happy spring! and holy week!

here we are at the end of lent, the beginning of holy week and the beginning of spring! the earth has thawed and is waking to new life! as is usual here in camden, we have a wonderfully busy holy week with masses and processions and party planning, all made slightly more interesting and difficult... and yes, fun, by a toddler.

today is also my dad's birthday. we miss him. and we wonder. but simon and i have been looking at pictures and thinking of him. now we will listen to the band and to warren devon and to bob dylan in his honor.

here is a picture of simon, happy because it's spring!


Almost exactly to the day, 1 year ago, was my last post... wow. Well, if I haven't lost all of my many readers, here I ago again about Christmas. As I've said before, Advent is really my favorite time of year. I love the joyous wringing out of every last ounce of sunlight and warmth and life that we can before the dying and hibernating and darkness of winter is upon us. I love the anticipation of the Christmas season and the joy of Emmanuel, God with us. We all know that the celebration of Advent is almost gone in most of our lives and I would venture to say its because of, at least in large part, the ever encroaching shopping season, as early now as October! Many friends and family of mine are decorating for Christmas before thanksgiving - and that's ok! - but I would offer that it may inhibit us from truly appreciating advent and Christmas separately... And I would also guess that it inundates us, especially the children among us, with so much Christmas that we end up foundering on it. I know that often by Christmas day I am so sick of the music and sights and smells of the season and I can't wait to tear my dying tree down.

Having Simon has given me a new sense of wonder for this time of year. I want him to feel the awe of the natural world slowly folding in on itself to sleep the winter off, and the awe of the candles and the evergreens, of the carols at church, of the bursts of bright red berries and the smell of cinnamon. I want him to be excited about baby Jesus and the bright guiding star, about cookies and St. Nicholas... And yes, I want him to be excited about giving small gifts to each other to remind us what gift was given to us 2000 years ago. So this year, while he is still small, we have begun traditions that hopefully will continue on. We are celebrating Advent. We are singing songs of expectation, lighting candles, reading books about the birth of Jesus and about winter, filling the house with evergreens and preparing for Christmas. We are not celebrating Christmas yet. We have decided to wait until Christmas eve to fully decorate the house and put up the tree... This one is hard for me, but I think it will be worth the wait. It is the traditional Catholic practice to observe 40 days of Christmas starting on Christmas Eve so at our church Christmas songs are just beginning then and the massive tree stays up till the end of January. on December 6th we celebrated St. Nicholas day by filling simon's shoes with treats. He was so excited to come downstairs that next morning to find his shoes... Mostly excited about the ginger cookie inside one of them but I'll take what I can get. On Christmas Eve I will be attempting to make tamales (what am I thinking?)  which is the traditional Mexican way to celebrate and making chilaquiles for that morning. I can't wait to see Simon's face as he comes downstairs Christmas morning to see a lit tree, candles glowing, shiny packages and baby Jesus in the manger! We will start with breakfast and the Christmas story and then we will open gifts and, most importantly, the stockings together. I'm hoping that the pile of gifts is a small one but I LOVE stockings and will never give them up, so there.

Anyways, that is our plan. We are going on instinct and new knowledge, certainly not habit. This is all new to us but we are hoping Simon grows up with a deep appreciation and joy for these Advent and Christmas seasons.

Chris and I last year at Philly's Christmas Village
I'd love to hear how you resist the explosion of Christmas in October (or how you don't and why) and find special ways to draw out the celebration - please share!


so, now that we have a child we are beginning to rethink our normal christmas traditions. we've known for some time that presents are center stage for most of us and the true mystery and joy of the season is hard to find. in fact, as a kid i remember a sense of let down when the last present was unwrapped... and i remember already thinking about the next gift i was going to open before i had even finished opening the one in my hands. i've heard of children saying things like, "baby jesus is the one who brings us presents on christmas morning". and tantrums seem likely to happen on one of the most holy days of the year.

now, it's not that i'm against gift giving and receiving. besides being super fun, i think it's important for children to know how to give gifts and how receive them. no, i like presents. but... i don't want simon to be like i was.

we've been brainstorming some ideas... (and not really for this year because we'll just be busy keeping him from eating the wrapping paper at this stage.) for one, i don't think we'll have simon write a list of things he'd like. this takes away the surprise and excitement and sets him up for disappointment if he doesn't get everything he wanted... or sets us up for bankruptcy if he does. i'm not sure we'll do a traditional santa clause either. i really love mystery and fantasy and pretend but we're thinking of creating a space for that on st. nicholas day (dec. 6th) when children (and adults too!) put their shoes outside their doors before bed and wake up to little treats in them in the morning, brought by st. nicholas. another opportunity for gift giving is three kings day... january 6th. but on christmas day i think we'll do stockings (because i love them) and leave the presents at that.

but i still want that day to feel special and magical (and be about baby jesus). so, i'd love to hear about your ideas or traditions! when do you decorate for christmas? do you go out somewhere as a family? play games? how do you celebrate the wonder of baby jesus coming into the world?

please share them on facebook or in the comments!


parent fail.

so, Holly advised me to share this story for the good of all my parent and child care friends on the internet. a few weeks ago i did some thing terrible... i locked simon in the car. don't know how it happened but thankfully the car was running w the air on because it was a 95 degree day! i crumbled into tiny mom pieces on the sidewalk, crying, searching for a brick to smash the window in. again thankfully, Kristin and Katie Jo helped me pull it together and suggested calling the fire department. a great idea that would have never crossed my mind! by the time we were finishing the call we could hear the sirens coming up the street. they were so kind to me and apparently do this all the time. simon was fine but i was a little worse for wear. so, the moral is two-fold. 1) try not to lock your children in the car 2) but if you do, call 911 and very helpful fire fighters will save the day. 


A Cradle Song

he's here! our son, simon james haw, was born june 11, 2010 at 4:49am. he weighed 7lbs and 8oz and is gorgeous. it was a wild ride as we had planned a home birth with wonderful midwives... in the end though, i had to be induced because of mild preeclampsia. so i delivered at cooper hospital after 36 hours of labor! i barely remember it though, at which my midwives laugh because i lost my sense of perspective so many times throughout the process... meaning i cried and wailed and said there was no way i could do it. but i did it. without chris, though, i never could have. he was incredibly patient and kind and empathetic and connected to me. i was very lucky to have him, my 2 midwives and a good friend with me at the hospital. the policies and rules and ridiculousness is enough to make a woman lose heart - without support i don't know what would have happened!

but it just doesn't matter because he's here! we have no idea what we're doing but simon has been patient with us.

this morning our priest, fr. michael, came over to see us and bless the little one and he recited for us the most beautiful poem. a friend of his, patrick collumb, from his native ireland, wrote "a cradle song" about the sense he got that when a baby sleeps it travels up to heaven, just for a bit. and when that baby smiles in it's sleep it is experiencing all the peace and wonder it can. but to hear fr. michael say it... so lovely. (mavourneen means my darling)

O men from the fields,
Come gently within.
Tread softly, softly
O men coming in!
Mavourneen is going
From me and from you,
Where Mary will fold him
With mantle of blue!
From reek of the smoke
And cold of the floor
And the peering of things
Across the half-door.
O men of the fields,
Soft, softly come thro'
Mary puts round him
Her mantle of blue.



wow, i have not posted anything since christmas! not that you've been waiting by the computer for my return to the blogging world but i'm sorry for neglecting this and for neglecting you, all 6 of my readers.

as is true for most pregnant women, i am obsessed with myself and this baby right now. it's probably very irritating for those around me but everyone, at least, pretends to be as obsessed as i am!

i am officially into my third trimester now - at the end of this week i will be 30 weeks along. the baby is due at the end of june sometime. the pregnancy has been less than the idyllic, euphoric experience i'd expected . i've had all the usual symptoms - nausea, heartburn (oh, the heartburn!), backache, round ligament pain, swelling, tenderness, stretching... etc. despite the challenges, though, i have wonderful moments of such complete joy with this life inside me. i love it when he/she kicks. i love looking up names. i love it when strangers give up their seats or carry something for me. i love how biological this whole process it. i know it's certainly spiritual but i'm really into how animalistic it is, too. how wild and connected to the earth it is.

we are planning a home birth with 2 wonderful midwives. if you have questions on that, i'd be happy to talk more. we just started taking our childbirth classes and are enjoying the other couples.

so, here are some lessons learned :
-do not travel to europe (or anywhere) during your first trimester. just hearing the german language flings me into memories of hanging over foreign toilets.
-do not google anything. at all.
-do take time out every day to listen to and feel your baby, preferably with your partner.
-do find a birth team that you trust and that listens to you.
-look at your body every day in the mirror with gratitude.
-never tell a pregnant woman how big she is, or ask her if she is carrying twins. just tell her she looks beautiful.

in other news, although definitely related (because everything is now related to having a baby!), spring has sprung here in camden! planting lettuce, taking walks, hanging out laundry, sitting on the porch have all become daily practices. what joy comes in the spring!

so, that's my update. i hope it was worth the wait. here is a pic of my belly. apparently i'm carrying wide (no surprise there) which means i'm having a girl... or a boy. depending on who you talk to.


Happy Christmas!

fr. michael doesn't like the phrase "merry christmas", he thinks the word "merry" just doesn't do christmas justice. so he implores all of us to say happy or joyful christmas. and it has been! chris and i are in colorado, missing victor and the chickies, but loving the snow. it's still coming down and while i haven't left the house almost at all, i can see why someone would want to go play in it.

i hope it's snowing (or that something equally as magical is happening) wherever you are. christ has made his way into the world! happy christmas!