Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Getting Ready for Baby! (an update, at last)

I have not written anything here in many months.  To my two faithful readers, I apologize, ha ha.

The big news is that we are finally pregnant again - 23 weeks pregnant now!  We found out on the second morning of our trip to Austin that I shared photos of in the last post.  It couldn't have been more perfect - a very rare husband/wife trip away (first one ever since kids) and finding out that we'd actually brought one along with us!  That was beautiful to me.  This baby is looking great, everything measuring normally, feeling lots of kicks and movements, and she looked great on the ultrasound we had two weeks ago.  That's right, she - of course, what else did I expect?  ;)  Good thing I don't have to change my blog name or buy any baby clothes, ha.

But I am definitely planning for and joyfully anticipating this baby, and I thought I'd write down my plans here, because I need to write them somewhere anyway!

The topics:
Nesting (aka cleaning the house)
Things I Need (aka minimalism with a baby)
Getting Ready (aka freezer meals and prep for postpartum, birth supply list)
The Birth Plans (at home, like, intentionally this time)
Hopes for the Babymoon
Consciously Embracing and Enjoying (in case this is my last baby; I will turn 37 this summer, ack!)

First off, I want to say this: pregnancy following a loss is very challenging emotionally.  Lost is the innocence of pregnancy before a loss, where everything is guaranteed to turn out fine.  You know now that things don't always turn out fine, that babies die, and so you worry more.  Every milestone seems like a huge accomplishment: heartbeat on ultrasound at 7 weeks, heartbeat with doppler at 12 weeks, moving into that second trimester measuring normally at 14 weeks, beginning to feel movements, 20 week anatomy ultrasound, first kick felt exteriorly by husband... age of viability coming up soon for us now.  The truth is, loss makes you realize that while each milestone is an accomplishment that improves the odds, there is no guarantee until you have that baby in your arms.  Even then, there's no guarantee... you could lose them still in a week or a decade or once they are adults.  A loss causes you to think things through more deeply like this, to consider thoughts you'd never had before.

Sometimes you feel a twinge or ache and think, "Good or bad?  Normal pregnancy growth feelings, or something is horribly wrong?"  This was worst before about 14 weeks for me, but it still never fully leaves, apparently, until the baby is born safely.  Losing a baby I never met, then experiencing what I define as being borderline infertility for ten agonizing months, and now going through this next pregnancy with hopes for the best as fears linger in the back of my mind and heart... It is all worth it for the chance at having a new member of the family join in to experience life on earth with the rest of us.  But it sure isn't a simple walk in the park!

Going past my lost baby's due date and not being pregnant again yet was awful.  Not even knowing if she was actually a girl, wondering if we chose the right name, is a mind game that doesn't go away.  How can you be 100% sure of a feeling, a dream, when you never met and held and saw that tiny person?  You can't; I don't care how good you think your intuition may be, you just don't know for sure.  Knowing a gender for sure might make grieving more... tangible?  Not easier, but less like a bad nightmare and more like tragic reality.  Then the unexpected difficulty of passing the dates of finding out she had died and the actual miscarriage date... while pregnant again, and thankfully at the start of the second trimester, when we do have more hope that a pregnancy will continue with a good outcome... but wow, I expected it to be sad, but it was worse than I'd expected.  I had been generally happy and thankful and relieved to finally be pregnant again, as I had been starting to fear that it was not really going to happen again.  But when those dates came... those dates marking when I lost my baby that I never held or saw, dates that I felt the emotions and nobody really even knew because nobody remembered that as a significant date - or if remembered, my lost baby was not acknowledged or memorialized in any way to me in mid-December, one year later... which dragged my emotions into a bad place of, "Did she really even exist?  If she's barely tangible to me, then of course she's not to other people; get real, you expected somebody to send a card or mention her name or something?"  I understand it is different for a person who was seen, touched, known even if briefly... my baby was none of those, and if I cannot remember her tangibly, then I cannot hope that others will acknowledge her... if she was a her.  See what I mean?  It was a traumatic ER experience, losing my fourth baby, and maybe it was like a mild PTSD.  And again, nobody expects a "thinking of you on the anniversary of your emergency hospitalization" card... so really why was I expecting, hoping for some kind of acknowledgement?  I wasn't going to announce the anniversary date to people; I only mentioned to a few others who I knew would understand that it was the date of the loss... other people who have lost, too.  I am glad to say that it was only about a week that I was dragged down into that sadness, and now I know that I might go through it again next December, and if so, it will not last.  And I will have a new baby in my arms and consuming my time and emotions then, thankfully.  God is so good - I didn't have to go through that anniversary with an empty womb.  I have also had to tell myself that I don't need to expect anyone else to validate my lost baby to me - she is remembered and loved by me on that date, and nothing else matters.  The quote "a person's a a person no matter how small" comes to mind here.  She was so small that nobody ever saw her, yet I can still choose to remember and acknowledge her life myself.

Something I have learned in this is that I want to acknowledge other miscarried babies to their mothers... I know moms who have lost babies to miscarriage before, but have not known one to go through it while I was a close friend or family member.  Maybe I won't have to, but if somebody close to me goes through a miscarriage in the future, I will take my own experience and think about what helped me in the immediate days - like the people who watched our other children for us, those who sent cards or other small gift remembrances... but also, I am going to try to remember the date of the loss.  Maybe the following year that mother can feel a little better when somebody mentions her baby to her and that he or she is being thought of on that anniversary, or to receive a card acknowledging the day in a "thinking of you" kind of way.  These kind of tangible items are very meaningful to those of us who lost babies of whom we don't even have a photo, a piece of clothing they wore, maybe not even a final resting place - or an unknown on whether we actually buried our child's remains or not.  The tangibles are not what is truly important because we can't take them with us... but in the imperfect presence of life on earth, they can help to soothe the sadness.  If the awful thought can be alleviated in a mother's mind of, "am I the only one today who is remembering what happened on this date?" then that is huge.  Even if it is just a text, a passing verbal comment, a little brief note... something I plan to do for any of my close friends or family if they have to go through a miscarriage at some point and I am aware of the date, even the month during which it happened.

So, trying to focus on this fifth baby and all the love and hopes I have for her, for preparing the home and family for her birth... what are some of my plans?  What do I need to get moving on and have done between now and June?  Looking forward with excitement to this has been another healing part of this journey, and it is one I am anticipating with lots of joy!

~Nesting~

I am already having the urge to clean everything lately.  My key areas:

* Kitchen cabinets: I already got rid of most of my plastic food storage containers, replaced with glass Pyrex containers with lids that I got for Christmas!  I really want to go through all the plastic cups and water bottles that we seem to accrue somehow and purge most of them.  More glass and real dishes, and the junky stuff will get tossed.

* Hall closet: I have four bins in there that can probably be partially purged or at least moved to the attic.  I mean, do I really need to be able to get to my high school yearbooks easily?  Or my childhood Snoopy collection?  If I can get those bins out of there, I will have room for more bins for the girls' shoes: we now own every single size imaginable, as Caroline's feet are equivalent to a woman's size 7...  Did you know girls' 5 is the same as women's 7?  I just learned this.  Maybe I can also use the space for the next season's clothes bins.  The weather changes gradually here, where you need shorts for a couple weeks and then back to jeans and long sleeves, so this would be helpful.  My kids have too many clothes for each season, and as such, I can't just stuff both seasons into their drawers and closets.  And I don't have the time/energy to sort through all the bins and decide what to get rid of; usually I will just pull out what I consider to be a non-overwhelming number of items each season and the rest get put back in the attic.  I don't mind excess clutter that is out of sight, it is just the process of trying to sort through it all.  Cecilia has had, I kid you not, 30-40 shirts in each of the last few season's bins.  I do not know how this happens.  I only pull out maybe 15 of the nicest shirts, after a few seasons of overwhelmedness with so many shirts she couldn't close her drawers.

* Craft closet: Oh, who am I kidding; that's just not gonna happen.  It all stays hidden in there anyway.  If I needed more space for craft stuff, I would need to purge it... but as my girls get older, they will like the access to scrapbook supplies and everything else in there.

* Dining room: We are getting our chairs!!  Five custom-made oak chairs and a bench to go with our half antique/half custom made oak table.  We decided to go ahead and use some Christmas gift money to buy oak instead of pine - it costs a lot more but is a much harder, sturdier wood that will match the table and stand the test of time.  We'll be able to seat at least nine people at our table this way, 11-12 by pulling up a couple more chairs.  I love squeezing everybody in at a big table at family gatherings.  This is the most we will probably ever spend on furniture, ha ha.  I love our assortment of hand me down/gifted furniture.  My mom recently mentioned that her old coffee table that we have in our den is from Ethan Allen.  Good job, I told her - now I'm never getting rid of that thing!!  I don't care if the finish is rubbed off the edges; it is super sturdy and smooth, and what's a coffee table when there are better things to spend money on?  It is functional and well-made.

* Speaking of furniture, we got a huge new couch, which has been on the list of home improvements for awhile.  It is a sectional, but not the redneck kind with built-in cupholders and made of fake leather.  It is high and deep, which I love.  And it cost less than the chairs and benches will, yet it was the firmest one we sat on when looking in at least five different stores.  Now all we need is a taller floor lamp, since our old one looks pitiful trying to peek over the higher back of this couch!

* Toys: Time to go through them yet again and decide what to give away.  Obviously it is not that I have toys they have outgrown, because there are more little girls coming along to move into the right stages for all the toys we have... it's just too much.  Like my plastic cup cabinet in the kitchen, ha.  Caroline just got a closet shelf organizer installed - she and Chris put it in together.  So that will help them keep their Calico Critter and dollhouse things organized, plus make more room for her hanging clothes and the hanging clothes that are between Cecilia and Lucy's current sizes.  I already keep at least half or more of the toys in a latched cabinet and let them switch out occasionally.  But once that cabinet is full... I'm not going to find another space.  The cabinet is at full capacity and I have still not quite evaluated whether all the Christmas gifts have made it into there yet, if they are not some of the current toys out in rotation.  The board game shelves are completely full; I should probably purge those and see which ones we have somehow yet never play (first on my list to go would be Trivial Pursuit; I'm awful at that, ha!).  But really, do we need real Monopoly and The Simpsons Monopoly?  Do we need multiple memory matching games?  Do we need a dedicated set of "Old Maid" cards, or can we just be normal people who use the regular deck of cards to play Old Maid?  There are some fun strategy type games that I know we will like having as the girls get older, and so I want us to only keep the ones we really want and enjoy.  The craft kit and art supply shelf is also packed full right now.  Hoping for a rainy day soon where maybe some of those will get enjoyed and moved out.  The books... I did a purge/reorganize of adult books and school books when we moved our schoolroom last summer.  The kid books: Caroline has a huge bookshelf full of her chapter books.  She reads a LOT, so this is good, but there is only so much room.  So we took a little shelf out of her closet and moved it into the little girls' room to start moving some of the shorter chapter books onto for Cecilia.  The picture book shelf in their room: full.  So that is one I need to go through and cull.  I am a book snob, trying to keep only quality literature around - because why keep the really lame stuff when there is not room?  It is part of my homeschool philosophy; surround them with quality literature as a natural way to instruct them in language arts.  So bye bye, Hippo Lemonade; I don't think I can stand reading you one more time, even though you were mine in my childhood.  I will, however, keep Moose, Goose, and Little Nobody, because really, some lame books are just beyond any others, in a class by themselves.  But these are a major exception and not the rule - as primary educator to these children, I make very considered choices on the books we own and keep.  And part of that brings me to the next item...

* School stuff: We have lots of book and paper material in our house that normal people don't have.  Most people don't have books and materials for grades K-5 on shelves and in bins and file cabinet drawers in their homes.  This takes up space, and is another reason why I can't keep lame children's books or grown-up books that are never referenced or read.  To try to explain to people why I get overwhelmed easily when extra stuff is brought into my home, I mention that most people aren't going to keep in their homes every book and material they needed from their school classrooms from grades K-12.  But I have to save the 5th grade materials for when the younger kids get there.  Lots of books, as we do a pretty literature-based way of learning.  So... I need to plan 6th grade for Caroline, obtain the needed books, and then gather up the old 3rd grade materials for Cecilia, so I will be ready for August.  And move out anything we don't need or use.

I am sure there is more stuff to clean and organize... and I may not get to it all.  I still have a school year to finish up here and would like to make a dent in planning for next school year before the baby is born!

~Things I Need~

Not much that I need for this baby!  I have plenty of baby girl clothes in all sizes and seasons at this point.  A few items...

* a new sling.  My Maya Wrap sling has been through three babies/toddlers and was used when I bought it, and the fabric is getting slick where the rings are.  This makes it harder to adjust and keep it tight.  I always loved padded ring slings with babies under six months, but that would be hot in the summer, plus they seem to have gone out of fashion and are hard to find.  I loved the Over the Shoulder Baby Holder brand, but I don't think they make those any more, unfortunately.  A friend recommended the Lenny Lamb slings.  They have lots of pretty fabrics, like this one and this one.  They also have soft structured carriers, maybe one of those down the road when baby is bigger, because my Ergo has a loose buckle, and it has never fit me very comfortably on my narrow shoulders... I will need to do some major research first on which type of carrier has straps that are accommodating to narrow shoulders.

* I'm considering a new rocking chair/glider.  The one we have has very thin padding on the arms, making it painful to lean against while nursing a bigger baby or toddler to sleep.  I can probably hold off on this; I spend the most time in the glider once the baby is 6-9 months and older.  I am gathering info on which ones are most comfortable and would have to decide between a more traditional glider like I have already, or a chair with no exposed wood, like this one or this one.  Ouch on the cost of that first one especially; the second one might be more comfortable to slouch over to the side in with the wings for head support!

* Evaluate diaper supplies.  We use mostly cotton prefolds, and the newborn ones are probably still in excellent condition.  The covers will need to be looked over, and the size after newborn probably needs some help, as I think my kids tend to stay in those until they are out of diapers; they never get big enough to need the toddler-size prefolds before they are three.  So we've never bought any of those.  The Bummis covers we like did start to leak on Lucy and we had to get some more; those will need to be looked over.  Probably some additional prefolds, covers, and maybe a few pocket diapers will be helpful.  I have been out of the cloth diaper market for awhile; some people are obsessed with buying them and there are tons of brands and patterns.  I like to stay pretty cheap with the diapers, so prefolds and basic covers work well, with the occasional pocket diaper or fun cover thrown in here and there.  I also love the Aristocrats wool covers for overnight, or as Chris has affectionately nicknamed them, bum sweaters.  I have a few of them and will have to make sure they are still in good shape - it has been so long since I've been changing diapers now!

Baby needs nothing else bought, except a car seat.  Again, so many new ones out there now that I will have to do some research.  I am also looking into a new "chew-raffe."  We somehow lost Lucy's; it probably fell out of the car somewhere since we took it everywhere.  I contacted the Etsy shop owner to ask if they still have that same fabric that our old one was made from, and they do!!!  So I can get this baby the same one.

~Getting Ready~

This might just be the most fun thing to plan... what will I need to prepare for the birth and the early postpartum weeks?  These are things I will need to get ready in the month or two before the birth.

First up, freezer meals.  I plan to make some double meals in the last couple months so we can freeze one and eat the other.  Some that freeze well are chili, chicken soups/stews, lasagna... I will also hopefully make some batches of chicken stock and beef stock to freeze in two cup portions to be pulled out as needed.  I'm thinking nourishing here, so the homemade stocks are the way to go.  I'm also thinking of what other foods might be best to have on hand and to ask my husband and my mommy to make for us in the early weeks!  It will be June and warmish to hot (because this is the South; you never know for sure in early June if it will be comfortable warm or stifling warm).  

Here are the foods I want for labor/immediately after:
* orange juice - good to replenish the blood sugar really quickly after delivery
Raw Cacao Candy Crunch (it is not candy; the Food Babe must've been delusional when she named it)
* During Lucy's labor I was eating some peanut butter crackers right up until maybe a half hour before she was born... those were easy to eat between contractions, so I may do that again.  Nothing worse that laboring for hours without eating anything!
* I am hooked on these dried papaya spears I have bought at our local health food store.  Those will also be easy to eat during labor.
* I'd like to have some good postpartum herbal teas ready to brew and drink.  Although iced tea might be more palatable in the heat, warming foods are good for postpartum women in those early weeks.  But I can have teas on hand to have either hot or cold.  This postpartum tea sounds good, and I'm pretty sure all these herbs are in the bulk section of my natural foods store.  This tea is more involved with more herbs in it, but may be another good option.  Red Raspberry leaf and nettle seem to be a popular ingredient in both pregnancy and postpartum teas.  It is good for toning the uterus.  Some sources say to wait until closer to the third trimester to drink raspberry leaf tea; my midwife agrees and says in the third trimester 2-3 cups a day is fine.
* Lactation cookies: not because they really work, but because they are yummy, ha ha.  There is anecdotal evidence that oats, flaxseed, and brewer's yeast help with lactation, but I don't think women have to eat certain things to produce milk.  Can't hurt to have them and they taste good, though, so I may make some dough up ahead of time and freeze into balls to pull out and bake easily.
* Something to consider: placenta encapsulation.  Going to ask the midwife about this as she knows people who will do it for you.  If you don't already know what that is, then you probably don't want to find out, either!

What else to prepare?  Well, I get to shop for birth supplies, and I am so excited about that!  Didn't think it could be fun to shop for postpartum mommy hygiene products and that sort of thing?  Well, maybe I am weird then, but I had a great time perusing this website the other day... since we are planning a home birth, I will need to buy some supplies for the birth and postpartum that the hospital would typically have there as part of my delivery fee.  Midwives typically tell you specifically what birth supplies they want you to have on hand before labor begins.  Some of the necessities will be:

* waterproof mattress cover (if you plan to give birth in your bed - which I do - as soon as labor begins or even beforehand to be ready, you have somebody put a set of sheets on the bed, cover them with a waterproof cover, and then another set of sheets.  This makes cleanup simple after the birth - strip off the top sheets and the waterproof cover, and you are ready to climb into bed on fresh sheets with your newborn!
* towels
* postpartum hygiene supplies for me - I'll spare you the details, but I hear that Depends are much better than those hug pads they send home with you from the hospital, ha!
* Peri bottle... and maybe some nice soothing herbs to soak in the water first.  There are also lots of postpartum herbs on the In His Hands site both for steeping for tea and steeping in a warm bath to be soothing in the days after birth.  Those might be nice!
* Speaking of herbs that are soothing, I made several of these herb-stuffed pads when Lucy was about to be born... and I only used a few with her as I had no tearing and minimal discomfort.  I realized I still have the rest of them in a ziplock under the bathroom sink... you soak them in boiling water and then use them on top of a regular pad.  I wish i could remember where I found the recipe... I have no idea what herbs are in them!  I made them by stitching together unbleached coffee filters with he herbs in between.
* nursing bras: I could use a few new ones that aren't all stretched out.  The Walmart and Target ones only last so long.  I really liked the one Bravado bra I had; maybe I will get one more of those.  It was very comfy and supportive and lasted through the entire time Cecilia nursed (3.5 years) before it got really pitiful.
* My midwife will let me know if we need to have supplies like chux pads, etc.  Some midwives will have the clamp for the umbilical cord; others will include it in the supply kit that you order.

~The Birth Plan~

It's pretty simple, I suppose.  The basic plan is to call the midwife, and she and her assistant come over.  They support me through labor and birth while Chris and I do most of the work ourselves.  Chris will be the one supporting me and helping to actually deliver the baby; the two of us can actually catch the baby ourselves with the midwives just there in case of problems.  We did it once before ourselves, so we know what we're doing, ha ha - but having trained professionals there as a "just in case" is the smart way to go here.  Being at home, as I have been through the majority of all my past labors, I can walk around, shower or soak in the bath, eat and drink when I feel like it, lay on my bed or the floor, etc.  I have a big exercise ball we can blow up for me to sit on if I want, helping with opening up the pelvis.

When the baby is born, she will go to my chest and stay there - no bath.  We will cut the cord after several minutes, maybe even after the placenta is delivered.  The baby will be weighed at some point, then put back skin to skin with me.  It will be warmish, being June, but I will cover her with a hooded baby robe so that she stays warm on her back while having it open in the front for more skin to skin contact.  And I plan for us to stay that way for a good long while!  I'll eventually put a diaper on her at some point.  Those postpartum uterine contractions as the baby nurses and signals the mother's uterus to contract back to its normal size... those get more and more intense with every birth.  They are doing their job well!!  Those alone are reason enough to stay in bed for a good long while!

I will have some snacks and easy to grab foods on hand for the midwives... in case labor is long, or they are there right at a meal time.  I plan to ask them first what kinds of things they'd like me to have there.  I also have to consider that labor could be in the middle of the day as opposed to the night (one can only hope - Lucy's daytime labor and birth was so much easier than Caroline's 11 pm birth and Cecilia's middle of the night wakeup call/rush to the hospital!)... if so, the kids will be awake and I will call my mom to come up to hang out with them... probably taking them outside to play or on a walk or to the park for the actual birth part, but keeping them nearby so they can meet their sister pretty soon after she's born.  If it is the middle of the night, we will probably just let them sleep and not worry about it! My mom ca come here and sleep in case they need her, ha.  The midwife likes there to be somebody assigned to the care of the other children, somebody who is not helping with the birth.  My second labor was only 3 hours (maybe less?), my third one was 6 hours.  Unless it appears that there is any trouble, then I assume this one will not be too long either.

I would really like to hire a birth photographer for this time.  Maybe that sounds weird, or frivolous, but I have a few reasons.  Lucy's birth has no photos associated with it.  Not one was taken until maybe 45 minutes or more later in the hospital.  And she was born in the caul - how cool would that have been to have captured in a photograph!  So, I kinda want to make up for the lack of photos from my last birth... and if super lucky, get to have another in an intact bag of waters, maybe?  Don't know how likely it is that this will happen in subsequent births.  Second reason is because I have no photos of my fourth child.  Having that loss makes me want to celebrate this baby even more, to be able to treasure this time, and photos as a way to remember will be a good thing to have.  And what if this is my last baby?  Might be my last chance for birth photos.  These photographers do this very tastefully, I might add... while they capture the actual birth, it is of the baby and not like a legs spread wide kind of angle.  They are good at shooting in low lighting with no flash, and at capturing the emotion and beauty of the scene rather than any gory details.  I have seen the work of one who lives in the NW GA area, and she also would do a maternity photo shoot at  Berry, which I would love.  Again, maybe it is a frivolous use of money, but it is about treasuring this baby and the process that I didn't get to have with the last baby and that I only get to have a few times in my life, that each baby will only go through once.

Chris will take at least three or four days off work after the birth, and we will just bond as a family, with me resting and caring for the baby and him taking care of the other kids' needs.  Then once he goes back to work I will want family and friends to help!  My mom and mother in law both typically come and stay in the few weeks after the birth; their support is crucial and so appreciated so I can continue to recover, nurture the baby and start off with a healthy milk supply, while the other kids are cared for and meals are made for all.  I am excited that this baby is due when my mom is off from work during the summer - she's a preschool director - so maybe she can stay for a whole week or more.  My only problem... I don't have a guest bed, and I know that does not help with encouraging people to stay and help very long. :/  The kids giving up their beds won't even help - Lucy's is on box springs on the floor under a low loft, Cecilia's is in the low loft that probably isn't even rated for adult weights, and Caroline's is a loft that is six feet off the floor.  Not the easiest beds for grandparents to sleep in.  Otherwise, we have an air mattress.  Maybe I should think creatively about sleeping accommodations in the next few months...

That brings us to...

~My Hopes for the Babymoon~

This is the part where I always say, "With this baby, I'm going to stay in bed at least a week..." and then it never happens. :(  Modern society says get back into things, "back to normal," as soon as you can.  Many women overdo this and don't give their body enough time to heal and recover from the marathon they have just been through.  I did better this last time with Lucy, but I still didn't quite stay in bed very much.  Many cultures traditionally have the mother stay in bed for a month, her only responsibility to care for the newborn, while other women would do the cooking and caring for the house, and make sure the mother is fed.

I will, realistically, have to leave the house for a pediatrician checkup within the first week.  Luckily, my midwife comes back to check on me at home, first in the next day or two after the birth and then again at about six weeks.  I will also of course plan to baptize the baby pretty soon after birth, by 2-3 weeks ideally.  So that will be a trip to the church, but we can be flexible and not tied down to a specific date and time, since my brother will be doing the baptism!  One month before, he'll be here doing the First Communion Mass for Cecilia and the other second graders, since we don't have a priest right now and they need extra help from visiting priests with things like that.  That will be the first big chance for people to come see the baby and celebrate, but we will keep it casual with lots of food and no real schedule other than going to the church for the baptism and coming back home to celebrate.

What I really would love is this: if some nice, grandmotherly type woman would buy the house next door to us that is for sale, or ask the people who own the house on the other side of us (which is also empty yet not for sale) if she can just live there temporarily.  Somebody who can cook nourishing meals, a grandmother who makes homemade chicken soup from her homemade bone broth, who grows vegetables and brings chickens with her and makes her own herbal remedies and homemade non toxic cleaners, who bakes and cleans and has the older children cheerfully helping her when they aren't just running wild in the backyard and having fun... yeah, okay, that's quite a dream, huh?  But that would be awesome.  Maybe I will be this imaginary lady when I'm grown up, if my daughters want me to come help for an extended time after they have babies.  I know many women say they don't need or want help after a birth, that they feel bad asking for help for more than a few days... but I'm all for it, the longer the better.  Ideally, every new mom would have somebody staying with them or living next door who could cook for them and clean and care for basic needs of the other kids, so the new mom has that time with her baby... the time she can never get back, those newborn days, to just enjoy the new baby, to spend time with the older children joining her in bed or on the couch to get to know their new sibling and have mom read them books, talk, other quiet activities that often get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday living, where mom is often busy with cleaning and meal prep and keeping on top of everyone's activities and schedules... with my first baby, I got cabin fever, because I thought I was "supposed" to find things to do; plus I was used to being busy and having daily things to do - like going to work early every day!  More and more I find that I just want to relax at home - we don't have to busy and going places every day.  I want to teach my children to be content and be able to be at rest and find the joy in just simply living, rather than living for the next big exciting entertainment that is being orchestrated for them.  The more we are entertained, the more we expect it and cannot find peace and rest and contentment in just being, in having free time.  It starts with the parents - we have to model that it is okay to not have something on the agenda, someplace to go, most every day of the week.  Especially during these newborn weeks, it is important to me to model this.

So, we plan to be done with this school year and I hope to have a big chunk of next year planned out already.  If it is possible for me to just take it easy with baby for the days/week that Chris takes off from work, then have my mother and mother in law taking turns here for additional time after he goes back... if I can do at least two weeks of just resting with the baby, not leaving the house other than the ped and then the baptism after maybe 2-3 weeks... that would be heavenly.  Especially if I don't get dressed in "real clothes" for two weeks.  With my first, I wanted to get out of the house as soon as I could - because I didn't know any better.  I was used to leaving the house daily for work.  I want to do what is best for my body and the baby at this point, not for societal expectations of "getting back to normal" or anything.  It is time we will never have back, and I really want to try to rest and nurture my baby with my complete attention for a few weeks!

So this is where I will hope for help with cooking and cleaning in particular, and general guidance of the older kids throughout the day.  This will be the beginning of their summer break, and they will be thrilled to only have daily chores and otherwise unstructured time to peruse their own interests like art/craft things, playing outside in the mornings before it gets too hot, all-day Calico Critter marathon games in Caroline's room... Lucy will be thrilled to have her sisters available to play more since they won't have any school reading to do.  I will be able to read to her more while resting in bed with baby, too!  And maybe I can spend some of that time pre-reading Caroline's books... she gets ahead of me like lightning with her books she reads for school.

The meals I want to prep ahead and freeze or have made for me during this babymoon period:
*homemade cream of chicken soup
*chicken rice soup from the new LLL cookbook
*lasagna (full of veggies and grass fed beef)
*beef and bean chili - easy to freeze!
*chicken stock
*homemade yogurt!
*more that I will hopefully remember in time to make ahead - brain not working fully right now! ;-P

A couple blog posts that have parts that I like:
Fourth Trimester
Creating your Babymoon (not really feeling the "plant allies" and crystals or whatever; the practical advice is good, though)
This book looks great!

~Embracing~

This kind of goes with everything already written here... to take the time to slow down, recover and rest, and consciously enjoy the miracle of a newborn baby!  To take the summer months of June and July slowly.  To take lots of photos of this baby girl!  The "embrace" part is why we plan this as a homebirth, why I want a pregnancy/birth photographer, why I want to stay in bed with baby for the most part for two or three weeks.  I don't know how much longer this season in my life will last... but it is guaranteed to be over within ten years, likely less.  I will be 37 in August, so this new baby season is not too far from fading for me forever.  And we have no guarantees, as Mary Karol's life taught me.

I know I am forgetting some things... like how I am exercising during pregnancy... but this is long enough that I am going to post it now and maybe add to it later as my list is refined so that I have my hopes for the rest of the pregnancy/birth/postpartum all outlined for my reference!

Friday, October 02, 2015

Long Time, No Update...

I'm often finding myself too busy to update the blog... I really should make a grocery list right now, or sweep, or do laundry, or something otherwise useful, but I will throw out a little update here.  We are doing very well, just busy!  Chris and I went to Austin and San Antonio, Texas - first trip alone with no kids ever, since before Caroline was born over ten years ago.  He had a business trip in Austin, and I attended the evening events with him - snacks and drinks the first night, a full dinner and party with live band the next (and they played Bon Jovi and Metallica, so it was pretty awesome).  It was a conference for computer geeks, so it has a Star Wars theme:


Lucy turned four a few weeks ago... getting so old.  She is still nursing once a day and the trip didn't stop her, of which I was glad.  She is almost done, I know.  She can finish up at her leisurely year-long pace if she wants.  The girls all stayed with my parents - we just dropped them off on our way to the airport in Atlanta.  I had not flown since 1997!!!  Honestly, it wasn't much different.  I expected a much bigger hassle, but we had plenty of time to spare and even rode the train (which sadly does not sound like this anymore - but I pulled this audio up and listened on the train for old time's sake) to all the concourses - to visit my brother who was passing through on a connecting flight, and to see the newest concourse, the international concourse F.  With Hartsfield being the only airport you are used to (I used to hang out there in high school), most other airports seem pretty lame.  The flight to Austin announced that we would be landing at gate 6.  Just gate 6.  Not E6, or B6.  Just 6.  So, flying was fun, if not a bit unnerving after so long.


Look who we found!

Giant Chupa-Chups and Mentos... only in the international terminal of the airport...



On the plane, trying not to be scared to take off
San Antonio was lots of fun.  We stayed on the River Walk and explored there on Saturday, along with visiting the five mission churches in the area.  We drove there from Austin in a rental car.  A yellow 2015 VW Beetle, ha ha.  Our hotel was in a historic bank building downtown.  It is lots of fun to walk down the River Walk - way too many restaurants to choose from, and ice cream shops!


hotel lobby - the Drury Inn








The Alamo









Cathedral in downtown, directly across from our hotel.  They do a light show on the front of the building every night!


prayer intention in the cathedral

Creepy monkey thing that asked us to "please play with me" while we waited to get ice cream cones

ice cream while waiting for our boat tour ride!
So, what else have we been up to?  Lots of feast day celebrating this week.  We had the feast of the archangels on Monday, St. Jerome on Wednesday, St. Therese on Thursday, and the guardian angels today.  Here are some of the meals we had to incorporate the saints on these days:

Feast of the Archangels... apple chicken, angel hair pasta, steamed carrots, salad, blackberry cobbler


The cobbler is for St. Michael the Archangel... legend says when he kicked Lucifer out of heaven, the devil fell in a blackberry bush, spoiling them so that they are no good to eat after this date every year. 

Lion pizza for St. Jerome, said to have befriended a lion.  Tapioca starch pizza crust, yum!


French Onion soup for St. Therese of Liseaux... homemade beef bone brothsimmered since Monday to make this!  Topped with sourdough and raw gruyere that was under the broiler for a minute.



Our homeschool co-op is going along nicely.  We finished geology and began anatomy this week.  I am in the nursery with the preschool group this quarter, so I brought some angel coloring pages and watercolor paints as well as a little angel craft mobile to make and hang up there.  Thinking of more games and activities we can do with them, maybe some songs and rhymes to give them a little preschool-type experience.  Next quarter, beginning in January, I will be leading a unit on writing and literature.  We'll be singing parts of speech songs, playing games to learn prepositions and adverbs - which they can begin adding consciously to their writing to add interest - reading from a chapter book and practicing restating/rewriting things from memory, and more that I haven't fleshed out yet.  I will need to start prepping folders for each kid sometime.

the earth's plates


volcanoes!



Our Little Flowers Group is also off to a good start... only seven girls this year, but they had fun at the first meeting playing games and they are enthusiastic about earning badges.  Next week our meeting will be followed by a family cookout!  Fire pit, hot dogs, marshmallows, and everybody bringing sides to share.



I'm also busy typing up the LLL of Georgia Area Conference program booklet - that will be the first weekend on November!  The conference is so much fun; I haven't missed one since Caroline was 13 months old!  It is being held at Jekyll island, so we will be making it an extended trip to explore the area a few days after as a family.

Hmm, what else interesting?  Chris pulled the sliding doors off the tub last night.  They need to go.  the gasket underneath was all rotted out.  Maybe it will be easier to keep it clean without the doors there against the edge of the tub.  He worked his butt off though, until close to midnight last night!  Oh, and yesterday I got to explain to my older two what circumcision was... yeah, that was fun.  They were absolutely horrified - and I didn't go into graphic detail.  It came up as we were reading a book about the life of Jesus, and it mentioned that on the 8th day following his birth, he shed his blood for the first time at his circumcision.  So Caroline asked what that meant, why he shed his blood as a newborn.  I figured they needed to know about it sooner or later, and not having any brothers, this may be the most teachable moment I get.  I told them that it was a rite the Jews did on all baby boys, but in the Bible Paul explained that circumcision is not necessary for salvation and that it is under the old Jewish laws like not eating pork and such, not the new Christian faith, so it is not something that we are bound to have done to our babies... but that many people still practiced circumcision today for non-religious reasons as well.  Figured I wouldn't go much into the cultural American aspect of it with them!  I was actually surprised at how horrified they were; I figured they'd just say "gross" or laugh or something.

Lots of things going on this month... lots of chances for fun outdoor activities, like apple picking and such.  Busy month of October!

Well, dinner time is here, so I better go cook!  But I will leave you with something that may just be more terrifying than circumcision:
The mascot on this sign is the stuff nightmares are made of.  This is near where Chris grew up.  Is it a man-butterfly, or an angel, or... what???  Why is his face painted??  I'm terrified that if I went in there, a real person would be dressed up like this inside.  good thing I don't need quick cash!

Okay, that would be mean to leave you with that as the last picture... so here are Lucy's birthday flowers.  Got them from a local farm that sells at our farmer's market.



Thursday, July 09, 2015

Discouraged

This is a long journey, and it is very difficult to get away from the feelings of discouragement.  When you are discouraged over a big thing, like wondering why your body can't conceive after losing a baby, then little discouragements - while they may seem insignificant in comparison - seem to build up, like piling extra pounds onto an already existing burden.

With what would have been my due date approaching in a few days and an empty womb, seeing other discouragements just leaves me feeling drained.

Little things... my tomato plants are getting yellow from the bottom up.  Not much on the Cherokee Purples or the Rutgers, but the Romas and the other variety we have planted are yellowing quickly.  There are over a hundred green tomatoes out there, but how many will make it before the plants die?  So many possible explanations found online for what causes this - too much water, too little water, blight, fungus... and all we can do is try something and hope it helps.  If it doesn't, then it is discouraging.  So it might be a bacterial thing or blight, and there are some sprays we can try on the plants.

Little things... my kids arguing with each other.  One pestering the other, one screaming at the other.  The thought that creeps in of how maybe you don't deserve to have more kids if the ones you have are acting like this... that you should take care of what you already have better somehow.

Little things... like trying to put forth an effort to keep groups going.  Our La Leche League meetings have low attendance, and interest from others in becoming Leaders along with me will crop up and then is gone.  I cannot even count how many people I have had who are interested in becoming a Leader and then aren't.  I have had one co-Leader in the seven and a half years I have been doing this, and she moved after a couple years.  Yet there are many nursing moms who will pay for a $150 breastfeeding photo shoot... but they won't come to free LLL meetings.  It is discouraging to run a group when there is little interest.  Larger towns don't have this problem - they have many Leaders and more moms coming to meetings.  The idea is to find a common ground with other moms, meet friends, get support in an area that often is saturated with formula-feeding and people who think breastfeeding is gross.  It is discouraging to try to get a group together and maintained on any topic.  My Little Flowers group looks like it has no interest this year.  My girls want to keep doing it; I want them to keep doing it for the virtues and Bible verses they learn, for the camaraderie with other Catholic girls, for growing in the virtues they are learning as stepping stones towards Heaven.  I do not have a leadership type personality (I am actually a phlegmatic/melancholic), so it takes inner determination to take on these kinds of things for me and carry them through.  So it is discouraging when they fall apart, or when plans are made and only one person shows up at a meeting... although I can't feel like my time has been wasted if that one mom who comes to a LLL meeting is helped in some way.  Those little here-and-there moments when a mom tells me she is so glad LLL was there so she had some support while nursing her baby... those counteract the discouragement.  It is still hard to keep trying and not just give up when there is very little interest or even negative responses to anything you are putting effort into.  I have been telling myself not to take it personally - that it is not necessarily me or my leading style that keeps our LLL meeting attendance low, for instance... because taking it personally would be that much more discouraging.  Trying to stay positive is hard, but it is what I have to do in order to keep moving forward.  And remembering that if something is helpful to just one other person besides myself, then it is worth it to keep going.

And as silly as this is, seeing other pregnant moms, or hearing people talking about how easily they get pregnant, is discouraging.  Inside, I am screaming, "It might not always be so easy - I always thought myself how easy it was for me, but it can change on a dime!  Don't take it for granted!"

And my dreams have been so vivid and intense lately... so detailed.  People and places from long ago playing into them.  Feeling like they really happened right after waking up.  I can recall all these little details in them immediately and then I forget everything.

I have to be encouraged by the doctor I am seeing who will look at things like hormone levels and not just brush off concerns.  One who knows the normal rhythms of the body and expects that her patients know their own bodies too.  I have known about this doctor for years (and went to high school with her daughter) as being one of the few in the state who is knowledgeable about natural family planning - rather than prescribing birth control as a band-aid fix to everything.  I am glad that a friend encouraged me to go ahead and see her when I was just considering it.  I am encouraged that I was able to say, "I think my progesterone might be low," have it tested and confirm my suspicion, and then have my body respond favorably to a natural progesterone supplement to support my hormones during the appropriate time.

But I still have to make myself focus on the encouragement rather than the discouragement - big and small.  It takes will to do this rather than to give up.  What happens when people can't make themselves find some encouragement?  It is hard to do when you're just not feeling it.  It is hard to try to stay happy and positive.  It is hard to even pray about it all - but I am thankful that I know that even when a prayer doesn't "feel" sincere or deeply moving or profoundly spiritual, that doesn't matter... it is not the feeling you get from it, or a happy feeling about God, but just plugging away even when you don't feel it... because a commitment in any relationship is more important than how it feels moment to moment.  So just trying - just doing things even when they feel pointless, like nobody cares, like they will bear no fruit, like they aren't working... just plugging away anyway.  It is hard... life is hard.  But it is all I can do, really.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Six months...

 This is what six months looks like.  What one month until my due date, yet not pregnant, looks like.
 The trees are in full foliage over our church's Respect Life Prayer Garden.  I still wait for new life...


Praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy on my rosary, I noticed the reflection of it in the monument which reads, "In memory of the unborn and all our lost children."


Just keep moving forward... one day at a time towards July... please, God, pull me through this desert.  Mary Karol, please beg God for a new sibling for yourself... for us... one that we can keep with us for awhile.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

I had a bunch of paragraphs in my head but now that I sit down to write, I think most of them are gone.  I will try anyway.

I went to Atlanta last weekend to attend a Catholic homeschool conference on Friday - it was free, and there was some encouragement from the speakers and some good deals on some books I can make use of with the girls.  My heart wasn't totally in it, as with most things lately.  I am trying to get motivated to do some things.  That sounds vague, I know.  My girls' Little Flowers girls group will be having our end of the year tea party this coming weekend, and I have been trying to get into the planning of that and do some fun things there.  So I started making up menu cards, made certificates for this year for the girls who earned all their badges, and sewed the remaining badges on Cecilia's sash.  Gotta do Caroline's soon.  I have been feeling like I let Little Flowers slide this year and haven't been making it as fun as I could, with a little extra thought and effort... it is hard because I was leading the December meeting when I started miscarrying, so of course that meeting was crap... I knew in my heart what was happening as that meeting began that day, even before confirming it at the ER with an ultrasound.  I still haven't gotten an ultrasound image from the hospital; I know I want to have it but I don't have it in me to get it right now, either.  I am still finishing the school year and then want to throw myself into reorganizing the rooms in the house and planning for next year, and I hope to find the motivation to get myself occupied with that.



When you lose a baby and are approaching what would have been that baby's due date and you are still not expecting another baby, you have to take comfort in the little things.  While in Atlanta, I went shopping with my mom, looking for a dress for her to wear at my brother's ordination party.  The one in the above photo is one she bought but doesn't think she will fit into in a month, so she let me try it... and it works.  Score one for a new dress with no effort.  Then we found a few more cute summery dresses at Steinmart, so she bought them for me.  Retail therapy - being able to buy regular clothes is a small perk, but it not only makes me happy to get a new dress, but also deeply sad, because I shouldn't be fitting in regular dresses right now.  I should be hugely uncomfortable instead.  But the dresses are nice, so there's that little bit of comfort.  One thing to be able to enjoy.  Thanks Mom for the dresses.



So, I saw a good doctor in Atlanta who understands how hormones in women work (why is that such a hard thing to find in a doctor???), and she tested my progesterone levels for the post-ovulatory phase of my cycle.  She found that my progesterone was low - ding ding ding, we have a winner!  Finally, proof to what I already suspected due to symptoms I have been having.  So I will go on progesterone supplements next cycle for ten days and stay on them once I get pregnant, if I ever get pregnant again, that is.  feeling pretty pessimistic about that currently.  Feeling pretty mad at my body too for it failing on me... I have been taking a vitamin for months now that is supposed to help correct low progesterone.  Many people report success with that.  Not me, apparently.  If my progesterone is supposed to be 10 and it is 7.5 during the luteal phase, then I think it is pretty safe to say that this has not helped me, so I am going to stop taking it and switch to a raw food based prenatal multivitamin.  I am wondering if I should add some fermented cod liver oil too.  I am pretty angry that I have been eating so healthy along with this supplement specifically targeted at my problem, and it is not helping.  It makes me want to throw in the towel.  I am not eating processed foods at all, I am eating very few grains (and when I eat them they are soaked or sprouted, generally)... basically I am eating the best I can afford.  Apparently I spend like 21% of our income on groceries - and that's not including stuff like toilet paper; that's just food.  So we will see what the progesterone does.  Maybe it will be the answer after six months, three doctors, and lots of reading on nutrition.  Along with continuing what I am doing otherwise...



...like buying grass fed beef.  On Saturday in Atlanta, I went to a farmers market to pick up half a cow I ordered.  A quarter of it just barely fit in my deep freeze, and the other quarter was for my friend's family.  We each got 60 pounds of ground beef... and much, much more, as you can see by the above glance at my freezer inventory.  I see that I forgot to include the kidney.  I don't know what to do with beef kidney, but I am sure I will figure that out.  Lots of organ meat from grass fed animals - see?  Nutrient-dense diet.  Somehow it's not enough, though.

Here is the full deep freeze.  Since this picture was taken, a pound of ground beef and a chuck roast have been used.  Up next: bacon liver meatballs and sausage patties I will attempt to make from ground beef and heart.  And probably some bone broth.

So this post is also a photo dump from my phone.  This is the entrance to The Real Mandarin House, family restaurant of my youth.  When my family went out to dinner when I was a kid, there were no requests made, because we knew we were going to the Mandarin House.  And that we would be getting Happy Family whatever dinner.  Sadly, it has closed, after over 30 years.  I noticed when we were going to Trader Joe's.  Now I will mourn it alongside the former Wolf Camera.
 I have been swimming laps at the pool at Berry, I am sure I have mentioned before.  Lately, there has been a water aerobics class taking place in the other half of the pool on Thursdays.  Now, it should inspire me to see these old ladies moving around instead of wasting away with inactivity, but it is actually a little depressing... you are swimming laps and look over to see ladies in their 70s wearing black tennis shoes and shorts in the pool, slowly transferring weight from one foot to the other like they are going in slow motion to the beat of Tina Turner's "You're Simply the Best."  Somehow that is depressing to me even though it is impressive at the same time to see them dedicated to exercising there every time.  Maybe it is depressing to me because I can still move faster than that and one day I won't be able to do so.  When the instructor calls out, "Now let's cross the pool!" and they all jog in slow motion the 20 foot distance through the water like it is the culminating difficult part of the workout, I just feel kind of blah inside.  But then, I feel like that about lots of little things lately.  baby birds are depressing... why do their babies live?  How come they have babies with no problem?  Then I felt bad for thinking that about them when a crow stole the eggs from our backyard mockingbirds.  But yes, the pool... they play music for the water aerobics class, and it is often the same set of songs, unfortunately.  Rod Stewart makes frequent appearances.  Or whatever an auditory appearance would be called.  I knew I never liked Rod Stewart, but I never realized just how much I disliked "Maggie May."  And I always realized how much I hated "Forever Young" and have had to be reminded repeatedly, unfortunately.  To make this more torturous, this is a pretty new pool with state of the art speaker technology... there are speakers in the pool.  Like under the water.  And when you are swimming, every time you come up for a breath, you hear the distant speakers across the pool, and then you go back under and hear the tinny, no-bass blasting music.  Brain confusion ensues.  Rod Stewart does not belong in my swimming pool, thank you very much.  I try to pray the chaplet of divine mercy while swimming and can get through it twice with time to spare... when the music doesn't distract me.  Try praying the chaplet with Elton John's "Crocodile Rock" playing underwater... it probably borders on being sacrilegious.  I never realized how truly annoying those Wah wah wah wah wah's could be.  A few weeks ago, I thought for a split second that an Alice in Chains song was starting - I liked their music in high school, so I was almost excited, and then realized that if they did play Alice in Chains, anyone swimming laps would probably just give up in despair in the middle of the pool due to the deeply depressing music and just drown.  Thankfully it turned out to be something else that was annoying enough to keep up my motivation to keep swimming to work out my irritation. 

a break for a photo since that paragraph is already way too long: Lucy cuteness!!!


My baby is too big!  I am feeling very close to her lately, and she is so very sweet... when she's not whacking Caroline in the forehead with a baby doll, that is.  I am feeling very loving to her despite those kinds of things.  And very protective, too.  Also of Cecilia... she had a headache a few nights ago, and I was secretly freaked out and paranoid that she had a brain tumor or something... because do seven year olds normally get headaches bad enough to make them lie down crying?  Then Chris reminded me that the brain has no feeling, so it couldn't be that.  Then Caroline was 25-30 feet off the ground in our maple tree, and I was like, eh... I guess you should come down; that's kinda high.  My motherly protective instincts are whacked right now.

So anyway, back to the boring story I was telling about the music at the pool... tonight, the music was a little different.  I came in and Rod Stewart was ending, yay!  Then they played the Rolling Stones, so I was cautiously optimistic.  Some other not-awful song... and then... Styx.


Oh well, they were almost doing well before they plummeted to a new low.  At least it wasn't "Lady."  Then they might have had to clean up puke from the pool, ha.  I fully agree with Homer Simpson here.  But then they redeemed themselves a bit by playing Tom Petty.  It was a song I didn't recognize, but you can't mistake Tom Petty's distinctive central Floridian hick accent localized to the Gainesville/Ocala area, even when playying through tinny underwater speakers in an Olympic sized pool.  That dialect is found nowhere else.  And then they crashed out by ending with the grand finale... a Phil Collins song.  Now, I love me some sappy 80s love songs Phil Collins like "Take Me Home" and "I Don't Wanna Know."  But not the sappy cheesy Phil Collins songs of 1990 such as the one that was played, "Another Day in Paradise."  It makes me think of "We are the World" or the New Kids on the Block's "This One's for the Children."  Gag.  So there is my analysis of the senior water aerobics class, because I know you really cared deeply about that.

A new printer!  It was so big that we put it on the bottom half of the desk and moved the books to the top shelf.  Soon this will all go in the living room somewhere... not exactly sure yet how I will manipulate everything to fit nicely in there.  The old printer was leaving random marks on all the papers.  It was time for a new one.

I am truly so excited about my brother's upcoming ordination.  I am hurting that I won't be pregnant at it and so I am mad that it will be tinged with sadness for me... I told Chris I shouldn't have so arrogantly assumed I would be pregnant again by this time, but he said it's not arrogance, it is logic and reasoning based on several past pregnancy experiences.  But I know it will be a very exciting weekend: the ordination, followed by a dinner reception, and then his first Mass.  If you are in the area, some to St. Jude for the 2:30 Sunday Mass to see his first time ever as a priest celebrating the holy sacrifice of the Mass!  I might just cry, and I don't usually cry at weddings, but this is my baby brother who I sort of helped to raise.

The ordination is by ticket only.  There are only four men being ordained, but the tickets are still quite limited.  His three nieces age five and under are becoming lap babies for the event so they won't have to use tickets.  An ordination is a truly beautiful event, full of all the liturgical splendor that is the Catholic faith... and I hope it will light a fire in my soul because I have been feeling pretty bad at praying lately.

Random food pictures... Trader Joe's sells these canned clams.  We made clam chowder a few nights ago, with raw milk, yum.  So it wasn't as raw after I heated it, I guess, but I did so gently, not to a boil.  Yes, that is clam juice in the Pyrex... some of it from the cans goes in the soup.  Better than Mountain Dew (okay, so that's crab juice, but still, it's funny, and I thought of it as I was reserving the clam juice):



I kept looking on the box for the "serving suggestion" message, but apparently they don't intend for flowers to be a suggested side dish to these enchiladas.  I used to eat these like once a week when Caroline was little... it was like a treat to myself when she was napping.  I randomly bought a box earlier this week, either to reminisce, or because I was so surprised to see it at Wal-mart that I couldn't resist and bought it out of amazement.  Sometimes I get in a rut with what to make for lunches every day... apparently this will save me one day in the future.  Me, not my kids.  So I will still have to use half my brain to figure out what to feed them.

Real men do their own car work.  Don't trust a man who doesn't know how to do an oil change, that's my expert advice.  I'll close by bragging on my awesome hubby, who fixes the car.  And is left-handed.  Just like Phil Collins.  And now you have a random trivia fact to revel in the knowledge of.  Yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition... my standards must be falling or something. And now to work on Tim's slideshow for his ordination party reception... like I should have been doing in the first place.  The night is still young, and I am already up to about 2009, so only a few more photos to go (by few I mean 50, probably).