03 December 2011

We'll Show You!

This morning my sister and I stood armed and ready with the three girls, off to conquer price comparing and Christmas shopping. They were dressed, they were fed, their hair was actually done and now we were standing in front of the doors, two children in the stroller and one holding her aunt's hand. We first promised Ruby Red a smoothie, sort of as a "peace offering", bribing her to be good while in here, and so off we went. I could just see the panicked looks of the other customers at the cafe as we entered. I thought to myself, You'll see. I'll make you WANT to have kids after you see how adept I am at juggling them. We'll show you how awesome this really is!

I was putting Baby Blue in the baby carrier on my back and swaying the stroller so Sapphire Sweetie would stay in her drousy, but blissful state. Ruby Red was up at the counter waiting for her pink smoothie. She came back with a cookie sample and without being asked split it in half and shared with her sister. I praised her and thought, See?! And you people were so worried about me and my children being a disruption!

Thought not even complete.....

Ruby Red, with her light-hearted three-year-old enthusiasm, starts jumping in an excited shivery wiggle, trips over the stroller and her whole smoothie goes flyyyyyyying. It lands at my feet, getting mine and my sister's pants dirty, causing a big slippery mess and I can't even run and hide because the smoothie-covered stroller wheels would certainly give us away. SS starts screaming- she's hungry, of course! BB is flopped out of my carrier as I hadn't had time to properly clip her in.  RR is so upset about her smoothie and crying because "No, I wasn't going to buy another one." 

Pinned Image
And we wouldn't change a thing...except for maybe that 14%!

We finally got everything cleaned up with some juggling, shifting, nursing, shush-ing, rushing and mopping. I finally looked up and saw several staring at me in horror. At this point all I was doing was laughing. I mean, what else was I supposed to do- cry?! Thinking to myself about those stares, You people are obviously way too dull to ever embark on such a journey, you over there with your darn non-fat, frothy latte, reading your paper like you have all the time in the world.
And so off we went, much to their relief, ready to finish what we had set out to accomplish.

Oh yes, and thank you to the trains and legos in the store for them to play with while mommy actually shopped!

01 December 2011

It's a Busy, Yet Wonderful Life

Wow, it's been quite awhile since I've been on here to write. A lot has changed in two months....not only do we have a new little angel in our home (Sapphire Sweetie), but mommy has begun sewing again and that has taken up most of my free time.

Remember my post a couple months ago where I said I was going to give sewing a try? Well, it has developed into a frequent past-time, and by that I mean making gifts and costumes in order to save money. ;)

I'll give a quick re-cap of what we've been up to...

Ruby Red started dance classes in September and is loving them. I have to admit, her eagerness and energy in her class often leave me anxious so I don't usually watch and just let the teachers work their magic, but I think it'll be good for her. She's learning how to interact with other kids and listen to other adults. She's my little "spitfire" so this, my husband and I believe, is essential! She's also becoming moe coordinated, which means less bumps and bruises....well, maybe.

We have also joined a Catholic homeschool group. Our girls are still very young but they're meeting great friends and we've met some amazing families!

Baby Blue is our little monkey and climbing on everything! We cannot seem to keep her off the table, no matter how we position chairs or take them away. Even falling flat on her face doesn't seem to keep her from going back...this right now is my biggest challenge with the kiddos. She's finally starting to realize that time out isn't just a "big girl" thing and isn't as fun as it looks...  Baby Blue has also started showing a lot of interest in potty-training, much to my dismay. I have to admit that I'm trying to discourage it at this time (mom fail!) but I just cannot commit to it with a very frequent nursing baby over here. I also don't want to discourage it so that she fears it in the future, so she often hangs out bare from the waist down, sitting on her little potty whenever she chooses. It's very cute, although kinda chilly! She has also been weaned from her binki this week! It was done unintentionally (and at a bad time since daddy left for a trip the day after....) but we couldn't find any of hers and thought "Why not take the plunge?!" So far so good, except for every night at 3 am. I have found that giving her a binki (yes, I eventually found one) with the tip cut off to try to discourage her keeps her somewhat calm and is only given at this ungodly hour of the night! It's very cute to hear her babbling in the car now- she and RR are now competing for who gets to talk the most. Needless to say, Christmas carols are helping mommy block out the competition when it gets to be very volumous ;).

Sapphire Sweetie is already getting so big! She's now in 3 month clothes, is our "chubbiest" baby yet, smiles and talks all the time, loves to eat and loves her big sisters! The older two can often be found holding her and wiping the "pook" (puke) off her face, as Baby Blue declares. Our little girl is extremely intolerant of even the smallest amount of gluten, so our whole family is now gluten free. This took some getting used to but we've adjusted well. A post to come in the future.

The girls were all M&M's for halloween. Ruby Red was St Helena and Baby Blue was St Teresa of Avila for All Saints' Day. I sewed all their costumes myself!

In November my niece turned 2 and I made her a homemade gift. I actually like how it turned out so much that I made it again for Baby Blue for Christmas! A post on how-to will be showing up soon in my children's blog.

Dan and I hosted our 1st Thanksgiving this year, and all gluten-free (including yummy stuffing, pie crusts and dinner rolls)! It went off perfectly and even we were amazed at how smoothly it went. We even had time to relax! Below is a picture of our turkey!

I am almost complete with my mom's birthday gift. My fingers, back and knees are so sore from having to pin the rest of it together on the floor tonight but it's turning out awesome and I can't wait to give it to her. Pictures and details will follow after it's been given to her.

My husband has been on the road (or rather, in the air) for his job a lot. In the past month he's been to Cannes, France; Hawaii; and is currently en route to Ethiopia....yes that's right, in Africa. We miss him more than words can say and are looking forward to having him home for more than a week!

My sister has moved in with us while she pays off student loans. She has a job and is also our "nanny". Sometimes I wonder if she regrets living at the zoo but she humors the girls and plays Ring Around the Rosie and Hide n' Seek countless times a day. I don't know what I'd do without her with Dan traveling so much!

Well, for now that's a pretty good summary. I'll try to write more often. I really do miss keeping track of what we've been up to, especially with our little girlies.

For now, may God bless you this Advent and draw you closer to Him!

15 September 2011

Little Sophie's Story

2 days old
I was 37 weeks 5 days and it was a typical Tuesday. We had a fun weekend with the girls, venturing out to the Air Show where the Braxton-Hicks were quite strong. We joked of having the baby in the 2 hour car jam, but we never thought she'd actually be here soon. Our Sunday was normal as well: breakfast with my parents and dinner with his. When I woke up Tuesday morning I regretted that I had cancelled our apple picking field trip and thought maybe we'd head to the apple orchard an hour away but exhaustion got the better of me- thank goodness! The night before my husband asked me if I was ok with the house being so out-of-order. To be honest, I hadn't noticed it wasn't as tidy as usual but I took that as a sign that I should clean. (He wasn't being rude or anything, but I normally become extremely anxious with any mess so I think he was surprised and wanted to know if he should be cleaning). I vacuumed the whole house and listed 27 books on half.com during the day on Tuesday. I went through boxes of books and preschool things and cleaned out the house. I had no real movitavtion- I was simply trying to keep busy. My braxton hicks contractions were unusually dull. In fact, I was getting increasingly annoyed because they were so weak that the thought occurred to me that with contractions like these labor would never start, not even a month from now. So, after naptime, around 4:15 we headed out 30-40 minutes away from home to look for some red raspberry leaf tea in bulk. I wanted the bulk stuff so it was stronger. My intention was not to induce but to get some contractions helping me tone the uterus for labor, delivery and recovery later in the month. I had NO idea I'd have a baby that day. If I did, I would have never ever gone out, especially alone with two very active little girls. Our two stops were completely unsuccessful and I headed home annoyed that I didn't find the tea in bulk. I called my husband and told him I'd have dinner started when he got home. It was now 5:30ish and he was on his way home from work. I walked in the door and turned on the oven to make some biscuits and re-heat the enormous pot of homemade soup I made the day before. As I bent over to get a pot for the soup (it was 5:45) I felt a pop and then a gush. Never having my water break before my first thought was, "That was odd. I don't think I peed. No, I know I didn't. I'm still leaking. OH. MY. GOSH!" Realizing what just happened I had many discombobulated thoughts, "Oh God, I'm not ready! I wasn't expecting this for another few weeks. I don't want to push a person out of me today! ....I never washed those baby hats. Maybe I should call Dan....." I told Ruby Red, "Mommy's going to be having a baby today so I need you to take care of your sister until Daddy gets home". Her reply was, "Ok mommy. We'll just be jumping on the bed!" My reply, "Well, just don't bump your heads" as nonchalantly as if she told me they were going to read books or play with dolls. I really couldn't worry about what they were doing at that moment. I called Dan. I had just gotten off the phone with him about 10 minutes before so he was in complete disbelief when I called him back and told him to come lights and sirens home. He got home soon after and asked how I was doing. Well, except for this gross clear fluid running down my leg, I was fine. I assured him it'd be a much longer labor, a couple hours at least as I barely had cramping. I began to prepare myself mentally- something I've never been able to do before. I wandered the house wondering what to do. This was much too calm for labor. And then they started coming.....  The contractions picked up and with every one came a gush of fluid. I decided to hang out in the bathroom so I didn't leak fluid everywhere. My mom arrived to feed the girls dinner and Dan had the pool filled and ready to go. Yay, I'd actually have time for a water-birth!  Ruby Red would occasionally pop into the bathroom to rub my leg and tell me Sophie didn't mean to hurt me and assured me that I was ok. Baby Blue came in too, completely unaware of what was about to enter her world but loving a pool in the living room to splash in! The midwife was called and Dan stayed with me, helping me stay as calm and as relaxed as I could. I truly could not have done it without him! I had 3 contractions so bad I honestly didn't think I could go on. I remember my eyes welling up with tears and Dan telling me how great I was doing. I felt her drop downward quick and hard. I apparently gave him a look he recognized with the other two girls and told me we better get to the pool if I wanted a water birth. I agreed and then came the worst contraction of all. I stood up and Dan tried encouraging me to move but I couldn't. The pressure was so intense and all I could do was lean over him. He asked if I could sit back down. I couldn't. He was now kneeling on the bathroom floor and I had one hand on his shoulder, the other on the bathroom sink. He let me know she was crowning. Oh believe me, I know. I let out a yell as her head popped out. Her body followed soon after and Dan scrambled to find a towel in the bathroom to catch her. We rolled her over twice since the cord was wrapped around her body and her arm. (It's now 6:30- a 45 minute labor from start to finish!) I took her into my arms and we slowly headed to the bedroom where I placed her on my chest and instantly fell in love. I couldn't have imagined it any more wonderful. There was no rushing to get anywhere and I didn't even care that I never made it to the pool. It was just my husband and I, just as I always wanted. He's now become a pro a this baby catching and birthing thing! Our second unassisted birth complete! We sat together adoring our new little miracle. Our midwife arrived about 15 minutes later, I think. I gave birth to the placenta about an hour after she was born and Dan cut the cord after that.
Right from the start our little girl nursed amazing, latching on perfectly as if she was a pro! She hasn't stopped eating since. She weighed 6 lbs 6 oz and was 19 3/4 in long. A beautiful, tiny and perfect size!
The girls came in and were instantly enamoured with her. Ruby Red refused to touch her at first because she was "so cheesy" as she said. She was "cheesy" for sure and smelled so wonderful!
The recovery was difficult at first as I couldn't keep any food down for the first 24 hours and the after-birth pains were almost worse than the labor itself. My sister-in-law joked that my body just had to get those contractions in there somehow, even if afterwards. It really seemed to be that way. Homeopathy has been crucial and has thankfully made everything much more tolerable.
Ruby Red has been such a help! She holds her baby sister every time I need to get up and is so gentle and motherly. She had to check her out right away. "Mommy, can I see her bummy? .....Oh my goodness, she has the cutest and tiniest buns!" "Mommy, can I see her boobies?..... Oh they're so little....not like your big ones Mommy!"  LOL Out of the mouths of babes....  
Even Baby Blue has been amazing and gives "a-bee" (baby) kisses all day long!
Little Sophie-girl is happy with whoever she's with. She instantly recognized daddy's and her sisters voices and is easily calmed by any of us, except, of course, when she's hungry!
We are so grateful for this new blessing in our lives. Dan and I keep saying over and over again how incredible this all is. The third time around and we're still as in awe as if it was the first time.

Mommy and Sophia's 1st picture together

Daddy with his little princess

Ruby Red in love

Proud big sister, Baby Blue!
(She now walks around like she's "hot stuff" LOL)
                                  Praise Him from whom all blessings flow!

13 September 2011

A Shopping Experience Like No Other

Anyone that knows me knows that I am in love with Wegmans. Seriously it's almost hysterical how excited I get at even the thought of going there. Ruby Red has picked up on this by now and asks weekly when we're going again, knowing a trip is sure to be around the corner. I am proud of myself, though, because I don't go just to to buy stuff but simply use this as my almost exclusive grocery store. Many have argued with me telling me it's more expensive than the other local grocery store and I politely ignore them.

This actually brings me to the point of this post:
In an attempt to prove people wrong and prove to myself and my husband that I wasn't wasting money going there instead of the other grocery store, I decided to "painstakingly" compare prices for every item on my rather large bi-monthly shopping trip. Painstakingly here is in quotes because except for the two separate stops with two kids who wanted to be in and out of one store only, it was easy peasy. Why? Because Wegmans is awesome, that's why! Before we went I printed up a shopping list on Wegmans website for the store location that we use- they listed every item on my list with prices by aisle, making it a quick in and out trip for a momma! So, with my printed Wegmans list in hand we first went to the other grocery store, going up and down every aisle and comparing the prices. I would only put in my cart what was cheaper than Wegmans- not even what was equal in price (there weren't many things equal in price anyway). Why would I want to give them the business when they are clearly not the superior grocer?! Am I crazy? Probably a little. I ended up with a very small shopping cart and spent only about $15. These items were on sale- if they hadn't been, none of them would have been cheaper! I'm not even kidding you! In fact, I found that overall, items ranged from $0.20-$3.00 more expensive per item! For the little amount of money I saved, I've resolved that except for the quick trips (since Wegmans is about 2-3 miles farther away) Wegmans is for us. And, except for some things at VitaCost, Wegmans usually has many health-food items for a pretty decent price! Also to mention, they have W-kids, which Ruby Red loves, so why wouldn't I go there?!

Now on to my Wegmans shopping experience. Oh yes, there's more....  Once Ruby Red is dropped off and happily playing, Baby Blue and I make our way down the aisles that the Wegmans shopping list has carefully organized for me so that we're not back-tracking our footsteps. My husband was amazed by the ease of the list when I used it again for a different trip. I would have him look at the list and he'd go off and get me a few things. He told me the list was incredible and that he'd be able to do all my shopping with no mistakes once baby comes saying it's "husband-proof" (his words, not mine). I mean, they do have cute little pictures and everything so it's really quite hard to mess up.

When my husband isn't with us I also ask for a carry-out. I get the kiddos buckled into the car and they load my groceries, and since they're not allowed to accept tips it's all very easy for the mom with kids in tow. At first I was really awkward about asking for this and only tried it after seeing two other moms ask for one. It really was quite wonderful. However, I have to point out that I only use this for big trips when my husband isn't there.

I know it may seem funny that I'm writing a whole post about my favorite grocery store, but I really really love this place and I didn't even mention the awesome cafe or bakery!

I don't know about other grocers, but if you don't have a Wegmans around you, you should check the websites of local stores to see if they print lists. It really does make it easier!

23 August 2011

Getting Crafty

My sewing machine from the '60's
 A few weeks ago I decided to take a stab at making my own cloth wipes for the girls. We use so many and with another baby on the way, I thought I should probably start taking money-saving things like this more seriously. I referenced my sister-in-law's blog post and instructions and off we went to the fabric store. Borrowing my mom's surger, it took about an hour to surge 80 wipes. Done!

Even though it was so easy (I mean it was only 4 straight sides) it gave me enough of a boost to want to do more. I used to sew in middle and high school but the last thing I sewed was my graduation dress back in 2003. Now, I'm trying to be a frugal and practical stay-at-home momma and figured if I could get back into it, I could really save us some money.

Of course do I start with something easy? I'm not sure yet but I do know there are a lot of pieces and it's going to take some patience. Yet, my idea to make my own cloth pads for myself seems worth the effort. With a new baby on the way in 5 weeks, I know I'll be going through them. Granted I will use disposable for the 1st week or so, but my thought is that not only is it going to save me money since they last for years, but it's also healthier and, in reality, less disgusting going in the wash instead of a landfill where they will never decompose. Ew!

After buying the fabric a little at a time using coupons, I finally have all the flannel and PUL material cut out. I also had the idea of cutting and surging my old pre-fold cloth diapers to use as the inserts. Now all I have to do is get this old 1969 sewing machine up and running. This morning I cleaned it from top to bottom- a very unpleasant task as it was covered with mice droppings since it's sat in my parents garage/barn for about 5-10 years. That done, we're off to see if it works! I'll keep you posted on my rather big, at this point anyway, project!

16 August 2011

Creekside Meandor

Before my husband left for a week-long trip we wanted to spend some fun quality time with the girls. We, however, did not want to stay at home but also didn't want to spend money. It was such a beautiful sunny day so we decided to take a walk to the park to go wading in the creek. It was so much fun! The girls hopped (carefully) right in to the little creek and babbling brook and off we went "exploring". We followed little minnows, crawfish, tadpoles and other schools of fish. We also climbed and hopped rocks, although this was a bit tricky since they were slippery. It was such a relaxing afternoon. We all got pretty dirty as we all slipped several times into muddy puddles but it was so worth it. The smiles on their faces and shrieks of joy coming from them as they splashed and ran after the schools of fish was priceless.
This is how most of our summer has been spent- outside doing free family activites. We have enjoyed every single minute of our free-time together this summer! I hope you have taken advantage of the summer outside if weather has allowed for it!

14 August 2011

Baby-led weaning

One thing I was excited about the most when I first learned I was expecting Ruby Red was breastfeeding. I couldn't wait! I read all I could to put to rest any questions that might arise from problems breastfeeding. I was confident and it was going to work. Working in a daycare setting full-time, and in the infant room to boot, I saw many mothers start out breastfeeding only to end that relationship around 3 months. It saddened me and I was determined that was not going to be me.

Ruby Red latched on right away, within 10 minutes of being born, and I thought "this is pretty easy". Hours later I would take back those thoughts as she tried and tried to get a good latch and just couldn't. I didn't understand it. I had heard of babies screaming with the breast in the baby's mouth without the baby closing his mouth to latch on, but she was actually trying. So why was this so difficult?! I cried and became increasingly frustrated. This was supposed to be natural?! My mom was a great support as she had problems breastfeeding me in the beginning and had also coached many moms on how to breastfeed successfully as a neonatal and lactation nurse. She tried to put my mind at ease by telling me we'd get it. But that night I was desperate. I asked for a nurse who could help me- she was amazing and spent her entire night shift with Ruby Red and I until she pitifully latched on. When the pediatrician arrived the next day, we learned she was having trouble because she was tongue-tied. Great- the only thing I didn't research was whether to snip the frenuluum or not and how to help stretch it if I decided not to. After much thought I decided to leave it alone. I wanted to keep things as natural as I could and didn't want the pain of snipping the frenuluum to interfere with breastfeeding. We'd just have to work hard at getting this to work and I knew it would eventually stretch enough for her tongue to stick out to eat. I was right but it was a long process! By the time it became "natural" for us my let-downs took forever and were pitiful until she got going....which she barely ever did since she'd fall asleep from being exhausted trying. I began to drink Mother's Milk tea, take fenugreek and pump around the clock. This gave me enough milk to at least give her my breastmilk in a bottle. I was sad that I sometimes had to resort to the bottle, but she was getting the best nutrition and I had to do what was best for her. I was told she was "failure to thrive" by not only the pediatrician but also our homeopath, so I knew the bottle was sometimes necessary. (She wasn't gaining weight at all her 1st 3 months). She never ever nursed long enough to get the hind-milk containing the good fat she needed, so I would pump this into a bottle for her and she finally started gaining weight at 3 1/2 months. It would be a long and difficult journey. I spent many days topless and in the bathtub with her, but it wasn't because of a lack of bonding that she and I had a strained breastfeeding relationship. We made it 10 1/2 months before I decided to put her on raw milk and say we were done. I cried for 2 weeks straight and bottle-fed her in bedrooms at people's houses, embarrassed and not wanting anyone to know we were done. Thankfully I had a lot of affirmation from family who knew I wasn't a failure and had given it my all. Once on raw milk she became the content little baby I knew she could be and has been the healthiest, happiest, strongest little girl ever since.

It was different with Baby Blue. Much different! She latched on and wanted only momma from the start. The first time my husband and I tried leaving her with grandparents and a bottle at 4 months, we were called home during the previews of a movie because she refused the bottle and was screaming. She continued to refuse the bottle until she was 8 months, and even then it took quite a bit of convincing but it was okay and my husband and I simply brought her along on our dates. I hoped to nurse her until she was at least 18 months, just like I had hoped with Ruby Red. It seemed like this would defintely happen this time and I was thrilled. But one morning in late January she saw her sister and her two friends with sippy cups and before I could stop her she was sucking away at her sister's sippy with newfound happiness on her face. I panicked and took it away from her as quick as I could and goodness was she mad at me! No way was she going to like that sippy this early! But it was too late. Whenever she found one laying around (which was often as I was watching my girlfriends two little girls two days a week), she jumped on the opportunity to snatch one. Yet she still loved nursing and so I was "okay" with it, although I tried to discourage it as much as I could. Mid-February she suddenly refused to nurse altogether and I cried. I wanted another 7 months nursing her. I knew I was expecting another baby by this time but I wasn't planning on weaning her until 16 months. (The thought of tandem nursing overwhelmed me as I would have 3 kids 3 and under. I know it can be done but the thought stressed me out.) My sister-in-law helped me to see that I wasn't a failure and that this was, in fact, baby-led weaning; it was in her time, not mine. Within 3 weeks she was totally weaned and on raw milk. I tried a few times after that to nurse and she would suckle but I knew she wasn't getting anything. After awhile that became painful and so I was finally ready to let go.

I don't know what the future holds for this new little baby but I'm hoping that the 1st year will, at the very least, go as smoothly as Baby Blue's. It's important to keep in mind that every mother and every baby is different. I've seen mom's nurse for years and others who weren't as committed. I firmly believe that breastmilk is the absolute best and a necessity for babies, the length of time just differs greatly between families.

Oh yes, one more thing- anyone who would argue that the use of a binki discourages breastfeeding I find to be wrong. I'm sorry I'm putting it out there so bluntly but I do. I don't think babies should be given anything but momma for the 1st few months, until breastfeeding is established. However, we used pacifiers for both our girls  from 3-4 months on and only after they were fully done nursing and dozing off to sleep and in the car. I will argue with anyone who says this was why my girls weaned when they did. I know them- that was not the reason! They still woke up every couple of hours to breastfeed day and night and never wanted the binki if they could have mommy!

08 August 2011

The Big Birthday Debate

About a week ago my oldest turned 3! I cannot even believe it. We've come so far in 3 years and our lives have changed so much. We have been so incredibly blessed!

As the time to start planning a birthday party for Ruby Red approached, my husband and I hemmed and hawed about whether or not to invite great aunts and uncles and my husband's co-workers. It may seem odd to even consider co-workers, but with husbands that travel as often, sporadic, and last-minute as ours do, we have become second families to each other and celebrate our children's birthdays and even holidays like Thanksgiving together. I was worried about how big the party would be but my husband and I settled on inviting everyone. It's an honor and a blessing to have such loving family and friends who want to be a part of your little kiddos lives and since we won't be with this group of friends forever or in this area for too much longer, it just felt right. We've resolved that these people really love us and our children and are so excited when asked to come to their parties, so we will do just that. The girls parties will be significantly smaller as we move away from family so we're going to appreciate it right now.

The only problem my husband and I had with the big party was all the gifts. Sure I could, and did last year, put a note in the invitations saying "no gifts necessary" but I've realized that if they don't want to they won't bring a gift, and if they want to they will anyway. In fact, I resolved that this time if someone asked me what she wanted or liked I would give very forthright answers. I hate it when I ask someone what they're child is interested in and the parents acts all humble saying "Oh you don't need to get her/him anything...."  It drives me crazy! If I'm asking, I'm going to get the child something so please give me some direction. I don't find you modest. I find it down-right frustrating as I fumble through the kid's aisles wondering what the heck the child and parent will be ok with! I know I don't have to get "little Mary" something, but maybe I want to so please help me out unless you want to complain about the gift I did choose. (Obviousy this is a big pet-peeve of mine!)

As her party approached we were both a little anxious as we didn't know what to expect with presents. We surely didn't invite anybody for the gifts but knew they would be there, looming over both of us like a big rain-cloud. I also wasn't sure how Ruby Red would react to gifts. Many parents that I am friends with have told stories of how their kids were out of control with the "gimmies" on their birthdays and how embarrassing it was....I've also witnessed it and been appalled. But those same parents complain about the volume of toys in their house and I'm left wondering how many they really have. I've actually wanted a few more toys for Ruby Red, who has since become bored with all the baby toys her sister is in to playing with. However, I also wanted it clear to Ruby Red that it's not about the gifts but about the people who love her and want to share her special day with her. Never getting new toys unless it's her birthday or Christmas, I was worried she would be on "gift-overload".

Ruby Red was a true gem and set the tone very nicely. In fact, I was so impressed with her graciousness with every gift, many times running up to whoever gave her the latest gift to thank them and give them a hug. I here have to take a moment to thank her grandparents as well. I have seen that children who get gifts all year long from grandmas and grandpas tend to be more bratty than others. No really. It's like they think they're entitled to be spoiled. I don't blame the children but the parents who don't nip this in the bud. My parents and in-laws have given an occastional unexpected gift here and there, but it's always been something thoughtful and small and often needed like an outfit or pair of shoes. When she does receive gifts she truly appreciates them because she's not looking for them. For anyone who knows Ruby Red, her 1st "love language" may be quality time but her 2nd is gift giving. Two tiny orange tic tacs as a reward for a good day send her through the roof with joy and a popcicle at grandma's is amazing! (For the record, even though we have popcicles at home, they're more for when a visitor comes so they're still a big deal to her....) It's not about how big it is, it's the thought behind that little gift and I hope she's learning that. Her grandparents have certainly helped in that department and I thank them for setting their priorities for our children by not being excessive, but rather loving and selfless in ways that extend beyond all the "stuff" and help her focus herself on her true prize of getting to Heaven.

So, in summary, thank you to everyone who loves our girls so much. And thank you to Ruby Red. Mommy and daddy were both so proud of you. We hope you have a fun and lively 3rd year. I can't wait to see all the things you create, all the kisses you give the new baby, and all the time you spend playing with Baby Blue. You are a greater gift than we could have ever imagined!

Ruby Red thanking her Godmother

02 August 2011

Our Road to Having a Homebirth

People who know how crazy and fast my labor with Baby Blue was probably assume that the reason my husband and I are choosing a homebirth with this baby is that we don't want another baby born in the car.  Although this made our decision a clear and easy one, it is not the main reason.

Once I found out I was expecting our first child I looked into every option and was drawn to the idea of a homebirth. Unfortunately this was not received with support from people I worked with. As I began researching more I felt it was a safe option, but then I also knew several women who had homebirths previously and let's just say a few left me feeling less than confident in the saftey factor. In fact, I became down-right afraid of what labor and birth entailed because of their haunting stories of their homebirths, so my husband and I decided that a hospital birth was the best way for our first little one. The birth went as smoothly as can be expected in a hospital setting, as long as I stood firm- even kicking a nurse because she really needed to back off. In any event, I look back on that birth with great fondness and no regret. I remember her purple little body being laid on my chest and me thinking, "She is not my baby...she is ALL my husband....but she's so pretty and I love her". Thankfully I had the presence of mind to insist on breastfeeding right away and she seemed quite enthusiastic about the idea. They let me completely finish feeding her before I handed her to my husband and mother while I was stitched up. (Because she came so fast I had a 3rd, almost 4th degree tear... This was truly the worst part of it all.)  The nurses were actually great this first time around in the hospital- very supportive, left us alone, let my daughter room in and never separated us. I had the greatest nurse (she reminded me of an old spirited southern nanny) who helped Ruby Red latch on and helped us breastfeed successfully. My OB/GYN was amazing as well and very open to whatever I wanted. I was very lucky.

The second time around I knew I couldn't listen to anyone else's stories of their births, whether in the hospital or at home, and had to go with my "gut"- and that was telling me to go with a homebirth. Yet my husband was skeptical, offering that he'd be OK with the decision to birth at home but not entirely comfortable with the idea. But I needed him to be more than OK- I needed him on-board 100% and knew that he wasn't. I have also learned that he comes around in his own time and so I prayed for wisdom, clarity and open-mindedness on both our parts. It became apparent that he wasn't going to be comfortable with a homebirth and I willingly accepted that. More than anything I needed us to be on the same page and I knew I could hold my own in a hospital setting so the thought didn't worry me in the least. I was somewhat criticized for letting how my husband felt affect my decision, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I prayed that through this birth my husband would see that there was a better way, but I also prayed for the safety of the baby and myself. I didn't want either of us to suffer to prove anything. God truly took care of this as our little Baby Blue couldn't wait any longer and arrived en route to the hospital, completely healthy and kicking away on my chest. She was a champ from the start and I again insisted on breastfeeding her before any "checks" be done on either one of us and the hospital obliged. This time I had an obnoxious nurse about my age who treated me like I was stupid and bossed me around, telling me I wasn't doing things right by having her sleep in bed with me and that I was nursing her too much. After putting that nurse in her place and being assigned a new one, our stay was lovely and relaxing and I had a lot of time to bond with her before we brought her home to meet Ruby Red. It really was a blessing in disguise since our Ruby Red broke a fever of 104 degrees the night I went into labor with Baby Blue. She lay on the couch listless and so sick and both her grandmothers did more to take care of her and give her the snuggles she needed than I would have been able to. I ached to be with her yet I needed to be with my new baby. God knew what He was doing and it really did work out the way it was supposed to.

Immediately after the birth of Baby Blue I was less than willing to compromise the third time around and was pretty frank with my husband. He instantly agreed that we'd go for a homebirth this time and became informed so that he, too, would be confident in our decision. He has been nothing but supportive and fought for what I want on more than one occasion this pregnancy. It's amazing to see the transformation and when I suggest something that I think may be a point of stress for us to talk through, he has trusted me, researched and backed me on everything. We were originally hoping to go with an unassisted homebirth and he willingly said he'd give it a shot. After much prayer I'm the one who decided this wasn't right for now. My previous two births being so quick I had no time to control pushing to reduce tearing or change positions. I also went into shock both times and was pretty sick afterwards, as my body didn't have time to ease into labor...and then suddendly there was a person coming out of my body. My husband was a huge factor in my being OK after the birth of both girls, but I'm still apprehensive about the tearing. In talking to my midwife about how I wanted to have an unassisted birth she has been nothing but supportive and encouraging, reassuring us that she will stand back and basically let us still have that unassisted birth, while being there to make sure I'm OK after the baby is born. I feel like I'm getting the best of both worlds as eveyone who I want to support me is doing so.

I am more than excited about the birth of this baby. My husband has been the most incredible support with my other two births and I couldn't do this without him. I'd like to call him my amazing "doula" but he really wouldn't like that...  Yet he really does know how to keep me calm and focused, which is quite a task as my body goes from 0-1000 in minutes. It's similar to a sprint- most women experience going through a marathon where they can at least ease into it a little bit and process what's going on, but so far I have had time for neither. We have pictures of us, our sonogram picture and the Blessed Mother present during the birth and he reminds me to unite my pain to the Cross. It is a very unifying and holy experience and takes away most anxiety. It truly is beautiful for us and I cannot wait to experience it with him again....except for those last few minutes of course. But those are fleeting and behold the most precious gift of a new life that we have cooperated in bringing into this world.

I have no regrets with our decisions in the past. They have helped shaped us both into true advocates for homebirth and fighting for what a woman wants and deserves during birth. Those experiences also give me a deep respect for each woman who decides to do it in her own way. One way is NOT better or more beautiful than the other.  Each brings a little baby into the world and each shapes your character and hopefully brings you and your spouse closer together. True, one way is best for you and your spouse and I hope you follow your heart in your decision.

08 July 2011

I eagerly await every moment spent with you

Today was one of those days...  You know the kind I'm talking about.  The kids are miserable and nothing will help settle them down.  Not even stopping everything you're doing to just sit and hold them helps.  You give them Chamomilla 200c and an icy thing for them to chew on- both bringing no relief.  Finally you resolve that even though the baby has been awake for only an hour, maybe laying her down would be best. Great! One child in a better mood. ...Now on to the other who's pining for attention, yet not wanting to do anything you suggest. And, as I'm racking my brain for what to do with her I'm also staring at 2 loads of unfolded laundry, the dirty cloth diapers are calling out my name, there's dog hair everywhere, the floor has spill spots everywhere and don't even get me started on the bathroom...  Maybe it sounds like I'm losing it or exaggerating, but unfortunately I am not. I decide to make cleaning fun and include my daughter. It starts out great. We vacuum first, backwards I know, but I just had to get all that dog hair gone.  And then, my mood turns from getting better to instantly worse as I see all the cobwebs and dust bunnies under furniture, in corners and all around the baseboards. If you don't know me, then believe me when I tell you this is a nightmare for me. The baby is now awake and I am in a foul mood- and at nobody but myself.
In desperation I decide we're leaving the house for the day. I cannot deal with this calmly and rationally in the mood I'm in and do not want to take it out on 2 adorably innocent little girls.

Best decision I've ever made!

We headed downtown for what would become a most pleasant afternoon at the waterfront, with a picnic lunch, participating in free toddler activities that they have every Friday in the summer and then meeting up with our handsome man for some ice cream by the water. It was picture perfect. As we were walking with our girls my heart was all a-flutter and I couldn't help but think, "I feel like we're dating. I just love him." The girls completely enamored with seeing daddy during the workday, my mind began to wander and the thought came to me that whenever we're out either alone or as a family, I still get butterflies and go back to feeling like we're 17 again.  As my husband walked towards his car, headed back to work, I watched him. I thanked God for him and that I get to see him every day. I couldn't wait until he got home that evening to spend more time together. Just seeing him and being out of the house put me in the best mood ever.
Then I started to think again. Do I feel this way when I'm headed to Mass or am I this eager and in love when in front of the Blessed Sacrament? I should be. I don't dread going and often look forward to teaching my daughter about the Eucharist. But still, it's different. I don't think I often approach Mass or the Eucharist with such excitment, as if I am going to visit the Love of my life. Far too often I think that with the bustle of getting us all out of the house clean and happy I take our visits to Church for granted. This must change. Of course I'm going to have stressed out days where they don't want to cooperate, someone poops on the way out, there's still messy faces from breakfast and their hair hasn't been combed yet. I think my husband and I make a sincere effort to prepare for Mass but after seeing my husband today I realized that I have lately approached the Mass with more of a "Let's just get through this" and "I really hope the girls behave" attitude. I'm not saying we don't love Our Lord or enjoy going because I honestly think we both do. If we didn't, we simply wouldn't be going in the first place. I know faith is more than a feeling and I realize that feelings aren't the most important part but I do think they should be there. My whole self- body, mind, heart and soul- should long for the next time I will have Him in the Eucharist, as if one day is too long to go without Him. This is my challenge for the weeks ahead.

03 June 2011

Motherly Instinct

When I first found out I was pregnant with my oldest I knew there were going to be a lot of opinions and unwanted advice thrown at me. I also knew that it would be hard for me and my husband to sift through the information and figure out what was in the best interest of our children and what worked best for us. It was a long hard lesson and we made many "mistakes" along the way that have made us both more confident and better parents. Needless to say, this second time around we are the ones in control and refuse to be swayed by others.
It is hardest when you're doing differently what your family is telling you how something should be done. Granted, this really hasn't happened too much as we've been blessed with support from both sides, but still I'm sure there are things that I have done as a mother that have left family rolling their eyes or disagreeing with me. We've learned that this is ok though because they mean well and give advice out of love (or at least I think). Maybe the advice they gave wasn't wrong when they went through this but it doesn't mean it's right for us. My husband and I struggled a lot in the beginning. As adults we had to realize that we were ADULTS. We are well-educated and continue to do research, not just on the internet but from many sources and weigh both the pros and cons with everything. I think except for breastfeeding we seriously sought out every option and considered it before figuring out what we would do...and we changed things as we saw one thing or another work or not work. I think it's important to admit when maybe it's time to try something else.l

Adding a blog button

You know those little blog buttons you see on the side bars of people's blogs? Well I've been wanting one for sometime but the thought of figuring it all out completely overwhelmed me. After 2 full and frustrating days of googling instructions and trying to upload it with the picture showing, I have finally done it!

Here are easy step by step instructions:
Thank you to Musings of a Housewife for her (finally!) easy-for-anyone-to-do instructions!

  • First you'll want to create your button.
Use either Picasa or Photobucket.
For mine, I used Picasa to create it, but then uploaded it into Photobucket for the URL you will need. At least for me, this was the only way I got the button to show up without hyperlinks.
Make sure that when you create it, it's a square. At the end, resize it to either 125x125 pixels or 150x150 pixels. Save it and upload. Like I said, I saved it on my computer in my pictures folder, then uploaded it to Photobucket.
You can use different software and pay to get images, but I had an image already so didn't bother.

  • For the button only. Replace the Web Page URL with the link to your blog. Make sure you keep the quotation marks! Replace the Image URL with the IMG code (for Photobucket). Delete the brackets [IMG] before and after the URL. Make sure you don't delete the quotation marks!
<a href="Web Page URL"><img src="Image URL"></a>

  • For the button with the drop box for the code (This allows others to snatch your code to put on their blog. This is an easy way for others to go to your blog, by simply clicking on your button in someone else's blog!)
This is what mine looks like (replace all of my info with yours, using above instructions for blog and image URL):

<a href="http://lifewellloved.blogspot.com/%22%3E%3Cimg src="http://i1131.photobucket.com/albums/m555/created2bholy/myblogbutton.jpg" border="0" /></a><p><textarea
2 class="tiny" name="1" rows="3" cols="18"><br /><a href="http://lifewellloved.blogspot.com/%22%3E%3Cimg
3 src="http://i1131.photobucket.com/albums/m555/created2bholy/myblogbutton.jpg" border="0" /></a></textarea></p>


02 June 2011

Thank you!


 I received my 1st blogging award yesterday from my sister-in-law! She began blogging a few months before me and after seeing how she and our other SIL blogged as a sort of journaling it sounded like a good idea.

There are rules for me to follow in posting this so I'm going to jump right into it:

1) Tell who gave it to you. My sister-in-law, one of my closest friends and supports in motherhood. She and I grew up together. I love that our little girls will grow up together and I love that she and I are mommys together. It makes the tough times easier when you have someone who thinks the same way you do and is always encouraging- this is what she is for me. Check out her blog here!

2) Link back to their blog.

3) Pass it on to five more bloggers. 
4) Name someone who has really affected you in some way. Well I always seem to mention my husband, so this time I'll choose my mom. She is my other rock and support. I trust my girls with her completely and know they're always in good hands when with her. On top of this, she one of my best friends and we often do things like "gym dates", and when time allows coffee and movie dates. She's fun to simply hang out with too- we both love to talk so the conversation is always flowing. (I think my husband and dad like it because all they have to do is listen...or maybe not...we might not notice if they're ignoring us, but I don't think they do ;) )

If you've been awarded today, here's how to add it to your profile:
Click on the picture and save it to your computer.
Upload it onto your blog anywhere you'd like. 
Some people have separate pages for awards; others display them using a gadget on the side.
Next, spread it to 5 other people!
Let them know you've given it to them. :)

31 May 2011

Qualified: The Case for the Homeschool Mom

My husband and I are soon journeying into "homeschooling" our preschooler. We hemmed and hawed at the idea even before we were expecting our oldest. We knew the sacrifices, the benefits and the things we would like to do differently (there's not much) because he and I, too, were homeschooled.

I have several friends currently dappling with the idea. Some are worried about structure and some about being "qualified" as a teacher. Let me set something straight, if you aren't a complete "ignoramous" you ARE qualified. The beauty of homeschooling is learning and growing with your child. Often your spouse will fill in where you aren't as versed. As a mother or father, it is our right, our duty to educate our children. We have been their primary educators since day one- why change that if the means (jobs, money, spouse, support, etc) allow us to do so? And since the institution of schools has been around for less than a century in the context that we know it, we can see that our children have grown and been nutured successfully in the home for hundreds of years. I know the argument could be made that only the wealthy were eductaed and had tutors but as truthful as this is, this isn't where all genius' came from.

I also realize homeschooling isn't for everyone. My husband and I support any family who decides a traditional school is best for their family. There is no "one way" for anything, education included. Homeschooling, for now, seems to fit us the best. Dan and I have agreed that we will take it one year at a time, each child individually and see what's working and best for that child, us (Dan and I) and our family.

Some would argue that because I'm a stay at home mom I'm not qualified since I don't have an education degree and haven't taught in a classroom setting. Well, I believe this absolutely preposterous! A few of my "education major" friends from college have straight-out told me that the parent is the most qualified teacher out there and that much of the schooling they experienced was about classroom management and planning lessons and bulletin boards, etc for a classroom. I won't have to worry about that. I won't have a classroom of 12 or more students in one grade level.

The fact is I am an educated woman. My husband and I have both earned Bachelors' Degrees and my husband holds a successful job. I went to school for Mental Health and Human Services, minoring in Theology and History. I held 3 internships in college and was offered a job at a local hospital with the agreement that I would be working towards my Masters Degree. After my time in college, I turned down this job in the mental health field, as I felt God had other plans for me and He sure did! It is humbling and sometimes overwhelming that I feel called to be the primary educator of our children- at least for now. It can be difficult to remain confiident in this, since both my husband and I have had conversations with people who aren't afraid to express that they don't think a mom or dad who isn't already a teacher is qualified to teach their own kids.

Because of our education growing up, my husband and I are interested and comfortable teaching different things, or at least different areas of subjects. We compliment each other well and feel we'll be able to provide our children with a well-rounded education. We want to make sure "logic" is something we stress with our children. I have heard that the homeschooled child only believes what their parents tell them. That can also be said of public school children in case you were wondering.  In the younger grades I believe this is important. They shouldn't be questioning their parents yet as they haven't fully cultivated their moral compass in order to figure out right and wrong. They need to trust that their parents aren't steering them wrong. As they become young adults we do want them to somewhat question, let's use the term "wonder", whether mom and dad are right or not. But I want them to do so knowing we are a sounding board. They can ask us questions, especially on morals, ethics, religion and politics. I hope they can see why we believe what we do. If they ask these questions they are making their beliefs their own and will be stronger adults, knowing what they believe, why they believe it and fighting for it. In summary, they should learn how to think not what to think.

Several things are also worth making mention of here. The more involved parents are in the now traditional school setting, the better the student is at excelling. This has been proven by studies of parental involvment and the percentage of high school graduates and college attendees. If we can easily see that parental involvement is important, almost necessary, why can't we go further and realize that if the parents are able to be their child's primary educators, it is such a gift to that child! To go further, let's bring in some statistics. Ew, I know, but important nontheless. The US has been rapidly declining where education is concerned. Once ranked #1 forty years ago, the US now ranks 27th in education among developed countries. The US also tied for 1st place in 1995 for high school graduates, but has since fallen to 14th place in 2006. It is sad to point out that we also have one of the highest college drop-out rates, being 53%. (In case you were wondering, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Finland, France and Norway rank highest in many of the percentages mentioned above.)

At these rates it seems obvious that our school systems are failing somewhere. I do NOT blame this on teachers who love their jobs and give their "all" in the classroom, but we all have experienced teachers who just get by, and have heard about the school systems you would never allow your children to go to. To see more on this click here. (This information came from Mothering magazine No. 155, July-August 2009.)

I was scrolling through one of my "mom homeschooling groups" online the other day and several moms were selling homeschooling informational books. My first thought was to jump on these and then the thought came to me that my husband and I already know all about homeschooling from personal experiences. We realize that we don't need to be versed in every homeschooling "philosophy". Instead, we need to focus on what works for us and our children and be committed to bringing the faith into our home. I don't need terms to define and defend what we're doing. My husband and I have talked extensively for the past 4 years about homeschooling, what our experiences were, what we want to keep, what we want to change, increase, decrease, and curriculuum we would like to use. The fact is we won't know every decision until we're at that point. A large part of the discernment will be our children, where we are, what new curriculuum is out there and is it better than the older textbooks that we loved. For now, my husband and I could name you almost every "textbook" for every grade and every subject we want to avoid and which ones we want to use, but I will not share this information with friends right now, because I simply don't know if we'll find something else by the time we get to that grade level.

I have been criticized for using the term "unschooling" as a philosophy that I believe in. To this I will say after reading "The Unschool Manual" a few months back I have learned that, for our family, this is much too lax as we become more involved with educating our children. I use the term loosely, as it is often interchangeable with "homeschooling" and "Montessorian" in our home. I do firmly believe that "unschooling" is the best for preschoolers, as I have seen firsthand how rigorous and strucutred preschools and kindergartens in the area can be. I do not agree with their form, but also think it may be necessary in a school-setting to teach a group of children to insure order instead of chaos. I, personally, do not believe in homework before middle-school and only as necessary after that. If a child is to be expected to sit for 6 hours in the classroom 5 days a week, how unfair to expect them to go home and do another 4 hours or more of homework. What a disadvantage for our children who should be out playing, getting dirty, exploring and questioning things he comes across in his world. This is another type of classroom; one where the child doesn't realize he's learning but he is! My husband recently read a study in a Men's Health magazine in which it was found that most sucessful CEOs spent a greater portion of time as children exploring, adventuring, taking risks and learning outdoors than those who headed up unsuccessful companies. I think the point is that you can learn some of your most important lessons outside of a structured environment. Making observations and asking questions is how the amazing men and women before us became great!

The beauty of homeschooling is the freedom of flexibility and changeability. If something isn't working, try something else. If a child hates learning about the earth's core and isn't planning on being a geologist or archeologist, teach it and move on without dwelling on this particular part of science. If they're interested in health sciences instead, expose them to more of this. I believe children need to learn everything, but it is unfair to force them to master every area of every subject. I spent a lot of my junior and senior years of highschool sitting in on pig's in lung surgery and rat's having spinal cords re-attached. (Really, I did and loved it!) I wanted to be a surgeon and my parents were able to provide ways for me to see what I could. As it turned out, I realized I was called to motherhood first and not to balancing a career as well.

For now we have a classical Catholic preschool curicuulum we have chosen for our daughter. It is meant to be done in 1 year, but already I'm splitting it into 2 years. I refuse to set certain days or times for preschool. We'll do it around the nursing baby, the toddler, the weather and other activities and family time. My oldest and I both thrive on structure, but since I don't feel this is the best way to instill a love of learning early on, we are taking unschooling and a structured curiculuum and melting them into our own preschool. I want some sort-of discipline early so she'll be able to be more independent and driven later on but I don't want any rigor or stress if lessons aren't learned in a certain time frame. Everyone learns at a different pace. I will not (or at least I will try not to) compare my children to other friends in the same grade or the same age. It's just like infancy- why force the baby to sit at 4 months, crawl at 6 months, etc when you know they'll eventually get it. We need to focus on our family not on others. I need to know that we're giving our children quality instead of getting caught up in competition.

May God make His will for your family known and may you be confident going forth in your decision!

Other articles worth reading: (You have to pay to read them. I do own these magazines and am willing to lend them to local moms.)
No More Homework- agree!
When Every Day Is A Homeschool Day- almost fits my unschooling thoughts to a "T"

19 May 2011

Together we will serve

I remember one day after daily Mass in highschool where my mom's friend came up to us and told us about a recent trip she went on with just her husband. She explained that they both had different ideas of what they're trip should look like and were trying to make each other happy. The woman decided to let her husband take the lead in planning and trust him. She admitted she was nervous and hoped he knew how to plan a trip successfully. She wasn't saying this to put her husband's intelligence down, but she was definitely uneasy about the whole thing. She was hopeful that her husband would lead them in a close spiritual encounter indiviually and as a couple. She was amazed by the graces poured forth on their marriage for doing this and was convinced it was because she relinquished control.

This story has stayed with me for years. It was a simple yet very profound lesson in a society where woman are advancing and often out-performing men in the business world. With the renaissance of woman having a say in public matters beginning in the 1920's, women have gone on to abuse this. Instead of "equality", woman now traipse around believing they are far superior to men.

How often do you hear women spout off sarcastic jabs at their husbands, boyfriends or other men they know saying, "They're such a man" or "Don't worry honey, it's a man thing". It's as if we're allowing men to be stupid because that's what we think they are. (I don't mean "we" here to mean you and I, but women in general). I mean come on, girls, let's give them a little credit!

Now I know it may have been one of those days or weeks when you're reading this thinking I'm crazy. I have those days myself. The socks and t-shirts are strewn about the bedroom, the wet towel is in a corner with clean clothes, you asked him to dress the baby and she's now in polka-dots, stripes and zebra prints all at once. I've been there. On the other hand, I'm not such a gem to live with all the time either.

I have made a conscious effort in my marriage to replace disdain and annoyance with acceptance and respect. In the past my husband would offer suggestions about wedding planning or mothering and I would immediately tense up. What would a guy know about such things?! Can't he just trust me and follow my lead?! And why does he think that he needs to copy me by sometimes sitting me down like I to do him to say, "You know, I think you're really getting caught up in this" or "This isn't really leading you to holiness. Maybe try               instead." As frustrating and humbling as it is to sit there hearing that you weren't quite the holy woman in an instance that you would like to think you are, it is reassuring to know that I have a marriage that is calling me to holiness. Our vocation, whatever that may be- married, religious or the single life, is a calling to lead a life in submission to the will of God so that we can spend eternity with Him.

My husband and I see ourselves as a team. There isn't one of us that "wears the pants", although we'll laugh along with whoever says it's me just so we're "normal". But really, we are both very opinionated and strong-willed people and need to work together to overcome our "human-ness". We always look at each angle before we come together to decide what the best decision is for our family. It often begins with something we're certain on and then changes as we open our minds to each other and what others have to say. I love knowing that no matter what the topic- parenting, birth, Catholicism, politics, family, money, job, etc.- we are on the same page!

Two are better than one: they get a good wage for their labor. If the one falls, the other will lift up his companion. Woe to the solitary man! For if he should fall, he has no one to lift him up. So also, if two sleep together, they keep each other warm. How can one alone keep warm? Where a lone man may be overcome, two together can resist. 
Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12

So often in today's society women take the words from Ephesians 5:22, "Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord." literally, as if St Paul is degrading women and making us slaves to men. But what about the verse before (5:21): Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Now we definitely have a new spin on things, and a humbling one at that. Let me go further:

For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So (also) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "For this reason a man shall leave (his) father and (his) mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."  This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church. In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband. (Eph 5: 23-33) 

We see here an obvious parallel between Christ and the Church and a husband and wife. We are to enter into a partnership with one another. Wives, we are called to be respectful of our husbands. We are to work with them as they set out to take care of us and make us holy. Men are called to give their very bodies for our own well-being and to respect our bodies.

If women weren't so caught up in the "equality factor", they would see the beauty intended by Christ for marriage as depicted by St Paul in Ephesians.

1 Peter 3:3-4 goes on: Your [wives] adornment should not be an external one...but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God.

Verse 7 calls husbands on: Likewise, you husbands should live with your wives in understanding, showing honor to the weaker female sex, since we are joint heirs of the gift of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 

And finally we see in verse 8-12 a unity between the two and how they are to help the other to holiness: Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, compassionate, humble.

Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing. For: "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep the tongue from evil and the lips from speaking deceit, must turn from evil and do good, seek peace and follow after it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears turned to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against evildoers."  

We see here that we aren't told "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" but to forgive and move on in a loving manner. If we receive a snippy or rather cutting remark, let's try to chalk it up to the other having a rough day. When they're cooled down, that is when we can bring it up to let them know how much it hurt us. If we are always returning a rough tone with another, this isn't a dwelling for love and humility. And if we need to make a point known, let's not put the other down but work together calmly to figure things out. My husband and I have promised each other that we will not fight in front of our girls. So far, we have kept that promise. It may be 9 or 10 pm before we get to talking about an issue, but by then our initial anger has often subsided. If it hasn't, we try really hard not to yell and say hurtful things while still getting the point across. It is really hard to do! He and I are both passionate screamers and it takes a lot to not storm out of the room screaming that the other's wrong, doesn't care or thinks the other is stupid. Ugh! We have done away with much unneccessary drama and hurtful things that are said "in the moment". Our hope is that our girls will learn how to deal with conflict in a loving way and always be assured that their parents work as a team.

Mary, our blessed mother, is the perfect depiction of a humble servant who was blessed so immensely. She could have defended herself or her Son so many times (or gone around proclaiming that she was the perfect mother of God), yet we don't see her doing any such thing. She is our most perfect example of how we, as women, are called to live.

I cannot tell you how many times I have given up control of something only to be shown how it has sanctified our family. This can range from some tiny little thing in our family to something of much greater proportion.

I challenge you to truly follow your husbands. Call them on also, as we all need a little nudge to stay on the right path. But if you know that what he's telling you or suggesting isn't sinful, listen and pray. You never know the rewards that may follow- and you may not see them at all here on earth.

09 May 2011

Here's to you momma....

Instead of the usual lovely-written "props to mom" for Mothers' Day notes, this is my list of things no one ever told me about motherhood until I experienced them myself. And yes some seem rather interesting or may be a turn off to motherhood for some, but for me they all are things I now look back on and laugh at or just shake my head. Feel free to add your own in the comments!
It's funny no one tells you of the silly things you'll have to do and all the wonderful moments you'll have. There were so many sleepless nights with Ruby Red where the mainstream would be saying, "See, I told you so" when I treasured those moments.

Here is my list of what no one ever told me about motherhood. Some are funny, some are serious and some are sarcastic, but ALL are loving and I wouldn't change a thing!
No one ever told me that...

I'd be nursing my baby in the bathroom either
a) because baby was latched on in bed and I felt bad unlatching her. I would usually continue to nurse on the toilet until she was finished, feeling bad that I would have to interrupt her yet again. Several times my legs went numb waiting for her to finish...
b) because I couldn't bear her crying at my legs with a look of rejection. In her mind, it was as if I thought going to the bathroom more important than her.

I'd have stretch marks that make me look like a tiger. No matter how much cocoa butter I've slathered on they eventually came (maybe not with the 1st baby) and they haven't gone away, although they have faded.

I'd want my pre-breastfeeding boobs back because I wouldn't have to worry about cleavage. I remember the days when all I wanted was to get pregnant so that I could be bigger up top...

Babies take up more than half the space in bed and you and your spouse are clinging to the sheets so as to not fall off.

Baby puke smells amazing.

I'd also like the sweet smell of breastmilk poop.

Bodily functions are now a normal and acceptable topic of conversation (when talking about your children, that is).

Breastfeeding in public is so controversial, yet people are so ok with seeing breasts for sexuality on magazine covers. I never knew how "anti-breast-showing" people could be towards a nursing mother before I became one.

NFP comes naturally because momma's tired or the baby's nursing all night.

People think you don't love your child or are selfish if you choose not to vaccinate. Research!

Most of the books I now read for fun are about parenting or birth.

People will give all sorts of un-asked-for advice when it comes to everything parenting. After awhile, this is tiresome for a mother, even when it's well-intended.

People think you're an idiot if you're a stay at home mom instead of juggling work, kids and home. Apparently they don't realize how busy you really are. I wish I had the relaxing days people assume I have.

You're children mimick everything. This doesn't only mean the things you say but how you react to conflict and stress. Yikes!

At the end of the day, no matter how bad of a day it was, your babies will always love you and prefer you above all else.

It is so stinkin' impossible to keep a 1 year old clean all day, even with bibs.

Rocking your baby in the middle of the night is one of the most precious moments you can have with him/her.

I would spend most of my oldest's 1st year topless, trying to bond and get her to breastfeed better. 
You have to listen to that "gut feeling" instead of what your anybody else tells you about birth, sleeping, breastfeeding. etc. You'll truly know when you need advice and hopefully ask for it. But if you know you're doing what's right for your family, follow your heart!

Everything takes longer and is messier with a toddler.

My shirt has become the universal kleenex and always has snot marks across the shoulder.

I should also be packing an extra set of clothes for myself when we're out in public.

It's not that hard to make your own baby food instead of giving them that processed stuff in the stores.

I'd start eating healthier because I have to be a good example.

There are always cheerios in our couch cushions, even though I vacuum under them several times a week.

My car will never look clean for long, no matter how hard I try.

My husband is my rock and, although not a woman or a mother, the one I turn to first. The wisdom a loving father and husband has about a situation may be right on, even if I don't agree at first!

Our dates usually include our girls either going to a restaurant with us or asleep in the backseat while we're driving around on our "coffee dates".

Unless I shower at midnight, I have no privacy in the shower.

I'd become very good at singing Imagination Movers and Laurie Berkner songs.

No matter how bad I sound singing, my girls love it and it actually soothes them.

I'd get so much joy from simply watching my girls discover and enjoy life.

I always knew I'd love being a mom, but never knew I could love it this much. My girls are my world and when I think I just couldn't love them more, I fall in love all over again.

Happy Mothers' Day to all the fantasic mommas out there!

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!