Thursday, July 31, 2008

While we are still waiting to hear details,
CONGRATULATIONS to Texas Mommy and family 
on the arrival of their newest baby boy last night!!!!
Both Mommy and baby are well.  Praise God!

More details to come...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

After the Honeymoon

As you all know, I had been having a wonderful time during my first few months of cloth diapering. Using Fuzzi Bunz and microfiber inserts, with a washing machine on the main floor of our home, we have been in what AWOL Mommy calls "cloth diaper bliss." All that changed about a week ago, the Lion must have been going through a growth spurt or something, but all of a sudden we were having leaks, soaked linens, soaked laps, cloth diapers were starting to look like a mistake.

I did what I usually do when things get hard -- I shut down! For two or three days, I just ignored the cloth diapers and went back to huggies. Next, I wallowed in guilt about the investment we had made in cloth diapers. Finally, I reached the important stage when I became what my husband likes to call a "solutioner." Determined to begin again, I tried double stuffing - success! No more leaks. I also tried an extra rinse and noticed that without adding any soap there was still plenty of foam in my washer -- detergent build up can affect absorbency. This combination of extra rinsing and double stuffing has solved my problem, and I am recommitted to the cloth diaper endeavor. At the moment, I am held back by the fact that with double stuffing I now can stuff half as many diapers, but I am just going to do wash as often as I can and supplement with disposables for a while, I am not ready to invest in even more inserts just yet.

As you may guess, this journey, for me, was not just about the diapering, I am finding as I come close to thirty that I have patterns of behavior which apply to many areas of my life. As I recognize these patterns, the intermediate negative stages seem to get shorter and slightly less painful -- I can see them for what they are, and I know that I need to move past them in order to get back to a positive place. My pattern for many activities is to jump in with two feet, get really excited, have a set back, get overwhelmed, quit. The big question, it is not exaggerating to call it a question of character, is what comes next. I can joke about my "honeymoon" period of cloth diapering, but I do think this lesson can apply to marriage, and also to the time that comes after what some call the "babymoon" of motherhood. There is often a glow that comes along with the novelty of a situation, but relationships are made or broken as they get worn down or built up day by day. There can also be the fear that accompanies the realization that husbands, babies, or even cloth diapers are imperfect and now belong to you, you will live with their imperfections and they will shape your lifestyle. What are you going to do about it? Here are some of the tools that I use to get out of the negative stage, the part where I just want to throw in the towel:

1) Sort out what is positive and negative. There are lots of things that are great about cloth diapering, and when I acknowledged those I was able to see that it was worth it to at least try to find a solution to the negative things

2) Narrow in on the problems. It is not helpful to just say that cloth diapering was not working anymore, I need specific problems to solve. Cloth diapering was not working because the diapers were leaking, the bedroom was smelly, I was not staying on top of the wash loads.

3) Cut yourself a break. Deciding that while I was trying to solve my cloth diapering problems I was going to switch to disposables and not feel guilty about it gave me the freedom to work things through without the extra stress of having to change the crib sheets after every nap.

4) Consult the experts. These experts can be friends, google searches, books, or all of the above, whatever is helpful, but it is very rare to have a problem that no one else has ever had. In addition to solid advice, it can be heartening just to know that you are not a total loser for having this problem, whether the problem is leaky diapers, marital troubles or wishing you could go back to work.

5) Decide on a course of action to try. This means sifting through the expert information, you can't use all of it at once, and making the decision that it is time to stop reading/researching and now it is time to do something about it. The first solution you try may not work, so flexibility and perseverance are needed.

6) If some progress is being made, understand that some of the negatives may just be things that you have to live with. Double stuffing solved my leaking problem but gave my child a substantially more padded bottom. This is a trade off that I am willing to live with. I need to work towards accepting a reasonable amount of imperfection in my life.

7) Pray. This is not really the last step, it goes along with every step, but praying throughout the process for the fruits of the Holy Spirit can be really helpful. These gifts are invaluable and will help you in different ways at different times in your life.

8) Let go of guilt. Guilt is useless, it is a tool of the devil. If you are making use of the sacrament of confession, the past is in God's mercy, the future is in God's providence, and you need to be dealing with the present. If there are legitimate reasons for guilt, get to confession, do your penance and then freely move on, you cannot make progress with the albatross of past mistakes hanging around your neck.

You may think that comparing cloth diapering and marital problems is ridiculous, but I have found that sometimes it is easier to achieve personal growth through the less important problems in my life, the ones where the pressures are smaller, to come to know myself and the best way that I can make progress. I am very hard on myself and others and I have a tendency to become despondent. I can take these lessons and apply them to really important problems, like, after the rush of joy of moving into our new home, how are my husband and I going to manage our time now that we have a long commute, a large home and yard to maintain, and a sixth child on the way?

Good NFP article

Refreshingly Frank Article on Life as a Natural Family Planning Couple.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Reason to Celebrate

Happy Baptismal Birthday to our beloved M!!
Stone by stone... day by day... cookie by cookie. :)

Catholic Company Reviewer Program

We here at Building Cathedrals have been blessed with an opportunity to become reviewers of material sold by the Catholic Company. The company selected us to receive free books - which we will read and then review here on the blog.

While the other bloggers who are members of this reviewer program have single authors, our blog has seven. Thus, the reviews on other blogs may be posted more quickly, but we have decided to do things a little bit differently. We will offer at least two reviews of every book we receive in order to provide a more balanced perspective on the month's selection.

Our ultimate goal, as busy wives and mothers, is to mine out some true gems which are worth your valuable time, or well, save you the trouble. So, let the fun begin.

Monday, July 28, 2008

How to make sweet little old ladies very very nervous...

...or the joys of wearing your baby girl in the Ergo baby carrier :)

Let me try to explain with the following story:

Last Friday afternoon, I just had to get out of the house with the kids. We didn't have enough time to go to the pool, but it was too hot to be outside without being in the water. And I just needed a break. At the end of a fairly long week, I was craving a little bit of "luxury"...A trip to the coffee shop could have done the trick, but I decided to take it to the next level and headed over to the local "finer foods store". My reasoning was that they almost always have food samples, which is such a treat for me (and C loves it, too!), and I could pick up some crackers and dip for a BBQ that we were hosting the next day. 

Being a finer foods store, I knew that I would want the kids to be contained, but since we do not have a functional double stroller this means that C rides in the stroller and Maria rides on my back in the Ergo. Because it was so blasted hot outside, I decided to wait until we got inside the air-conditioned store to put Maria into the Ergo. And that's when things got interesting. We headed inside the store and I parked the stroller (with C inside it) to the side, and then proceeded to start putting Maria into the Ergo. Immediately, I felt that all eyes were on me! Two or three very nice older women who work at the store asked if I needed help, but of course I just smiled and said, "Oh, no thanks, it's actually very easy!" But for some reason, this time it wasn't easy. As Maria sat precariously on my back, I couldn't seem to get the second shoulder strap up and into position! I struggled, I huffed and puffed, and the very nervous women said things like "Oh my goodness!" and "Is she alright?!" Finally, one of the women did come to my rescue - she pulled Maria's leg down, untangled my strap, and we were set. And me? Well, I must have been quite a sight - red-faced, both from embarrassment and from bending over for a few minutes while trying to get Maria into the Ergo, hair stuck to the front of my face, and now carrying a very unhappy, crying baby. 

So, needless to say, my relaxing trip to the store was less-than-relaxing, but I must say that C behaved very nicely in the store, we did pick up some lovely crackers and dip, and the samples were quite delicious. And, of course, who doesn't need a good dose of humility once in a while ;)

*Just a note: I LOVE the Ergo and would recommend it to any parent looking for a comfortable, easy to use baby carrier ( Despite the above story, for the majority of the time the Ergo is very simple and easy to use, and babies seem to really enjoy riding in them. Although it is a bit of an investment up front, it doesn't cost much more than other carriers or slings and in my experience, it is much more versatile and can be used for a longer period of time. Maria is 9 months old (!) and I envision carrying her in the Ergo for many months to come!*

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Today is the feast day of Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of Mary, and it is also our 5 year wedding anniversary! I have been very sentimental this morning as I reflect on 5 wonderful, busy years with ET and our children, Christopher (our honeymoon baby - you do the math :) ), ^Lucy^ (born and died on 8/17/06), and Maria (10/30/07). 

I have always loved having our wedding anniversary on the feast day of Joachim and Anne. St. Anne is the patron saint of mothers in childbirth and all Christian mothers, and St. Joachim is the patron saint of fathers - how blessed we are to share this day with them! 

Lord, God of our fathers, through Saints Joachim and Anne You gave us the Mother of Your Incarnate Son. May their prayers help us to attain the salvation You promised to Your people. Amen.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Moment of Praise

As a mother of two young'ns I spend a lot of time in prayer asking our Heavenly Father or the Blessed Mother for help, BUT today I am here to offer a praise!

This morning, as I lugged a heavy six month old in an infant seat out to the car, my 3.75-yr-old greeted me with a huge smile from the back seat of the Subaru. She had fully strapped herself into her 5-point car seat harness. All you mothers out there know what a life-changer this is! Can I get an Amen?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

When Mom Comes to Town

My mother arrived last night to help with the pre-baby preparations...

What is it that is so amazing about mothers, really?  Just having her here, knowing she's present is such solace to me.  She knows what I like and dislike.  We laugh at the same things.  She helps me see the humor in my sons' crazy antics.  She still knows what's best for me and orders me to take a nap and slow down.  She just gets me in a way that others do not.  And why?  Because she birthed me, raised me, scolded me, loved me... through the many years, days, minutes, and seconds.  She's my mother.   And thank goodness for her!

Oh mothers.  Thank the Good Lord for mothers.
Here's to hoping that someday I might offer my children the same warmth, support, encouragement, and love that my mother offers me.
Thank you, Mom.  So glad you're here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

God Bless Texas!

In light of Kat's recent move and comments on Texas pride, I thought I would point out that there were flags of almost every country of the world represented at World Youth Day 2008 in Australia. Including Texas. We saw tons of Texas state flags on EWTN's coverage!

Ode to Tylenol PM

Gelcap, Capsule, or Tablet, I discriminate not
Sing me to sleep, oh Tylenol PM

“Off” switch on my brain is malfunctioning again
Sing my mind to sleep, oh Tylenol PM

So my husband will be the first to hear the baby monitor all 9 times
Sing me into a sound sleep, oh Tylenol PM

Traces of you seep into my breastmilk
Sing me and my nursing baby to sleep, oh Tylenol PM

Lover of natural childbirth and natural remedies I am, yet I surrender to you
Sing me into drug-induced sleep, oh Tylenol PM

What the world needs now, is sleep, more sleep.
Sing us to sleep, oh Tylenol PM

Any better suggestions for getting restorative sleep, in spite of numerous night wakings and the generally anxious mom mind? I’m all ears.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Take the Autism Quotient Quiz

I'm a little late on this, but apparently there is a 50 point assessment test designed by Cambridge University to assess where an adult falls on the autism spectrum. Those in the autism community consider this a fairly accurate test. Average adult males score at or around a 17, average adult females score at or around a 15. 35 points or highter is associated with Asperger's Syndrome. I took the quiz and scored a 15, totally average for a female.

h/t Rod Dreher

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Cry Room

Two weeks ago I did a post about Fr. Anthony, our beloved pastor, and the wonderful homily he gave to our parish. Today I'm going to do another shout-out to Father. I figure that we all spend plenty of time complaining about the bad priests out there, why not devote another post to praising the good things our priests do to shepherd the flock.

Father has this wonderful little column, Pastor's Corner, in every bulletin where he instructs the faithful on all kinds of things, from his interpretation of the latest Vatican promulgation to recent happenings in the pro-life movement. Today's column was a true gem, addressing all sorts of Church etiquette pointers for the many parishioners who are regularly challenged in this area (I too need the regular reminder to turn off my cell phone at the start of Mass!) As I glanced over Father's various "tips" I saw this:

"Crying Room"
We are blessed to have so many children in our Parish. They and their parents are most welcome to participate fully in the celebration of Mass. The community needs to be patient with parents trying to teach their children how to behave in Church. Parents need to be mindful of how and when to teach such lessons. During the celebration of Mass, the Crying Room is intended to serve as a place of refuge for parents whose children need to be removed from the assembly. It is NOT an alternative seating area where adults can talk or children simply play or munch on cereal. Therefore, parents with children who are able to be seated in the Church are kindly asked not to take up the space in the Crying Room from those parents who may find their children need a "timeout."

Well said, Father. I am overjoyed to have a Pastor who communicates so clearly how I should approach the Mass with my children. He wants them in the church, experiencing the beauty of the liturgy. He wants the other parishioners to respect the learning curve of my children. As a parent, he wants me to discipline my children with grace and in a manner that respects other parishioners. If in-church discipline fails, he wants me to remove my children to the cry-room for a timeout. This is the battle plan.

Anybody disagree?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Our Friend, H2O

Swelling... swelling.
One of the many wonderful side-effects of pregnancy. 
In your ankles, legs, hands and fingers... 

The doctors and midwives tell you to drink it.
You try.  You really do.
But it's so hard to get that daily 64oz.
And add on countless more liters if you're exercising, already nursing, etc.
Not to mention it has no taste!

Yet this pregnancy I have become a believer in water.  I have been overwhelmed at its healing and life-giving power.  I should know better.  A Biology background in tow, my brain knows that water is life-giving in its every form; at the root of every life process and cellular event.  It causes diffusion, osmosis, and cellular respiration, to name a few.  

And it takes away swelling.  Really, it does.
Water is every pregnant woman's small miracle.
And I never believed it until now.
No sooner have my ankles begun to bulge, but I drink a large 32oz'er of the clear stuff and all is well.  No more cankles. 
Bring on the 64, 72, 80 oz-a-day!!  I'll drink it.

Let's not forget the many other reasons to consume it--
*Improve Your Energy
*Increase Your Mental and Physical Performance
*Remove Toxins & Waste Products from your body
*Keep Skin Healthy and Glowing
*Help You Lose Weight
*Reduce Headaches and Dizziness
*Allow for proper Digestion (and avoid constipation!!)
*Help to keep you more Alkaline
(Though an April report in The Journal of American Society of Nephrology disputes these claims!  Pish posh, I say!)

Just do it.
YET don't always trust its purity, especially the bottled kind.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Knights of Columbus--Baghdad Iraq

I apologize for the delay on this, but I had to first get permission to publicize this letter and request for help. I have removed portions of the letter to protect the privacy of Captain Haslam.
Happy Fourth of July from Baghdad, Iraq!

I am proud to be serving the United States of America in the Air Force
on this great day. It makes me think of the words that President
Kennedy shared with our country many years ago: "Ask not what your
country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

I challenge each one of you on this Day of Independence to think of
something you can do to make our great country better over the next

Having spent three months in Iraq so far has really brought me to my
knees in prayer and thanksgiving for the freedoms that we all enjoy back
home on a daily basis. Forty Iraqi judges have been assassinated in the
past few years. These judges were bringing criminals to justice and
making this country safer for law-abiding Iraqis.

...citizens of Iraq put their very lives at risk both
practicing their Faith and bringing the rule of law to this country.
During your BBQs, celebrations and fireworks on this day, take a moment
to thank God for the amazing liberties we enjoy every day and ask that
He protect all the Airmen, Marines, Soldiers and Seamen who have
sacrificed their holiday this year to protect the citizens of Iraq and
the United States. In addition, take a moment to remember those who
have paid the ultimate price for the advancement of freedom.

In my spare time I have been involved in getting humanitarian aid and
cash to charitable organizations in the Baghdad area. Attached to this
e-mail is a flier regarding this important work. Please consider
sending supplies to Iraq. We are concentrating specifically on baby
items right now, such as infant medications, baby clothes, diapers,
wipes, shoes, formula, etc.

Thank you for your continued support during my deployment in Iraq. The prayers have definitely been felt!

Happy Fourth!
And may God bless America!

Very Respectfully,

Ryan Vincent Haslam, Capt, USAF

Here is more information on this ministry:
The Knights of Columbus—Baghdad Round-Table is a vibrant Christian organization of U.S. military and civilian Catholics who are located within the International Zone of Baghdad, Iraq. We are affiliated with Saint Mary’s of the Grove Council 11138, Tampa, Florida.

Since it’s inception in February 2007, we have been very actively involved in providing essential goods for the needy in the local Baghdad Christian community. Because of the inherent dangers that still exist to the lives of the persons we support, we are always very mindful to take extra care whenever delivering goods or revealing personal information that could jeopardize their very lives.

Your very generous donations are always very welcomed. The following children and communities in Baghdad and other regions within Iraq will benefit from your gracious donations:

Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity who support the local orphanage for handicapped babies and children
Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena who run a maternity hospital
Sacred Heart of Jesus (Chaldean Catholic Church)
St. Joseph’s Cathedral (Roman Catholic Church)
Christian schools in Baghdad and surrounding regions

Captain Ryan Haslam and his beautiful wife Kerry are good friends of our family. All donations must be received in Iraq no later than September 26th, 2008. Please do not send any items with an American Flag or other US symbols. Items of specific need are: cash donations, school supplies, and baby items. If you can help in any way please contact Kerry at

May God Bless all those families serving our country!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A moment of need

6 o'clock was an ugly hour in my house tonight. The neighborhood kickball game had been postponed due to traffic, and while my kids were eagerly awaiting the ring of the doorbell to let them know that the game was back on, I was dreading that it would come just after my mental cut off of 6:30 for getting them inside and on to the bedtime routine. Our dinner, honey nut cheerios in front of the TV, had been spilled all over the couch by one hyperactive 3 year old. As I was trying the nurse the baby and another 3 year old was having a total tantrum meltdown, the first 3 year old had a messy accident on my bedroom rug. In my head I was giving my kids labels -- M was always clingy and overtired, prone to meltdowns, J was messy, out of control, prone to accidents, goody goody H was making things worse by trying to parent the little ones which was getting them even more riled up and independent minded, P was compulsively checking the front door, reporting the passage of time, obsessing about the neighbors and also likely to cry with the disappointment of not resuming the game, the baby was always needing me to nurse him at the most inconvenient times. My children's faults in the moment, though not non-existent, were being made into mountains in my head, and I snapped.

I yelled at M not to talk to me that way, and she curled up in a ball, sucking her thumb and moaning. P silently disappeared (he has learned to just get out of firing range), H started saying that she was being good mommy, what could she do to help mommy, in fact she gets so "good" in fear of my raising my voice that I get afraid that I am actually damaging her psyche.

Realizing that I was out of control, I put the baby down with H and explained that I was really sorry but he was going to be crying for a few minutes. I took J into the bathroom and got him cleaned up. Then, I got away from the kids for a few minutes.

As I started the laundry from the accident I called Red and told her that I was losing it -- she asked a great question -- is it just the end of a bad day? I answered honestly that it had been a fine day, but that our bedtime routine has been bad for several days in a row. She reminded me of something that I had really forgotten, that bedtime routine begins at 3 pm, for us, the end of quiet time, because your afternoon sets up your evening and dinner comes before you know it. She gave lots of other advice that was more particular to our situation, but most importantly she was there.

As a homeschooling mom of many, it is very hard for me to show weakness. I fear that if I tell people that I am struggling they will say "of course you are, you have a crazy home life." When I hear this from Red, it means "what you are doing is not easy and there will be some bad days."

Talking to Red tonight gave me a break from the bad scene in the other room, helped me create a strategy for getting it right (or at least closer) the next time, which gave me the hope to persevere, and also let me out of my guilt for screwing up. I think that our friends are so important at times like this -- dare I say, more important even than our spouse, who sometimes is sick of hearing about it and also doesn't entirely know what it is like to live it day in and day out.

I am happy and proud to say that I apologized to the kids for yelling, got the 3 year olds bathed, storied and into bed, and had a heart to heart with P and H about the importance of getting back to our routine. I think they were glad to have me acknowledge that things have been out of whack, and they seemed happy to have a role to play in making a new start tomorrow, especially because, at Red's suggestion, I framed it in the great context of privilege and responsibility -- the older two will be able to go out to the evening kickball game by themselves (it happens outside our front door) because I can trust them to come home at 6:30, but they may not go until all of their chores are done and they must get ready for bed by themselves when they return. This will free me up to focus on the little ones bedtime routine, which, if it goes smoothly, will give us all a better tomorrow without cranky twins on our hands. All of this made perfect sense to P and H.

The moment of truth came at 7:15 when the doorbell rang, and P and H went to the door and explained to the other kids that they can't be out after 6:30 and then returned to tell me without pouting about it. This is a new stage of parenting for me, one that is beyond the "time outs" and sticker rewards of preschool life, kids approaching the age of reason can be taken in to our confidence, can understand privilege and responsibility, trust and freedom, and that work comes before play. This is the way that I will continue to parent them into their teen years, when cars and curfews replace the kickball, and the way that (hopefully) they will govern themselves as adults, so I am excited that they seemed to respond really well.

This post was a bit of a ramble -- but to summarize my main points --

1 -- sometimes i lose it
2 -- routines are very important to my success
3 -- when i do lose it, I need to regroup, and friends help with that
4 -- my kids are growing and changing, which keeps me on my toes, sometimes an outside observer can see that better than I can, which made her suggestions really valuable
5 -- Thanks Red, I couldn't do it without you

Gender Fluidity?

Swimming in the bay
Bella: goes in too deep, loses her footing and falls slightly underwater, and decides she probably shouldn't be out quite that far
Bean: goes in too deep, loses his footing and falls underwater backwards, with only his eyes above water; watches me calmly from underwater as I race to pull him out; goes in deeper, stands up and then continues falling backward underwater on purpose to see what happens

Playing outside when a light rain begins to fall
Bella: runs into the rain, squeals and giggles happily for a couple minutes, then runs back under the house to dry off a little
Bean: runs into the rain, looks bored, spies the one water spout where the water is collecting and gushing off the roof, and plants himself under it for ten minutes; he cannot open his eyes and can barely catch a breath, yet he loves the thrill

Playing in the rock garden
Bella: requests a baby wipe and begins polishing the rocks to make jewelry
Bean: uses the tweasers from his Bob the Builder tool set to pick up increasingly large rocks, examine each one, and place it into his mouth, attempting to discover the largest size rock that will fit

Tea party
Bella: carefully and sweetly pours water from the china teapot into the china teacups, names each pretend flavor of tea she is pouring, and sips hers as she offers me my favorite flavor
Bean: disappears with a full teacup when nobody is looking, pours the water on my alarm clock, then begins dropping the teacup from increasing altitudes onto the hardwood floor to explore the effect of gravity on china

Rice Krispie treat from gas station
Bella: removes packaging a little at a time as she enjoys it bite by bite
Bean: removes packaging in its entirety and inserts entire bar in his mouth, then goes from there

Playing in the waves at the beach
Bella: gets a mouthful of salt water as a large wave surprises her, then asks for a drink of fresh water and takes a short break to play in the sand
Bean: gets an intense faceful of salt water as a large wave consumes him, pops up, rubs his eyes vigorously then plants his feet in the sand and squints his eyes, inviting Neptune God-of-the-Sea to bring it on again

This is dedicated to all you gender-bender moms at the playground who buy your train-loving sons Barbie dolls so they can choose their gender when they get older.

My only remaining question is how any little boy lives to see adulthood. How can you not believe in guardian angels?

Happy Birthday

Happy 40th Birthday, Humanae Vitae!
Enjoy this article and its provocative defense of such a prophetic encyclical.

What a great read for all, Catholics and non-Catholics alike!

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Friendly Competition

Among our builders we have two beautiful mamas due with baby boys in just a couple of weeks! We are all praying for a safe arrival and smooth delivery for both babies. And while we are waiting, I thought we could have a little competition to see who among us can best predict the date these little bundles of joy will arrive.

Here are some hints: Texas Mommy is due the 27th of July, and she has had her previous 2 boys a little bit early (6 days and 3 days). Prayers that Texas Mommy will again have her baby right on time...

B-mama is due August 4th. Her eldest boy arrived 4 weeks early due to blood pressure complications (no sign of that this time around praise God!) And her second boy (what's up with all the boys!) arrived right on time. B-mama's hubby is taking the bar exam at the end of July, so our prayers are with her to deliver after hubby is finished with the bar exam--and for sanity beforehand!

Ok readers, let's hear your guesses. The winner will receive bragging rights when we post the birth announcements. And do list a time of day with your guesses as a tiebreaker.

I'm going to leave my guesses in the comments.


Who Knew?

Moving is always a humbling experience: New house to take care of, New roads to get used to, New neighbors to meet, New culture to learn, the list goes on and on. Well, here are some things that I've learned over the course of my first couple of weeks in Houston:

1) Celery shouldn't go down the garbage disposal. The fibers just ball up around each other and clog the darn thing, and before you know it you'll have water and leftover food bubbling up from one side of the sink to the other. Who knew? Well, $166.27 later, I do. Hopefully you won't make the same mistake and this can save you a few bucks down the road! (Note: Other no-no's in the garbage disposal: egg shells, shrimp shells, banana peels, any other fibrous vegetables or fruits, rice in large quantities, I'm sure there are others...)

2) People in Houston are just accustomed to the idea that, after a rainstorm, you can expect to see a roach or two in your house. We do live on a bayou, and most of the neighbors seem to confirm the fact that there is no way around getting a couple of these critters in the house once in a while. In the words of our exterminator, Jonathon, "Ma'am, if it's on its way out (dying or dead), it's okay". Really? Who says? I would rather not have any roaches in the house, ever, under any circumstances! I suppose that this is a fact of life I will have to get used to. In the words of B-Mama, "Oh Lord, help me!" 

3) When a neighbor invites you over for a dinner/pool party and you ask, "What can I bring?" and she says "Oh, nothing, I think we're all set" and then proceeds to tell you all of the food that she has for the party, you should STILL bring over enough food to feed a small army. We showed up practically empty-handed yesterday evening, only to see all of the other guests hauling in bags full of homemade muffins, chips, and drinks. Oops!

4) VBS stands for "vacation Bible school". 

5) When you move to Houston you no longer live in America, you live in Texas (in the words of our son, C). We've tried to convince him otherwise, but somewhere along the way he got it into his head that we've left "America" and have entered an entirely different country! So now he's wondering why we have an American flag instead of a Texas flag in front of our house :)

6) The people in Houston are some of the friendliest, most welcoming people that I have ever met. We are truly blessed to be here, and for all of the small inconveniences and new things to get used to, there are ten times as many reasons to be grateful.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

This guy is in my living room!

Patience and Humility is the book I am currently reading. I selected it from my mother's extensive Catholic book shelf while I was home recently because, these are two of my biggest failings. In fact, I could scarcely believe it when I saw the title - it was a two in one deal, it was written for me, it was small! I hoped that this little white paperback would give me some fodder for prayer and thought. I am painfully aware that I need to 1) be humble enough to embrace fully my role as wife and mother and 2) be patient enough to raise my children with unconditional love and understanding.

Ok, it may have looked small but this puppy packs a punch. I read the first chapter without paying much attention to the author's biography and all I could think was, "this guy speaks the truth and he does not mess around." Turns out William Ullathorne was an early 19th century Benedictine missionary and now his amazing words are following me around my house day and night. Enough about him enough about me, I have to share this content with all you other wives and mothers who struggle with these virtues!

Essentially, Ullathorne describes every minute of every day as a struggle between doing what we selfishly desire and doing that which will bring us closer to God:

"There is no master so large-minded, so generous, or so well acquainted with you and your requirements as God; no father so loving and bountiful; no friend so free from all jealousy; none who so completely loves you for your greater good. While there is no tyrant so narrow-minded, so proudhearted, so exacting, so suspicious, so utterly bent on keeping you to your own littleness, as the one we all know so well, of whose tyranny we have had such bitter experience, and who goes by the name of Myself. Yet God or yourself you must choose for your master.

The whole design of God's beneficent government of souls is to draw them out of themselves and to bring them to His truth and good."

So, my sophisticated conclusion after reading this eloquent work is: to realize that the next time I begrudge my family for making so many dishes and thereby eating up all my computer time or toenail paint touch-up time, I must hear this wise monk in my ear -- reminding me that God has blessed me in my current role and that my toenails can go another day with only seven of them painted.

Friday, July 11, 2008

To Welcome a New Sibling

I just recently became aware of how potentially crazy the arrival of our third child will be in just a few weeks. While his nursery is all set up, his clothes washed, and his Fuzzi Bunz arranged neatly on the shelf, the emotional stability of my other children may be in jeopardy!

While having friends over the other day, I plucked up their 6-mos-old and snuggled him, completely unaware of the stress I was causing our precious T-baby, 2 in August. I looked down to find him in full tears, saying "No Mommy, no baby." Oh no! I quickly passed off the infant and scooped T into my arms, consoling him as best I could. The situation soon passed and all was well.

But how could I really console when I knew that the scenario we just encountered was soon to be our daily reality. We are gearing up to welcome our third son in early August. M will be 3.5 and T will be 2 when Baby J arrives, fresh out of the womb. I can already see T crawling all over me, demanding attention especially while I'm nursing... I can also imagine the subsequent tantrums. Lord, help me!

I know I'm not the first parent to encounter such issues; to weather the changes a baby brings to a family; to endure the jealousy that little ones might harbor toward a new addition. In fielding some advice from friends, I received two gems of wisdom. The first was to prepare for the baby by having the children buy a gift for the little one to welcome him/her. Likewise, the baby could also have gifts for the kids when he/she arrives home from the hospital. The second was to always relinquish attention to the older child. If T and the baby need me at the same time, always refer to T so as not to encourage jealousy between the two. Excellent advice.

Now, all of you seasoned mothers of many out there, have any nuggets to add? I am desperately nervous about this transition and want to do all I can to prepare for it as best as possible! Thanks and blessings!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cow Appreciation Day

While this blog is not one to promote fast food, I thought this might be fun to pass along anyway.

If you dress like a cow and go to Chick-fil-a tomorrow (July 11) you will get a free meal. Chik-fil-a was the ONLY fast food I would eat until we found out that Dash has a peanut allergy and that Chik-fil-a fries in peanut oil. So now it's off limits for our family anyway. But for those who are always on the look out for a free meal, have fun getting dressed up!

Making Time Stand Still, Nuns and Baseball?

As a self-proclaimed sports fan, I frequent ESPN's website for updates on my favorite teams. In the 6 months I have been writing for this blog, I have yet to come across a story that any of you, our readers, would find interesting, or even relevant, to your life.

Until today.

ESPN did a piece today about Our lady of Perpetual Help Hospice, run by a group of Dominican Nuns. The Hospice sits in the shadows of Turner Field (home of the Atlanta Braves), and the article is about terminal cancer patients, and the Dominican nuns who help them find some joy in baseball. Like life, the baseball season is long. "You play every day. They clean the field each night. They prepare the field each morning. They drop fresh white chalk down the lines. No matter what happened yesterday, there's another ballgame today."

Even if you are not a sports fan, this article is inspiring and wonderful. To all our sporty Catholic readers, this article is definitely for you. Here's a taste:

In a two-story redbrick building eight sisters who live in residence and a staff of 22 attendants provide palliative care to as many as 28 patients at a time. The rooms are bright -- tall broad windows looking out on green grass, oaks and rose gardens; polished floors, patterned bed covers, cut flowers in small glass vases, and magnetic Braves schedules stuck to doorjambs.

The hallways are busy. Joseph, one of the attendants, pushes a breakfast cart and sings an old Manhattans tune -- "Honey, you are my shining star, don't you go away." Sister Rosemary and Sister Augustine stand near the second-floor nurses station and talk about the Braves' victory over the Mets the night before.

"We celebrate life here," Sister Rosemary says with an indefatigable smile. "Big time."

One of the Braves front office employees, who now provides tickets to the staff and patients of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Hospice, was a changed man after his first visit with the sisters and their patients.

He saw patients being spoon-fed, propped up and cleaned. He saw them struggle to open their eyes and speak. Now he understood: This was dying. He saw the sisters wiping brows, holding hands, whispering prayers. He saw them walk into every room with a smile and provide some measure of comfort to the patients and their families. This was acceptance. This was love. This was good work. This was time well-spent.

"I think it must be what heaven is like," Bobby says. "I think the sisters give patients some glimpse of it. They let them know they're going to be taken care of on the other side."

And somehow, the joy of baseball is a part of it all.

Darn TV

Why is it that everyone's first instinct, including paid sitters, is to turn on the TV to quiet kids? And what does it take to get people to think of other activities? Is that asking too much? I feel bad being the strict, uptight mom who says no TV, and I feel like I let sitters down or ask too much of them when I request no TV. How do you all keep people from flipping on Caillou (who I can't stand... could he be any whinier?) as soon as there's down time or pre-tantrum behavior or at any and every moment? We don't have cable. My husband and I watch good movies some weekends on it. The way I see it, during the weekdays, PBSKids is my free babysitter for the kids if I'm dying for a moment of peace and quiet. Paid sitters or people who are with my kids only briefly shouldn't use it. Unreasonable?

Can you tell I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning (12 or so times between last night and this morning, to be more precise)? I guess taking it out on the TV isn't that bad... could be worse.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What She Said

I wish I could tattoo Mary Ellen's words to my forward, it would avoid so many silly questions. My husband studied conducting in college, and when he told an older friend that I was pregnant again the man actually said "you had better rhythm when you were at Princeton!"

Miss Manners

Growing up I was forced to attend a class exclusively on manners. We did everything you would expect in a manners class including, I kid you not, walking with books on our head, while wearing frilly socks, no less. As a tomboy, I was horrified at this waste of Saturday mornings!

That said, I have finally reached the point where I can say, "Thank you, Mom, for making me do that." I know what silverware to use when and how to hold polite conversations. Maybe I would have learned this all by osmosis at some point, but, it seems to me, things are headed in the opposite direction.

One of my biggest pet peeves of the moment is that people ask my kids to call them by their first names, not Mr. or Mrs. Smith, but Miss Kathy. Am I correct in assuming that this is inappropriate? I am not talking about close friends/godparents who go by Aunt/Uncle, but casual acquaintances that we meet for playdates. I generally try to jump the gun and introduce other moms to my kids by their proper names, such as, "This is Mrs. Smith." But they often reply, "Call me Miss Cathy." I just keep reminding my kids what other adults' proper names are.

It is sometimes awkward that of the moms we meet with kids the same age are 15 years older than me. Sometimes I feel as if I should be addressing them by their proper names, let alone my children!

And it felt strange, at first, to have the 14 year old daughter of a friend calling me "Mrs. Incredible" given that I am closer in age to her than to her mother, but I now think that this is much more appropriate. I think addressing adults by their proper name cultivates respect and authority. Please tell me I'm being totally rational and polite!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

total gross out

If you are in your first trimester, stop reading immediately.

On our block, garbage is only collected once a week, so you have to stay fairly on top of things. For some reason, we have two town trash cans, and I was operating under the assumption that my husband was bringing both cans to the curb every Sunday night. Unfortunately, he was assuming that we were only putting trash into one of the cans. Well, you know what happens when you assume?


That's right friends, I looked out my kitchen window and saw some little white lines all over the navy trash can. I squinted and could see that they were moving. When I went outside to investigate, I encountered a can crawling with bug larvae. When I opened it I saw the one lonely trash bag in the bottom of a puddle of garbage juice, a took in a smell so much worse then the smell of old trash that it is past description, and saw that down there in the bottom of the can the number of wormy little white horrible disgusting things had to be in the millions. The trash could have been in that bags for weeks, we have no way of knowing, and could well have had diapers in it.

So, I tried hard most of the day not to think about it, and as soon as the kids were in bed I went out to clean up this mess. I have to admit, I was as terrified as I was disgusted. I am not sure what I thought those little larvae were going to do to me, but I said a prayer to Our Lady for strength and protection and set to my task.

She must have been there with me, because in the half hour or so that I was at work on this I could think only of the small blessings of the situation, which were as follows:

1. The hose reached the driveway
2. The driveway has a significant slope
3. I don't have a job that requires me to do this on a regular basis
4. I know that my mother did this at least once her in life, so I knew that I could, too
5. I was going to take a warm bath as soon as I was finished
6. Safely past my first trimester, I was able to do the whole thing without puking

That is right, your prize for reading all the way to the bottom of this horrible post is my announcement on this blog that I am expecting my sixth child on December 9, which will be my 8th wedding anniversary. I had been waiting for some cute way to break the news, but I have gotten to 18 weeks without coming up with anything, so here it is. Ultrasound is in two weeks, and we do hope to find out and share the gender, there is a lot riding on it, so stay tuned!

Monday, July 7, 2008

In the Blogosphere

For all our crunchy mom readers, Rod Dreher has a very interesting review, of the new children's movie, "Wall-E." Rod states,
What I didn't expect, what I wouldn't in a million years have expected, is a Pixar film that embodies a traditionalist conservative critique of modernity, one that advocates a more or less Aristotelian view of humanity and politics. Philosophically, this is one of the most subversive movies I've ever seen. Crunchy cons, this movie is for us.

He goes on to give a great critique of the film (with some spoilers, so beware!), and I'm anxious to see it after his review. There is an ongoing discussion going on over there, so be sure to visit Rod's main site if this interests you.

In other happenings, there is a great article, entitled A Life Worth Living, about the life and recent passing of Harriet McBryde Johnson.

Ms. Johnson, a lawyer, first earned national attention when she debated philosopher Peter Singer at Princeton University in 2003, an experience she wrote about for the New York Times Magazine. Thankfully free of the ponderous cant that infects so much of bioethics, she was brutally direct when she talked about disabilities, including her own. "Most people don't know how to look at me," she wrote, describing her severely twisted spine and her "jumble of bones in a floppy bag of skin." But she abhorred the "veneer of beneficence" that overlay the arguments of those who said she would be "better off" without her disability. "The presence or absence of a disability doesn't predict quality of life," she argued, challenging Mr. Singer's support of what she called "disability-based infanticide."

Ms. Johnson forced us to look at disability in a different way -- not as something that we should seek to eradicate, but as something that is integral to the human condition, a "natural part of the human experience," as the American Association of People With Disabilities puts it.

To read the entire click here.

h/t Amy Welborn for the link

Sunday, July 6, 2008

"Come to Me"

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” ~The Gospel of Matthew~

Since the arrival of baby Augustine in January, the months have passed quickly but the days of juggling three kids have been long and often full of chaos. About a month ago the dust started to settle, primarily because baby Gus started sleeping through the night. Then the long days of summer hit, and hit hard.

From daily swimming lessons at the pool to summer story time at the library, the past few weeks have had little rest for the weary. Combine all our activities with Mr. Red’s late nights at the office and I have been left feeling stressed and overwhelmed. I have been a bit burned out, often looking ahead at our future and wondering how I can continue this pattern for another 5 years, or 10 or 20!

This past week I had a really rough day with the kids, not the type of day when anyone was seriously ill or injured, but the type of day when every small item you need is somehow lost, the baby is fussy, your babysitting help cancels, the kids are fighting, and nobody has any clean underwear left. I, of course, had forgotten to defrost the chicken, and so dinner was regrettably delayed. Hungry kids whine, and they fight, and they do these things in the kitchen, as I frantically try to get dinner made and served.

In a harsh tone I asked them to leave the kitchen until dinner was ready.

“Why?” Gianna protested.

“Because I need a break.” I answered. “I’m feeling a little burned out,” I thoughtlessly explained.

“What’s burned out?” Gianna asked.

“Burned out is when you are feeling really tired of people and you just need some alone time. Don’t you ever feel this way?”


Of course not, why am I trying to explain this to a 4 year old!

As mothers, burnout is an ever-present threat to the stability of our homes. It is sign that we have started to focus on ourselves, to wallow in self-pity and doubt, and have lost our focus on Christ.

I am thankful to my wonderful pastor, Father Anthony, whose fabulous homily on the above gospel passage worked a small miracle in my heart today. You see, I usually never get the opportunity to really listen to the homily. Even on a good day, reminding my children to sit still, stress about our overall noise level, trips to the bathroom, and diaper changes occupy my time and my mind. But today, my parents graciously agreed to allow our oldest two children to sleep at their home, and Mr. Red and I were free to attend Mass with just our 6 month old baby in tow. And so today, I was able to listen—really listen—to what Father, and the Holy Spirit, had to say.

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

When our burdens feel really heavy, we should first ask if they are of God? Does Christ want us to carry the burdens we shoulder? Or are the burdens something we have taken on unnecessarily. For example, stress about my husband’s job situation, or the poor life choices of a family member are likely not burdens Jesus wants me carrying around. Alternatively, maybe our burdens are the result of over commitment. I’m very type-A, and so saying no when someone asks me to volunteer is VERY difficult. At the moment I have committed to a LOT of different outside activities, and something probably has to give. As our family grows, saying “No” to certain outside commitments is what God calls every mother to do. Have I chosen my burdens wisely? Are they of God, or did I create them?

Second, assuming we are called to all of our burdens, we cannot carry them alone. Jesus says, “Come to me.” He doesn’t say talk about me, think about me, fantasize about me, he says “Come to me.” But how do we “Come” to Jesus on a regular basis? Spontaneous Prayer? Daily Mass attendance? Adoration? Frequent confession? A daily Rosary? The particular answer is going to be different for each Mother, but the simple truth is that we all must come to Jesus to find rest.

In my personal case, it’s a matter of time. When things get really busy and I get burned out, I focus on the details, and I forget the whys behind my actions. I become Martha, busy with many things, and while I think I am busy for the sake of Jesus, I’m really just focused on me and my tasks. I tend to do, do, do, rather than just BEING with Jesus. Taking the time to really come to God means slowing down to just be with God.

And that brings me to the miracle of today. Jesus, knowing I am weak, knowing I am busy, came to me. He did so through the gracious help of my parents, and the wonderful wisdom of my Pastor. And for that I say thank you.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Carbon Monoxide Detection

Dear Readers,

This is a friendly reminder to install carbon monoxide detectors in your home in the appropriate place(s). My only brother and sister-in-law had life-threatening carbon monoxide poisoning last night/this morning that resulted from sleeping in a poorly-ventilated houseboat. He's in his final year of medical school, so he recognized their symptoms as carbon monoxide and they made it to the hospital just in time, but I can't help but think of the rest of us who don't have the training of doctors at times like those. That's what detectors are for. Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless and particularly dangerous to children and pregnant women. Although I'm diligent about smoke detectors, we haven't gotten carbon monoxide detectors in our apartment, and I have no idea what I've been waiting for. This, I guess.

If you will, please offer a quick prayer of thanks to their guardian angels! And get those detectors ASAP, if you haven't already--that's $30 well spent.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Thank You

On this day, I think it is important that we take time to Thank God for the life we live in America, where we have the freedom to practice our religion, to make decisions for our family, to work or not to work, to share our thoughts publicly without fear. God Bless America.

I would also like to note that while you might not guess it from her profile name, AWOL Mommy has served this country with honor, and continues to serve and sacrifice because of her husband's service. God Bless him and keep him from harm. B-Mama also "did her duty" as she lived through her husband's foreign service. We are thankful for their examples. Today please offer a special prayer for our service men and women around the world and for their families, and most especially for those families who have lost a loved one in battle.

Civilizing Preschoolers?

We've decided for several reasons not to put 3-year-old Bella in preschool in the fall. This has encouraged me to be a bit more intentional about helping her learn civilized skills at home, like hanging up her coat and washing her hands on her own before eating. Acquiring these skills is supposed to be one of the great things about preschool--very young kids learn these habits easily in a group setting with kids their own age, under the direction of a teacher rather than a parent. Surely we can achieve this in our household, too!

How have you ordered your home so that your young kids learn these grown-up skills? Examples I'm thinking of are, as I mentioned before, hanging up coats and handwashing. Also, clearing the table after meals, knocking before entering doors, things like that. What would 3 year olds be learning in preschool that I should be replicating at home? What skills are age appropriate for preschoolers, and what can be saved for later? Should I implement them all at once (as in, OK, this is home preschool and here are the ways we're going to start doing things), or one at a time, and how often do we start on a new skill? Do you use charts and rewards or just launch right in and expect them to pick it up?

Thanks for helping me think this through!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Prenatal Testing


Thanks for addressing this topic and I typed up a very long comment and decided to change it to a post. I've had a really busy week, otherwise I would have written about this sooner. I'm sure Kat will have some thoughts as well. For our new readers, this is a topic near and dear to my heart, as I had a daughter Therese, who died of a fatal birth defect called anencephaly in 2002. Kat also had a daughter, Lucy, with anencephaly. Anencephaly is a fatal neural tube defect easily detected via ultrasound, and it is one of the 4 things for which the Quad screen (also called and AFP or Triple Screen) tests.

Everything for which the Quad screen tests can be detected via ultrasound, the main reason to get the Quad screen is that it is done earlier (and cheaper) than an ultrasound and therefore can alert a couple to a problem sooner, and thereby allow them to terminate the pregnancy sooner :-( Couple this with a high false positive rate for the test, and B-mama is very wise to recommend against this test. Even if your results come back indicating a problem, you then have to wait for the u/s to know if there really is a problem.

Unlike an ultrasound, CVS and Amnio are both very risky and dangerous to the baby. I'm actually not aware of any reason these tests need to be performed, other than to alert a couple to a problem and allow them the option of early termination. If these tests were for some reason medically necessary (in that they could help the baby in some way), an amnio can be done later in the pregnancy when the risk of miscarriage is small (there will be a pre-mature labor risk but that can be handled accordingly and is safer for the baby).

There are actually very few things even a good Obgyn can do prior to the birth of a baby to help that baby (other than setting you up to deliver at the best hospital and choosing a different method of delivery or pregnancy management). Knowing at 14 weeks that the baby has a problem is REALLY not necessary and not at all beneficial for the baby--you can wait until the 20 week u/s to discover problems.

When talking about pre-natal testing, I think it is really important to follow the principle of first do no harm. If the procedure can harm the baby, and the only reason you are getting it done is so that you can know something (not to help the baby in any way), then the test/procedure is immoral and should not be performed.

Second, I think everyone should think long and hard about what they will do with a poor prenatal diagnosis. Most people who plan to love their baby for each day God gives them with that baby don't want to know at 12 weeks that their baby has a fatal birth defect. Even with my history, we try to avoid the 12 week ultrasound to check for anencephaly as I don't think I could bear to hear bad news that early in the pregnancy.

I do, however, believe firmly that at least one ultrasound is best for both the parents and baby. There are conditions, such as placenta previa, that are diagnosed via u/s and necessitate a c-section for the safety of the baby. There is also very little, if any, evidence of harm from ultrasound, so it is a diagnostic tool that is usually always in the best interest of both mother and baby.

Pre-natal testing is obviously a very personal decision that each couple must make. Since the medical profession has values that are usually very different from our own, it is always best to do your own research in this area and ask lots of questions before making any decisions. In my own personal case, I interview potential caregivers and ask them how they would handle me as a patient were I to have a baby with a fatal birth defect. Would they support me in carrying the pregnancy to term? Would they treat me and my baby with respect and dignity? If the caregiver is uncomfortable with these types of questions, they are probably not someone you want caring for you or your baby.

There are a number of resources to help families receiving a poor prenatal diagnosis. Be Not Afraid is a wonderful support group. I would also highly recommend contacting a perinatal hospice.

While I hope and pray that none of our readers ever need these resources, I can say from personal experience that the life of my daughter Therese was a beautiful gift from God. While the wound is still there, deep in my heart, I can now say with confidence that I am unbelievably thankful for Therese. In her brief 9 months she taught her mama how to love, so that someday, I might join her at the feet of Jesus.

Eco Friendly Recommends from the March of Dimes

While I have some concerns with The March of Dimes (primarily their goal to have every baby be a healthy baby, a very unachievable objective in our fallen world) I do think The March for Dimes does some great work. They give women valuable information to make wise health choices prior to and during their pregnancies. Having personally suffered the loss of a baby due to a very serious birth defect, I'm all for helping to improve the health of every mom and baby. For the moment, I'll put aside some of my concerns with The March of Dimes and link to their recent online newsletter article, The Eco-Friendly Mom and Baby for the 21st Century.

Many of their recommendations are great for new moms, and a real starting-off point for those of us looking to go more "green" with our parenting. I know some of our commentors are pretty hard-core in this area, but for the rest of us, it's a good place to start--especially for those expecting new little ones soon! One of their recommendations, buying an organic mattress, is of particular interest to me, and I'm wondering where I can get one of these so as to not break the bank?

Triple Screen Query

Reader K writes:

I have a question. How do you all approach the prenatal testing that is available? I got a chill when a nurse suggested yesterday that I get testing done early so that I could "do something about it" before I'm out of the first trimester. I'm almost 37, and this is only my second pregnancy, but there wasn't this pressure with my first.

K, great question.

Just to give you some insight into my personal experiences, I have never opted to have the AFP (alphfetoprotein, triple screen, or quad screen) testing. It tests the mother's blood for the presence of AFP (and other serums), secreted by the baby's liver, which can indicate a host of anomalies, including neural tube defects, Down syndrome, kidney disorders, and others.  According to my midwife, of the AFP tests showing a positive reading, 90% are false positives, unnecessarily scaring the heck out of the poor parents! Positive AFP tests can (and usually are) followed up with an ultrasound and possibly an amniocentesis/chorionic villus sampling (CVS).  Many times an u/s is all that is necessary to confirm/discredit the AFP results.  Amnios and CVS carry risks (1-2%) of losing the baby.  

Most likely you are planning to have an u/s midway through the pregnancy anyway, so my opinion is--WAIT for the u/s and you'll have all the information you ever wanted without having to endure more tests and a potential scare!!  Present a firm "no" to your care providers and let that be the end of the story!

Now, as a disclaimer, some friends have recently been encouraged toward early testing with the promise of an additional second trimester u/s. Presented with such an option, I might go for it too! I can never see my little one too much during the pregnancy...

Additional thoughts?  Prayers, K, for a wonderful outcome and a blessed pregnancy!
For more information check out WebMD. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Starting Over

We've moved, and are now officially Texans! I apologize for being so absent recently, but we're almost out of the last of our moving boxes and I think that we're on the road to a bit more stability...Hopefully :) 

We have some very friendly neighbors and have already invited one little boy over to play with C, which was really important for my poor 4 year-old who has spent way too much time with grown-ups for the past couple of weeks! Another neighbor brought over a banana bread to welcome us to the neighborhood, and I've been flooded with information about mom's groups that I can join in the fall. I feel very lucky to have moved into such a welcoming community, and I am excited for our family to hunker down and really invest in this community. Hopefully we'll stay put for more than a couple of years this time! 

Yet in the midst of all of the friendly welcomes, I am feeling a bit nostalgic and lonely. Nostalgic for the friends and the home that we left, lonely because I don't have any girlfriends to invite over for coffee at the last minute...And a bit daunted by the amount of energy, and a certain amount of vulnerability, that it takes to foster the types of friendships that I know I will eventually need! I feel a little bit like the new girl in school that I so often was during a childhood filled with moving around, except that the women here are much friendlier and more forgiving than the middle or high school girls were :) In any case, let's just hope that I don't say anything really dumb and that if I do, I will quickly recover and no harm will be done :)

Praise God for the chance to start over, to form new routines and organize our home in new ways, and for the chance to rely solely on Him when daily tasks seem intimidating or overwhelming. 

*On an unrelated note, any tried-and-true tips on how to clean the yuck off of the white caulking in a shower? Also, any favorite stain-removers for baby poop? Thanks!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Joys of Expecting

While pregnancy offers more than a few hang-ups, here are some things I've been reveling in as I enter the 36th week:

* not ever having to "suck in"
* the extra TLC from my hubby (what a good guy he is!)
* the excuse of not wearing tie shoes (can you really reach your feet anyway?)
* the kind, pitiful glances from passersby (who doesn't love a little pity? ;)
* the excuse of sitting down and "propping"
* the companionship of a wee one
* the baby's feet sticking out my side (I really do enjoy this!)
* the excuse of ordering a waffle cone 
* knowing I am carrying a little miracle with me all the time
* the prospect of a new life in our family
* seeing my baby's brothers get so excited to meet him
* new baby things that are beginning to grace our home
* old hand-me-down, faithful items that are resurfacing from storage

What do you love about pregnancy?

Not What She Had Expected

"Now, if she had been the heroine of a moral story book, she ought at this period of her life to have become quite saintly, renounced the world, and gone about doing good in a mortified bonnet, with tracts in her pocket. But, you see, Jo wasn't a heroine; she was only a struggling human girl, like hundreds of others, and she just acted out her nature, being sad, cross, listless or energetic, as the mood suggested. It's highly virtuous to say we'll be god, but we can't do it all at once, and it takes a long pull, a strong pull, and a pull all together, before some of us even get our feet set in the right way. Jo had got so far, she was learning to do her duty, and to feel unhappy if she did not; but to do it cheerfully, that was another thing! She had often said she wanted to do something splendid, no matter how hard; and now she had her wish, for what could be more beautiful than to devote her life to mother and father, trying to make home as happy to them as they had to her? And, if difficulties were necessary to increase the splendour of the effort, what could be harder for a restless, ambitious girl than to give up her own hopes, plans, and desires, and cheerfully live for others?

Providence had taken her at her word; here was the task, not what she had expected, but better, because self had no part in it: now, could she do it?"

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott