Friday, October 08, 2010

If Shoes Could Kill {7-365}

If Shoes Could Kill {7-365}, originally uploaded by karintobrien.

The following is a dictation of a voice memo I recorded on my iPhone as I was driving home after taking my very first self portrait, one week ago. Hooray! I made it a whole week! I should have included it under my first blog post, but since I already blogged that pic, I just included pic #7 :)


So today I took my first self portrait, um....which I am going to entitle "The Long Road Ahead". And.....*sigh*, I've basically been inspired by my flickr friends, and I see these portraits they take of themselves every single day, and I realize that it takes a tremendous amount of dedication. But it’s incredible inspiring to see someone take a project like this, and the boundaries that it pushes and the stretching of their, um, not only their photography skills but just their imagination, and see the journey that they take is, it’s just been inspiring. And I, and I, find myself thinking about this on a daily basis, and I think its maybe because I spend so much time driving, and I see a lot of the country side and I think to myself "Oh! That would make a great spot for a self portrait!" or "that's so pretty! I should take a self portrait" or "maybe it’s time for me to start a Face Down Tuesday". And, just, it’s been....enough is enough! And I just, finally today decided to do it. So I drove past this spot and I looked down a long road and I'm like "Wow! That would make a nice backdrop for a self portrait". And I'm like, "You know what?? Turn the car around. I have the time, let’s just do it!” It took all of five minutes, sure it will take me about five minutes to post process and post it. And, you know, if I can take 15 minutes a day to do something for myself, then you know what, I probably should really should make an effort to do it.

And I think partly, you know when I think about it why do I want to do this project. Well, not that I need more things to do. But, I really just want to do something photographically that's, that's for me. And again, the stretching the boundaries of my photography skills, and um, stretching my imagination and and and maybe learning to see things a little bit differently and more creatively.

And really, how fun would it be for my children to look back on this year and see a part of my life every day. And I just think that’s really awesome! Um....And another part of it is learning to see myself a little bit differently. Uhhh, I've got a long, *chuckle* I've got a long road ahead, I've got a long way to go as far as loving myself and my body image, and um, I think that maybe a project like this might be able to help me appreciate myself a little bit more, um, from a strictly beauty standpoint. And, I'm looking forward to that journey; I'm looking forward to that long road ahead.

So I know it’s going to be difficult. I know it’s going to be, um, not necessarily time consuming, but just the dedication required is, is going to be a tremendous amount. But, um, thank you to Cynthia & Jes & Lauren, &, um, for showing me that something like this can be incredibly fun, and even if I'm too tired at the end of the day to put any thought into anything than that's OK too. And um, I'm just really looking forward to taking part in this!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Long Road Ahead {1-365}

The Long Road Ahead {1-365}, originally uploaded by karintobrien.

I decided to start a 365 project.....and why wait til January 1 when there's nothing like today to seize the moment!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pre-6AM...Before the light of dawn.

House-8, originally uploaded by karintobrien.

What before 6AM looks like in our home on weekends. During the week, I'm up shortly after 5AM when my alarm clock (AKA Little Man) wakes up. Weekends, we postpone getting out of bed as long as possible. Sure, it means suffering through Little Einsteins or Clifford. But well worth the snuggles!

Pre-6AM...Before the light of dawn.

House-8, originally uploaded by karintobrien.

What before 6AM looks like in our home on weekends. During the week, I'm up shortly after 5AM when my alarm clock (AKA Little Man) wakes up. Weekends, we postpone getting out of bed as long as possible. Sure, it means suffering through Little Einsteins or Clifford. But well worth the snuggles!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Sister!

BG-104, originally uploaded by karintobrien.

OK - its posted here a few days late.....her actual birthday was September 4th, but I really wanted to show the world how beautiful she is!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Liam being cute :)

Maddox-99, originally uploaded by karintobrien.

Lola's been getting all the blog love, so I thought I should probably give Liam some spotlight time too :)

Liam being cute :)

Maddox-99, originally uploaded by karintobrien.

Lola's been getting all the blog love, so I thought I should probably give Liam some spotlight time too :)

Hi ho! HI HO! Its off to work I go!

FairyPrincessLola-1, originally uploaded by karintobrien.

(side note: this photo has nothing to do with this post.....its just of Lola being cute - with WINGS!)

A month has passed. 30 days. Man, can things change a lot! I was never really all that excited, as you can imagine. Who gets excited to slave away for The Man for 40 hours? I was also not excited because I came to the realization that I really did not want to work. At all. At that point though, it was too late to back out, so I had to press through.

Which I am still doing at this point. Pressing through.

Let us start with the positives…shall we?

1. Thankfully the least of our worries was the daycare. Even with the adjustment for Liam I think Poko Loko rocks. They’re happy, courteous and communicative on every level, and the kids are so happy and content when we pick them up. It’s a great feeling to know they are thriving there.

2. The company I’m working for is so far, living up to its expectation as a family owned Christian company. The people here are amazing – incredibly nice and go out of their way to make sure I’m feeling welcome and that my basic needs are taken care of. I really enjoy my bosses, and I think they are great guys to work for.

3. $$$ is nice.

4. Pat and I are communicating more. This is an unexpected, but very welcome, benefit. We talk on the phone now just because (i.e. because I’m bored) and because we don’t have kids running amuk to chase after.

For as cranky as I was the first couple of days, I didn’t think I was even going to make it a month. But I have. And its improving. Here’s the deal: It’s a big adjustment. For all parties involved. Yes, I’m sure you all know that, but think about how much of an adjustment its going to be, and then multiply it by 100. Then you’re getting closer.

The kids were cranky (well, at least Liam was….Lola didn’t care much) for a good couple of weeks, and I was operating on survival mode. Poor Pat, well, Pat was acting as resident Superdad/Superhusband…..doing everything in his power to make the household run smoothly, and to make my life easier (side note: he still continues to do so……and I if I loved him 100% before, than I can’t even begin to describe how much more I love him now….he’s incredible and amazing and I don’t know where I’d be without him).

So what’s the problem, you ask?

That’s a great question. I think it has the most to do with A) Not quite enough work to fill all the time and B) not knowing exactly what I’m doing. Mostly the latter. I despise not knowing what I’m doing. It angers me. And frustrates me. And then angers me some more. I realize that there is a learning curve, and I’m not expected to know everything there is to know after only a month on the job, but I feel like I should be contributing more and being more productive, and its just not happening. That’s the perfectionist in me….I can keep her under control most times, but every once in a while she rears her ugly head.

The commute blows. I’ve never had a commute more than 30 minutes. Going from zero commute to an hour blows. I don’t mind driving. Its just that its taking time away from my family that makes me cranky. I suppose I’m getting used to it though. And it does give me 2 hours a day of quiet…or noisy if you take into account my NPR podcasts or booty music blasting.

The last thing that stinks… that my body is falling apart. Seriously. At the seams! I’ve had issues with my wrists, my jaw, my neck, and most recently, my feet! I’m attributing this to the stress of transition, and fact that I am a hypochondriac. Buy a hypochondriac with real symptoms. For example: Since starting work I have athlete’s foot. Yes, I know. TMI. Work with me here. Hot weather + to small work boots = prime conditions for fungus growth. Its pretty severe (at least in my mind) and looks less like athlete’s foot and more like a Fast Mutating Flesh Eating Bubonic Plague Based Bacteria. I’ll spare you the photographs, but rest assured, ladies and germs, this fungus is eating my feet (or at least my two smallest toes) ALIVE! So much so, that last night I was concerned that I was running out of skin, and soon where my toes should be there will be nothing left but bloody, bone exposed nubs.

And I was almost throwing myself into a panic attack thinking about it while Pat chuckled not quietly enough to himself about my woes. Bastard! If only he weren’t so devastatingly handsome and amazing….

OK. I suppose I’ll start bitching now and get working….it is getting better, I can only hope that it continues to improve.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Peek-A-Boo! Happy 9 months Lola

Peek-A-Boo!, originally uploaded by karintobrien.

My sweet little baby girl hit the 9 month mark on July 2 – I know, I can’t believe it either. I went into her bedroom last night to give her little (big) head a good night and to tousle her sprouting hair, and I was marveling at how much she’s grown. Yes, its her job. Yes, I’m a little wistful anyway.

We had a check up after we returned from vacation, and she’s still growing like a champ, and still at the 90-95th percentile for height, weight, and head circumference. A dainty little daisy she is NOT, but that’s just how I like her. Lots of chunk for me to nom and smootch all the live long day. I can’t remember the exact statistics, but she’s somewhere around 22 pounds, which is the only number that matters to my back anyway.

This photo is from a little early 9 month photo shoot - and I now realize I haven't uploaded any of the other shots....I guess that's what happens when you get busy and things get pushed aside to make room for other crazieness!

Anywhoozers - she's not crawling yet (hooray!) yes, I'm excited she's still stationary. Easier for me to catch, less work :) But it won't be long. She scootches herself all over the place though, on her belly, backwards, and she's really great at pushing herself back up to sitting. Even getting a little bit of up on the knees and rocking, and pulling herself up to standing. So really, I know it won't be long.

She loves to talk. A lot. To anyone and anything that will listen. And I love her little noises. Especially in the morning when she starts talking to her buddy (pictured above) in her crib. Its the most beautiful sound! It would make me laugh every morning when we were camping, because she was SO LOUD so very early each morning, but you couldn't be angry because the noises were so cute :) If only every alarm clock was so happy!

Happy 9 months little girl - I so love watching you grow!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Grandma Smootches

Ludington-296, originally uploaded by karintobrien.

One more photo from vacation! This is Lola getting some wonderful smootchies from Grandma Dora. I hope my kids enjoy all the photos I have of them with their Great-Grandma....I think I only have one, and I always thought it was pretty darn cool.

I love this photo because Lola's eyes are so blue, and her little arm is so relaxed and so CHUBTASTIC! Her cheeks are so kissable. And look how UNwrinkly Grandma is!? Amazing! She's 88-ish, and looks incredible :) I hope I get those good skin genes! Love you Grams!

What a ride!

PR-114, originally uploaded by karintobrien.

We had an amazing vacation in Michigan - filled with visits to Ludington, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (where this photo was taken at Point Betsie Lighthouse) and finally Mackinaw City for the Mayer Family Reunion.

I can't possibly list all the things we did and would take me a novel.

Suffice it to say we had a great time with our family, relaxing, and being unplugged for a while. Now, we're back in Chicago and I'm starting a new venture in life back in the corporate world. Its been an interesting few days....I'll keep you posted.

For now, I'll keep solstice in these photographs, reminders of a time not so long ago when life was more simple, and there was nothing more to do than enjoying the view of a beautiful sunset.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

I don't think its sunken in yet.....

After a little over two years of unemployment, I officially accepted a job offer today.

I still don't think its sunken in yet.

I'll be a process engineer for a family owned business in Mokena, Il....playing in rocks and dirt :) This opportunity literally fell in my lap last week, after they found my resume on - I signed up on that website after Pat's suggestion shortly after I lost my I guess that means I owe this opportunity to him?? LOL.

I've enjoyed this break from the corporate world, but I must say I've enjoyed being a Stay at Home Mom less than I expected I would. Especially since the birth of Lola, I've struggled with a lot of unexplained anger issues / depression / general malaise......and although therapy is helping, I think there is more to it. The anger portion is the most frustrating. Those of you who know me, I don't think, would describe me as an angry person.

I'm not thrilled with the idea of leaving my kids in the care of someone else.....but I'm kind of excited for them to not be with me all day......

I'm not sure that going back to work full time is the answer to all my issues......but I'm not sure its NOT the answer, either. Does that make sense? I guess the truth is there is no right or wrong answer - in either case my kids will be great, and in the end its what makes me a healthier, happier more mentally stable person that counts most. I feel like I'm taking this opportunity because its a great company, and I think I can make a significant and immediate impact......

This changes the outlook of my photography business, too. Just means I'll fulfill my current appointments and be taking limited sessions in the future.....

This post is full of..........'s. Very indicative of how I feel right now though.......

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

She's a daddy's girl!

There was a time when Pat was so worried....because truth be told, Lola didn't like him very much. She was pretty attached to me, and no one else.

There's no doubt about it now :) She looooves her Daddy!

We've gotten tons of comments from various people saying how much she looks like Pat. So Liam looks like Pat, Lola looks like Pat...but Liam and Lola don't really look like each other. Apparently I was just the cooking vessel.

I'm starting to see the resemblance between Lola and Pat more and more lately. Especially her smile. She does this little smirk that always reminds me of this photograph Pat's mom sent me to fix for her a few years ago. I finally got around to searching for it so I could do a comparison. Yup. Sure enough.....same sweet little smirk, and a carbon copy little nose :) She even has a sweet little dimple on the same side (although you can't see it here - I flipped the photo to compare from similar vantage Lola is actually a mirror of her actual self!).

I think Pat was closer to 18 months in this photo (Lola was 6 months), but you can definitely see a resmblance!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Tough Day.....

Occasionally, Liam will have these days where he's constantly whining, crying, and battling me at every corner. Instead of getting upset, I try to just give him a hug and say "I'm sorry you're having a tough day". Somehow it seems to comfort him, even if only for a little bit.

I had a tough day today......nothing major, but everything together warranted a stop at Dairy Queen for a Oreo CheeseQuake Blizzard. Which was delicious by the way ;)

1) My sister left....she came for a whirl wind visit and took the train back to Michigan today. I love having her around - she's great with the kids, helps me out and in general is lovely to have around :) It makes me sad when she goes away.

2) We're not moving to Michigan....not shocking, I know :) Pat applied for a new job within his company. He had an interview last week, and he was notified today that he wasn't a final candidate. We knew when he applied it was a longshot, but it was impossible to keep my mind from running away with all the possibilities of moving back. I love Chicago....and I love my family, friends and network here. But if given the chance to move to Michigan to be closer to my immediate family I would take it in a heartbeat. I love Michigan. I have a very romantic relationship with the state. The Pure Michigan advertisements make me cry damn near EVERY time I hear or see them. I'm pretty sure they are advertising directly to me.

He prepared all he possibly could, he did his best, and I couldn't be more proud. Rejection sucks in any form - but Pat, I love you so much! And I'm proud of you regardless ;)

Now I have to re-train my brain to let go of living in Michigan again after that faint glimmer of hope.....I did it the first time shortly after Liam was born. Hopefully the process isn't quite as painful this time around.

3) I had an MRI....I've been having this ear thing for the past year and a half (I can't hear out of my right ear very well), and the doctor wants to make sure (in the words of the Governator) its Not a TU-Mah. The MRI itself wasn't awful. It was an hour of uninterrupted time - no kids, no tv, no husband, no internet....just me and the radio and the loud banging and whirring. The part I wasn't prepared for was that I had to have an IV so they could inject Gadolinium (Gd)......which leads me to my next point

4) Today was my last day breastfeeding Lola. We've been slowly weaning over the past few weeks, and this week left us with only one feeding a day, in the morning. Because of the injection of the contrast, I can't feed her for 48 instead of delaying the inevitable I decided that it would be best just to stop. I wasn't expecting it to be today, I'm not sure I'm emotionally prepared, but not much I can do now. She's more than ready....I'm just going to make sure to get my snuggles some other way. It's like I have to let go that she's not my itty bitty anymore, and just embrace the fact that she's a chunky monkey.....

So, lots of downs today....but at least things are more concrete than they were yesterday and we can continue moving on. I pray that God gives me the strength to pick myself back up, dust off, and forge ahead stronger than ever....and I have no doubt that I will.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Why I Photoshop

I think a lot of people have issues with the existence of Photoshop, and especially in the case of fashion / magazine photography and their unattainable versions of perfect people I can understand why.

But I edit photos, and I do use Photoshop. Not necessarily extensively, but sometimes I do create what Pat calls a "fake reality". I don't consider it that, though. There are a few different ways I use photoshop. One way is to create art - to make something on a canvas that matches a vision in my head, or in my client's head.

The other way that I utilize Photoshop, is to forgive the ever seeing eye of the lens. When you take a photograph, sometimes you see too much - more than you would notice if you were looking at the same subject in person. For example, if you were looking at me while I was taking my self portrait, you probably would not be focused on "Holy Cow - her eyebags are horrendous" or "Sheesh, she's got a lot of sun damage and freckles". Hopefully, you would be seeing me as a friend, a mother, a wife and a general all around nice gal :) I can transform what the camera sees, into what others see, and make an amazing image.

Does that make sense? Maybe I'm not explaining it well enough.

Anywhoozers - here's an example of pushing the envelope a bit...more in the style of fashion photography (but not *quite* as extreme). In actually, the original photo isn't half bad.....I had a TON of make up on....

Self Portrait 2010 - Retouched

Like I said...a bit extreme. I probably spent about 2 hours or so on this edit, where as a portrait touch up might only take about 30 minutes or less. I've been trying to improve my Photoshop skills and tools, and have been taking courses online - so what better way to practice than on myself! Want to know what I did here?

  • Removed stray hairs on face
  • Brightened eyes
  • Highlighted catchlights in eyes
  • Sharpened eyes
  • Removed dark under eye circles
  • Enhanced eyelashes & eyebrows
  • Enhanced hair highlights
  • Minimized bright spots on skin
  • Removed blemishes
  • Smoothed skin
  • Enhanced make up
  • Made a small smile from my weird half smirk
Extensive? Yes. Overdone? Perhaps....especially in the eye department. But you know what, I like it :) Its pretty. It makes me feel pretty - and if it takes a computer program to make myself feel pretty even for just a few moments, I'll take it :) I still feel like its the real me - so no false reality here, but its the best me that I could possibly be. Except for the smile. My mouth always does this weird frown thing when I try to close mouth smile. Its driven me nuts for YEARS!

What are your thoughts on retouching in general? I'm curious to know public perception!

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Instead Of..., originally uploaded by karintobrien.

I do love myself some yard work. There's not much more wonderful than tackling a project and seeing the fruits of your labor not too many hours after. But man - is it W-O-R-K! Our latest home project was to remove a 50 sq ft patch of tiger lilies that resided smack dab in the middle of our front lawn. During this project, I came to a quite a few realizations.

1. Tiger Lilies are my arch nemesis. Although they are very pretty when they bloom in late summer, we have them all over our yard, and they pretty much choke out everything else they grow around. We learned recently, judging by their root growth, that they have probably been in the ground for quite a few years. The tubule system is extensive....and they are HUGE pain in the ass to dig up.


2. I have a new found respect for women I used to see in Mexico working and wearing a child on their back. Those of you who know me should be well aware that I'm a big baby wearing advocate, and partake in doing so quite regularly. Usually I'm just walking around or chasing after Liam while wearing Lola. During this recent project, I wore her on my back for the better part of an hour. While digging up lilies. EGADS! That is even harder to do than I imagined. Babywearing + Manual Labor = tough. All those women across the world who do it on a regular basis because they have no other choice just achieved more super hero status than before.

3. I need a nail brush. Even with gloves, dirt seems to get into every crevice. And although I contemplated using it today, I shouldn't utilize our bottle brush to get the goop out of my nails.

4. Any project that involves completion while the kids are nearby automatically takes 10,000 times longer. But it certainly is adorable when they help....or even when they sit and play in the dirt and get filthy. Not adorable? When they are in the Cozy Coupe and repeatedly headed near the street. That makes me kind of jumpy.

5. Working outside affords visibility and more interaction with neighbors. I just found out today that our neighbor had a baby....a month ago. YIKES! Granted, they just moved in a few months ago and we don't see much of them, but I feel like I should have known.

6. I'm out of shape. I really am motivated to complete a project after I start, even if that means I'm working myself to the bone....way beyond my physical capacity. I just want things to be done! This is a positive quality to have in general....but now I'm so tired and sore that it kind of hurts to type. I may have pulled something. Or somethings. I've also realized that I'm filthy to the I'm going to stop typing and try to relax in a hot shower for a while.

I'm hoping the sod takes well in the already looks nicer than the glob of lilies intertwined with weeds and grass :)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Cheesy Girl

Cheesy Girl, originally uploaded by karintobrien.

I've got to say, I'm love love loving my iPhone. If for no other reason than I have a halfway decent camera on my person at alllllll times! Much better than the camera on my last phone.....AND I downloaded the awesome-est app called Hipstamatic which creates all these incredible images to look like they were taken with retro cameras and film. I'm so in love!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

StPats2010-391, originally uploaded by karintobrien.

I hope everyone out there has the time to sip on a delicious Irish brew - hopefully of the Guinness variety.....if not at least a Bud Light dyed green like we had last night! That went deliciously with our corned beef and cabbage (er...brussel sprouts). We had to celebrate early because Pat as of 7;30AM is on his way to Vegas for his (5th? 6th?) annual March Madness trip with his brother, Mike.

This photo is of my delicious green velvet cake balls along side a sweet little treat bucket from our playgroup at Laura's house yesterday. I'm quite enamored with both (although the cake balls are almost gone). The little bucket just makes me happy!

I kind of went overboard for St. Patrick's Day this year.....its only 8AM , Lola is in "Baby's 1st St. Patrick's Day" jammies, and Liam and I already have Shamrock tatoos on our hands, green necklaces and our green shirts on - oh and don't forget the shamrock sticker on our faces! As you can see in the photo, my table cloth and wall decor is quite festive as well. The color green just makes me just a wee bit happy.

So happy, in fact, that it made me chuckle when all my green food consumption yesterday left us both with (in the words of Pat) "quite festive poop" this morning. HA!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Once upon a time....

MyKids-55, originally uploaded by karintobrien.

There was a little boy who, upon waking up from his restful slumber, would lay in his big boy bed with Nemo and Blankie, and patiently wait for his parents to wake up and open the door to his bedroom....letting him know that it was time to greet this marvelous day. Sometimes, when he lost patience and waited for up to an hour, he would sing songs and make loud noises so his parents knew he was ready to rise and shine! But never, ever did the little boy get out of bed of his own accord.


Our fairy tale has ended.

I knew him laying there in bed by himself wouldn't last forever. He transitioned to his big boy bed maybe? SO its been about a five month run of bliss. Beginning last Wednesday morning, Liam woke up promptly at 5AM, came into our bedroom and announced "I'm Awake!". It was so adorable because it was so uncharacteristic.....

Now, not so adorable. 5AM is way too flippin early. Between him and Lola waking in the middle of the night we're not sleeping well at all. I'm a zombie. Pat's a zombie. And now Liam's started coming into our bedroom in the middle of the night wanting to play, read books, snuggle....etc. He's a little manipulative bastard too. He knows what he thinks we'll really want him to do, so he says things like "I need a tissue!", "Snuggle Mommy?" or "I want to sit on the potty!" in order to stay awake and out of his bedroom. And he keeps his voice at a whisper because, well, you know, its quiet time.

We're wise to him more Mr. & Mrs. Nice Guy.

I'm not sure what efforts we're going to make, but the kid has GOT to stay in his room until at least 6AM.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

We started the day with heart shaped strawberry pancakes.....and the rest of the day continued to be beautiful with a box of chocolates, a heart shaped balloon and snuggles from my favorite valentines!

Hope your day was great as well!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I couldn't have said it any better....

I stumbled upon this blog in a round about way (isn't that how all blogs are stumbled upon?).......through my cousin who found these AMAZING nerdy flash cards for her kid. Anywho, I thought anyone as nerdy enough as I am would be worth following, so I added her to my bloglines.

She posted today a post that completely sums up how I feel about being a mother and life, so I thought I would share parts of it with you all. You can find the post in its entirety HERE.

"I write and talk about the noise and the exhaustion and the laundry and the many (many, many) ways that I suck and all of the ways that my life is a hectic mess. Those things are all true, and I don’t regret writing them because it will be good to look back later and remember this time and how silly and full and exhausting it was.

But here is the secret truth that I don’t mention very often:
my life is close enough to perfect that calling it perfect would be accurate.

I don’t talk enough about the good stuff for several reasons, all of which are dumb.

1. Having a perfect life makes me feel guilty.
Because even though we have paralyzing debt and my husband has to work odd hours at a job that uses only a tiny amount of his giant brain, the fact is that compared to most of humanity over most of history up until this point, we live a lifestyle that would classify us as kings. We have a safe, warm, expansive 975 square foot home. One of our biggest problems is owning too much stuff, our kids have too many clothes and books and toys. We have too many choices of where and what to eat. We have a computer. We aren’t required by law to send our children away to boarding school at age seven. We aren’t likely to be killed for our nonstandard beliefs. We don’t have to die from simple things if we don’t want to.

It’s survivor’s guilt really. I didn’t do anything special to be born in this place and time. The odds against having a fancy life like mine are sickening.

But focusing on the sucky stuff out of guilt is self absorbed, contrived and condescending. It helps no one for me to pretend that I am less rich and powerful than I am.

2. I am trying to make a social accomodation.
Is it culturally specific to the US, this thing of never being satisfied so we must always climb upward? Or is it a leftover from the feminist movement? It seems rude and annoying for a mother to be perfectly happy, especially when the kids are little.

There are plenty of blogs out there about why motherhood stinks; it’s not heresy to admit that anymore. So my heretical statement is: I freaking adore this time of my life with my whole dorky heart. That doesn’t mean I’m a perfect mom who spends every minute sewing costumes and baking cookies, and my kids and house aren’t anything like perfect but really for the most part? We are healthy and pretty damned happy.

I don’t want people who don’t adore this time of their own lives to think I am judging them because I’m not. But it’s also lame of me to groan about my life just because that’s an easy way to fit into a conversation.

3. Superstition.
Like if I notice and speak out loud about how great everything is, the universe will somehow realize that things are out of balance and will do something mean! Because I have the logic skills of a second grader!"

It just all really resonated with me.

I feel so incredibly blessed, and maybe I don't say it enough....but I am!

What a weekend!

And its only Saturday!

Well, our day started Friday with my aforementioned last 5AM at The Container Store....I didn't savor it as much as I should because I felt kind of out of sorts...but I plugged away. After that came bowling - I again, didn't feel great, but kept on enjoying my Personal Cheering Crew (there wasn't daycare available yesterday, so Liam was on hand to provide many, many "HOORAY MOMMY!" cheers....even when I only knocked one down.). Then after bowling we went straight to the doctor for Lola's 5 month check up.

Lets just get this out before I go further....Lola is a B-I-G chunktastic girl!

Weight: 18 pounds 8 oz (> 100th percentile)
Height: 27 inches (100th percentile)
Head: 17 inches (95th percentile)

Gigundic! Its great to see her thrive and grow, but I can't help but feel I'm impeding her motor skill development by feeding her too much or having too fatty content of milk. I mean, she's SO chunky she can't even play with her toes because her belly gets in the way! I know its all ridiculous to think....because the doctor didn't mention any concern about her being "too" big, but still. I suppose I just need something to worry about.

Any who. Toward the end of the appointment, it finally dawned on me that what I was feeling could possibly be the effects of Liam's stomach bug he had on Wednesday night. And once I realized that, it was downhill from there. I got home as fast as I possibly could, put both kids in bed (it was nap time, thankfully) and raced to the bathroom just in time. It was as if someone made an annoucement to my stomach "EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY! ALL CONTENTS MUST EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY! FIND THE CLOSEST EXIT, TOP OR BOTTOM, AND GET OUT NOW!". TMI, yes, I know.....but nothing but the truth here on this blog.

Thankfully, I was able to call Pat and he was on his way home, and the kiddos were sleeping while I was holed up either in bed, or in the bathroom until he got home. It was awful. The stomach cramps, the nausea. I couldn't even talk without wanting to ralph. The intensity of the illness tapered off through the night, and this morning I've been mostly OK with the exception of feeling like I've been hit by a truck. Apparently all that heaving wreaked havoc on every muscle in my body. Oh, that, and not being able to eat or drink much.

Needless to say I missed my shift at The Container Store today, as well as some fun with friends that I had to back out of. Hopefully I'll feel more normal tomorrow.

I would just like to take this opportunity to publicly thank my dear, wonderful, amazing husband for taking care of every one in this household over the past 24 hours. I love you so very much, and I appreciate you every day...but especially under these kind of extenuating circumstances!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Free Thinking.....

Tomorrow I have my last 5AM shift at The Container Store. I'm sad and relieved at the same time. I've enjoyed my short two months working there, but those mornings are killer. I've got a couple other shifts scheduled over the weekend, but my last day will be Feb 15th. They've so graciously let me know whenever I'm ready to come back, they'd love to have me ;) Its just too tough trying to work through Pat's ever more complicated work / travel schedule. I feel like he's going to be gone the next 3 out of four weeks.


Last week this time I was on a train to Michigan, getting ready for a Mommy/Lola girls weekend. The train ride was LOVELY :) It makes me want to take a cross country trip with a sleeping car with the whole family. And just do nothing. Make it an adventure. See the country side. I don't know.....maybe it would be miserable. Maybe it will be a better idea when the kids are older. But when I think about it, in my head, its awesome.......something romantic about seeing the USA the way people did it when the West was Wild.....and so much nicer than having to drive yourself. Drift in and out of sleep when you want, get up to use the rest room or grab a snack whenever the mood strikes. Yeah. I dig it!

I didn't get any photos of the ride on the train with my good camera, but I did get some fun ones from my camera phone....maybe I'll upload them at somepoint.


Pat was so nice to come with us to Gymnastics yesterday - I got some pretty adorable photos of Liam & pals. AND, i didn't even have to hold Lola because Adrian took her for me so I could snap snap away :) I like taking photos for fun! I don't do it enough anymore.


I'm running low on steam today. We were supposed to host playgroup here, but Liam was up last night barfing, and I was up most of the night listening intently waiting for him to barf again so I could run in there and catch it in the bucket.


There wasn't enough coffee to keep me happy or awake. Thankfully, with slow, intentful introduction of liquids and bland food he was able to not hork chunks all over the place. Although I was always watching out of the corner of my eye.

Lola was annoying to me for the first time I think ever. She was just so darn demanding in her need for my attention. She's usually pretty independent, which I've apparently become very accustomed to.....I think she's still recovering from the constipation-ness (which was overcome last night at around 5AM), and maybe fighting a little bit of a cold. Crap. That's totally it. She's getting sick! Ugh. I should have been more compassionate today. My tired mind has been clouded......I wanted to wear her today, but my back has been hurting too.


That's all........time for an early sleepy time for me!

Snow Day!

SnowDay-44, originally uploaded by karintobrien.

This was from Tuesday, February 9th in the afternoon.....Liam is standing on top of the snow heap that Pat made from shoveling the driveway. We got another 8-10 inches or so overnight into Wednesday morning (the snow heap is MORE huge now!). Pat thoughtfully decided to take Liam outside to play, while I stayed nice and toasty warm inside with Lola.

After a good 30-45 minutes, the boys came in, Pat drenched from the snow and Liam nice and dry. They enjoyed some S'mores Hot Chocolate.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

In the news...

Well, not literally. At least not literally on national news anyway :) Just new news on the kiddo front.

Liam has takin akin to saying "What the Heck". Its always in context (usually when a toy isn't cooperating), and totally, totally cute. But, not really appropriate. So I've nixed that saying from my vocabulary for the time being. I suppose it IS much better than the alternative WTF....

Lola is gaining mobility :) She's lifting her legs up and rolling from side to side while on her back, which usually results in her turning herself 90 degrees in her crib. Very exciting development! Why, you might ask? Well, she's kind of lazy ;) I know, how can I say that about a four month old, right? But compared to Liam (and that's really my only comparison) she has no interest in doing anything physical. Liam was just raring to go - putting all sorts of weight on his legs, rolling over really early, walking at 9 months, etc. I'm sure she'll be flipping (front to back or back to front) in no time, but until then I'm enjoying being able to put her in one spot and have her stay there. well, mostly :)

On a TMI front, the poor girl hasn't pooped in over a week. Constipation is pretty uncommon for breastfed babies, and she doesn't seem overly uncomfortable, but its a change in her previously regular habits. We've done rectal stimulation (ha! Doesn't that sound nice? Its basically taking her temperature rectally), prune juice (her first taste of something non-breastmilk!), and the last resort....glycerin suppositories. If we don't have some poopage by noon time, a doctor's visit will be in order. So lets pray for some poops!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

nap Time

I've been pretty fortunate to get a good nap out of both kiddos at around the same time each day. Liam usually goes down sometime around 1PM, and Lola follows shortly there after. It is blissful peace for somewhere around two hours, and I definitely look forward to it each day. I usually spend the time catching up online (shocker, I know) or getting projects done.

Today, for whatever reason, I just decided to take a break from the norm. After Liam went down for his nap, I decided to spend a little quality time with Lola. Although she's near me or on me for most of the day, I don't get much time just the two of us (aside from feedings, of course). So after her afternoon meal we sat on the couch, read a book just for her (she always gets to hear Liam books, but not her own) and played with my favorite seahorse rattle (which she is just really starting to pay attention and grab - hooray!).

It was lovely. I stared at her beautiful face, her chubby cheeks, her skinny, long fingers and watched her eyes as concentrated so hard while they were willing her little hands to grab the rattle. Then again when they darted across the book pages.....and again when they got frustrated and started to well up with tears because she was tired and ready to go to sleep. Here's where the story gets good. Instead of putting her down in her crib....I just watched her fall alseep, right next to me on the couch. She twiddles her fingers, and sometimes rubs her face with her hand, all while sucking ever so gently on her "I Love Daddy" binky. Again....pure heaven.

Then, I could have put her down in her crib.....I had a lot of photography business to get caught up on, and I hadn't been online yet today....but I didn't. I just laid there. And I took a nap right next to her. She was so warm and snuggly I just couldn't get up. And we had some serious Mommy/Lola snuggle time.

I don't do this enough. Just sit and play with her. Or with Liam, for that matter. There are always 10,000 activities going on at once, between playgroups, classes, library and TV shows, music, me being on the computer, cooking, cleaning, etc.....and while I think all those things are important for both of them, I forget that just hanging out with Mom is important too.

It was a nice lesson to learn!

Now, the peace is over ;) Liam is awake and crying in my I suppose I should go and give him some attention too ;)

Monday, February 01, 2010

Exersaucer Time!

web_BryerFamily-3, originally uploaded by karintobrien.

Lola Belle is now beginning to "play" in her new exersaucer. I use the term play loosely. She mostly just sits in it and drools. I'm not one to condone the ridiculous gender bias that society inflicts upon our children.....but the Pink Explosion Exersaucer (complete with TWO flower mirrors and a little purse to take things in and out of) was on super sale. It was about the same price as a used one on Craig's list (which is where I was going to find one for her).

I hate to admit. She looks kind of cute in it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

And we can't forget...Mr. Liam!

MyKids-51, originally uploaded by karintobrien.

Here is Liam just as he wakes up from his afternoon nap, usually around 3:30pm or so. Nemo and Blankie are never too far - he likes to scrunch them up and carry them by his face. And every once and while a rogue truck makes it into the mix. When he's not being a pain in the butt (i.e. When I'm paying attention to him and not trying to do something else), he's an amazing little kid!

Thumb sucker :)

MyKids-33, originally uploaded by karintobrien.

Here is Lola practicing her thumb chomping skills.

Tummy Time!

MyKids-13, originally uploaded by karintobrien.

Here's little miss practicing tummy time. We don't do it as often as we should....but she seems to enjoy it when we do. Not too much complaining, anyway ;)

Lazy dayz

Or should I say less than lazy? We've been a pretty busy family as of late, but then again, who isn't? I'm just trying to place the blame of being a lazy blogger somewhere other than on my shoulders ;) I think that I'm doing a rather good job of not parking my ass in front of the computer 100% though, so I suppose if a side effect of having a life not online is less frequent blogging, than so be it!

There is SO very much to say though! I realized so much is happening with Lola - so many new, cool, developing baby things - and I'm not documenting any of them because I'm not blogging! Because of this, I'll be *attempting* to do at least a weekly update of cool, new, Lola things :) This week, her newly learned skill is lifting her chubtastic little legs up in the air! Its so adorable (as are most things she does) - she lifts them up and puts her hands on her thighs because her legs can go any higher because of her chubby makes me laugh every time! In addition to her leg awareness and strength, she's also mastering the art of sucking (or chewing, rather) on her thumb. Lola is pretty much a pro at sticking it in her mouth.....and she doesn't gag every time she does it anymore. She's also very aware of her hands, and as of today can grab a toy and hang on to it for a while. Her favorite (or Mommy's favorite) is a squishy, crinkly little starfish.

Lola has been doing well taking a bottle now, thanks largely in part to a different nipple design introduced by the Koesterim (thanks Keren!). She had been (and when I say she, I really mean Pat) struggling with a bottle for a while, and even though we tried the various designs / flow rates available from when Liam was a baby, we hadn't ventured to try other designs. And when I say we hadn't ventured, I mean we were too cheap to buy different ones that we didn't know would work. Keren gave us one of Ella's to try, and lo and behold, Lola took right to it! That has made Pat's life tremendously better.

Despite efforts made in the bottle feeding department (which Pat does when I'm off working at The Container Store), Lola still isn't the hugest fan of her daddy, which is terribly heartbreaking! She just 100% prefers to hang out with Mommy! (Not that I blame her, because I am supremely awesome!) It just makes me feel bad when she screams her head off when Pat holds her, and then I take her and she immediately stops crying. Most friends have assured me they've gone through similar phases, and its most likely due to the association with breastfeeding....she'll be daddy's little girl soon enough.

Speaking of breastfeeding - still going smashingly. Leaps and bounds and leaps and bounds easier than go 'round numero uno. I'm approaching the 4 month mark in a few days, which was as far as I got with Liam before we weaned him, and I'm looking forward to surpassing it. I have no expecations at this point - I only wanted to make it past 4 months, so any time here forward is a bonus. Not sure if I'll go the whole one year......lets put it this way. As long as its easy, I'll do it! And right now, its easy as pie ;)

And now, a Liam update. He's an incredible kid, and really does continue to amaze me. Most recently, he's amazing us with how far he pushes back to exert his independence and see just how far he can push limits. Amazing. And incredibly, incredibly frustrating. We're trying to be patient and good parents, but sometimes it is just so unbelievably hard. Right now, I'm just focusing on not yelling. Sometimes I feel like he won't listen at all - we ask him three times to do something, and it isn't until we yell that we get a reaction. Our librarian / friend suggested to try whispering. By golly, it seems to be working.....we'll see how long that lasts, though.

Aside from the pain in the assy-ness, his imagination is so cool to watch develop....playtime is definitely fun for the both of us! His favorite toys at the moment are Stickers and Mr. The King (Lightening McQueen and The King from Cars) and four monster trucks (Gravedigger, Captian's Curse, Hot Wheels, and Blue Thunder) that he likes to play with all together. They do a lot of climbing and jumping over things, just like they do in real life Monster Jam. Pretty hilarious. Espeically when they're doing stunts and I hear a very robust "AAAAAAHHHhhHHHHhh!" as they fly through the air :)

Oh! And a new favorite food for Liam: Edamame. He loves the stuff! And it is uber cool to watch him take them out of the pod himself. His cute little chubby fingers hard at work. So adorable!

And Liam is so, so, so very sweet with Lola. Really. It makes my heart melt and turn all sorts of fuzzy wuzzy mushy every time he interacts with her! Of course, there's times when I see a hint of jealousy when we're giving Lola attention, but as long as we take a second to include him in whatever we're doing, he's usually pretty happy to oblige, and I couldn't ask for anything more! The funniest thing is when he gets really close to her face, and puts on his BIGGEST smile possible trying to get her to give him "some Lola Smiles", and when she reacts to him, he just CRACKS up ;) So sweet. Seriously!

That about sums it up for the time being. I've got to get back to baking brownies - its a test run for next week's show down for Heidi's baby shower :) I hope they turn out!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

WOW what a day!

I can honestly say yesterday was one of the toughest days I've experienced in a L-O-N-G time. Its exhausting just to think about it! Pat was gone overnight on business, and I was bound and determined to leave the house early in the morning in order to make it to playgroup on time.

That was my first mistake.

I really need to be better at managing my expectations and not being so stubborn and thick headed when it comes to wanting to get out of the house on time. Because, with two kids, lets face it, its not going to happen. I did my best getting everything ready that I possibly could the night before, but even then I couldn't quite swing the one hour timeframe I had from the moment the kids woke up to the time we set foot out the door. I did come close though, and I should be more proud of myself for that.

But I did forget my phone. For the first time yesterday.

The ride into the city was typical - trafficy and congested as it is during morning rush hour. I avoided the worst by taking surface streets, but when we arrived close to our destination road work and yuppies threw a wrench in my plan again. And I let it AGGRAVATE me SO much! I really try to remain calm and relaxed......but it didn't work. Then I had to park next to a snow bank and drag the kids through it and cross a busy street (thanks to the very nice people who stopped and let us cross!). We get into Pump It Up (inflatable fun jumpy toys!) and Liam doesn't want to jump...he just wants to play in the Cozy Coupe Car.....which we have at home. *sigh* again, I have no idea why it let it get to me so much (it might have something to do with lack of sleep, since I have a hard time going to bed before 1AM when Pat is gone), but I was so irritated to be at this cool place which I paid my hard earned not so plentiful money to get in, and he was not experiencing it like I had planned in my head. Again, I need to learn to manage my expectations of my 2 year old son.

The ride back was nice, but by the time we got home I was still in such a cranky mood that I was uber short with Liam and a very Yell-ey Mommy, which then in turn makes me feel worse because its not his fault he just wants some attention and I want to check out mentally....

Then I received word that an 8 week old baby that I've been praying for lost his fight for his life. Not anyone I knew in real life (the Mom is from one of the online photography forums I frequent), but still heartbreaking none-the-less. He had whooping cough, and RSV, and then pneumonia, and then a blood infection..........and it just broke my heart.

It did give me some perspective on my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day though, and I was a much more calm, centered Mom for the afternoon.

I was looking forward to a much needed Mom's night out at the bowling alley......and then I got a ticket for running a stop sign near my house (I still don't know how the hell I could have run it.....but I don't doubt the cop was lying!). Then while bowlign I forgot my phone in my car...for the 2nd time that day. I missed 6 calls from a frantic Pat, who was convinced at the time we needed to take Lola to the hospital, and it broke my heart again hearing her scream in the background. I felt like such a shmuck. and a horrible mother. We're still not sure what was wrong with her last night, but she appears to be fine now.

I think I cried - all out bawling - four times yesterday. But today is a new day. And I'm grateful for my blessings and my family.....I'm hoping its all up from here!