name) but it is strong and solid, manly and classic! (And it is not as common as John or Michael)  One of my rules was to avoid any trendy names or any names on the top twenty list. That meant no Ava’s or Noah’s, no Olivia’s or Liam’s, no Ethan’s or Nora’s…and not because I don’t like a lot of those names.  I actually love so many of the popular names, but I grew up as the only Laura at my school and I really liked that.   Finally, James is named for St. James, Jesus’ apostle- In the Bible James is recorded to be one of the first disciples to leave everything behind and follow Jesus.  He witnessed the Transfiguration and  is also a  Martyr.  I pray that James will always follow Jesus first, too.  Naming your babies after saints is such a beautiful and important tradition to me- love that my little man has such a holy example to follow.

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     We really struggled with the middle name.  James is often used as a middle name and we had a hard time finding something that fit with it as a first name.  We wanted it to be two syllables since his first and last are just one.  We have Nanny to thank for his middle name, really.  When we were visiting her this past fall and talking about baby names, she told me that she knew many great men with the initials JP. Hmm P, I thought, what names start with P?  Patrick was the first, perfect name that came to my mind.  Another great saint AND the name of my beloved little brother!  There we had it..James Patrick.  We told a few people that the name was definitely our top pick, but we still wanted to wait and see the baby.  I had a small list of emergency names just in case he didn’t look like a James Patrick.

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     The moment my son was laid on my chest Marcus tells me I immediately said “Hi, James” over and over again. 

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     To us, he is just James, not a Jim or a Jimmy.  We have some playful nicknames, but I am not sure if any of them have staying power yet.  We lovingly refer to him as little JP or Jamie Boy from time to time.  We’ve also been known to call him Pookie (a la Sandra Boyton- since his newborn grunting and button nose reminded me of a little pig).


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     Even though I am still in the postpartum “I’m never doing that again!!” stage,  it has not stopped me from day dreaming about names for James’ future siblings.  I’ll follow my criteria (waiting to name, nothing from the top 20) but I’ll have to make sure the name fits with James’, too.  Siblings names need to go together well! 

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     I’m pretty fascinated with names and how people chose them.  So if you are reading this, how did you choose your baby’s name?! Need to know! Or you can just tell me your favorite names… I promise not to steal!

Mar 12, 2013

Bringing Faith To Life

     A lot of things changed when Mr. JP made his grand entrance into the world in the wee hours of that November morning,  but having my faith- and the way I tried to live my faith- completely change was something I was totally unprepared for.  Now, I am far from a perfect Christian, but one thing that made me feel ‘on top’ of my faith life was to stick to my routine and schedule.  Namely- prayer & devotions in the morning, weekly Eucharistic Adoration, daily mass a couple times a week,  bible reading, rosaries, and lots of prayer time with Marcus.  I tried to live my faith by helping to run a young adult ministry and staying involved in the local pro-life movement.  I thrived on the predictable prayer times and manageable fellowship commitments and felt good about the ministries I was involved in.  My faith life was, even amidst bumps in the roads here and there, content.  I had it in a nice little box with a string tied in a bow on the top.

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     When my son arrived, morning prayer gave way to morning nursing sessions, with quick prayers uttered under my breath for grace.  Those pleasant evenings praying and reading the bible together seemingly disappeared as we collapsed into bed, often at different times since one or the other would offer to soothe the baby to sleep.  And you can definitely forget the weekly adoration and daily mass, since leaving the house now meant a screaming baby who loathed the car seat.  Obviously, I gave up my responsibilities with the young adult group and felt guilty for not participating in the local 40 days for life as much as I would have liked.


     In reality, my faith was probably pretty stagnant before I became a mother.  I was perfectly comfortable and so systematic about it, two things your faith definitely shouldn’t be!  I can also reflect and see that so much of my faith life was very inward.  While getting close & personal with the Big Guy is a number one priority, we are called to bringing Jesus to others- to be fueled by our prayer life in order to be a charitable, loving light to the world.  This is definitely where my life as a Christian needed challenged.  I’d happily attend church, but just as easily treat a family member unkindly.


    James has brought my faith to life.  With little time sculpted out for intentional prayer time to tell God how much I love him, instead I can tell him how much I love Him by serving my son.  As a mother, I am literally living out the gospel and the corporal acts of mercy.  When I change him & dress him in the morning, I am clothing the naked.  As I nurse him throughout the day, I am feeding the hungry, and when I run a hot shower in the middle of the night to steam his stuffy nose, I am taking care of the sick.  It is not as impressive or as exciting as working with orphans in Africa, but it is exactly what God has called me to do.  Just in becoming a mother, we have the Christ-like opportunity to lay our life down for others.  Giving your body in its entirety- in order to give another life.  I’ve had the privilege to suffer through morning sickness, endure the pain of childbirth, and nurse my baby despite how inconvenient, painful or frustrating it can be.  Everyday I can tell God how much I need him when I surrender my baby and my motherhood to him.  I can tell him how much I love Him by always putting my baby and my husband ahead of myself.  I can thank Him by choosing not to complain about the hardships of being a new mama or Marcus’ crazy schedule.

James Patrick Croft 004     Recently, I read that if you are having a good day, to thank God for it.  If you are having a bad day, to invite God into it.  Ordinary Day?  Find God in it.  These actions are the way I want to live out my faith.  It will always be important to have a solid prayer life and quiet time with Jesus, but right now I know he is calling me to action.  On those good days, thank God in the simplest of ways, by living a charitable life—giving time & talents in ways that work with my life as a new mama.   Those days that seem really hard are nothing more than an invitation for me to ask God for perspective by focusing on somebody other than myself.  Is there somebody else I can encourage or help out or lift up in prayer?  Of course, the ordinary days are probably the hardest of all.  It is easy to find God when you are reading the bible or attending church but I know God wanted to me to find Him in new ways.  Being Christ to my husband, son, family, friends and every stranger I meet.  My faith life needed to be shaken up, it needed growth.  And now, everyday, I have to ask God to give me the grace to be a good wife, mother, daughter, friend and Christian.  I have to make the decision to accept that grace and live out the love he gave me.  It doesn’t have to be hard.  It just means to imitate the cross with what is in front of you.  Playing peek-a-boo instead of perusing facebook,  giving time to others when you feel like you don’t have any to yourself, chopping vegetables for your mom when you hate to cook, or washing diapers instead of washing your hair ;)


     We are called to holiness by living our life for others.   I have always known this, always had the example of Jesus laying down His life for us, but I felt like I really had a hard time practicing it before I became a mother. ( I actually still have a hard time, of course, but I just have a baby who requires me to be selfless) And in those early weeks with James, I was convinced that with my routine prayer life down the drain, I was really failing at my faith.  In actuality, my faith was just coming alive-maybe even for the first time.  christmas 2012 203


     Mother Theresa says “The fruit of silence is prayer. The fruit of prayers is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace.”  These days I have to carve out quiet time to hand over my heart to God, and when I do that my faith is increased as I learn to trust.  That faith and trust truly blossom into love.  Confidence in God’s love for me and my love for Him.  And it is only out of that love that we can serve.  I don’t always feel like I am bursting at the seams with love for James, Marcus, my family, or anybody BUT my love of Christ is what can help me choose everyday to serve them.  I’m human, and I am selfish and sometimes all I want to do is be by myself and stare at a wall, but that love enables me to serve in the way God is calling me right now.  I fail at it a in every day! I’m after that peace though! And I’ll keep at it in this crazy new sleep deprived stage of my life!  I’m convinced if we are comfortable in our faith, we probably are not growing.  This has definitely been an uncomfortable stage of my life, where I have had nothing but faith to hold onto.  Faith had to compensate where feelings weren’t.  But that is just the way God intended it, for us to be completely relying on him, trusting Him to guide us one day at a time.

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(Okay, so I’ve never done this before, but this blog post was inspired by Blue Eyed Bride's Build 'Em Up link up! The motivation to write has been missing lately, and the topics she posted were things that had already been on my heart! Go check out all the other blogs!)

Mar 11, 2013

This Hell Week Made Possible by..

     Today was one of those days where I just knew everything was going to be okay.  You know, it’s been a long, rainy winter-seasoned with a tricky little baby, all types of nursing drama, a splash of postpartum depression, sleep deprivation and so on and so forth.  But really, an extra hour of sleep this morning, a walk in the park with my sister’s & James’ cousins, plus an afternoon cuddling with James on a blanket in the sun….whew… it was just what I needed.


     Today was also the last day of Hell Week (where Marcus is 24 on, 24 off for a week).  The kindness and support I receive from my friends and family during this week is unbelievable!  I feel like I just show up on people’s doorsteps and they just take me in!  We got to hang out with Emily on Tuesday, then Mindy & her family fed me dinner (so spoiled).  My friend Katelyn fed me a delicious soup on Wednesday and it was back to the Guinns all day Thursday.  Saturday was a sleepover at my mom’s.  Blessed, blessed, blessed.


    Anyhow…I survived another hell week and am totally looking forward to having Marcus home the next three days (even if it means cooking dinner, haha!)



Mar 4, 2013

Little Things

Real men fold cloth diapers

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Little legs between big legs

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Chunky, nakey baby in beautiful light

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little arm on a big arm

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Good reading material

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Matchy-match Sundays

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Mar 3, 2013

The First Date Night. Of the Crafty Variety

     Since postpartum NFP is such a barrel of fun, Marcus & I figured we better find a way to entertain ourselves in the evening.  Especially baby JP has a kinda-sorta bedtime now (yay).  Enter at-home date nights.  Marcus was assigned to plan the first one.  I really was excited to see what he had up his sleeve, because he definitely the more creative half.  I admit to be a little bit (lotsa) irritated when he said we were going to sew our own hot rice socks/bags.  Sooooooooo Roooomantic.  Have I mentioned that I hate sewing?  But he was so cute, and had even arranged to borrow his sister’s sewing machine, and a trip to the fabric store.  I started to get a little excited…until we actually started working on the project last night.  Neither of us remembered how to work the sewing machine, so in between youtube videos on how to thread a bobbin, and trying to nurse the baby who seemed to want to stay up to witness the fun, I remembered why I hated sewing.  As I nursed, Marcus plugged away and made a homely, but manly, rice sock.  There was a good hour of trial and error, and I surprised myself at how I knew how to solve a couple of his hang-ups. 


    Then it was my turn.  If I was was a careful, deliberate person, I would have made nice measurements & had a plan.  But I am the farthest thing from a perfectionist, so I just jumped in.  When I went to begin, the sewing machine would not feed the fabric.  I complained about it to Marcus who replied “It is supposed to feed the fabric?  Dang it! I just pulled the fabric through myself.”  I laughed hysterically at him but then proceeded to mess with every single button, dial, and switch on the machine.  I fixed the whole feed issue, but could not figure out how to set it to a simple stitch so I have some whacked out, dizzying stitch all along my bag.  Marcus was helping me with mine, and offered to hold my fabric straight so I could pin it.  Except I have an irrational fear of what would happen if the needle and the pin collided, I explained, so I avoid using pins.  His turn to laugh hysterically.  I spilled rice all over the floor, twice.  And got my sew on, in between eating popsicles and having a grand old time.


    People, we had a blast.  I know that I have not laughed that hard since before the baby’s arrival.  Marcus and I talked about things non-baby and just enjoyed each other’s company and working on a simple project together.  Sewing still is not my favorite thing in the world but I am mighty impressed with our just-google-how-to-do-this-as-we-go-along efforts. 


    Here are the final products:

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And if you are thinking that is impressive…Here, have a close-up.

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How is that for straight lines and neat stitches, haha?!


Any ideas on what I should do for the next date night? It is my turn to plan and I am hoping to avoid something overdone (& easy) like movie night…


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