Saturday, August 30, 2008

And the verdict is.....

....We are indeed transverse, for Pete's sake.

It's fine--it's only August, and chances are the little Bean will decide to move around well in time for a lovely birth. Even if it doesn't, I know that we can utilize the tried and true Webster Technique to ensure a head-down position.

Our visit with Chris was lovely, of course. We got the grand tour of the new house, purchased by Chris and a few others who are working together to provide medical care for an area in sore need of affordable health care (many Amish, lots of low-income). There is a physician (whom we met yesterday--she's lovely, of course!) who is living in the house, Chris, a naturopath, and a massage therapist who will all be working out of the house. Chris has a very nice little room for her appointments, with another little room off to the side where she has brought most of her birth equipment (she has a hospital bed, a bassinet, and lots of other spiffy things) which used to be kept in her home for women who wanted a home birth atmosphere but not the set-up and clean-up going on in their own home.

She was able to find the little one's heartbeat after much seeking--seems we have a hider on our hands! I'm absolutely befuddled as to whether we will be continuing our pattern of Girl-Boy-Girl-Boy or breaking it. Sometimes the heart rate can give it away, but this one goes from the 120's up into the 160's, so it's no help at all.

After lots of palpating around to try to discern head from tails, Chris noticed that I had a couple of contractions right there...and several more on the way home and then in the hot bath didn't calm my nerves any. So bed rest is pretty much here for the time being.

My grandmother is whispering in my ear, "God's timing is perfect, and you just have to be patient and wait to see what He has planned." Grandma is so wise......and it's well-earned, what with her 93rd birthday approaching. God bless her sweet heart.

I guess I am looking forward to having the time on my hands to make a quilt, as I have for each of my babies, and perhaps a few embroidered bibs. I am really trying to keep my chin up here. Even after yesterday's entry, with all my optimism and "I can do it!" thinking, I am still a little sad. I think that despite the big talk, I was still in a bit of denial about it, and I was so hoping that my body would cooperate for once. I suppose that in it's own way, it is--by showing me what I need to do in order to nurture this little one.

There's a parade in my hometown today that I will be missing, along with one of the best craft fairs around...and more garage sales than I could ever hope to hit. I'll be staying home.

Maybe I'll get started on that quilt.

Friday, August 29, 2008

And so it goes

I've not been getting here perhaps as often as I'd like to. What can I say? Life when homeschooling can be unpredictable and crazy-busy, and that's exactly what it's been here.

The graces continue to flow, thanks be to God, which means that things are very much getting back to where we need them to be in our marriage and in our home. Humility and obedience are good things.

We were supposed to go see Chris this week, but for the second time, when I called to let her know we would be departing, she was with a laboring Mama, so we have to reschedule. I love this--really! Any Mama who has had to deal with delays at the clinic because her doctor is at the hospital will probably understand this. See, I call ahead to make sure Chris is available for our appointment. If she is, it's spiffy, and we meet with her. If she's not, we reschedule for a couple of days later. This means that our time and gas is not wasted--we don't sit around idly in a waiting room somewhere, with people coughing and sneezing on us, or holed up in an exam room reading the same magazines we've read the last four times we were in. Anyway, we get to meet with her this afternoon. When I called her this morning to reschedule, she said, "Well, that baby eventually came out!"

I am anxious for this appointment. I think the baby is lying transverse--that is, a bit sideways--and I want to see what Chris thinks about that. I've been becoming increasingly frustrated as my body continues to betray me here and round ligaments are so weak that they are not doing a very good job of suspending my little one's home...and the muscles beneath it are beginning to rebel at having to pick up the slack. This means that although we are nearly 26 weeks (only 14 weeks left?! How did that happen?!), other peoples' perspective is that I appear small, when in reality, the baby is filling me out very, very low, and also very much toward my back. It also means that as that lower muscle becomes more and more fatigued, my belly contracts more and more...and that's not necessarily a good thing. I know that bed rest is coming; at this point it's just a matter of time.

But as I mentioned to My Darling: I can teach from the couch. I can plan simple meals which yield lots of leftovers. I can e-mail a detailed shopping list to My Darling--who works on the other side of the highway from the grocery store! Going to Mass does not mean I'm not resting--I have to sit to drive, don't I? This, too, shall pass. And of course, I'd do it again, and again, and's such a small part of my life, traded for the beautiful life of such a lovely gift from God Himself. As long as my family understands and cooperates (and they do!), then it doesn't bother me too much. I guess.

So I find myself filling the time by embroidering, sewing, praying, reading, snuggling my babies, answering questions about spelling and history and science, watching old movies (I love Doris Day!) and daydreaming about the Bean. Life could be much worse! And it seems that this is just another lesson in obedience: I could just as easily go about my business, bustling around, doing whatever I please, and ignoring the signs that my body is giving me, but what good would that be? No, I choose to slow down and take the time that is necessary to carry a healthy baby, allow the growth that is needed, and wait. There will be plenty of time for bustling later.


School is going so well that I find myself continually thanking God for His goodness. At the moment, the Frog is listening to her "math teacher" (a CD-ROM) explain basic algebraic equations, the Pickle is at the kitchen table studying the readings for Sunday, the Reepicheep is reviewing her Latin lessons for a quiz, and the Monkey is drawing on a dry-erase board.

Frog loves math. If I were to tell her, "The only thing we're doing this week is math," she'd be happy as a little clam. I so cannot relate to this. I dropped Algebra II at the semester break during my senior year of high school because all of a sudden, I Just Didn't Get It...and there was literally no hope. My mind is absolutely not set up for abstract math concepts, and even though I was getting tons of extra help from both teachers and students-who-got-it, I was failing miserably. So since it wasn't required, and since there was another English elective I wanted to take instead, I made the easy choice of bidding fair well to math, for Pete's sake.

But the Frog? She takes after her aunt, my sister C, who loved math way more than I ever knew was possible. Frog is happy to just sit there and fiddle with numbers the live long day. Have at it, I say! The big blessing here is that we have that CD-ROM which explains everything she needs to know. I also have an answers manual which also shows the work for each problem, so that we can go over things step-by-step, one at a time, to make sure she understands everything. And we also have an uncle in the family who happens to be a math (and science and chemistry and physics) we can go to him with questions, too.

The Pickle enjoys reading (all of my kids are book worms!), so his first assignment this morning is gravy. Also, I like to have him be able to look ahead so that when he's concentrating on being the Very Best Server He Can Possibly Be on Sunday, he's already heard the readings and the Gospel, and he gets more out of the Mass. He'll zip through his spelling and vocabulary quizzes later on, I have no doubt, and will tolerate the rest of his school day, and then relish in the afternoon of outside time.

Reepicheep is absolutely enchanted with Latin. Isn't that a beautiful thing? She particularly loves learning about derivatives, and seeing how we use other languages to make new words in English. I find it fascinating as well, I must admit, and I'm enjoying learning Latin with the kids. I knew lots of basic Latin from choral music and a few liturgical phrases here and there, but since the Church stopped using Latin so much, there was never a need to learn it when I was in (Catholic) grade school. I love this return to the earlier traditions of our faith, and I love learning along with our children about the rich histories.

We've noticed that the Monkey is mostly left handed--a south-paw! Indeed, when he grabs a fork or a pencil or a crayon, it's with his left hand. Scissors are becoming useful to him, so I'm going to have to look for some "lefties," so that he has better control. Funny thing is, he's actually rather competent with either hand, so part of me wants to just keep fostering that aspect. Can you imagine injuring your dominant hand and not being inconvenienced by it? I remember breaking my right thumb in high school, and feeling like I had to relearn how to eat, write, play piano, open my locker, tie my get the idea.


Not so interesting, I know, but that's how the day is going. It's not always interesting, but it is our daily life. Each day is such a gift, full of God's graces and blessings, and even if it's not exciting enough for someone else to say, "Man, I wish I was doing THAT today!" we are thankful that this is the life He has provided for us.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Is it Monday already?

Last week was one that could just as easily be forgotten. Unfortunately, if I did that, I'd not benefit from the lessons learned.

I've fallen into complacency...feeling that everything is going smoothly at home, with the kids, within our marriage...and sometimes that sense of peace and the contentment which comes with it are easily disrupted. Who am I kidding--sometimes? With four children and a home and two dogs--and most importantly, a marriage--that "sometimes" is pretty much a guarantee.

School went well. Generally speaking, the whole week went very smoothly.

The marriage part, though, was tough.

We struggle, believe it or not, like every other married couple. If marriage was easy, anyone could do it, everyone would do it, and the divorce rate wouldn't be as high as it is!

Last week, it all came down to communication (or the lack thereof). With me teaching the kids and doing other housewifely things, and My Darling working at work, and then working at home on the house until all hours, our time together is at an absolute premium. And since I have the calendar all day, I tend to write things on it and expect My Darling's eyes to fall in its direction once in a blue moon. And since I am with the kids All Of The Time, I also have an interior expectation that My Darling will suddenly rush to me and say, "Sweetie, I see how hard you're working and I worry about your should go take some time for yourself!"

Here's how reality struck though.....

Really, our time being at a premium is a short-term situation, even though it doesn't feel that way. I suppose that would be because it's been this way for nearly two years, beginning with the day the excavation began for the new basement. Nearly every day, My Darling comes home from work and begins working on the addition, and he works until he either runs out of material or light or steam. When he comes in, he is rightfully exhausted...and still, he will lend a hand where it's needed in the house. My perspective is that it's very difficult to have him home, but not present to us. I know, though, that he misses me and the kids just as much as we miss him...and that completion of this monumental project will come as just as great a relief to him as it will to me.

The calendar is a wonderful tool, but like all tools, it has a proper use and an improper use. Since I've never been great with organization, I'm learning that with four home schooled children and a busy husband, we simply must be organized, or else things fall apart. Well, we can't have that, now can we? So I followed the example of a dear friend and I bought two magnetic dry-erase calendars. Of course, the purpose of having two is so that the present month can be on one, and the next month on the other. If everything works as it should, I erase "August" on September first, and then draw up "October," so that we can begin looking ahead to October as we go through September. I hung the calendars in a prominent location--on the kitchen-side of the bathroom door! Since we only have one bathroom at the moment, some of us spend time waiting in that precise location, so it's a great spot to put something like a calendar.

Unfortunately for my train of logic, My Darling does not spend oodles of time standing in line for the loo. He rushes in, does his thing, and rushes out. If he does have time to wait, he goes back out to work and just comes back to the loo again later, rather than hopping from one foot to the other like the rest of the common hoarde. (This is an option not open to those of us currently housing a tenant being knit together in the regions immediately above the bladder...!!) So his time in front of the calendar is nearly non-existent. This is not handy when I have things scheduled which involve one or both of us, for Pete's sake.

This means that when I put a much-needed retreat on the calendar for this past weekend for yours truly, My Darling did not see that it was for two days rather than one. This means that our plans were not even close to being coordinated enough for me to take this desperately needed retreat. Of course, my anger and frustration was aimed at my hard-working husband, rather than seeing that I should have discussed my needs with him. He can't read my mind any more than I can read his!

Things like this happen. And it's so easy to lay the blame for the things which go wrong at the feet of the nearest competent adult. Sometimes it's easy to lay the blame at the feet of the children as well. And while I recognize that My Darling is not faultless in the things which happened over the past couple of weeks, I also realize that I am equally at fault for not effectively communicating.

After the hullabaloo over not getting what I wanted, My Darling booked us to facilitate a Marriage Prep day on Saturday, which also happened to be our 11th wedding anniversary. Appropriate, I know, but not even close to what I wanted to be doing on the day I had scheduled the second half of MY retreat. I grumbled. I whined. I complained. I did everything I shouldn't have done, and because of it, I began the day with a horrible attitude.

The lesson was all about obedience and humility.

It was good and right for him to schedule us right into a day where we were required to take a long, reflective look at what makes our marriage as wonderful as it is--what makes it work, how important things like self-reflection and communication and prayer and intimacy are, and why it hadn't been working well lately. It was a fruitful day! It was renewing and invigorating and a beautiful way to spend our anniversary. And in the end, I said to him, "Honey, you were right to have us do this thing, and I was wrong to say the things I said, and I'm sorry." And with a smile, he said, "You should be used to me being right, you know..."

And it's true. Because while we may not always have it together, he never insists on doing things that aren't in our best interest. He does take into consideration my feelings and my needs--as long as I let him know what those things are. He is thoughtful and generous, and I love him dearly for it. And sometimes I just need the reminder that he is just as human as I am. Sometimes I need to be humbled and reminded that he is a gift beyond anything I could ever deserve--a blessing directly from God.

Thanks be to God for the dips into the valley, and the work it takes to climb out of them. Without them, we would never see the beauty of the view from the top.

Please consider in your prayers all couples who allow communicative breakdowns to hamper the joy in their marriage, and all those who fail to be thankful for the blessings in the midst of the challenges.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

"Yes, Lord....but--"

[Edit again: In response to Heather's inquiry, I'd like to post this link for information on the Immaculate Conception--something often misunderstood by lots of curious souls. I hope this helps! The information is from EWTN, which is a fantastic source for apologetics.]

[Edit: I began writing this on Saturday, and for twelve thousand reasons, I didn't finish it until today--Tuesday, for Pete's sake. Ah well; life happens.]

How often do we balk at obedience? To our parents as children? To our husbands as wives? To our bosses as employees? To our doctors as patients? To our priests as parishioners? To our Lord as His precious children?

Friday was the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It never fails to move my heart to the very edge of....I don't even know hear the Magnificat read as part of the Gospel. A few months ago, the Pickle and My Darling attended a retreat for their fathers and sons group. We Mamas and other siblings were invited to the Mass which ended the retreat, and the priest had chosen this magnificent reading from Luke as the Gospel for that Mass. I was caught completely unawares, and was very thankful to find my ever-present handkerchief in my purse. As the words were read with reverence, my tears began to fall like watershed. The Gospel was the same on Friday.

From the Gospel of Luke, we read:

"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant of my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.' And Mary Said: 'My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior, for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name. He has mercy on those who fear Him in every generation. He has shown the strength of His arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly, He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has come to the help of His servant Israel, for He has remembered His promise of Mercy, the promise He made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.'"

See, Mary's obedience was immediate to something that could, in the short term, only cause trouble for her. But because the angel spoke to her the way he did--"Blessed are you, full of grace. The Lord is with you."--she knew that God had favored her. She trusted Him. She knew that He would faithfully provide for her, and so she chose obedience.

And thank God that she did! Mary was conceived without the burden of original sin, but she was entirely human nonetheless. She could have, by her own free will, said, "Gee, if it all works out like you say it will, it looks great in the future...but right now I'd really rather not be bothered with things like accusations of adultery or impropriety on Joseph's behalf. That would really complicate things for me. My life's pretty good. I think I'll pass." But even not knowing the future and how it would all come out--she didn't.

And what did she obtain for her "Yes"?

She was chased from her homeland so she could be counted with her husband's people for a census. It was her third trimester. It wasn't an airplane flight or a long car ride; rather, it was a long, arduous journey on foot, or on the back of a donkey.

She was denied a bed for her labor and the birth of her Son.

She was detoured to another country, hundreds of miles from home, for two long years, because some nasty king wanted to kill her Son. And whether she was aware or not, hundreds of other mothers and fathers suffered the agony of watching their sons be ripped from their homes and their arms to be slaughtered in the streets before their very eyes....a sight which would be Mary's own down the road.

She was the quiet and humble wife of a quiet and humble man, watching her Son grow into a man.

And all along the way, she had her heart pierced by the sorrow of learning what was to come.

Surely we hope for a better outcome for ourselves in our obedience....would any of us give up our reputation? Our home? The comfort of knowing where we would be living or sleeping each night? And in the end, would any of us be able to bear the sight of a child of ours being tortured by brutal men who will only stop at death? How we doubt His provision!

But not Mary. Mary's immediate fiat also allowed her to be the first witness to the joy of His Resurrection!

And her fiat allows us to rest in the knowledge of our salvation. Had she not carried and bore Him, had she not been the first to sacrifice Him by raising Him up to manhood and then watching him go off to teach His words and then fulfill the prophesy of His death and resurrection for our salvation, where would we be?

God has such a plan for each of us. Though we are not called to the same role as Mary, we are always called to obedience. How often do we shun His nudges to our hearts, knowing that saying "Yes" to Him will bring uncomfortable sacrifice or sorrow to our hearts? Can we not stand to suffer even a fraction of His suffering so that we may more fully witness His glory in the end?

He knows what is good for us, and through occasional obedience, we begin to learn also what is good for us. Imagine the joy of full obedience every time it is asked of us. Imagine God's delight if we said "Yes" every time it was asked of us. Knowing that He has put us here with one another in various roles where we are called to obedience (which is, ultimately, obedience to Him), why do we have such a hard time accepting it?

I confess, I had prayed and prayed before we conceived Gabriel. "Please, Lord, just one more child. I promise that I will give that child to you." Now, in my humanness, my thoughts were of vocations--perhaps a priest or a nun, or a Mama or a Daddy--whatever God wanted. I was thinking Hannah. I was hoping for Padre Pio. I certainly wasn't thinking mere days.

When I knew I was miscarrying, I was so sad....but at the same time, I was so greatly comforted by the Magnificat. I knew that my loss was consistent with obedience to God. He had fulfilled my prayer for another baby, and was now asking me to give that baby to Him. I didn't expect it to be so soon, and it certainly didn't make our loss any easier. It still doesn't. But I know that His faithfulness to my obedience is real, and I can't help but wonder if the reward for that obedience was the rather immediate conception of the child He's currently knitting together beneath my heart. But even in the intense sorrow of that moment, how could my spirit not rejoice in God, my Savior--how could I not sing the Magnificat with Mary? If she in what was to come could still proclaim the greatness of the Lord, how could I not also?

The blessings and graces that flow as a consequence of obedience are amazing. I was so blessed, and continue to be so, after losing Gabriel--through occurrences, through things that I hear at Mass, through relationships with other Mamas who have lost babies before birth, and just through the way I can more fully see His hand at work in my life.

Thanks be to God!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's Official....

We've comfortably settled into a great routine. The kids get up, they do their morning tasks, they eat their breakfast and clear their places, and then they settle into schoolwork. This morning we began with English. Although not a single, solitary sentence has been diagrammed since late Spring, the Frog fell right into pace with it. She did about five minutes' worth of review, and then promptly remembered what she needed to. The Pickle was dealing with pronouns (singular? Plural?) and he did just as well as the Frog. Reepicheep, loving English the way she does, did English yesterday as a "bonus" lesson (yep; she's one of those!), so she did Math today. Out of four pages, only two answers were wrong. Impressive!

Even the Monkey is responding well: he knows that when Brother and Sisters are bent over their books, it's time to play with his toys in the area affectionately known around here as "Monkeyland." He makes block towers and lets his Brown Monkey knock them down. He works with his puzzles. He puts his vast collection of brightly colored duckies into circles or squares or rhombuses (rhombi?). He plays with his Pooh-in-the-Box. He's a good boy! He's very patient, and his patience has been rewarded. Today is soggy and rainy, so recess is upstairs. I think Legos may be involved.


We have set the date for the Bean's baptism! It is on the calendars of our wonderful friends, Msgr. H. and Fr. E. and Teresa, thanks be to God.

It will be a stand-alone occasion rather than a Mass. While I'm a little sad about this, I'm not nearly as sad as I was earlier. I know that the day we've chosen will be a grand celebration, because the people we know and love (and who know and love us!) will be there with us--and the baptism is what counts, for Pete's sake. It could be just us and the Bean's godparents anywhere at any time, but we've been blessed to have such wonderful people supporting us and loving this baby, and it will be at such a grand time in the liturgical year--The Octave of Christmas, Indeed!--with such fine people surrounding us in a place we know and love! God smiles on us and provides each of our needs in turn, as always. We are so richly blessed!

It's good to have things settled, date-wise. Now I can start planning everything else. I love that the church will still look and smell like Christmas. I'm sure that the meal will be scrumptious. The company will be pleasant. The conversations will be savored. And, God willing, everything will be Just Right.

Monday, August 11, 2008

And so we begin anew.....

I had such fabulous intentions of starting school last week. Isn't that always the way--those intentions can really come back to bite a person, especially if you share them with another person. I'm pretty sure it's proportionate, too...the more people you tell, the less likely it is that you'll reach your goal. Or something like that.

So we began this morning.

The kids did their usual "two chores before each meal" routine, and then everyone did math. At the moment they're outside for "recess," which is nearly over.

I love how this morning went. I love that while they were doing their math, I had time to work on my menu and shopping list for the week, while Monkey watched a little bit of Thomas. I love that I had time to make a quick phone call to My Darling to see if he would have time to pick up a few odds and ends that we need....and that he said, "Why don't you e-mail the grocery list to me, and then if my afternoon permits, I'll just do the shopping?" (Oh, TWIST my arm!) I love that the kids are all playing so nicely outside that I hear nothing (not even the Scream Just Because Screaming is the Thing To Do), even though the windows and doors are wide open to let all this glorious fresh air inside!!

What a gorgeous, perfect day.

The other thing that we started, along with our school routine, is a new system of privileges. I need to be able to steer them away from media and into activities that will actually benefit them, rather than encourage laziness, for Pete's sake (although, truth be told, they do spend lots and lots of time outside messing around in the yard or biking or rollerblading or jump roping or bouncing on the little trampoline or......).

So each week, each of them will be able to earn Art Project Time (free project--not school related), Baking Time, Movie Time (once each week), Computer Time (twice each week), and either Sewing Time or Tool Time. This amounts to six days, because Sunday is Family Day, and the options there will be up to Dad. They each have a specific privilege on each weekday which can be earned by completing their morning routine (Bedroom Zone, 2 Chores Before Breakfast, Clearing Breakfast Mess, Morning School) without complaint and in a timely manner. The days alternate--so for example, today, Reepicheep earned Baking Time, Pickle earned Computer Time, and Frog earned Movie Time. Tomorrow, Reep can earn Computer Time, Pickle can earn Tool Time, and Frog can earn Baking Time. The other part of this is that they can do these things during Quiet Time, with the exception of Tool Time (because that's with Dad, and, well, he's not here during Quiet Time).


Tweenagers. Is there anything like them in the world? I'm finding it something of a mixed bag to have one in my house, and a girl at that. She is clever and talented, tall and pretty, and very responsible. And very much starting to have to reign her emotions and attitude in. It's not a bad thing, but it's definitely something that I'm glad didn't happen overnight.

I'm having to be very careful about how I phrase things to her, lest a fit of tears be the result of careless words. And warnings--oh yes, we Absolutely Must Follow Through With Them. There is no other way. That's kind of been one of our strengths anyway, so that's not too worrisome. The trouble is finding something that matters to her enough that when a privilege is removed, it actually makes an impact. Then the trouble is making the consequence proportional to why it's being meted out. Then the trouble is following through, yet again, to be certain that the undesirable behavior is actually changed. I know there are books, "life coaches," counselors, nannies on television, and Dr. Phil (we prefer Dr. Ray by far!)--all kinds of experts to tell parents what to do and exactly how to go about it. The problem with all of that is that I'm the expert on my children. What is effective for one does not necessarily work for the next.

I know, I know. This, too, shall pass. And then the next one will be this age, and I'll have no idea what to do for him, either.....and then it'll pass. And then the next, and then the next........and hopefully, by the time they're ready to be Their Own Individual Persons, we will have laid a solid foundation and they'll be able to just......really be OK and learn from their mistakes and treat others kindly and remember everything we taught them and love Jesus more than life and eventually.....make it to Heaven.

Can you tell I'm just a little anxious? How in the world can I not be, when it's my job to raise these Little Souls, which are on loan to me and their Daddy from God? And it's our goal, then, to safely return these Little Souls to Him in heaven. It's a trialsome journey, but it's also joyful. And this is where I really need to just keep praying my way through each day, each hour, each minute...and hope that I'm hearing Him right and then be obedient.

And always keep in mind.....Phippians 4:13, for Pete's sake!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Mary? Martha? Yep; they're both here.

This week has been busy, and it's not been as restful as I had hoped it could have been, especially on the heels of the exhausting day we had on Sunday.

Wednesday evening, we shared a meal with some dear friends, which was very special. The women have been dear friends of mine for years, and one is My Darling's cousin, whom I've known since we were five (she and her husband hosted us in their home that evening). The other came into my life as such a blessing in the seventh grade--and you know how special a friend is when she became your friend in junior high school and remains just a good a friend more than twenty years later. The evening was mercifully cool and breezy, and after we finished eating on the deck, we sat and talked and watched the children play on the swing set. It was refreshing, both in body and spirit!

We were supposed to have gone that afternoon to see Chris...but the rule of thumb with a midwife is that you call before you leave. For the very first time with us, when I called her on Wednesday, she was with a laboring Mama, so we have to reschedule. Rats. I was really looking forward to hearing her wisdom to calm my heart on a couple of issues. I'll get to that in a moment.

Last evening was the first of what I'm sure will be many "Maternity Mom's Night Out" occasions. One of the women in our home school group has introduced the idea that rather than give a traditional shower, one Mama will talk with the Expectant Mama and find out what food she is craving, and then make reservations at an appropriate establishment. Whoever comes then splits the check for the Expectant Mama's meal with the other women there. We talk about our birth stories and whatever else comes up, and gifts are welcome but not required. I think this is a fabulous way to acknowledge each baby--since none of us are having our first, and many of us have families who just seem to become disinterested in welcoming baby number three...or four.....or more...........

My Darling thinks this is a fine idea as well, and said to me, "Well that'll be easy for you--they'll take you to Taco Bell!!"

No.......because we are due in December, and because I don't really relish the idea of going out in late November, when the roads may well be icy or snowy, I think I might just want a pot-luck meal here in my home. Perhaps My Darling can take the kids out to McDonald's or Pizza Hut or something so that we Mamas can visit together and play board games or cards or something. I'm such a home-body that this really sounds like a perfect evening for me!


I've had these mysterious twinges and pulls in places (like the top of my belly) that don't really feel like anything I've ever experienced during pregnancy before. Only one has been truly crampy, but they're so odd that they have me concerned. Every now and then they are strong enough to make me catch my breath and freeze until I know they're gone. It's so strange, and I've had a hard time explaining exactly what the sensation is like. I mentioned them to my chiropractor, and her thought was that perhaps I have adhesions there from endometriosis that are somewhat "new"--as in, since my pregnancy with the Monkey (since most of my discomfort during that time was the direct result of my accident, for Pete's sake)--because they're not causing any other symptoms; there's no bleeding, no contracting, nothing that would indicate a serious problem.

I was really hoping to visit with Chris in person on Wednesday, because this is just one of those things that niggles the pesters me to no end and makes me wonder about the safety of this baby, and then gets my heart all caught up in loss again. It's such an endless cycle of worry mixed with joy mixed with grief mixed with hope that if it were a recipe, it would certainly not win any prizes at the county fair!

Then, my chiropractor says (as she's checking out the ligament issues I've been having) that my round ligaments are feeling unusually tight and stressed. She said, "I recommend that you rest with your feet well raised and supported so that these ligaments are relieved from their duty for a while." I said, "But I'm already doing that! I've been, for lack of a better term, stagnant like standing water, for Pete's sake!" I've had such low energy that it's been difficult to do as much as I'd like to do, so rest has been largely the order of the day most days.

Please, Lord, give me the grace to accept the things You've placed before me...without question, without griping, without yearning for "more" or "different." Please give me a clean heart and a right spirit, that I may more fully bring my children to You and accept the blessings that You bestow on us every day. Allow this time which needs to be of rest to also be one of growth, and help me to want more of You and to learn more of You. Let my soul just find the peace of waiting for You and being with You and listening quietly for You rather than frantically searching for You in the places I think you'll be.

See, if I could just keep that in my heart all the time, this would all be so much easier. There's so much I want to do, so much that I accept onto my plate before I look down and realize that it's already full. I want so much to please and to help that I offer, sometimes, more than I have to give. It's a weakness that I'm slowly beginning to recognize, and it's truly a classic case of needing to find Mary in Martha. I've been struggling to be Martha without recognizing that God is gently encouraging Mary to come to the foreground. What a gift it is to have His intention so clearly laid before me, and what a fool I've been to look past it, trying to find what I want to see, rather than what's there.

Today I lift up to Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mama Mary, all women who struggle to find the balance that our families need us to have. For women who shun their vocations, or who find little support within their families and friends--and even in their churches--who work so hard to please everyone around them that they have nothing left to give to themselves, to their families, and to God. To those whom He has given hearts that want to work without rest, without pausing to seek Him in His word, in silent prayer, in community, in the Sacramental life, I pray that there is peace and rest in Him....we all have a little bit of Mary and Martha in us. We just need to be able to allow both of them to bless us.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

To Be Continued....

Well, I have a few minutes of quiet in the house. (It's rare, you know.) And since it's on the brain, and since there's a fan blowing near my chair, and since I have had a pesky cramp that makes me need to sit in a strange contortion, I will sit and recollect My Monkey's story. :) I'll warn you now--it's long...but (I think) well worth it.

Studious readers may recall that we carried the cross of infertility for four long years. We wanted another baby--just one more!--and it seemed like actually giving utterance to those words doomed us. We do know that we lost our first little Saint in February of 2002, which is about when we began trying. I wasn't in denial, per se, but I certainly wasn't where I am now in my faith. This means that that first loss was mostly swept under my heart's carpet, and only now am I able to reckon with it. It's made losing Gabriel that much more difficult, I think, knowing that we never chose a name for that child, nor did we actively seek out proper counsel for our hearts...I think, though, that it's never too late, thanks be to God.

So many other things happened during those years. I finally pushed for answers to my health issues, and in February 2004 (February is really a theme here...), I had surgery to remove adhesions caused by stage 3 endometriosis. It took me nearly a full year to really recover from the surgery, despite the 6 week optimistic prediction from the doctor. There are still things I'm dealing with today, like altered memory and poor word and name recall, and they stem from the anesthesia. It was about a year after my surgery that we were told we just weren't going to be able to have any more babies...and of course, this was devastating for us.

So we did what any sensible couple would do. We bought a puppy. Something little and warm for me to hold and dote on. Oh, I was convinced that this would help my poor heart to at least begin to heal from this news.

Ha! And Double Ha! HA!!

What I never could have known was just how God was going to use this time in my life to draw me closer to Him than I ever thought it was possible to be. When you think you're in control, and then you lose ALL control, there's something very freeing about just leaning back onto Him and letting Him have His way.

Well, that's what we did.

It was still tremendously difficult to know that there was no baby growing beneath my heart. Day one of every cycle was so hard for me that I would shut down completely, allowing no one in. I spent hours weeping, begging God, like an impudent child, to hear my desires, trying desperately to hear His answer on my heart, but never allowing His answer to be enough. My depression from this brought something like a famine into our marriage, and it was at the lowest point that I found His gentle hand, waiting to lift me up. Following my accident, my Darling and I began praying together, in a way that we never had before--openly, passionately, and directly from the heart. Really, this is something that many Catholics scoff at, likening it to something a little too charismatic to be "authentically Catholic". It's too bad that they see it that way, because it's truly amazing what can happen between two hearts when you lay them completely open at the feet of Jesus. We poured ourselves out in prayer with one another, asking God to heal the schism that we had allowed to form between us.

It wasn't too long after we began this journey together that we discovered that I was carrying our beautiful baby. God had indeed forgiven our sinfulness and rewarded our faithfulness, and continues to do so!

Because of my healing injuries, my pregnancy was very painful. Beginning at about 16 weeks, although the Nausea Bug and the Major had slacked off a little bit on their assaults, the loosening of the joints that happens with every pregnancy was exceptionally difficult this time around. I kept as active as I could, but it really slowed me down.

During the four years that I had to obsess over becoming a Mama again, I had researched my head off about what kind of birth I wanted. I knew I didn't want to go to the hospital again, but I wasn't sure what options that left me with. I mean, only hippies and weirdos and pioneer women actually have their babies at home, for Pete's sake, and heaven knows I'm none of those things. I had met a friend through the Pickle's swimming class, and she mentioned casually that she knew this midwife who delivered babies in this area. There's an Amish settlement just north of where we live, and the majority of her clientele, of course, stemmed from there. I'm not sure, but I think Julie found out about her through her chiropractor. I thought, Well Julie's not a hippie. A little weird, perhaps, but not much more than I am. And she's not a pioneer; she lives in a huge house and drives a minivan! I got Chris' number and gave her a call.

Our first meeting was all it took for My Darling to get on board fully with the idea of actually having our child born in our actual house. He had been a little leery of the whole thing, but after meeting Chris and hearing about her years of experience, he really settled into the understanding that it is safe, that birth is normal, that we would be fine, and that this was a good idea. We began putting together a Rubbermaid tub full of the things we needed to supply for our baby's arrival: a new shower curtain to put under the sheets on the bed--and the bed was the Hide-A-Bed of the love seat that had spent so many years in my Grandma's house. Red sheets, for that matter, so that even if there were stubborn stains, they would never show. A new aerobic ball, which we inflated about a month ahead of the birth. A package of absorbent pads. Olive oil. Alcohol and iodine. A brand new set of unimaginably soft towels, which we washed and dried and vacuum packed so we knew they would be ultra clean for our brand new baby.

At 28 weeks, we found out that the Monkey was frank breech--and that he was a boy. I went to the chiropractor regularly. She performed the Webster maneuver on me, and within a few adjustments, he was turned to head down. He stayed that way until he was out and dry. Good boy!

As our February (there's that theme again!) due date drew near, Chris began making her visits here, rather than having us drive to her place. The dogs got to know her, the kids got to know her, and she became familiar with our home. About three weeks before the Monkey's arrival, Chris brought the birth pool and we set it up. Considering the injury that my body was still trying to heal from, the pool was a huge blessing. My chiropractor actually came to my house a few times each week, adjusting me as I flopped over dozens of pillows. She would leave and I would immediately climb into the pool and allow the hot water to relax my cumbersome body.

When the time finally came, it was very late on a Friday night. My Darling arrived home from his second job, and I was hanging out in the water.....and The Pop came. It was shortly after midnight.

Now, I happen to have right here in my hands a Purple Folder. This Folder contains all of the information recorded by Chris, beginning with my first appointment (my blood pressure was low then, too!) and all the way up to her final postpartum visit. During labor, she took detailed notes, which are in the Purple Folder. I'll chronicle them along with my memories--her notes in italics, and my memories in plain font.

When Chris arrived, it was 1:45 AM. The temperature was fifteen degrees below zero, and the sky was clear. My water had broken at 12:15, and we had called her at 12:45. We had waited a little while to make sure that labor was really beginning. Sure enough, my contractions began; they were close, and good and strong. I got out of the water and sat on the big ball, which we covered with a nifty pad. When Chris came, she checked my belly through a contraction and listened to the Monkey's heart rate, and then she settled all of her equipment in a convenient place. She quietly retreated to the kitchen, leaving us in the living room to do whatever we needed to do. We had one lamp on through the whole night, and we listened to a CD that I had made weeks in advance and had listened to over and's a great mix.

I was contracting every 3 minutes. The Monkey's heart rate was 130 and strong. At 2:08, I requested chicken soup, and My Darling got busy in the kitchen. The contractions made me hungry! At 2:20, Chris helped me out of the pool. My comment? "I feel like a queen!" At 2:32, my sister called from work. At that time, my sister worked nights in a factory, installing windows on skid steers. I have no idea what made her know that she could call at such an hour--she never had before (and hasn't since, thanks be to God!), and I hadn't called her to say that I was in labor. God bless her heart! We had a lovely conversation. Earlier in my pregnancy with the Monkey, one of her dogs had a litter of puppies, and she had called to say, "Wanna hear the ruckus?" This night, I told her, "I'll call you tomorrow so you can hear the ruckus..."

Chuck brought me the delicious soup that he had made the day before and then heated up for me. I ate it while sitting on the ball. 3:00 came. I mentioned that this was "the nicest labor I've ever had, so far. And if I thought he was low before, he's really low now." Contractions were two minutes apart and lasting 60 seconds. At 3:34 I thought I almost needed to push, but couldn't really tell...he was just reeeealllly low. My Darling wiped my face with a cloth, and we talked about how wonderful he is in labor. Chris said I'm lucky; that not every husband is like that. I said we could rent him out.

At 3:43, the song on the CD was one of my Dad's favorites--"God be in my head," arranged by John Rutter. At 3:50 I couldn't sit anymore.

My friend Sarah came at 3:55. She was going to take pictures. I remember Sarah telling me that this was an incredible experience for her. She's not been able to have her own children, and had never been present at a birth before. Though I was unaware, she became very emotional later on, but did such a beautiful job with the photos...they are such a treasure to us, as is our friendship.

At 4:25, Chris made me get out of the water. The Monkey was posterior, as the Pickle had been. She told me to get on my knees and elbows on the bed. I hated it. The contractions were very strong, and without the water, they hurt a lot. Since we didn't have a snorkel, I had to be on the bed. My Darling and I danced in the kitchen for a while. At 4:55, Chris encouraged me to lie down for a bit and try to relax. At 5:00, I said, "Oh what a good boy; I can feel him turning."

5:20--I went back to hands and knees to strengthen the contractions and draw them closer together...they had gone back to four minutes apart. At 5:39, I was back in the water. Chris' daughter and assistant midwife, Billie, arrived. Billie had attended another birth that night. We've met the sweet little girl who shares our Monkey's birthday...she's a gorgeous, plump little blonde-haired Amish baby.

I had wanted to push all along--his head was so low--and at 5:50, I was more determined sounding.

5:53--the Frog was up. My Darling said, "Your brother's going to come out soon." Pickle got up, to.

I asked My Darling, "Why did you give me such a big baby?" He responded, "He wasn't that big when I put him in there." :) Twerp.

At 6:00 I asked when I could push. Chris said, "When you get to ten." I asked, "When will that be?" My Darling's response: "After nine." Really a twerp.

Reepicheep came downstairs.

More time on my hands and knees. At 6:30, I was at seven centimeters. The kids were eating breakfast. My darling had called my friend Jenna; she arrived at 6:40.

I cried out to God, "Why are you testing me like this?" My Darling's answer: "Because He knows that you are strong enough." My favorite memory of this labor....I was weary, I was worn; I was on the edge of fear. My head was mashed into a pillow during contractions. My Darling was ever at my side. I squeezed his hand. He brushed the hair from my forehead. He kissed my cheek. He caressed my back. He whispered into my ear and encouraged me. He prayed for me. He sat with me. He was so everything for me at that point that if he had left my side, I think maybe I wouldn't have been able to breathe. I think we could never be those moments, our souls were speaking to one another. This was transition....and he was a prince.

At 6:50 I asked, "Please can I push now?" Chris said, "With the next one." "Oh, thank you," I said. I threw up--I always do at that point--and I knew I was getting so close. The Frog was with me now, too, with her icy cold hands on my hot, hot back. They felt so good.

The handwriting in The Folder changes now, from Chris' to Billie's.

6:55--I could feel him moving down. It was a relief and not a relief.

6:57--I could feel him moving, still in my womb...I said, "I'm going to miss that." I remember feeling a little sad about this--I think somewhere in my heart I was convinced that this conception had been such a miracle that it would surely be our last. Of course He would never bless us like this again! Isn't it funny how no matter how much He lavishes His love and blessings on us, in our humanness, we still find ways to limit His grace?

6:58--I was on my side at the end of the bed. My Darling held my leg. There was a lip of cervix left, and Chris was holding it burned like fire.

7:00--I pushed, but it didn't feel right. It hurt too much. Chris said, "Just try to rest and breathe through this one while I hold the cervix back." I held Jenna's hand and cried.

7:02--Another push. They told me they could see lots of hair.

7:05--I could feel him kicking, and My Darling said he could see him coming down. It really just felt wrong--there was some irresistible instinct to get into the water NOW and squat. I said something about it, and I think My Darling and Chris and Billie were moving to help me, but I did not wait. My Darling laughs to remember it, saying that I practically did a back flip to get there. All I knew was that my heart was in a panic and I moved quickly from the bed to the pool--they were only about three feet from one another.

7:06--I was in the water, in a full squat, pushing again. My girls were both there. My Darling was at my side. Jenna continued to hold my hand. Chris faced me, waiting.

7:07--I pushed HARD. I could feel him moving right past the Ring of Fire...and suddenly, his head was out. I remember Chris asking me to raise my hips a bit so that she could help his shoulders out.

7:08--I pushed again, once. He was born, up through the water, into my own hands. I brought him to my chest and began loving on him......

The cord was around his neck, twice. My instinct had been spot on. I should mention, of course, that Chris never once questioned or corrected me...she did not panic, she did not falter, she did not look surprised at anything. I cannot help but wonder what would have happened in a hospital--monitors would have gone nuts, nurses would have panicked. Forceps would have made an appearance. Voices would have become loud and forceful. Squatting would never have been an option, and definitely not a water birth. My baby's cord would have been clamped and cut, and he would have been immediately taken from me for assessment. Thank You, Jesus, for the wisdom You placed in our hearts...that our son was born gently, and was never separated from us, even for a moment.

7:09--The umbilical cord had completed its job and began to turn from deep blue to pale grey. The Monkey let out his first little cry, then settled in contentedly. Jenna said, "Hey, a baby, just in time for breakfast."

7:11--His heart rate was in the 120s. He was so calm...we two were just looking into one another's eyes, falling in love.

The kids all commented: Frog said, "He's the latest one of all of us!" (The big three all came before their due dates. Monkey came the day after his.) Pickle said, "My first brother!" (He didn't stick around for much of the birth, preferring to spend his time playing Legos. I think it's a boy thing. We have one picture that includes him...that's all the time he spent there!) Reepicheep said, "He's just a newborn!" (An astute observation for a just-turned-six-year-old!) They each kissed their new brother...and then Pickle disappeared back up to his room to play Legos again.

The handwriting in The Folder goes back to Chris'. Billie busied herself in the kitchen and bathroom. She laid out the supplies for the newborn exam on the kitchen table, and would later draw a hot bath for me. At some earlier point, Chris had put a cheesecloth-wrapped packet of herbs onto the stove to simmer, and they would be added to the bath.

7:15--The cord is cut by the Frog. The pictures show me relaxing in the birth pool, exhausted but happy...the Frog is glowing as she makes a life-long memory.

7:20--Into Daddy's arms in a warm towel. At some point, either Chris or Billie had put the new towels into the dryer to warm them up. When my arms began to get tired, I handed my beautiful son to Chris, who held a warm towel. She wrapped him and gave him directly to his Daddy.

7:37--Chris helped me out of the pool and onto an improvised birth chair. I sat with the Monkey and he nursed for the first time. Chris brought me Tylenol for the after pains--I hadn't delivered the placenta just yet, and the contractions began to build again.

7:45--I had some time alone with my little son. Chris and My Darling prepared a bowl of oatmeal for me...apparently, that's what I wanted. Also at this point, Jenna took the Pickle and the Reepicheep along with her, leaving me and My Darling and the Frog. It was so nice to have this done for us, so that we could rest and focus on the new wee one.

7:57--The placenta came. I love that there was no pulling, no rush to help it along. Chris knew that the best way to encourage it was for me to nurse my baby and let my body do its job.

8:10--My Darling began calling our families. I said, "The baby's busy; don't weigh him yet." He was nursing. This peeved some of our relatives, who were told, "We don't know how much he weighs yet. He's busy getting his breakfast." SO not mainstream medicine. I love it!

8:40--I got hot chocolate. Mmmmmmmm................

8:45--I was helped into the herbal bath by Billie, and the Monkey was given his newborn exam on the kitchen table by Chris, with My Darling and the Frog at his side. Monkey weighed in at 8 pounds, 3 ounces, and measured 22 inches long. Holy Moses!! If you're keeping track, that's a full 2+ pounds bigger than the Reepicheep had been, and bigger than either the Pickle or the Frog had been, too. Chris' assessment shows that he appeared to be a week overdue: he had firm ears, deep sole creases in his feet, peeling skin, and not a smidge of vernix.

9:15--I am tucked into bed with my baby. Chris had finished the newborn exam and given Monkey either to My Darling or the Frog. She went into the living room and cleaned everything up--she removed, I kid you not, everything and then made the bed. When we had made it up before the birth, we put a full set of sheets on, covered them with the shower curtain, then put the red sheets on top. Chris removed the red sheets and shower curtain, and changed the pillow cases. She tucked a couple of blankets in, and when I was done in the bath, she and Billie tucked me and the Monkey in snuggly. They cleaned up the bathroom and kitchen, and tossed in a load of laundry.

9:45--Chris and Billie were ready to go home.

I love having this Purple Folder. I love having the photos--they aren't graphic; they are respectful and modest, and wonderful. I used many of them together with some of the music from the CD I had made and put them together into a Power Point slide show. Monkey loves to watch it, and to listen to the music. He calls it "Baby Water". It's astounding to see his demeanor change when he watches the scenes surrounding the moments of his birth. He is immediately calm and glassy-eyed. He comments often, saying things like, "Here comes the baby. The baby doesn't cry. That's me. I'm looking at Mama. Now I'm getting Ohs." It's beautiful.....

I find that I am daydreaming often about how this next birth will go.....I never thought I would feel this way, full of anticipation and longing for birth. I never knew it could be like this, though, here in my home, with my family, with my friends, with such love surrounding every single aspect of it.

This time around, The Folder is blue.

Monday, August 4, 2008


Yesterday was hot and sunny and breezy--the perfect day, apparently, for a family festival.

Our family is very much involved with an apostolate movement--not to the extent that we would like to be, but that will come in the fullness of time. One of My Darling's aunts is a professed sister in this particular order, so it's naturally been a part of his life since, well, forever, and now our family is part of it, too.

When the festival chair called me back in March and asked if we'd be willing to be in charge of organizing the games, My Darling and I prayed about it and decided it sounded like a fine idea...and so we were. In charge of games, that is.

I'm here to tell you that these sisters have this thing down so well that all we had to do was buy lollipops and soda (for two of the games), look over the games to make sure all the parts were there, make sure each game had it's laminated poster explaining the rules, and then show up to set them up. Easy-peasy! I continue to be amazed at how organized this whole thing was! There were people who called volunteers to man every station (food, games, garage sale, various posts...) over two shifts, set-up and clean-up, and Fr. E. even came to say Mass late in the day for the workers who had been there all day so we didn't have to worry about missing our Sunday obligation. It was really wonderful.

During the planning stages, I had an idea. Last year, a friend and I ended up hunting for a comfortable place to sit and nurse our babies, who were hot, tired, and thirsty. We ended up inside the building which houses the convent, tucked away in a quiet, comfortable corner. It's not that this place is inhospitable; it's just that the festival was taking place outdoors (as festivals are wont to do), and there just didn't happen to be a place that was truly comfortable for us to lounge with our babes-in-arms.

So my idea was this: a tented area, with comfy chairs, a changing station, and plenty of shade for all of the mamas with babies. And here's what we did: we took our pop-up shelter and alllllll of our camping chairs (including the folding rocker that My Darling bought for me when I had the Monkey). We packed up our Pack & Play, complete with changing table and supply caddy. We grabbed some flat sheets and clamps to hang from the sides to provide much-needed shade. I snagged some baby toys which had been packed up for a long time. We even threw in some diapers that My Darling had bought a case of, which ended up being rather ill-fitting for the Monkey, and a bunch of wipes of which we seemed to have an endless supply. A five-gallon bucket, lined with a bag, filled the position of garbage can. I brought along our indoor-outdoor carpet which we generally have outside either our tent or our camper, and a few blankets to spread out for the babies to play upon. I even had the linky-do chain thing hung above the changing table area with brightly colored friends hung from it so the little ones had something to look at while their Mamas cleaned them up. I had chairs for Mamas and little ones, and they were almost always occupied. The shade and the breeze kept us all more toward the comfortable side. We had a cooler stocked with ice-cold bottles of water to help keep nursing Mamas well hydrated. We left one side of the shelter uncovered so that we could see the bigger little kids playing in the sandbox and on the swingset. Babies played, Mamas talked, naps were taken, and at a few points we had drop in visitors--daddies, priests, curious onlookers who wondered what this "Mama's Tent" was all about--it was very festive! The only things missing were husbands fanning us with palm fronds and feeding us grapes.

This whole time, Frog, Pickle and Reepicheep were running various games, and My Darling was checking in with the game volunteers, making sure things were running well and that they were taken care of in the heat. There were people making rounds with a cooler on a wagon, offering cold drinks to the volunteers. There was music and frivolity throughout the day. It was a great atmosphere for families--no "beer tent" to distract the parents and draw in people who come only to drink beer. The music was family friendly, from the folk singer to the Irish dancers, to the family who brought their own "oom-pah" style band to play polkas. There were crafts and religious goods and baked items for sale, and two lovely young ladies making rounds with baskets, dressed as the "cookie angels"!


One of the best blessings yesterday was that both of the Bean's godparents were there. I had a wonderful visit with each of them, including a long talk with Fr. E. about letting go of the need to have everything My Way, for Pete's sake. I've been in a bit of a dilemma: with Fr. E as the Bean's godfather, it's not exactly easy to figure out when to have the baby baptized. We go to an 11:00 Sunday Mass, but Fr. E. has a 10:30 about 40 miles away. That doesn't really work too well when my ideal has been to have the baby baptized at the 11:00 Mass. All of our children have been baptized at Sunday Mass, being welcomed into the faith community by the people with whom we pray and worship every week. It's been an important tradition. Fr. E. reminded me, though, that if we want a priest as a godfather, we might have to be flexible with this. Rats. That's not what I wanted to hear. But it is definitely more important to us to have this good man as godfather for our child. Oh, what to do??

Fr. E.'s idea was wonderful. Since the baby is due in early December, I had thought about an Advent baptism. But he suggested the Octave of Christmas, when there are some beautiful feast days. He said that perhaps we could consider an early evening event, when people wouldn't have to worry about missing work, so our friends and family would be free to join us to celebrate this lovely occasion. Then afterward, we could gather together in the parish hall and share a meal.

I must admit, I really hesitated to let go of control in this situation. But if there is anything I've learned over the past several years, it's that God's way is the best, that He is the only One truly in control, and that His timing is always perfect. God has placed our dear friend Fr. E. in our lives for a reason, and we have been greatly enriched through this friendship. Our whole family has been brought closer to Jesus and Mama Mary through this time, and Fr. E. has played a huge role in this. I've also learned a little something about obedience--that it is good and rewarding, especially when it's entered into with a joyful heart. Having a wonderful husband and some truly faithful priests around me have only served to confirm this for me.

So I said to him, "You talk with Mnsgr. H. and pick a time and day that works for both of you, and tell me when to be there. I'll bring the baby."

The more I think on it, the happier I am with this arrangement. The octave of Christmas truly is one of the most joyous times of the liturgical year, and the music and Masses are transformative. The whole atmosphere surrounding that time--the solemnity of Midnight Mass, the explosive joy of Christmas, the colors and smells and sounds all add to the swelling of my heart, even at the thought. To have our child brought into the church at that time will certainly give us good reason to rejoice!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Containment, anyone? seems that the mystery virus that visited Jenni's little guy has moved to my family. At least, to the Monkey.

Yesterday morning, he ran to the Frog and said, "I have to go potty! I want to sit on my potty!" Since he's been waking up dry and actually using the potty pretty frequently (not daily, but lots), this wasn't a surprise. What was a surprise was what he did on the potty.

And the even bigger surprise was that that particular form of output was the first of six occurrences yesterday, with three of them practically needing hazardous material containment.

And then the part where he spiked a fever of 102.5 just following his nap--his short nap.

Please don't be sad when I tell you that we have our family on a generally strict schedule--meal and bed times are very important to us. The kids need to know what to expect, and it really helps to make our days smooth...and sane. This means that we eat lunch at about 12:15--just in time for getting settled in to watch Mister Rogers. Monkey knows about Mister Rogers coming in and switching his jacket for a sweater, and then trading his church shoes for sneakers. He knows that the Trolley means that the Neighborhood of Make-Believe is coming up in short order. He likes Daniel Striped Tiger. And he knows that when Mister Rogers feeds the fish, heads back to the bench to change shoes again, and then goes to the closet to get his jacket, it's time for a clean diaper and a cup of water and a snooze with his favorite friend--Brown Monkey. And then I get to rest as well. After all, I'm very busy. :)

He sleeps, I promise you, until nearly 4:00 every afternoon (and sometimes a little later). Three hours. Lovely, isn't it? But he knows the routine, and he knows that there is no negotiating, and he knows that after snooze time, he can have a nice snack and play trains or Legos, or he can color a picture. He looks forward to these things. It's a beautiful thing. Oh--and during this stretch of time, the Frog, the Pickle and the Reepicheep have Quiet Time. This means that they are doing something which creates little to no noise--reading, knitting, drawing or coloring, doing schoolwork, or taking a snooze themselves. By definition, their Quiet Time lasts as long as the Monkey's snooze.

Anyway, when I say that the Monkey's nap yesterday was short, I mean it was only 1 1/2 hours--which is not nearly long enough for him to be my happy Monkey. He climbed up onto my lap, and snuggled in. His head felt warm initially, but since he's always been a hot little sleeper, it didn't register in my groggy brain until I felt his little back and chest and neck...and they were just as hot. That is unusual.

Took the temp. Saw the result. Went to get him adjusted--there is actually a "fever button" acupressure point that is highly effective in bringing fevers down!--and then came back home to snuggle in. Gave him a nice coolish bath. Used a cool, wet washcloth on his head, chest and neck. encouraged him to drink lots of water. Gave him yogurt with OptiFlora. Watched his temp go down rather nicely, to hover in the lower 99 range.

This time around, his fever came back in the late evening, so we gave him ibuprofen at bedtime. Rats though--he was in our bed three times. He needed containment twice, for Pete's sake, but by the second one, it was apparent that the OptiFlora had been at work--there was a little substance in there, thanks be to God. I decided though, at 2:30 AM, that I do NOT like the new bargain brand of diapers that My Darling thought would be so's not cost-effective when you have to change them twice as often, and when you have to wash everything your child comes into contact with because the bargain diapers leak in every direction. My opinion may or may not change when this is all said and done.

This morning at about 5:00 we gave him more ibuprofen, and did another round of cool washcloths and encouraged him to drink more cold water--his temp was back up to 101.5. He is still sleeping. It's 10:00, which is unheard of for him. Usually he's up with me and My Darling, somewhere in the neighborhood of 6:45 or 7:00.

So we're asking for the intercession of St. Raphael (his name means "God heals"), and I'll let him sleep, and we'll do what we need to do to keep him comfortable today. It certainly doesn't help that it's so blasted hot, but I'll keep the house closed up and we'll see how we do.

We are the games chairs for a small festival this Sunday, and it would be really wonderful if he was a much better Monkey by then......please pray for my Monkey and for all those who are not in good health of body, mind or soul.