Friday, October 24, 2014

That Mother Forgetfulness

I have a pretty good memory. It could almost be called uncanny, but the number of times a day I search for my keys keeps its ego in check.  I don't forget much, but I'm grateful for the universal ability of mothers to be forgetful of one very specific and monumental thing - birth and the time soon after. 

Following his birth, Ryan was going to be an only child. That long list of baby names I had at the ready for our passel of future children was now useless. Maybe we could use it on pets down the road. I couldn't do it again. Sure, he was worth it. Father, mother and son, we fit. Yes, we fit well together. Still, the scent of his new life was only addictive to a point; it was as calming and heavenly as it could be, but it lacked mind-wiping powers. I couldn't do it again. 

I operated in a blur of shock, a blur dotted with many adorable moments, but a blur of memories that made me feel like a deer in headlights. It was too much. It being the lack of progressing, the three hours of pushing, the ring of fire, the stitching up as little as I needed to be stitched, the starting the marathon of parenting at 4:58am immediately upon crossing the finish line of the marathon that is birth, the stinging and painful recovery, the tick I was close to developing if  my peri bottle weren't near, the fear of the going to the bathroom, the process of peri bottle, patting ever so slightly, but never delicately enough, pad change, numbing spray, tucks pads, the waddling back to bed, the burning each time after he latched, the contractions that ripped through my back while we nursed, the cluster feeding, the distaste for any clothing or bra because my nipples were sore and raw, the terror of imagining I wouldn't be able to find that precious tube of lanolin, the sharp tingly let down, the swing of hormones, the severe engorgement with no relief, the lying down on the floor next to our closet with white noise roaring from our bathroom vent each night, the overwhelming and overheated feeling when nursing a fussy baby around other people, the watching your poor baby being stuck over and over by an inexperienced ER nurse at six days old, the keeping vigil under the bilirubin lights, the feeling tremendous guilt and sadness from learning at two weeks that he had been suffering from a broken collarbone from birth, the hurting from the clogged duct from Hades and more and more and more. That was it. And that was it

New motherhood was raw. I needed some time to stew. 

Three months later, he was maybe going to be an only child. Six months later, the baby fever had taken over. Excellent job, mother forgetfulness. 

That Sunday when I was sick, when our child that wasn't going to be was tucked in against me, I realized that I was very happy we hadn't used the name Conor on a pet. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Birthday Wish List for a One Year Old

Okay make that birthday wish list for a one year old's mother ;) Or it could be called: what my kids try to sneak home from their friends' houses. Or it could be called: what won't end up in the donation pile. 

My brother, Conor's godfather, asked me a bit ago what to get Conor for his birthday. I answered with books! because we can never have enough good books. We'll give Conor an extra bath and some streamers on his birthday, but we aren't going to buy him any presents because ... he is one. Maybe we are weird. Sorry, boys, maybe you drew the short end of the stick on this one! But, just because we aren't going to buy anything ourselves doesn't mean that we don't thankfully accept gifts from doting grandparents and the like.  I rounded up a bunch of quality items that my boys always make a bee line for at other people's houses starting around this age. I could make this whole thing books, but I will refrain for another day. Here is a budget-friendly list of classic toys + regular items that the baby will love, should last for the long haul and that won't make the you recoil at the thought of the annoying noises that will plague you post-birthday.

Toys Under $15
1)  Melissa & Doug Magnetic Wooden Alphabet I think you will find these on many, many refrigerators in this country. You can't go wrong with a good way to buy some time for cooking dinner without someone hanging off of your leg. 

2) Hape Tambourine This one is easy to hold and lightweight so shake, shake, shake! 

3) The Original Toy Company Pop Up Fire Truck . The peg fire fighters are cute, but I love how much Ryan would concentrate when pushing down to get the pegs to pop up. 

4) Stacking toys --> Adorable stacking turtles from Etsy or the Melissa and Doug Geometric Stacker. Stacking toys have been a hit over here. 

5) Inflatable Beach Balls - I know they are meant for the beach, but I'm picturing these bringing lots of entertainment through the long winter. Like most babies, Ryan and Conor love balls and these have a low likelihood of knocking anything over. 

Toys Under $25
1) Melissa and Doug Classic Bead Maze. A true classic.

2) Learning Resources Jumbo Farm Animals. Again, going with animals is kind of a guarantee in our house. I like that these are life-like and a bit bigger so they aren't as easy to lose. 

3) Pacific Play Tents Find Me Multi Color 6' Tunnel  This would be another winter lifesaver. Lots of energy  

4) EverEarth Jr. Size Ramp Race. It pretty fun to watch the baby's eyes go back and forth, back and forth as the little wooden cars race down.

5) Plan Toy Push Toy. Another one for exercise. Tire those babies out!

Items You Probably Already Have 
1) Solo Cups. Right? Baby's favorite.
2) Water bottles, plastic or metal.
3) Measuring cups and spoons. If you get sick of having to counting how many 1/3 cups you added to your cooking because some cute baby snagged your 1 cup, just find a set for the baby at a garage sale or thrift store. 
4) Sunglasses. It's nice that it seems that giving away free, cheap sunglasses at events to be a thing because we somehow have many pairs Ryan and Conor can wear/break without a care. 
5) Empty wipes containers. Conor has been trying to push things into the wipes slot, but you can also fill it with scraps of fabric so your baby can pull them out. 

You can normally find any of these toys at a local consignment shop so check there first before buying new! 

Last note - make sure you keep the boxes because we know those are really the golden ticket to those babies' hearts. 

So tell me, what other items that aren't even toys are great for you? What toy has been a hit? 

I originally intended to just list five toys, but then it grew and grew. But the sets of five still make it eligible for Five Favorites, right? Go see Jenna for more

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Weaves + another indication that I have grandma ways

Another day, another post with WEAVES, I mean LEAVES. But, hey this is what we've got! We may have a dreary perma-cloud in the long, long winter, we may not have awesome waterfalls to jump off of (I can only imagine the competitions that would have ensued if all the Harrington boys were there with my brother-in-law), but we have weaves. Lots of weaves. 

When I posted the cross stitch pattern that I stitched last fall, Bonnie had sharp and flattering eyes and asked if I could share the pattern for the the silverware cross stitch that was also hanging on the wall. Here you go, Bonnie! I hope this helps someone out there who needs a pick me up for their kitchen or dining room or needs an easy homemade gift idea. Go forth and stitch. 

Monday, October 20, 2014


From a few weekends ago when Chris' program went apple picking. 
I'm taking cues from Bridget and taking stock. Also - have you read her post about whether or not she feels she missed out on her twenties? It's a good one. 

Okay I wrote half of these Sunday night and half today during a heavenly simultaneous nap by the boys so I'm sorry if this is a bit confusing. Concerning that glorious nap --> see my feeling one down below: God provides. 

I'm ... 

Making: a crochet pattern for this hat as prompted by Camille and Tiffany. Hopefully I don't mess it up because the last time I made a pattern was probably for a 4-H project when I was 14 or so. 
Drinking: not enough of anything. 
Reading: (rereading) Pride and Prejudice for my book club. It's been a few years since I read it last, and I loved it so. I'm happy I have a little nudge to turn the pages in it again.
Wanting: to look up spoilers for the rest of this season of The Walking Dead, but I'm resisting. 
Listening: to Shake It Off, surprise, surprise! Actually, tonight Chris took Conor to play with so I could make dinner without  a clumsy assistant obsessed with emptying the cupboards. Before he left to go to the other room, he turned on the Taylor Swift channel on Grooveshark. I felt the love. 
Listening, part ii: a neighbor's dog that will not stop barking. It's kind of cute - just don't wake up the nappers. 
Eating: my poor attempt at beer-battered french fries. They taste decent, but their appearance leaves something to be desired. 
Smelling: the leftover smell of frying oil from the french fries which is why I don't like frying things normally. Ha it isn't the unhealthiness of it that keeps me away, it's the lingering scent. And the mess! Poor Chris, this keeps me from making his favorite sopapillas often. I like to boil cinnamon or lemons to make the smell go away since I never really have candles around (I know! What's wrong with me? I guess, I never spend money on candles). Do you have any oil-be-gone tricks? 
Enjoying: watching Chris enjoy grad school. He is the bomb. And he laughs when I say something or someone is the bomb.
Loving: the baby sounds that come out of Conor's mouth. I can only describe them as pure joy. The little ones when he goes, "tdah! tdah! tdah!" or "Oh-ooo! Oh-ooo!" Or our latest Fighting Irish feat - stick his index finger up in the air while saying, "Idish! I-is! I-is!" If you heard it, you would think, "WOW, that really is a stretch," but hey, we are his parents and he was baptized in the Log Chapel so give our brainwashed/brainwashing hearts a break.
Hoping: we win out after Saturday's heartbreaking, and I mean HEARTBREAKING loss. This is the most pain I've felt after a loss ever ... and my class has the most losses out of any other in the school's history! I balance out my grandpa - they never lost a game when he attended. 
Feeling: thankful. God provides. 
Wearing: the same shirt I wore yesterday and the pajamas pants I slept in. They are actually the pajama pants I wore the night before our wedding. I'm weird and wanted to be able to say, "A girl can't get married in flannel!" so I found the perfect white with blue roses pair. Name that movie.
Noticing: the endless amount of I'll-get-to-it-later stacks that I really need to get to. 
Bookmarking: people talking about making elderberry syrup. I really wanted to make it, but, I just checked and it seems looks like the Amazon provider saw that every mom blog wanted some elderberries and the ONE bag left is $350. There goes that! 

There is the end of nap time cry. Tell me what you are up to! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Why I Admire Lou Holtz and You Should Too


Do you know who Lou Holtz is? You know, the eternally optimistic ESPN commentator who is a College Football Hall of Fame coach. Being the fifth coach to bring our beloved alma mater to a national championship, he always favors the Irish. This might be seen as a fault to some, but it is most definitely is not a fault in my eyes. 

When Chris and I were planning our wedding, we decided it would be fun to send out a few invitations to celebrities that we admired. We wrote letters telling of why we looked up to them and thought they were the bee's knees, found addresses to send the invites to, and then expected to never hear from them. 

At the time of the wedding, our celebrity guest tally was as follows:

Pope Benedict XVI - no response.
Mike Golic - no response
Jim Caviezel - no response
Coach Brian Kelly - sent his response card back checked, "Regretfully decline."
Lou Holtz - no response

We were zero for five, or at least we thought until after we had returned from our honeymoon. My parents came for my college graduation ceremony and gave me a large envelope. I couldn't believe the return address. I opened the envelope to find this:

April 12, 2011


Dear Christopher and Katrina,

Congratulations on your wedding and I wanted to tell you how sorry I was that I didn't receive your invite until April 8th. Anytime it's sent to ESPN they take a month or two to get the correspondence down to me. 

I'm not sure I could have attended the wedding but I certainly could have written you a letter and congratulated you both on the success you've achieved thus far in your lives. But nothing is more important than your marriage. My wife and I will celebrate our 50th anniversary this July 22nd, and predominantly because our relationship is based completely on trusting one another. I'm sending you both a Notre Dame key chain I had made up and I hope you'll think of Our Lady on the dome when you use it. Sorry I couldn't be with you, but I am most honored that you thought enough of me to invite me to the most important event in your life.


Lou Holtz
We use one, and then we are saving one for when our boys are driving.

He sure is a man of character. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Balance Bikes! - FirstBIKE Giveaway.

Last summer, Chris noticed our neighbor's little boy's bike. He was two and zooming around confidently, as fast as he could go on the way to the park. I hadn't noticed anything about it at first other than how much fun he was having. But Chris pointed out that the bike had no pedals and no training wheels. Yet this little two year old was gliding around on his own completely able to balance.

It made so much sense. Why were training wheels invented when the hard part of learning to ride is balancing not pedaling? We were sold, and Chris went on one of his product research rampages. He read reviews and consumer reports for a few days until he settled on FirstBIKE. He even called the customer service line. He is thorough. I've mentioned before that we are pretty minimalist in some aspects of kid stuff, but when it comes to really useful and beneficial items like a child bike seat, we'll go for it. The FirstBIKE Basic Blue was going to be Ryan's Christmas/2nd birthday present which was a far cry from his first Christmas and birthday when we just didn't get him any presents. When we bought it last September, we were too excited so we jumped the gun. Chris quickly assembled it (it was so easy) during Ryan's nap time, and we wait for him to wake up. Sadly, it was slightly too tall for him at 20 months so it sat in the the closet until his birthday when everything was covered in snow. 

Finally, when it was spring, he finally got to ride it outside, and we are completely satisfied with our purchase. I love watching Ryan and his friends use it - it is amazing how quickly children learn. If you are having trouble imagining what it looks like when a child is riding a balance bike, I put together a little video for you. Please excuse my lack of cinematography skills:  

FirstBIKE from Katrina on Vimeo.
FirstBIKE was started by a German cyclist and dad who wanted to build a bike that his children could learn to ride intuitively. He developed a bike that naturally helps develop a child's balance, motor skills and self-confidence. Here are the specs:

+ For children from age 2 to 5 (with a lowering kit, they can start at 22 months)

+ High-tech, injection-molded composite frame doesn't scratch, splinter, swell or rust like wood or metal frames
+ Extremely lightweight 
+ High-strength yet flexible, and durable material
+ Weatherproof
+ No sharp edges, parts or extruding screws
+ Easy to carry, clean and store (The holes in the frame make it easy to hang from my stroller when Ryan isn't riding it if we are out walking)
+ Sealed industrial wheel bearings to prevent clogging by dirt or gravel
+ Adjustable, tools-free seat with special "horse saddle" shape to provide maximum comfort and stability to prevent children from slipping off
+ Grows with your child until they are ready for pedals
+ Height adjustment at the turn of a knob (It is so easy. Our neighbors and Ryan can take turns on it within seconds)
+ Child-friendly, rear drum SafetyStop™ brake (the Basic Blue bike that Ryan has does not have a break)
+ Lifetime Warranty on frame & fork; 5 year warranty on all other parts
+ FUN and keeps your kids active. 

I have been SO excited about this next part. I reached out to FirstBIKE telling them how much we loved Ryan's bike that we bought, and they are generously offering the winner of the giveaway a bike in the style and color of his or her choice. That is up to a $199 value! 

So which one would you go for?! Are you as excited about this as I am? 

THANK YOU for supporting my blog, and thank you to FirstBIKE for this giveaway!

You know how to Rafflecopter it up. (And for those wary about sharing your email to sign up in Rafflecopter, it is just so I know how to contact you when you win!)

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Medium

Oops, I think I'm the last one that attended to recap The Hundred Event. Two months after the fact.

When I first heard about The Hundred from Grace, I couldn't believe how the stars aligned in such a way that I could actually attend such a jackpot of an event. It was happening in Dallas where Chris' generous and welcoming extended family lives, it was happening a weekend we would already be driving home from San Diego, it only added a few hours to our drive home and it was happening when Chris had no commitments whatsoever so I could go kid free. Without all of that and Grace's kind support, there is no way I would have been able to go.

Now back in April, when we were in Dallas for Chris' cousin's Confirmation, we asked Chris' uncle if he could pick us up from UD because I wanted to meet one of my blogger friends, the lovely Martha Reilly. All the uncles joked that we were going to meet a chubby old man. It was pretty funny. I'm guessing their inspiration came from this song. Well, I'm here to say that the real life Martha is an even lovelier woman in person and more beautiful, if you can imagine that. In fact, I haven't been let down by a blogger meeting yet. Meeting a blogger makes me love her blog even more.

So I was really excited to see old e-friends and new friends, buuuuut I was nervous about the same thing - meeting so many people at once and having to be "on." I think sometimes people can think I might be snobby or stuck up when I'm quiet in person, but really I'm honesty just shy and kind of terrified of speaking to you. I mean, last night when it was my time as the hostess to move everyone from the tea and biscotti chit chat part of book club over to the living room last night, I asked Ana the Outgoing to do it for me.

Lauren, Megan, Bridget and Grace know how to throw a blogging conference. The whole event was useful yet fun, elegant yet easygoing and really, it was just a luxury weekend. Dinner complete with swag bags at the Melrose Warwick Hotel sponsored by Joules, breakfast at Breadwinners, lunch at Cane Russo sponsored by Twine Interiors, dinner by Ruthie's Food truck and Steel City Pops for Saturday night's block party hosted by Peacock Alley, and Sunday brunch at the Aldredge house during which I won this dress. It sure beat the Sonic that I had more times in a row than one should. I learned from Kendi, THE fashion blogger (I have to note that I felt nerdily cool when her husband, Bryan, remembered the time in April when Ryan was being quite the toddler in their old store), Curt Steinhorst, Stacey Reeves, Jenni from J.Noel Photography, Tara from the Dillettante Collection, and many other wonder bloggers and entrepreneurs. Best of all, I got to spend almost two full days becoming real-in-the-flesh friends with many of my oldest blogging friends and have the privilege to many meet new-to-me bloggers that now enrich my precious (ha) blogging time. It wasn't scary after all, although I'm sure I could have put on my big girl panties more and been more outgoing.

It really was amazing. There is a recap link-up here, if you are interested.

But it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows (at no fault to The Hundred itself). When Blythe and I were walking back to the hotel room at the end of the Saturday sessions, she asked me how I was feeling. It was hard to explain, but I answered that I felt kind of blogged down - the blog version of bogged down. Now that I've had some time to mull the feeling over, I know it came from a few factors. I was tired and probably a little over socialized. Next, I have a knack for being an insecure person. I remember crying to my mom when I was four because I thought my skin looked green (what?? I know). A lot of what we were learning about growing your blog stemmed on being confident and being able to promote your own blog and content, which is a tall order since having a tendency to being insecure does not exactly breed confidence. Will my whatever-is-going-through-my-head-crumbs-awareness-bless-this-mess mom blog tie work well? That lack of confidence in my current and future ability to be a blog worthy of your time just added to my confusion of whether or not I wanted to venture past the sticker shock of quoted desired social media stats with monetizing the blog. 

But then I had an epiphany while pumping (of all times), and that epiphany was reaffirmed when I returned downstairs to the lobby for another night hanging out on swanky hotel couches with women I felt like I've known for years and years. This was why I love blogging. This sitting around sharing stories was the blog actualized in a real life setting. These women and the solidarity they offer have helped me be able to boast that I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have felt alone in this crazy and lifelong gig called motherhood. Yes, my mother-in-law always helps. But when she isn't available, and it's been a day and I have zero desire to run the marathon of getting little ones out the door to see my friends in town, all I have to do is read about Blythe defending the mess of being a mama while making me pump my fist while holding back tears. Or Grace talking about the rigors of raising saints while still being funny. Or Ana being real. Or Britt discussing the extreme vulnerability of being a parent. Or Joanna sharing about her decision to stay home. Or Nell, being the motivational lady that she is, cheering me on with her wisdom. Or Katie telling me how to replicate the s'mores pizza we ate at Cane Russo. Or Olivia calling for an end to the stupid mommy wars. Or Kate typing yet another relatable post about being a wife. Or an email from the best readers in all the e-land telling me about their day. Or any lady kind enough to let me see a peek at her experiences. And I love supporting them whether it be commenting, emailing, clicking on links in sponsored posts, ordering through affiliate links or just praying for them.

The book club I'm in just read Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry. Community constantly jumps out as one of the key themes. Now, I'm 100% sure Mr. Berry was absolutely not thinking about mom blogs and internet as he was writing about rural Kentucky, but the blogging world is one of my communities.  This community, as overused as that word is in life and in this paragraph, easily outweighs the drag of social media stats and the like.

But where is the happy medium? I'm in a fortunate position to delve deeper into the partnership with sponsors world and earn (a very small) amount of money to supplement my other part time jobs while having fun with my e-friends, bloggers and readers included, but I don't want to become a blog robot blindly after one more Instagram like or Twitter retweet. As Blythe perfectly wrote, I want my opportunities to host giveaways to be a well-deserved THANK YOU to you, the community that keeps me sane and inspired. I want my chance promote products via sponsored posts to benefit you not bore you. 

So I think the happy medium is up to me. I promise to keep the blog what I have always hoped it would be (although I feel uncomfortably presumptuous that people even might consider it to be - see? confidence problems) a pleasant and rambling virtual cup of coffee, hot chocolate, tea, what have you, whether it be for the mom, the yet to have children, the wife, the happily single, the friend, the great aunt, the rugby player, the invisible lurker, the person who googles, "scarily messy kitchens," etc. I promise to only promote products that I actually think are of high quality and worth spending money on and that go well my stories. I want those to be the gravy to the meat, the whipped cream to the pie, the parmesan to the pasta. I really would just be honored if you could pray for our family. If you click on sponsored links, order through my Amazon ad or affiliate links, awesome. Gracias, merci, grazie from the bottom of my heart. But prayers are always welcomed with open arms. You can never have too many of those. 

And comments. I love comments.

Any thoughts?

This was supposed to go up last night, but here I am at 7:45am ... okay now 8am ...editing this while listening to Everything is Awesome from The LEGO Movie and kids spinning my chair around. Check back later today for an AMAZING giveaway as a thank you to YOU. 

Photos by Awake Photography and J Noel Photography or snagged from Nell's Instagram. Purple dress and all shoes from my sister-in-law, Meaghan.