While we are still waiting to hear details,
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?
Refreshingly Frank Article on Life as a Natural Family Planning Couple.
Labels: Catholic Church
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.
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?
My mother arrived last night to help with the pre-baby preparations...
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!
“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
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.
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
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:
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.
*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
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!
And may God bless America!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
May God Bless all those families serving our country!
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
Bella: removes packaging a little at a time as she enjoys it bite by bite
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!
Labels: Catholic Church
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.
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:
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.
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 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!
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.
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:
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.
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."
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.
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?
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!"
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!
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!
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."To read the entire click here.
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.
h/t Amy Welborn for the link
“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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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...
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 :)
"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