27 November 2011

Post Thanksgiving/Finals Update

I expected the week after Thanksgiving to go by slowly, but instead it flew! And here we are on Sunday night, the eve of the first week of finals. At least I finished my weekend to do list. So, briefly:

-Matt and I did a little Black Friday shopping (don't worry, we didn't hit the stores until nearly 9am). It was the first time I've been to the mall since giving birth and I decided to take Abigail in the stroller to protect against back pain. On the upside, Abigail was in heaven as we combined her two favorite things: taking walks in strollers and shopping. She was really happy. On the downside, mall store aisles are not designed for strollers. Throw in crowds of people and I found myself running desperately short in the patience department. To end on a positive note, we also hit up Joann Fabrics and I bought a huge bag of yarn and filled in a few gaps in my crochet hook collection on a steep discount. I am now working on another baby blanket after finishing up another hat and pair of legwarmers. It's a good thing I had a girl first.

-Matt is home all the time now, which I find wonderful. He has been incredibly generous and thoughtful as of late. Making breakfast, helping with Abigail, taking her in the morning and letting me crash for another hour. He even put her to bed tonight so I could hit the fitness center at our apartment complex. One morning I even declared him super dad. Plus I love spending all day with him, even if it involves him sitting at his desk. He does take breaks with us in the evening to go for a sunset walk.

-Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Matt and I like to give something up for this penitential season, so we're each attempting to ditch some bad habits. I also found out that the church we attend has perpetual adoration! (I have been looking since we moved to Naples. No one's website makes any mention of such fact). Anyway, I think it would be wonderfully enriching if I went for one hour a week after Abigail goes to bed. Matt could stay home and study with her and I would get out of the house, get me time, and salvage some of my prayer life! Also, the priest at confession yesterday advised me to try to say one Hail Mary at a time scattered throughout the day instead of fretting because I don't say a whole Rosary everyday. It is amazing quickly God responds when you actually start trying to deepen your relationship.

-I finally got my haircut yesterday (first time in over a year!) and the hairstylist thought I was 16. Nope, 25, in fact. I don't mind at all looking younger than I really am, but it reminded me of the days when I was pregnant and I would get lectures from complete strangers about having a baby and being a teenager. No joke. But I think it's funny.

-weather good, work good, life good. I am trying sooooo incredibly hard to stay balanced and avoid the Zoloft.
Do you want to know what I love about right now? How productive my evening has been!

18 November 2011

Finals Prep and 6 Month Birthdays

Today is Abigail is 6 months old. Although I've never celebrate a half birthday for anyone before, being a first-time mother who loves holidays, I'm excited to squeeze one in before Thanksgiving. I had planned to spend all of today doing things Abigail loves to do, including taking a walk, going to the bookstore and picking out a new book, and playing with her favorite toys. But it just so happens that today is the first day in more than a week that it has rained, (it, no walk) and also the first time in a long time that it was Matt's turn to carpool (no car = no bookstore). To make matters even worse, Abigail's sleep schedule is all messed up and she's been spending most of the day napping. So yes, here we are. I feel kind of silly rescheduling for tomorrow since today isn't really much of a holiday, so I'm using the excuse that we need to "get out of the house" in order to move forward with the planned festivities.

Why do we need to "get out of the house?" Two reasons, #1 the doctor said to. I finally successfully had an appointment with my obgyn (I slacked making the initial phone call, then we had repeated rescheduling). She did officially diagnose me with post-partum depression. She recommends getting out of the house once in a while (even if it means taking Abigail), getting plenty of sleeping (going to bed at 8pm twice a week), getting me-time once in a while (even if only for 3 hours after Abigail goes to bed), eating right, and exercising. Oh yes, and Zoloft. I really wanted to save medication for a last resort, but she prefers that I take it for at least 6 weeks before considering a therapist. Honestly, though, I haven't been taking it. It makes me feel very tired and spaced-out; I'd rather deal with the depression.

Reason #2: next Tuesday is Matt's last day of class, which means that the week after Thanksgiving is the first week of finals. Matt still hasn't entered full crazy study mode, but he is halfway there. For some reason, a bunch of organizations of which he is a member having things going on this week that are keeping him distracted. Abigail and I plan to disappear in the morning/afternoon, removing his #1 distraction so that he can get lots of work done.

Two birds with one stone.

Do you want to know what I love about right now? That it almost feels like fall outside. After a week of temps in the mid-80s, we finally have "cold" (thermo reads 74*, cold for me), windy, rainy, cloudy. It almost feels like Michigan except that it is still very humid outside. But for now I think this totally calls for a pair of jeans and a mug of hot chocolate.

11 November 2011

Happy Days (And I am Grateful)

If you'll remember, about a week ago, I decided to be more grateful. That decision has made a massive change in my paradigm. I feel so much more positive about my life, hopefully about my future, and better about myself. Thinking about the things I am thankful for has made me focus on how much is going right in my life instead of complaining so much about all the things I wanted to change. I have only made a habit of this practice for about a week now, so we'll see what happens when my post partum depression cycles me back into the pits of despair (still trying to get approval from my doctor so that insurance will cover the costs of getting help). But in the meantime, I think I am a better (more affirming!) mom and cheerier wife (would you agree, dear? Do you read this anymore?)

I'm getting better at balancing all my responsibilities (practice makes perfect!). Clients, chores (that reminds me, I have laundry that needs folding), AbbyClaire, fun (knitting baby legwarmers). On Tuesday, the physical therapist showed us some new exercises for Abigail (baby side planks, anyone?), which I'm looking forward to doing because the old ones were getting boring. I may even steal the car and take my baby to the beach early one morning before the hubby has class : )

Feet in the Gulf! 10/1/11 - 4 months

You know what I love about right now? Sleeping babies, 79*, 55% humidity, good smelling breeze, and happy music.

10 November 2011

Baby Crochet Patterns Revealed!

Hello all my crafting friends! Below are the patterns for Abigail's famous hats. As I am working, I regularly check the pattern against Abigail and adjust my inc and dec as necessary to ensure a proper fit. Enjoy!

Note to regular readers: I apologize for this interruption, but I am going to steal a blog entry for the purpose of baby patterns. I have had several Facebook friends request these patterns, but since Facebook Notes are awful, I decided to redirect to this blog. If you are not a crafter, please excuse this post. New regular post coming tomorrow.

First, let me give you lots of free flower patterns so that you can add whichever one you like best to the hats.

Newsboys Cap

Sizes: Small: 0-6 months, 15” circumference
Medium: 6-12 months, 17” circumference
Large: 12-24 months, 19” circumference

Materials: medium weight yarn, crochet hooks sizes G (4.0mm) and H (5.0 mm), yarn needle

Worked in the round
1. Ch 5 and join with slip stitch to create circle
2. Ch2, dc 10 times in circle (place marker for beginning of round if necessary)
3. dc twice in each stitch around (20)
4. [dc 1, dc twice in the next stitch] repeat all the way around (30)
5. [dc 2, dc twice in next stitch] repeat around (40)
6. [dc 3, dc twice in next stitch] repeat around (50) Size small move on to step 9
7. for medium and large sizes only: [dc 4, dc twice in next stitch] repeat around (60) Size medium move on to step 9
8. large size only: [dc 5, dc twice in next stitch] repeat around (70)
9. dc in each stitch for several rounds until hat measures 5.25” (5.75”, 6.25”) from crown
10. ch1, sc in each stitch around

Brim: Worked back and forth
1. Turn work. ch 1, skip first sc, sc 4, sc twice in next stitch, sc 12 (16, 20), sc twice in next stitch, sc 4, sc2tog (you should be roughly less than half way to the other side)
2. ch 1 and turn work. Skip first sc and sc across until 2 stitches remain. Sc2tog
3. ch 1 and turn work. Skip first sc, sc 4, sc twice in next stitch, sc until 7 stitches remain. Sc twice in next stitch, sc 4, sc2tog.
4. ch 1 and turn work. Skip first sc and sc across until 2 stitches remain. Sc 2tog Size small: proceed to step 5. Sizes medium and large: repeat steps 3 and 4 once more or until brim is the size you want. I have found it works better on a baby to make it smaller than you would think so it doesn’t get in their way.
5. Switch to H hook. Do not turn work. Outside of hat should be facing you. Continuing from the brim, sc down the edge of brim then sc in every stitch around the hat. Sc up the other side of the brim. Size small: join with slip stitch on the opposite side of the brim. In other words, don’t make another single crochet row on the brim unless you want more brim. Sizes medium and large: continue across brim and join with a slip stitch where you started.
6. Break yarn and weave in ends

1. ch 6. join with slip stitch
2. [sc in center, ch3] five times, join with slip stitch. These form the petals. Repeat this step once more if you prefer six.
3. [sc in new loop, ch1, hdc 3 times, ch1, sc] in each petal. Join with slip stitch.
4. Break yarn leaving a long tail for sewing.

Cloche(Credit) Note: almost every time I open the link, my computer freezes; open at your own risk.

Materials: medium weight yarn, crochet hooks size H (5.0 mm), yarn needle

PatternFoundation Ring: Chain four. Join with a slip stitch to form a ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as first hdc here and in subsequent rounds; it may be helpful to place a stitch marker in the first ch 2 and move it up to mark the beginning of each round). 6 half-double-crochet in ring. Join with a sl st in top of chain 2. (You should have 7 hdc)

Round 2: Ch 2. One hdc in same space as last sl st. 2 hdc in each hdc around. Join with a sl st in top of ch 2. (You have increased 7 hdc for a total of 14 hdc)

Round 3: Ch 2. 1 hdc in same space as sl st. * 2 hdc in next hdc. 1 hdc in next hdc.** Repeat from * to ** around to last hdc. Join with a sl st in top of ch 2. (21 hdc)

Round 4: Ch 2. 1 hdc in next hdc. * 2 hdc in next hdc. 1 hdc in next 2 hdc stitches.** Repeat from * to ** around to last hdc. 2 hdc in last hdc. Join with a sl st in top of ch 2. (28 hdc)

Round 5: Ch 2. 1 hdc in same space as sl st. 1 hdc in each of next 2 hdc stitches. *2 hdc in next hdc. 1 hdc in each of next 3 hdc stitches.** Repeat from * to ** around to last hdc. 2 hdc in last hdc. Join with a sl st in top of ch 2. (35 hdc)

Round 6: Ch 2. 1 hdc in each of next 3 hdc stitches. *2 hdc in next hdc. 1 hdc in each of next 4 hdc stitches.** Repeat from * to ** around to last hdc. 2 hdc in last hdc. Join with a sl st in top of ch 2. (42 hdc)

Round 7: Ch 2. 1 hdc in each of next 4 hdc stitches. *2 hdc in next hdc. 1 hdc in each of next 5 hdc stitches.** Repeat from * to ** around to last hdc. 2 hdc in last hdc. Join with a sl st in top of ch 2. (49 hdc)

Row 8 (this is the last increase row): Ch 2. 1 hdc in each of next 15 hdc stitches. *2 hdc in next hdc. 1 hdc in each of next 15 hdc stitches.** Repeat from * to ** to last hdc. 2 hdc in last hdc. (you have increased 3 hdc for a total of 52 hdc)

Row 9: Ch 2. 1 hdc in same space as sl st. 1 hdc in each hdc around. Join with a sl st in the top of ch 2. (52 hdc)

Rows 10-11: Repeat Row 9. (52 hdc)

Row 12 (this is a decrease row): Ch 2. 1 hdc in same space as sl st. Hdc in the next hdc and each of the next 14 hdc stitches. Now you will work a decrease hdc [to dhdc, (yarn over, insert hook in next hdc, yo, draw loop through) two times, yo, draw through all 5 lps on hook]. *Hdc in next 15 hdc stitches. Work one dhdc.** Repeat from * to ** one more time and finish round with a sl st in the top of ch 2. (49 hdc)

Row 13 (this is the eyelet row): Ch 3 (counts as first hdc and ch-1 sp). Skip the next hdc. *Double crochet in the next hdc. Ch 1. Skip the next hdc.* Repeat around and finish with a sl st in the 2nd ch of the beginning ch-3. (25 ch-1 spaces and 25 dc)

Shell edging: Ch 2. Dc in same space. Skip the next ch-1 space. Sl st in the next dc. *Skip the next ch-1 sp. Work 3 dc in the next dc. Skip the next ch-1 sp. Sl st in the next dc.** Repeat from * to ** around to the last dc. Sk next ch-1 space. 3 dc in last dc. Sk next ch-1 space. Work 1 dc in base of the beginning ch-2 and sl st in top of the beginning ch-2 to complete the shell. (13 shells)
Fasten off. Weave in ends.

Foundation ring: Chain 4. Join with a sl st to form ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as dc). 13 dc in center of ring. (14 dc)

Round 2: Ch 5 (counts as first dc and ch-3). Skip next dc. *Dc in next dc. Ch 3. Sk next dc.** Repeat from * to ** around and finish with a sl st in the 2nd chain of the beginning ch-5. (7 ch-3 spaces and 7 dc)

Round 3 (this is the back row of petals): *In next ch-3 space work (single crochet, hdc, 3 dc, hdc sc).** Repeat from * to ** around and join with a sl st in the first sc. (7 petals)

Now slip stitch around the post of the beginning double crochet to work your way down to round 1. Slip stitch through the first skipped dc in that round.

Round 4: Ch 3. *Sl st in the next skipped dc. Ch 3.** You have created a ch-3 space in front of the first dc from round 2. Repeat from * to ** around and finish with a slip stitch in the base of the first ch-3.

Round 5 (this is the front row of petals): (sc, hdc, 2 dc, hdc, sc) in each ch 3 space around to form seven petals. Join with a sl st in the first sc.
Fasten off. Leave a tail of yarn to attach the flower to the cloche.

08 November 2011

The Kind of Person I Want to Be

Behavioral psychology has long affirmed that rewarding positive behavior is much more effective than punishing bad behavior when it comes to eliciting desired actions. (If I were speaking to my husband, at this point he would demand a citation. I don't have one; however, my creds include a minor in psychology, if that helps). For example, it would be a lot more effective to praise a child for putting her toys away than to scold her for leaving the room a mess.

If we take this train of thought a step further, I theorize that is it more effective to imagine yourself possessing the attributes you want rather than to make a list of things you don't like about yourself. My personal mission statement includes four characteristics and in order to imagine myself possessing those characteristics, I thought of a few role models. I try to remember how they acted in certain situations when I imagine how I would like to respond.

My desired characteristics:
-Sweet (ie, friendly and considerate; willing to go an extra mile to ease someone else's journey). Role model: CB. A good friend from college, CB was the very epitome of sweet. Without fail, she laughs at everyone's jokes, is quick to ask questions and listen to answers, and is very complimentary. She has few enemies and everyone feels comfortable in her presence. I try to remember CB when I meet new people and establish new relationships.

-Loving (patient and affirming; sincerely desire and encourage others’ betterment). I can think of a million people who have loving traits, but here' the best two. One: MM. MM loves her husband so much so that it only takes a few minutes of time with her to see how deep her love is. There is no doubt in my mind that she sincerely desires her husband's betterment. She is constantly thinking of him and what he would prefer whenever she makes decisions. Once MM told me that her mother was very affirming and always had a positive thing to say. I never met MM's mother, but that leads me to No. Two: LK. With a handful of kids, it would be easy to feel overwhelmed, but LK is consistently encouraging and patient. Whenever one of her kids shouts, "Mama, look at me!" She unfailingly responds with, "Wow, you are so strong" or "fast" or "beautiful." She is so patient and calm with her kids when they become frustrated. She is probably the best mom I know.

-Humble (selfless and possess a willingness to learn from others; a true understanding of my place in God’s world). Although I don't know her very well, every time I see her, LE is always very holy and humble. She attributes successes not to her own strengths, but from the gifts she receives from God. Whenever she is struggling, she chastises herself for her weakness and reminds herself to trust God. One doesn't have to know her for long to know that she places God at the center of her life. Her humility really shines through in that I don't feel like a Catholic failure when she talks; I am continually encouraged with renewed determination in my own faith.

-Disciplined (obedient and responsible; doing what is right even when no one else is looking). I know two people who most exhibit discipline. The first is JS. JS keeps his word like nobody's business. I've never seen someone do what they said they were going to do as consistently as him. I get the impression that if someone were to read the story of his life, they would find a lot of closed door prayers. No. Two: RD. When RD sets her mind to something, she does not stop trying until she achieves success. What makes her so exemplary is that sometimes she is terrible at the things she attempts, but she still pushes through and finishes the task. I think that means she is even more disciplined because she plows through even when people only have negative things to say.

Anyway, these are all reflectios on my journey to become the best wife and mother than I can be.

I never realized I had so many friends! You know what I love about right now? That I have so many role model friends : )

06 November 2011

Day Trip: Miami

Bienvenido a Miami!
Law school finally gave us a free perk: a day trip to Miami! On Saturday, Matt had an exam in Miami, the MPRE, a test for lawyers-to-be on the ethical guidelines designed by some random association, so Abigail and I tagged along. I wanted to visit Miami at some point while we are down here, since we are only about 2 hours away, but for one reason or another, we never got around to going. But I viewed his test as the perfect excuse.

Before we left, I did a lot of research on free things to do in Miami. I planned for Abigail and I to visit two free gardens and South Beach while Matt was in his test, then all of us to go to Key Biscayne, then have dinner at the Rainforest Cafe before heading home in time for bed.

The day started out well enough. We drove east down a perfectly straight road, leaving at 6am with a 7:30 sunrise. Watching the sky light up in gorgeous deep yellows as the sun rose, reflecting in the swamp water and outlining the palm trees was amazing. Oh yes, and we saw some alligator road kill. Oy. After we dropped Matt off, Abigail and I headed further east to the Atlantic.

My hubby's mad photography skills as we head east in the Cyprus Swamp"

I had brought the stroller, hoping to spend a lot of time walking through free parks, but the first park was closed due to a bike race and the second one charged $15 for parking (but, of course, no admission fee). Thankfully South Beach was cheaper ($1.50 for 45 minutes) and easy to navigate at 9:00 in the morning. I did successfully manage to parallel park the manual Focus on Ocean Drive the first time around and Abigail and I walked along the beach (without the stroller. As it turns out, strollers can't handle sand). It was a PERFECT day for visiting the beach in my opinion: low 70s with a slight breeze, which means cozy-ing up in long pants and long sleeves. On the way to pick up Matt, Abigail fell asleep and I enjoyed driving over the various islands back to the mainland, even passing a port-of-call for the Caribbean Cruise-line and seeing a cruise ship up close for the first time.

South Beach, looking north.
When I picked up Matt around 11:30, traffic had started to pick up. And for the record, Miami drivers are TERRIBLE! We saw a total of 4 accidents during the trip, thankfully none of them involved our little red Focus. And the tolls. Expensive and plentiful. Key Biscayne was rather boring for someone not looking to drop any money, so we took a driving tour, but did find one place where we could pull off and stick our feet in the Atlantic for free. (Abigail has now visited more major bodies of water in her first 6 months of life than I did in my first 20 years). Since I haven't found a way to successfully mix babies and beaches yet, we didn't hang around for very long.

The Rainforest Cafe was a surprisingly good time. I was concerned about the noise level, but I asked the waitress to seat us near a fish tank and away from the animals. Abigail LOVED the fish tank and spent the entire time staring at the bright, tropical fish. We voted the Clown Trigger Fish to be the weirdest fish in the tank. I also got a $3 tank top and we kept dinner cheap by splitting an appetizer (it was also only 3pm, so we weren't all that hungry). Abigail was so enthralled by the fish that she used up all her energy and fell asleep in my arms as we wandered lost around the mall, trying to find our exit.

Then we ended the day by driving straight west during sunset. Gorgeous pinks this time. I also managed to beat Matt at 20 questions for the first time ever. And two times in a row (baby blankets and Cleopatra), plus guess his item for the first time ever. And two times in a row (Egypt and my engagement ring).

AbbyClaire excited that Mommy finally won 20 questions.

I am really glad to have experienced Miami, it has a much different vibe than any city I've ever been to, right down to its architecture, but I sure won't be sad if I never have the chance to visit again. It also really opened my eyes to the fact that I don't like mega-cities and I really hope Matt doesn't get a job in one. I have been to Chicago many-a-times and always thought I could live there, but now I'm not so sure. If nothing else, Miami made me glad I live in Naples. Naples really does have better beaches and a much better atmosphere for our lifestyle.

So you know what I love about right now? That where I live final feels like home.

05 November 2011

My Life in Pictures

Because pictures are fun : )

This is my husband and I on our wedding day in April 2008.  
I met Matt when I was 15. We were friends for two years, we dated for four years, we were engaged for one year, and we have been married for 3.5 years.

This is where I live. It is a swamp.Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

This is also where I live. My apartment is five miles from the beach. The beach at Naples Pier.
This is what it does everyday between June and November.

I took this photo with my cell phone camera while I was waiting at a red light in my car. This is not a hurricane, this is not a tropical storm. This is just Naples in the afternoon during the rainy season.

This is all three of us in June when Abigail was 10 weeks old.
We were living in Michigan at the time, between 2L and 3L years.

Abigail at 5 months of age.This is Abigail's determined face.

Belle, aka Baby Cat.
This is Baby Cat. My faithful companion. We adopted one another 5 years ago when I was in college. Now she is 11 years old.

Emma, aka Puffy.This is Emma, aka Seizure Cat. We adopted one another when she was a few months old from a shelter. Now she is 3.5 years old.

Matt's Desk
This is a view of where my husband lives from where I live.

My old car (left) and my new car (right). 
I get very emotionally attached to my cars. RIP, Contour. Welcome, Focus.

This is a night gecko. Day geckos are larger, greener, and more rare.
This picture was taken during the fall of 09. Shortly afterward, he was escorted outside before a kitty could find and dismember him.

Halloween 2011She went as a white tiger.

Well, those are the basics of my life in a few pictures. I think it is time to sign off now, as I am typing one handed and feeding a baby.

PS. You know what I love about right now? Having a digital camera to record some of these memories.

04 November 2011

I Am Grateful

I think that 90% of the time, coincidences are God's way of saying, "pay attention!" So, here I am, at attention.

A few weeks ago, Matt and I were reminiscing about how wonderful our first year of marriage was. We had a real income and few responsibilities. We regularly went biking, hiking, we stayed up late on weekends playing computer games and eating chili cheese potatoes. Compared to our current lifestyle, 2008 was a breeze. I spent the next week or so thinking about the past when it dawned on me to wonder what right now will look like five years from now. I brought it up to Matt and we imagined the things we'd reminisce about in 2016. "Remember when we were in law school and the only thing we had to worry about was class? Remember when we just called the maintenance man to fix the toilet? Or when you could just come home in the middle of the afternoon between classes? Or when we just had one baby and she was young enough to never cry unless she was tired or hungry? When we knew we had a loan check coming to help make ends meet? When we didn't have to pay down those loans? When we had a few weeks off at Christmas? Remember how awesome that was?" Matt looked at me, "maybe we should be grateful for what we have right now."

The very day after we had our discussion, another blog that I follow had a wonderful post on thankfulness. One of the ways she encourages her children to be grateful is to ask them what they love about that moment. You know what I love about right now? She'll ask.

I love the feel of my baby's warm body as she naps curled up next to me.
I love that she is didn't let her heart defects slow down her growth and development.
I love that my patio door is open and the breeze smells so good.
I love that I have a little black kitty cat with amber eyes and that she loves me back.
I love that I have a friend coming over in half an hour and that she enjoys hanging out with me as much as I enjoy hanging out with her.
I love that God gave us these amazing opportunities and that He gave us this coincidence to realize that we have them.

02 November 2011

Keeping Your Marriage Strong, 3L Year

A few days ago, Matt and I spoke on the panel for the Mock Class Wine and Cheese (as we did in 2010, and as we attended in 2009). The school priest said the same thing he's said the last two years, but it was good for me to hear it again. Take some time off, eat dinner together, etc, reminding me of how much work it takes to make a marriage strong. During the panel portion, we all said a few things that I realized would go well in this blog.

1. Don't get mad at each other. When your hubby is at the library until midnight again because of law review or finals or whathaveyou, don't get mad at him. Get mad at the law school, get mad at the class, get mad at the professor. Team up together and take your aggressions out on something else.

2. Recognize each other's sacrifices. It is easy to see what the spouse sacrifices while she's doing all the chores and maybe even supporting the family financially, but the student is sacrificing just as much. Matt doesn't get to spend nearly as much time with Abigail as he would like. He doesn't get to enjoy his hobbies. He doesn't get the feeling of fulfillment from providing for his family.

3. Celebrate the successes. There is nothing wrong with cheering for your husband when he walks in the door after turning in his paper or taking a tough exam. Go out to dinner, ice cream, something!