Tuesday, October 29, 2013

5 Favorites

Hi y'all! I was slightly star struck when sweet Hallie asked me to host everybody's favorite mid-week quintuple roundup, but I quickly dusted off my casual-yet-engaged-nonchalance email response tone and said, "sure, I'd love to." Or something like that.

So welcome, Moxie readers! Link up your linear goodness below, and then go forth and celebrate the killer feast day lineup the rest of this week has to offer. My kids will be pounding the pavement Thursday night as a cousin-cast-off, hand-me-down duck and Superman in pajamas, respectively.
Dry run at the office today, complete with chocolate pre-gaming. 
I'm sorely tempted to craft my 8 month pregnant belly into some kind of regrettable costume statement too, but I suspect "haggard pregnant mother walks suburban streets in freezing temps" will have to suffice.

Without further ado, the favorites:

These curtains. 

I found them new via Goodwill (I go there kind of frequently) for around $10 a piece, and they make our family room shine. I have become more and more convinced of the wisdom of building a room around a single great piece of furniture or a fantastic print, and not the other way around. Whenever I buy something 'just because' and try to bring it home and fit it in somewhere, it inevitably ends up back in the giveaway pile or relegated to the man cave in the basement. Intentional shopping yields rooms that actually look, wait for it, intentionally designed. Mind blown.

Reading chapter books to my 3 year old. It turns out I don't hate reading aloud to my children, which is a bit of a relief. What I do hate? Most children's books. Imagine my surprise when a well-worn copy of Little House in the Big Woods made its way into Joey's little paws a couple weeks back and he fell immediately in love with the transportive literary power of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Tapping trees for 'pancake syrup' = totally awesome to little boy minds 
That's my boy. I mean, she does talk all about slaughtering meat and narrowly avoided panther attacks, so I guess it should come as no surprise that a little boy would find it all fascinating. But still. It's so cool to be reading something that doesn't tempt me to skip every other page. Or word. Shhhh, he'll catch on soon enough.

This stuff in mah hair. 

On the off chance that I'm showering and blow drying in a single day, I'll most likely be adding a dollop of this to my locks while still damp. It's the only product I use, actually, which isn't saying much considering I'm a paltry thrice weekly washer (don't judge, I've got a one wash per offspring ratio going here) and even more stingy with the hot air. I have fine, fine, fine baby hair, and lots of it, which equals limp and greasy looking with most any product added in. This stuff though? Does the trick without slicking me down. And it smells like environmental responsibility. And marshmallows.

Speaking of environmental responsibility, it looks like we may have been collectively barking up the wrong tree for a number of years now. Japan, a developed nation with true Zero percent Population Growth (ZPG) is reporting a crisis of "celibacy syndrome" in their under-40 demographic, in which younger Japanese have lost interest in traditional relationships and, in some cases, sex altogether.
"Japanese Celibacy Crisis"
(Oh Google image search, sometimes you get it so right.)
If that isn't a compelling argument against secular sexual ethics, I don't know what is. This piece is simply fascinating.

The "make a meal/freeze a meal" challenge. No, this is not a real thing, but it has become my personal quest to kill two hungry birds over the next two months and fill both my own freezer and those of my local and newly-delivered mommy friends with ready-to-heat goodness that doesn't start with a C and end in 'hipotle. 
That bag of two frozen pork chops? Totally counting that as a 'meal.'
I've never done much in the way of advance nesting, but maybe it's the estrogen this little lady is pumping into my system because I am all hands on deck this time around. It occurred to me sometime late last month that I could actually combine my one easy charitable activity (making meals for growing or grieving families) with some actual foresight for my own brood, and bam, the make/freeze self challenge was born. So far I've got 3 meals prepped and frozen in my freezer (and three happy families in the Denver metro area who scored some free, homemade goodness), which is three more times than I cooked in the first 3 months postpartum with either of my first two children. I'm thinking our waistlines and our bank account will benefit. 

There you have it folks, all the finest random ramblings that a Wednesday can contain. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Slowing Down

This past weekend saw lots of couch lying and bath-soaking on my part, with sprinklings of football and pumpkin carving. Pretty much the perfect recipe for fall, except that I spent most of it lying down watching from the sidelines.
Mommy crack.
This has been the easiest pregnancy so far, hands down, except for this past week, during which it has become painfully (ha) clear that I'm overdoing it, over extended, and over committed. When I realized sometime around 4 pm Friday that I can no longer comfortably carry either boy for longer than 15 seconds, it occurred to me that I'd better embrace this newfound infirmity before it progresses because 7 weeks is a looooong time for mommy to be out of commission.

After a glorious trip to the chiropractor this morning and lots of 'no's' to stuff I would otherwise have loved to accomplish over the weekend, I'm feeling less like I've been in a crippling car accident and more like I'm just 8 months pregnant. For the third time in four years. I always forget this part at the end where the gym doesn't soothe what ails me, but rather seems to inflame what aches me. Still, I am committed to the socialization of my pre-schoolers 90 glorious and child free minutes each afternoon between me and HGTV, so I'll probably keep going if only to creep along on a treadmill to the sound of bad pop music while my offspring learn important life lessons like how many consecutive loops of Cars can they rack up before the movie gets switched to some other animated masterpiece, and how many kids there are in the world named Hadley/Peyton/Hunter whose gender is a mystery revealed only by the sparkles on their footwear. Or lack thereof.

We've been doing lots of crafty things like shoving pipe cleaners in colanders, cutting newspapers into shreds with safety scissors, and gluing pieces of paper to other pieces of paper. Oh, and making lots and lots of buntings. To hang in every room. Pretty much 110% stimulating for all parties involved. 
Put a bunting on it.
One thing I am inordinately proud of is the slightly ghetto "Mass kit" I cobbled together via my favorite recycled retail establishment, which Joey has fallen deeply and profoundly in love with. 

I give him water to make wine with (he's a miraculous little chap) and rice crackers for hosts, and then he spreads his goods across the 'altar' of our coffee table and goes to town. 

Old liturgy of the hours book (breviary?), Spanish silver(!) 'chalices,' World Market coasters-turned-patens, and some assorted glassware for purification purposes. And of course Target RE brand altar clothes and purificators. Only the finest in liturgical vesting in this house. Bananas optional.
He begs me to read parts of the Eucharistic prayers to him and then he parrots them back and let me tell you right now: hearing a 3 year old solemnly intone "take this bwead, Lord" is the best thing you've ever laid ears on.
Stripes, the other liturgical color.
He is still not super engaged at actual Mass, but boy does he love calling the shots from his mini sanctuary in the living room. (Lest any vocational predictions arise, he also spends about 60% of the time he's 'saying' Mass talking about how he is going to be a daddy, so we're thinking he's got a Byzantine streak...)
Fr. Joseph and his faithful deacon, "Garry"
I'm trying to consciously choose what stays and what gives as we head into this most favorite of liturgical seasons (mine, anyway) and so far that looks like no gift-giving (aside from the bare minimum), no Christmas cards (in lieu of early January birth announcements), and a very limited social engagements calendar punctuated by the occasional dinner party, feast day celebration, baby shower and bridal shower. So far all my siblings and I have planned fall/winter weddings, which is both weird and fun, and that coupled with the 10 immediate family birthdays we have from September-January means crazy partying all yuletide long. So, let the games begin. I might be watching from the couch, and I might be planning to let my 3-year-old trick or treat in his Superman pajamas on Thursday night. In light snow. Lowered expectations, I've got 'em.

Friday, October 25, 2013

7 Quick Takes

1. Locked mah kids in the car today in the TJ Maxx Homegoods parking lot. More accurately, John Paul locked the pair of them in moments after I slammed the trunk shut. Upon hearing the fearsome 'beep, beep' I stuck my nose to the window to see a grinning 1 year old clutching a key fob and hitting 'lock' over and over again. 23 minutes and many, many mommy spectators later, we negotiated a tense and delicate cross-aisle handover from little to big brother, and my genius 3 year old (not quite smart enough to unbuckle his carseat on his own, however) correctly interpreted our frantic demonstrations of pushing 'the lefthand button!' and clicked them both free. Strangers were hugged, cheers erupted, and froyo was purchased and doled out to the survivors. The hugger complimented me on my cool collectedness throughout the ordeal, and I just wanted to be all, "thanks for not calling the cops."
pretty much.
2. Dave's boss came over for dinner tonight, which is kind of intimidating in its own right, considering, but in this case, was mildly panic inducing to a pregnant mama who is averaging maaaaaybe 3 cooked dinners per week. He is a lovely and affable gent, however, and a certain 3-year-old may or may not have had him under his spell before the night was out. In my opinion, it was Joey's impressive theological knowledge (he kissed his ring) coupled with the very winsome way he scooped the toppings off of several pieces of bruschetta before offering bare bread to our esteemed guest that cemented the friendship. That or the forced read-aloud of 25 minutes of Mother Goose with "Joey" replacing every actual name in the book. What can I say? We throw killer dinner parties.

"Can I kiss your ring?"
3. This baby be getting crazy up in here. She is flipping and flopping all over the place, but while the boys felt violent in their movements, she feels more like I'm smuggling a pack of kittens under my shirt. I'm really hoping all this wiggling around results in some flippage before out next ultrasound appointment, but after hearing from some lovely friends including sweet Ana and Mary, I'm less intimidated about the spectre of a 'breech' baby which my erstwhile Bradley education had me fearing with every fiber of my being.

4. My South Bend native sweetheart is going Han Solo to the Air Force/Notre Dame game, and I'm trying to think of fun ways to pass the Saturday afternoon/evening alone with the wolf cubs. So far I've come up with 1. volunteering via conscription in the parish nursery during the 4:30 pm Mass (should be a dream) and eating a very early dinner somewhere Mexican-y. Any chick flicks lurking around that I should be queuing up for my introverted evening in?

5. I happend upon a newly-opened H&M in my neighborhood the other night, and I scored some of the cutest maternity clothes that I've ever purchased in all my gestational years. With the deafening Euro house mix bumping on the speakers and all the confusing sizes, I felt right at Rome sweet home. Even down to the not-so-minor detail that my big American butt doesn't fit into their pants, at least not in any size I'd care to take home with me.

6. John Paul and I spent 10 minutes snapping selfies when his nap ended early this afternoon, and he took great delight in modeling several (clean) pair of Joey's undies on his head, cackling with unmitigated glee at the sight of himself. Joey was less than amused upon discovering the evidence...

7. How cute are my parents? I made my mom's Christmas cards for her when I was home last weekend, and this shot was perfect for the flip side.

Head on over to Cari's to see what the rest of Jen's minions are up to today.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

John Paul II, We Love You!

Thanks to Simcha I didn't miss my second born's namesake feast day, and we even cued her handy playlist for their lunchtime enjoyment/homeschooling lesson for the day week. Joey solemnly proclaimed that he 'loved this song, Mommy' while listening to Bl. JPII intone the Pater Noster in Basilica San Pietro during a papal mass all those years ago. He did not, however, recognize the church in question as St. Peter's, a sorrow that is breaking his pregnant mama's heart. Rome is fading fast from his 3-year-old mind, and the days that he asks me to teach him Italian words are fewer and farther between. I wonder if he'll remember much of anything from our time there...

I'm thinking about getting crazy and making JPII's favorite dessert for us to feast upon tonight, except for the tiny detail that I don't like baking and Dave will be at work until 10 pm. Perhaps I'll just spread butter and honey on something and call it Polish.

Taking a page out of Colleen's blog, please enjoy these gratuitous pictures of my John Paul dressed as JPII, and of both my boys 'meeting' our hero in Rome.

Maximilian Kolbe and John Paul, rocking (but somehow, losing) last year's All Saints Day costume contest.

Joey and Bl. JPII arriving at Fiumincino before the beatification

Nothing creepy about this ...

Joey is escorted by some San Pietrini ushers to touch the (newly installed) tomb of Bl. JPII the day after his beatification.
And John Paul touching the same tomb one year later. God is good.
Blessed JPII, pray for us!
(Thank you for all your prayers for the family I wrote about yesterday. Please keep them coming as they lay their little one to rest tomorrow.)

Monday, October 21, 2013

I Love to Feel Her Move

I'm typing this lying in an extremely awkward side-slump while I should be asleep in bed, because for the sake of all that is good and holy, it is 10:17 pm. But, my husband is lying next to me watching Duck Dynasty and what can I say, introverts come to life when the sun goes down.

I am approaching that point in pregnancy where it's big and serious looking, and by that I mean the belly. I can't see my toes, I can't lie on my stomach to troll Pinterest, and I certainly can't keep my maternity jeans up for more than 15 minutes at a time without a good, earnest hoisting.

I also can't go more than an hour or two before I feel her roll from one side to another or sweep a tentative foot or elbow across the stretched canvas of my abdomen. I'm loving this part of the pregnancy, aware that in a matter of weeks I may be too uncomfortable to wax poetic about wandering elbows and baby hiccups.

I can't believe how much more gentle this little girl is than her older brothers, even in the womb. I also can't believe that at 31 weeks she won't flip upside down and press her booty firmly against my diaphragm, lodging in the correct position for entry into the outside world. I've never had a baby in breech position for any amount of time in the third trimester, at least not that I've been aware of, and it kind of disturbed me for the first week or so that I knew about it.

My mind immediately started down the path of nuclear options as I agonized over the inevitability of a c-section, never mind that my little summer squash has 9 solid weeks to upend herself. And never mind that this entire pregnancy has been a series of 'what-ifs' where my mind concocted worst-case-scenarios ranging from being unable to hail a taxi on Christmas day in Rome and therefore giving birth in my favorite bar adjacent to St. Peter's Square (a legitimate concern, truly) to spending an agonizing 24 hours worrying that she had Down Syndrome after a 24 week ultrasound revealed that she had short femurs. Which I then googled and,  halfway down page 2 of the results, noticed someone in a chatroom  somewhere mentioned this could possibly be included in a list of characteristics of DS babies. So naturally I went there. Never mind that her 5'11" father has a 29 inch inseam. The father in question forbid me from googling anything further about 'short femurs' and a follow up ultrasound a month later to check her growth revealed nothing but normal, short legs and all.

Dave tells me I've always been this crazy during pregnancy, and maybe he's right. But this one feels a little crazier. Perhaps it's the double dose of estrogen on board? I just cannot shake this impending sense of 'gotcha' coming our way from God because surely, surely, one family could not be blessed with three healthy babies in a row.

My trust is so little. My love is even littler. I have a completely warped sense of God's mercy and His love, and so I bathe my brain in anxiety as I wait in fear for the Next Bad Thing to happen. The fact that nothing really bad has actually happened to us? Proof that we're due for a big, fat dose of redemptive suffering.

Never mind that 3 babies in 4 years has come with plenty of its own suffering, or that the very real sacrifices of parenting small children have the ability to sanctify even the most hardened sinner. I'm still that servile, crouching older son, living in my Father's house and resenting the hell out of my position, not recognizing that I have truly been given everything that is His. Everything. But I'm still afraid.

Late last week I got a call from a girlfriend of mine who is newly pregnant with number three. She was worried, she'd seen something on facebook, and had I heard anything about the pregnant wife of our mutual family doctor? I'd been to a prenatal appointment the day before and chatted with this good and holy man who delivered my first child and both of hers, and everything had been fine. I was sure of it. The text I got from her later that night stopped my heart beating; their little boy, 39 weeks in utero, had suffered an umbilical cord accident and been delivered via induction, stillborn, earlier that afternoon.

With the hands that had guided hundreds of babies in our community safely into the world, he had baptized the lifeless body of his own son, whose life he was powerless to preserve.

I wanted to die when I heard that something so horrible had happened to someone so good. I don't understand this kind of suffering. And I don't understand how I could possibly waste another minute of this pregnancy, worrying over one million possible outcomes while the present moments slip away, kick by kick.

And so even though I cannot fathom their grief or lift a single ounce of the burden from this family's shoulders, I can commit my mind and my heart to fully embracing this pregnancy, and the little life within me, for the only real certainty any of us has: the present moment.

Sweet Genevieve, please forgive me for all the nights I've worried over you and tried, by the force of my anxiety, to will your safety into being. I'm ready to surrender the illusion of control that was never mine, and to try to answer St. Gianna's challenge to 'Live holy the present moment.' Pray for your mommy, won't you? I'll see you in a couple months.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

5 Favorites: 3rd Trimester

I actually love the beginning of the final trimester, because I'm usually all like heeeey, I'm totally in my third trimester and I feel fine. And I look fine, too! I then promptly forget about the misery that is month 9-10, and convince myself that I'm really only going to gain 20-something big ones this time around and that I am the fittest preggo to ever ascend the elliptical machine.

It's basically my pregnancy honeymoon, month 7 is. Though I did have my first "You look just about ready to give birth!" run in with an elderly cashier at Walgreens earlier this week, who followed up with a knowing, "Oh, well, it must be a big baby boy!" Ummm, nope and nope. But thank you kindly for the helpful observations.

Anywho, the favorites:

1. Comparison shots. Even more helpful than googling "30 week pregnant belly" is looking at your own 30 week pregnant belly, the early years. I couldn't find one of Joey's pregnancy from exactly 30 weeks, but I was gargantuan with him pretty much the entire last trimester thanks to some hydroamniosis and, I suspect, my daily White Cheddar Cheezit habit. (Megan, if you're reading this, I blame you as a co-conspirator.) For JP, in true second born style, I have like, 2 pictures from the entire pregnancy, one at 20 something weeks and one at 39 weeks, neither of which worked, so, sorry son. At least you're getting siblings out of the deal.

33(?) weeks - Joey. And yes, we had professional maternity shoot. In a botanical garden. Nothing says obnoxious like juxtaposing your burgeoning belly with blooming foliage. 
30 weeks - Genevieve. Please forgive the half belly caused by ill-fitting non-maternity yoga pants. Get thee to an overpriced maternity store this weekend, I will.
2. Weekly self-manicures. My current color obsession is navy and gold, and I've been keeping my fingers uncharacteristically polished, telling myself that it's now or never in the personal hygiene/relaxation department. I've literally locked the boys in the backyard in order to feed the addiction. Judge away, anons.
(Not my grown out bare cuticles, ftr.)
3. Waking up at night. No, I'm being serious. Not being woken up by angry toddlers, mind you, but the sort of restless 2 or 3 am waking where you realize, with some relief, it's only hunger or the urgent need to pee for the 18th time since 10 pm that's calling, and not a squalling newborn kitten begging for more milk. The feeling of being able to go back to sleep upon waking unexpectedly is sheer bliss. Bliss, I tell you.

4. Can I talk about my Blanqi again? No? Okay, I'm just going to go ahead and give them one more shout out, lest anyone out there in retail land be reading and feel the need to send another one or four my way just because, well then, by all means. 
I'll take one in this color, per favore
I.love.this.thing. I want one in every color, and I want a couple more that are regular length versus the long that I originally ordered, which, don't get me wrong, I love for its ass-shaping capacity, but looks goofy pulled halfway down my thighs over jeans. Though, in its defense, it does hold up the stupid jeans. Why don't full panel maternity jeans stay up? Any thoughts? Besides my huge, huge ass? Heard enough about my ass in today's post? Thought so.

5. If Pope Francis had a ghostwriter, I think she'd be Simcha Fisher. 

I could not put this down last night, and seriously had several 'aha, gonna pray about that' moments while reading. I'm 60% through the Kindle version and I'm la-la-loving it to death. Or to life, perhaps more appropriately.

Happy fall, y'all. Hopefully Hallie's got more of the good stuff 'round her place.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Loudly, Repeatedly, and Frequently

A transgendered woman walks into a bar in Denver...oh wait, scratch that, a Planned Parenthood clinic.

It turns out that Planned Parenthood - you know, the world's largest and most profitable abortion business? Yeah, them. Well it turns out they still can't perform mammograms, despite Cecile's ardent assurances during election season to the contrary. Even when you don't, in fact, posses a pair of breasts for them to examine.

This lovely piece from a local news station here in Denver highlights the struggle of one transgendered 'woman' seeking consultation over a suspicious breast lump. (Is it too far to joke that the suspicious lump may indeed be the breast itself, hanging out on a male body? Yes, probably too far.)

Anywho, PP turned her away because she is actually a 'he,' and thus the latest kerfuffle in the land of WTF/anything goes/ reproductive rights R ours.

Can't make this stuff up, people.

In other news, it may come to light that the employee who turned him/her down was sporting a classic "October Pink" Susan G. Komen popped collar polo at the time of the incident. Further investigation pending on whether or not Nancy Pelosi plans to grandstand on the issue of a federally-funded distribution of "Save the Man Boobies" rubber bracelets. Once the shutdown ends, that is.

But not a mammogram. Had to hit up a real doctor's office for that one.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fuel Efficiency

I don't have it. Perched here at 30 weeks I'm juuust starting to remember the thrills of pregsomnia, so at 5:57 am when I sprang out of bed with a clatter, I decided to just start mah day off right: with black espresso and a super clean refrigerator.

By 8 am all mouths were fed, the fridge was emptied, scrubbed, shined, polished, and reassembled, and Dave was off to work uncharacteristically early, so I called an audible and took the fearsome twosome to Mass. Joey lamented bitterly upon hearing of our intended destination "but it's NOT a Mass day. We went yesterday." Touche, kid, but I have this crazy idea that repeated exposure will yield desirable results in the behavior department, and so off we went.


I exited the sanctuary after 32 minutes of intense wrestling and whispered ecclesiology lessons, soaked in sweat down to my newly-polished Fryes and ready to hit up Saver's for a quick inventory check (Ann Taylor cardi in peacock blue, LOFT tank large enough to fake maternity style, and Liz Lange two toned t-shirt dress, $17 dolla) and then it was off to story time at the local helicopter parent pad, complete with waving scarves, literally 40+ children between the ages of 1 and 4, and a very effective story telling librarian wearing a trachea mic. (Is that such a thing? It was a computer dangling from a string over her voicebox. And I found it terrifying.)

Basically we had an amazing morning. But I think I robbed Peter blind in so doing, because Paul was dead on the couch by 12:45 pm, unable to do much of anything during the blissful beginning of nap time aside from surfing Pinterest (basically pumpkin porn at this time of year) and check, re-check, repeat the online bank account in search of a pending paycheck. But alas, the 14th is not the 15th, and money doesn't grow on trees nor does it manifest by the sheer force of will or page refreshes. C'est la vie.

In summation, busy and efficient mornings in the third trimester yield equal and opposite afternoons. Now I'm off to mentally redecorate my tan wasteland of a family room using only my imagination and the power of the interior design blogosphere. Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Broad Spectrum Mothering

I just swept my kitchen table with the same broom I'd used moments before on the post-lunch bombed out floor under the swine's side of the table, and felt only the vaguest sense of shame washing over my subconscious in so doing.

Having spent the morning procuring various essential oils named after Olive Garden staple ingredients at our local Vitamin Cottage, I then trotted my two sick tots down to our NFP only, "vaccine whatever-you-say-goes, mom" family doctor where we waited half an hour to score some pink syrup in a BPA-full bottle. The good stuff. You know what I'm talking about.

Did I mention that while the boys were playing in the waiting room I gave them each a toxic plastic fire-engine shaped sippy cup to sip unfiltered tap water through? Or that I bought the pair of them used at Goodwill earlier this week.


Later on we ate organic cheese and gluten free quesadillas before I rubbed both their feet and chests down with Italian herb and cheese scented oils and sent them off for a long afternoon nap. And it occurred to me: I am all over the board with this motherhood gig.

I have friends who babywear exclusively for months and months and monthsandmonthsand...don't actually own strollers. Or don't use them, anyway. I also have friends who co-sleep, friends who work as doulas, friends who feed their kids Kirkland's best frozen pizzas without batting an eye, and friends who spank swiftly and surely.

Some of us are vaccine avoiders, others are FDA-approved compliers. Some like organic berries and buy the rest conventional, and others wouldn't set foot inside a Walmart if there was an Anthropologie giftcard dangling enticingly over the 'entrance' sign.

I don't know if this is a unique phenomenon to practicing religious mothers or not, but for my circle of friends, far-flung across the globe and across the income spectrum, it seems like our philosophies for life and parenting are more informed by the Catechism than by the cultural pulse on parenting trends.

I have been to a breastfeeding support meeting where a woman tearfully admitted to some abusive behavior on the part of her husband in front of the entire group of moms...and the discussion immediately honed in on his demand that she give the baby a formula bottle at bedtime. Um, what? I was wondering if I had somehow become high off my neighbor's patchouli essential oil body butter because doubleyou tee eff, this woman had just uttered a kind of cry for help and everyone weighed in on the audacity of her husband to suggest formula. Forest for the trees, huggers?

In Catholic parenting circles, at least the ones I float through, there doesn't seem to be this rabid need to 'define' one's parenting style patterned after some theory or school of thought or whatever...aside from natural law. And the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. So we don't use contraception, we don't abort inconvenient family members, and we don't discuss divorce as an option with our girlfrinds over cocktails. We also don't do much husband bashing, as Kaitlin thoughtfully observed in her post yesterday.

As far as the actual nuts and bolts of it all? Bring it on. It's so nice to be able to discuss this or that idea/behavioral theory/discipline strategy without someone shutting down or feeling personally attacked because you just questioned their belief system. And believe me; I've been to enough playgroups where Dr. Sears is a prophet, and chiropractic care versus Western pediatrics is the only responsible choice a loving mother would make for her child.


Pass the sugar-laden dum dum bribe sticks and the organic Vitamin D milk. We're all the hell over the place at our house, and figuring it out as we go. Thankfully, I can still meet my dairy free yoga-practicing friend for a trip to the mall, where we can discuss the proper dosing recommendations for garlic oil during ear infections along with J Crew's fall catalog, and nobody feels the slightest bit put out by anyone else's best practices on the home front. That's what I call freedom.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Up All Night

Ex-utero bambino number two has been dripping with snot and sorrow for the past 3 days and seems to find comfort only in my arms - or more accurately, clawing up my back - lying in out bed at 3 am. And 4 am. And 5 am. He is a special, special boy whose universe is going to be rocked and rolled come Yuletide, when a smaller, more persistent screamer will no doubt be making her bedside appearance.
What do you mean you're "upgrading?"
I hate co-sleeping for a million reasons, the primary being when they are in bed with me, I.don't.sleep. Oh, maybe a little bit of drunken slumber in between nurse-a-thons those first dark, hazy weeks, but I always wake up in a startle of sweat and hormone-induced panic "Omg where is baby where is baby what is that noise where am I which side is he on?" etc ad nauseum until the sun shines through the crack in the window shade and I stumble for the espresso maker. That's right, the espresso maker. Maybe you're still drinking coffee soup in the morning like the rest of America? My condolences. I need the high octane beverage equivalent of jet fuel to get my morning started. Best part of waking up is crack caffeine in your cup, and all that.

I've heard it's better to drop the wee bebe into a nearby bassinet or packnplay in your luxurious master suite, but we don't have the real estate for that kind of set up, and if I'm going to heave myself out of bed to drop someone in a crib, it might as well be located 15 more steps down the hall.

Nighttime parenting is one of the aspects of raising children that absolutely convinces me of the vocational nature of mother and fatherhood. Being a well-fed, gainfully-employed American, there is simply no other area in my life where I come face to face with actual physical suffering on a regular basis, except maybe the delivery room itself.

But at night? Waking repeatedly and frequently against my will and having to tend to the needs of an irrational bundle of joy is the most arduous aspect of this family gig, at least for my flabby soul, and God knows I need the opportunity to practice self-denial.

I go to the gym, I make decent food choices, and I tithe...but I do all these things when I feel like it. Sure, sometimes I put a workout off a couple hours or skip it completely, but I make up for it by redoubling my efforts the next time. There's no real virtue involved in it for me, though. Even in my more athletically ambitious days when I was swimming competitively and running half-marathons, I did all these things because I wanted to.

Parenting isn't like that. Sure, the initial pink-lines-on-a-stick was the direct result of something I wanted to do. But the rest of it? Not so much. At least not all the time.

Being called to physically, emotionally, and mentally put myself, my needs, my preferences, and most importantly (for me) my comfort aside day after day is literally my only shot at becoming a saint.

Some days I'm certain it's my only shot at ending up a halfway decent human being.

The way I lie in bed after the litany of complaint from down the hall has started, praying my husband will react first, or that the siren will peter out and I can roll back over and pass back out, the extra 10 or 20 seconds I keep staring at the computer screen after  Joey calls to me "Mommy, look!" or even the disgust I feel toward the middle of each pregnancy, when baby is only half cooked but I already look fully inflated...all of these tendencies say far more about me any my own selfishness than they do about the "neediness" of my kids.

I've said it before and I'll say it here: thank God they need me so much. Thank God they literally need the Hell out of me day in and day out, because I'd literally be cooking happily to death in my own selfishness otherwise, watching re-runs of House Hunters and eating leisurely lunches involving cooked ingredients and green things. And maybe shopping at Pottery Barn just because I felt like it. Nothing wrong with any of those things, by the way, except for me these small, selfish pleasures would consume my entire waking hours, perhaps with the occasional charitable 'event' on the weekend to assure me of my basic decency as a human being.

God knew I was too lazy to practice any kind of asceticism, self-denial, or even good old fashioned discipline on my own. At least not where it counted, and not when I didn't "feel like it."

I can say with almost 100% certainty that I never, ever feel like getting up with a crying baby at night. But I do it. And every time it happens, maybe - just maybe - my tiny grinch heart grows a tenth of a size or something. Am I willingly taking up my Cross to follow Him? Well, still working on the first part of that directive. But every time I act "as if" and follow along anyway, I'm getting closer.

(This post sponsored by hideously ineffective Up-and-Up brand infant tylenol, some $7 homeopathic "congestion clearing" crap we bought at Target, and sheer exhaustion.)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Love that Multiplies

... and subtracts years from your life.

It's 8:16 on a Tuesday night, and it feels like midnight on Saturday. I just yelled to my 3-year-old from across the house threatening to "call Mr. Traynor so he can come over and spank you." as he lies wailing in his room for the 5th consecutive evening in a row of bedtime protestations. (Mr. Traynor, for the record, is my parent's 70-something next door neighbor and a good family friend and not at all scary, except I guess he is, when I use his name in vain.)

Yesterday Lizzie and her brood crashed at our house for what effectively turned out to be a 24 hour toddler endurance marathon, complete with sword fighting injuries, slapping fights, incidences of public urination, and nap boycotting. Holy hell, there's a reason kids usually come one at a time. Mothers of twins and beyond...you have my unending admiration and respect. Mothers who custom-order Duggar sized broods from laboratory facilities...you are effing crazy.

You see, in between wiping up vomit and spreading peanut butter on tortillas, I thought good and hard about grace and nature and the way God designed parenting and motherhood in particular to function.

And I realized something: He won't give us what we can't handle. Unless, of course, we demand it, ripping it from His hands like spoiled children who 'know better.' And I think that's a decent explanation of what is going on with forms of assisted reproductive technology like IVF, and perhaps part of why, aside from the obvious moral quandaries regarding selective reduction of pregnancies, eugenic screening, and sex-selective abortions, the Church steadfastly condemns its practice.

I can't speak for every mom of course, but for myself and my comrade in arms yesterday, bare minimum mode would have been a generous description of what was going down. All these babies, all this noise, unbelievable chaos...and of course, it was good. It was very good. Children always are, no matter the circumstances of their conception or birth. But it was so evidently not ideal. And I kept thinking to myself, why, why oh why would anyone try to have three 2-year-olds at the same time? There's a reason triplets are genetically rare. It takes a special kind of mother with amazing grace to do this kind of zone defense, and the ladies who hit that kind of fertility lottery are few and far between. Except increasingly, they're not. And I wonder if that's a good thing.

Our particular cousin buddies are 3.9 years, 3 years, 1.9 years, 18 months, and 5 months, respectively. There's a good reason why one single family could probably not have put up those kind of numbers, biologically speaking. (Adoptive parents, my hat goes off to you for a million and one reasons, and this line of reasoning excludes your beautiful families, fyi.)
Charlie and John Paul, separated by a mere 6 months and a whopping 12 pounds.
What I'm rambling on about is the fact that God didn't intend biological motherhood to produce children this close together in age, or (in 99.9% of naturally occurring cases) in number. The ratio is untenable. The chaos is unimaginable. And the fun...oh yes, there was fun. But mostly there was screaming. From all parties present, I think, until bedtime rolled around and the world's best daddy  spelled us girls for a much-needed night excursion to my favorite thrift stores.

If you managed to hang on this far, I salute you, because the prose it is a 'ramblin and the letters on my screen are kind of blurring together. All I'm really sure of is that my mini van was the picture of serenity on our drive home this evening, sans cousins, where my thoughts were interrupted only by intermittent strains of "Happy birday!" chirped from the backseat, accompanied by the soothing dialogue of Disney's "Cars" bumping on the system. 2 exterior babies, 19 months apart? Bliss, sheer bliss, I tell you. I have one arm for each of them, so far, and I'm crossing all my fingers and toes that when little Miss makes her debut this winter, Master Joseph will be a whole lot lower on the imminent physical needs scale than he is even now. And that's how it was designed.

Joey is awfully fond of baby Charlotte. "I just love her and she is so pretty."
They come out a squalling bundle of needs and then gradually, almost imperceptibly, the needs ... change. They don't necessarily let up, but they grow and evolve with the child, and the next thing you know, the baby who nursed round the clock and whose diaper was always in need of a change is suddenly a little boy whose most pressing demand is the knowledge of why cats meow and what makes the clouds turn colors at night.

Nothing like a little perspective to help put your own house in order.

Big baby gets what he wants. And speaking of big babies, check out that 28 week mountain.