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. ;)

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Modern Mothering and Miscarriage, Rants and Reflections

So here's some of the loveliness that is going around online lately...

First, the whole vaccination thing.  Apparently the measles outbreak where 90 people at Disneyland came down with it has some people up in arms against the "anti-vaccine nuts."  Apparently some of them want others to be charged criminally for making parenting decisions that they disagree with. Honestly, I loved this response by Matt Walsh, that basically, people who want to make skipping or changing any vaccines on the typical schedule a punishable crime are trading in our liberties and essentially allowing for the government to make decisions for us about our children. 

This quote from the article:

"In short, as we have seen time and time again, despite Ben Franklin’s urges to the contrary, many people will choose safety over liberty, no matter how slight the risk and how serious the infringement."


 He goes on to detail how the risks are indeed slight compared to the risks related to actual crimes that have the intention of harming others, such as drunk driving.  Good article, so I won't say much more about it.

Vaccines are one of those very tricky parenting topics.  I mean, we all know that breastmilk is the optimal nutrition for babies.  We all know kids are safer in carseats than in a regular seatbelt when they are young.  But we really don't all know all there is to know on vaccines.  I honestly don't know who is right or wrong on this.  As a result, we have selectively vaccinated our children.  I am always open to learning more and always debating which ones we should consider getting.  Up for current consideration is the MMR vaccine for our oldest because she hasn't had it, and I have found in my research that the risk of arthritis in adulthood increases if this vaccine is gotten in adolescence.  I want my daughters protected from rubella especially before they reach childbearing age because of the devastating effects it can have on unborn babies whose mothers catch the illness.  So I need to first get a titer done to see if perhaps maybe she has been exposed to rubella naturally and built up immunity to it... and if not, make a decision.  I hate that the rubella vaccine is cultured on aborted fetal cells and that Merck has a monopoly on it in the US - I can't get it made more ethically here even though it can be and is being made ethically in other countries.  And I am not traveling to Japan to get an ethical vaccine.  Also, Merck will not make a single dose vaccine - your child must get the combination measles, mumps, and rubella shot in order to get any of those vaccines at all.

I hate that people are so angry about this... I have seen people personally say that parents who don't vaccinate on schedule are "negligent."  What those people fail to realize is that vaccine injuries do exist and so how, exactly, is a parent concerned about vaccine injury negligent?  Usually these people have read and asked questions very thoroughly.  I still find myself on the fence... there are so many vaccines now, whereas up until about 1990, there were just three shots: MMR, DTaP (then the DTP version), and polio.  That is a huge increase in what we are being asked to inject into our children and so people who don't do it and have concerns are certainly thinking about it - they aren't usually making an ignorant or negligent choice.  What those who want to treat this choice as criminal cannot answer is this: How is a child who dies of a vaccine-preventable disease more important than a child who dies from a vaccine-caused injury?  There is not really an answer to that question.  And I have seen a few anti-vaccine people say things like, "How awful that you inject poison into your child!"  Also unnecessarily harsh and not what the vaccinating parent is trying to do, just as the non-vaccinating parent isn't trying to spread illnesses to vulnerable people.  I can see both sides of this issue, being one who is still somewhat undecided, and I am always dismayed when I realize that other people cannot.  And that they even want to demonize people who have come to a different conclusion.

The thing is, some people who choose not to vaccinate have reasons that they believe are for the greater good.  They aren't simply doing it out of the selfishness of not wanting to potentially expose their child to toxins in vaccines... some truly believe they are bad for our health and are leading to all sorts of auto-immune diseases and other health concerns that seem to be rapidly growing in our society currently.  And until we have real, solid answers - proof of how and why we are experiencing increases in some of these illnesses and health problems - then we can never be totally sure.  Some people believe that exposure to some of these viruses in the wild is what is truly going to build healthy immune systems... so for this line of belief, avoiding vaccinations is done out of concern for public health.  Do I believe this myself?  I have no idea, honestly.  I am ready for somebody to come up with some proven and unmistakable answers, but I don't think that is going to happen.

So, the idea that people could sue other parents (first 3 paragraphs of that link are filled with "fighting words" designed to fuel outrage, btw) if it is proven that their child passed a vaccine-preventable disease on to somebody who then suffered from complications of the illness... where does that end?  How far do we trace back to find where the disease originated and can we sue all those people as well?  What if the disease actually began in a vaccinated individual, who was injected with the live virus (measles being an example of a live virus vaccine) and the virus then "shedded," meaning got out of that person's system and infected another person with measles... do we get to sue those parents for choosing to vaccinate?  What about parents who don't get antibiotics for their child and he infects others, can we sue them, too?  Can we sue other adults who come to work while fighting off colds and such and then get others ill?  Doubtful, seeing as how important the bottom line is to many employers in this country - what, you're skipping work today because you have a stuffy nose??  Can we sue parents who "choose" to work, sending their kids to day care when they didn't "have to" financially, because their kids are sick more often and more likely to spread illnesses? 
The bottom line?  ILLNESS HAPPENS.

From the article linked above:
"“Life has lots of risks,” Holland explained. “And the idea of imposing legal liability on parents who don’t vaccinate implies that vaccines are both perfectly safe and perfectly effective.”
“Vaccines aren’t perfect. Sometimes they don’t take,” said Holland. “There are vaccine strains of disease and wild strains, and allowing parents to sue one another gets you into some crazy places and complicated problems.” Take a parent who believes their first baby has had an adverse reaction to a vaccine.. If those parents decide against vaccinating a subsequent child, are they exercising a medical or a personal belief exemption — and would a person be able to sue them for their decision not to vaccinate?"

And, the fact that nobody speaks of... perhaps because they don't even know this... if people should be able to sue parents for not vaccinating their children, then shouldn't people be allowed to sue vaccine companies after being injured as a result of a vaccine?  What's that, you say?  People can't sue a vaccine manufacturer if that vaccine causes their child injury or death?  No, they can't, as of 1986.  The government created the "National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program."  If they deem the injury or death to be truly vaccine-caused, then they will pay you, instead of you sueing the maker of the vaccine - because then they might not have enough money to keep making more vaccines, causing potential for shortages, and the government has decided getting vaccines is in our best interest above and beyond those individuals who have serious life-threatening reactions to vaccines.  These drug manufacturers are protected by the government from paying for any wrongful injury or death that their products cause... what other products are protected in this way by our government? 

And so who pays for these vaccine injury claims?  Where does the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program get its money?  Each vaccine is taxed at a rate of 75 cents.  Combination vaccines are taxed for each separate disease they are vaccinating against: the MMR vaccine, for instance, is taxed at $2.25 per vaccine.  So the drug companies are completely protected from losing money over lawsuits as well as losing credibility by having their names involved in lawsuits.  In its first 20 years, the NVIC program had paid out nearly 2 billion dollars to those deemed to have been injured by vaccines, and only about one in three claims filed is even judged to be vaccine-caused.

So, up next in the cheerful world of parenting news... Similac made a "commercial."  It really is just a video that you can watch online, which on the surface appears to be telling parents, "Let's all get along; we are all good parents trying the best we can."  I watched it and immediately didn't like it.  I felt the sentimental goosebumps at the end that the advertisers who made it intended (that's the power of advertising via media!), but my brain was saying, "Wait.  I don't like this."  Similac did an excellent job, I must say, at portraying this loving emotional feeling to make people think they are trying to help break down the largely media-fueled "mommy wars."  The thing is, nobody really acts the way the stereotyped moms in the ad are acting.  The reason I dislike the ad, I have come to realize, is that it portrays these people as the worst stereotypes you could come up with of what they are.  Then it makes it so that since everybody in the ad comes together despite their differences, then all parenting choices must be accepted as being equivalent, meaning that those who want to support breastfeeding are just pushy and mean to moms who had to use formula... when in truth, most moms actually want to breastfeed and many need support to do so.  Anyway, this article on Evolutionary Parenting does a better job than I can do at explaining my discontent with the ad, really, so I recommend reading it if this ad has been on your radar recently (and you can watch the ad there, too, if you haven't seen it).  Sure enough, as soon as the author wrote that she didn't like the ad and why, she got a bunch of commenters who were personally offended that she didn't like it because they couldn't breastfeed for x y and z reason... when she had said nothing at all about their personal choices and circumstances.  All from saying she didn't like an ad that everyone else had jumped on the bandwagon for with loving admiration.  In effect, starting another "mommy wars" battle.  Because a FORMULA company wanted to make an ad that would make us focus even more on these stereotypes of mothers supposedly judging everyone just because they breastfeed or want to help other women to breastfeed.  The formula company has further pointed out and focused on our differences, and that part sticks, not the happy ending.  In effect, Similac has succeeded in causing formula-feeding parents to point the "hater" finger at breastfeeding supporters simply because they cry foul at this ad made by marketers of infant formula.  Well played, Similac, well played.

From the article:

"After the initial shock that so many people could read something so personal into something about an ad by a company, I realized that my prediction of what would happen was shown to be true, just earlier than I had anticipated.  The ad has now perpetuated the mommy wars and helped some moms see judgment everywhere."

and this:

"What was more baffling though was that people decided that not liking an ad equals not liking people that use the product."

and finally, this:

"Whatever you personally felt about this ad, please just be willing to accept that someone else didn’t like it. Someone else has a view of marketing that is perhaps more jaded than yours (and perhaps more realistic?), but that it says nothing about you personally. Not every comment is a dig at your choices. "

So... on to other parent-related topics that are in my own personal brain rather than fueled by online articles lately, then.  These were just two that made me think recently.

On miscarriage... there are lots of questions mothers have about it, questions you don't think of before having had a miscarriage.  From the drastic, "Will I ever be able to carry a pregnancy to term again?" to the simple yet seemingly unanswerable ones like, "How soon is it okay, medically speaking, to conceive again?"  Apparently each case is different anyway, so some women will experience a return to normal fertility immediately whereas others may take months for the pregnancy hormones to completely leave their bodies.  Nobody seems to be consistent on the answer as to whether or not a woman can ovulate again while she still has low levels of pregnancy hormone in her system following a miscarriage.  One nurse told me that you won't ovulate again until the hormone is gone completely, and that makes logical sense, but apparently it is not always true.  Looking around online, you find many women who say they ovulated when their pregnancy hormone levels were under 100 but still above 5.  Mine were at a 7 when last checked in early January, which the OB/GYN deemed acceptable, that I didn't need to have the level checked again unless I had problems come up.

So, according to the experts, when is it considered okay to conceive again?  Here are the answers:

"No need to wait; once your body is ready, then you are fine.  No increased risk of another miscarriage based on not waiting like we used to think; waiting is outdated advice." - an OB/GYN

"We tell people to wait through one full cycle before trying to get pregnant again." - a nurse at an OB/GYN office

"Give your body two to three months to heal." - a homebirth midwife

"Wait three cycles.  You need to build up a good uterine lining so a baby has a soft bed to land in."
- another OB/GYN

"Three to six cycles is what we are supposed to recommend, but I know plenty of people who conceived again in the very next cycle... we aren't in charge; somebody up there is." - an ER doctor

So... yeah.  I was even more baffled that the "your body will know when it's ready, no need to wait" advice came from a medical doctor, because it sounds so natural-minded.  And it is backed by science: Mayo Clinic agrees that conceiving again right away is not associated with increased risk of repeat miscarriage, and that the risk actual does increase if you wait for six or more months.  A reassuring fact comes in the form of this information: that less than five percent of women will experience back-to-back miscarriages.  Reassuring, that is, until you think of the people you know personally who have experienced multiple miscarriages in a row.  And you think, "Do I really know that many people, or has this really happened to more than 5% of my personal friends who have miscarried?"

I don't like not knowing what my body is doing, so emotionally it was hard to recover in those first several weeks, not knowing what my body was doing cycle-wise.  Seems to have gotten back to normal now, so that has been reassuring.  I don't like being on edge or overly worried... I know there are risks with pregnancy as with many other things in life, and getting neurotic about it won't help anything.  I do like the attitude of "we're not in charge."  Letting nature take its course rather than trying to formulate some exact science in when it is medically "okay" to conceive again.

So, we said a St. Gerard novena, since he is the patron saint for pregnant mothers and those wishing to become pregnant... hoping for more peace on the situation and to be relaxed going forward, not to overthink things to the point of needless worry.  I am going to start a novena to Our Lady of Lourdes tonight, since her feast day is on February 11, which is the earliest day I could take a pregnancy test this month... not knowing at all what it would show.  Our Lady of Lourdes appeared to St. Bernadette and told her, "I am the Immaculate Conception."  Conception.  My kids and I will be hosting our monthly Catholic homeschool group this Friday, and we will be focusing on Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette, watching a movie we have on the story and reading a story.  I would greatly appreciate any prayers for peace of mind and acceptance of God's will for me from those who happen to read this (about the whole fertility thing, not the homeschoolers coming to my house, ha ha).  I'm kind of hiding it way down here after all the ranting above, I realize. ;)

One thing I found to be very certain for myself: I wanted to talk more about it with other moms who have had miscarriages before than with those who have never had one. 

I have read a couple things about miscarriage... just one or two articles of "things you should know about friends who have miscarried" kind of things.  And I have found that they don't really fit me somehow.  It is still all so abstract to me... when you lose a baby you never were even able to see, then it doesn't even feel completely real.  So no, I don't find myself wondering or imagining what she would have looked like... I don't even know if she was a she or a he, anyway.  Maybe once I hit those dates... what would have been my due date... next Christmas... maybe then it will hurt and I will be wondering what that day would have actually been like had things been different.  Everything I have that is a concrete reminder that she really existed is in a little box on my dresser.  I also have a hydrangea for her sent by a sweet friend that I will plant outside when it is warmer, so that will be another concrete reminder... and we have an engraved brick for her in a prayer garden at our church.  Today we placed her remains under it - finally, after waiting over a month for the monument company to stop dragging their feet on finishing it - and our deacon performed the Rite of Committal. 

When they first built the prayer garden a few years ago, anyone who wanted to could buy a brick, either for their own family or as a memorial for somebody.  Our deacon told us that a few people have placed miscarried remains under bricks there - so that is not its main purpose, but it is a respectful way of handling miscarried remains.

We chose to use the brick under our family's brick... to spread the bricks evenly around the garden when they first built it, they spaced the bricks out with blank ones in between.  So there was a blank one available under ours.  After placing the remains, we all went into the church and prayed the rosary together (well, Lucy ran around a little in the empty church, but the older girls, Chris, and I prayed the rosary).  That is my special rosary for Mary Karol around the brick in the photo, another tangible item I have as a reminder of her.

Over Christmas, my brother who is currently a transitional deacon gave me this beautiful blessing.

I have also learned now, having gone through this, that it has made me sensitive to comments others make.  I never liked the comments of, "Oh, we're DONE having kids, thank goodness!" but those particularly come across hard now when I hear about parents with that mentality.  It is also hard overhearing people being thankful for not being pregnant, or saying things like, "Oh gosh, I hope I'm not pregnant!"  I know this is my problem, and I can remember times when I was overwhelmed with my current kids and thinking no way could I handle another baby at that time, so I understand... but this has given me a new perspective.  It will be more difficult to fear pregnancy in the future because the ones that are carried to term will be that much more precious to me.  Another difficult thing is seeing people who are announcing that they are due around what was to be my due date... or a month later, and knowing that they have made it through that first trimester with a normally-progressing pregnancy, and knowing that I was ahead of where they were - that I should have been holding a newborn before they would be - but I won't.  Their arms will be full before mine.  It is also hard knowing some pregnant moms who didn't even intend to become pregnant and are - not that they are acting bitter about becoming pregnant unintentionally, but because... well, because they just are, and I am not.  Selfish thoughts, really, but maybe somewhat normal.  My body did go through a major hormone shift of rapidly rising hormone levels to rapidly falling hormone levels.  My body was expecting to be pregnant and to be needing to be in maternity clothes soon, and that didn't happen - it's like a disconnect between brain and body.  So in expecting to be pregnant, my body senses it when my brain picks up on the fact that other people are pregnant.  So it is hard to see/hear about pregnancies, although seeing babies themselves, already born, is comforting to me somehow.  I know I have been a lot more sensitive to my own toddler, my "baby," lately, and wanting to snuggle her more... as she grows more and more independent each day, and I ask myself, "Surely I would have been ready to have another baby now; why did I wait so long?  Lucy is so grown up lately!"  Hindsight... I didn't predict it nine months ago because she was still quite a handful then!  She has grown and changed so much in a few short months...

So, all that to say... there is not necessarily a "normal" way to process miscarriage, and maybe some people will be more sensitive to some things than others.  And since I get that, I am not going to be mad at anyone for saying or doing anything that might make me bristle... I mean, a pregnant mom can't help walking past me looking pregnant, now can she?  Or that she happens to have difficult pregnancies when I love being pregnant?  It's not anyone's fault.  I am very grateful to people who have continued to ask how I'm doing and for expressing their thoughts and prayers for us.  The few cards given to us are kept in that little box because, again, they are tangible reminders of something so intangible to me, even though I have the confidence that her soul is a very real thing... it is till hard to grasp it when I never even saw her.

One other thing... nobody tells you exactly what to expect during a miscarriage.  I had a very helpful online friend who gave me the most realistic idea of what to expect.  I certainly didn't expect to black out, though.  I also didn't expect the doctors to not be able to tell me when I'd passed the baby's remains.  The ER doctor insisted that I wouldn't be able to tell, although apparently many moms have been able.  He said he never could distinguish it visually in this early of a miscarriage... and as I was at ten weeks, I was thinking, "Early??"  The baby was only measuring 5/6 weeks, however.  Without going into too much detail, I will say that with the help of ultrasound, we are confident that what we placed under the brick was what we intended to place there.  But if any other mothers who are faced with a miscarriage are reading this, hopefully they will understand that it is not always a clear thing to tell for sure... that you can't expect closure from actually knowing the moment that the actual remains of the baby have passed.  It upset me at first that I couldn't, and I think my expectations were influencing me there.  Like so many other things - there is no exact textbook way something will play out; every case can be a little different.

It still doesn't all seem totally real, nor does it seem right to add all this onto the bottom of this post, but it feels weird to give it its own post, too.  There is no normal, I guess is what I keep learning.

So... one last thing to wrap up this way-too-lengthy post.  Those legwarmer thingies that I have mentioned a few times and promised they are cute and not tacky or 80s-looking... I took a picture so I could prove it:

Except it doesn't really prove it, because I am sure some people probably still think they are ugly.  But I love them, and they are warm!!  But yes, everyone's experience will be different, and so... if you think they are tacky, just don't tell me that. ;)