Baby Puts her Stamp on Palm Sunday Service

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You don't want any of this

Maddie’s parents thought they had the perfect strategy going into church this morning. Feed the baby a bottle during mass and she would be the model of decorum. We found some space near the front and immediately broke out the bottle.

Maddie obviously thought this was a great idea. She knocked back the bottle with real gusto. Sure she swiveled her head some and broke contact a few times, but all in all she enjoyed a really nice relaxing bottle. (Or so we thought)

One the bottle was finished, Maddie needed a good look around to take in her surroundings. This quickly devolved into a Daddy versus honey badger wrestling contest. The crazy critter was arching her back, trying to dive onto the floor and delivering round house kicks for all she was worth.

Keep in mind this is no big deal and actually par for the course. Maddie always has ants in her pants and this kickboxing workout in her father’s arms was nothing out of the ordinary. As long as she was keeping quiet, there was nothing to worry about.

As the service progressed however, Maddie decided that she had some complaints she wanted to share with the congregation. There were just murmurs at first, but then Maddie was really ready to express herself. She started off with a complex variety a subtle squeaks and chirps that many people in the immediate area found cute and charming.

But you could see people start to wince when the squeaks morphed into sharply placed scream-bursts. Then the baby snared me into her most famous game also known as the bait-and-switch. The game works like this. Every time we get up to leave, she falls instantly silent. She flashes those gorgeous eyes at me and I’m hypnotized. I’m convinced that she is now ready to behave herself and the shenanigans have come to an end. (S-U-C-K-E-R)

After losing a few rounds of bait-and-switch, it was time to call in the big guns and hand her off to Mom. This kept Maddie quiet for all of 30 seconds until she was off to the races yet again. Mom and Maddie made their way to the back of the church. I caught up a moment later to see both Maddie and her mom covered with spit up. Easter services are only a week away and Maddie will have to work hard to top today’s performance.

Pardon the Interruption – Maddie Gets Fired Up

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Do I make you nervous?

My 7-month-old daughter has always been the model of decorum in public settings. But sweet Madeleine may well be on her way to reversing that trend.

It started in church this morning. Maddie was being as sweet as can be and once again charming all those around her, including her father. Maddie was sitting on my lap when she turned around, put her hand on my face and gave me the most amazing smile. It will always be one of those perfect moments frozen in time.

So as you can see, Maddie was in a calm and happy place, shrouded in butterscotch and ponies. But suddenly she found herself troubled by a disturbance in the force. We were just minutes from Communion when you could see her patience dry up all at once.

First she got frustrated and then she got very loud. So loud in fact that when Mom headed up for Communion, Maddie and I scooted out the back door. What’s funny is that nobody seemed to notice Maddie’s little outburst except her parents. We’re funny that way.

Fast forward to a couple hours later at a local restaurant. Maddie had just finished eating and seemed to be high spirits. However, looks can be deceiving. Once again and without warning, Maddie was off to the races.

The baby was more than happy to share her discontent with her fellow restaurant patrons. “Check Please!” As you might have guessed, the lunchtime festivities were over. We got Maddie back in the car and she was sound asleep within two minutes.

So whether this was a pair of isolated instances or the beginning of a new trend, I struggle to keep Maddie in the dark about how I really feel about these little tantrums. I absolutely love to watch her in action whether she is batting her eyes at a stranger or swinging for the fences.

Her little grunting noises and snorts of protest are just too cute. Of course I don’t want to encourage her to act out, but it’s impossible for me not love and enjoy someone like her who is just bursting with all that pent up energy and craziness.

Maddie Still Bringing Out Smiles at Church

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It's ok if you don't want to smile at me

Maddie loves attention and is at her best when she is able to make others smile. This is an art she has been perfecting at church for months now. Today she took another step in her journey to become the great entertainer.

This morning’s service had only been underway for a few minutes when I noticed something remarkable. Six smiling faces were focused in our direction, radiating with adulation for the baby girl smiling at each one of them from her child carrier. Maddie’s fan club was evenly divided between our pew and the one directly behind us.

I could only shake my head and chuckle upon looking down at the little ham who was hard at work making new friends across the congregation. Maddie was soaking up all the attention as she made those cute little baby noises that turn heads and warm hearts.

Her affection for the people surrounding her was matched only by her fascination with how the light in the church plays off of the stained glass. Her curiosity levels are off the charts right now and you can see the wheels spinning as she tries to make sense of all sights and sounds bombarding her senses.

It is so much fun to observe Maddie’s transformation and development from service to service. When we first started taking her to church, she was all about catching up on her sleep – now she is struggling to take in every morsel of information around her.

Don’t get me wrong – Maddie ran out of gas about half way through the service and was quickly in serious need of a nap. Once she started fussing, I scooped her up and she was out in just a few moments.

That was the end of this service for Maddie, but once again our little bee charmer continues to impress!

Annoyed Baby Suspends Church Services

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I made it to the church on time, but I'm leaving early!

Even though Maddie looked amazing in her pink suspenders this morning, she wanted to arrive at church with as little fanfare as possible. Flanked by her posse, she made into Mass under the radar and was soon seated comfortably in her PaPa’s arms.

The problem was, she was doing her best to make her father laugh and it was really working. She kept making funny faces and her dad kept chuckling, helpless to resist Maddie’s charming sense of humor.

PaPa was actually worried that his daughter’s shenanigans might get him into some hot water when he noticed that something was really rubbing Maddie the wrong way. It turned out that the little boy sitting in front of Madeleine had a squeaky high-pitched voice and it was really disturbing the baby. He kept chattering away and Maddie’s patience was drying up quickly.

Suddenly her bottom lip started to quiver and I realized that the tears could not be far behind. Sure enough, Maddie’s started melting down and it was time for both of us to hit the road. I gathered up my little girl and we made a beeline for the exit. As soon as we got out into the foyer, Maddie was more than happy to quiet down and take a look around.

After about 15 minutes, PaPa mistakenly tried to bring the baby back into Mass. That lasted about three whole minutes before Maddie notified her dad once again, “Time to get me out of here!”

This time we went outside and once again, Maddie was perfectly happy with the change of scenery. Maddie’s reaction to sounds continue to change from week to week, so there’s no telling which noises will bother her and which ones she will ignore. This is just another funny way the baby strives to keep us on our toes.

Maddie Enjoys Amazing Family Weekend

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Festive weekend for the little girls

Being the star of the show for an entire weekend is a tall order to fill for 10-week-old little girl, but Maddie made it through with flying colors. With a slew of aunts, uncles and grandparents vying for young Maddie’s attention, she did her best to spend a little bit of time with everybody.

It all started with Maddie’s baptism and reception on Saturday morning. We drove into freak-show central (New York City) and dressed Maddie in a stunning little baptism gown that she borrowed from her close friend Lilly. Lilly wore her’s just a couple of months ago and decided to let Maddie borrow it for special day. Maddie’s friend was a hit at the baptism as she made several very cute baby noises to cheer on the show.

We were very lucky to get Maddie baptized by Father Anthony, the same priest who baptized Stay Home PaPa and also presided over the marriage of Maddie’s parents. It was very a warm and personalized service and Maddie cracked a huge smile as soon as the Father Tony touched her forehead with the oil.

After the service, we made our way to a reception on the banks of the Hudson River with a spectacular view of Manhattan. Maddie took her time charming each and every guest at the table and the lunch was big hit.

When all was said and done, Maddie enjoyed an amazing weekend with all of her aunts and uncles, but now it’s time for some serious R&R. Maddie needs some quiet time to recharge her batteries and get herself back to a nice normal schedule. As for her parents, there are not enough hours during the night to ever catch up, but we are enjoying every minute of it!

Baby Conveys 9/11 Message of Love and Hope

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September 11th Mass of Observance

It is no secret that the tragic events of September 11th still weigh quite heavily on the minds of Americans across the country. This morning’s 10am Mass in Jersey City was a very somber occasion as the church literally once stood in the shadow of the twin towers. During this morning’s Mass, the priest stressed the importance of forgiveness and how it is a critical component of healing thyself.

The congregation was packed with toddlers and babies and Maddie was on her best behavior. The toddlers were extremely restless and the babies kept crying in fits and starts. There was an underlying tension in the air for the majority of the Mass until something truly amazing transpired at Communion.

I had Maddie in the baby carrier as I waited my turn in line to receive the sacraments. Gina, Maddie and I were about six people back when I noticed that priest seemed a bit distracted.

It slowly dawned on me that he kept stealing glances and smiling warmly at Maddie. When it was my turn to take Communion, the priest silently nodded at us. I looked lovingly at Maddie and wondered exactly what was going on. That’s when I noticed that the solemn mood of the church was breaking up as more of the congregation began to take notice of Maddie.

Something wonderful, yet inexplicable was taking place as you could actually feel the warmth and fellowship permeating the congregation and bringing everyone inside a little closer together. That’s when things got even stranger.

When Communion was over, the priest requested that any parents with a newborn baby please come to the front for a special blessing. Gina and I stood there dumbly at the back of the church until we noticed that a large portion of the congregation was staring and waiting for us.

It was one the most remarkable things I have ever been part of, but somehow, Maddie was exuding a tiny ray of light to a community that was grappling with their memories of 9/11.

We worked our way to the front of the church before a sea of faces that had suddenly found their most heartfelt smiles. The priest looked warmly at Maddie and asked what her name was. “Madeleine,” I said. He blessed the little girl and our newly formed family as that warm glow continued to spread through out the church.

I will always be thankful to be part of whatever it is that happened at Mass this morning and will never forget how Maddie delivered a small message of love and hope with just her smile.