Tuesday, August 19, 2014

PSA: Blog or food? I picked food.

Well friends, 
I actually had someone ask me via email why my blog has been so quiet. 

The answer?
It all boils down to one little thing: $

Now, nobody likes to talk about their financial crises to the world, but I'm not self conscious about our need to be frugal (Plus, given that we have food and shelter and more than most people in the world, I must acknowledge the lack of real crises).

Our little single-income home has had quite the summer of surprise expenses, not the least of which was my computer just deciding not to work.  

It never got dropped, hit, or mishandled in any way. It rarely left my desk!  It just didn't work one day. It's an Acer in case you're thinking about avoiding this situation.  

So this leaves me with my phone for blogging purposes, and even with good blogging apps, it is just not convenient.

Sigh!

About a week before the computer died, we got the air conditioning done in our van, then after my computer died, our fridge died too!  We do have credit cards, but we're not fans of debt, so for all intents and purposes, we're saving for big purchases. 

So in my shoes, on a tight budget, what do you choose? Blogging, or the ability to store food for more than a day or two. I like outings to the store - but not that much.

So there you have it, folks.

Now, any computer recommendations for me when I can in good conscience purchase one?

I'm fluent in Mac or PC and partial to neither.

Keep an eye out for a post on frugality and needs vs. wants/stewardship of family funds from a Catholic perspective.

Thanks for your patience!


Friday, June 27, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 24

Linking up with Jen today:

These will be muy rapido, because I'm actually packing to go to this conference and need to get it done before the baby is done.

ONE:

Storytime!

Once upon a time, an awkward teenaged girl went to a Catholic conference.  Year after year she'd go, meet friends, praise God (unfortunately, in that order), pine after teenaged boys, and tolerate her family.  With each passing year, the priorities of the girl changed. This conference became a yearly spiritual pilgrimage where God came first, family second, and those teenaged boys? Men with families. The girl also met a lovely husband and now they bring their growing brood to the very same place. 

I reminisce about the changes in my life every time I return to the pilgrimage site where the conference is held. It's also a place I remember my Dad being happiest before he died, so that's something, though it'll never be quite the same.  It'll be the 4th year that I'll need to have a little cry about it. 

But God did such wonderful things for my family and I here, so I'm thankful and we'll keep going back.

TWO:

This:


Used to be my sister's.  It was in a pile to donate to charity, but my boys decided it was the perfect toy.  They play with their cars in it.  Essentially they're playing dolls, but with exciting themes like "Carter is the firetruck rescuing the racecar from the huge fire" or "We captured a monster and now we will cut off its head."

THREE:

This baby:


Is so huge. Not yet six months old and Zachary is 22 lbs.  I have an ache in my arms and back if I hold him for more than 20 minutes, which is more of a testament to my fitness level, or lack thereof.  It's still ridiculous that he's so huge.  I wish I could go back and tell my past self when I had issues breastfeeding that I'd eventually nurse giant Zachary into being.

FOUR:

The World Cup.

My sons witnessed the biting incident by  Uruguay player Luis Suarez on  the news the other night.  

"An opportunity to discuss sportsmanship with my sons," I thought.

But before I said anything, Patrick turned to me and said,
"Mom, you shouldn't bite in soccer, it will hurt your teeth." 
Carter added, "Dat guy bited! He needs to say sorry!"

So aside from Patrick being less concerned with the bitten party than the biter's teeth, I'd say CBC news did a fairly good job portraying the values to them. 

How much they actually absorbed from the news is something to also take note of (For me. Parenting stuff, you know).

FIVE:

Etiquette scruple:

I had two friends over yesterday, despite packing to leave this morning for our little pilgrimage, and during our visit, folded Mount Laundry, which I had saved for their visit so that I could efficiently use the time I'd normally just use making tea and cooing at babies.  I saw no other alternative, considering I wanted to see the ladies, one of whom is moving away soon, and the other whom lives across the country, but I also had to get the familiy's clothes ready to pack.

Was this a faux-pas in the mommy-date world?     

SIX:

Sorry for the bad photo. This is my attempt at redoing the upholstery and curtains in the trailer we acquired (for free!) to use for camping.  It was previously 1971 Orange, and a little worn, so I updated it. 


SEVEN:

Sewing with three kids underfoot goes like this:

1. Lay out fabric.
2. Explain to 4- and 2-year-olds what the fabric is for. Tell them yes, they can watch but they must not step on the fabric, eat or drink over the fabric or touch the fabric with Nutella hands.
3. Give the baby a toy. 
4. Begin to iron out the fabric.
5. Two minutes later, acquiesce the requests for sustenance. 
6. Send the big boys outside for their snack. 
7. Return dropped toy to the baby.
8. Measure out and begin cutting the fabric. 
9. Nurse the baby, put him down for his nap.
10. Pin the cut fabric. Turn sewing machine on.
11. Explain to the 4-year-old that hitting is never acceptable. Comfort 2-year-old
12. Sew for 3 minutes. 
13. Baby awakes. Change diaper.

And on it goes...
I got 4 of the six cushions done this week, the curtains done last week, and left the other two cushions 1971 orange, to be done at a later date.

We are off to get a hit of Catholicism for the weekend, I hope yours is just as lovely. 



Sunday, June 22, 2014

Answer Me This: First-ever

Linking up with Kendra at Catholic All Year for "Answer Me This".

1. When's the last time you got a new bathing suit?

3 years ago. 
I've worn it 5 times since then, so at that rate I will have it for 25 years before it starts to wear out.

Swimming and I don't have a great relationship. Aside from my body insecurities, I have an intolerance to chlorinated pools - something in the chemical mixture makes my skin dry and rashy. I swim in oceans, lakes and rivers just fine - but not living near a desirable body of water makes it a rare occurrence.

2. Who made the last incoming call on your phone?

Normally I would default to my husband or my mom, but I checked and was pleasantly surprised that it was my friend Sara. 

I'm not great at phoning people, so nobody seems to call me either.  I text my friends for play dates so that phones ringing don't wake babies or disturb naps and I guess it's also because I can quickly say what I want to say without obligatory small talk.  

Such an introvert am I. Perhaps I'd find myself having better friendships if I took up calling people once in awhile.

3. If you receive communion, do you receive it on the hands or on the tongue.

I've done both. Currently I'm an in-hand reciever.

My First Communuion was in-hand, and I always go back to that, hands flat, left over right (unless I'm holding a baby), and I make sure to clearly say "Amen."

I do this because it seems confusing for those serving to place it on the tongue because they're used to the in-hand method.  I don't think they'd balk too much at it, but I also don't want to draw attention away from the Eucharist by being the odd woman out. 

It's the same reason we don't kneel at the consecration when we're in a parish that doesn't. We want others to focus on Jesus, not on us.

4. Do you have a tattoo?

No, and I probably never will.
I almost got a tattoo in remembrance of my Dad, who died in 2011. It would have been something like this: 


But much smaller (2 inches) and incorporating wheat somehow. 

Then, as I was going to make the call to book it, I thought to myself, "Wait a minute, why would I get a tattoo to remember someone who thought tattoos were ridiculous and unnecessary?"

I stick to the temporary ones my kids get at birthday parties. 

5. How many dinner plates are in your house?

20, and they're Corelle. I wanted to register for some beautiful stoneware, but Joseph already had been given these plates from his mom, so ever the practical couple, we registered for things like a vaccuum and an iron and a sewing machine instead.

6. Do you have an accent?

Yes. I'm a Canadian from Alberta so I have a prairie accent, which is hard to explain. But I don't say "a-boot" for about, that's more of an Eastern Canada or Ontarian thing - but I'm sure there are Easterners and Ontarians who would debate me there. I also find Ontarians more nasal-sounding, and Newfoundlanders and Maritimers have a bit of a faster rhythm in their speech.

I do say "eh?" But not a lot (I think).

When I lived in Scotland eight years ago, most people just assumed I was American if they heard me speak, but the odd few told me that Canadian accents sounded a bit "softer" than American accents they heard on T.V. 

It's relative to where you are, eh?



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

When Breastfeeding is Hard


"There she goes writing about breastfeeding again, silly lactavist."

I get it. There have been lots of posts lately about breastfeeding in public. It's a cyclical subject, coming up at least once a year when some brave mom actually decides not to care what people think and feed her baby, then finds herself ostracized. Apparently we in North America are not all ok with bare breasts being used for a purpose other than being sexy.

My post isn't about that. I'm not going to defend public breast feeding or uncovered breastfeeding - I say, do it, or not, covered, or not. I nurse my babies in the way that is most comfortable for me, and it took me 3 babies to learn to do so. I wrote a post about it already, so let's move on.

Some women don't breastfeed. This, to me, is of greater concern.  There are a lot of good reasons for not breastfeeding, be it medical, financial, or being an adoptive or foster mom.  

But some don't breastfeed because it's hard.  It's recommended and even pushed by health professionals, and a lot of moms.  The lore of the day is that it is the most natural and best thing for babies and moms. It's actually scientific too. 

It concerns me so much because I struggled in the beginning of my breast feeding career and didn't know where to turn.

Nobody told me that if I had a c-section, my milk production might be delayed. Nobody told me that if I was pumped full of drugs (which I needed for the c-section) my baby might be lethargic and less-than enthusiastic about nursing from the get-go, and nobody told me that breastfeeding would hurt. 

All three of these things occurred. And all I heard about breastfeeding was that it was "best for baby", "easy", "should not hurt", and that formula was the devil's food (okay, slight exaggeration with the latter). 

So picture me, four days post-partum after a cesarean, my nipples were raw from constant feeding, and my milk still hadn't come in.  In tears of exhaustion and defeat, I fed my son the formula that had been sent home from the hospital with us, and sent my husband out for more.  I struggled into my bed, took some Tylenol because my incision was still hurting, and cried myself to sleep, feeling like I'd failed at motherhood because I'd failed to breastfeed. I was a pitiful sight. 

Church was the first place I went after the baby's birth and I fed my baby under a blanket - not because of modesty though, but because I was so ashamed that I was feeding him formula.   

I was the first of my friends to have a baby, so I did not have any young mom friends to confide in about my struggles. My own mom admitted she didn't remember it being difficult, and my mother-in-law bragged about how it was so easy that she could stand and make lunch while her babies ate.  The lactation consultant I'd had at my checkup showed me how to latch the baby properly, which I had already learned to do from YouTube, and assured me that it shouldn't hurt.  It still hurt. It turned out I had a yeast infection in my breasts which went un-diagnosed because my baby didn't have thrush.

It would go on hurting for 4 more months, the pain lessening as I breastfed more and supplemented with formula less, and of course, treated the yeast infection. In that time, I read all about breastfeeding in books and online, determined to "get it." As I read more and more, I fell in love with the concept of breastfeeding. Our bodies are truly amazingly made. Comedian Jim Gaffigan talks about how amazed he is that his wife can fully nourish her children "with her body!".  I was equally awed at this prospect. So I passionately fought the battle of misinformation, pain, and the awkward clumsiness that comes with doing something physically new.

By 5 months, I won. I was exclusively breastfeeding my son.  No more expensive formula, no more sterilizing bottles and finally, peace in my heart about my body's ability to sustain my baby.  

While that battle was raging, I was fighting another one on another front. How to nurse in public when I had to actually see my breast and use both hands to latch the baby (to avoid pain and inefficient feeding) was beyond me. Sometimes I'd be with my husband, who would kindly hold up a blanket, or I'd be around only women, and I'd explain my issue to them, and go uncovered. 

It was in front of other men that I felt compelled to cover, because after all the talks on modesty I'd taken in as a young Catholic, I just knew that baring my breasts would counter everything I'd come to "know." I thought that if wearing a low-cut shirt would lead men to sin, then my whole breast would surely send them to hell.  

But my baby hated when I tried to cover him, though I tried and tried. Even a scarf would be angrily wrenched away when it touched his cheek.  Usually I would end up just leaving if there were men present, and I'd sulk in some other room, isolated from the laughter, conversation and fun of being with friends.

But I figured this was my cross to bear as the idiot who couldn't figure out breastfeeding/modesty while doing so.

It was only when my other friends became mothers, and I began to meet and talk with more moms that I realized the lies that I told myself:

1. Breastfeeding should feel natural. 
It might very well feel natural eventually, but not necessarily when you've never done it and have rarely seen it.

2. It should not hurt.
For some people, it hurts a little - or a lot - at first.  Think about it,  prolonged sucking on a body part - it's bound to cause some irritation. 

3. It's easy.
Not always. When you're anticipating pain, wrestling a flailing, hungry baby into submission, because you've missed or don't yet understand his early hunger cues, and trying to be quick about it, it's far from easy.  

4. Formula is the devil's food.
Obviously not. Many babies grow up on formula. Some mothers need to feed formula.  That being said, it's scientific that breast milk is best suited for babies, and in my personal experience, makes for a happier child. Plus it's free. 

5. A Catholic woman must cover to maintain her dignity.

This is up for debate in the blogosphere and in my circle of personal friends. I'm just going to put this thought out there:

I'm personally ok with any woman who decides to simply feed her baby, bare breast or not, because after my struggle, the important thing for me is that she is breastfeeding. She's doing the best (scientifically supported) thing to feed her baby.

I know some moms won't relate to this. Breastfeeding has been easier for the majority of my friends than it has been for me.  But there will be women who have similar struggles to mine, which is why I write this. There will be moms who want to give up when it gets too hard to breastfeed, even though they know about the benefits and beauty of breastfeeding in theory.  These moms are the ones who really don't need to be critized or ridiculed or made to feel like they're stupid and inadequate. They just need love and support.

Breastfeeding is hard enough without the public shaming, so I need to ask, can't we just put all of our opinions about public/private aside, look at the bigger picture and just do what is best for our kids? 


Monday, April 14, 2014

Why I must take a break from blogging

I don't know how many people regularly check up on my blog, but I've deemed it necessary to explain that no, I didn't die, get a terminal illness or have anything happen to me.

I just need a little break.

I need to sort out some things in my life - from closets that haven't been cleaned since we moved to our home, to whether or not to re-enter the workforce.

I've got a baby to nurse and two other little guys to keep out of trouble, plus a house still in mid-renovation, and of course, a husband to love and spend time with.

It's not that I don't want to blog. In fact, basically whenever anything happens I think, "I should write a post about X," and then I begin a post, but don't finish it, because I've got too many other things going on. 

What I do want is for this blog to be good.  I want to update you on the happenings around here and sometimes tap out some deep thoughts - but I also need to balance that with being wife, mom, friend and whoever else I am.

It's pretty easy to write about my life while sitting in my pj's, but in my Lenten exploration of self, I've realized one thing: I'm not living the way I want to

I want to be fully dressed and in the midst of a somewhat organized and relatively peaceful life, not telling the kids they need to wait for me to finish blogging so I can get them socks from the dryer.  The socks should be in drawers already, know what I mean?

I have made blogging an escape from the reality that I'm not doing what I really should be doing to be satisfied.  I know, that's pretty vague, but there are too many specifics to go into. Whole other posts could be written about them. 

So I'm putting my blog on hold.  No more escapes.  I'll be just living for awhile.

So, dear friends, till next time.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Mommy-Wise Monday

It's here, it's here, it's finally here! My attempt at some meaningful fruit from my little blog!

I decided to resurrect Mommy-Wise Monday - because there's such amazing beauty and wisdom that comes from being a mom.  So, without further ado, my little story about becoming a wiser mom.

---

October 2013:

I was drowning.

Drowning in a way I thought nobody would or could understand.

Seven months pregnant with our third child, with two boys, ages 3 and 1, I was at a crazy point of exhaustion.  Understandably so.

But it wasn't just that. I wish it were just aches and pains and tiredness from pregnancy that made me feel like I couldn't mother my boys. It was more.

Anxiety plagued me day and night. I had gone to bed every night for seven months feeling anxious, for no apparent reason.  During the day I would agonize over every detail of life, and feel like my own walls were going to collapse in on me.  I would be irritable to my husband. I didn't want his touch. I was cold.  I would yell at the kids for things that normally wouldn't phase me.  Make them feel worthless for spilling milk, or wearing their shoes a little further than the doormat. 

"What is wrong with me?"

I asked myself that every day. 

Eventually it came to pass that I had yelled at the kids almost all day.  Joseph came home and I froze him out, yelling that I had no idea why I felt this way.  I laid in bed and I wanted to die. 

Why? My other pregnancies had been similar - I was a little more high-strung, a little more irritable and cold, but nothing like this.  Each night I went to bed thinking the world was going to end tomorrow. 

I picked up the phone some days to call a friend... then I hung it up, thinking, "I'm way too depressing to be around."  The best I could do for social ventures was to make it to my mom's group, where my oldest was babysat while I visited with other moms and only had my littlest to deal with.  Each week I'd want to ask a friend to talk - and each week I'd fail at the conversation.

It turns out, upon talking to my doctor, that I may have sensitivity to progesterone, the hormone needed for pregnancy.  Spikes in progesterone can also cause PMS, of which I've been a long-time sufferer.  I didn't know this until the pregnancy was over, and the guilt I feel over the time I spent yelling at the boys and freezing out Joseph still bothers me.

But what is the lesson here? Well, here's the thing - I isolated myself in my misery.  I will always wonder what would have happened if I'd gone to my doctor, told my midwives how I was feeling or even just called a friend.

When my boys are having trouble, whether its playing with blocks or reaching the tap to wash their hands, they don't let their pride get in the way of saying, "I'm vulnerable, and I need someone stronger or bigger or smarter to help me."

Sometimes even moms need someone. Some help.  What I see in my boys, in that willingness to ask, is what I'd like a little more of. 

Most importantly, I know I need to be asking the Biggest, and Strongest and Smartest - because He can definitely handle my problems when I can't.


---
 
Have something you'd like to share in the mommy-wisdom department?
Maybe you've already blogged it.  Send me a link, lets do an interview or guest post. I'm all ears.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 23

More amazing blogger adventures at Jen's (I completely agree with her on elephant-tranquilizers while flying btw).

Short version: Blogging woes and nice things, my need for another brain, my sad workout solution, ode to my espresso machine, a great post from someone else, brother and husband love.

ONE:
Blogging failure + victory:

I said I was resurrecting Mommy-Wise Mondays. Well, Monday came and went and I did not post my post to kick it off again. BUT - I did get a comment from Kelly at A Mom for Life, offering her wisdom sometime. As you'll see from her quick takes, she is full of mom-experience and probably just the perfect person to impart some mommy-wisdom to young upstarts like me (and you?). 
This Monday, it will happen. I wrote it on my calendar in red.

Let me know if you have any anecdotal life-lessons you think are valuable mommy-wisdom, and we'll talk about a guest post or interview.

TWO:

Lamenting over my need for technology:

I may have mentioned awhile back that I lost my iPhone. Well, the ramifications are still coming up. That thing held my entire life! I used the calendar to remind myself of appointments, get-togethers,  tasks, and I could remind myself days or hours ahead so that I'd have plenty of time to prepare and be on time.  It was my second brain!

Now, I'm stuck with writing things down on a calendar that I forget to look at. A calendar that doesn't buzz and ding at me to remind me of things. 

I have become a little less dependant on having social media at my fingertips 24/7 in losing my phone, but on little sleep and surrounded by constant toddler and baby noise, I really could use some help here. In highschool I wrote things on my hands... so if I don't purchase a new smartphone (and live without my buffer in the grocery budget), it may come to that. I'll just be the crazy woman in the store holding up her hand saying, "Is that an D or an O? Curse you constant hand-washing!"

THREE:

I'm finding it really hard with the endless winter and 2-month-head-cold, not to mention child needs, to beat the baby-weight (plus a little extra) off my body. Then on Wednesday I turned on the T.V. at 8 a.m., and lo-and-behold, the solution:

 


Bo on the Go is incredibly annoying. However - the boys actually love it. They do the running on the spot, the jumping, the stretching and get even more enthusiastic if I do it with them.

I actually put effort into it and got a decent workout with the added bonus of helping the boys expend some of their pent-up little-boy energy.

Desperate times people, desperate times.

FOUR:

I thought I loved coffee before I had a third baby. Now that third baby Zachary is here, I L-O-V-E coffee. It's to the point where I wake up and the first thing I think about is coffee, particularly espresso.  A bunch of friends got together after I had Zachary and bought me $50-worth of Starbucks cards, but when I am not already out, I use this:


Not a Tassimo or Keurig... just an old-fashioned espresso machine.
 
We bought this for $15 at Value Village a few years ago when people began abandoning making their own lattes and cappuccinos by hand. Kind of like when the ringer-washer went out of style - You know, because you actually have to scoop espresso into the little cup yourself. What an inconvenience.

Anyway, in case you're interested, my go-to "recipe" is to measure out enough fresh-ground espresso to make a double shot into 1 1/4 cups of steamed skim or 1% or almond-milk and a tbsp. of honey and a little bit of vanilla.  This is my sanity-potion, the elixir of life, and something I did not give up for Lent because I really believe that caffeine makes me a better mother.


Yum.
 
FIVE:

This post from Jenny at Mama Needs Coffee.

I read it over and over on Tuesday, which is exactly the day I needed to read it. Some days you just want to sell the kids and move to Hawaii. That was the day. Read the post for better context and a great perspective on having a life-giving attitude.

SIX:

Brothers.
It's a special relationship that brothers have. One that I haven't experienced, being a woman and all. I often think of a few families with a bunch of boys and look at those relationships - that best-friends-and-enemies-for-life relationship that brothers seem to have. I look forward to watching these little guys grow and evolve personality-wise and see where they end up in relation to each other. 

One third-in-line boy we know actually said "my condolences to the baby" when Zachary was newer.  Apparently being a third brother was hard.  However, this young man is very much what I'd like Zachary to be like one day, so it can't have been bad for him to be #3.


Patrick, imparting toddler wisdom to Zach.
 
 



SEVEN:

Joseph is a fantastic dad to our kids.  I've been thinking lately about what a steep learning curve it's been.  Before Patrick, Joseph had never changed a diaper and had held a baby rarely.  He never baby-sat or took care of little kids, and has really been thrust into it three-fold in the last 4 years.
As I was going through some old pictures, I was reminded that he does an awesome job.



Almost 2 years ago!