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!

Friday, November 6, 2015

{phfr} - October in Review

While we're sitting here on baby watch (if I do not hear about "baby dropping" ever again I'll be a happy woman.  I'm telling you, the comments this pregnancy!  They just.don't.stop!), I thought I'd update what our October has looked like. What better format that {phfr} to organize my thoughts and help me realize all that I have to be content about!
First up, pumpkin processing!  As soon as fall settled in around here and it was safe to turn on our oven (read below 100* outside), I bought three pie pumpkins for super cheap.  I've blogged before about processing pumpkins and how much money it saves and also just how much fallishness it brings to the home.  We can have pumpkin bread!  And pumpkin pie!  And anything else pumpkiny without resorting to the very expensive can of pumpkin.  (Made up words...my favorite.  :) 
All that orange makes my freezer very pretty!
How about some pretty girls while we're at it?  My hubby had a birthday in October, and because our old camera is too complicated (or we are too lazy to read the instruction manual), I listed it on craigslist and bought him/us this camera.  Yay!  Point!  Shoot!  Clear pictures!  Pretty girls and flowers!

Every year on Halloween, our homeschool group throws a great All Saints Party.  The kids each pick a saint to dress up as (and this doubles as learning, because they actually learn about that saint while picking one).  Inside the church hall are games (this year Fritter was old enough to help run a game) where the kids can win prizes, outside are tables and food and a giant catacombs maze made out of appliance boxes and white Christmas lights.  So fun. 
In case you are wondering: No, our family is not against Halloween or trick or treating.  Every year we give the kids the option of either the party or Halloween and they pick the party.  Plus, the candy is SO much better than the cheap stuff most houses give out now-a-days.
My group of saints.
St. Sebastian
St. Therese of Liseux
St. Catherine of Siena (notice the stigmata?)
St. Maximilian Kolbe (actually keeping his glasses on!)
Since we will soon be in new-baby-land/flu-and-cold-season/I-am-not-going-anywhere-season, we have been trying to get a few field trips in.  This first one was to the Hall of Flame Museum in Phoenix and was a really fun time.  Dan took the day off work so he could join us, which made the whole thing manageable.  And he enjoyed himself so much that the next time his brothers visit, guess where they're going?  This place has the largest collection of fire engines in the world and it is privately owned, which I though was pretty cool.

Future firefighters....
This other field trip was to the Heritage District of Phoenix. This trip was designed especially for homeschoolers.  I got a babysitter for the day for the two little ones and just took my two big kids.  We toured a historic house (so pretty, wish I could have spent more time inside) and then the kids learned about chores and duties from the 1800s.  I'm thinking we need to hand wash our clothes more often just to give them more work to do.  :)
After chores they learned about games the children of the time period would have played.  This is the stick and hoop game, and after a bit of practice Fritter and Ladybug became pretty good at it.  The hoops were originally from old wagon wheels, but maybe a hula hoop would work?
And finally, we have a new bike rider!  Sunflower decided all by herself that she wanted the training wheels off her bike, and her dad complied.  He gave her a quick 15 minute lesson, and then the next day she went out on the back porch and practiced.  I looked out the window to see my four year old riding a two wheeler all by herself!  When dad came home he took her out front to ride in the street just like her big brother and sister.
So proud!
So much happy!
My funny's always seem to be more of the funny-lets-not-do-this-again variety instead of the funny-ha-ha variety, so why mess up what works?
Instead of carving pumpkins this year (we had a birthday and Halloween/All Saints costumes to be made, plus the pumpkin processing that had to happen right away, and generally craziness of late third trimester pregnancy going on around here) I decided it would be easier to just get four of the small pumpkins and let the kids paint them.  They thought it was fun at least.  I saw fun for a minute until the paint started to dry and the kids started to pick at it and pretty soon there were paint flakes all over the floor.  Why did I do this to myself again?
Much nesting has been happening around here.  But it seems more like a crazy persons kind of nesting to me (and I'm the one doing it!).  Who cares about the dishes piled in the sink?!  The curtains must be taken down and washed and hung to dry (it doesn't matter if they actually get put back up, they just need to be washed, darn it!).  Shower needs scrubbed?  Why does that matter?!  The couches need pulled out and vacuumed underneath, stat!  Drawers need organized (and then I'm too tired to put the stupid stuff away), walls need washed, and can someone please get the baby's car seat out of the attic so I can wash it?! (My hubby did that for me last night, bless him.)  See what I mean?  Crazy nesting pregnant lady.
I wasn't joking about the curtains...the one in the school room still needs hung back up.
Embarrasing 38 week belly selfie in the bathroom mirror.  But don't we need proof of why I'm so crazy lately?
One huge piece of contentment going for us right now is that we are FINALLY done with our first semester of school.  One long break is before us and for that I am very grateful.  16 weeks straight with no break at all is not a good way to keep burnout away.  We all heaved a huge sigh of relief on our last day.
And if baby can just wait to come until next week, all will have worked according to MY plans.* Fritter's birthday is Sunday, and some of the kids have colds.  Next week is good timing in my book (as long as everyone is healthy by then!)
*Because I'm pregnant and crazy, all must follow my plans.  Although I do know that baby will come when the time is right regardless of my plans and it will all work itself out.  But just for the record, I'm rooting for the 11th (we're "due" the 18th).  The name we picked out for a boy is Theodore, and his feast day is on November 11th.  Our girls name is Penelope whose feast day is September 1st.  So November 11th it is!  See?  Perfect.
Go visit Like Mother, Like Daughter for more contentment!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

On Smiling

A smile costs nothing, but creates much.  It enriches those who receive it and does not impoverish you in the least.  It happens in a flash and the memory of it sometimes lasts a lifetime.  A smile creates happiness in the home and fosters good will among men.  It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and Nature's best remedy for trouble.  A smile is no earthly good to anyone till it is given away. None of us are so rich that we can get along without it, and none of us are really poor as long as we can smile.  Nobody needs a smile so much as the one who has none to give.  So get used to smiling heart-warming smiles, and you will spread sunshine in a sometimes dreary world.  This sunshine is the sunshine of God's love, if you smile from the motive of loving your neighbor and making him happy for God's sake.

 Become a member of the Apostolate of Smiling.  Your smile has work to do for God, because it is an instrument for winning souls.  Sanctifying grace, dwelling in your soul, will sweeten your smile and will enable it to do much good.

Smile to yourself until you notice that your seriousness, or even severity, has vanished; until you have warmed your own heart with the development of a cheery disposition.  Then go out and radiate your smile.
With a smile you can bring new life and hope and courage into the hearts of the weary, the over-burdened, the discouraged, the tempted, the despairing.  Your smile can prepare the way for a sinner's return to God.  It can promote contentment, joy, satisfaction, encouragement, and confidence in the hearts of others.


Smile on the lonely faces, on the timid faces, on the sorrowful faces, on the sickly faces, on the fresh young faces, on the wrinkled old faces, on the familiar faces of your family and friends.  Let all enjoy the beauty and inspiring cheer of your smiling face!


Above all, smile at God in loving acceptance of whatever He sends into your life, and you will deserve to have the radiantly Smiling Face of Christ gaze on you with special love throughout eternity.

~Kindness, Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik

*I am blessed with many smiling children (most of the time :) .

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Complaining About My Day (You Really Can Just Move On To The Next Blog)

Some days I think I may actually lose my mind. Today is one of those.

Thinking I was being a cozy mom on another rainy day, I decided to make a yummy coffee cake for breakfast. I had this picture in my head of a happy family sitting around the breakfast table eating their eggs and coffee cake and talking about what saint feast day it is today. Instead breakfast wasn't actually edible until 9:00 when we were all starving and after the kids had finally been put in front of the TV because I had to focus on finally getting breakfast done.

Can I just say TV before school never works out in my favor?

During this time, I realized we had forgotten to run the dishwasher last night, so that had to get put on a quick wash which meant it didn't get unloaded at its regular time, which of course meant it didn't get loaded at its regular time.

Because breakfast was so late, as soon as we were done eating it was time to start school. Sunflower asked if she could do some of her "preschool fun books" and I reluctantly said yes.  This meant Froggy also wanted to do "pwescwool". I got Fritter started on handwriting so I could give Ladybug a quick math lesson and simultaneously find rectangles with Sunflower and keep Froggy from destroying the schoolroom.

I am not good when pulled in this many directions.

Eventually I put Froggy in the playpen, set Sunflower up with Daniel Tiger (yes, more TV. My kids are turning into zombies), and tried to establish a bit of sanity back into our day. While Ladybug finished up her math page, I turned to give Fritter his math lesson (always a joy *snark*). I suggested we play four corners with his flashcards to help with his drill. This is usually met with excitement. Today he gave a blank stare to half of the cards and stomped around for another quarter of them. His lesson today was just review (thank goodness) so I crossed off half the problems on the page and set him to work. It should have taken 15 minutes max to finish. It took an hour.

Meanwhile I turned to Ladybug, who had finished her math, to do a phonics lesson. She did well, as usual, but by this point I was so frustrated I had very little patience to teach. We managed to finish her lesson (while listening to wails from Fritter) quickly, and I gave her the rest of her assignments.

Turning to Fritter, I knew we were in for trouble . His face in a scowl, he proceeded to let me know just how horrible one particular long division problem was. I asked him to set it aside so we could work on other things and when he came back to it, it would probably be easier for him. This turned into a verbal argument between me and my almost nine year old son that I should not have allowed to happen. (And yet another two steps back).

We finally were able to proceed with our religion lesson, which (ironically) happened to be about the fourth commandment: honor your father and your mother. That went well *more snark*.  But by the end of the lesson we had both calmed enough to continue with at least a little bit of grace.

Finally my teaching part was over and I handed Fritter his list of assignments and went off to make lunch (because somehow it was now time to eat again). In the kitchen I found Sunflower digging her hands into the coffee cake and shoving in mouthfuls.


Assuming she had enough lunch I sent her off for an early nap. After lunch I realized my kitchen was still a mess (remember the dishwasher hadn't been loaded) and there were toys and trains everywhere. Three baskets of laundry needed folded, and the one item I gave myself to do today (clean the fishtank) was never going to happen. My two older children were obviously not finishing up their schoolwork (though they had already been admonished to please be quiet thank you very much) and my two year old was desperately trying to get into every possible thing within his reach.

This is the point where I realized I could possibly lose my mind. I locked myself in my bedroom for a good cry and quick text to a friend to ask for her prayers (we had promised each other we would do that if we needed to). And then decided I hadn't blogged for awhile and this seemed like an excellent time.

I have to remind myself that not every day is like this. In fact most days are not like this. I am 36 weeks pregnant. And my back hurts and my feet are swollen and I'm so tired.

And next week is our last week of formal school until January (praise God!). Then I can focus on the house that seems to be falling apart around me.

This whole called to be virtuous in our home life thing? I'm pretty much failing right now.