resolve to just be

As the new year begins its nascent days, I’ve been thinking a lot about resolutions. What will I make of this (God-willing) next full year of my life? What will I change? How will I make a difference? How will I do something that matters?

Like many, I’ve spent a majority of my young-adult life trying to figure out what/who I am, and also wishing I could change things about myself or my life. For the past few years especially after leaving the classroom, I have wanted to be a blogger, a fitness instructor, a freelance writer. Instead, I find myself currently as a stay-at-home mom with a small side gig, including a bit of writing here and there. However, this year, at 31, I’m resolving to just be me, but the best version of me that I can muster. I’m going to Sheryl Sanberg this life that finds me in the throes of young motherhood, and just lean in to my world instead of trying to fashion it into something it is not.

So, I’m never going to be a blogger. My track record on here is less than stellar by any sense. I’m probably never going to be a full-time freelance writer, either. I truly love it and have been very fortunate with the small opportunities I have had to have my writing published, but it just isn’t something I am sitting down to spend time to pursue.

I might someday be a fitness instructor for a class or two. My passion for exercise lends me to believe it is something I could do in some capacity. But, probably not this year.

But here’s what I AM going to be:

-the best mother and wife that I can be. That means being tuned in and attentive to Lydia and Jim, and, definitely, putting the smartphone on the back burner. I have found myself often grabbing my phone in moments when I should be engaging with my family, and it’s something that I am cognizant of and want to change. They both deserve my 100 percent when we are together.

-more serious about my faith journey. When I taught at St. Francis, my faith life was so rich. I was fueling it with focused, attentive, and specific time spent in prayer, adoration, weekday masses, going to confession, and discussing Catholicism with my students and colleagues. Of the countless things I miss about SF, this is undoubtedly at the top. I plan to make it a priority again by going back to daily Bible readings, praying more with Jim and Lydia, going to confession, and hopefully (possibly) going on some sort of retreat.

-active in the educational world. I don’t have to seek another avenue of employment, but I DO need to pursue my intended career with vigor, especially if I get back into it when we move this summer. With that said and with Jim’s loving nudge, I am going to FINISH my master’s degree this spring! It will be a huge relief to have that goal attained and might potentially open doors to other careers in education.

I don’t need to constantly seek change in my life or wish for something else. I am blessed beyond belief by this life I have been given, and it would be a tragedy to spend the rest of it wishing and waiting for something else. I’m looking forward to being more myself in 2018, the best version of it, and embracing all that I have already been given.


expectations vs. reality

If you’re anything like me, your time on Facebook starts innocently enough. You click on the app to see if that one girl you met in that one lab back in undergrad had that baby yet, or to troll your old neighbor’s rants about Trump, and soon enough one of the ads catches your eye. A super-trendy, super-cute bikini for $20? Click. That pair of sandals from Target that I put in my cart three days ago but never pulled the trigger on? Let’s look at those again. Click. Wait, BABY ROMPERS?!?! Click, click, click.

Then you see the price for said adorable baby rompers: $12.99?! No hesitation, sold. And let’s add a bow and some shoes for good measure. Oh, AND they’re giving me 10% off with code “gotchasucka”? No question. Here’s my Visa.

Then you wait. And wait. And wait… and a few weeks later, an inconspicuous package from China arrives in your mailbox. Wait, China? And why is the packaging the size of a postcard?!

Then you open it. And all you can truly do is laugh.. because you’re staring at an outfit that so poorly resembles the item advertised, and you realize you were totally played. Truly, the catfish of online shopping– this lace romper looks like something my niece contrived with a hot glue gun and my dad’s old hanky.

And now, you must go through the painful process of returning said junk to said phony online boutique, lest your husband see the error of your ways and insist on a full-on online shopping ban.

Moral of the story: if it seems too good to be true, it usually is, especially when it comes to Facebook ads. Oh, and I’ll totally call this company out: Babble Bear Boutique. Just. Don’t.







Ignore the fact that this baby would look cute in a paper bag.. 🙂 🙂

friday faves

Wow, I seriously feel like it was hours ago that I was whooping it up in Chicago, but here we are at the weekend already! Sadly, this weekend is looking to be quite gloomy weather-wise, but I am looking forward to some relaxing family time before Jim leaves for DC on Sunday (waa).

Anyway, here are a few things that have brought me joy lately! Since I haven’t been posting consistently every Friday, I have some things stored up! 🙂

WoodWick Candle


I’ve loved WoodWick candles for quite some time– there is just something about that little crackle that they make that gives them an extra-cozy feel. While my mom was visiting, we attended a Girls’ Night Out in downtown Haddonfield, and she treated me to this candle (bless moms who never let you pay for your own stuff when together!). I love the scent (“On the Beach”), and I love the actual candle holder, one I’ll be able to reuse even after the candle burns down.

HaloTop Ice Cream

IMG_7811Is this stuff seriously miraculous, or is it just me?! The fact that I can eat the whole pint and STILL be ahead of things nutritionally than I would be if I downed some B&Js of an even lesser amount has me OBSESSED with it. I’ve tried Salted Caramel, Cookie Dough, and just downed a pint of Oatmeal Cookie. So. freaking. good. The biggest drawback is it is a tad pricey, but it was on sale for $2.88 at ShopRite this week. I mean, how can you resist stocking up at that rate?!?


My sister-in-law MB clued me into this website when I was searching for a cheap flight to Chicago. Essentially, the site searches for flights with layovers in what city is actually your final destination, and you book them one-way and then obviously you don’t get on the connecting flight. They end up being cheaper than if you purchased direct from city to city! The caveat is that you cannot check a bag, which can get tricky (as I learned the hard way!) if the flight is full and you’re forced to check it! Thankfully, American Airlines was kind enough to send it back for me, though.

Chris Stapleton


After his 2015 Grammy success and amazing collaboration with Justin Timberlake, I quickly became a fan of this soulful crooner. There is just something so truly authentic about his musical talent, and a cozy night in with a glass of wine and his voice just gives me all the feels. 🙂 He’s coming to BB&T Pavilion in August and I can’t wait to see him perform. Until then, I’ll just enjoy his new album, From A Room: Volume 1.

CorePower Yoga


Chelsea encouraged Leah & I to try her favorite workout when we were visiting Chicago, and of course I was more than up for it! So, we hit the mats and sweated it out in a 60-minute Yoga Sculpt class. From their website:

When muscle meets yoga, Yoga Sculpt is born. Boost metabolism and build lean muscle mass as you move to upbeat tracks. You’ll combine free weights with CorePower Yoga 2 sequencing and cardio to intensify each yoga pose while mixing in strength-training moves like squats, lunges and bicep curls.

Truthfully, it’s been at least 5 years since I have done any sort of yoga: I’m just always looking for a tough, sweaty, cardio-heavy, muscle-shaking class when I go workout. However, the sculpt class was a great way to ease back into the flow of yoga a little bit while also feeling like I got a truly sweaty toning session in as well. I love the balance of athletic moves mixed with the breathing, stretching, and meditative mantras of a yoga class. We decided to do another sculpt class at Chelsea’s normal studio the next day, and I loved it even more. When I got home, I wanted to see if there were any studios nearby so that I could take full advantage of my free week, and there is one about 2 miles from my house! So, I’ve done 4 sculpt classes this week.

Of course, since we are already paying a ton for our Lifetime membership, I won’t be joining this studio, but I am told there is a class called Warrior Sculpt at Lifetime that sounds very similar. I’m hoping that’s true, but in any case, I am grateful to have gotten back into yoga just a little bit. I do like the mindfulness aspect that is stressed in the class, and a little bit of tuning into myself, my mindset, and my body has served me well in the last week.


friday faves

Happy Friday all! I hope you’re looking forward to this weekend as much as I am. My mom flies in tomorrow morning for over a week, and I am so looking forward to some time spent together and time for her to have with Lydia. We haven’t seen her since January, so we are soooo overdue for some Mimi time!

In the meantime, here are some things I’ve been loving lately:

my new mug


My sister-in-law MaryBeth always seems to give the cutest little gifts every so often.. and this mug from Anthropologie is definitely in that category! It is so springy, girly, and sweet.. I love it. I must say, I’ve never purchased any clothes from Anthropologie (too pricey for me), but their home goods get me swoonin’ big time.

spring chores


The warm (85 degrees on Tuesday!) weather this week prompted us to get going on our outdoor space. While we don’t have much, it makes a difference to me to have some flowers and greenery in to brighten it up. Today we headed to Home Depot to pick up some flowers & herbs for our back deck planters, hanging baskets for the front porch, and mulch to make the front shrub area looking spiffy. Cue all the springtime feels!!

Cereal Mixing

I try very hard not to have cereal too often, but sometimes I just need that crunchy, milky goodness! In an effort to reduce the amount of sugar I consume with said cereal, I started adopting my mom’s go-to mix: Grape Nuts Flakes mixed with Sunbelt Simple Granola. The flakes have 4g of sugar per serving and the granola has 9, very low in terms of sugar content in cereal, so I don’t feel too guilty indulging in a bowl every once in a while. The granola also has 6g of protein, an added bonus!

S-Town Podcast


I am only really able to listen to podcasts while I run alone (i.e. without Lydia in the jogging stroller), so I am only through two episodes, but the ending of the second has me totally hooked! Brought to you by the producers of Serial & This American Life, the podcast focuses on an alleged murder in a low-income Alabama town (the “s” stands for “shit”). Part social commentary, part murder mystery and featuring some truly unique “characters”, you’ll be intrigued if you’re a podcast listener.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult


I know some are critical of Picoult’s writing, but I’ve been a fan ever since My Sister’s Keeper. In fact, while living in Dubai for a few months after college, I found solace in her familiar writing style and couldn’t stop reading her work. I was also able to listen to her speak as part of the National Writers Series in Traverse City, and took a lot from her descriptions of how she generates ideas for her novels and her writing process.

I have Small Great Things on my phone from the library app, and only have a few more days to read it but many more pages, so I’ve got to get moving, but the off-the-bat tensions and characterization has me hooked from the start.


favorite books for baby

Not surprisingly, one of my favorite things to do with Lydia is to read books, although at the moment her wiggly self has trouble sitting still for them! While we love the old standards (Love You Forever, Dr. Seuss books, Goodnight Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, etc.), I have fallen in love with some new favorites.

Many were gifted to us (I requested books in lieu of cards at my baby showers), and the inscriptions on the inside covers make them that much more special.


Belly Button Book by Sandra Boynton 


This book is so silly, but Jim and I looove making the “beep-bo” noise (the word for belly button in this book). We say it and press Lydia’s belly button at the same time, and giggles are bound to ensue! Boynton has some great baby books if you’re looking for some silly stuff!

I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal 


Gifted from Aunt Kelsey, Uncle Ben and her cousins Keaton, Lauren, and Cameron, this book is sweet and sentimental and has some very cute illustrations.

Hedgehugs by Steve Wilson & Lucy Tapper


Hedgehugs is sweet and silly, and you’ll never look at mismatched socks the same way again! I also saw more in the Hedgehugs series at Barnes & Noble that I am sure we will pick up soon.

You’re Here for a Reason by Nancy Tillman


An absolutely beautiful message (fairly self-explanatory from the title) paired with gorgeous illustrations make this a treasured book sent from our sweet friends JoJo and Bompa (same people who sent her the Lydia dolly). I would also recommend Tillman’s other books (esp. On the Night You Were Born and Wherever You Are)– they will tug at your heartstrings and the illustrations are truly lovely.

God Bless You & Goodnight by Hannah Hall


The rhyming and soft rhythm of this book paired with the content make it the perfect, sweet bedtime book!

Color Dog by Matthew Van Fleet


This board book is perfect for a handsy little one who loves touching things– there are a lot of textures, colors, and pull-outs for an interactive reading experience! Take note.. there is a bit of potty humor in this one.. but if it makes Lydia giggle, it’s okay by me. 🙂

Happy reading!

lydia’s first easter


our little bunny booty 🙂

Other than being able to be closer to the rest of our family, we could not have asked for a better first Easter for Lydia!

Saturday morning started with an early run for me, since when I got back Jim had to jet out to help orchestrate a work egg hunt and went to swim at the gym after. I used the morning to put the finishing touches on some cleaning and food prep to prepare for our visit from Aunt MaryBeth & Sung!

Jim picked them up after his swim and we enjoyed a lunch of leftover homemade pizza Jim had made the night before. I put Lydia down for her nap and it was time for the Easter Basket Scavenger Hunt of 2017!

Unfortunately, MaryBeth was too eager to help out after lunch and found her basket in the dishwasher! So, we made a few tweaks (she also found one of the clues.. little sneak!), and then the hunt was on!

The clues were as follows (props to my husband for his creativity!):

Oh lucky you, your first clue
But don’t try using your ears
Aw nuts our cows don’t moo– this clue led to the almond milk

Maria’s toy weighs about a ton
we don’t mean your brother
Although he is also one– this clue led to our car, a Honda Pilot

Green thumb, brown thumb
Yummy yummy veggies in your tum tum
Growing things is a family tradition
Especially collections In this condition– this led to the herb garden, specifically the mint where Jim had buried the clue! Of course, this was the hardest one for them to find.

Follow your nose
To wear the smelly one goes
But don’t be afraid
One for you Lydia made– this clue originally led to the diaper genie, but as Lydia was napping during the hunt, we moved it to the bathroom!

This is where your journey parts
Right here smelling of farts
Sung don’t eat the worm
MaryBeth go do what makes you squirm– this clue led Sung to the liquor cabinet and MaryBeth to the dishwasher (she despises doing her dishes!).. we changed it to the microwave and changed the clue at the last minute! 

This scavenger hunt is a tradition that Jim’s dad always did with the kids growing up, and one we are looking forward to continuing!

In Sung’s basket, we gave him a game called QuickWits, which is a fast-paced, fun card game! We spent the rest of Lydia’s nap enjoying some cocktails and playing the game.

When she woke up, she was unfortunately very crabby (I think she has a hard time adjusting when guests are at the house), so we got her outside and got some giggles on the playground to shake her out of it!

After park playtime fun, we came home to dye Easter eggs! I had hardboiled 18 eggs the day before and MB brought the dye kit, so they were ready to roll (pun intended?).


I then got Lydia her dinner and got her down to sleep just in time for our babysitter, Gen, to knock on the door. We made our way out for dinner at Fusion Bay in Collingswood, an Asian fusion restaurant.


We decided to go family style with the meal, starting off with a sushi roll and crab rangoons. The entrees included drunken noodles, chicken pad thai, and creamy sriracha shrimp. The shrimp was phenomenal– creamy, a little spicy, and crispy being tempura fried. The pad thai was also excellent and had a distinct coconut flavor that we loved. We had a Groupon for our meal and would highly recommend the food. The atmosphere was standard for an asian fusion restaurant, nothing fancy but nicely maintained. It saddened me to see how empty the place was on a Saturday night, though. I hope they can get enough foot traffic in to make it work! I am sure takeout would also be an excellent option.

We ended the night by visiting Guimarello’s, a restaurant/bar in Westmont, where we had a nightcap and also were lured into their enticing-sounding dessert menu! We shared a “paper bag”– dessert made out of a chocolate-shaped paper bag with pound cake and fruit and delicious homemade caramel sauce as well as a creme brûlée. Yum!


Our morning started on an early and groggy note, as Lydia had a tough time getting back to sleep from about 2-3:30am. However, we were determined to make it to the early Mass at our church, Christ the King (the other ones get very packed, and this was the one we knew would work with her naps and also give us time to get brunch going). We got ready quickly (Jim didn’t even have time to shower, shhh!) and made it on time. Lydia did great during the Mass and the altar looked absolutely stunning!


We got home and put Lydia down for her morning nap, and then we got busy assembling deviled eggs, cheesy potatoes, and stuck the ham in the oven.

MB & Sung went to the 9am Mass, so once they were back and Lydia was up from her nap, we did a quick photo shoot and then Lydia opened her Easter basket.


blossoms were the perfect background


fun with auntie!


adorable dolly sent from our dear friends JoJo & Bompa (my best friend’s grandparents)


with her bunny basket.. and Gus’s behind


reading “The Runaway Bunny” to my two girls!

…and then it was time to dig in!

The day was absolutely beautiful, so we were lucky enough to enjoy our meal on the deck. Lydia was clearly loving the no-clothes feast (the picture with her foot up just kills me!). After we ate, we washed her up and put her into one of her Easter gifts– a duckie splash pool!

She clearly loved it! It’s the perfect size for her and for our deck, and I love that the duck protects her with some shade. Aunt MB also brought some bubbles, so she was in her glory. After lots of splash time, our kind neighbor offered to take her for a walk so we could relax for 45 min or so kid-free. Bless her for her kindness.. we were grateful for the offer!

Before our guests had to leave, we enjoyed some Easter dirt cake, which I made with this recipe from Pinterest.


as if we needed more sugar..

We didn’t have any edible grass, so I just cut up some Easter basket grass to add to the decorating.

Then it was time to get MB & Sung on their way on their bus back to NYC. We are so grateful they came to celebrate with us, and will always remember how we spent Lydia’s first Easter with them!! It is so true that having a child makes holidays that much more magical.. I can only imagine what will be like when she is more aware of them. It’s cliche and trite to say that I feel so blessed this Easter, but I truly do. Alleluia, He is Risen!


traveling abroad with baby (space-a specifically)

When military airplanes fly military personnel and/or cargo, oftentimes those flights have extra space available, or Space-A, and they offer that space to members of the military and their dependents wishing travel at no cost. This incentive (free air travel overseas!) really convinced Jim & I that, while traveling with a baby would not be easy, we needed to take advantage of this opportunity while we are living on the east coast where these types of flights occur several times a week.


paris or bust!

The significant hurdles to this type of travel are that it may take several attempts before you are able to fly out, and you have to be willing to pay for a ticket home if you cannot get back for some reason. Also, you’re not going to fly directly to a tourist destination, so you have to figure traveling for a few hours by train at the minimum to get to somewhere you’d really like to see.

I’m not going to pretend I know enough about how they determine who is allowed on each flight (depends on overall weight as to the space-available as well as category of your military member and when they put in for leave), but I do think we learned some things on our recent trip to Paris about this type of travel with a baby and also just doing Europe/Paris specifically with an 8 month old.

The first plane we took was a huge cargo plane. The seats were set up along the side of the plane. Luckily our flight coincided with Lydia’s bedtime, so after a bit of fussing during takeoff she went down fairly easily (for her). We debated about bringing our car seat, but we were told that it was required in the taxi when we got to Germany (but not required in France). We were hesitant to bring it because we really did not want to lug that thing from Germany to France just for one taxi ride, but it proved to be clutch on the flight over and back: it was a familiar place for Lydia to snooze, and we could cover it to keep out the light.

We packed two things at the last minute that we hadn’t originally planned, but are so glad we did: a baby noise-canceling headset and a few blankets. While they do have some blankets and pillows on these flights, our flight over was freeeeezing and I slept on the ground, so I was incredibly grateful for them. The headset is first of all super adorable on an 8-month-old, and also helps to block the sound—these types of planes are LOUD.. so loud, it’s hard to carry on a conversation during the flight. They also came in really handy while we were out and about in Paris and wanted something to block out noise for her nap.


Another thing we made sure to have was some sandwiches/good snacks for the flight. Some flights offer food, and some just have some things at their terminals to purchase. We were happy we had our own stuff.

The terminals themselves were much more family-friendly than I had anticipated. Both Dover & Rammstein had special kid rooms with toys, and Rammstein even had a nursing/napping room plus diapers and wipes! The family-friendly approach coupled with seeing many other families on the flights made me a lot less nervous about the whole thing. Plus, not having to deal with long lines at security made the whole thing seem like a dream compared to what I imagine flying commercial is like!

It was fairly easy for me to nurse and change Lydia as needed, as these flights are more spacious and offer more privacy than normal commercial flights. Also, the noise was a real blessing—any fussing she did was barely if at all heard by anyone else on board. That really helped calm my anxiety about flying with a wee one.

We were super nervous to upset Lydia’s sleep routine, as it wasn’t until she was about 6 months old that she began taking more consistent naps, sleeping through the evening when put down, and staying in her crib during the night. We worried about jet lag and the possibility of having to have her sleep in the bed with us. But, we decided we’d just have to cross that bridge if/when we came to it.

The hotel we stayed at in Luxembourg City the first night (we wanted to break up the long train trek) of course had a pack-n-play, so that wasn’t much of an issue. She stayed up later than normal, until about 10pm, but then had a somewhat normal night after that.

Our Airbnb in Paris, on the other hand, didn’t have anything, but we did discover a leather bench that opened and actually provided a perfect space for her to nap! We put some pillows in it and she seemed to like it for the most part. I, on the other hand, was a nervous Nelly about the top coming down on her somehow, so for most full nights I brought her into bed. But it was still nice to have a place to put her down for naps & beginning of the night sleeping. I should have taken a picture of this.. but after losing my phone the second day of the trip, my ability to take my own pictures were limited.. and we usually used Jim’s phone for white noise.

Naps were hit or miss. Sometimes she’d nap in the stroller, but inevitably something would wake her up 20-30 mins in. So, truthfully, we dealt with a crabby baby a lot of the time. We did have one day we stuck around the apartment more so she could get her normal naps in, but otherwise we just sucked it up.


napping at the louvre

As far as jet lag when we got home, ish was real! She was waking up in the middle of the night WIDE awake and ready to play. It didn’t help that we were dealing with daytime savings at the same time, so the daylight hours she was used to were mixed up also. Jim and I took turns getting up with her, but after 3 nights or so she was pretty much back to “normal”, or whatever normal sleep is for Lydia!

Other Travel Notes
Many things I had read beforehand stressed how difficult it was getting around Paris with a stroller. However, we were grateful we had ours. True, Paris sidewalks are very narrow, but we weren’t the only ones strolling along with one. And yes, it is hard dealing with steps in the metro and going through the gates, but we could usually manage while working together or a kind stranger would help us, especially if Jim was burdened with the rest of our luggage.


The trains from Germany to France were clean, comfortable, and quiet. Luckily, Lydia slept for one of the longer rides, and on the others she was fairly pleasant. One ride she was tired and hungry, but I was able to bring her into the middle compartment near the bathrooms to get out of the quiet cars when she was fussy. It went very well overall.


i’d say we both look a bit tired here..

Taxis/Ubers in France allow infants to ride on parents’ laps, but Germany requires a carseat. It was a pain to have to lug the carseat throughout our travels, but it was nice to have on the plane. So, we made it work.

Sitting down to eat did not happen as often as we would have liked. During our first night in Paris, I made reservations for a restaurant that served 4 courses, but Lydia was immediately fussy and nothing would appease her. Finally, Jim took her home and kindly allowed me to enjoy the meal alone and I brought him his portions back. After that disaster, I was hesitant about dinners out. We did have one meal that she slept through, but otherwise we mainly cooked or got takeout. Lunches were usually street sandwiches or, a new favorite for us, falafel! We wanted to take advantage of enjoying the Parisian cafes, but that was limited. As long as we were moving, Lydia was usually fine, but when we tried to sit down to relax, she was a crabby Cathy!


photo attempt before failed dinner attempt

We didn’t bring too many toys for obvious reasons, but I had read about bringing small beach balls, as they take up nearly no space. Food helped entertain her, too:


someone found a love for carbs..



All in all, I am very grateful we were able to experience Paris together as a family. After we got home, Jim and I just kept saying to each other, “I can’t believe we just did that!” The time spent together was amazing, and I know Jim and I feel stronger as a couple and as parents for having gone through it together. I did have a huge sigh of relief when we finally made it home and could get back into our routine, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.


worth it, if even just for the photo ops!