Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Yarn Along 1/30/13

Last night I finished the female companion to my baby boy striped hat.  I was knitting it up in the lacey newborn hat pattern but it just wasn't looking right.  So I pulled it out and began again, this time using the Pixy Hat pattern I used for my boy version but with the ruffled edge.  It looks super sweet and I'm looking forward to gifting it to some baby girl some day, if it doesn't get used with my current client!  Not sure what to begin next...

And reading?  Oh, we are reading.  Thanks to some extra motivation from Sarah's Read Aloud Revival, we've got a nice little stack going.  We are working our way through the stories in The Complete Peterkin Papers.  The boys have been asking for it, though I'm not sure I really care for it that much.  It's too much of a National Lampoon type of read.  You know, where things go wrong and that's the entertainment?  I never understood that stuff.  I am WAY too type A, aren't I?  Or just female.  Maybe it's a boy thing...though this was written by a woman.  I don't know but I just never got it.  I suppose I'll hold my nose and power through for the boys' sake, being the sacrificial mother I am.  Or I'll just distract them with something else when I can't take anymore.  Also an option.  

John Paul and I started the fourth book of The Mistmantle Chronicles.  I'm so glad my sister-in-law recommended these books.  They are wonderful.  Definitely intense but I'm enjoying them just as much as John Paul and there are so many gems and much wisdom in them.  It's a great series for those who are turned off by much of modern youth literature that seeks to blur the distinction between good and evil, right and wrong.  These don't do that but also don't fall into the trap of being too obvious or over simplified.  I decided to revisit Little House in the Big Woods with Michael (often with John Paul and David slowly snuggling in as well).  I'm hoping to read the whole series with him in the next few months.  It's good for both of us.  I'm slowly making my way through From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels.  I can't say it's really my thing but it's entertaining and I'll likely still finish it.

I'm loving how well the boys have taken to read alouds.  We've always read to them but the more I really make it intentional, the more I see the fruit of it.  Not only does it force me to sit and really enjoy them, but they retain so very much of it.  I'm hoping to integrate audio learning a lot more into our learning plans for next year.  Lately they've been listening to the Truth and Life Audio Bible as they play with their Legos and they LOVE it.  It is incredibly well done and oh my hear my five year old ask to listen to the Bible?  Priceless.  In the car we've been listening to The Horse and His Boy from the library.

Head on over to the lovely Ginny to see what others are working on!

P.S.  Voting is still going on over at the Sheenazing Awards until Thursday, if you care to click over and vote for me!  Thank you so much!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Self-Conscious Self-Promotion

Hey, you.  
The one(s) who nominated me for the Sheenazing Blogger Awards.  You rock.  Thank you.  I really feel weird about self-promotion but if you'd like to vote for Better Than Eden, you can click this link.  Would you consider doing that?  When Bonnie mentioned that I had been nominated, I just assumed it was in the Underappreciated category (i.e. for the small blogs) but turns out I'm in the Best Looking Blog AND the Best Lifestyle Blog categories.  I'm blushing. 

And while I very much appreciate the recognition, I think what makes me most want this award is the privilege of being able to display that awesome graphic on my sidebar.  I've got the great Fulton Sheen as part of my header.  That should count for something.  Right?

(You have to vote in each category so if you're not familiar with the names and need a recommendation, let me know and I'll give you a suggestion or two :)  Oh, and you can only vote once!

Thank you and happy Tuesday!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

WIWS - Wear It Til It's Dead

Have you ever found yourself gazing into space wondering what various housewives across the country are wearing for their Sabbath celebration?  Yes?  Well, then, you are in the IN LUCK.  Pop on over to Fine Linen and Purple to have your day made.  I'll give you a start.

First I wore this:


Which is quite similar to what I wear every Sunday to Mass in the frigid cold.  The skirt is wool and lined and gives me an ultra hip Catholic hijab sort of look.  Worth it to be warm.

Brian:  "What is that, your can-can pose?"  The internet needs to see my boots, husband.
(My last attempt at a pose he dubbed "sexy librarian."  NOT what I was going for.  I swear I was going for precocious with a side of self-conscious.)

Sweater - Goodwill
Skirt - Hand me down from a friend (Gap)
Leggings (unshown) - Land's End gray cable warmness (sort of free since I had to make a certain amount or pay shipping and I was almost there.  They were from the girls section and adding them on ended up saving me shipping which was more than the leggings so I win.  Because you care.)
 Boots - Hand me down fancies from my ninety six year old Grandma.  Not making that up.
Same earrings, same necklace as always.
No hipster glasses.  I just couldn't get with it.  But my eyes did get used to them so I'm wearing them at night.

Then I wore this:

I'm killing this outfit.  And by that I mean one day I thought I looked good in it so I decided I would wear it all. the. time.  Tell me you do that, too??  I wear it any time I have to do anything that involves seeing people who don't share my house and I think people are starting to catch on.  And I realize it's not even a great outfit.  I bought the jeans in October and they are now close to rippage stage since I've been wearing them nearly every day this winter.  

Jeans: Levi's from Kohl's
Boots:  The other hand me downs for Grandma.  You can't tell but these ones are brown.  She had them in black AND brown.  Because she rocks.

After nap time we risked the pathogen-laden children's play "museum" for our return to Sunday Funday.  The boys played while I prayed that by some act of divine intervention we would remain unscathed by the germs.  God help us if we get sick again any time soon.  

Home again to dinner, reading, kiddos in bed, and I am beginning to hear the Dowager Countess calling my name.  I bet she's got some awesome boots.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Seven Other Ways To Build A Culture of Life

Today tens of thousands of brave souls will be marching in Washington to witness to life.  
God bless them.  It will be frigid cold and it will be a long day.  It is an important work that they are doing and how I wish I could be there, too.  I've only been to one March in my life, unfortunately, but it was a powerful experience.  Someday, in a different season of life, I hope to be there again, this time bringing my children and husband along.  (Actually, what I really hope is that we don't need to march ever again, right?)  For now, I have to build a culture of life where He has put me.  There are so many ways that we can witness to the dignity of life in "little" ways and it is these little changes that have the ability to spread and change the culture.  These little acts can make people stop and think and perhaps be that little seed planted within lukewarm hearts that reminds them that every human life is precious.  

Be not afraid.  Don't be afraid to talk about abortion or any life issue.  A well-placed and charitable status update, meme, or comment in the grocery line can change a mind and, quite possibly, save a life.  Don't be obnoxious and pick and choose what you post or say carefully but don't allow fear to silence you.  And don't hide behind the "preach the Gospel at all times only use words when necessary" thing (the thing St. Francis never really said).  The point behind that is that our lives must be a witness not that we should shut up and never speak the truth.  When babies are dying, perhaps words are necessary.  

Don't give in to the "at least they're not dead" mentality.  This mentality says that as long as we keep the unborn baby alive, we're pro-life.  Survival should be the bare minimum, right?  Every baby not only deserves to LIVE but to THRIVE.  They deserve to have their needs met and to be treated before, during, and after birth they way we would like to be treated.  Treat every child and baby the way you would like to be treated.  Don't laugh off the suffering of babies.  

Recognize miscarriage as a very real death.  If you believe that the unborn child is as much a person as a child outside the womb, with the same value and dignity, then treat it as such.  If it is your baby, have a funeral Mass, bury their body if you can, do not be afraid to talk about your child.  If it is someone you know, send a card, make a meal, have a Mass said, send flowers, or call them to express your sympathy.  

Stop complaining about your kids.  Whether it's on Facebook or every time you are out with friends, resist the temptation.  I'm NOT saying to deny that mothering is hard work, sometimes excruciatingly so.  And sometimes that needs to be expressed in the right setting.  I'm not talking about having lighthearted fun about the sometimes ridiculous work of parenthood or simple joking around.  What I am saying is that no one is benefitted when you whine about your children or the sacrifices of parenthood 24/7, especially that young person who is facing a crisis pregnancy who happens to see your status or your own little one who will remember mom talking about you to her friends.  Be different.  Use your unique voice to celebrate the dignity of your children.    

Try to avoid using the line "as long as they're healthy" when referring to birth, children, or anyone, really.  It's offensive to those raising special needs children.  I remember reading a blog somewhere long ago from a mother to a special needs child expressing how hurtful that line could be when she was awaiting the birth of her child who they knew had some disabilities.  If they're not healthy, then...what?    They're not as glad to have them?  They're not worth as much?  The unanswered implications of that seemingly benign phrase undermines that EVERY life has dignity, even if they're not healthy and gives muscle to the disgusting eugenics push in the culture and the medical community that encourages the aborting of special needs children in the womb.

Grieve with those struggling with infertility.  Many many couples carry the heavy burden of longing to welcome a child into their home but for whatever reason have not been blessed in that way.  Don't wave it off and try not to give unasked for advice.  Pray for them.

Celebrate and help those who are welcoming a child through adoption.  Throw them a baby (or kid) shower.  Give what you can to those who are adopting internationally.  The costs are ridiculous and many of these families need help to save these children.  Even if you don't know anyone personally, there are organizations like Reece's Rainbow that allow people to help specific orphans and families raise the necessary funds to give these children a family.  Pray about whether your family is called to adopt.

What would you add?  What are some concrete "little" ways that we can build up a culture of life?  I keep thinking of more but I'm going to stick with the seven for now and maybe add on in another post. 

Please pray for all those marching today and then head over to Jen's for more takes, probably of the much less intense variety.  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

When to Cut the Cord

Nope.  Not a euphemism.
I really am talking about when to cut the umbilical cord.  

I have become convinced that one of the greatest things parents can do to help their little one thrive outside the womb is to make certain that their care provider does NOT clamp the umbilical cord immediately after birth.  Clamping the cord almost immediately upon the birth of a baby is a routine intervention in the birth process that truly has no scientific basis and yet it is one of the norms in the medical model of birth.  Sadly, it deprives the newly born child both of an easier transition to life outside the womb and optimum health…possibly for years to come.

Basic biology helps us understand how it all works.  The unborn child does not breathe oxygen.  They are completely reliant upon that umbilical cord to "breathe" for them.  The umbilical cord pumps oxygenated blood to the baby from the placenta and that blood contains the baby's nutrients and "air."  At the moment the baby takes its first breath after birth, the process BEGINS of the baby's lungs breathing air for the first time.  Those are some crazy and important moments for that baby.  In the meantime as their body is figuring out how to breathe, the umbilical cord is STILL pumping vital oxygen and nutrients to the baby.  One of the worst things to do for that baby at that moment, especially one in distress, is to immediately clamp that cord that is providing them vital oxygen.  But that is what is routinely done.   

In fact, the placenta and umbilical cord contain up to one third of the baby's blood supply at the moment of birth.  This means if the cord is clamped immediately before that blood flows into the baby, that baby is deprived of their own blood.  Babies whose cords are allowed to pump have much lower anemia risks and higher hemoglobin levels for THREE months.  They have higher iron levels for SIX months.  This is important stuff.  This is the SAME blood that is chock full of those ultra important umbilical stem cells that offer so much potential for cures and healing.  It's the same blood that you can pay someone thousands of dollars to freeze and store in the event that your child needs it some day.  But many have theorized that the diseases that the blood is being saved to cure could be PREVENTED by the infusion of these cells after birth, the way nature intended, rather than being thrown in the garbage or frozen for later use.  If you've ever seen an animal give birth, you'll understand what we're talking about here.  After birth, the mother FIRST begins licking and rubbing her baby to stimulate him and warm him.  It is only after a bit of time that she chews through the cord and delivers the placenta.  There is no rush and the rest period immediately following a birth is critical.  People who breed horses will tell you that it is imperative that the foal is allowed to receive all the cord blood and that it can affect the health of the foal if he does not.  

We have not even begun to understand the importance and power of the umbilical stem cells but I think it is vitally important that we not mess around with depriving babies of these amazing cells.  That is exactly what happens when the cord is clamped right away.  All of that rich blood is either thrown away along with the placenta or it is sold for research and the placenta sold to cosmetic and shampoo companies without the parent's consent or knowledge.  (I do admit I find it rather funny that people are disgusted with the idea of seeing or consuming a placenta but yet have no idea that the shampoo and makeup they are slathering on their bodies was made with someone else's placenta.  But that's not weird.)

So, what to do if you are pregnant and you want to make sure your baby receives all of their own blood?  Talk to your doctor or midwife.  Make sure they KNOW that you do not want the cord clamped until it has stopped pulsating and is limp.  Do not ask if you should or can.  Be nice but firm that this is what you expect.  Put it in your birth plan if you have one.  This is your baby and you have the right to ensure that they receive all their own blood.  If your provider dismisses it, then perhaps you should find a new one.  Make sure your partner or doula knows to remind them right before the baby is born of your wishes so that in the "routine" of things, your baby's cord is not clamped prematurely.  I've  had to be pushy with doctors in the delivery room who wanted to blatantly ignore the parents' request.  Once the cord is done pulsing blood through it, it can then be clamped and cut as normal.  This can most definitely be done with a cesarean section without problem.  

One of the happy side effects of waiting to clamp the cord is that it slows down the rush rush rush that seems to pervade a hospital birth.  Everyone (including baby!) gets a chance to breathe and relax.  The baby can be placed right on mom and nurse right away (if he or she desires).  This has the added benefit of helping expel the placenta and facilitating the mom-baby oxytocin bond.  These moments are so very precious!  (And yes, those, too, can be had with a cesarean.)  There is NO need under normal circumstances to whisk the baby off to be weighed and doused with eye ointment.  Let that poor mother who has been longing to meet her baby have her moment.  Let HER be the first one to hold her baby.  When you wait to clamp the cord, the nurses and staff have no choice but to wait a few minutes and let baby and mom have those long deserved immediate post birth moments.  And everyone learns to just breathe a little more.  All those other things can be done after.  Your baby deserves to have all of his or her own blood and it will make a difference.

The difference: 
See that cord just a few moments after birth?  Still full of the baby's blood.

Luke's cord after waiting.  Completely different.

More Resources:

And there's tons more out there.  Here's hoping every baby gets the chance to receive all their blood and receive the best start possible.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Yarn Along - First Stripes and a Non-sweater

Well, now I feel right fancy that I knit up my first stripes this past week.  
Definitely not as difficult as I had made it in my head.  I'm looking forward to doing something with even more colors and seeing if I can keep all the skeins straight as I knit.  And like with most other things I knit, I probably didn't do it exactly correct, but I'm not sure anyone would ever know.  I used this Baby Pixy Hat pattern and soft wool.  I have a doula client due any day with what we think is a boy.  But just in case last night I cast (casted?) on for another newborn hat in a more feminine heathered lavender shade using Ginny's pattern (again).  Always so fun waiting for a babe to make their entrance!  

In the background there is the sweater I began that will never come to fruition.  See, when I knit things I don't really calculate how much yarn it's going to use.  (Because I'm lazy.)  And sweaters?  They take a lot of yarn.  When the yarn you choose is $15 a skein and you realize that about six inches of the sweater took up a full skein, you are a smarty pants and realize that if you finish said sweater, it would cost more than your wedding dress and your most expensive shoes and pretty much any other item in your wardrobe combined.  And then you realize that probably isn't the most prudent decision in the world.  And most likely ten minutes after finishing it it probably would've been spilled upon or snagged anyway.  But that sweater I had in my head sure would've looked cute.  I now realize why hand knit clothes, especially those made with quality yarn, are so pricey.  Back to Goodwill I must return.

I just started Ree Drummond's From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels.  It's an easy cute read so far.  I'm excited that I have a few books queued up for when I finish this one.  Yesterday I opened up The Peterkin Papers with the boys and read a few chapters with them.  I bought this at a school closing sale and it's one of the ones we've been meaning to get to.  These frigid cold days are perfect for snuggling up with a few little boys and a book, I think.  Also a cute read and has a certain style that is a bit hard to wordy to read aloud but we'll keep at it anyway.  I'm also determined to keep reading lists this year marking the books John Paul reads, I read, and those we read aloud as a group.  I printed out an easy template to fill in as we go and I hope we can be disciplined enough to take the measly few seconds to write things down as we read to have as a record.

What are you knitting or reading or creating these days?

Pop over to Ginny's to see more!  Have a wonderful Wednesday!  Oh, and edited to add:  Click on over to Bonnie's to nominate your favorite Catholic bloggers for the first annual Sheenazing Awards!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

MyFertilityMD - A Review

(Note:  I am not being compensated in any way for this review*.  Also, I'll be talking about fertility-related things so if words like cervix and mucous freak you out, I advise you to go ahead and turn this one off.  ;)
*though I certainly wouldn't say no if they offered.

You guys, I am SO happy to share this newest advancement in fertility awareness!  MyFertilityMD is a new app that was released a few months ago by the folks at .  MyFertilityMD is a tool for charting a woman's cycles so that it can be determined whether or not her body is fertile on a given date.  Then, depending on the couple's present mindset, they can try to achieve or avoid a pregnancy using that knowledge.  I cannot recommend it highly enough for those looking for an up to date, simple, and most importantly to me, healthy and moral method of family planning.

It seems that MyFertilityMD is mostly based on the Creighton model of Natural Family Planning, a method that is 99% effective and scientifically sound.  The app, however, also combines the best research of all the methods, making it the most comprehensive tool out there that I've seen.  It is a method that uses the signs of a woman's body to determine her fertility.  It is knowledge, pure and simple.  Using modern methods of natural family planning ELIMINATES the "need" for dangerous pills, abortifacients, risky surgeries, synthetic barriers, or powerful artificial hormones being pumped through a woman's body.  Unlike these other methods it is also environmentally sound.  It is a method of living that respects the way a woman's body was designed and does not seek to "fix" her with chemicals or surgery.  

The app, get this, eliminates the need for paper charts and tiny stickers!  (Of course, this means no more two year olds stealthily affixing little white baby stickers to the furniture, the walls, and their various body parts so there is that loss.)  The charting is all done on your smart phone and BY the app.  No stickers or paper charts and no hiding the markers from your two year old.  The ones you've been using to compensate for the fact that you're too lazy to buy new stickers.  The same markers that will be found by said two year old and used to "decorate" your brand new white duvet while your husband sleeps seventeen inches away.  Not that that has ever happened here.  I was just...imagining that that might happen.  At someone else's house.  

But, ahem, back to the app.  All you do is put in your fertility signs, which takes about twenty seconds or so a day and the app charts it out for you.  Bam.  You're done.

Some of the things I (and maybe you will) love about the new MyFertilityMD app:
  • You have 24/7 access to a real doctor for any questions or concerns that may pop up.  Did you read that?  Try calling your normal doctor at 8 p.m. with a question about your mucous pattern.  "Dr. Smith?  This is Mary.  I was just in the bathroom checking my mucous and...what?  Mary.  I saw you a few months ago?  The crunchy granola one with the weird ideas about birth control?  Yeah, that one.  Anyway, my mucous stretched but I couldn't tell whether it was cloudy or clear. and...Dr. Smith?  Yes, my mucous...Um, yes...from there....Hello?"
  • I was actually able to test this feature out last night.  I've been a bit confused on some of my fertility signs this postpartum time and I emailed the doctor through the app.  Within an hour on a SUNDAY NIGHT, I had an email back addressing my specific question.  Amazing.
  • Your charts are stored in your phone.  Or in my case, my husband's phone.  Which is actually kind of helpful when he's wondering during the day where we are fertility-wise.  Because he cares about my health.  And other things.
  • If you do happen to already work with a doctor, nurse, midwife or NFP teacher who understands and respects fertility awareness, you can email them your chart RIGHT FROM YOUR PHONE.  
  • To chart each day, the app asks you questions about your fertility signs that day.  For some reason having it laid out like that makes it simpler for me to remember the signs to look for.  Answer the questions.  It's that simple.
  • For people who use additional signs to confirm ovulation there is an option to add those to your observations, too.  Temperature, ferning (I don't know what that means), Clearblue monitor readings, and cervix positioning can all be charted.
  • They call it "organic" family planning.  Seriously, WHY have we not been using that language yet?  I LOVE that.
  • Right now it is selling for $4.99.  That's it.  Forever.  That's way less than one month of birth control pills, a box of condoms (I think...), an appointment to insert an IUD, etc.  They are NOT making money off of this. 
  • Your phone will alert you to remind you to chart at the end of the day.  I need that.
  • There are photos available if you have a question about the specifics of your observations.
  • Charting your cycle with various methods of organic family planning is an incredible diagnostic tool to treat infertility, hormonal imbalances, PCOS, endometriosis, PMS, and other health issues.  The fact that you can email your charts or very easily bring them into an appointment with your doctor, midwife or instructor means that women can be treated - and healed - that much more effectively. 
  • Let's be real.  The app looks way cooler and more modern than the old paper charts.  And since it looks cool and it's on my husband's gadget phone, he's more into it as well.
  • Lastly, I feel like it respects women and men to be able to understand their fertility.  The app lays things out simply without being condescending.  It's not rocket science but it is effective and empowering.  I really feel like being told to take a pill or get "fixed" (i.e. broken) while easier in some ways is condescending.
Some of the things that could use improvement:
  • Honestly, there are not many things wrong with this app, in my opinion.  There is a forum for discussion that at this point only has a few threads and no answers.  I'm hoping that will be remedied as questions are answered and more and more users access the forums.  
  • I wish there was more discussion on the special circumstances for charting, like when you are breastfeeding and your cycle hasn't returned and your signs are a bit wacked out.  Like where I am now.  I think perhaps they are trying to highlight the simplicity of using organic family planning but I think it would behoove them to perhaps have a special section in their informational tab regarding special circumstances.
  • I would like the ability to make little personal notes on a specific day in the chart.  In the past, I've found it really helpful to record things like mittleschmerz (love that refers to the sharp pains some women can feel when they are ovulating) or cramping or traveling or illness on my chart.  I think having that option would make the chart an even greater diagnostic tool.  
  • It would be nice if there was another option for those who don't have a smartphone.  Even being able to use a website in the same way.  Perhaps there is somewhere out there?
  • While this app makes charting a breeze, it doesn't change the essence of organic family planning.  That means that it can sometimes be hard.  If you're using it to avoid a pregnancy, both you and your partner need discipline, communication, a good measure of self control, and true sacrificial love.  No getting around that one.
Have I sold you?  
If you're not already a user of organic family planning and are sick and tired of popping strong hormone pills or wearied by the physical, emotional, and spiritual side effects of artificial contraception, I STRONGLY encourage you to begin looking into fertility awareness and organic family planning.  You deserve it.  Your partner deserves it.  And it works.  If you are already a user of some form of natural family planning, give the app a try.  I think you'll like it.

Please feel free to leave any questions or share your own experiences with organic family planning!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

This Month in Boys - January 2012

John Paul

-spent several days trying to design scuba gear out of two 2 liter bottles and a plastic tube.
-has been figuring out the melody to various hymns on the piano by ear.  My favorite is Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.
-is getting quite skilled in the art of the bedtime stall somehow always knowing the right question to ask to eke out those last few extra minutes.
-has never (and I mean that) done anything intentionally mean to anyone.  While he sometimes disobeys, it is always because he is engrossed in some task that he doesn't want to be taken from or just a bit flighty rather than intentionally misbehaving.  His heart is so pure.
-took Luke downstairs one of the mornings I was sick, changed his diaper, and got breakfast ready for his brothers.  (The diaper change was well intended but not the, um, tightest, bless his heart...I was woken  a few minutes later to "Mama, Luke went to the bathroom and there is a mess everywhere.")
-has named their boys' group "The B.O.G." (The Boys of God).
-chooses Gideon and the fall of Jericho as his favorite Bible story.


-thinks it is hysterical when he teases his mother with how old everyone will be turning this year.
-has the sweetest voice when talking to his baby Luke.  Not so much when talking to David.
-now loves to color pictures and is very very good at it.
-will forfeit dinner rather than eat something he's decided he doesn't like.
-is quite excited to be playing baseball this year.
-has learned Joy to the World on the piano.
-is quickly picking up his older brother's dramatic Irish dancing flair.
-chooses Joseph and the colored coat and the defeat of the Devil by the archangel Michael as his favorite Bible stories.


Poor sick pretzel boy

-has been giving us many a deep Theological insight such as "Heaven is very very very very very very very big."  
-still thrives on Papa time.
-is doing wonderfully on a half dose of his medicine every night with dinner.
-pronounces "piano" as "panio."  Love it.
-pretends when wearing their shirts and ties for Mass each week that they are men "and we are going to men's group" just like Papa.
-chooses "Samson" as his favorite Bible story, followed closely by David and Goliath.


-is desperately trying to expand his solid eating repertoire to include not only cat food but the pile of debris from sweeping the kitchen floor.
-is working on one heck of a molar.
-loves being carried, until he is in your arms where he proceeds to try and jump out.  The Ergo has been very helpful on clingy days.
-is our first babe to be highly entertained by throwing various objects into the toilet.  The victims have included a roll of toilet paper and a bath toy.  So far.  We've also found his socks in the garbage.
-has no problem getting right in when the big boys are rough housing with Papa.
-still has no consistent nighttime sleep pattern.  But like the others, skipping a nap or getting a poor one guarantees a bad sleep at night.
-makes the best "ooo" noise and lip face when he sees something interesting.  Then he points, wanting to show you, too.
-chooses to rip the stories out of the Bible.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Seven Quick Takes - They're Coming to Take Me Away

Bah.  I keep blogging in my head and then forgetting that I didn't really post anything in the real world.  What with the flu from Hell and homeschooling and exhaustion, and general January Blah, I haven't had the oomph to actually get anything onto the screen.  Is this year jinxed or is it me?  Mea culpa.  

Big prayer requests for you, readers.  A lovely lady called and talked with me about her son who is being tested for Hirschsprung's next week.  Hirschsprung's is what our David has and (in my opinion) has overcome, thanks be to God.  (You can read his story by clicking over on the sidebar on the Hirschsprung's subject.)  Would you please pray for them?  That they get answers and ultimately that this little baby is healed?  Thank you.

More prayers...for a dear friend and a mother to littles who is going through some big medical issues.  Another thank you.  

Wanna talk about gun control???  Please?  No?  Fine.  I've never been a big gun person and have never before owned a gun.  Last week that changed.  Partly due to this crazy legislation that will do NOTHING except make us normal people less safe.  Partly because the farmer behind us let us know that a COUGAR has been spotted in the land behind our house.  A cougar.  Yes.  And cougars aren't deterred by good intentions and shallow thinking.  But I bet if we made a law against them...

Did that make sense?  Do my takes ever?  How about a question for you?  Do the blogs you are following or subscribed to sometimes disappear and reappear in your Reader?  This happens to me and I know there's a reason behind it but I can't seem to figure out what it is or how the Blogger reader is connected to the Google Reader.  I also still don't really know the difference between subscribing and following.  Related, I've been having a hard time keeping up with blog reading lately.  So many awesome people to cyber stalk, so little time.

So...remember that word of the year thing everyone was doing?  And how God often likes to give you something that hurts, er, I mean that will challenge you and help you become more the person He wants you to be?
(I get itchy just writing that.  Seriously, I may delete it and pretend it didn't happen.)  
This should be good.  You can order my straightjacket in an XS. 

Dwija said I need a picture:

What to do when you're recovering from a vicious herniated disc, still feverish, nursing four children through the flu, and feeling generally overwhelmed?  Begin your cabinet painting.

There is no doubt I could be diagnosed with something and I ain't talkin' flu.

Quick, Take yourself (see what I did there?) over onto Jen's to see more:


Sunday, January 13, 2013

What I Wore Sunday - Hipster with a Headache

First time linking up with the Fine Linen and Purple ladies for What I Wore Sunday!  Forewarning:  I have the fashion sense of a slug.  Mostly I just wanted to show you my ultra cool(?) hipster glasses that finally arrived in the mail! 

Colleen let me in on the fact that gives a FREE pair of glasses to new customers!  And seeing that my current pair of glasses is over fourteen years old and the wrong prescription, well, I'm a smart cookie, that I am.  I was able to get a brand spankin' new pair of glasses for just the $6.95 to cover shipping.  Free market/internet/social networking FTW.

This is actually from Saturday so I'm already breaking all the rules.

Mary, do you always dress like you're going to a funeral when you go to Mass?  
Answer:  Only when I actually am going to a funeral service before heading straight to Mass.  The "Celebration of Life" for my former choral director was yesterday and a group of alumni paid him tribute in song.  It was really really good to be there and to pay our respects that way.  He was an excellent amazing man, the likes of which you don't meet very often in this life.  Our group decided to wear all black.  

Top:  Merona - Hand me down from a friend years ago
Skirt:  Express - Um, hand me down from a friend years ago
Cardigan:  Merona - Wow, this is getting embarrassing...hand me down from a friend years ago.  Quite possibly all from the same friend but possibly not.
Tights:  Old Navy and about a decade old with ultra chic toe holes to prove but not a hand me down!
Necklace:  The miraculous medal I wear every day (I can hear that yawn.)
Earrings of which I did not get a picture:  The same ones I wear every day (I'm going to get fired from this linkup, I swear.)  Gift from the adult team from my brief stint as a youth minister before the babies were born...nine years ago...

Brian had his overnight at the homeless shelter last night so I had to skedaddle from the service right to the vigil Mass.  But back to those glasses.  What do you think?  I'm not convinced.  They're actually a tad stronger than I need so I'm not sure I'll be able to wear them very much without getting a headache anyway.    

Not pictured are the bloodshot eyes, the cotton and hammers filling my head, and alternating sweat drippage-freezing goosebumps that have accompanied the last few days.  But from the amount of vomit I've read about in my Google Reader and on Facebook in the last few days, I'll count my blessings.  Also, I am not five months pregnant, despite what the photo is insinuating.

Today it's jeans and a sweatshirt and since it is 65 flippin' degrees in January I'm off to get some fresh air.  Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Rejoice in Yours Also

"Everyone who breathes high and low, educated and ignorant, young and old, man and woman, has a mission, has a work.  We are not sent into this world for nothing; we are not born at random; we are not here, that we may go to bed at night and get up in the morning, toil for our bread, eat and drink, laugh and joke, sin when we have a mind and reform when we are tired of sinning, rear a family and die.  
God sees every one of us; He creates every soul for a purpose.  He needs, He deigns to need every one of us.  He has an end for each of us; we are all equal in His sight and we are placed in our different ranks and stations, not to get what we can out of them for ourselves, but to labor in them for Him.  As Christ has His work, we too have ours; as He rejoiced to do His work, we must rejoice in ours also."  
-St. John Neumann-

Bam.  Right between the eyes.  

You, too?

I hear you.  Wearying doesn't begin to describe it sometimes, this task of motherhood.  Most days I'm far from rejoicing in it.  I grumble and stagger through it, complaining either in my thoughts and often out loud how unjust my lot is.  That this work is so tedious, so unappreciated.  And then in a characteristic fit of mania I spin around and am tempted to feel as though the work is nothing.  I should be doing some grand and glorious thing with this life, something important!  

It has always overwhelmed me the amount of people that have existed in the past, exist now and will exist in the future.  Maybe it's some sort of repercussion from being a part of a large family, I don't know.  But that God cares about each and every one of these trillions of people?  That each one of them has a story?  That each unique life is just as important as mine and has a role to play?  It blows my mind.  But God is like that.  All mind-blowing and such.  While we are limited in our capacity to love uniquely, He is not.  I can't wrap my head around it and yet I choose to believe it.  To trust that God is God.  

In the last few years He's shown me even more.  He has opened my eyes to see that yes, His capacity to love is infinite.  But if that weren't enough, His capacity to care even about the little know what?  That is infinite as well.  Because God is God.  We are told that our little decisions don't matter, that the tedium of everyday chores are just moments necessary to get to the really important things.  God only cares about those big things and doesn't have time for these silly little things with which we busy ourselves.  We even hear it from people of faith, right?  As long as you're not doing something gravely wrong, God doesn't really care.  Don't we realize that when we think this way we limit God?  It is not beyond His capacity to care about how we make decisions and even the decision that we make.  They are important to Him because He gave us this vocation to learn how to love.  That love, that real and true sacrificial love is manifested in the little ways.  His concern for even the littlest parts of our vocation is limitless.  And our response to that concern?  That response has the ability to show our love and devotion back to Him.

There are those who believe that as long as it doesn't specifically appear in the Catechism or in Scripture that God doesn't really care about it.  I disagree.  Our God is infinite and He cares infinitely about each and every beloved eternal soul He has created.  Those moments matter.  Those moments that test and try us.  Those decisions that keep us awake at night.  The ones that spark "mommy wars."  The tangible ways in which we show our husbands and children our love and devotion.  They are important.  The wiping of bottoms, the making of lunch (again?), the reading of the storybook, the eternal sweeping of the floor, the nursing of the babe back to sleep at night, the doldrum of going to a lackluster job day after day.  They are our work and we must strive to rejoice in it for it is His will, His call for our life.  Goodness, that all of these little things, these little decisions, these little chores mean nothing in the grand scheme of life?  That worldview is incredibly depressing.  If it doesn't matter then holy cow, I give up.  I'll get by on mediocrity, thankyouverymuch.  But our Lord DOES care.  That is what I will choose to believe anyway.  My desire to please Him in even the smallest of tasks of this vocation is pleasing to Him.  They are ways in which I can love HIM.   

I am far from doing this, mind you.  Ridiculously far.  But I want to and I admit I need to so perhaps that is a valid beginning.  The above quote appeared in our parish bulletin this past weekend.  I hope it blesses you the way it has me.  You are so important.  Don't ever believe you are not.  And the work you do?  That work is so important to Him, too.  We may not see it now and we may be told (or desire) to believe that it doesn't matter to Him how we do things.  But don't buy it.  Your work matters.  He cares about your decisions no matter what your vocation and He cares about the ways in which your love for Him is manifested in your specific situation.  May you always know that your work, however humble the task, is filled with dignity and worth and may we all do our best to rejoice in that work for love of Him.

St. John Neumann, pray for us!

P.S.  I think my saint for the year has found me :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

An Epiphanytide Daybook's a real thing, promise.

Outside my window...
Snow!  God was so good this year.  We got a tiny bit of snow a few days before Christmas then it snowed on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.  It was wonderful!  Right now there is only a few inches left on the ground.  The two middles are outside playing.

Thankful for...
Everyone's prayers for my silly back.  And my chiropractor.  And Brian and my mom who helped out so much while I was lying like an invalid on my floor and hobbling around the house.  

That as hard as things sometimes are with four, those older moms really weren't lying when they said it would get easier.  I see the light at the end of the tunnel and it is glorious.

For strong menfolk who generously give of their time and muscles to help us bring big heavy things into our home.

Oh. Aaaaaand...wait for it...TRADER JOE'S IS COMING TO OUR TOWN!!!  Not just the area or anything but the same town in which my very family very much lives and five minutes from where my very much husband very really works.  I'm not even making it up or delusional.  I think they finally took my gazillion "requests for a location" seriously.  You local people all owe me a big thank you which can be given in the form of a Trader Joe's gift card.

Thinking about...
Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Did you hear Sarah's big news???  Holy moly.  God is incredible, isn't He?  Always outdoing Himself when we ask for His blessings!  I am just so thrilled and shocked and overwhelmed and ecstatic for them.  Brian may have to hold me back from buying a ticket out west just so I can give her a real life hug and bring her like three dozen freezer meals.

We started lessons back up yesterday without a word of complaint from the oldest and only a small whine from the next.  

From the kitchen...
I only cooked a handful of meals over Christmas which was blissful.  Now we're back to regular life and I best be getting a meal plan for January together before it's over.  

Been doing more knitting.  And making plans for more kitchen projects.  Dare I?  
Yes, yes I dare.

To be singing for real for the first time since college.  My chorale teacher from high school passed away last week.  He was one of those legendary teachers and had a deep and profound impact on my life.  He's one of the people that pushed me to always strive for excellence, however humble the task.  He taught us to sight read music and I think I learned more under his instruction than any other of my classes.  One of my silliest high school memories involves being the lucky one chosen to climb up on a table and STAND on his stomach while he sang My Country 'Tis of Thee.  I only wish I had gotten to see him and thank him one last time before he died.  This weekend a group of us will be singing at his memorial and I, a very out of practice soprano, will be joining in.  

To get my back working again.  As if I didn't feel enough like an 80 year old woman, Brian and I are now sleeping in separate beds.  Our mattress literally has sunken body shapes in it and a hill in the middle.  It's one of the culprits behind this back thing.  I tried sleeping on a wood board underneath the pad but that just made things way worse.  (Imagine that!)  So Brian pulled David's bed into our room and I'm sleeping on that and John Paul, the sweet boy, is sleeping on a pad on the floor.  It would be nice to sleep in the same bed with the husband again.  Currently researching mattresses to be able to make that happen...

Also, there is a very real chance we may be able to pay OFF our student loans this year.  How fantastically incredible is that?  Here's hoping nothing gets in the way...

Almost finished with The Dirty Life.  Not sure what's on the docket next.  Suggestions?

For Sarah, of course.
And joining with the throngs to pray for Jen and her little one.
For a doula client and friend who will be welcoming her little one sometime in the next few weeks!
For several other friends getting ready to meet their new blessings.
For Mr. Vehar's soul.

John Paul is reading, the middles are outside, Luke is napping.  Do you know that I can actually hear the furnace going??  These moments are getting rarer and rarer in this home, I tell you what.

Around the house...
Ugh.  Christmas decorations are still up but yesterday I boxed up the Advent things.  I'm getting to the point of being ready to take the rest down.  And I finally vacuumed this morning and yesterday after not being able to for over a week.  I feel like my house could use a vacuum at least every other day.  Is yours like that?  Or maybe I'm just that much of a neat freak.  I see everything.  I used to look down on people who paid someone to clean for them but now I would totally think about having someone come if only a few times a year to give each room a deep clean.  That is, if I had money I didn't know what to do with.  

A few of my favorite things... 
 Downton Abbey
Hearing John Paul pick out songs on our new-to-us piano (finally!)
David being an absolute doll lately.  God is so good.
Luke's signing and babbling and dancing and how he holds up his arms during the Responsorial Psalm at Mass
Intellectual conversations and respectful internet discussions

A few plans for the rest of the week...
The boys' classes begin again tomorrow.  Not looking forward to that and not sure we'll enroll for the next semester.  It is a great program but it makes for a really long day for me with the little ones whom I have to entertain and keep out of trouble for the five or so hours we are there.  Luke misses his nap and it just throws everything off.  Perhaps next year we'll be able to pull it off better.
Chorale practice!
Mattress shopping and maybe a trip to a special store downtown for some special supplies for my special kitchen project...

A picture thought to share...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Celebrating Epiphany

Happy Epiphany!  
We've been busy recovering from crazy back issues (just me) and visiting with Brian's mom who came in for a visit (all of us).  Last night we had our Epiphany party and pageant with some of our fellow homeschoolers.

Proud little shepherd

There were other children there but I try not to post pictures of others without permission and I'm too lazy to get permission.  So there's my two singers.  David and Luke stayed home because David wasn't feeling well.  Do you know how EASY it is to take two older children somewhere when you're used to four??  Oh my goodness.  I actually...wait for it...had a CONVERSATION.  I know.

After Mass this morning these gifts showed up under the tree! help us grow in wisdom!  Get it?  Wisdom?  Wise men?  To search for Jesus?  Yes?

David is convinced that these and the pajamas from Christmas Eve were left by "Father Christmas."  Apparently we are British now.

Love this face.

Perfect books for John Paul on Leonardo's inventions.

These Golden Books are super sweet.  I love that they look beautiful and are board books! 

After dropping my mother in law off at the airport we had an Epiphany treat at a real life restaurant!

Who knows how to get a meal for a family of six at a fancy restaurant for $9 plus tip?  This girl.

Home again home again to do our traditional Epiphany house blessing...


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