Thursday, July 09, 2015


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... 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).

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Daybook for May 26, 2015

Outside my window... hearing the frogs in our little pond.  It's evening and the kids are in bed, and now I have a chance to write a bit.  

I am thinking... about too many things right now.  We are finishing up the school year and I need to start thinking about planning for the next one, and I just am not motivated.  I am kind of in a rut.  I also want to make some plans to redo the school room as the dining room and get a new table to put in there.  Waiting to finish the school year before thinking of moving furniture around.  The plan is to tear off the wallpaper that was here when we moved in, paint, get laminate flooring put in that room and the den, and put all the school stuff in the living/dining room.  The current school room will get the new table, a china cabinet, and the old radio.  My grandaddy's speakers are too big to move in there, so they will stay with the school stuff... we have to decide if we want to get a different china cabinet or if the one we currently have will work.  Current dining table will go, and the school table will just move in there.  I am having memories of measuring furniture and making a to-scale diagram with my roommate of how we'd arrange furniture in our dorm room for the next year... thinking I need to do the same for this rearrangement of rooms too!

This is where I think we will get the new table from: Simply Southern Home Decor.  I want one that is 7 feet long and 42 inches wide.  Okay, I really want one 8 feet long, but it would be too tight in the room I want it in.  I want the basic style, the first one at that link, with five chairs and a bench for one long side of the table.  And I want to paint the room grey with bright white chair rail and crown molding.

I am also wanting to plan some trips to the Creative Discovery Museum this summer, because we have a membership pass for all of 2015.  And I want to take the kids to play in the fountains downtown for an end of the school year party, maybe get together with some other homeschooling families to do that in a couple weeks when we are all done.

Baby Tim, less than 2 months old.  He was disgruntled in all of his first holiday photos.  Here, he plays baby Jesus with our mom holding him in the church nursery pageant.  I am considering captioning this one with both "Early Vocational Sign" and "I hate halos!!!" 

And I am thinking about my brother's ordination, coming up in just one month!  That is about the only thing I am motivated on right now - I am making a PowerPoint slideshow of old photos and such.  I am going to smatter some of my favorite silly photos of Tim throughout this blog post that I am planning to include (if he and/or my mom doesn't veto them).  I wish I could get out of this blah and be motivated to get moving on some other plans... reading a book for my moms' book club which, ironically, is on planning and organizing life for a homeschool mom to make the day to day things go more smoothly.  But all I really want to do is work on the slideshow, and maybe go on vacation with just my husband and do nothing.  And maybe just go out somewhere pretty with a camera by myself and take photos.  And sit and read about planning without actually doing it.  I have thought to myself that if I could just be pregnant again, then I'd be motivated to make school plans, organize the house, etc., because then I'd have a reason to want to slowly but surely get things in order.  But even that probably wouldn't help because I have a phlegmatic personality.  It is nice that I can blame it on that when I feel lazy, ha.  I was so much more motivated when I was pregnant with Lucy, though... but that may be because it was our first year homeschooling and so I was still fresh. 
From about 9 months to 2 years of age, we would say, "Tim-Tim, do your grin!" and this is the cross-bite squinty eyed response we would get.  Baby brothers have huge entertainment value.  Sorry for the poor photo quality; this was probably taken with 110 film on a $10 camera in 1989.  We called him Tim-Tim at this age despite the random sticker with the name that my mother tried to get us to call him but in vain. 
 I am wondering...  why it is so hard to just try to live a natural, healthy lifestyle.  Okay, because I am not motivated, maybe.  If I want to feed my kids healthy foods most of the time, I can't just rely on store bread and cold cuts to be lunch.  Which means there is food prep to be done alongside our homeschooling.  I need to motivate myself to train Caroline to do some of this.  Some days it is hard to think of ideas.  Today I sauteed bok choy and mushrooms in coconut oil for myself mostly, but the kids had it on the side with some leftover soaked oatmeal bake stuff from yesterday's breakfast.  Cutting up fresh fruit takes time.  It seems like it is often 12:45 before I get a chance to start on lunch some days.  I am in a rut on meal ideas for easy lunches and recently discovered a tuna mixture to put in avocado halves - that is easy and yummy and healthy.

I hope it doesn't sound like I'm complaining, because I love, love, love to cook.  The kitchen is one of my favorite places to be, and feeding my family well is one of the most important things I can do for them.  I just sometimes wish I had a grandmother living next door who would be preparing the lunch while I take care of the little one and read with the medium one and answer the oldest one's questions... a grandmother from another century who wouldn't be microwaving boxed stuff, but cooking from scratch.  That would sure be nice!

Aww, the cuteness might make my heart explode!!

I am also wondering why the city of Rome wants to make it even harder for decent people to feed their families healthy foods.  Chris went to a city commission meeting tonight at which another citizen was applying for a permit to keep a few chickens, based on the guidelines created when we were trying to get permission to keep our hens.  I didn't go... did I mention my lack of motivation lately?... I am disgusted at the effort we put forth a couple years ago only to get turned down, and the time and energy it takes to attend meetings that take place at dinnertime on weeknights when you have children... well, let's just say that they know it is a lot of work for people to take the time to care, and they like it that way.  They like that people only make a stink when they oppose something, and that minorities who are essentially activists for a cause are easy to dishearten.  It is hard to see that your time was essentially wasted when you try to be reasonable and they tell you that you can't do what you want on your own property because your neighbors, while not directly impacted by it, "don't like the idea of it."  The man who applied for a permit for hens this time was denied - by more votes than we were, even though he had more property.  Huh, you say?  He met the recommended guidelines that they came up with for our situation, yet they still voted to not let him have any hens.  He has over two acres of land!  The only reason that some commissioners stated was why they didn't approve us is because we only have about a third of an acre of property.  One commissioner voted that we should be able to keep our hens two years ago despite not having the recommended amount of land, yet he voted against this guy tonight who has lots more land!  This man lives in a wealthy neighborhood and had a few of his neighbors, including the president of the HOA there, speak in opposition to his request.  So, the commission once again caved to what they perceive to be the majority... chickens in a rich people neighborhood?  How scandalous!  So, only three of nine voted in his favor, and I knew ahead of time who those three would be.  The city commissioner who two years ago told me that it doesn't matter if my chickens wouldn't impact the neighbors because after all, they wouldn't allow a drug dealer to live next door to me, even though that wasn't my business and didn't impact me negatively... huh???  Exactly how is it a person's "private business" to sell drugs next door to me when that increases potential for crime and traffic on my street?  Apparently she thinks that both dealing drugs and owning chickens are harmless activities that are only banned because people perceive them both negatively.  I want her to tell me the last time a chicken killed somebody, brought crime to a neighborhood, or increased the comings and goings of random people to a neighborhood (unless people were driving by to gawk at the freaks who have - gasp! - chickens in their back yard behind that fence, because we sure weren't selling the eggs to the public the way a drug dealer is selling something!)... so anyway, that got me riled up again, sorry... this same commissioner who made this comparison apparently said at tonight's meeting, "Well, dogs are domesticated animals, and chickens aren't."  Then what are they, wild?  Feral chickens?  Deep sea creatures?  This is the kind of stupidity we are up against in this town.  All I want is some fresh, non-GMO, more nutritious eggs from chickens who are exposed to sunlight and eat plants and bugs like God intended them to do.  Yet another discouraging hurdle to healthy living.        

I was so proud of this photo... taken in motion, with his Kindergarten diploma, with my at that time new zoom lens.  I loved my SLR camera and made good use of it in becoming the family historian.

I am praying...  for the endurance to finish up the school year, and in thanksgiving that I found a doctor who will test my cyclical hormone levels and will actually know if they are off and what to do about them if they are, after one doctor brushed me off and another was willing to help but didn't know about normal hormone levels unless I was already pregnant.  I will be glad to know if something is off, or if everything is normal and it is just taking longer to get pregnant this time for no particular reason.  I so was wanting to be pregnant by the time my brother is ordained... don't know why, but just so I can feel like I can enjoy it better somehow.  There is still a chance, and I sure would love to have all his newly-ordained priest friends give me and a new tiny life a special blessing.  I may just need a blessing in hopes of achieving pregnancy instead though.  I am realizing that so many more people than you even think lose babies.  I have been seeing prayer requests for a couple who were just recently in a car crash and lost their two year old as well as the baby the wife was 8 months pregnant with... how devastating.  And so many people who keep miscarrying baby after baby... and it makes me think, well, why not me too?  I haven't done anything special to deserve to avoid the same pain that happens to so, so many other mothers.  A depressing thought, and maybe I am not in the best place to do so myself, but I am praying for these families and offering up my own sadness and fears for their own heartaches.   

I am sure it will look good to have a photo of a newly-ordained priest in an Alcatraz prison cell as a child...

I am thankful... that my children have creative imaginations.  With summer vacation coming, I am starting to see those articles that talk about how to keep kids from being bored, and also the ones that say parents should help their kids learn to do something constructive with their boredom rather than expecting to be entertained by them.  Well, I guess I don't entertain my kids, because they don't come up to me and say, "I'm bored!" "Play with me!" or "Aren't we going to go somewhere fun today?"  They really don't.  Maybe because I don't play with them in the first place - that's what they have each other for!  Maybe because they have limited structure already... we do their school stuff in a structured way, but it doesn't revolve around them and scheduling most of their day.  Lucy does get bored at times when the older ones are busy with schoolwork, but she doesn't know it is boredom, and she often will entertain herself well much of the time.  She will join me in the kitchen or I will read her a book in between helping Cecilia and Caroline.     

I love this goofy photo for some reason.  By this point he had become Timmy.  Sometime while I was in college, he grew up and became Tim.  It was very sad.

This is what happens when your baby brother thinks you are awesome... he thinks your high school boyfriend must be awesome too and gets him to spike his hair for him so he can be equally awesome.

I am hearing...
nothing.  Apparently it is past the frogs' bedtime now.  Oops, I take that back.  Chris is watching Strongbad on his laptop/tablet thingy (I can't keep up with the technology; it is a "Surface" which is kinda in between the two).  Somewhere in the last decade I must have become geeky, because I actually think Homestar Runner is funny now when I hear it.

I love this one too... it makes me want to yell out "Jenga!!!" like those old commercials.

Learning at home... Cecilia made an iceberg today to see how most of it is under the water and only a small portion of it sticks out of the water, and she looked at Google Maps to see where her grandfather's father and his siblings grew up in Superior, Wisconsin.  We were amazed at how close they lived to their local Catholic church and school, to the bar that one of them owned, and to Lake Superior itself!  Caroline studied the Great Lakes this year herself and looked in to see where the town of Superior is located (it's on the "wolf head's nose", just for reference!).  We are trying to wrap up our study of birds using the Burgess Bird Book for Children... and had a real-life example of the fact we learned about crows eating the eggs of other birds as we watched mockingbirds build a nest in our fig tree, lay two eggs, and then have them both robbed by a crow, sadly.  Caroline has finished her math book and I am trying to decide if I want to keep using that program or switch to a cheaper one next year with reusable texts rather than consumable workbooks.  We only use two workbooks in all our curriculum - math and a series called Maps, Charts, and Graphs.  The Maps series is cheap each year, but the Math U See workbooks cost a lot more.

Cecilia and her iceberg.  Not Tim.
From the kitchen... I made roasted slices of butternut squash be pizza crusts tonight.  We had baked oatmeal soaked for 24 hours in raw milk, which I got at the farm in Rockmart (yes, that is a real name, and no, I have yet to see anyone selling rocks there).  I also made raw milk into yogurt and exploded a thermometer in the process... ah, science experiments in the kitchen.  In order to not kill the good enzymes in it, I only heated it to just shy of 110 degrees.  Then I whisked in starter yogurt as well as grass fed gelatin.  I made four quart-sized jars and did one with no gelatine, one with 1 tsp, one with 2, and one with 3.  The no-gelatin one was very runny, as expected, and the whey was pretty separated, but it stirred up nicely and has been perfect in smoothies.  The 3 tsp jar is very thick, but too... well, gelatinous.  Almost chunky.  but very well-incorporated, no separate whey.  The 1 tsp jar is a nice consistency - runny, but not like water.  I haven't dug into the 2 tsp jar yet.  I am afraid that I may have killed them anyway though during incubation... I put them in a cooler lined with a towel with a steaming pot of just-boiled water.  I am assuming it got over 120 degrees in there because the thermometer only went that high, and it shattered.  luckily the yogurt jars were lidded, so it was all still safe from glass shards.  I also have sauerkraut and pickle relish going on the counter... hoping the kraut won't grow mold in the process this time.  The pickle relish smells divine but I am going to let it go a bit longer; it's only been working since Saturday evening.  I couldn't find pickling cucumbers so used regular organic ones; hoping that doesn't matter.  We also got spring water from Cave Spring this weekend, so now we have that for drinking and cooking, yay!

I am pretty sure I was laughing as I took the picture because the sun was in his eyes.  That's what big sister are for.

I am reading... A Mother's Rule of Life for my moms' book club, Beautiful Babies, and Swallows and Amazons.  That last one is a read-aloud to Caroline and Cecilia and has been very engaging and makes me wish we had a lake and an island on it nearby where I could just set them loose for a week this summer.  The second one is a book about traditional nutrition for fertility, pregnancy, and beyond, recommended to me by a Natural Family Planning counselor.  I love it because it encourages eating lots of grass fed meats - especially liver, raw milk, pastured eggs, fermented cod liver oil, fermented veggies and condiments, limited but soaked grains... and fun stuff like oysters and clams.  Too bad those are hard to come by in Rome, GA.  I looked for whitefish roe at Kroger and was sadly disappointed!

And this is one I always hoped to show to his future fiance as an example of his dorkiness... darn, guess the joke's on me.

To live the liturgical year...
Pentecost was this past Sunday, one of the biggest feasts of the liturgical year.  We had 12 cookies - one for each apostle, except Judas was gone then and Mary was there instead when the Holy Spirit descended on them - and we lit a candle on each to represent the tongues of fire.  Then the kids sang Happy Birthday to the church and blew the candles out - because a "great wind" came into the room when the Holy Spirit came.  The cookies had avocados in them as the fat, and so, so much dark chocolate... this is the recipe.  

More not-Tims.  Cecilia felt sick, so she missed out on the tongues of fire excitement, unfortunately.

One of my favorite things... trying new recipes!
So adorable!!!
I am creating... Uhh, sauerkraut?  Not much else right now.  Oh, and the slideshow.  That counts.

I love this one... me with my awesome 1996 sunglasses, ha ha.  Great example of sibling love!
Around the house... See the aforementioned home improvement/furniture swapping project plans.

When he entered the seminary, my dad had the hilarious idea to give Tim the Pope John Paul II 1000 piece puzzle.  Yes, Catholics have this sort of thing in our basements.  We did this puzzle once as a family and I think it is the only big puzzle we ever did.  You can see why - we thought that if all puzzles consist of a person wearing mostly red against a solid white background, then it just wasn't worth the frustration.

Pondering these words...  From Pope Francis:
"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things'. Here, in four words, is a spiritual and pastoral programme of life. The love of Christ, poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, enables us to live like this, to be like this: as persons always ready to forgive; always ready to trust, because we are full of faith in God; always ready to inspire hope, because we ourselves are full of hope in God; persons ready to bear patiently every situation and each of our brothers and sisters, in union with Christ, who bore with love the burden of our sins."

And then we grew up into this.  Neither of us are quite so cute any more...
But we're still just as goofy.  Including the cat.  Actually, the cat is just plain stupid, bless her little heart.  And we love her for it.

A few plans for the rest of the week... 
* Sign up for summer reading program at the library
* Catholic homeschool conference in Atlanta on Friday afternoon... I will take the girls to my parents' house and go to the conference, hopefully for some much-needed inspiration.  This conference is FREE, so come on out if you are a local Catholic homeschooler!  It is at the Cobb Galleria, and you just walk in, so need to register.  And there will be free coffee!!!
* Pick up half a cow at the Decatur Farmers Market on Saturday - yay!!!!  I have been missing my grass fed beef for a while since we ran out!

A picture thought I am sharing...

And this one makes me want to cry.  How did he grow up???  Why isn't he this little four year old that can sit in my lap any more??  And where did that awesome green rug go???  And that hard-shelled suitcase behind me??  And this is why I want my own children to have more siblings!!!  Waaa!

Monday, April 06, 2015

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

It really is, despite how cliche that phrase sounds... although when Tom Petty sings it, you have to agree that he doesn't do a good job at making waiting actually sound hard.  It sounds all laid back and upbeat when he sings it.  It's not really like that, though... it is a true challenge.  I have been waiting each month to see if I am pregnant or not, and it is like a rollercoaster.  Waiting and then being disappointed is emotionally taxing.  I am waiting again, for the third time now since the miscarriage.  That may not seem like much waiting, since apparently the average couple takes between three and six months to get pregnant.  But the longest it has ever taken me before is three months.  And that was just once, the first pregnancy.  In the more recent three pregnancies it has been much quicker... two months being the longest time, and only for the most recent pregnancy.  I will never take my fertility for granted again after this.  It is pretty disheartening when it has always happened so quickly... to have lost a baby and then not be able to conceive again afterward with the same timeliness as is my history.  So this month is like a tipping point for me... after this, it will be longer than it has ever taken me to get pregnant before.  After this, there will be no chance of a baby in 2015.  I hate to sound so pessimistic, but that is the rollercoaster.  A couple days ago, I had high hopes that with this Easter season I would be welcoming new life in our family, yet... today I feel like it won't happen.  I am trying to hold on to hope.  The hope of a baby being due right after the anniversary of the miscarriage and how healing that would be... and not wanting to be disappointed.  Then the thoughts creep in like how many people might say I already have "enough" kids and should be grateful for the ones I have already... or the idea that maybe I'm really not doing the best job with the kids I do have, so why should I get to have another... it is tiring to wait and then be let down, and then do it again... and maybe again and again and...?  I know I am so blessed with the children I do have.  I know there are families who have lost multiple children, who have lost babies after birth and beyond, and I know my trial is nothing compared to that, nor is it anything to those who have tried for years to conceive.  Yet it is difficult for me due to my history.  I feel like perhaps I should have been open to a new pregnancy much sooner, and maybe that is the lesson I am learning: that I am not in control and to be more relaxed in accepting life as a gift from God, whenever it happens, rather than when I feel totally "ready."  Because really, when is anyone ever 100% "ready" to have a baby?  It is just what life is about... living and growing and welcoming new human beings to the world, a promise that the world will go on!

Please say a prayer for me if you are so inclined, that I can endure the waiting patiently, that I can stay positive in hope, and that I can face whatever answers I am given in this journey towards the hope of another baby.  Easter is a season of joy, and I am trying to remember and focus on that.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Here and Now

I would have been 24 weeks pregnant now.  What a great stage that is in pregnancy... feeling the baby move often, but not feeling exhaustedly huge yet.  Some days are a breeze, others are difficult.  I hope and pray for another baby, yet I also realize that I will always have the knowledge of the fear of losing any others.  Some days I see everything continuing around me and wonder if I am the only one who ever thinks about it, that my baby died.  If, since I am functioning well, then everyone else has forgotten about it. 

I have been reading a book I got recently called After Miscarriage by Karen Edmisten.  I have enjoyed her blog and was glad to see a book specifically for Catholic mothers regarding to miscarriage.  As it says in the book, mothers who are open to life are also open to death.  The more open to life we are, the more opportunity for being open to the possibility of death as well.  But also the greater the understanding of that child's eternal life in heaven.  The knowledge that your family has its own saint in heaven... I still haven't wrapped my brain around that yet, but I have prayed for Mary Karol's intercession, that she will beg God for us to give us peace and patience and another sibling for her if He wills it.  Our visiting priest who just did a mission at our parish, Fr. Luke, encouraged me to pray for our baby's intecession.  I am learning slowly how to do that and have considered starting a journal as well, where I can write "to" my baby.  If writing to dead people makes one crazy, then send me to the asylum!

I cannot bear to take the dead blooms off my hydrangea.  Maybe I should; it is probably better for the plant.  This hydrangea is for Mary Karol, and I am thrilled that I have kept it alive so that I can plant it in the yard once it stays warm enough.  Seeing it in my windowsill, watering it each time the leaves begin to droop, reminds me that she existed and the new little leaves springing up at the base and on the top are a hope in the knowledge that life goes on and that new life can exist, that I can hope in that.  It also helps me to remember that others have supported us and acknowledged her life, as I think back to getting this plant, to the friends who helped us out during the miscarriage, to my mother's help when she came when I was hospitalized, to the few cards we got that acknowledged the life of this baby.  The thing is, nobody can talk about it because nobody has any memories of this child.  It isn't like a child who was able to be seen and touched - nobody can say, "Remember that time when she..." because nobody remembers things that didn't happen.  Even me - I can remember how I craved broccoli and how I was exhausted, but I can't remember feeling movement, seeing a heartbeat, seeing my belly begin to bulge... none of that.  I still need to call the radiology department at the hospital and ask for an ultrasound image from before the miscarriage began, when they measured the baby and saw no heartbeat.  One more item that I can add to my very small collection.

I had planned for a homebirth with this baby.  Started considering a water birth.  Entertained the thought of pregnancy and birth photos and where I could find a photographer who was good but also who I would want at my birth.  After the miscarriage, I remembered seeing mention of a place that does belly casting - they make a mold of your pregnant belly, somewhere around 30 weeks or so, and then they turn it into a piece of pottery.  A belly bowl.  Then you can curl your newborn up in it and take a photo.  I love that idea and want it for the baby I lost, which I can never have, so I hope for the future.

My midwife referred me to a OBGYN that they use - who I would have seen about four weeks ago for bloodwork and ultrasound midway through the pregnancy - so I can get a (hopefully) compassionate and respectful response in my questions about my progesterone levels.  I have one symptom that can be a sign of low progesterone, and even though the other signs all look normal, I want somebody to take this seriously, because low progesterone levels can lead to miscarriages, and why would I wait to lose another baby before getting it looked into seriously if I am having a symptom?  My local OBGYN brushed off my concern - bye bye, $40 copay down the toilet.  So I am going tomorrow morning to the midwife-recommended doctor in Atlanta.  He fortunately could see me while I will already be there tomorrow.  Please pray that he will be receptive to my concerns.  If low progesterone is an issue, this is actually one thing they can address - most early miscarriages cannot be prevented in any way, but a woman whose progesterone is out of whack can be helped to get that normalized.  I have already been taking supplements since the beginning of the year that have vitamins that are specifically useful in helping the body to have normal progesterone levels.  If I can get a doctor who can listen and not scoff, then I will feel much better as a mother whose baby has died and wants to make sure all the bases are covered for when and if I get another chance.

After my appointment and a lunch date at Jason's Deli with my girls, and dance shoe shopping, and photo-picking-upping, and Trader Joe's shopping, I get to go on a dinner date with this sexy guy:
That is printer toner all over his hands and shirt because he hacked the printer.  Guy who can fix your technology problems = swoon.  Dinner should be fun; it is free and at Maggianno's!  A company who is a vendor for his company is doing a presentation over dinner.  I will listen to techie talk for an open bar and free Italian food, absolutely!!

And so with that busy schedule in mind, I need to get off to bed now.  Just needed to write a bit first.  Nut granola for breakfast, yum, and then we are off early for our all-day trip.

$11 of cashews, soaked and dehydrated, baby.  They became granola tonight with their friends the walnuts and pecans.  High protein breakfast for our busy day.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Happy Laetare Sunday!

It's Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent - meaning we are a little more than halfway to Easter!  This is one of the days that the priest wears rose-colored vestments - there are only two days per year on the liturgical calendar when rose is the color.  Lucy and Cecilia have been counting the days using the Lent calendar on the wall in the background of the photo above, and today Lucy wanted to change our little wooden priest's vestments to rose.  So we had a little celebration by making "Laetare Sundaes" with pink (strawberry) ice cream!  And I do mean a very little celebration...

...because these two are the only ones who could participate, unfortunately.  Chris and Caroline both came down with a stomach bug this afternoon.  Oddly, Cecilia and Lucy both had it on Wednesday... just for maybe 6-8 hours each, and they were done throwing up by mid-afternoon (Cecilia by mid-morning, actually)... so how do two more of us get it four days later??  I didn't know anything could incubate that long, but apparently it can.  Blah (literally)!  at least they are all getting it over with before Caroline's birthday this coming weekend (unless I get it in four more days, on Thursday?!?).  She will be having friends over for her birthday this year instead of a family party, and she is extremely excited!

Lucy, who ate her ice cream out from under her toppings and said she needed more ice cream to go with the rest of her whipped cream... ha, nice try!
So, here I sit, praying I don't get it as well.  I was sharing a water bottle with Chris earlier when we went on a little hike this morning.  I have not thrown up since high school - truly!  I mean like 18 years ago.  The last time I threw up was before I met Chris, so I am not about to start now if I can help it!  He must always know me as having a stomach of steel, ha ha!  Because if you knew me when I was 16... I had the weakest stomach ever.  I figure I have earned my puke-free streak because of how much I puked as a kid, ha ha.  I used to get sick to my stomach when I slept away from home... starting with sleepovers when I was maybe a 2nd or 3rd grader.  Then in high school, I'd get sick to my stomach in social situations, especially things like going out with my boyfriend.  I spent the entire prom my junior year in the bathroom, ha!  I would go sleep over at my friends' house and feel sick, then go to Six Flags the next day with my thermos of lentil soup which for some reason was my recovery meal the next day.  My mom and I retroactively diagnosed me with social anxiety disorder, in a half-joking way, because I didn't feel anxious in any other way except by my digestive tract's response... Zoloft came out a few years later, and we'd see those commercials with the depressed egg that bounced around and sat off to the side looking sad while the other eggs were partying (anyone else remember those??), and my mom would say, "You needed Zoloft, Erin!"  Ha, funny, Mom!  Maybe it would have helped, who knows?  But I randomly outgrew it somehow, at the end of high school.  By then I didn't feel sick at all with sleepovers at friends' houses, just sometimes in dating situations.  I guess maybe college cured me of it completely, where I had to sleep in a different place all of a sudden, with tons of my peers in the same building... I remember feeling a twinge of queasiness once in college, and never again.  I was done, cured, and so I'll be darned if I am going to break my streak now, you hear that, stomach virus??  I have been sick to my stomach enough to last a lifetime just in those few years!  I was even anemic from throwing up back then.  Way too much information about my problems of my past, yes?  But see, this is why I am trying to talk myself out of getting this bug too.  Can you convince yourself not to get a stomach bug?  Because I feel it in my system - either that, or I am paranoid because of everyone else having it - and it is not making me throw up yet, just feeling kinda blah in the digestive system.  Surely I can talk myself out of letting it make me sick, right???

Okay, so I better close and get some sleep soon, just in case it is coming to get me too.  I am so hoping we didn't pass it on to Father Luke, the priest we took out for dinner last night - I would hate that if we did!  He did a mission at our church this past week and was driving home to Missouri today, his sixth time doing a mission at our parish!  We love him; he is so friendly and engaging and gives solid, encouraging talks at his missions.  The mission week is always a great thing to have during Lent!  So say a prayer for me, and for Father Luke who is 75 years old, that we are spared!!

So I'll close with this bird, a new one to us!  We think it is a pine siskin, which is one we have never noticed in our yard before this past week.  There are a few hanging around our feeders - this one must be a female, because she doesn't have any noticeable yellow on her, and then yesterday the girls took a walk with Chris around the block and found a dead one on the street that had the yellow identifying marks... otherwise, it looked like this one.  So we are thinking we have IDed it correctly.  Any bird nerds out there who can verify it for us?  We also saw Northern Flickers for the first time a few weeks ago in our yard!

Off to bed I go now... not going to be getting myself a Laetare Sundae tonight, as much as I'd like to... just in case!

[Updated to add: My streak has officially been broken, boo!  All the words in the world couldn't talk my body out of it, unfortunately.]

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Some Good Reads

Came across a few articles lately that are very good reads... and since I'm not sharing stuff on my Facebook page, I thought I would link them here.

In Praise of Catholic Homesteading
I so want to do this.
"God speaks through things He has made, and it seems that the more we are surrounded by things we have made the harder it is to hear Him."

Quality Education is not Rocket Science
This speaks to why memorization of information is not a bad thing for young children - that it is a natural ability of theirs.  We employ this in our homeschooling by memorizing prayers, beautiful poetry, nursery rhymes, Bible passages, Shakespeare passages, hymns, and math facts/skip counting patterns.  It is not drill-and-kill, it is simply done as part of our natural rhythm each day.
"One of my favorite professors in graduate school grew up on his grandfather’s farm in Saskatchewan, back in the days when a wheat farmer would spend long hours behind the plow.  He told us that his grandfather’s neighbor spent those hazy hours sometimes reciting Milton’s Paradise Lost.  He had gotten it by heart.  Notice what great difference there is between the phrases “learning by rote” and “getting something by heart”?  You cannot do such a thing without considerable intelligence and love."

Legacy of Motherhood
I love this one because it starts with my favorite Chesterton quote of all time: "“How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe?  How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No. A woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.” A short read, check it out!

The Work of a Child
And finally, this one on letting children learn at their own pace - that providing them with large quantities of great literature is enough.
"One thing I knew and often reflected on is this: The salvation of his soul did not depend on his reading ability."


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Trip to Blue Ridge

Thought I'd share a few photos from the trip we took to Blue Ridge with friends that I mentioned in the last post.  We had six adults and 14 kids ages 1-10 at our friends' cabin for the weekend.  Here are several of them roasting marshmallows.  Lots of them had given up sweets for Lent, but this was Saturday evening after the vigil Mass that we attended, so they were on their Sunday freebie day at that point.  Apparently you don't have to abstain from whatever you've given up on Sundays during Lent... nobody ever told me that when I was a kid!  So I tend to just give something up throughout Lent including the Sundays.  This year for me: casual Facebook use and hot chocolate.  The hot chocolate is a huge sacrifice for me, let me tell you.

Lucy and Rachel, partners in crime.  These two are about 3 months apart in age and used to regard each other with suspicion, but lately they have become buddies.

An aerial shot taken from the stairs of several people watching a movie one evening

Some of the grown ups on the porch

Me with the handsome hubby

Group shot of all the kids...  If Lucy and Rachel look less than enthusiastic about this, it's because they are.  Both were dropped into the shot by their dads on the count of three for the photo because both were refusing to participate.  Antisocial three year olds!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Artwork and Thoughts, on a Snow Day

That comma in the title is intentional... because I don't have many thoughts on the snow itself, just other thoughts.  But here are the gratuitous kids in the snow photos... as the snow was falling, I convinced them to at least go outside and check it out.  The older two did last about a half hour.  The snowflakes falling were the biggest I have ever seen (which probably isn't all that big, seeing as I live in Georgia). 

This is when the snow had only been falling for about an hour.  My younger two kids are not big fans of the snow.  So I am kinda glad to have given up Facebook for Lent (except when I have to go on to check La Leche League related messages, which is quite often lately, or to specifically send a message or post to somebody... but I am not going on Facebook to just scroll through and read things during Lent or to post things and make comments and such, hoping to free up time to do some reading and stay on top of Caroline's school reading better).  I know there will be lots of photos of people's kids loving the snow, and mine just don't.  Caroline does - she'd stay out all day if other people liked to be out there with her.  Chris came home early as the snow was falling, and they went out together and sledded.  Cecilia and Lucy went out with him briefly and then came back in, but hey, there was no crying involved, so I count that as a victory.  If it is still cold enough tomorrow, maybe we can both go out and convince them that sledding down the road is fun!  Our neighbors always loan us their sled because their daughters are both mostly grown up.

Snow calls for popcorn and something warm to drink.  Here's my coffee snob equipment.  My brother gave me a coffee grinder for Christmas!  So I have whole beans from the awesome coffee shop.  I also have a travel mug that brews the coffee in it like a French press (it's there behind the coffee, with the red lid).  I can be a total coffee snob when I travel, too!  Today I wanted the whole four-cup pot, so it was trusty Mr. Coffee that got the brewing job this afternoon.

I promised to share some of the girls' artwork, so I will stick it throughout the rest of this post.

Collages based on the book The Last Straw... they traced a camel outline and then used fabric scraps, strings, beads, sequins, foil, etc. to make the things on the camels' backs.  Caroline's on the left and Cecilia's on the right.

I am so excited that we are having a La Leche League of Georgia conference in November!!!  It will be November 6-8 at Jekyll Island, and our keynote speaker is Dr. James McKenna!  He runs the mother-baby sleep laboratory at Notre Dame, where he has studied the way nursing mother-baby pairs sleep and how they sync up with each other.  The science backs mothers' age-old instincts: breastfeeding babies were designed to sleep in close proximity with their mothers.  I saw him speak at the last La Leche League International conference in 2007.  I am so excited to talk this conference up - I hope we have lots and lots of families attending, in addition to many of Georgia's LLL Leaders!

Cecilia did both of these self-portraits of herself in her ballet recital costume.  The one on the left was done with pencil before she added the color, and the one on the right was drawn with the watercolor crayons as well as being colored with them - resulting in two different styles of artwork.

I was so hoping that I could be bringing a new baby to the conference... but that won't be happening now.  Having the newest baby at the conference would have been so fun... although the drive to Jekyll with a two week old wouldn't have been, ha.  So... on the chance that I could be very pregnant at the conference instead - which is also fun, but not as much as having the tiny baby in a sling as you move around to all the different sessions - I will just hope and pray that my midwives would be cool with me traveling to Jekyll a few weeks before my due date.  I'm the one responsible for getting the program booklets all typed up and ready for printing, so that along with just loving to be at the conferences makes me really want to be able to attend!  I already booked our room!  I am so ready to be pregnant again, so if I have to miss the conference because of that, then so be it... but I will try like crazy to be able to make it there!

This drawing should have been up higher, apparently, with the LLL conference paragraphs...
Caroline drew this from a statue of Our Lady of La Leche when her art assignment was to make a line drawing by looking at an object with form and trying to draw the outer edges exactly as they appear.

Another exciting trip to look forward to... Chris has a business trip to Austin, Texas in late September.  I would imagine I wouldn't be "too pregnant" to travel then, and so I am planning to go with him!  Lucy will be four by then.  It makes me sad to think that I have not had that big of a space between any of my children so far.  I can't believe she will be so old!  Chris and I haven't done any trips together without kids since before we had any kids!  The last one was a trip to Charleston, S.C. at the end of December when I was pregnant with Caroline, over ten years ago, so this will be a fun special treat for us!  Chris is going for a Spiceworks conference (think big computer geek thing with awesome stuff like open bar evenings with geeky clear cups with Windows logos on them with flashing LED lights in the bottoms, ha ha).  So he will have meetings in the day, but there are a few mealtime and evening events that I will be welcome at, and then we can also spend a little time exploring Austin.  I have never even been to Texas before!  Supposedly Austin has a big music scene.  We will plan what we will do closer to that time!  We will fly out of Atlanta... it has been ages since I have flown, too!  The last time would have been when I was in high school!!!

Cecilia's contour drawing of a toy horse

And speaking of high school... and music... I think I am having an early mid-life crisis or something.  A few weeks ago, there was that thing where Kanye West insulted Beck at the Grammys.  I so don't do pop culture any more, so I barely know who Kanye is.  But Beck - I know Beck!!  I was pretty much going to marry him when I was in high school.  So I read up on the story, because he was my favorite musician all through high school and into college.  After my Guns 'n Roses/Metallica/Megadeth phase of 7th/8th grade, and my Nirvana phase of my freshman year... then came Beck.  So I started listening to a couple beck songs on Youtube.  How did we ever do anything before Youtube???  See, I sold off most of my Beck CDs sometime after getting married, because I just didn't listen to them any more (and at that point the dream had died since I was married to somebody else, ha ha).  I sold a bunch of others, too, but certain ones I kept that I still did - and do - listen to some.  Spacehog, The Toadies, The Cure, Stone Temple Pilots... I kept those. 

I LOVE this watercolor drawing of Caroline's.  Something about it is so kid-artsy.  I just made that term up so I hope it makes sense to somebody besides me.  Cecilia made the unicorn and ballerina cutouts that are also pinned to the corkboard.
So anyway, about Beck.  I was reminiscing and listening to some Beck songs.  And then I go to wondering, if Beck is still releasing new albums and has been pretty consistently since his beginnings in 1993, then why did I stop being a Beck fan?  Why did I stop buying his CDs, and when did that happen?  Was there a big gap between the last album I bought and the release of his next album and I lost interest?  So I looked at the dates.  Odelay was the last album of his I bought, so I looked at the release date - 1996.  Makes sense; I remember buying that one in high school and then taking it and all my Beck albums on to college with me in 1997.  So I looked at the next album's release date - it was fall of 1998.  I was shocked - a Beck album was released in fall of 1998 and I didn't buy it???  But I still loved Beck then!  At least... I know that I had pictures and posters of him on my dorm room walls in my early college years, at least the first whole year.  And fall of 1998 was only the beginning of my sophomore year.  So how could I have not realized - or not cared - that Beck released a new album???  Well...

Cecilia's drawing of "princess Lucy"

... I decided I would listen to a few of the songs from that album, because surely I would vaguely recognize one of the popular ones from radio air play, right?  Right.  I did.  I recognized some of the titles and listened to those, and I knew them.  So I started to play the other songs on the album... and I knew them, too.  I listened to the beginning of each song on that album, Mutations, and I KNEW THEM ALL.  Yet I didn't remember buying or owning that album.  It was like REVERSE DEJA VU, if that is even a thing.  But you don't just know every single song on an album that was less popular than the album to which it followed, unless you owned the album.  I was dumbfounded.  I must have actually OWNED THAT ALBUM and somehow not even remembered!!  I kept asking Chris, while sitting on the hearth making s'mores with my laptop playing Beck songs at midnight, "What is wrong with me?  How could I have forgotten owning this album??"  His answer: "Maybe your brain is broken."  All I could think was, "Yeah.  That is the only explanation."

Caroline's watercolor of herself and two others in her dance recital

So I bet you guys all think I am nuts now.  What would be the big deal about me forgetting owning an album?  I bet lots of people have done that.  And I forget lots of details.  But not that!  That is not the kind of thing I forget.  Especially Beck, who was a long-lasting musical obsession of mine.  So yeah, I think my brain is broken.  And now my midlife crisis: I bought some old CDs that I used to own.  A few bucks on Amazon and I will have Beck and Radiohead to listen to in the car again.  If that is the worst midlife crisis I have, then yay.  Although I think it is still technically too early for a midlife crisis, seeing as I am not 40 yet. 

Another watercolor of Caroline's

We went to Blue Ridge with some friends over the weekend who have a family cabin there... lots of fun.  We had six adults and 14 kids there!  The adults had fun pulling up songs on Pandora and Youtube... after the kids were in bed, my friend Elizabeth and I reminisced about our Guns 'n Roses days.  They pulled up a Beck song for me.  We listened to a wide range of music, from the 60s through the 90s.  Apparently I liked some of the same music as my friends, friends who are now old parents along with me, ha ha.  From music I owned on CD like Jane's Addiction and Tom Petty to music that I liked when their songs were on the radio or MTV but didn't own the albums, like Weezer and Talking Heads (which are very different from the music I hated but still knew well from the radio and MTV, like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Smashing Pumpkins - although now I can tolerate the Pumpkins some in my old age, ha)... we listened to some fun stuff.  Another band I used to like, Pearl Jam, was brought up... I really stopped liking them by college, but said that I still loved their song "Black."  Elizabeth agreed that was one of the best songs ever - we really should have known each other in high school, ha.  It was nice to be able to hang out with a group of Catholic homeschooling parents for the weekend.  We talked some about our plans to start a moms' book club, which will be nice.  I need accountability to make myself get some reading done - instead of blogging and reminiscing about 90s music, ha ha. Maybe we will talk about the impact of music and pop culture on our kids... I really don't know what to do about that.  Of course, in my opinion as an old parent, today's music stinks for the most part.  I can see that my parents really didn't limit my musical preferences when I was in high school... other than to express disapproval when I brought an album into the house with a "parental advisory - explicit lyrics" label on it.  I can look back as an adult, and I can say that I wasn't really negatively impacted by the music I listened to overall... but I recognize that some of the messages in some of the music I liked were potentially poisonous.  And that will impact different people in different ways, and I don't know that you can identify how it will impact you ahead of time.  As I was listening to a few Radiohead songs the other day, I was almost crying because they were so mournful to me... yet they didn't impact me that way back when I was listening to them in high school and college.  They were just good songs to me then, and I guess I didn't think very deeply about the lyrics.  So, something to ponder.  Always something to ponder with parenting decisions, and I don't think there are any easy or obvious answers.  Being overly sheltering and protective can result in them not knowing what to do with these kind of things when they grow up completely and leave the house... so, as with most things, I don't know the answer.  I do think that by homeschooling and not having things like cable/satellite TV, we already have a more limited exposure to things like popular music of today and such.  I guess we will cross those bridges when we come to them, trying to talk about it all so that our kids know what is going on in the world around them... that whole "in this world but not of this world" idea.

Had to include Lucy's artwork too.  She likes to use glue, so often I will cut random scraps for her to glue onto paper.

So if you see some crazy lady in her mid-30s driving around blasting Radiohead or Beck next week, you will know that it's me.  Living my early mid-life crisis.  If I start buying old Nirvana albums, please have me committed, because I really can't even tolerate their music any more now!  If I start buying New Kids on the Block albums, well... you will know I am too far gone to be helped at that point.

Cecilia's St. Cecilia statue and Caroline's Joan of Arc, made with clay yesterday
Thoughts, yes, but not many about snow.  As I promised.  At least I have an excuse for my rambling thoughts now - my brain is just broken. ;)