Thursday, January 28, 2016

{phfr} - Post Christmas Days

My hubby is on work travel for the next three weeks overseas.  Then he comes home for a week, and is gone for another three weeks.  I'm looking for contentment wherever I can find it...


I've been spending lots of time on Pinterest lately.  I've got quite a bit of dissatisfaction about my house.  Things that have remained plain or not given love for too long are being changed up.  I've restarted my own version of zone cleaning, and with that comes a Friday beautify day.  Essentially, I look at the space and see what areas need help.  Sometimes it's just a question of a little decluttering.  But this is where I am allowing myself time to make my home and not just survive in it.

This week I've been deep cleaning bathrooms.  We have two and both are unbelievably small.  The children along with any visitors must share a bathroom, and that poses quite a challenge.  The focus here for so long has been on clean and functional, not beautiful.  But there was a big blank wall above the shower that was just asking for attention.  I like the idea of gallery walls, but just haven't found the perfect thing to put up there.  And then I remembered that I have prints my cousin took from our long ago trip to Hawaii that just might work...

Yay!  A pretty wall in the bathroom.  Still working on the other bathroom's wall.
 This actually inspired a few other changes, including a new shower curtain and some storage baskets to clean up the visual clutter.  No pictures, because I didn't take any before, and what would be the use of showing you after with no before?


My little Teddy bear is a very happy, cuddly baby.  He is learning to coo and has smiling down pat.  He's given us a few chuckles too.  This is my comfort while daddy is gone.


I'm just now getting the last of my Christmas cards out.  Right before Lent starts.  I am on top of things!


This is life right now...

...hard work, focus, diligence.  All habits we are trying to increase.

Go visit Like Mother, Like Daughter for more contentment!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Unproductive Delight

As I'm sure you can imagine, life right now is a bit...crazy unpredictable full.  Besides the fact that I have five small children nine and under, one of those small ones happens to be six weeks old (yesterday!  How can that be?!).  I have purposely slowed things down to almost a standstill around here, providing only clean clothes (that may or may not be gotten out of the laundry basket) and what I'm counting as meals, and maybe a little cleaning now and then. But at some point, we do have to get back to whatever counts as our new normal, my older two children do need to be educated as well, and we should probably be eating a little better. 

I sat down last week determined to hammer out a new routine that would help us get everything in order.  I reread A Mother's Rule of Life.  I wrote out chore lists for the children and myself.  I produced a school routine that covers the basics and a few extras as well.  I went into all of this understanding that I have a newborn and I must be flexible (not a gift God gave me). 

I have visions of calm productivity, each of us doing as we can.  Our Classical education looking a little more Charlotte Masonish every day.  And then the baby needs to be nursed.  And after?  I can't bring myself to put him down.

Unless it's for some tummy time action.  Then I can put him down while I coo and make faces at him, and he does the same to me.  And then I take pictures.

"I am mommy's productivity killer.  She can't help but stop what she's doing and kiss my cheeks."
 I know just how quickly these moments go by.  This little guy won't be so little for so long.  Already he's growing and changing.  Soon enough he will take his first steps towards venturing away from mommy's arms.  Scooting, crawling, walking, running, climbing.  All good things that must happen in their time.  But this time?  This time is for cherishing.

A smile!  I captured one on camera!

And that is one of the reasons that I have chosen "delight" as my word for the year.  Beyond the schedule and routine (which must happen!) I am going to try to delight in these people entrusted to me.  My husband, my children.  Because they are delight-ful.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Birth Story

Our little Theodore (from here on out called Teddy on the blog) had decided to hang out in mama's belly for a bit longer than expected.  I had never had an overdue baby, so the anticipation wore me out.  I know a "due date" is really just an estimation, but all my other babies came a week early, so I had started expecting this baby weeks before he actually came.  Can you say emotional exhaustion? 

I had been having off again on again contractions a week prior to his birth, which is pretty typical for me.  At my doctor's appointment closest to his due date I was told I was dilated to 4cm and was 75% effaced but that baby was a bit posterior.  Sigh.  All of my babies have been posterior, including Sunflower whose birth I would never wish on anyone.  I had started chiropractic care early in this pregnancy in the hopes that it would help baby to be in a good position, so I was pretty upset when my doctor told me the news.  I went home and did everything I could to get baby turned.

Baby did seem to shift in the middle of the night one night, and the contractions continued with varying intensity (but nothing that I couldn't easily relax through).

On Monday the 23rd I had another appointment, and I dreaded it.  I couldn't believe I was still pregnant and I was terrified of being induced.  I asked my doula to come with me for moral support.  My doctor checked me and told me I was now at 5cm and 80% and I asked her to strip my membranes, though I had already had this done the week before with no results except a backache.  She then asked what I wanted to do.  I honestly didn't want to be pregnant anymore, but I also did not want to go through the pains of labor either.  It's a catch 22, isn't it?  I wanted to hold my baby, but to get there I knew I had to go through a bit of hell as well.  Honestly I just wanted to wake up one night to find that I had birthed baby in my sleep.  :)

She called the hospital and tentatively booked me for 9pm that night to have my waters broken.  The decision was left to me and my husband and we could go or not.  I called my husband after my appointment and he heard the tremble in my voice and quickly came home from work.  He knew I needed him.  I went for a walk by myself when he got home and did the best I could to calm my fears and decide if I wanted to wait or if I wanted to get things started.  I was terrified of my waters being broken before active labor had started.  I knew the contractions could be harder to deal with and I knew that this could also set me up for unwanted interventions later.  After prayer and after a good talk with my husband we decided to keep the appointment and go in. 

So after dinner, we carted our children off to our good friends house.  At 9pm Monday night we checked ourselves into the hospital.  One of my prayers earlier in the week had been to somehow get out of going through triage.  Am I the only one who despises triage?  Because we were scheduled for an "induction" we didn't have to go through it.  Praise God for small blessings!

Once checked in, my nurse hooked me up to the monitors to check up on baby, but I was allowed to be out of bed and could at least stand and sit on a birth ball if I wanted to.  It was odd sitting there, having random mild contractions and engaging in conversation with my husband and doula.  My doctor looked at our monitors and decided she didn't quite like the flatness of baby's heart rate, so she had me given an IV of fluids.  It seems baby was probably sleeping, because not too much later everything picked up and looked perfect.

Around 11:30pm my doctor came in and felt we were good to break the waters and take me off the monitors.  I had never been so scared of anything before in my life.  Once the waters were broken I had one contraction that felt the same as the others I had been having, and not five minutes later the intensity of the contractions went through the roof.  They came hard and quick.  Without any lead up to this level of intensity I had no chance to get into "lala land".

I was fully aware and so scared this was going to last for hours and hours like all my other labors.  I told my husband I couldn't do this anymore and even while I said it, I knew that was something felt when we were almost done.  But how could we be almost done?  It had only been an hour!  My dear husband did what he could to keep me calm, but eventually I went around him and my doula and pushed the button for the nurse myself to ask for an epidural.  My nurse very calmly told me I couldn't have one because baby would be coming soon and we didn't want a groggy baby.  How was this possible when the doctor wasn't even in the room yet? 

She checked me and I had just a lip of a cervix left, which she managed to pull over baby's head.  Right away the pressure was intense.  After figuring out how to push (how is it I managed to forget?), my little Teddy bear was born after two or three good pushes.  The first thing I heard after "It's a boy!" was "That's a big baby!"  He was born at 1:22am on Tuesday November 24 after a two hour labor and delivery!

My "little" Teddy weighed in at 9lb 12oz.  A pound and a half larger than my next largest baby!

Proud big brother.

We are all so much in love!
We are all doing well and after two weeks I'm starting to feel more normal.  Our homeschool group has been bringing us meals and we are mostly enjoying life as a family of seven!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Oh Baby! Welcome!

Theodore Daniel was born early this morning after a very quick active labor. This chunk weighs in at 9 pounds 12 ounces and is 21 inches long. Both mom and baby are doing well and resting. More updates later.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

{phfr} - What I've Been Doing Instead of Having a Baby

My "due date" was yesterday, and after a couple of days of on again and off again contractions (which get stronger and then weaker and then go away completely) I'm doing my best to not focus on the baby that won't be born. (ha!)  So here's what we've been up to instead of having a baby.
My homeschool group recently put in a bulk order for peg dolls.  After the success of our swap, everyone seems to have gone a little peg doll crazy.  One of the options to order was a set of nativity people and animals and I went ahead and ordered some, assuming I would have a baby before ever getting to painting them.  Yesterday I needed something else to focus on, so I pulled them out and started painting.
It's a start.
I have found sitting on my birth ball while folding laundry is a bit relaxing.  Look!  I'm basically caught up on laundry!  I don't know if I've ever been this on top of it.

My sweet Ladybug loves to color and had been asking me to color with her for awhile, but until the last week or so I've been so busy with all the getting ready because I was so sure baby was coming early.  One day while drawing, she drew me a color-by-shape picture.  How could I not stop what I was doing and color with her?  It made her happy and by extension myself happy as well.  Note to self: slow down and color more often.

This is only funny in the jokes-on-you sort of way.  A few weeks ago, while packing my hospital bag, I decided to throw some snacks in there.  During that lazy time laying in the hospital (which I love, by the way, though I know not all people do) I do get so hungry and snacky.  This time I thought I'd think ahead and prepare.  A couple of days ago though, I was really craving Peanut M&Ms and pulled them out of the hospital bag.  Less M&Ms for later maybe, but it satisfied my craving.

Lately my children have been doing lots of this:
Slacking and watching tv.
And when they are not doing that they are alternately destroying and cleaning up the school room.
Why are they not outside playing right now, you ask?  The weather is beautiful!
This is why:
Having the old fence between our house and the neighbor's removed.

Pretty new wall.


Getting ready to lay concrete.

Here comes the cement truck!

Froggy is glued to the window.
In the meantime, I've been told baby has gone posterior like all my other babies.  This is after months of weekly chiropractic appointments to prevent this very thing.  And so while I'm not having this baby, I'm trying to get baby in a good position with the aid of my doula and Spinning Babies.  For real. 

Rebozo, birth ball, blanket for pelvic tilts, oh my!

Go visit Like Mother, Like Daughter for more contentment!

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Battle Waged

A battle rages around us and many do not even know that it is happening.

I am currently reading Pilgrim's Inn by Elizabeth Goudge (who is fast becoming a favorite).  The book takes place in England in the years following WWII, and frequently talks about the loss of hope and desperation that many people felt.  Eventually the family in the book decides to host a Christmas performance for the neighbors.  On Christmas Day evening, the cars begin to pull into the drive of the inn.

Light streamed from the Herb of Grace, from every window and from the open front door, and the very jubilation of that light had something to say of the utter happiness of the day that had been spent within.  To most of the occupants of the cars the world seemed a dark enough place, but at the sight of that light their heavy hearts lifted a little.  There were still children in the world, and while there were children, men and women would not abandon the struggle to make safe homes to put them in, and while they so struggled there was hope.

Contrast that with the stories my husband and I have heard over and over again during this pregnancy.  Men (it's always men, never women) have routinely come up to us and out of the blue said how much they wished they could have had another child.  One man told me this while standing in the checkout line at the grocery store after he had remarked on the four gallons of milk I was buying.  When I told him we had four children at home (and I am very obviously expecting again) he sort of sighed as his teenaged son put his groceries on the belt and said how much he wanted more children but... and here he sort of trailed off.  My husband has people approaching him at random at work and saying basically the same thing.

These men are grieving for a lost fatherhood.  And it is only through fatherhood that a male becomes a man.  With each child we have had, I have watched my husband grow more and more selfless.  I know he would give up himself for us.  I am safe and secure with him.  He protects us and provides for us.  I have every hope my sons will grow up just like him.

There are so many women who do not have that.  So many men in our world who are simply continuing an adolescent existence.  And then women marry these men, fully unwilling to rely on them.  They go in with the attitude of "I'll take care of myself, thank you very much." And so their husbands are never required to step up and be men (and they long to, they just can't).  It becomes a perpetual cycle.  The women suffer having to deal with immature, irresponsible men and the men never have the opportunity to grow up and become men.

And so we have stories like what I just read today:

Thousands to be sterilized in global vasectomy-athon

There is something a-foot here.  Something seedy and diabolical and it should not be ignored.

At times I feel like our family is the scourge of our neighborhood.  We keep a clean house and a clean yard and try hard to not be a scourge.  But we are home all day long.  My children play outside in the backyard during the day and in the front yard in the afternoon.  The elderly and few who happen to also be home all day have to listen to us.  We try to be respectful, but children make noise and some of it is not pleasant.

But after reading and thinking, I have come to realize that our family is a blessing on our neighborhood.  And I don't say that in a prideful manner at all.  What dark places are neighborhoods and streets without children growing up on them.  Our family fills the silence with life.  It's a noisy thing, life is.  Noisy and messy and beautiful.  I've often thought that hell must be filled with a vast loneliness, emptiness, silence.

It's a bit existential.  Just by our very existence, we have meaning.  Just by living this life we are called to live, living out our faith as best as we are able, we bring light to the world.  Not our own light, but the light of Christ.

..and while they so struggled there was hope.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Happy Birthday Fritter!

Yesterday my oldest child turned 9.  My Fritter, who was seven months old when I started this blog is nine years old.  I can hardly believe it!  I've learned so much over the years and much of it is because I have been given the wonderful opportunity to raise this big boy of mine.  Watching him grow and develop has been one of the biggest blessings of my life.
Fritter is a big Star Wars fan and requested a cake of the same theme.  I've realized I'm not the best at cake decorating drawing with frosting, so I punted and cut out the images I could find to put on the cake.  Some silver sprinkles worked as stars and gummy characters added a little more...something.  He had also asked if I could somehow make the cake cutting knife into a light saber, but I wasn't feeling that talented.  Before dinner, a good friend watched my two younger children and Dan, Fritter, Ladybug, and I went to see the Peanuts movie at the theater.  So much fun!

So here's to Fritter, my snake and bug catching boy:

The best big brother in the world:

A Jedi in training:

Always ready for new opportunities to explore:

With a smile that lights up the room:

And the most creative person I know:

Happy birthday Fritter!  I hope your year is filled with many graces and blessings!