Friday, March 28, 2014

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 38)

Well, I'm three days past due now, and the baby is still quite snug and happy on the inside....but I promise all my "takes" won't be about that (despite it being the most prominent thing on my mind these days!).

After my due date (Tuesday) came and went with no baby arriving, I decided to do what I could to help things along.  I was reading lots of articles online about "natural ways to induce labor"  (and I just saw that Ana linked to a great past post about many of these methods, which you can read here). 

Wednesday morning, I did a bunch of them in succession, and to my pleasant surprise, something actually "worked."  I began having contractions!  They continued through the morning, some of them strong enough that I figured I was to the point where I'd better take some action and rally the forces.  I had Tom come home from work (with his laptop, so he could at least keep working until it was time to go to the hospital), my mom came over to pick up the kids, and our doula was put "on notice" and kept in touch with us by phone throughout the day. 

All afternoon, Tom and I sat around waiting, writing down the timing of my contractions and feeling pretty excited that we would meet our baby soon.  But as the day wore on, things started slowing down.  I tried all the labor-inducing tricks again, and they just weren't working anymore.  By early evening, I finally admitted defeat as the contractions totally fizzled out. 

And then I just felt such a sense of guilt.  I had inconvenienced so many people in my rush to get my labor going.  Tom had lost a lot of time he could have used to finish up a pressing project for work, my doula had surely cleared her schedule and arranged childcare for the day, my mom had committed to watching my kids, and my dad was prematurely excited (and texting/calling just a little too often) about the impending birth.  My mom offered to keep the kids overnight anyways, just in case things should start up again.  But they never did.  And I had to drive over and pick them up in the morning.

So yesterday, I decided to just let it go.  I'm not going to try to force it.  When it's time, it will happen.  That's not to say that I'm not still anxious to meet my baby, or that I'm not still fearful about the possibility of an induction.  But I have a lot more peace about things now.  I can't just put life totally on hold waiting, and I can't let myself get disappointed and cranky each day that baby doesn't come.  And if I'm honest with myself, I haven't set myself up to have a very focused Lent this year, so it's good for me to just offer up this time of waiting.

While packing up our books for the impending move, I was happy to discover a couple good Lenten titles that I didn't know/had forgotten we owned.  We have a TON of great old (and by old, I mean, many from the late 1800s/early 1900s) Catholic books - most of which Tom acquired from various generous friends before we were married.  But with the huge pile of books already on my "must read" list, I don't often take the time to dig through our own bookshelves and see what little gems might be there.

I just finished Fr. Weiser's The Easter Book, which explains many historic and ethnic Lenten and Easter practices.  It's a companion to his Christmas Book which I read during Advent.  I would recommend both titles to anyone looking to celebrate the Liturgical Year in their families [I found ours for a few bucks each at the local Catholic used bookstore...the one I linked at $60 is overpriced, so shop around if you are interested in getting it].  Last night, I started on The Passion Of Our Lord by Cardinal De Lai [our version is an old one, so I can't vouch for the quality of this re-publication that I linked to], and hope to finish it before Easter.  I'm not far yet, but it looks like it will be informative and inspiring - it shares reflections on the Gospels of the Passion.

So.....there was a guy murdered in front of his house on the street next to ours a few nights ago (it was a drug-related thing...).  Tom and I got the scoop from some neighbors who actually witnessed it, and (wisely, I believe) decided *not* to mention the incident to our parents.  No need to freak them out.  But my dad must have seen it on the news, because now he keeps e-mailing us updates about the case.  But I have to does make it a little bit easier to have to leave this house in a couple weeks.

We don't let Sly watch much tv.  If Tom had his way, Sly would probably never see a single show or movie for his entire childhood.  But a couple mornings a week, I do let him watch a half hour to an hour of whatever's on PBS.  He enjoys it, and it seems to be a short enough time not to have a negative effect on him. 

But my mom is one of those people who literally has the television on 24 hours a day.  When Sly goes over there, it's ALL he does.  When the kids were over her house on Tuesday, I know (from talking to him later) that he watched at LEAST three movies (Toy Story, Puss in Boots, and Homeward Bound), plus some "kids' shows".  I don't have a problem with him watching a movie every now and then, but that is just ridiculous.  When I picked the kids up the next morning, I felt like I had to spend the day helping him to "detox" from the zombie-like state he was in...

I have brought it up before, but I don't think my mom gets why it's a concern.  I'm not sure she'd really know what to do with him the whole time, if she couldn't rely on the tv.  It's sort of a sensitive situation....but I do need her free babysitting services sometimes!  Anyone deal with a similar situation before?

I should have posted this a few weeks ago, but...better late than never, right?  A friend shared with me a great guide that her priest put together to explain Lent/Easter and the various Liturgical activities, symbolism, events, etc. connected with them. 

Fr. Smith's Lent and Easter Guide 2014 [this opens up a dropbox where you can download the pdf]

The other guides on here also look very useful! 

As we've been packing up their toys, the kids have started to make fun with other objects around the house.  The past few days, the big amusement has been climbing together into an empty laundry basket, and tipping out of it, laughing.  Sometimes I wonder why we have toys at all...

Quick Takes is hosted at Conversion Diary

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

No Baby Yet...

Just in case anyone was wondering.

Today is my due date.  I know plenty of people go past their due date, so I really shouldn't be complaining or feeling as disappointed as I am.  Since my other kids came a little early, I was just totally mentally prepared for the same thing to happen this time around.  And then it didn't.  It's that darn "wild card third baby" thing everyone talks about.

I've never felt so "ready" before, though.  When I went into labor with Sly a week early, I had been fully anticipating going past my due date.  It took me five hours of contractions to finally admit to myself that it was the real thing.  I didn't have my bags packed or the car seat installed or anything fully set up yet.  When Stella came five days early, I still hadn't finished knitting her baby blanket or picking up any of the little baby items we needed to replenish.  But this time around, the bags (one for me at the hospital, and one for the kids for wherever they end up staying) are fully packed and waiting in the car.  I have purchased every last thing I "need" for the baby (including his very own pacifier clip, which I suddenly felt the urge to run out and get yesterday).  Everything is laid out and set up.  I've been extra on-top of the laundry to make sure no one will run out of clean clothes or diapers for the few days when I'll be unable to wash things.  I'm ready.

The most discouraging part was that last night at my midwife appointment, she had to initiate the discussion about all the things that would need to happen as I continued to stay pregnant past my due date.  I had to schedule a couple non-stress tests for next week.  And if nothing happens after two weeks, I'll have to head in for the dreaded induction

If I was planning on having an epidural for the birth anyways, I'd absolutely be saying "sign me up for that induction TODAY! I am sooooo ready to get this baby out."  But as I'm hoping for another natural birth, enduring the tortuous (and quite unnatural) Pitocin-induced contractions I've heard so many horror stories about is absolutely not what I want.  I know that I can deal with the sufferings and pains of birth, but I'm not a martyr. 

It's frustrating too, because I have a lot of things I need to get done for the new house - appointments to schedule, etc., but I have to just keep my schedule open, because I have no idea when the baby might arrive.  I can't put anything on the calendar.  I've shown up to a few social events in the past few days that I had been assuming I wouldn't be able to attend....and then just feeling rather depressed that I'm there at all, because it means I didn't have my baby yet, as hoped.  I haven't been planning any meals or keeping many groceries in the house, because I worry I may end up not using them and letting things go to waste.  So every dinner for the past week has come out of a sort of a last-minute scrounging effort, once I've admitted to myself that this day is, unfortunately, not going to be the day either.

Sorry for all the complaining in this post.  I know I'm not being very rational right now.

Anyways,  I should go see what sort of dessert I can whip up from things we have in the pantry, since today is the Feast of the Annunciation...another great potential birthday for any little babies who might decide to be born today....(please, baby!).

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Little Jane Austen Fan

I wrote once before about a cute little book Stella's godparents gave to her: 

I don't think I've actually read the book to Stella yet, but recently, I keep finding it in her bed in the morning or after naptime, so I can tell she's become interested in it.

Last night, while I was putting her to bed, she noticed the opened book lying on the floor.  She pointed to it yelling "guy! guy!" until I handed it to her.  She then proceeded to kiss the page, and I'm *pretty* certain she was kissing Mr. Darcy.

What can I say?  She has good taste in literary men :-D


FYI: I'm not in labor yet.  I'm trying not to be too disappointed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Baby Turned!!

I wrote yesterday about how nervous I was getting, at 39 weeks pregnant, having a baby that was stubbornly continuing to face forward ("sunny side up")  rather than backward.  Many of you offered your advice, experiences, and prayers, and I am so grateful - thank you, all.

I spent a lot of time yesterday evening "researching" what might be in store for me with a sunny side up labor, and getting more and more determined to get that baby turned around.  I kept coming across scary phrases like "long drawn-out stop and go labor" and "excruciating back pain."  The gist I got was: "yes, it's very possible to have a natural birth when the baby is in the posterior position, but OH MY GOSH do everything possible to make it flip before then!!"

Here are the primary methods I tried:

1. Going through the Miles Circuit, suggested to me by my ever-reliable doula.

2.  Having Tom use a make-shift rebozo on me (a bed sheet). It is a pretty silly-looking operation, and it was hard not to laugh through it.

3. Being mindful of leaning forward while sitting, rocking on an exercise ball while I did the ironing, and avoiding any sort of reclining position whatsoever.  I wish someone had stressed to me how important it was to avoid too much laying around during the end of know, before I spent every night during the past few months alternately lying in a warm bath reading a book, or lying on the couch knitting and watching movies!

4. Fervently praying that the baby would turn.

I can't say exactly which of these was the clincher (though #4 probably played a big role), but somehow, miraculously, it worked!  When I went to my midwife appointment today, two midwives confirmed that the baby had turned himself the right way. 

I feel so relieved.  And as if I'm finally "ready" for this to happen.  Tomorrow is St. Joseph's Day, which is the day I've sort of been hoping for as our new little son's birthday.  We'll see.... :-)

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Bit of Green

...for St. Patrick's Day, I suppose.

I finally finished the baby blanket I've been knitting.  Perhaps (please?) just in the nick of time.  It's a lovely deep green color (Knitpicks' jalapeno).


As for celebrating St. Patrick's Day, I'm still hoping to bake some soda bread today, even though the afternoon is wearing on.  Dinner will likely be something non-festive, as Tom will be eating elsewhere for a work thing, and let's face it...when the man of the house is away, I have little motivation to cook anything exciting.  The kids don't care anyways.  So it might be something random like chicken nuggets with a side of soda bread :-)

Later, I'm hoping we can pray the famous St. Patrick's Breastplate prayer, from which you might recognize these lines:
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ in breadth, Christ in length, Christ in height,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

When I was younger, I would go all out on St. Patrick's Day, and deck myself out in green and shamrocks.  My heritage is more than 50% Irish, which is something I'm fairly proud of.  But today, I am ashamed to admit, I accidentally found myself wearing orange :-(

(In my defense, the orange top is one of the few I have left that doesn't leave my big bare belly popping out the bottom.)


I'm starting to feel a little nervous about my labor.  The baby is due on the 25th, but the other two were born about a week early.  I had been pretty much expecting the same this time around.  But recently, I've had EVERYONE and her mother (ha - literally), reminding me that "third child is the wild card!!" with a big smile on her face.  Each of the midwives in the practice, as well as anyone I know who has three or more kids has said this to me.  Great.

Plus, this baby is not facing the right way!!  He's head-down, thank goodness, but he's looking towards my front instead of my back (the "posterior position").  According to what I've read, this can mean a longer pregnancy, longer labor, and more chances for interventions.  Gah!  I have visions of going two weeks past my due date, being in labor for 24 hours, and ending up with a C-section.  I might be kinda a pessimist.

I've been trying to do inversions to help the baby turn the right way, but so far, no luck.  I feel like I'm running out of time here!  Any ideas for what else might coax him to turn?

Has anyone else had experience with a posterior baby and natural childbirth?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Little Peek Inside the New House

After many hours of work, we've finally removed basically all of the former owner's stuff from the place, and will be able to start slowly moving in some of our own things over the next few weeks. 

I have many many ideas about little projects I want to do in the house eventually (most of them things we can handle ourselves - new paint colors, refinishing woodwork, etc.).  But I think I need to just start writing most of them down in a list instead of sharing every last idea with my husband, because he seems to be getting very overwhelmed by my enthusiasm.  The other day, he had this epiphany moment (so he thought), and suddenly got this big relieved smile on his face.  "Ohhh - I know what it is!" he said, "this is just you 'nesting' because you're 9-months pregnant!  After the baby's born, you won't be like this anymore!"  haha....mmm, I don't know about that.  I don't think he understands the urge most women would naturally feel to take a new house and turn it into their home.  I will still have many of these ideas in mind, I am sure!

Anyways, here's some photos I snapped the other day while we were over there cleaning up.

These French doors will be coming down soon, and probably live in the basement for the entire time we live in this house.  Unfortunately, French doors and little kids do not mix!

She included her entire dining room set in the deal.  It's beautiful and matches the style of the house really well, but we still have to figure out what to do about the fact that we now own *two* really nice dining room sets... :-/

I've always dreamed of having stained glass windows!

We have an outdoors!!

Friday, March 7, 2014

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 37) - We Bought a House! and Lent

We officially own a house now!  We closed on it Tuesday.

It is exciting....I guess.  But mostly just relieving, now that the process is finally over.  I don't think it's fully set in yet that we are homeowners.  I haven't even been into the house since we've owned in.  And at this point, I'm mostly thinking about all the little things I want to add/change in it before our planned moving date in mid-April, and feeling like it will never get done.

I don't have any pictures to share yet, but I'll be spending some time at the house on Saturday, cleaning and getting things I'll try to take some then.

I'm pretty happy with the place, overall.  It has four bedrooms, but kind of five (there are two rooms on the third floor, but one is unheated so can't legally be considered a bedroom.  If we want to add baseboard heat in the future, though, it could be perfectly useable) - so there's some room to grow.  It's an arts and crafts style house (sometimes known as craftsman), which means it has lots of wooden beams, a (working!) fireplace, built-in bookshelves, stained glass, etc.  It has a spacious front porch with room for a porch swing (which I already told Tom I want as my only birthday gift this summer), a small back deck, and a small - but existant!!! - backyard.  It will be SO nice to finally have an "outdoors" where I can send the kids to play, set up a little baby pool, plant a few flowers, etc.

The major issues are the small kitchen, and the lack of good lighting throughout.  I have some plans to add a bit more in the way of cabinets/counter space in the kitchen, and am hoping Tom keeps up his end of our deal by installing some more light fixtures for me.

When the inspector was going through the house with us, he kept saying that it was in really great shape, and was one of the best-taken-care-of old houses he's ever seen.  He also told us that to build the same house today, with the same quality of materials would cost almost eight times more than we paid for it (I'm sure this is true of a lot of old houses, but it made us feel like we were getting a really good deal)!

The woman who owned the house before us was unable to get all her stuff moved out in time (not really her fault - she had some tough circumstances that made it difficult).  She took everything she needed, and told us that we are free to do as we please with everything that remains.  We did account for it during our closing negotiations, and she ended up giving us some extra money to use towards having someone haul it out, clean the place, etc.  But I think Tom and I will be able to get most of her stuff moved out and donated by ourselves, and thus save most of that money.  And then we will be able to afford to have some professional cleaners come in to steam the carpets, maybe wax the wood floors...or whatever else we want done.  I'm looking forward to moving into a freshly-scrubbed place!

Also, she definitely left behind a number of things that we will end up keeping: weed-whacker, hedge trimmers, new iron and ironing board, fans, etc.....So it's hard to mind too much about the extra hassle it will cause.

We attended a little Mardi Gras party for kids at our church Tuesday morning.  It was just me and three homeschooling moms (which means, though, that there were a LOT of kids.  We had by far the smallest family).  The other women were all a little older than me and have kids who are older as well...but it was good to get to know them all a bit more, and learn from them.

Funnily enough, Sly actually remembered the Mardi Gras masks we had last year (he was only two years old then! - I'm constantly amazed at his memory), and asked me if he could wear one to the party.  I dug them out of the basement for him, and he picked one out.  He seems to have gotten the concept of "mask" indelibly linked with Halloween, though, because he made it clear that he hoped to "scare all the other kids" in his mask.  He spent a lot of the party chasing them around trying to do just that :-)

We ate pancakes and other breakfast fare, listened to a talk (and, randomly, the singing of some Irish songs) by our priest, and the kids made a Jonah and the Whale craft and participated in a felt-board story about Jonah.  Until about a week ago - I am ashamed to admit - I never even knew that story.  But its themes of sin, penance, and rebirth are so perfect for Lent.  I will want to re-visit this story with the kids.

The whale has a party blower as a "tongue" and can spew out the tiny Jonah. see instructions

Ash Wednesday was a really rough day for me.  It always is.  Fasting always makes me very grumpy.  This year, I wasn't even fasting, though, since I'm pregnant.  I just didn't let myself eat any meat or "junk food" all day.  Unfortunately for me, there was a package of cupcakes I had bought for us to eat on Mardi Gras.  But when we got home really late - and really full from a late dinner - on Tuesday night, we all just went right to bed.  So the cupcakes were still sitting there on Ash Wednesday, just taunting me.  I could not stop thinking about them.

I think I was also in a bad mood because my whole family was going out to dinner to celebrate my brother's birthday, and we couldn't join them.  Tom and I never go out to dinner - seriously, never - because we just can't afford to.  So when someone invites us out, it's a major treat for us.  I really wanted to go, but Tom thought we should go to Mass instead (I know - Ash Wednesday is not a day of obligation, but it's still good to go).  I had mentioned that maybe the kids and I could hit up an earlier Mass and then still be able to go out with my family, while he attended the evening Mass alone....but Tom gave me a hard time about it, saying, "it's just going out to eat!  I think it's more important to go to Mass as a family."  Ugh.  So I felt all guilty and irritated about that.

And Sly was just being really tough to deal with all day.  He was being disobedient, and much too rough with Stella.  I was already in a bad mood, so I ended up yelling at him much more than I wanted to.  After Mass that evening, when Tom took him up to the altar rail to pray, Sly apparently told him that he wanted to ask Jesus "for Mommy not to yell at me."  Oh man.  That made me feel really bad.

And then after the kids went to bed, Tom and I got into a big huge fight over nothing.  I was cranky, which made him cranky, which made me even more cranky, know how it goes.

Anyways, I know it was all just Satan's way of trying to keep me from having a productive Lent.  I may have given into the temptation to get irritated and focus way too much on my own comfort that day, but I am newly resolved to begin again and keep chugging along towards Easter!


A friend lent me her copy of Pippa Middleton's book, Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Families and Friends.  It's a big coffee-table-sized book with ideas for celebrating all sorts of holidays and other traditional feasts and gatherings.  She shares some really nice ideas for decorations, food, games, etc.  I really appreciate that most of the ideas seem pretty easy to replicate - even if you're not Martha Stewart.  It's written with a British audience in mind, but I'm pretty sure this version has been "Americanized" in terms of the recipe quantities, etc.    The price is a little high, though, so you might want to keep an eye out for it at your local library.

Alright, I'm just gonna pull a lame move, and sign out here.  I've already said a lot in this post, and my mind is drawing a blank for #7.  And I just heard Tom come home with a load of boxes, and I know he's expecting my help to start packing.  Until next time!

Quick Takes is hosted at Conversion Diary

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Some Lenten Plans

Some years, I lay out pretty detailed plans for specific Lenten practices and sacrifices I would like to make.  I mean, I literally write out a list with very clearly worded rules to limit the possibility of "cheating."  This Lent, I feel like the busyness of our life is already going to lend itself well to various things I would have considered doing anyways, so I'm just going to let things sort of take their course.

For example, in the process of packing up our whole household for moving, we are inevitably going to do a serious purge of unnecessary stuff as we sort through every single item we own.  We'll be forced to eat a lot of things out of the freezer/pantry over the next month, because I don't want to have to move ALL that food.  And I'm guessing a lot of meals during Lent will be obligatorily simple because we'll be so busy packing/moving/unpacking/dealing with a brand-new baby!

I will admit, I'm pretty excited that being pregnant (and then breastfeeding) gives me a good excuse not to have to fast this year.  I don't know why, but fasting is *the* hardest thing for me.  I turn into a horrible human being very quickly when I'm hungry.  Tom has decided to follow the pre-Vatican II Lenten rules of fasting every day of Lent [eating one normal meal and two small ones, with nothing in between], as well as partial abstinence [i.e. meat only at one meal per day].  And this year, I don't have to feel guilty or wimpy for not joining him.

My main sacrifice is going to be giving up the internet anytime the kids are awake.  I can't even imagine how much more productive this is going to make me!  And how much more of an "available" mother...

I just need to make sure to work in some time amidst all this running around for some actual reflection and prayer.

We are moving across the street from a Catholic church.  Would I be insane to try to attend a daily Mass alone with two little ones and a newborn?

Lent for little kids

I've never done anything with the kids for Lent before since Sly seemed too young to "get it."  This year, I think he's ready for something simple.  He enjoyed "doing good things for baby Jesus" during Advent (as represented by a piece of hay he could put into the manger).  I would like to try something similar with him for Lent.  Mary Reed Newland (The Year & Our Children) suggests dying lima beans purple and having children add one to a jar each time they offer some sort of sacrifice.  Just as the beans (appear to) "die" when you bury them in the dirt, only to spring forth in new life, they remind us that when we die to ourselves, we will find new life in Christ.

We're going to try something similar.  Recently, Sly has been begging us to make him a little string of beads "like St. Therese had" to count up his "presents for God." 

Have you read the Catholic Children's Treasure Box books?  They are re-printed from the 1950s, and they are fantastic.  Sly loves the stories, and has learned so much about the Faith through reading and talking with us about them.  The writing is so much more direct and hard-hitting than most modern books for Catholic children.  This is where Sly learned about Therese's sacrifice counter.  One of the books tells the story about how she used one as a child (which, I believe, she writes about in Story of a Soul?), and has instructions at the end for making your own.

Every time the child makes a small sacrifice for God, he slides one bead along the string.  At the end of the day, he can tell God how many "presents" he has to offer Him.
Sly chose a St. Bernadette medal.  He's been talking about her a lot since her recent feast day :-)

Does anyone else have some good ideas to help young children (Sly is only three-and-a-half) understand a bit of the meaning of Lent? 
[I should note that my son refuses to do coloring pages, so I'm always looking for something more original!]