Today - at two days beyond my due date with my third child - I have reached a peak in the emotional ups and downs which characterize the feelings of awaiting a childbirth. I mean, really, these days are total freebies. It is like a snow day - you thought you had assignments due and meetings to attend, but then everything got canceled and you are home with 24 free hours. That is kind of how it is around here. This was "supposed" to be the early days of sleeping and nursing and getting to smell the new baby, but instead we are just waiting. There are no more clothes to be washed or car seats to be assembled. Tonight we even threw away our homemade October calendar, with the words "due date" scribbled on last Thursday. Before us stretches the great unknown. Yet I am now trying to think of these blank November days as freed up calendar days in our "box-it-all-in" human mentality and enjoying every unexpected free day with my mother, husband and two (out of utero) great kids.
When the kids are sick and mom doesn't feel so hot either...
If you are going to be trick or treating this year, I wanted to post this now so that you can gather some supplies if you like.
We are all so busy trying to figure out how to fit it all in, but maybe if we put first things first...
...Sometimes the kids step up to the plate and help mom out!
Since everyone from my son's neuropsychologist to my spiritual director has encouraged me to exercise recently given the stress of taking care of our son, I took it as a sign that I needed to get back in the saddle.
Last year at this time there was a builders race in the works. I was given a bye since I lived several thousand miles away and had just had an emergency appendectomy and a baby. Well, this year Red has a newborn, AWOL is getting into the zone for a foreign natural birth and we are praying for Kat's back.
But that still leaves 4 of us. I know B-Mama is always on board for a good work-out, Juris Mater would probably rather give up wine and chocolate than her elliptical and Mary Alice mentioned something about needing a little kick in the pants.
I've been back at running for about 2 months now. It feels good. Not great, but good. Oh, sure, there is that little voice in my head that, as I am wheezing after 4 miles, asks me if I am indeed the same person who ran 22 more miles than this for fun. So it's humbling to say the least. And that precious hour when all the kids are down simultaneously is spent on the treadmill and taking a shower (which explains much of my absence from this blog). I do not have marathon or IronMan aspirations. I just need to be able to stay one step ahead of my boys and maintain my sanity.
My family's Thanksgiving Day begins bright and early with a Turkey Day run and we are heading home this year. The last time I was home for Thanksgiving I was 7 months pregnant pushing a one year old in a stroller. This year, it is just me versus the cold. I am totally a fair weather runner since my critical bodily functions such as circulation shut down in the cold. I may be able to run at a good clip on a flat treadmill at a balmy 74 degrees, but I may just curl up in a ball on Thanksgiving morning and refuse to go outside. Except now I have all you readers to hold me accountable.
So that's it ladies. Get in a workout routine now before the holidays start. You know you are going to eat most of the cute holiday treats you make with the kids when they are napping! We can do it...it is so very important for us to take good care of ourselves for the sake of our families. Pick a race...a turkey trot, a reindeer run...set a goal, and start sweating!
If your community is anything like ours, there is mass chaos ensuing over the microscopic H1N1 tyrant. Schools are on alert, parents are abuzz with talk, and the pediatricians are working plenty of overtime. As of Wednesday, our ped had 15 new cases in her small town practice!
*The only portals of entry are the nostrils and mouth/throat. In a global epidemic of this nature, it's almost impossible not coming into contact with H1N1 in spite of all precautions. Contact with H1N1 is not so much of a problem as proliferation is.
While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1 infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development of secondary infections, some very simple steps, not fully highlighted in most official communications, can be practiced (instead of focusing on how to stock N95 or Tamiflu):
1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications).
2. "Hands-off-the-face" approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face (unless you want to eat, bathe or slap).
3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don't trust salt). H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don't underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.
4. Similar to 3 above, clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. Not everybody may be good at Jala Neti or Sutra Neti (very good Yoga asanas to clean nasal cavities), but blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.
5. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C (Amla and other citrus fruits). If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.
6. Drink as much of warm liquids as you can. Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.
The stakes are high.
Sprout Baby Food.
In lieu of leaving a comment on MaryAlice's post, I thought I'd temporarily come out of my babymoon (because I'm watching the Phillies game and have time to kill during commercials) and redirect the conversation a bit.
First, let me say that it should be obvious to all our readers that MaryAlice generously accentuated the virtues of my children! You are so kind MaryAlice, and I really do appreciate the sentiment behind your statements, but I think your strong emphasis on the "wonderful" habits of my children has caused the conversation to go in a different direction than what you had planned.
I think the comments to her post were very accurate when they said it is dangerous to compare our children to the children of others. My eldest daughter Gianna was given, by the grace of God, a very polite and thoughtful disposition. As a result, she comes off very well in public, and often times her 3.5 year old brother just follows her lead. MaryAlice would not have written the same things if my 3rd child, whom I LOVE dearly, happened to be born first! Likewise, MaryAlice has two older children who are also VERY naturally polite and come off very well in public. But I digress a bit here, because I don't think this really gets at the point of MaryAlice's post.
I believe her point, and the point of my follow-up post, is that the most important "skill" we can instill in our young children are good habits, which are essentially virtues. Good habits are a prerequisite to other types of learning. If the habits of order, obedience, organization, and the like are not in place, it is very difficult for a child to learn. (As an aside, I also think these habits are essential to enjoying life with young children.) Often, early learning focuses on drilling facts and jamming our children's absorbent little brains with all kinds of information. While many children can learn and memorize all kinds of things, it is far more important to teach good learning habits. These habits will allow a child to learn easily and quickly when the time comes to teach them academic subjects.
And this is why I think it is important that we take habit formation seriously, and work to fix our childrens' poor habits with patient persistence. While I don't think there is a catch-all approach here, as each parent has their own unique style of parenting and each child has their own unique personality, there is one essential element to good habit formation--persistence. As many of our readers have already commented, this area is more about our own discipline than that of our children. And this is what makes it so challenging! How often I see my own poor habits practiced by my children.
And speaking of my own poor habits, I'm not the best at immediately putting my things away where they belong. Unfortunately, when you have a toddler in the house, this can have disastrous consequences. My daughter, like many 5 year old children, also has the poor habit of taking her things off, such as her shoes, and leaving them in the middle of the playroom. In the past few months, she has lost one or both of her shoes more times that I care to count. Initially, I was patient, reminding her that she had to put her shoes away where they belong. When a sandal was lost for days, I was forced to go to the store and buy her a new pair--at which point I began to yell and lose my temper when one of her shoes was missing. But week after week, we were regularly looking for her shoes.
Just last week, Mr. Red and I finally sat down and discussed what we were going to do about this problem. We decided to replace Gianna's bad habit with a good habit. We let her know that there were only 2 appropriate places for her shoes--on her feet or in the closet. We then let her know a firm consequence if we saw her shoes anywhere other than those two places. Instead of yelling or punishing after the shoes were lost, we chose to form the good habit of putting her shoes away. Unfortunately this good habit requires a lot more attention from us, and if we do not approach this issue with patient persistence, I guarantee Gianna will go back to losing her shoes!
These sorts of practical approaches to habit forming, are, I think, the sorts of suggestions and comments that MaryAlice was looking for in her original post. I'd love to hear your thoughts here. How do you approach habit forming with your young ones? What habits do you think are essential for a young child (pre-school or early school age) and how did you approach instilling these habits?
- Even Temper
- Perfect Execution
Dash, our 4 year old, has been wrestling with understanding the infinite and the Holy Trinity. At the most surprising moments he'll ask a question that I need the Summa to answer. I was not aware one needed a degree in theology to be a mom!
"If Jesus is God, how was Jesus born?"
"Why didn't it take God infinity days to create the world?"
"How could Jesus create the universe if he was born from the Virgin Mary?"
"How could God create the sun without getting burned?"
It is amazing to watch these little minds at work!
Labels: kids say
On a cold, overcast, rainy, thank-goodness-it's-Friday 5 o'clock, me and my men are *of course* perched in front of the computer, listening to college football fight songs. Because dinner doesn't matter and neither does the time... but football definitely DOES.
I often tell people that I consider myself home-educated. I went to school every day, but most of the best learning happened at home with my family, in conversation and during evening story time. Once we were all bathed and in our pajamas, we were allowed to gather in the formal living room where my mother read poetry, picture books and great literature aloud.
St. Teresa, pray for us.
* The sculpture pictured is Bernini's The Ecstacy of St. Teresa located in Santa Maria della Vittoria church in Rome. Stop in and linger and expect a profound conversion of heart.
There's a "cold front" coming through southeast TX on Friday, and we're all very excited! You see, for us that means that the temperatures will drop into the low 70's from the 90 degree temperatures that we have been experiencing. I love the fall for many reasons, but it has been hard to get into the Harvest Festivals and Fall Carnivals when we've been sweating in 100% humidity (I kid you not) and swatting away mosquitos. I'm sure that those in the northeast who are experiencing winter squalls are also having a hard time getting into the Fall spirit! In any case, I had to laugh when I heard about our "cold front" on the news this evening - when we lived in the north, a cold front indicated below freezing temperatures!
Kleen Kanteens are the Steal of the day, get yours here!
Dear Alumni and Friends:
Would you please consider signing this petition to help Princeton undergrads start a new Center for Abstinence and Chastity on Princeton's campus? For many years, there has been a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Center staffed and funded by the university with a prominent office in the student center. Many students feel that this misses the mark of addressing some major problems with the campus hook up culture.
Go to the Anscombe Society blog and the petition will pop up. It takes 1 minute. You can read much more there.
Please join me in congratulating our reader (and my Princeton roomie) Kate E on the birth of her baby girl. She has sympathized with Red throughout these last nine months, and I can't wait to hear all about the HOME BIRTH! Congratulations K! Praise God for these two daughters, they will be meeting up at the Reunions bounce castles before long!
Baby N, your present is pictured here, completed just in time, and posted on the assumption that mom is staying off the 'net tonight...
Experienced parents, please look at the picture on the right and tell me, Why does my 2 year-old do this? Just this morning, Maria sat down to color with a perfectly good red and green flip crayon - those of you who have used Handwriting without Tears materials will recognize these. I returned 2 minutes later and found half of the crayon in her mouth - she had bitten sizable chunks off either end and was rolling them around in her mouth.
When she comes down with 101 degree fever the morning she's supposed to babysit, as she lies shivering on her sickbed, she will text her 13-year-old best friend. Her 13-year-old best friend has no plans, because she's 13, so she will happily say yes. Oktoberfest plans for tonight are still on!
Some other reasons to hire 13-year-old sitters?
Reason #137: She will call you Mrs. [Last Name], even if you live in the urban northeast where teenagers typically call adults by their first names at best.
Reason #89: Because she's only 10 years older than your kids, your introverted and mom-attached 3 year old son will develop a crush on her, making mom and dad's departure very easy.
Reason #174: Her own mother is still protective, since she's only 13, which means mom will drop her off, come in to say hello, and be home nearby and on-call throughout the night. Effectively, I have an energetic 13 year old PLUS her mother who has already raised 3 good children.
Reason #2: Because babysitting is one of a few jobs she's old enough for, she's more than delighted to have a job and will approach it seriously, with zeal, freshness, and respect. She plays with our children better than any sitter we've had.
Reason #1: She costs at least 30% less than late-teenagers... it's like buy 2 hours get 1 free.
God bless you, Sarah, and all the other dear young sitters out there. Thank you for your sweetness, and for helping us keep the fun and flame in our marriage.
Now go call your 13-year-old sitter today!
My husband sent me a link to this article at EPPC, "A Skewed View of Stay-At-Home Motherhood." I found it interesting because I think that all the of the builders at one time or another would not have been considered stay-at-home moms by the census standards. I did a couple of hours of research a week for a DC based think tank while my baby napped, so I would not be considered a stay-at-home mom.
I remember taking a class called "Introduction to Population Problems" at Princeton and the professor asked the women in the class who would consider putting their careers on hold and staying at home while their children were young to raise their hands. I was very single at the time, but was still the only one to raise her hand. After class, several classmates who were just acquaintances came up to me to justify themselves, as if by the mere fact that my hand went up I had necessarily put them on the defensive. It just made me sad. There are so many options when it comes to working and child raising that I fear putting these artificial statistics in black and white can have a negative impact on young mothers.
...Is that when someone asks you, "What did you do today," and you really got none of your very-important-tasks done, at least you can still say, "I was growing my baby." :) So, on this Wednesday afternoon, I will try not to pay attention to the un-vacuumed, un-mopped floor or the fact that I have not pre-prepared the carrot soup for dinner, and focus on this wonderful reality :)
For the healthy arrival of Claire Marie.
Born on the Feast of St. Francis, Sunday, October 4th at 11:37 pm, as predicted over 1 month ago by her elder sister Gianna!
She was the perfect weight and by far my smallest baby--8 pounds 3 ounces, 20 inches long.
We are all home, recovering, and enjoying our first day together as a family.
Joanne, congrats to you on your near perfect weight guess!
I cannot believe how much time I spend on the very simple maintenance of my children's growing protein appendages. That's right, I am talking hair and nails here, People. It is crazy.
I think it is the 20-month old boy that is putting me over the edge. He has to be held down bodily for finger nail cutting and he wigs out every time he hears the sound of our home clippers coming within an inch of his head. Seriously, it is so bad that I actually took him to our Army barbershop a few weeks ago to see if things would be any better there. You must understand what a drastic move this is for us. We have the reputation amongst all of our friends and family of being the most thrifty family around, and I was willing to pay $9.50 for someone else to cut this hair.
Things looked good when we got there, they had little booster seats, Spiderman covers, lollipops. I even went to the effort of going down there with our 2-year-old neighbor boy to show Seth how it is done. Futile, awful, humiliating, ridiculous and totally insane are the words I must use to describe the next 12 minutes in that barbershop. My little man writhed, spit 3 lollipops on the floor and tried to swipe the scissors and clippers out of the barber's hands. When we were done, I paid $20 and told the man to keep the change -- that is how bad it was. Unreal.
So, anyhow, I am not looking for advice here, I am back to home haircuts for the little man, and my near 5-year old daughter has cute curly hair that is much more forgiving with my shears. I just want to say, holy cow. We talk about the importance of how we educate, discipline and love our children, but what about this simple maintenance?! I definitely took something for granted for the first eleven years of my life, holy cow. Maybe I just need to stop feeding them their ubernatural gummy vitamins? Let their little bodies atrophy and then I can avoid the drama of these bi-monthly protein cuts? Hmm..
My family got to spend a wonderful afternoon picking apples with the (very pregnant) Red and her children last week. Like B-Mama, this is one of my favorite activities, and it is great fun to share it with good friends. The funniest part was these two little guys, born three weeks apart, both of whom toddled through the orchard without complaint and happily munched on apples.
I suspect that they were having a (non-verbal) man-to-man chat -- Leo attempted to prepare his friend for being "not quiet the baby." It is not so bad -- once mom is distracted with nursing, you can sneak into the pantry and eat brown sugar to your heart's content. Also, since the first bite of the apple is the best, just eat that, and put it back in the bowl. She won't catch on for a few days. You can demand juice at all times. Once there is another baby in the house, she will give you anything just to get you to be quiet for a few minutes. The best part, though, is that if you hug and kiss the baby they will think you are the cutest thing going. This is a much better way to get their attention than hitting, which will wind you right back in your crib alone. If you can, try to have the baby's name be one of your first words, or better yet, garble the name, and the little one will be saddled with that nickname for life. Most of all, don't worry about a thing: when it comes to family, the love only gets bigger and better.
1) Autumn is officially here. Tomorrow promises great fun as our family heads to a nearby apple orchard to participate in their annual Apple Harvest Festival. We'll be taking in our loot of apples, donuts, hayrides, and folk music. Way back when on my college application to Princeton, I put my favorite activity as "apple-picking". I was totally serious. I cannot think of much else I'd rather do but climb trees and eat fresh apples. And now with my kids and husband (aka. my favorite people in the world) in tow? Just heavenly.
Please join me in praying a Memorare right now for a special mother and baby.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.