Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pregnant Kitty!!

Okay, I've waited two weeks to say it - just so I could be sure - but now it's a definite. The cat is pregnant....we're going to have KITTENS!!!!

Look at that baby bump!

We are all looking forward to the arrival of the kittens. Seriously, though, she couldn't have picked worse timing for this. Sly is crawling all over the place these days. He WILL perpetually try to disturb the kittens in their "nest". I know he could destroy a kitten in about two seconds with one of his pincer-like grasps. Likewise, a bunch of pouncing, bounding kittens who don't know how to control their claws have the potential to really rip up my baby's face/arms/etc. It's going to be a battle to keep them all apart from each other.

Then there's the intricate system of baby gates we've set up around the house. Right now, it's perfect. The cats are able to go anywhere in the house, or outside of the house (due to cat-sized holes or slits cut in each gates). Sly is blocked from leaving out the front or back door, as well as from going down the basement stairs, and from going either up OR down the regular staircase unsupervised. But what about kittens? They will be able to fit through all the catholes, obviously. But I don't want them wandering outside, or falling down the basement stairs. Oy. Our house is simply not big enough to designate separate zones for baby, kittens, and cats.

And then there's the fact that we're going away for TEN DAYS at the end of July/early August. Who's going to watch the kittens?!?! Sure, my mom will be able to stop over from time to time to give them food, and change the litter box. But that's not going to be enough. I worry that without a lot of human interaction, the kittens will become wild. I don't mean to sound silly, but it's true - I have experience with litters of kittens from when I was younger, and I saw the great effect that regular human attention has in turning a frisky and wild kitten into a wonderful and friendly pet (my mom called it "breaking their spirits"). Plus, with two adult cats and who knows how many kittens using the litter box - that thing is going to need to be scooped OFTEN!

It all just stresses me out too much when I think about it. So instead of worrying about all those things, I'm just going to think about the impending arrival of the little fuzzy balls of love.


Ready to pop!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A World of Possibilities Has Been Opened!

YES!! In my determination to find some way to fit into a dress for my friend Katie's wedding rehearsal this Friday, I made a most exciting discovery. My "nursing mother's figure" [ahem] is finally going back to more sane dimensions. I can fit into most of my dresses again!!

As I detailed in a recent post, I've struggled since Sly was born to get dresses zipped at the back. And it seemed that nothing new (in bigger sizes, too) that I tried on in the stores was fashioned to accommodate someone with my new proportions either. But yay! Now I don't have to worry about having *nothing to wear* to dressy events...Well, at least not until I find myself pregnant again...which could be any day now (I hope?).

I'm quite anxious to wear all of my fanciest dresses as soon as possible. I haven't worn any of them since...well, at least a year and a half ago now. And some of them, longer than that. I'm very aware that each future pregnancy will render everything off limits again for at least that long (and possibly longer if it takes me forever to lose baby weight, or if I never DO lose the baby weight!).

So I must find excuses to wear these things now!!

I can't wear any of my long-neglected dresses to the actual wedding, since I'm a bridesmaid and so obviously have to wear the required dress for that. The rehearsal/dinner could be an opportunity for dressing up....but everyone else will be dressing up on the "pretty summery dress" level. Not the "long velvet gown" or "beaded flowy dress" level. Sigh.

I do have some cotton dresses that I guess I haven't worn in a while....And at least there's still Rosemary's wedding (and rehearsal) next month!

All the best to the bride(s) and groom(s) :-)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

To Schedule Your Day, or be Spontaneous?

Sly nestling into his blanky while he sleeps - so precious!

For the almost-ten-months Sly has been around, I've been pretty pleased - and perhaps even a bit prideful - about the fact that he did not have a "regular naptime." During his earlier months, I just let him fall asleep whenever, wherever. But he gradually began to need his crib and quiet in order to get any quality sleep. So for the past few months, I've tried to gauge when he needs a nap (i.e. waiting until he's already really tired, and thus waiting TOO LONG), and "encourage" it to happen by putting him in his crib with his *Special Blanket* and letting him cry for a bit if necessary.

I kept insisting to myself and everyone else that I liked it this way. That it gave me more flexibility, because I wasn't tied to my kid's nap schedule, like so many other moms were. I prided myself on the supposed freedom of it all, and my ability to drag Sly out of the house at any time of day that it was convenient for me.

But a few weeks ago - I think mostly by his own doing - Sly made it clear that he likes more consistency in his life. By paying better attention to his signals - and actually responding to them - I've let him develop his own remarkably regular schedule of sleeping and waking. He still goes to bed at 9 pm as always. But now, instead of allowing me to encourage him back to sleep in the morning (so I can catch another hour or two of sleep myself), he insists on waking me up with him at 7 am. While this took a few days to adjust to, I am loving all the time I have in the mornings now. Sly then takes a two-hour nap around 10am, and another nap around 3pm for a couple more hours. It's great!

This does mean that I've had to plan my days more around his naps, and put off out-of-the house trips to run errands, etc. But so far, I am LOVING IT. My days have taken on an anticipated pace and pattern. And ironically, in ways, there is more freedom in this schedule than in the unstructured days we had before.

The basic rundown looks something like this:
6:40am: Sly wakes up almost exactly the same time each morning. Like, 6:45, with a standard deviation of 5 minutes tops. No matter what time he actually fell asleep the night before. How does he do that?? I nurse him in bed and try to catch a few more zzzz's.

7am-10am: We get up and have plenty of time to shower, get dressed and ready, tidy the downstairs, eat breakfast, put in some laundry and just relax and play.... And some days we get to Mass (we've been WALKING to a nearby Parish, that I didn't even know existed, for 9am Mass ).

10 am (-ish. it's all approximate.): I put him down for his nap, and I try to make sure to do at least one more time-consuming job around the house (vacuuming, mopping, etc.). And then I sit myself down on the front porch with a book (or upstairs at the computer, as is the case today), and a rewarding cup of delicious coffee.

12pm - 3-or-so pm: As soon as he's up, it's lunchtime. After that, we can run errands, visit my mom, or do whatever else needs to be done around the house (ok, well, I do what needs to be done; Sly follows after me grabbing onto my legs and skirt, asking to be held).

3 pm: Another nap for Sly (and sometimes for me!). I usually have a sit-down, and work on paying bills, adding items to our budget, making phone calls, etc.

4:30 or 5 pm: He's up again, we play together, and I start on dinner.

And then Tom's home (and I've been convincing him that a little more structure to our evenings would bring peace and order to our family as well, so that's slowly been working itself out).

It's surprisingly nice to have more of a pattern to our days. I think Sly's better off. Most importantly, I can be sure he's getting enough sleep each day (the pediatrician reprimanded me about this at his last appointment!). I think it's been keeping Sly in better spirits throughout the day. In the past, there were some days he refused to nap very much or even at all. I think he just got so overly tired and cranky, that it prevented him from sleeping. So, of course, it was a self-perpetuating cycle of cranky-baby-syndrome [I made that syndrome up]!

It's also nice now because I know he is definitely going to get a nap at roughly such-and-such a time. I can tell myself, "don't stress out about the pile of papers sitting there for you to go through. You'll have time to get to that this afternoon" or "make the effort to spend quality time with Sly now, because he's taking a nap in half an hour, and you will get your alone time.'

So, how has this changed my approach to my day? Does this mean that I now have to reconsider accepting every opportunity, invitation, or whim that comes my way? Yes. But I think the trade-off of peace and restfulness that it brings to the home and to our persons has been worth it so far.

For more about this topic, do check out A Mother's Rule of Life. I am currently reading it with the Catholic Moms Group of Pittsburgh, and it is very inspiring.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Ok. I don't want to get ahead of myself on here. AGAIN. But...we think the cat really might be pregnant this time. The signs are much stronger. She is very fat (she isn't fitting through the cat holes in the baby gates anymore), and her nipples are very prominent and hard. And she's acting funny. I'm trying very hard not to get my hopes up too much, though.

I wish she had had kittens a few months ago, before Sly was crawling. It would have been a lot easier to deal with then. If there were kittens now, it would be difficult to keep Sly from "over-loving" them. The only area of the house that is totally off-limits for Sly is the basement, but that is an awful and dangerous place for the kittens too (plus, if there were kittens down there, I wouldn't be able to sit and gaze at them for hours)....

Will keep you posted on progress!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Father's Day Craft

Now that Tom's parents are grandparents, they have become incredibly sappy. And I just love to indulge this new personality trait of theirs. It's funny how easily I can make their day with the littlest things (like sending a quick cell phone pic of Sly to his Grammy, and making her cry!). It also makes for easy and enjoyable gift-giving. I finally get to indulge my urge to be a little bit creative, we get to save money on store-bought gifts, and the grandparents are tickled beyond words at the unique homemade presents. Everyone wins!

So here's what Sly and I made for his Grandad (Tom's father) for Father's Day. I was inspired by something I found online, and decided to tweak it a bit.

Washable paint ($2-3)
Wooden cut-out (pre-painted is easier. Costs $0.50)
Craft paper
Mod Podge
Finepoint Sharpie marker

We already had everything besides the paint and the wooden star, so I barely spent anything on this project.

I had originally planned to have Sly made a hand-print directly onto the wooden star, but that was not working out at all. Why did I believe it would be easy to get a baby's handprints?? He would eagerly spread his fingers for me when I dipped his hands into the paint, but as soon as I tried to get him to leave a print on the star, he'd curl them up! Or he'd open them but then start wiggling his hands or slapping, and making a huge mess. I washed the paint off and dried the star about three times before I finally admitted that it wasn't going to work. I realized we would need to make a number of candidate prints, and choose the best - so we switched to using leftover card stock. For each print, I had to coax his fingers open and then quickly press his hand down, and hope that the whole thing didn't smear in the process. We must have made 20 handprints (not all shown below) before I was satisfied that one of them might be use-able.

I cut out the best one, and Mod Podge'd it onto the star cutout (after I'd written the amazingly corny little message on with Sharpie)

When it dried, I added a little ribbon on one of the fingers.

And two magnets on the back so it can go up on the fridge!

It didn't take much time, and it came out well. And it's so perfectly sappy - they are going to love it!

Monday, June 13, 2011

It Started Innocently Enough...

I was already wearing the high-necked purple shirt and a long skirt (it's a little colder out today than it's been). Then while I was putting on my daily foundation/concealer, I decided to try out my new red lipstick. And of course when you have bright red lips, you can't just leave your eyes bare. So I added a bit of liner and mascara....

Had I been staying in today, I would have left it at that. But I still need to make a trip to the supermarket (as soon as Sly wakes up), so my hair needed to be dealt with. It's very difficult to do anything with it these days. Last week, I had my side-swoop bangs converted into across-the-whole-forehead bangs (I'm not in love with the new do, but after five years, I needed something different!). So now I have short front bangs, weird longer bangs behind those (which my hairdresser warned would get "really really annoying" but that I needed to "resist the urge to cut them!"), and then the rest of my shoulder-length hair. Plus, it's summertime, so most days my hairstyle choices are limited to "anything that gets every bit of hair off of my neck!" I messed around with it for a while, and concocted a twisted up bun thing at the top of my head. Good enough.

Then, with my hair off my shoulders, my neckline was so barren-looking. I needed a necklace. Something large to fill the space, but not blue (like almost every piece of jewelry I own), which would have clashed with the purple. The necklace I chose had gold metal, so I needed to wear the only matching earrings I own - little gold balls.

And then suddenly I looked in the mirror and said, "when did I become a 1960s housewife??!"
Kinda creepy looking...

The Flipside of Feminism

Sorry it's taken forever to get this post up - things have been busy. But here, as promised, I will share some select quotes from my recent read The Flipside of Feminism by Suzanne Venker and Phyllis Schlafly.

The book was an engrossing read. I can't say that the writing style was terribly sophisticated. And there were some rather broad generalizations and unreferenced information at times. But the overall message is very powerful, and got me thinking in whole new ways about the social climate of our country.


"For the past several decades, it has been widely accepted that women in America usually, if not always, get the short end of the stick. According to feminists, women, like blacks, have been oppressed for centruies. We're told not enough progress has been made and that society still hasn't leveled the playing field. This philosophy is so embedded in our culture that Americans don't question it. We don't even label it "feminist" to think this way; it's just commonplace to believe women suffer discrimination....In the meantime, buried beneath the surface lies the truth: American women are the most fortunate human beings who have ever lived. No one has it better. No one." (pgs.13-14)

"...1960s feminists...supposedly picked up where the suffragettes left off. In fact, the two groups have nothing in common. The suffragettes fought for (and won in 1920) the right for women to vote in all 50 states, but they were family-oriented women who had no desire to eradicate female nature. They were also resolutely opposed to abortion. The feminists of the 1960s (and later), on the other hand, are not pro-family. In addition to viewing abortion as a matter of women's "rights," they see the home as a trap for women" (pg. 27).

"The second tenet of feminism is that, of all the injustices perpetuated on women through the centuries, the most oppressive is that women have babies and men do not. The abolition of this inequality is the primary goal. That is why women on the left are compulsively driven to make abortion and day care universally available to all women - and taxpayer funded. Women on the left believe they can achieve equality with men only if they can control the number of babies they have (through contraception and abortion) and can outsource (through nannies or day care) the care of the babies they do have. Eliminate the babies, and the equality goal will be achieved." (pgs. 44-45).

"A major difference between today's generation and previous generations is that in the past, society respected motherhood and all that it entails. Those who didn't choose to make the sacrifice admitted that they couldn't successfully juggle family and career....This is not the attitude of the average young women, who has been raised under the slogan of "choice." Her life is about her, and her alone." (pg. 52).

"The truth is that feminism has been the single worst thing that has happened to American women. It did not liberate women at all - it confused them. It made their lives harder....Their female nature tells them sex requires love; marriage is important; children are a blessing; and men are necessary. The culture, meanwhile, tells them to sleep around and postpone family life because that will cost them their identity. And, if their marriage doesn't work out, it's no big deal. They can always get divorced. Is it any wonder modern women are unhappy?" (pg. 55)

"It would be hard to find a single example in history in which a group that casts more than 50 percent of the vote got away with calling itself the victim, wrote Warren Farrell, Ph.D., in The Myth of Male Power." (pg. 56).

"This generation has no idea how to be married, or even how to go about choosing the right spouse. Two reasons for this phenomenon are often overlooked: (1) men and women have been raised in a culture that refuses to embrace the unique natures of males and females thus their relationships carry unnecessary conflict and strain; (2) most young people have been either directly or indirectly affected by divorce, which has led to a distrust of marriage that, in turn, leads to more divorce." (pg. 71)

"...American women no longer plan for marriage carefully, methodically, and with foresight. Rather, they are encouraged to focus solely on their identities and their careers. The notion that a woman should follow her own dreams, that she should be true to herself and not be held back by husband and children, has become a fait accompli. Women may want to settle down eventually, but marriage (and motherhood) is something that just sort of happens, as if it were a nice accompaniment to an otherwise fulfilling life. To the modern woman, work is the meat of her life. A husband is the salad.

this is a profound transformation. Married couples no longer think of themselves as one unit but as separate entities sharing space, which leads to an obscuring of gender roles and inevitable conflict as each spouse focuses solely on his or her own needs rather than the needs of the marriage." (pg. 75)

"The problem with the sexual revolution is that it was predicated on the lies that gender differences don't exist and that women want what men want. In fact, there was no need for a movement to make men and women equal because they already were equal - different, but equal. The reason female Democrats tell American women "there is still much work to be done" that they refuse to admit feminism failed. When you desperately want something to happen and it doesn't, there is always more work to be done. Women on the left are trying to force a square peg into a round hole." (pg. 76)

"For the first time in American history, parents are no longer expected to care for the children they bring into this world. In the past, it was expected that parents would raise their own children - farming this task out to hired help was something only wealthy families did. the reason was not that women "in those days" were oppressed, or because families could [not?] "afford" to do so, as feminists would have you believe. It was because Americans appreciated the fact that children have needs, and that these needs are best met by their own parents." (pg. 100).

"The feminist agenda is not only anti-men and anti-marriage; it is also anti-motherhood. When feminists talk about discrimination against women in a patriarchal society, one of their examples of oppression is that mothers are expected to care for their own children. Feminists demand that this duty be taken over by the government." (pg. 126).

"Single moms are a major target of the female left. The goal is to increase the number of single moms by increasing the flow of taxpayer-paid incentives that subsidize the non-marriage lifestyle. The left expects this plan to lock in single moms' dependence on government and allegiance to the Democratic Party. they respect Ronald Reagan's maxim that goes something like this: If we subsidize something, we'll get more of it; if we tax it, we;ll get less of it." (pg.138) [I think these assertions about the motives are a bit extreme. But that is a very honest view of the situation which I never saw before: that our country effectively subsidizes and thus lends its approval to the "non-marriage lifestyle."]

"When women in the media consistently portray American women as victims, a negative image of men unfolds - and the result is a society in which women think less highly of men. This pattern has morphed into the notion that women don't need men at all, which is why it has now become socially acceptable for women to create families on their own. Mothers who divorce their husbands are exalted in the media, as if single motherhood is somehow empowering." (pg. 145).

"Navigating feminist terrain both inside and outside the workplace has become the new challenge for men in America. The problem is that most men don't want to compete with women - it isn't natural. And taking their colleagues, girlfriends, and wives to task for their feminist beliefs is much too intimidating. Even if men disagree with feminist philosophy, they know they;ll be branded a chauvinist if they speak up." (pg. 151)

And lots more good stuff!! Get the book, read it, share it!!


Coincidentally, I feel like I have also been coming across a lot of similar anti-feminism ideas around the blogosphere these past couple weeks. A few posts that stood out to me...

1. From The Thinking Housewife:A Marriage in the Spotlight

"The feminist works non-stop even when her marriage is in crisis. Her strength is awesome. Here we see what feminism is really about: the avoidance of pain and intimacy."

2. Also The Thinking Housewife:Choices and Duties

"If women view homemaking as a mere “choice” then men likewise will be inclined to see their wife’s homemaking as optional and be unmotivated to financially support it, denying the woman the “choice” to be a homemaker at all since being a full-time homemaker by definition requires the husband’s support in order to make it practical."

3. Shoved To Them: Overheard

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dressing Room Disaster

I am invited to a Murder Mystery party this Friday. To make the mystery more fun and engagin (see Mardi Gras Mystery), we have to dress up as an assigned character. The idea to throw the party this weekend was pretty last minute (I only received my assignment today), so I don't have a lot of time to throw a costume together!

I am supposed to dress as a beauty pageant queen. A little over a year ago, this would have been an enjoyable and easy assignment. I still own my beautiful prom dress (and have found a surprising number of excuses to re-wear it over the years), a couple bridesmaid dresses, and a couple other formal gowns that I picked up cheap from thrift stores through the years. I should have plenty of options to choose from for my costume. But unfortunately, this is not the case.

My pregnancy, and now nursing has ensured that I now have a...quite matronly bosom. Any top that is supposed to button or any dress that is supposed to zip ends up getting stuck halfway up. Sigh. It's very frustrating. I'm still holding onto things for now. Probably, though, I'm just not admitting to myself that a number of my clothes (and an unfairly high percentage of my dressy clothes) will never fit me again :-(

So I'm still not sure what I'm going to do for this party.

I swung by the St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store today to see if they had any fancy dresses in plus sizes (yeah, seriously. I need at least a size 14 now. That's a little depressing.) I found two beautiful dresses in size 10 and size 12 -ones that would have fit me before. Apparently, I was in the mood to make myself frustrated, because I tried them on. And of course, it was the same problem I've been experiencing - looked great, fit well...until the zipper got to the chest.

There was one dress left with my in the fitting room. A size 14 lavender-colored satin number. Obviously a past bridesmaid dress, but it had a flattering shape to it, and I thought it could work. I got the zipper almost all the way up. There were maybe two inches left to go. The dress was pretty snug, but I thought it just might work. I told myself that unless I was able to zip the thing up fully and by myself that I couldn't buy it.

Contorting my body so that I could reach the zipper with my fingertips, I tugged up on the zipper. I was inching it up ever so slowly. I was SO close to the top. And then, *POP*. A sudden release of tension told me that the entire zipper had burst apart. Crap. "Alright, I'm definitely not buying this one, then," I thought, as I began trying to just unzip the whole thing back down to take it off. But the zipper would not move. Neither up nor down. It was glued in place.

And I was really starting to sweat. The store was air conditioned, but the dressing rooms were little boxes, all closed off with no access to the precious air. I tugged and tugged. I tried twisting the whole dress around to the front so I could have better access to the zipper. I felt as if I were tight-corseting myself, and realized I wasn't breathing anymore. So I stopped, and shifted it back. I think I actually started to panic a little, and I was definitely getting hotter and hotter, and occasionally gasping for breath.

Something needed to be done right away. I peeped out the door, praying there would be some friendly-looking middle-aged woman standing there who might assist me. Instead, the only person in eyesight was a little old man, looking at a rack of pants. "Excuse me? Excuse me?" I said a few times. He finally noticed me. I asked, "Could you go find a woman for me? I need help with something in the dressing room. I need a woman." It took a few more tries until he finally understood what I needed. With a confused look on his face, he wandered off to oblige my odd request.

And he brought back a friendly-looking middle-aged woman. It took about five minutes, but she finally just broke the whole thing, and I was rescued! The guy working at the register told me it was fine and I didn't have to pay for it. Thank you, God!

But man. After that experience, I've just about lost all hope of ever finding a nice dress that fits.

Friday, June 3, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 6)

1. I expect I am going to be merely sleepwalking through the day today. I don't know what was going on with Sly last night - either intense teething, or he caught the sickness that Tom had all week. But every ten minutes - no joke - he would wake up SCREAMING. It took forever to calm him down. He was in our bed all night, of course. And Tom did not stir even once. How is that possible? I tried Tylenol, but it didn't help (and that's always helped in the past, when he's like this). Now that it's morning, he seems just fine and dandy. But I feel like a zombie.

2. Father's Day is coming up later in the month. I think I am going to use it as an excuse to get one of these carriers. For Tom, of course....hehe, well...and myself.

3. I'm reading a very griping work of non-fiction right now, called The Flipside of Feminism. Basically about how the feminist message is a lie, and actually bad for women. Maybe next week, I will assemble a post of some choice quotes from the book.

4. I'm also reading (I can never seem to restrict my active books to just one) The Omnivore's Dilemma. Very well written, and a fascinating look at where our food really comes from. The first part is all about the corn industry, and it makes me angry, and tempted to just boycott corn forever! But aside from the fact that that would be near impossible to do in America, the truth is, I really enjoy corn. I just ate two delicious buttery and salty cobs of it last night...mmmm.

5. Ironing clothes has never been a favorite activity of mine. Mostly because it takes FOREVER. And practically every item of clothing that Tom wears to work needs to get ironed after it's washed. We have a special basket designated for clothes that are waiting for the iron. About twice a month, I put aside two or so hours in my day and tackle them all.

But now that Sly is crawling, I've found this impossible. There is absolutely no way of ironing when he's awake. He insists on being in the same room as me (which is probably for the best these days, since he's constantly finding new ways to get into things), and he wants to come over and see what I'm doing. This could mean trying to climb the ironing board, or grabbing the cord on the iron. I am certain that letting Sly be in the same room as a hot iron would result in him getting burned. Evenings are tough to get it done as well, since there are so many other things I've been saving to do for "when Sly goes to bed (!)". For over a week, I've been begging Tom to give me a hand so I could get through the ironing. Last night, he was finally feeling a little better. So we put on a movie, and took turns wielding the iron. Man - what an exciting evening, huh?

And still, we only got through half the basket.

6. Now that Sly is crawling, my poor Lancelot is getting even more beat up!7. I just bought a new bright red red red lipstick the other day. We'll see how it goes. I've been on a quest to find one that's a true RED shade, and yet lasts on my lips longer than two minutes. All traditional lipsticks are worthless. I love the Covergirl Outlast lipcolor sticks (which last for maybe 3-4 hours, rather than the 16 hours that they claim on the box). But they, sadly, do not make a real red. So I've been exploring other brands of long-lasting lipcolors. Loreal's was a total flop. The new one is to find the right occasion to try it out...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Overheard 4

Last night, Tom was feeling pretty sick. He ended up falling asleep at the same time as Sly did, at 9:00. A few hours later, I accidentally made a loud crash in the other room, and I heard Tom start to stir. In his sick half-asleep delirium, he started calling out, "Mom? Mom?......Mom?"

I actually surprised myself by feeling no jealousy that he called for his mom instead of me. I thought it was very sweet. I hope when Sly is all grown up, he still calls out for his Mommy sometime...