Newborn Photo Shoot : Maida

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A little while back (this beauty is almost two months) I did a newborn shoot for my dear friends, Mike and Jen. I’m so lucky to have friends that also have kids. Before Jen had Maida, we had weekly lunch dates. We’d sit around for hours, talking about babies, parenting philosophies, and other similar topics. Once I get my life back in order (we just moved, more on that next) I hope to continue our weekly meet-ups or at least bi-weekly meet-ups.

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Baptism

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A little while back, we decided to Christen Lucy. While Des and I are not avid church-goers, it was still very important to me to celebrate the arrival of our baby in a spiritual fashion. Not to mention both Des and I were both baptized at a young age. To me this was more about following a tradition than anything else. Not being a part of a church regularly made it difficult to pick a place to go about the ceremony. We researched various religions and Christianity denominations, but nothing felt quite right. Except for of course, The Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It’s the only church I’ve every really felt connected to. It’s authentic, traditional, and needless to say breath-taking-ly beautiful. It’s the church my maternal grandparents went to, and the church my mom grew up in, and the church my parents we married in, and the church I was Baptized in. And technically the church Des and I were married in. It’s the church I’ve spent every Christmas eve in since I was born. It’s the only church I’ve ever seen completely submerge itself in the community.

We had recently connected with one of the priests at Mount Carmel, and knew baptizing Lucy with him was the right decision. I remember sitting his office and being fascinated by his bookshelf. Lots of scientific reads, and some well known fiction novels too – Angels & Demons and The DaVinci Code.  Most devout Catholics I know would see this as blasphemous. It means a lot to me when a person can be open-minded, especially a religious person. It means they aren’t afraid to challenge what they think they know. Or change perspectives and adapt to new findings. We all evolve, why fight it?

Anyway, I digress. The Christening ceremony was lovely. Des and I asked my younger sister to be Lucy’s godmother. Shoes I wouldn’t want anyone else to fill. She gladly accepted.

We were surrounded by our close family members, and finished the night with a mouth-watering meal from Sorrento’s. I was most excited and honored to have Lucy wear my dress from when I was Christened some 27 years ago. A beautiful, little lace number imported from Italy. The shoes were recently gifted to Lucy from our good friend, Lily. They were made in Belgium. Apparently, the Belgians are known for their lace making skills.

The photos are taken at my late grandparents house in Melrose Park. We got Lucy for ready for the big day here and walked to the Church.

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Lucy Month Four

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The milestones seem to be coming faster and faster these days. Lucy went on her first plane ride and international trip. The day before the big trip, she learned to roll from her back to her stomach with ease – no arms getting stuck under her ever-growing and adorable belly. Then the day after we returned she crawled. Yep, she crawled. I left her in the middle of my parents living room with some toys. Was gone for no longer than a few minutes, when I hear her little distress cry. It’s a short call with little breaks while she tries to solve her issues on her own, “Ehh, hey, heyyyy, ehhhh.”  I walk back into the room to see if I can be off some assistance, and she’s a solid six feet from where she started. And she’s in distress because she’s up against the brick fireplace with nowhere to go.

I freak out.

Half of the freakout is because ‘Holy cow my baby is rubbing her soft, little, fragile head up against the rough coarse brick.’ The other half of the freak out is because ‘Holy cow I think my baby just crawled.’ So I pick her up, give her some reassuring hugs and kisses, lay her on her back, and watch her do it again. She rolls over to her tummy, lifts her butt into the air while bringing her feet closer to her body, then pushes forward, and rolls to her side. And she repeats this over and over agin. The only sad part is she hasn’t quite yet learned to use her arms and hands to her advantage, so her face rubs against the carpet. I stop her before she gets rug burn, and note to myself: never leave Lucy on the floor alone anymore.

Other than her new caterpillar crawl, here are some other tid-bits from this month:

  • Lucy was baptized, yay! (Photos to come)
  • I have taken Lucy on no less than 5 dinner dates/outings/lunch dates/business meetings and she was nothing but a pleasure. It helps that there are so many outdoor patios in the neighborhood. She sits in her stoller and looks around, sometimes contributing to the conversation, other times snoozing
  • She’ll pretty much smile at anyone who smiles at her first
  • I’ve dusted off the vocal chords and took a walk down memory lane to find some songs to sing with Lucy. Other than LOVING the ABCs, she’s into the itsy bitsy spider, old mcdonald, you are my sunshine, and twinkle twinkle little star

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Punta Cana

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We took our first trip as a family to the Dominican Republic for a destination wedding. Not even four months old and little Lucy has a passport with a couple of stamps in it, baller. She is quite the traveler, and held it together even in the tough moments. We had a direct flight ORD —> PUJ. Four hours, on a plane filled with friends and family headed to paradise, and she did what she does best in these situations – she slept. She slept hard. She slept through the yelling, and pilot’s announcements. She slept through the take off and the pressure change. And even slept through all of the hand offs for potty breaks. I wanted to get her a treat or something for being so cooperative. The she woke up in time for the decent and fed ’til we landed.

The mini get-away was just what we needed since Lucy joined our family. We stayed in a swanky room, the pools had swim-up bars, and the beach was picturesque with white sand and clear water. Being that it was a family wedding, we were surrounded by babysitters and extra hands to help with Lucy. I don’t think we would have enjoyed ourselves otherwise. Not that Lucy isn’t cooperative most of the time, but it’s nice having other people around who want to spend time with her.

I can’t say for sure, but I think the fact that I nurse Lucy helped to keep her collected. She generally loves being outside and socializing with people, but the scene was far different from our Lakeview neighborhood. And the climate was humid, so humid, like you can eat the air humid. So even though we were starting to establish a schedule before the trip, we had more of a feed-on-demand couple of days. If Lucy wanted to nurse I nursed her. I let her find her comfort zone and relax… as needed.

I’d say it was the perfect age to travel with a little one. Old enough to fly, but not old enough to be crawling or walking. We didn’t have to stay at the kids pool, or worry about lugging a toddler around on our shoulders. I’m sad I didn’t get any pictures of it, but Lucy hung out with me in her sling a for good chunk of the vacation, including an evening beach dance party!

The trip was a success. Lucy is my new hero, especially after we were diverted to St Louis on our way back for bad weather. Which kept us traveling for an extra seven hours – and the little peanut still held it together. So. Awesome.

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Lucy Month Three

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Here we are at month three. A little late, but here nonetheless. This wee one is taking up a good portion of my schedule these days. She’s very interested in my day-to-day activities – cleaning, cooking, walking Gordon. She’s very social, and especially likes being in crowds. She loves being outside, watching the leaves dance on their branches and the bunnies and squirrels dash across the sidewalk. Her new found love of nature and the outdoors couldn’t have come a better time. We are at the tail end of spring, creeping in on summer, with plenty of sunshine and fresh air to soak up.

She has taken to communicating quite well. Sometimes she’s soft-spoken, and shares her little secrets. Other times she’s loud and silly, experimenting with new sounds. Most often she has her fingers in her mouth. All ten on a good day, and a few toes here and there.

Other things I’ve learned this month:

  • Lucy  l o v e s  to stand. If she’s sitting she’ll always use your hands to pull herself up
  • I’m a ninja breastfeeding champ – anytime, anywhere and you won’t even know it
  • I’m giving in to Lucy sitting in front of a screen, but to be honest sometimes it’s the only thing that will grab her attention and occupy her time
  • Lucy has more hair than I think she does. She was complimented twice yesterday.
  • I’ve never been more excited to move to the suburbs – laundry room, attached garage parking, home studio, and a huge yard? yes, please.

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Lucy Takes Gordon to the Beach

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We’re finally heading into beach weather in Chicago. And by beach weather I mean dog beach weather. Don’t get me wrong we can take Gordon to the beach all year round, and he usually goes for a dip no matter the temperature, but we’ve got a 4th wheel now. Lucy happily tags along most places we take her, and the dog beach is no exception. She even lets us dress her up in sun hats and sunglasses – no complaints.

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Morning Routine

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Our lives have been everything but routine pretty much since I left my full-time job back in 2011. Living life as a freelance designer and photographer makes it difficult for me to establish a set hour-to-hour routine. All the books say I’m supposed set hours for myself, but to be honest that’s why I dove into the freelance world to have more freedom. Fitting in client meetings and traveling to do photo shoots, then brainstorming or editing make it nearly impossible to set hours (you never know when creativity will strike and you certainly don’t force it.) Then add in caring for a home, cooking, and social time, and poof no routine. It’s certainly a good way to keep my life interesting. And when summer in Chicago hits everyone goes into “summer mode.” Lots of late nights, weekend trips, festivals, BBQs, all the fun stuff that make you want to stay as far from a daily regimen as possible.

So that being said, Lucy really has no particular daily routine, but she does have a morning routine… that I freaking love. When she wakes we snuggle while she eats breakfast. She slowly let’s her eyes adjust to the morning light, getting wider and wider as the minutes pass. Then when I feel she’s done, I unlatch her, burb her, and lay her next to me while we practice our ABC’s and spelling her name. Goodness she is a happy girl in the morning. She’s all smiles and coos. Then I start to get ready for the day. After a while she fusses from being on her back. So I sit her up against the pillow while I continue to work around the apt. Once she’s bored in the bedroom we start our new adventure for the day.

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Papa Carmine Meets Lucy Carmen

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My maternal grandfather recently passed away. I knew him as a loving, hard-working man who took much pride in his family. Before he left us, he and Lucy got to meet briefly.

As with my grandmothers passing, I was asked to give the eulogy at Papa’s funeral. It’s difficult and emotionally draining to write a eulogy, but here is what I came up with…

“Those who knew Papa know he loved life. He was a simple man, with simple pleasures. Loved soccer. Loved to cook. Loved to go on walks with his grandchildren. And he absolutely loved sitting in a folding chair with a beer in front of his house. I’m sure many of you here have spent countless hours on the sidewalk of Cortez Ave chatting with Papa. He loved the company. Papa was a people person. Like a true Italian his heart swelled with joy whenever he was surrounded by his friends and family, especially when it included a big meal and a glass of homemade wine.

Papa immigrated to Chicago from Italy with my grandmother in the 1950’s. Although it was hard to leave the only home they ever knew, they were in search of a better life for themselves and their growing family. Throughout the years he worked hard to provide for his wife and six children. He once told me he worked up to three jobs at once to support his family. He spent much of his career working for the village of Melrose Park, driving his truck #102, and pouring concrete for various projects. Papa was always cooking for the Village. Whenever they would ask, he would respond with “cinque betz,” five dollars. He was so important to the village that they even gifted him with a street in his honor. Papa was more or less a Melrose Park icon. You always knew where he was because of the American and Italian flags that stood on his car.

Besides working for the village, he was incredibly involved in his community. As a devout Catholic, he spent much time volunteering at Our Lady of Mt Carmel. Always ready to help when he could. He took much pride in his services to the church, especially every summer when he would help carry the Madonna around the neighborhood along side his friends, brothers, and nephews. When I was a child I remember watching Papa walk the collection baskets around during Mass and think “Wow, he must be really special to have a job like that.” He was also heavily involved with the Annual San Francesco feast. A tradition that he carried with him from is hometown of San File in Calabria Italy. He even he helped start The Flowers of Italy club with his brother, Joe.

Papa knew everyone and everyone loved him.

What made Papa so special are the traditions he carried on throughout the years. Most people don’t understand the time and effort someone has to put in to making homemade wine, homemade sausage, or even keeping a luscious home made garden. For Papa these things weren’t optional. These were traditions engrained so deep, that they became more than annual events they were his way of life.

Papa will live on through the traditions he has passed down to us. We will keep him alive with every story we share and every memory we relive. Every time my cousins think back on the times he would take us to the deli to get candy, or the soccer games they went to with him, or the playful pranks Papa would play with them. I want them to be filled with the joy of having a grandfather that cared. A grandfather that always wanted to know how they were doing. And a grandfather that was so proud of his family.

Many people have expressed their sympathies about my Papa’s long, painful battle, offering their warm hugs and kind words to help fill our sad hearts. Cancer is a viscous sickness, and Papa took it head on for over five years. Over and over again, he beat the odds and bounced right back. Always eager to help, and ready to drive his sister-in-laws around for the next errand. Papa fought up until the very end.

I am grateful to have known Papa for as long as I have. He got to see me as a baby, a child, an adult and most recently a mother. After he passed, I realized that as much as it hurts to see him go, this is all a part of the cycle of life. And just like the symbolic flood of the Old Testament, we’ve had our own flood in these past few days. A flood to help wash away our sorrows and pave new paths for our family.”

Cosley Zoo

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Sunday we went to a party at Cosley Zoo for my little cousin’s third birthday. Cosley is more or less a glorified petting zoo. Lots of farm animals, ducks, and bunny rabbits. Perfect for a little person’s birthday party.  When I was a camp counselor back in the day, I used to take my little kiddos here for “field trips.” It’s always nice to put kids up face to face with other species. A little reminder of who we share the earth with.

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This little fella LOVES the camera. Every time I pulled it out he put on a great, big cheesy smile.

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Lucy of course slept through the party. All three hours of it. She slept through lunch, and smelly animals, and cake and presents. Then woke up in time to say bye to everyone.

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Lucy Two Months

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The second month is so much different than the first month. And I’m sure the following months will be just as different as the second month. Lucy has really started to show her personality. Awake, and alert for a good portion of the day. Smiling. Cooing. All the beginnings of a little girl with a bright personality. I get a kick out of watching her scan the room until something catches her eye. It’s almost as though you can see all of the little connectors in her brain shooting off with excitement. Then she flails her arms around kicks her legs signaling to me that she found something she likes. That thing is typically the ceiling fan, but sometimes its the window or the decor or her mommy or daddy. Precious little movements, huge developmental milestones.

Lucy let’s me wedge her into the couch at least once a day. She’s likes sitting up and looking around. I turn on the tunes while I work on the computer, and we take turns talking. The lighting was particularly awesome the day of this shoot. And Lucy decided to show off her many faces.

Things I learned this month…

  • Lucy likes to hold your finger. It helps to calm her down.
  • Lucy is definitely a comfort nurser. Even if she’s full, she likes to latch and stay there until she’s drifted off to her dream world.
  • I’ve mastered the art of laying on my side and feeding Lucy at night. Then we snuggle in bed until her morning feeding.
  • She really likes when you talk to her and tell her stories.
  • gDiapers are pretty sweet, but only when you use them at home.
  • Lucy loves her Sakura Bloom sling, and so does Des. She almost instantly passes out every time she goes in it.
  • It’s really good to meet-up with other new moms. All of the moms from the Bradley Method birth class Des and I took got together today.
  • No more raw onions and raw garlic until Lucy is done nursing.

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