Three-and-a-half year old Bella isn't napping anymore--she's in that stage where she could fall asleep at nap time, but if she does she's awake until 11pm.
It is finished. The curse is over. We are champions!
Anyone want to join us for a parade down Broad street? Tomorrow will be a big day. Lots of Philly fun at the parade and then trick or treating in the afternoon. We will be tired for sure. But when you haven't seen your team win a championship in 25 years, you just have to celebrate this one in style.
Tuesday morning, my OB noticed that my blood pressure was elevated. Rather than the logical assumption that driving 5 kids to the appointment in the October SNOW might be stressing me out, he was concerned that I was one of the less that 10% of women with re-occuring pre-eclampsia. Since I am only 34 weeks, this was a scary notion, and I was told to return the next day for another check up. In the 24 hours in between, I had time to contemplate the effect on my family if I had to go on total bedrest for 3 weeks. My conclusion? The effects would be totally positive.
Now, I don't mean to make light of grave illness, and I was thankful when my blood pressure had completely returned to its normal levels the next morning, but I am doing some thinking about what my feelings about bedrest say about my life at the moment.
We can all laugh about how fun it would be to spend a few days in bed, but I really had a plan:
1. Move all the school books and some great read alouds into my room, along with trains, blocks and dolls.
2. Hire a cleaning lady for 3 days a week to do laundry and keep up the house (or, just let the house go, budget depending).
3. Make a list of slow cooker meals that my husband could start before he left for work each morning.
4. Send K to the knitting store to stock me up, and make hats and mittens for the kids in my downtime.
5. Hire the neighbor's teenager to be a sitter when the kids go out to play with other neighborhood kids each afternoon, and spend that time cuddling the baby.
6. Cancel everything else.
Really, what could be better? This is very much the way we homeschooled last year (except for being in bed), in that we had no friends and I didn't clean the house, I just spent all of my time reading to my kids in the backyard and we ate mostly cheese, crackers and apple slices. This week, we have had appointments every single day, and for what seems like 2 months now we have been off our schedule and overtired because of something...move, summer, baseball, race training, holidays, pregnancy, playdates, grandparent sleepovers, travel...it is time for me to put my foot down, but how?
1) Am I the first nursing mother to indefinitely delay the introduction of solids because I like the effect that exclusive nursing has on my figure? Angelina is 6 months old and shows some interest in our food. She has proven that she can swallow cereal and mashed foods but doesn't seem hungry as long as I nurse her often enough. I'm finally comfortably back into clothes that have been stored since our wedding. As I see it, this is a win situation for everyone.
Carve a pumpkin and keep the pieces intact. Cut eyes, ears, mouth, nose and cut a circle around the stem. Remove the seeds and pumpkin pulp, put it in a plastic bag and return it to the inside of the pumpkin. Put the eyes, ears, nose and mouth back in the cut-out holes and replace the lid. Have a candle and long-stemmed lighter ready. Gather your family around the pumpkin and pray this prayer.
Lord, open my mind so I can learn new things about you and the world you created. (Remove the top of the pumpkin)
Remove the things in my life that don't please you. Forgive the wrong things I do and help me to forgive others. (Pull out the bag of seeds.)
Open my eyes to see the beauty you've made in the world around me. (Remove the eyes.)
Open my ears when I hear your word, so I may learn how you want me to live. (Remove the ears.)
I'm sorry for the times I've turned up my nose at people who are different from me, but who are your children, too. (Remove the nose.)
Let everything I say please you. (Remove the mouth.)
Lord, help me show your light to others through the things I do. (Place a candle inside and light it.)
A tad drastic? Maybe, but my intention in this post is to explain and then give thanks for a revelation I have experienced over the past 18 months of my life.
It was May 2007 - my, reluctant, four-year active duty Army service was completed and Husband and I had decided that someone needed to be the rock at home. No more two parents at work for insane hours. No more two parents fearing deployments to hostile lands, one is more than enough.
Leaving the work-a-day world to stay home with my children was Earth-shattering at first, and not in all good ways. I was floundering. I did not know how to do this. I was raised as a Navy brat - both of my parents served as naval officers until after I left home for college. I am amazed by my mother's success as a female naval officer who broke so many barriers for subsequent generations. However, her homemaking life was ad hoc at best. It was the best she could manage on evenings and weekends. Some things were out-sourced, we had the occasional cleaning lady and always a gardening crew, but for the most part she probably just slept very little and spent a lot of money on takeout. My most poignant memories are of family trips and vacations, but the day-to-day stuff was run by a series of nannies. So that was my background and there I was at home with (almost) two children. At our new duty station I was invited to a Protestant Bible Study- it was entitled "Creative Companion" and we read a book by the same title that rocked my world.
The book itself wasn't that profound, but what was profound for me was that being a wife and mother, a homemaker and an educator and a catechizer is a serious -- the most serious -- profession there is. The way we approach our jobs as homemakers is 100% mental. In my first months at home I was allowing myself to fall prey to the societal bogus that being a stay-at-home mother was wasting my talents and was all about spit-up and laundry. It is so so much deeper than that. My world has been exploding for the past year thanks to the ladies on this blog and those who have gone before us and written about the work that goes on in a home. I have learned that it is one thing to "keep a home afloat" and another to be continually reading and refining your routines based on what you read and who you meet.
It is inherent in our very created nature to lead our families toward a holier, better existence. If we don't, no one will find the time. Edith Stein writes that we are called to, "serve man, children and all creatures in a reverential loving manner in order to foster their natural formation for the glory of God and thereby further their natural happiness." (and I wouldn't even know that if I wasn't a virtual member of Mary Alice and Right Said Red's monthly Catholic mothers' exchange group!)
God has had such a hand in my life by showing me the way to deliberate living. Not being lost in the laundry and the dishes, but learning to do both better and with a better mindset. Frankly, it is sad that I couldn't realize all this on my own - you know, that one can improve the way she supports her husband and family through "professional" reading? I mean, clearly when we work outside the home we are encouraged to do professional reading. Lawyers read law journals, stock brokers read The Wall Street Journal, as a military officer I read books about the Middle East and military history. Why would I have assumed that that all stopped when I became a stay-at-home-mother? Au contrair! I have embarked on a bold experiment here - to professionalize my role as the homemaker in this household. I read books about how to cook baby food, how laundry is a path to holiness, how to keep a home journal to keep things flowing in a more orderly way. I don't know, it all sounds pretty scholarly to me. And I pray that my family will reap the benefits. I don't think I have learned enough yet, I think I have a long way to go. Furthermore, I sometimes wonder if my lack of a childhood home which I seek to imitate sets me back even further. Nonetheless, I am pleased to embark on this journey of deliberate living and I can't believe that my "to-read" book list is longer now than it was when I was an intellectually curious sophomore at Princeton.
At bat for me: A Mother's Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul.
On deck: Building the Christian Family You Never Had: A Practical Guide For Pioneer Parents
Today I have received several emails reminding me that there are nine days left until the presidential election -- and, though they are a bit lost in the shuffle this year, we will also be voting for our Congress and local leadership.
Will you please join in a minute of prayer for our country every night at 9 pm, beginning tonight and continuing through election day? Whoever becomes our next president is going to need our prayers, as he will face issues we cannot yet imagine, as well as the complicated ones we already know about.
Somewhere in the archives, TexasMommy wrote about the upsides of the third trimester of pregnancy. I am at 33 weeks now, so I want to share my thoughts on the subject. Be prepared, they will get whinier as the weeks progress:
1) I am now so visibly pregnant that many strangers comment. I am really glad to be pregnant and excited to meet my baby, so I am finding that it is actually fun to talk to strangers about when he is due, etc. However, when they ask if this is my first, I am tempted to just say yes so we can move on without the hysterics of how young I look to have five other children. This usually leads to them asking how old I am. Do I have to tell? Old enough to have wrinkles means you shouldn't really ask my age, right? Also, visibly pregnant = seats on buses, doors held, general kindness from strangers, which I am cherishing.
2) 4 year old John, who is not a cuddler generally, has taken to hugging and kissing the baby (and therefore me).
3) Nesting. You should see my closet, it is clean and beautiful. This will not help the baby in any way, but I have learned to channel my nesting energy into other productive areas, since I don't really have to set up a nursery. Although sometime after Halloween I am going to wash and organize all the tiny nightgowns, and that will be super fun.
4) Leg cramps and heartburn. Okay, here is my positive spin on leg cramps...right now I am a little bit scared of labor, but over the course of the next seven weeks my leg cramps will becoming increasingly painful and more frequent, to the point where I would happily endure natural childbirth just to get this whole pregnancy over with. I am dead serious about this, I think it is a healthy part of the whole cycle, I will be begging for labor come December, and that is a good thing. Also, I am supposed to help the leg cramps by having a glass of milk before bed. It doesn't work at all, but it does give me a good excuse to eat a cookie.
My 4-mos-old son, Sean, is suffering from a flat head due to all the time spent on his back. I know pediatricians have just started recommending back sleeping in the last few years and we all slept on our fronts and had nice round heads to show for it. All the mothers in my life who had front-sleeping babies can't stand Sean's head! And this is a C-Section head!
Do your babies have flat heads like this too? Am I to take solace knowing that there will be at least one generation of flat-headed babies and Sean will have classmates with similar head shape? Does it get round again at some point? Or is Sean in a football-head league of his own? Help!
Not the 8K distance or the time. I'm running 8Ks outside and doing 45 minute cardio workouts with no problem.
Not Red and B-mama. I will handily beat them without question.
I have changed the format of our comments to a pop-up window because for some reason blogger was not allowing comments on our blog. If you want to continue discussion on the election, please feel free, the comments are now working. Sorry for the inconvenience...
Some of our loyal readers may have picked up on the fact that we have a loose schedule of rotating blog posts among the builders. Well, today is my day, and I have spent most of it in a 10'x6' doctors office with a 3 year old and a baby, so my brain is pretty fried at this point. This is not the post I had planned to write, but I will be happy if I can put together full sentences.
Today we had Dash's "peanut challenge". He had a reaction the first time he ate peanut butter, and tested very positive to a peanut allergy. His last skin test was shockingly negative, so the next step was to have him ingest peanut protein in increasing amounts in a controlled setting while his vital signs were constantly monitored to see if he is in the 15% of kids that do outgrow their peanut allergies. The great news is that he passed! He had absolutely no reaction to the peanut flour.
Here are some reflections on the day:
1. They tell you to bring something that your child will eat to a food challenge to mix with the allergic food. I made one of Dash's favorite desserts, homemade chocolate custard (or pots de creme). As soon as the door closed I realized I might regret bringing something made with both sugar and caffeine as we would be confined to our room for the next 5 hours.
2. However, caffeine for mom is definitely a plus in this situation.
3. It is possible to hold a crying 3 year old while feeding a baby simultaneously.
4. Someone needs to invent blood pressure cuffs for toddlers that work on the first try.
5. I never thought I would even consider a request to color on the baby. Request was denied, but I did consider the ideas merits (namely, distraction for a stir crazy 3 year old) for a moment.
6. Foam stickers shaped like bugs are worth their weight in gold.
7. Ample time to reflect on why my household of 3 small men was sent an American Girl catalog.
8. I have more patience than I thought I did.
9. Upon returning home and (momentarily) having three children sleeping simultaneously, I feel I deserve to eat something made from sugar and caffeine.
First, I want to thank everyone who has been participating in the comments to Kat's post below.
For the future, we are asking that no "anonymous" comments be placed on our blog. The Internet can be an anonymous place, and we respect your right to, and desire for, anonymity. However, it is really tough to follow and respond to a conversation when we do not know who is posting what, following up on what, etc. So, please give yourself a moniker of some sort.
I also think that using names, even fake or silly ones, helps us all to realize that even over the Internet we are speaking to other people, real people with prayerful and considered opinions. For some reason, it is often harder to remember that "anonymous" has feelings, too.
"Barack Obama is the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the office of President of the United States. He is the most extreme pro-abortion member of the United States Senate. Indeed, he is the most extreme pro-abortion legislator ever to serve in either house of the United States Congress.
- He believes that abortion is a fundamental right essential for women's equality, meaning that government must guarantee access to abortion in law and by financial assistance.
- He has said that his first act as president would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which would eliminate all federal and state regulation of abortion, allowing abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. Parental notification for minors would be gone. FOCA would also eliminate state laws that allow a "conscience clause" for pro-life doctors who do not want to perform abortions.
- He supports federal funding for abortion and opposes the Hyde Amendment, which restricts the use of taxpayer money for abortion. In the words of his campaign, Obama "believes that the federal government should not use its dollars to intrude on a poor woman's decision whether to carry to term or to terminate her pregnancy..."
- He opposes continued funding for crisis pregnancy centers and abstinence-based education
- He condemned the ban on partial-birth abortions because it did not include an exception for the "health" of the mother. However, the evidence indicates that there is no obstetrical situation in which a partial birth abortion is the only way to protect the health of the mother.
- As IL state senator, Obama opposed the 2003 "Infant Born Alive Protection Act," which would require immediate medical attention for infants born alive after a failed abortion procedure, even though it contained language identical to the federal act that was unanimously passed by Congress. According to the Annenberg Political Fact Check, "earlier versions of the bill, in 2001 and 2002, had met with opposition from abortion-rights groups, which contended that they would be used to challenge Roe v. Wade. Because the bills accorded human rights to pre-viable fetuses (that is, fetuses that could not live outside the womb) as long as they showed some vital signs outside the mother, abortion-rights groups saw them as the thin edge of a wedge that could be used to pry apart legal rights to abortion."
I am so glad that I am married to a man who is in touch with his sensitive side. While some men are merely sports obsessed, he has been spending his train rides composing poetry. You can read it here.
So, if we are doing all this training, we have to fuel up somehow. Red and I took our children apple picking on Tuesday, and I came home with a huge sack of wonderful apples. Here is my quick and easy version of pie -- this one is for speed, not looks, and the kids have been having it for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
2 Sticks cold butter
2.5 cups flour
.25 cups sugar
.25 cups cold water as needed
Cut the butter into chunks, then mix butter, flour and sugar in food processor, pulsing. When butter is in pea size bits, give one or two more quick pulses and let it all come together. Best not to over mix. If your mixture is not forming a ball, drizzle in a bit of cold water. Press dough into a round, wrap in plastic and stick in the fridge.
Martha Stewart, and I, suggest making lots of dough all at once. You can keep it in the fridge for a few days or roll it out into crusts and freeze them flat in a stack. Because this dough is all butter and no shortening it is not going to be as elastic, so it will not come out perfectly in the pan, but I would rather have a crust with a few cracks than eat hydrogenated oil.
While the crust is chilling, preheat oven to 375 and make filling:
6 large apples ( I used a mix of granny smiths and empires), peeled and sliced
.25 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
mix this all up in a bowl and set aside.
Now, grab your crust and roll it out into a bottom pie crust. Don't sweat the imperfections, this is supposed to rustic. Place the crust in the bottom of a pyrex pie dish. Scoop apple mixture into the middle, you may not use all of it depending on the size of your crust. Fold up the sides of hte crust to make a pouch around the apple filling. Bake for 45 minutes. If you have extra apples, they can keep in the fridge for another pie tomorrow or a yummy addition to vanilla ice cream.
The elliptical is getting particularly old this week--I usually do the manual program because I enjoy reading on the elliptical, but the Princeton Alumni Weekly same-old articles on climate change and objectively-ugly new campus architecture just aren't doing it for me this week. I think I need to implement B-mama's suggestion of varying my elliptical workouts more.
"One need look no further than the woman swallowing her artificial contraception pills with organic green tea."
When push comes to shove, cut corners! Here's a glimpse into my world of making life a little easier lately...
As we look ahead to our 8k on November 23rd, I have to admit to feeling a bit uncertain about this whole race scenario, competitors included. Is JM really serious when she talks about this being a true competition? Does she kill it on the elliptical each day, dreaming of running the rest of us into the ground? And how far is Red really running? Yes, she's talked about completing "only 3 miles", but how fast is she clicking off those miles? She's definitely known for speed. Can I hang with these girls?
For those who are unfamiliar, this is the famous Freedom Speech from Braveheart. Charlie is 2.5 ...
... and no, we have not let him watch the movie.
Labels: kids say
Dear friends, I have a "playdate etiquette" question for you :)
Has anyone seen the new campaign for High Fructose Corn Syrup? I have seen it on TV (Food Network, I think) and in magazines like Bon Appetit and Cooking Light.
What is the most fascinating is that it doesn't deny that refined sweeteners contribute to obesity and have little nutritional value. The punch line is basically that corn syrup is equally bad for you as refined sugar, so have at it. (I'm not sure this is true, I still think HFCS is worse..it has undergone much more processing than refined sugar. Michael Pollan discussed this issue in his book, "The Omnivore's Dilemma," which we discussed here awhile ago.)
Are we, as consumers, that susceptible to marketing that this type of campaign(corn syrup is just as unhealthy as sugar!) can possibly be effective?
Bean, intently watching out the window as a tree crew hacks down a tree near our house bit by bit: "Mom. I want to do it too."
Me: "OK Bean, you can help Daddy when it's time to cut down some tree branches or cut back some bushes. That'll be a great job for you men."
Bella: "Mom, I'll go out and help Daddy and Bean do their dirty work too, OK?"
Me (surprised to hear my forever girly girl volunteering for this task): "OK Bella, that'll be good too."
Bella: "Yeah mom, so... you can get me a pink chainsaw and a cute pink tree worker outfit for my next birthday, right?"
That's more like it.
In mid-August, the children and I (sans ET, he had to work) went to the North Carolina shore to celebrate my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary with all of my extended family members. All of us - grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc. - stayed in the same house, so there was much opportunity for conversation and fellowship. On the first evening of the vacation, one of my uncles sat me down at the dining room table for a little chat. Innocently, he asked me when I was planning on going back to work.
Most recently, we moved to Germany for a three year overseas tour. The constraints in our current living situation provide me with ample opportunities to demonstrate patience, organization and optimism (two out of three are big struggles for me). As we settle into our smallest home ever-- a two bdrm apartment on the second floor of a multi-family unit -- and begin the two month wait for our household goods to arrive, as I memorize the limited bus schedule since our car will not arrive for two weeks still, I often reflect on how drastic God has to be in my life for me to “get it.”
Really, for a young, college-educated North American couple, we are living the inverse pyramid lifestyle: downsizing, living on less (exchange rate –eek!), seeing what we are made of, and relying on the fabric of our family rather than the fabric of our clothes. As my peers settle into lovely homes with sweeping green lawns, I am learning how to carry groceries on my back, an umbrella stroller under one arm and an 8-month-old on one hip to make it up to our second floor home. Surprisingly, I feel no jealousy. Rather, I feel that this drastic exercise in stream-lined living is just what I needed.
As a neophyte stay-at-home mom these small Army quarters prevent me from getting overwhelmed. Only so much will fit in the kitchen cupboards and it doesn’t take that long to vacuum 700 square feet of carpet. As soon as the baby is less of a night-waker he will shift into Big Sister’s room and neither child will know the meaning of the phrase “my room.”
So, all in all, I would like to thank Uncle Sam for squeezing us into this place for the next three years. And I would like to preemptively and presumptuously thank the Lord for reminding me daily of all the blessings inherent in such a modest living arrangement.
Tell me a story of your down-sizing and its fruits, would you?
So, this is just to confess that my kids stayed up until 9 o'clock at night, eating tacos, in their pajamas, in front of the TV. The thing is, though, you are only 7 once, and when your team hits a grand slam it is just not the same to watch it on the highlights reel.
On November 23, in the Year of our Lord 2008, all the Builders within a 300 mile radius will converge on Red’s beloved city of Philadelphia… Red, B-mama and me to run the Philadelphia Marathon’s 8K race, and MaryAlice to sport a sassy late-pregnancy workout get-up and lipstick, pose for pictures, and cheer on her half-marathoning husband.
Yes. We’re paying a $45 registration fee to run 8 kilometers at 7:15am on a cold November morning around a mediocre city:
(1) To tone our child-laden bodies.
(2) To engage in the type of competitive trash talk that we all enjoyed at one time during athletic careers but have long suppressed in order to be good models for our children. Red and B-mama both were star college athletes. I had some high school glory days and am generally competitive.
(3) To head into the Thanksgiving holiday—which often marks the beginning of the end of healthy habits for the winter—with a solid fitness regimen in place.
This is a competition. This is not a girlfriends’ trot where we jog three-abreast and dish about fertility cycles and parenting philosophies. There will be a winner.
B-mama is back up and at 'em after baby J’s birth two months ago, with an eye toward returning to her usual 5+ workouts per week. She’s the college-level distance runner among us. She’s the rabbit, we’re the greyhounds.
I am opting for the 6 times per week elliptical training program while I nurse some minor back problems, although I run 4-5 miles outside occasionally. Core strengthening and speed will be my goals. Red also tells me there's prize money for coming in first place city-wide. What's wrong with dreaming big?
We will be documenting our progress for the next seven weeks, on Thursday of each week, in a segment entitled Tone, Trash Talk and Thanksgiving Turkey.
We invite one and all to join us in Philadelphia or to show solidarity by setting some pre-winter fitness goals.
Anyone know of a good source for Maternity formal wear? I have a black tie wedding to go to and I will be about 8 months pregnant.
I have been trying to follow the financial news, but I have been rather confused by the impact of it all outside of the banking sphere (which is relevant, in some ways, to my day to day life, as my husband works in New York and has banks as his clients).
I wish that the media would do more to educate us. I don't think that the campaigns should be suspended, but I sort of wish that the 24 hour news coverage of the campaigns would be. I also wish that TV news was not so entertainment and ratings driven, so that they could focus on actual issues affecting our nation.
This morning my husband sent me this essay, from the New York Times, which I found very helpful.
October 1st is her feast day, and as a stay-at-home mother of little children I have developed a real connection and admiration for this humble woman. She lived her life as a Carmelite nun working at the most menial of tasks. She worked in the laundry and the dining hall -- accomplishing the same tasks for her fellow sisters as we do for our young families. However, I often feel that the similarities end there. She saw this monotony as an opportunity for prayer and greater communion with Christ and the saints. She wrote, "I prefer the monotony of obscure sacrifice to all ecstasies. To pick up a pin for love can convert a soul." Amazing.
So, Saint Therese, pray for us, mothers, that we may possess the spiritual calm and profound humility with which you lived every day and died.