Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Progress, for Pete's sake

Praise God! Four new priests were ordained for our diocese this weekend! And thanks be to God for my dear friend, Fr. Brian. Cheers and blessings!! I was sad not to go and sing with the choir, and even sadder still not to be able to go to Fr. Brian's first Mass, but I know that all things happen the way they are supposed to......


What a packed weekend! My Darling worked like mad so that we could see progress on the house. So on Saturday, he bought the materials to put actual roof on a very big portion of the addition. He and the Monkey went early Saturday morning to the home supply store (man stuff, you know), and came home with several rolls of tar paper, ice and water shield, flashing, drip edge, many bundles of shingles, a new roofing nail gun, a case of rolls of nails, one bag of circus peanuts, two sticky hands and a smiling, sticky little mouth.

The kids played outside much of the day on Saturday, and my Darling learned yet another aspect of building a home. Since he doesn't do this for a living, he's literally learning as he goes. He carefully researches the building codes and does a lot of watching and listening to people we know who do do this for a living. So far, so good.

We got a call from my mother-in-law on Saturday letting us know that my father-in-law was admitted to the hospital for an infection. Long story short: he's a stroke survivor, he's on blood thinners and he's diabetic. He cut the end of his finger while trimming his nails on the hand he can't feel. The cut became infected, and by Saturday morning, there was red streaking up his arm.....so he's on IV antibiotics at this point. Hopefully he's either coming home today or sometime soon. We visited him on Sunday after Mass, and he was in rather good spirits.

Sunday! Sunday was amazing! This Sunday was the Feast of Corpus Christi. (For more information on this awesome feast, check out the link at the end of this entry.) After Mass, which was a bit longer than usual, we had a Eucharistic procession that literally took my breath away. Lately it seems that no matter what I want to do, I just have no energy for it. I almost thought about not walking in the procession--just hitching a ride to the other Church where it ended with benediction--but in the end, I decided to walk. Several amazing things happened.

First of all, though it was taxing, I made it. It wasn't terribly long (probably less than 1/2 a mile), but it did take a long while because we were walking slowly. In a Eucharistic procession, there are priests, deacons, our dear bishop, seminarians, and many servers (one of whom was my Pickle!). The Eucharist is placed in a monstrance and carried underneath a canopy. There are candles surrounding the canopy, and there is incense the whole way. We had booklets full of hymns that we sang along the way as well. We stopped at one point, and Bishop spoke and prayed, and we had a reading, and everyone knelt in adoration for a while. Then we continued on to the Church where the procession was to end. All together, this makes for a very festive procession! I could not help but think of those in Jerusalem, when Jesus made His entrance into the city. It was a joyous occasion, with a spirit of celebration. This was very similar, and to have that thought running through my mind was an intense blessing.

Second of all, it seemed that God intended to bless me through this in other ways. Although my hips are screaming at this moment (aaaahhhhhhhh.......the chiropractor will see me this afternoon!), I actually had energy Sunday and yesterday, and I got tons of things done that have been overlooked for weeks. (Not to mention the feeling of peace in my heart for having been able to spend time with our Lord in that way.)

My Darling had gotten about half the roof done on the portion he needed to finish on Saturday. It was supposed to storm on Sunday, so when we got home, he got started. About two rows into it, our neighbor popped up on the ladder and said, "I just had to come over! Toss me some shingles!" He's done roofing before, so the same half a roof that had taken almost 5 hours on Saturday took only about an hour on Sunday! They had all but one row finished when it started to rain. They laid out the last row, and it began to pour. That ended Sunday.

Monday, My Darling had that last row finished rather quickly, and then put in a window, mowed the lawn, mowed the neighbor's lawn, grilled chicken for supper, and helped to move my Monkey's bed. (Um, that's another story.....) All this after beginning his day by walking the dogs (as he does every morning) with the Monkey, and making the Monkey's breakfast of scrambled eggs and hot chocolate. Say it with me, "Eggs and chocolate.....mmmmmmm..........."

Also on Monday, I cleaned the Pickle's room thoroughly, vacuumed up plaster mess (from my Darling's window replacement project, which had to be done to accommodate the new roof line--he had to re-plaster around the windows. Plaster is messy. I can see why people use drywall.), and made the Monkey's Big Boy Bed when it was brought in from our bedroom. I made everyone else leave the room while I was doing this. Oh, I was in tears. Nearly sobbing. Okay, I was sobbing. And because I wasn't stopping any time soon, I also changed the sheets on our bed, which may have involved flipping and turning the mattress. It's possible that the crying may have continued in the shower. (My Darling often says that I'm only emotional when I'm alone or with other people. I once tried to make him say that I'm only emotional when I'm awake, but he said that I'm often weepy in my sleep, too...so that didn't help.) Blast it, it's just so hard when they grow up! My dear friend reminded me, though, that soon and very soon I'll have another little baby to hold and snuggle. And I said that my Brain says that all the time and my Heart tells my Brain to shut up. :) As if to punctuate my Heart's sentiment, I just Did Not Sleep Well last night.

Hopefully this energy thing will continue. I'm just past 12 weeks now, which is reassuring (yet still nerve-wracking, and no help for it). The Nausea Bug continues to make a pest of himself, and Major Pukey has continued with his nasty (although infrequent, thanks be to God) little surprise attacks. (Apparently he doesn't think much of allowing one to brush one's teeth, for Pete's sake.) I do relish my afternoon naps, and hopefully I'll be able to keep taking them as needed. I think the summer will be good. I relish the thoughts of lots of outside time, mornings at the patio table with the umbrella up and the butterflies dancing around (we have lots of milkweed, which monarchs love!), afternoons on the big swing with a huge glass of water nearby, gallons of richly dark sun tea brewing with wedges of lemon floating on top, and the relaxed pace that summer imposes.

For more information on the beautiful feast of Corpus Christi, please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corpus_Christi_(feast) . Although I generally send people to http://www.ewtn.com/ with questions about our Catholic faith, this seems to be a decent explanation. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Rat--With A Fluffy Tail?

This past week has whirled past...although you couldn't prove it by me. I've mostly been taking it easy, since at this point all you'd have to do is aim a fan at me and I'd probably fall over. My low, low blood pressure has come to haunt me these days, making it difficult to do much of anything for very long if standing is involved.

Cases in point: On Friday, we had the "End of the Year" picnic for our homeschool group. My Darling had to work late on Friday, so it was Me and the Monsters (they're just lucky that I happen to be peculiar and love monsters!), and we trekked to the park where this festive occasion was taking place. We were there for about three hours--I mostly sat and visited with the other Moms, and the Monsters ran wild, as monsters often do. Three hours, and I Was Done, thankyouverymuch. As in, the half-hour drive home seemed more like the 18 hours that it takes to get half way across the country, for Pete's sake.

Saturday dawned, and though we had an obligation that day, we begged out.....because I was still just exhausted. What the heck?! Two garage sales (the rest we just drove past) and I had had all I could take. BUT: The Garage Sale Find Of The Week was a box full of a complete 8 settings of 1960's melamine dishes! Plates, dessert plates, saucers, cups, bowls, sugar and creamer! My Darling insists that they're ugly, but it was...........FIVE DOLLARS!!! I was thrilled. But tired. We went home, and I took a loooooong nap. And this was at only 9:30.

On Sunday, I nearly passed out during Mass. Granted, our Mass is long-ish (although it's longer when Bishop is with us), but you'd think I could handle it, right? Nope. I had to sit down part way through the closing prayer, after doing the "pseudo-kneel" (knees on the kneeler, rump-roast on the pew) through all the prayers leading up to consecration and communion, and selectively standing throughout the rest of Mass. I felt like I was hovering somewhere near myself....my brain felt like mush. I convinced myself that this was all because I just needed lunch. Our Mass begins at 11:00 and is usually out somewhere between 12:15 and 12:30, so the timing was right.

We stopped for lunch and then proceeded to the fabric store so the girls could choose fabric for summer skirts.....and again, I almost hit the floor. Yep, this was not good. We got home a little after 2:00, and I immediately crawled up to the bed and didn't open my eyes again until almost 5:00!

So I've really been taking it easy, because--What Else Can I Do? I know this won't last forever, and I know that usually when God puts this kind of circumstance in my life, it's because I really need to take time to be with Him. I must admit that although my Darling and I have been praying faithfully together every morning, I've felt that it's not been enough....but then I haven't done anything about it, either. It's like getting a call from a friend you haven't seen in a long time who says, "When are we going to get together for lunch??" OK, I can take a hint. :)


And now on to what my children would say is The Business At Hand. Yesterday, I was minding my own business, when I noticed the Frog standing at the end of the couch. There was something brown and furry in her hand, which I barely would have taken note of, since she's always hauling one stuffed animal or another to-and-fro. But this particular little furry thing was, in fact, moving! ACK!!

"Mom!" she says to me, as I'm headed for shock. "We found a baby squirrel!" She says this to me in a voice that is encouraging me to be as excited as she is, so I muster up my enthusiasm and say, "That's great! Get it out of my house!" Mind you, I'm smiling as I say this. Because if I hadn't smiled, I would have sounded way too fierce.

So I followed her out of the house and told the kids they could have a few rags and a box from the garage, but that they couldn't bring the squirrel into or even near the house. I absolutely forbade them to cage it in, but let them know they can make the little house just as nice as they want to. They must wash their hands after handling it, and they should fully expect it to bite them, die or run away at any time.

So far, none of the bad things have happened. They have built a very nice little habitat for their little friend, with a big wooden box on its side, filled with no end of soft leaves and grasses, with the rags inside for him to nest in. He seems to love this. They've been feeding him birdseed, grapes, crackers and raw oatmeal. They have a little jar lid full of water for him. And because he seems to prefer the peanuts in the wild birdseed mixture, they've named him Peanut.

This all happened yesterday, and this morning he was still there--sort of. Peanut had left his little yard and was under the van....but as soon as the Pickle and the Reepicheep got outside, Peanut ran right to them.

The Frog has taken so many pictures there's probably no more memory left on her camera. He is pretty cute, but I'm not touching him.

My Darling says he looks like a rat with a fluffy tail.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Rats in a poke

While my Monkey has been sleeping very well, and getting up early has been relatively easy, there are still challenges here and there--as there are for everyone, I know--that I am struggling to meet head on.

Major Pukey, as it turns out, decided that he was the lesser man. His bags have been packed and are waiting on the platform, thanks. He and his Measly Minions ended up waging battle with me four whole times--the isolated incident of two weeks past, and then three in a row last week. I haven't seen him since, and I say, "Good blasted riddance!"

The Nausea Bug has stuck around, though he's largely been skulking in dark corners, licking his wounds. I'm hopeful that his stay will be short-lived as well. At 10 1/2 weeks now, I've had enough of his pestering ways.

What hasn't gone away are the twinges that have me looking over my shoulder....and although my heart is joyful, it is very much guarded. I'm only human after all.....

So here's what's happening. I went garage saling with a dear friend on Saturday. We hit the streets, and we hit them hard! I had the Monkey and the Frog, and she had her youngest three (she is due with Blessing Number Eight in September, with four boys and a girl here on earth and two little saints in Heaven). We put the smallest two in our gigantic wagon with few toys and plenty of snacks and water bottles, the bigger three walked, and we shopped until I nearly literally dropped!

When we talked after Mass on Sunday, we both admitted we had definitely overdone it...she had a throbbing headache, and I had stabbing cramps, though in the same regions I've been having them all along. (My midwife says round ligaments and stretching.....this is number five!)

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon. There was choir rehearsal last night--Ordination is next Friday, and our choir is singing. My dear friend Brian is being ordained, and I very much want to be there and minister in the way I know how. But as I was rising from one place to go to another, there was a rather sharp pain that literally took my breath away. I was gripped with fear, and had to take the time to talk myself down (and soak in a hot tub for a bit).

Indeed, I did not attend rehearsal.......and now I'm wondering what this means. It's as if my dear Heavenly Father is telling me to slow down and take it easy. What can I do but obey? If rest and relaxing means that my cramps are few and far between, but over exerting myself brings them on, then I suppose the thing to do is rest, for Pete's sake. Oh, but it's so hard to be obedient, when the thing I really want to do is Get Everything Done. And Ordination? Merely one of the most (if not The Most) beautiful things in the church world to witness. But it is a long Mass, and very taxing, musically speaking. I'm just not sure I should give it a go.

No matter how I rationalize it though, I need to be humbled right now. I need to lean on Him, and quit trying to figure everything out for myself.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Things I love....

*My sweet Lord Jesus, without whom I cannot even draw breath.

*Having four children and one husband pile onto the bed to "wake me up," even though I'd already been awake and smelling pancakes...and wishing me a Happy Mother's Day!

*Being crowned with a dandelion crown as "Queen of the Z Family."

*Arriving at Mass yesterday and hearing a wind ensemble...oboe, flute, bassoon, a few strings, perhaps a clarinet--or maybe it was an English horn? What a treat for Pentecost!

*Warm enough weather that it's warmer outside the house than in.

*Curling up on my lovely swing for a snooze in the sunshine. I may not be a cat, but I can nap just as well as one, for Pete's sake.

*Realizing yesterday that at ten weeks, I am closer to seeing this baby...one quarter of the way done...25%.

*Slipping into the cold side of the bed, and inching my way closer to my Darling's toasty warm side.

*Going to the library and finding really old Thomas videos that my little Monkey hasn't seen yet.

*Finding fresh strawberries on sale at the grocery store.

*Anticipating making Mexican Chicken Soup, as seen on Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa...mmmmmmmmmmmmm.........

*Nap time.

*Bubble baths.

*My grandma.

*Knowing that all of these treasures don't even compare even a smidge to what's in store in heaven..................

Thursday, May 8, 2008

My Favorite Author....and my least favorite guest

I am so flattered that Jenni linked to my blog from hers. I am in awe of her writing, so if you haven't stepped over there, please check it out. http://onething.typepad.com/one_thing/


As a result of Jenni's linkage, my comment section clearly reveals that I am not alone in my love of fictional small towns in the mountains of North Carolina. I tend to use the Mitford books by Jan Karon a lot in my life. Even though the main character is an Episcopal priest and I am Catholic, his faith (and the application of it in everyday situations) is an incredible inspiration to me. I have never picked up a Mitford book and not been moved. I cry every time I read about Miss Sadie dying, or Barnabas being snatched away from Fr. Tim, or Cynthia's painful confessions about her past. I never fail to cringe every time I turn to the page detailing Edith's blue casserole sitting on Fr. Tim's counter, or read the description of the wounds left by Lace's abusive father. And I am always full of anticipation and joy when I read about the careful restoration of the nativity scene, or about Hope's faith in goodness, shown by lighting the tree above Happy Endings.

I love the Mitford books so much, in fact, that my local library nearly wept with relief when I finally decided to buy the entire series on eBay. I found a fabulous deal, too, which made the deal even sweeter, for Pete's sake, and now when I finish one book I can just walk up to my dear shelf (made by my Darling) and trade it for the next.

Mitford is a gentle little town, full of rich characters and lively episodes. I've always kind of wondered about what a fine television series it would make. The trouble is, so few people want to watch that kind of television anymore. "Little House on the Prairie" and "The Waltons".....sadly, gone the way of syndicated dinosaurs. And because of the way TV usually works, there's no guarantee that the show would be faithful to the books.......so I will stick with my imagination where Fr. Tim's kitchen, the Lord's Chapel office, and Cynthia's studio are concerned.

I strongly encourage you to look into these books for a comfortable, inspiring, enveloping read. They're great on a porch swing, with a light breeze and glass of sweet tea, or snuggled up in a big chair with a blanket and a nursling and a cup of hot cocoa.


Now on to more......icky....stuff.

The Major has launched a counter attack that apparently I cannot defend. That's right: Major Pukey has taken up what seems to be permanent residence just outside the flimsy walls of my pitiful fort.

What began last week as a "one time" incident, a small battle, a mere duel, has, apparently become a more regular occurrence. While I wrote about it just the other day, I later proceeded to ineffectively defend my stronghold against the Major's minions. Corporal Drool marched up and slapped me silly, while Private Bile waged a guerrilla attack. I eventually waved the white flag (er, that would be toilet tissue...) and gave in. I did feel better for a few minutes, if not completely exhausted.

And again last night--mid-supper, mind you!--the battle field was staged yet again. *sigh* I am now wondering if this is indeed better than dealing with the Nausea Bug. I know there are you crazy types out there who are nodding profusely, saying, "Yes! Yes!! Surrender to the Major!!!" But I have my doubts. Ah well.....each swing of this particular pendulum is an indication of a healthy Bean growing within. So I will do my best not to moan and groan, except while in the midst of hand-to-hand combat.

I guess it's time to buy stock in paper products.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Nausea Bug and His Current Campaign

I know, I know. It's been a while.

I've been seriously entrenched in battle with the Bug, for Pete's sake. Last Wednesday (perhaps Thursday?), he had the audacity to retreat and allow Major Pukey to advance. I have added fortifications around my camp in the hopes never to have to see that twerp again, thanks, and I will humbly accept any and all prayers to that effect.

**DISCLAIMER: Whining forthcoming** I can't believe how bad this nausea is getting. I can eat, but only small bits at a time (and often, because the hunger in between is when he comes at me with the heavy artillery!). I can eat sandwiches, but not the crust of the bread. It's getting more and more difficult to swallow my vitamins (hey--I am totally glad that I can still take them at all, considering that by this time with my others I hadn't been taking them for weeks). And isn't it amazing that at one moment the thought of one food is fabulous, and the next moment you realize it's all a trick, that the Nausea Bug has used that food to invite the wretched Major to return?! Who'd ever have known?

Nine weeks. Well, nine weeks and some change. That, my friends, means nearly 25%. One quarter. This is a thrilling thought. It's a mixed thought to my heart, but thrilling to my brain. Go figure. I'm still struggling, but confession on Friday was amazing. I actually put words to what has been going on--I realized, for the first time, that there is a Bottom Line to this whole struggle in my heart. I just have not been trusting God. Ha! How human is that, I ask you? But that's really what it comes down to. I know that He will allow me to totally mess up and fall on my face, and bring me out of it in His grace and love. I know that at times I will feel abundantly blessed, and at other times I will feel completely bereft of any happiness...and I know that His plan is what will ultimately win out.

Philippians four-thirteen, for Pete's sake. And the Prayer that Never Fails. (That translates to, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," and "Thy Will Be Done.")

My friend Phil has always said so constantly, "God provides," that it not only became a mantra for me, but I find myself spouting it to others on a regular basis. It's true. He will provide every thing, every way, every circumstance that we need in our lives to bring us closer to Him. It's our job to discern how to respond, and whether to receive His blessings joyfully or to be bitter about the ways we have to get there.

A conversation with a friend this afternoon has seriously inspired me to be more joyful--to purposefully seek the joy in every circumstance. So I vow, from this moment on, to find the joy in my battle with the Bug. I promise to find the joy rather than the fear in this pregnancy, to make the best of these days that my baby is a secret inside of me. I endeavor to truly feel the privilege of carrying a life, of consciously nourishing this child in ways that I can't even understand...but I can--and I will--appreciate. I am not going to put aside my sadness in losing Gabriel. But I am no longer going to let that sadness determine how I will accept the beauty of these forty weeks (now thirty-one).

Fear is not of Him. But joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and by golly, I don't want anything but His gifts and goodness.