Wednesday, December 25, 2013

10 Things NOT To Say To An Overdue Mama

Our due date for our third boy was yesterday, and as we fully expected, but kind of hoped against, still no baby.

The wait, like with the last two, is once again eating at me.  I went 10 days overdue with both boys, and might have gone more if I hadn't been induced with the first, and helped along with some herbs, oils and acupuncture with the second.  My babies may just like to take their sweet time.

I feel like I should just be over it.  I feel like concentrating on a due date (which statistically is only 4-5% accurate, according to my extensive reading on the subject) is a bit ridiculous at best.  But because of my subsequent births, and a bit of eagerness, even by my midwives, to get those babies out at the 10 day overdue limit, has put me on an annoying ticking clock that I can't get out of my head.

This brings me to my ranty bit.  I have heard all of these things from various well-meaning people, two times over.  This time, the chance that I'll lash out irrationally at someone is a bit higher if we need to wait much longer. So I thought compiling a helpful list might prevent some weary pregnant mama from committing homicide - plus writing this all down is therapeutic for me. Enjoy!

10 Things NOT To Say To An Overdue Mama.

1. "You're STILL pregnant?"

Why ask this? There is really no less tactful or pointless question.  Do you see a baby? No? Then do not be an ass and make this lady, who would dearly like to meet her baby, feel like the slowest elephant on the block.

2. "Baby yet?" (Better yet, texting this every single day till the baby has actually arrived)

If you do this, your friend will have visions of punching you in the face.  Maybe not the first time, and if she's really charitable, the second time might get a pass too.  Third time though, wow... your face in her mind is accessorized with a beautiful black eye.  Rule of thumb is, ask once. Perhaps accompany it with something like, "You're in my thoughts."  Chances are, the parents will be more than ready and willing to shout the good news from the rooftops once the baby is finally born, and you'll hear about it, so go find something to do.

3. "You must feel like you've been pregnant forever."

Combine this with the above and you've got yourself two black eyes. Say this to someone who has been pregnant once, twice or three times more in the last few years, and you might have her mentally-breaking your nose too.  No matter how sympathetic you think you're being, this just doesn't help.  A caveat can be extended for people who have actually had the same experience.

4. "What will they do if you go too far past (the due date)?"

I personally have a love/hate relationship with this question. Hate it because it implies that "they" are in control of this pregnancy and that it is not a natural process, and it also implies that there's something failing in my body or something wrong with the baby that is causing it not to come at its pre-determined time.  Now, yes, there are risks, but MOST people were not born on their due dates and there is overwhelming evidence that most of the time, when mama is healthy and well, she can maintain the baby just fine for awhile longer than 40 weeks.  On the other hand, I like this because it gives me the opportunity to talk about how due dates are actually pretty unreliable in how they are calculated.

5. "Aren't due dates supposed to be pretty accurate?" 

No. No. No. They are a ball-park estimate. 4-5% accurate. That's not even a safe bet.  If there were a 4-5% chance of success in any other field, people just wouldn't base anything on it. Yet, with babies and due dates, we love to fixate on a day.  Now you know. Never ask this.

6. "Wow. Baby must be getting really big in there."

Yes. It must be. But nothing throws a woman whose birth is close on the horizon into more panic than the idea of a labour that goes badly, and big baby = harder delivery - so don't say this.   Even as someone who has pushed out a baby weighing 10 lb. 14 oz (read, nearly 11 lbs), it still freaks me out.  Do not imply that this is going to be harder than it needs to be.  There's nothing she can do about it now, so zip it.

7. "Have you tried... (bumpy car ride/ trampoline/ eating spicy food/ castor oil/ a long walk/ jumping jacks)?" 

Because you, in your infinite wisdom, gleaned from the Internet and old-wives tales have the solution. We know, your friend's friend did it and it "totally worked."  Your friend has probably already Googled it, and maybe even tried a few, so don't waste your breath.

8. "Well, you must just be too comfortable for the baby."

Again, that says to her, "there's something wrong with you."  NOT what we need to be hearing.  Wombs are sure to be lovely places for babies to stay, but eventually, they do come out - don't make a mom feel like if she can't deliver the goods (excuse the pun) in a time-frame, she's a Lincoln, not a Maserati.

9. "Aw... you're still here (look of sympathetic dismay)."

Of course she's still here! But despite the fact she'd much rather be in bed somewhere, having just met her new little one, she has decided getting out of the house is a good idea.  Be happy to see your friend, and as the old adage says, "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything."

10. "My friend's sister was really late too, and they (insert horrible story about a too big baby who had to be born via emergency c-section or the like)."

Wow, you always know just what to say!  Baahhh.
If you were about to do something really difficult, would you like to hear all of the ways it can go wrong? I've heard of people having heart attacks after running marathons, of surgeries that have been unsuccessful and ended in death, and of people who visit foreign countries and get mugged, but would you tell people this?  No! You wish them luck!

In short, be kind to pregnant women nearing the end.  These mamas are already in a bit of a fragile state. They're looking for comfort and encouragement while they wait.  No matter how eager you are to meet her new baby, I can guarantee her longing is about 100 times yours.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 14

More lovely takes at Conversion Diary.

We are in the final stretch of pregnancy, and I'm experiencing some brain fog and some major clarity all at once...  Can't remember why I opened a particular drawer, but I'll have some great revelation about trusting in God's timing that will totally blow my mind. A lot is going on, and yet, I'm sitting here waiting...

ONE:

I must begin briefly on a sad note to call for prayers for a family who has experienced devastating loss. For a few weeks I have watched and waited as a family from my hometown searched for their son, who left his house on December 1 and disappeared.  There was an extensive search done in the community, and it ended in tragedy when he was found dead. It was confirmed yesterday that he committed suicide.

Please lift up him and his family in prayer:

I can not apologize for this sad note.  I was going to say something like, "Sorry to put a damper on your Christmas preparations," but I'm not sorry.
Sitting here, 9 months pregnant, there's not a lot I can do for this family but ask some praying families to lift them up - because right now, they are in desperate need of comfort.  So please pray.

TWO:

Things like the above have been on my mind.  Things that make it hard for families to celebrate Christmas. My family lost my dad over 3 years ago when he was killed in a car collision.  Christmas has been hard ever since, and I imagine it always will be.

The difficult Christmases we've experienced however, have reminded me that Christmas is not only about being with family, eating delicious food, giving presents and love and laughter.  Sometimes we treat Christmas like an untouchable, untaintable experience that must, at all costs, be happy, happy, happy.  But that's not the real Christmas.

Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The very same Jesus who would die for us. The very same Jesus who would experience the reality of being a man.  Christmas points to the reality of God's love and of His desire for us to join him in heaven.  It reminds me that our life here is temporary - my dad's death brings that temporary state home for me.  Christmas joy for me, now points to the joy that will be heaven.  Heaven that became possible through us by the birth of Jesus.  I suppose death - the reality of death - the REALNESS of humanity - mortality - has made the Christmas experience a little more poignant, but God's love all the more real.

THREE:

I was honoured be asked to give a talk at a mom's group I regularly attend, relating my pregnancy to the experience of Advent.  A friend of mine missed the talk, and asked that I turn it into a blog, so watch for it. I'll put it up in the next few days, you know, if I don't have a baby in the next few days. Babies are kind of a time-suck.

FOUR:

On Monday, I went to a little house concert performed by this lovely lady, Sarah Buckham.  I love her voice and her style.  I bought her CD (which I totally encourage you to do) and have not stopped listening to it since.  It might even come with me to the birth of this babe.

FIVE:

It is 8 a.m and my kids are still sleeping.  We attended an active birth class last night, and my mom watched the boys.  She must have tired them out, because usually they're upstairs waking us up before 7.  I've had time to have a coffee by myself and to actually have coherent thoughts.

SIX:

It's baby-prep day.  I need to do those little things, like make sure my hospital bag has my healthcare card and social insurance number in it, install the carseat (or get Joseph to do it, because well... my belly really makes it hard to hunch over in the minivan and fiddle with safety clips), get out the little clothes...

Snap! New train of thought... The little clothes! I look at them and I can't even believe my baby will be that small.  I also reminisce about each of the boys wearing them when I brought them home from the hospital, and when I took them to greet the public for the first time, and when they pooped those horrible poops that somehow don't even marr a baby's cuteness one little bit, but nonetheless, scar you for life.

Here's some photos of them, each almost a week old.
Patrick

Carter, fresh from the hospital (after 5 days in NICU)

SEVEN:

I asked my sister what her favourite Christmas song is... she replied "O Holy Night," and I love it too. 

Enjoy:


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 13

More, less random (?) takes at Conversion Diary.

ONE:

My whining as of late: 
"I just want this baby OUUUT!"

2 weeks till the due date, but I'm cynical about it since both boys went 41 weeks, six days, and both needed some outside intervention finally get out...

I keep telling myself to trust my body.  My midwife said yesterday I just might have the "slow cooker version", and that's ok. 

However, I've been having talks with this child o' mine, and would dearly like to meet him by Christmas. 

Patience is the darnedest thing...

TWO:

This happened this week: 


Husband went out with a friend to get this.  Clearly my 8.5 month pregnant self was not up for the trek into the woods with two toddlers.  When he moved it in it was a lovely surprise.

THREE:

Joseph's company Christmas party is tonight, so I get to play hostess... To a bunch of dudes and possibly two girlfriends and one wife. Is it weird that I could care less what these guys think of my cooking and home, but I'm totally freaked of these three possible female attendees judging me?  
I scrubbed my bathtub... Like they'll be looking in the bathtub. 
As I look around my house, I'm thinking the only answer is to ply them with wine. Lots and lots of wine. 

FOUR:

I really hate tacky Christmas decorations.  Fake greenery is not my thing.  My husband seems to have a penchant for it however, so though I mercilessly tease him about it, I leave it up as a marital compromise.  This is my front door:


Yeah.  Joseph began humming the lines of "The Grinch" when I tried to react as though this doesn't look like Whoville resurrected.  

But what can I do? I love that man.

FIVE:

Carter is having a rough day.  All he wants to do is be beside me.  But with party food to prepare, little grabby hands are not helping.  I let him eat pineapple and oranges and cheese for lunch.  We'll see how that turns out later.  Thank goodness he's potty trained. 

SIX:

Little known facts about Joseph:

My husband and his sister could recite to you the movie "Holiday Inn" in it's entirety. 

He loved "Peanuts" as a kid, and even built himself a little Snoopy house when he was six or seven.  It sits under our tree each year:


SEVEN:

How awesome is it that Pope Francis is Time's person of the year!

I suspect it's a bit of a media trend to love him, but that's my cynical journalist talking.  He won them over by being awesome in the first place.

I really enjoy it when my non-Catholic friends post and talk about him.  It feels a bit like we're moving away from that media-hated version of the Church and towards the truth of it's beauty.

That's my extremely brief two cents.  

Enjoy your pink-candled weekend friends! 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 12



Grr! So late.  Yesterday was spent finishing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows instead of quick takes but I started them Thursday night, and didn't want to leave them till next week!
See Conversion Diary for more quick takes fun.

ONE:

I have a lot happening right now, and I'm trying to resist the urge to just climb into bed and play the pregnancy card for getting out of everything.
Advent, looming due date, various parties and gatherings, Christmas wrapping and baking.
We're trying to keep it simple and fun, and almost a week in, Advent has been pleasant.

For myself, I've been focusing on getting a little more God-time into my day in a simple fashion... for example, I folded laundry, saying a prayer for the child whose clothing I folded either of supplication or thanksgiving. Surprisingly, thanking God for my kid's attributes and loveliness was easier than I thought.

For the kids, we've been helping them become aware of what Advent and Christmas are about. Basically, we read stories pertaining to Jesus' birth and the Nativity, and for a little fun:

Our Wisemen, searching for Jesus, and stopping for a snack.
TWO:

We took a family photo on Sunday - it will probably be our last before our new boy arrives - and I was happiest with this one:
Crazy that next year we'll be doing this with three kids.
Making two look at the camera was more than enough.
However, as much as I want to send this to all my family and friends, we'll be sending baby photos out too come January, so I'm saving myself the postage and printing and just skipping Christmas cards and doing a post-baby/Happy New Year card instead.  Take note, typical card recipients! You are not forgotten!

THREE:

Single or childless friends often observe our life and muse to me that they will be so happy when they too join the ranks of parenthood.  I usually feel a little scrutinized by these particular people, and either consciously or unconsciously, try to put on my happiest mommy-face and play up the percentage of time when parenting is not hard, thankless or tiring.  I've often wanted to write about how contentedness and happiness in parenting are something you achieve, not something that just happens when you're blessed with "the best kids ever."  But.... Matt Walsh does it better:

He says:
Happy? Your kids won’t make you happy. The only thing your kids will make you, turn you into, and force you to be (at least biologically speaking) is a parent. Happy is your responsibility.
Love! Truth!


FOUR:

Another gooder I read this week on what we tell our kids about Santa.  I didn't think about this too much last year, with Patrick not being exposed to Santa too much, and Carter being only 1.  But this year, oh the debate! I liked this article though. It closely aligns with my perspective - though I don't think that parents who choose not to pretend that Santa comes to their home on Christmas Eve are, as the article says "stripping the fun," from the lives of their kids.

I've really enjoyed people's thoughts on this "issue", so if you want to throw yours my way, I'd love to know!

FIVE:

I love that Jen talked a lot about weather this week. It has been the bane my my existence for the entirety of this pregnancy.  I'm a Spring/Autumn person through and through. Which translates to loving temperatures between 15 and 20 C.  I'm also an extra-warm pregnant person, so through the summer, with temperatures above 20, I was feeling more like 30 and d-y-i-n-g. Throw any humidity at me and I'm very unhappy. People who don't live in my part of Canada are like "You're ridiculous." But I know that.

Right now, it's -20 and my house is sitting at a comfortable-for-me 18. My family is frozen unless they wear slippers and sweaters all the time.  Bonus of winter pregnancy I guess: I'm always warm enough.

SIX:

Patrick and Carter at Joseph's aunt's place.


Speaking of winter though, it has us cooped up inside a lot. There has been no back-yard time (translate: coffee and crossword time for mom) for the boys, since October. Why? My kids are wimpy when it comes to cold. I can bundle them up to go out, but it lasts an infuriatingly short amount of time. It is just not worth taking 10 minutes to get them fully dressed for the cold when the yield is only 10 minutes to myself before they get, as Carter says, "Doo. Much. Winter!"

SEVEN:

I finished the Harry Potter series last night.  I read the last book in 3 days as you could probably tell from the state of my house. And now I have the same feeling I did when I finished The Lord of the Rings - an emptiness that stems from the knowledge that there is no more after this.

When I read good fiction I find myself incredibly attached to the characters within. I miss them when their stories end.  I liked the ending of the Potter books a lot - so no dissatisfaction there, but now what?  Will there be another series that I like as much? I hate when I don't have a book to read - and lately I've been diving into the fantasy realm. Any suggestions along those lines?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 11

More lovely takes over at Conversion Diary:

ONE:

Winter, winter, winter.  This is my front yard:


Today is only -7 Celsius, which is fairly mild, so I might actually venture out for a 4 minute walk with the kids. Wednesday however was -20 in the morning. The morning I had to grocery shop, because we were out of milk, eggs, cheese, bread (even flour), fruit, pasta and basically everything else I needed to make a good quick lunch. I'm thankful for one thing that morning: Command-start on our van.  I'm not grateful for car seats, winter-wear, which takes forever to bundle the kids up in - only to have it all taken off in the van, then put on again to get to the store.  I'm also not grateful to the person who decided to park in the designated "Expectant mothers and parents with children" when she had a teeny baby bump and no kids in tow.

I resisted the urge to roll down the window and yell "Hey! I'm 8 months preggo and have 2 kids here, so you can take your little Audi and your rookie-mom ass and park it over there!"

She was also not wearing a winter coat, which is why I could see her teeny bump - so I guess I can forgive her for not wanting to get frostbite.

Meanwhile, I parked halfway down the humongous lot, bundled up the kids and made the trek,  slowed by little legs and pushing a cart through ice and snow, feeling every bit of bitterness toward this unknowing, lululemon clad woman that I could muster.  Maybe she has 4 more kids at home... but she didn't quite look seasoned enough.  She had that "Woohoo! I can finally exercise my Superstore-given right to a good parking space" look.

TWO:

Christmas is coming. Baby is coming. Our home is filled with so much anticipation.
I've put away some Christmas baking in the freezer already, and have bought many of the gifts on my list.  I don't want Christmas to be a non-event, overshadowed by the baby - especially for Patrick, who has "gotten" the Christmas thing since last year.  Carter just gets excited about whatever Patrick does.

With Patrick coming into a new understanding of the season, I am filled with a sense of urgency around instilling in him the real reason for the season.  I am not one of those anti-Santa people, to be clear. I think believing in Santa Clause was a fun and wonderful experience as a kid.   However, I'd like my kids to know that Christmas is about Christ's birth and augment that with a little Santa magic.

To make it less confusing, and keep the Jesus-message the overarching theme, I decided to follow what Jennifer at Catholic Inspired has done with the Playmobil Wisemen.  I love this idea so much, and I can't wait till the first Sunday of Advent for it to begin! I'm thinking the wise-men will stumble onto some sort of yummy treat each Sunday of Advent to set those days apart from the others.

THREE:

I'm loving Carter these days.  He is 2. He is in no way "terribly two". Come to think of it, neither was Patrick.

Carter is beginning to speak full sentences.  He says prayers with us at night, adding only the words "Fader", "Name", Come", "Done", "Bread", and "Us", to the Our Father, and is fairly convinced that we pray for "Uncle Jenni" when we're mentioning Joseph's sister in our intercessory prayer.

He's gaining some autonomy and wanting to be his own person.  "Me do!" is becoming his latest catchphrase. But he's also still at a point where he's proud of himself when he does tasks for me, like picking up toys and fetching various items I ask for.  AND he's still pretty snuggly, so at least once a day he comes up to me asking for hugs, and then nestles in under my chin for awhile.  I anticipate a bit of a battle when the baby comes for mommy-time, so perhaps I'll spend a couple months where I'm ALWAYS cuddling someone. Oh well... it's winter, right?

I love his sweet squished face. 
FOUR:

My productivity has gone way down, with good reason.
On the advice of my midwives, I'm putting in a little less time on my feet.  Baby 3 is sitting low, head down and in fine form for labour, according to them... only it's about 5 weeks till my due date.  After 2 labour-like episodes (contractions I needed to pause and breathe for, about 5 min. apart for a couple hours) they say I need to take it easy.  Specifically, no more picking up kids, no walking more than around the house and the few places I go, and staying hydrated and well-rested

I'm so exhausted that this is fine with me.

In the words of one of my midwives, "Even tell people you are on bedrest. That way, they won't ask you any favours and you don't have to feel guilty or stressed about not doing things you don't really want to do anyway. Because hello! What idiot asks an 8-month pregnant woman to do anything? But when it's your third baby, they think you're superwoman or something."

I burst out laughing.

FIVE:

I posted about third-baby-itis earlier this week.

SIX:

I love seeing my boys "brother" each other.  When they do things like this, it warms my heart.



SEVEN:

I'm really running out of stuff here. I thought I'd have more to say, but that's what comes from being housebound and preoccupied with just accomplishing sanity and daily tasks.

I've been interrupted anyway by the need to get these boys down for their nap.  I just heard Patrick say to Carter, "I'm sorry I hit you Cart, but you really need to stop looking at me."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

So um...Number 3...It's still a BIG deal!

I wrote this post, then instead of posting right away, I decided it was best to let it sit for a bit while I mulled over some of my feelings on having a third baby.  I don't want my well-meaning friends who read this blog to think I don't appreciate their support and comments that I do, in fact, recognize as being out of love and support. I try to end on a positive note. Okay? Here we go.




I'm starting to loathe how well-meaning people, friend and stranger alike, ask how I'm feeling.

Here's a short synopsis:

8 months pregnant.
3rd time in 5 years.
2 little boys with endless energy.
Not enough hours in the day.

How do you think I feel?! I'm vaguely aware that one doesn't really know what else to ask, because one doesn't want to just assume that I'm doing well or not so well, but what gets me is the flippant comments after I say how I'm doing:

"Oh, well you know what you're doing. Third time around!"

Uh, no... because I've never experienced a pregnancy quite like this one, with an additional 2 little people in my care.

Or my favourite: "Well, after 2 (insert something here about how my boys weighed over 10 lbs at birth) you'll just sneeze the baby out (or something else about how labour will just be easy-peasy)."

Yes, because my cervix has just stayed dialated for 2 years since my last birth.

I'm going to lay it all out. If you haven't yet sensed it, I have anxiety. Major anxiety. So what if I've birthed and managed to raise 2 babies so far? With birth, you never know exactly what will happen! That uncertainty and the unspoken countdown to D-Day may be familiar, but it is still stressful.

Coupled with this stress is the idea that others seem to think I have it all figured out... which makes me feel like I have to let them think I have it all figured out - because it's a lot easier (and probably more polite) to refrain from shaking the people who say the things above and say,

"NO! B.S.! I feel extreme dread each day about giving birth again. If anything, I feel more dread than I did the first two times, because I know the very painful, horrible aspects of both births that I do not want to touch or get close to again! I'm even less patient this time around because pregnancy has been nausea and aches and pain, and it's no longer a novelty!"

If I am somehow managing to foster the illusion that this is just. so. much. fun, I am sorry.

If I have given the impression that a third pregnancy is no big deal, I am very sorry.

If I have given the impression that since its easier to be pregnant than have the actual infant out and needy, so I'd of course be happy to do whatever activity it is that involves packing up two boys and leaving my nice warm house, I am really really sorry.  (Well, generally if people offer a comfy place to sit, and I just like them, I AM genuinely happy to leave the house.)


I sound so selfish upon re-reading. I feel that way though. My poor Joseph. He has to live with this insanity. Think about that.

Now, after all that negativity... let me shed a little light on the positives of expecting a third child, because though I sincerely feel the things above, another part of me is living in sheer amazement that Joseph and I made another person, who is currently somersaulting and dancing around inside my body.

This person is unique.  This person, our son, will have gifts and talents to be discovered as he learns and grows.  The possibilities of the kind of boy and man he will become are something awesome to think about. And I'd hate to think that because he's the third child, he'll be looked at as just "another one," by anybody.

Because he's the third, it is true that I won't have the first-time-mom anxieties about feeding and changing and sleeping that I did with the first two.  I've lacked sleep and I've heard my share of crying and have seen some gag-worthy diapers.

But he will not live off scraps of love because he's just "another one".  He will live in mostly hand-me-downs, but he won't be less special or less cherished because we've done this twice before.  Growing in love is what families are about, and that is what we're doing here.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 9

My little musings about graduating, being pregnant in heels, my baby boy's growth, and white poppies + a preview of my favourite holiday movie.

More exciting takes at Jen's.

ONE:

I skipped last week due to being busy getting ready for and attending my convocation (graduation ceremony) from my Bachelor's degree. 
I actually completed the degree in April, but couldn't attend the ceremony then, so I got to be 7.5 months pregnant, walking the perilously narrow strip of stage in heels.  (Ok so I did not HAVE to wear heels...) I am happy to say I achieved some degree of grace, but after all the standing in those shoes, I was ready to burn them.
I'm so happy I went though.  Donning the  midieval garb of academia somehow sealed it. I have closure on a long chapter in my life.


TWO: 

My mom remarried last Saturday, so I wore the heels from the day before so that I could maintain the image of youth and vitality, even though my hips were not thanking me... I managed to sign the register and smile for the cameras one more time, but changed my shoes for the reception. 

I have another wedding this weekend, and I haven't decided whether to put my pregnant self through the foot, hip and back torture to look pretty. 
The offending shoes.

THREE:

One more superficial all-about-me take, then I promise to interest you with something profound and insightful. 

Last week was a fairly crafty one.  Son #1 insisted he be Lightning McQueen for Halloween, so I made him a cardboard version of the car. His brother got to be a construction worker... Far less effort, so I felt kind of bad, but  he didn't seem to care. Their Dad took them out, and has been helping them get through their mountain of candy too.


I had poor luck dress shopping for these weddings (all the dresses that looked decent on were similar to the black maternity dress I already owned), so I took matters into my own hands to add colour and interest to my plain black sack that has passed for a cocktail dress through 2 pregnancies. I pulled out my rusty sewing skills and cut up an ill-fitting shirt to spice up the dress. 

Before:

After:

If I weren't kind of proud of it, I'd never have posted it. 

FOUR:


In all the pregnancy craziness, my little Carter has somehow grown up.  He decided he'd like to potty train about a month ago AND he's started talking a lot more. Rudimentary full sentences are forming! It is such a blessing to be able to communicate, for me, and I think for him too.  

He will be 2 on Monday, so I've been reminiscing about his birth, his newborn days, and his little adventures in his short life.  

He has been a bundle of surprises.  This is partially due to my own misconceived notion that he might be similar to Patrick, his older brother.  But a lot of it is because he is a unique little person.

When he was only 4 months old, I noticed he was a little more sensitive to emotions than Patrick had been.  My mood seemed to affect him a lot, whereas Patrick was always relatively happy-go-lucky no matter how I was feeling.  People scoffed when I called him a sensitive soul, but 2 years on, he has been a little more attuned to feelings than his brother.  He gets upset when Patrick does, or when I am sad, he seem to know just when to come and snuggle.  

I just can't believe that 2 years have flown by with this little sweetie.  

FIVE:

Since my due date is December 24, friends have joked of late about my possibly having a Nativity experience in some capacity. 

I just hope that experience isn't under the adverse conditions Mary endured. Though since my babies have been almost 2 weeks late, maybe a donkey ride wouldn't be a bad idea on Christmas Eve.

I have been thinking of Mary a lot lately though, and often think about the desert journey to Bethlehem, only to find nowhere to birth Jesus. 

Whenever I feel distressed or overwhelmed with this pregnancy's hurdles, it has been a great source of calm to think of Our Lady's trust that God was taking care of her as she awaited the birth of Jesus.  It reminds me that I need to place myself right there, in God's arms, or sometimes just to be thankful that we are much closer to baby's birth location, and we have fairly comfortable vehicles to get us there.

SIX:

Monday is Remembrance Day, and an infuriating movement has been afoot at the University of Ottawa, encouraging people to wear white poppies instead of red ones, claiming that red poppies "glorify war" and stating that the white poppy symbolizes working for peace.

While there is nothing wrong with the idea of "working for peace", what is infuriating is that this group has completely missed the point of Remembrance Day. 

Our reality is that war, though not a desireable thing, has happened.  People have died so that you and I, and all of the white-poppy wearers can live in our country with the freedoms we have.  We remember them on Remembrance Day, not because war is a glorious thing, but because there were people willing to give their lives for us.  

So white poppy wearers, if you don't think the sacrifices our grandfathers, grandmothers, great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers made to maintain the ideologies from which our commonwealth grew is worth remembering, you ironically have the right to that opinion, in part, because of them.  So carry on. 


SEVEN:

It's the kid's naptime, and by some miracle (or maybe just rare morning ambition) I have nothing (pressing) to do but put in a pizza for dinner and whip up a salad. So in the spirit of all this snow, I'm going to watch a little Holiday Inn.

Have a lovely weekend!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 8

More from the 7QT crowd at Cari's this week.

ONE:

Bad day? Look at this face:

Soooo happy about his pb & j "mom-guided selfie"
This is now the photo on my phone, my desktop and I got it printed and put it on the fridge.  Kids are so wonderful when they're happy, so I've made this face my goal for each day.  If I can get one of these faces from both boys every day, I'm doing well at having fun with them, because kid's lives should be fun along with all that crazy growing and learning they do.

TWO:

I posted about my spiritual rise and fall through motherhood over at Notes To My Sisters. Below is an excerpt + link.

          Woman.Wife. Mother.Writer. Human Being. God’s Child. 
My profound thoughts following the above were just interrupted by a little voice.  The voice said, “Uh-oh,” and as I turned toward it, a little hand was thrust in my face, and in toddler-speak and a few animated gestures it was indicated that the hang-nail on that chubby little index finger was a problem to be dealt with at once. 
Welcome to my world. (Keep reading...)
Notes to My Sisters is a new platform for Catholics to share with one another what inspires them and keeps them on the path to heaven.  Give it a browse.  I know Margaret, the creator from my youth ministry days in Scotland 8 years ago.

THREE:

I just finished Simcha's book.



I know I'm preaching to the choir, but if you haven't yet, read it. Simcha, as always, is so real. REAL is what is needed in the NFP world! Because it IS actually hard.  Ooops. I said it out loud instead of in hushed whispers to my friend who just doesn't want to get pregnant again till she feels some degree of sanity while being a mom of two. Sorry, feeling ranty. Anyway, read it!

FOUR:

We're in the throes of fall. Love it. I hate being pregnant in summer, because I'm not a fan of being hot. I suppose being born Canadian with real winters has something to do with it. I'm just used to being cold. I'm actually a fan of the first snow, except the driving aspect, because even though this city is still mostly native Canadians, we all seem to forget how to drive every spring, summer and fall and its mayhem out there.

FIVE:

There's just something tranquil about a freshly made bed.  I used to be the girl for whom making the bed consisted of flipping the duvet over rumpled sheets. Then I worked at a B&B and learned about hospital corners and throw pillows. I got addicted to making my bed pretty.  Now my philosophy is that even if the rest of the room looks like a toddler organized it, the nicely made-up bed makes up for everything else.

Joseph, the wonder husband, who actually loves order more than I do and excels at everything housework from dishes to bathroom cleanup, fails in only one area - bed making.  (Despite having parents who own a B&B with beautiful beds).

Here's the difference (and actually, this is Joseph's best attempt EVER)
Joseph: "They're called throw pillows, aren't they? Doesn't that mean anything to you?"

Now this, I want to crawl into with a good book (or Joseph). 

SIX:

3:23 A.M. and I'm up. I took a break from my quick takes to attempt getting some good photos of the kids and fall for my number 4.  But they have colds, so I was constantly having to wipe one of their noses, and then they didn't feel like smiling and having fun.

This 3 a.m. wake-up has been my typical sleep/wake pattern for the last 3 months due to discomfort:

9 or 10 p.m. Fall asleep on the couch, watching T.V. or talking to Joseph. Drag myself up to bed after ingesting a myriad of pregnancy vitamins and a small glass of water.

2 or 3 a.m. Wake up. Lay there trying to get comfortable. Try not to wake Joseph or the baby inside the belly in the process. Usually JUST as I'm about to fall asleep, one of them moves suddenly.  I don't know if it's more impactful when it comes from inside my belly or right beside me.  Sometimes Joseph isn't there at all, because my nightly wakefulness means he'll get a better sleep on the guest bed.

I have mixed feelings about that: 1. I looove having the bed to myself.  2. I simultaneously miss Joseph because hey, when you're used to having someone there, it can be lonely.  Oh, and 3. Should one of the boys cry out there's nobody to ask to go see what's wrong.

4 or 5 a.m. Fall back asleep after using the bathroom, drinking water, and often, checking email and Facebook... or writing a blog post.

I know I'm killing the natural hormonal rythm of my melatonin production by adding screen time into the mix, but laying there in the dark for an hour or two was starting to drive me crazy.  I'd give myself weird dreams about the grocery store, or the latest book I've been reading. Seriously, Bringing Up Bebe = Buying baguette in Superstore and saying to the children, "ah petit garcons, j'aime cette baguette" (ah little boys, I love this baguette) and patting their heads.

SEVEN:

I'm going to attempt this for Patrick for Halloween:


Here's the link to the instructions, in case anybody is that into it.

I might go a little less elaborate, but this is the basic concept. I loved making Halloween costumes growing up, and we had to be creative, because the parents had a caveat that we couldn't buy costumes or be anything evil (or carve it into pumpkins either). Case and point: I was a sandwich when I was 11 or 12, and I think I was 15 when I carved Buddy Holly's face into a pumpkin.  I'll try to unearth pictures.

We also celebrated All Saints Day.  As a nerdy homeschooler, I crafted a St. Joan of Arc costume, with armor.  I just about died of embarrassment though when other, cooler homeschoolers did not come to our all-saints party dressed up, so there's a bittersweet memory for you.  Thankfully, I have since reconciled with St. Joan.

Well, off to attempt sleeping again. Have a lovely weekend!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I cannot sleep, therefore, I write.

I had a bit of a self-discovery two days ago at a mom's group I attend.  We all introduced ourselves to the moderator we'd invited to facilitate and lead reflection and discussion on a video series.

As we went around the room, a familiar pattern began to emerge.  Almost every woman began with her name, her current or former career (teacher, journalist,dietitian, engineer, accountant) and how many children she had.  Sitting in that room, were an array of talents, qualities and ways of life, united by the fact that we are all Catholic moms. 

As my turn came closer, I began to question something in the way I planned to introduce myself. I didn't have a "current or former career".  I was a student until I finished my degree a few months ago, almost simultaneously finding out about my third pregnancy.  I planned on saying that after my name. Then I stopped myself, thinking, "Right now, I'm a stay-at-home mom, that is what I do. It doesn't really matter to me at this moment that I may have been a journalist or that I've completed a degree. But will I say that?"

My turn came up and I nervously said my name, how many kids I have, and then the need to validate what I do aside from family care and housework bubbled up in me. 

I said, "...and I do lots of things. I was a student before and during becoming a mom, and recently finished my degree in communications; now I write from home a little bit, and I also help my husband run his business, doing his admin work and paying bills and such."

Why? It's all true, but ever since, I've questioned my inability to say, "I'm a stay-at-home mom."  That is my primary role. The title encompasses what I spend my days "working at".  Why did I feel ashamed of that amidst all of these lovely Catholic women - all of whom are currently doing the same thing as I am, hence their attendance at a mid-morning mom's group? 

I've mulled this over and have come to a conclusion.  I was afraid of appearing to be stupid, simple, inexperienced, uneducated or lazy.  I compensated by highlighting some aspects of my life that are more important-sounding than mothering and housework. I feared judgement and went on the defensive, wanting my life to sound more meaningful in the face of careers and societal demands that we as women "do something." As if raising a family isn't "something."

It made me a little bit angry and sad to have the need to define myself by the things I do.  It showed me how insecure I am.  When the careers started following the names, something in me burned for a second, saying, "I am not the sum of my accomplishments. I am more than what I 'do', and for that matter, so is everyone else in this room."  

I pictured us all standing before God being asked what we did with the lives He gave us.

"I'm a doctor/lawyer/journalist," we answered. 

And God said, "Yes. But what have you done?"

It doesn't matter what career I have if I am not walking toward God.
lost focus of that when fear and pride entered my little soul.  Like the little girl, wanting all the other girls to like me, I caved to what is ultimately a worldly standard.  

Yet, my life is full and wonderful.  It is filled with ways to experience God's grace. It is filled with ways to become better, and with the freedom to walk the path of holiness.

I have no boss to answer to, no clients, no meetings to attend. 

It is me and God and my husband and kids living a seemingly small existence.

When it comes down to it, I shouldn't need to defend my little life, especially in a circle of Catholic moms. I know in the end that as long as I am all that I can be, what I do will be valued and important, even if nobody but God sees it. 

Next time, I hope I am brave and humble enough to just say it: Stay-at-home-mom. 

Next time I hope I forget about needing a false sense of accomplishment, and keep my eyes on the prize, because even if I am a little person with little ways, I can, as St. Paul says, "do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13) 

And that is certainly something. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 7

Summary: Kids, coffee, books and blogs. Enjoy other quick takes over at Jen's.

ONE:

I love how my kid's minds work.

Patrick said to Joseph this morning, "Dad, I imagine things in the dark, but I don't imagine things in the light, because the imagine-y things just disappear when the light is on, because it burns their eyes."

This, you should know, is after a night of Patrick imagining himself some scary things several times throughout what was already a pretty sleepless night for Joseph and I.  Joseph spent breakfast time talking to Patrick about his room being the same in the dark and the light, and that the dark is actually a great thing that helps you to get a good night's sleep.  A night light might be in order, but we live in the city, and don't have blackout curtains, so I feel like it is never really dark enough for one.

On another day, Patrick looked up at me and said, very earnestly, as if this was the most important thing I'd hear all day, "Mom, big and small are the opposite of red."

I laughed a lot, I'll admit. He then joined me, saying, "Mom, am I hilarious?"
I did eventually remind him what opposites are.

I enjoy so much just hearing his theories on his little reality.  Although I'm really not sure why he persists in thinking that women (yes, women specifically!) should not use tools, because they're dangerous.

TWO:

I'm starting to feel a bit crazed when it comes to this pregnancy.  My "already sleepless night" mentioned above, is becoming a common problem.  I'm waking for 1-2 hours each night to lay there simultaneously trying not to wake Joseph, and to seek out a comfortable position.  I wrenched my hip on Tuesday, rescuing Carter from certain death-by-grocery-cart while carrying 10 kg (22 ish lbs) of flour.  Ridiculous I know. You're all like, "Why on earth were you carrying 10 kg of flour?!"

Well, typically when I'm 7 months pregnant, I'd ask some kind soul to help me, or just slide my cart over and slide the flour on, as best I can.  But as with most of my grocery store trips, this one was fraught with peril, and so of course, there was someone I can only describe as slightly oblivious and inconsiderate parked right in front of the flour.  When I asked if I could squeeze in to grab some flour, she moved her cart over diagonally, giving me 2 feet (incidentally blocking another shopper from getting down the aisle) which allowed me to bend awkwardly beside it to get my flour and carry it back to my cart.  If not for the other shopper, I'd probably have been like, "I'm going to need a little more room," and pointed to my obvious pregnant belly.  This person did not remove her eyes from the label on the pie-filling even once.

It was at this moment, that Carter decided to figure out how to get out of the child-safety belt in the cart, and stand up, leaning out to reach for cupcake sprinkles. I turned awkwardly and grabbed him with one arm before he took a nosedive onto the concrete.  Pie-filling woman still continued to try to decide between pumpkin and cherry.

As much as this woman (whom I saw two more times, blocking aisles and pretending to be the only person in the store) bothered me, the pain in my hip and back pretty well engulfed the train of thought for the rest of the trip.

I keep telling myself this pregnancy pain, caused by quick natural body changes to prepare for the birth, are actually a good thing. It means my ligaments are loosening, and my body is doing what it is supposed to do to facilitate getting the baby from inside me to outside me.  I'm taking care of myself most of the time - light exercise (which I abhor, but do just because I know it will be easier on me in the end), nutritious food, lots of water, and naps.  I am told I look good too, which is either husband and friends being supportive, or there's some mysterious pregnancy pheromone that causes my dark circles and blotchy skin to look like some sort of ethereal beauty - or maybe my lip gloss and mascara are just that good.

THREE:

You should check out this site:  Notes To My Sisters.

 Craig Lodge - Oh my heart.  I had lovely, healing chats with Jesus here.
It contains posts from a variety of people, all seeking to express their faith.  I was honoured when Margaret, the mastermind behind the site asked me if I'd also write something.  My piece about the spiritual life within the vocation of motherhood will be up next week.

I met Margaret almost 8 years ago at a beautiful place called Craig Lodge in Dalmally, Scotland.  We've kept in touch loosely through social media. Apparently she reads and likes my blog, and since I've often thought of her as one of those people whose friendship you hope to have, but it never quite happens due to life circumstances (like not seeing or speaking directly to one another for 7 years), that is really awesome for me.

FOUR:

I'm reading this book at the moment.  A friend recommended it to me, and I'm about 11 pages from being finished.  Reading parenting books is a bit of a masochistic hobby that I'll freely admit to.  I really liked this one, though there are of course, some things I wouldn't take on board.

For example, the "wisdom of French parenting" apparently doesn't include breastfeeding as a priority for infants, despite clear research and recommendations that it really is healthy and good for a year or longer.
I'm not one of those who thinks breastfeeding is the be-all-end-all, defining factor for infant health and mother-child bonding, but if it's possible to breastfeed, it just makes logistical sense.  If I make milk for my babies, why go out and spend a fortune buying something else?

That was my main beef with the book. Otherwise, there are a lot of interesting principles I think our family would benefit from, like teaching patience by making children wait and fostering autonomy in allowing and teaching children to do more on their own.

This book made me feel less crazy for allowing my 3-year-old to cut vegetables with a (gasp) sharp knife, or letting the kids run ahead of me on our walks to the park.

FIVE:

It became apparent yesterday how much money I have been spending in Starbucks since it began to get cold, when Patrick said to me, upon seeing Starbucks across the street, "Lets go to Starbucks and get some caramel apple spice," and Carter chimed in, "Yeah!"  Then later, Patrick told Joseph that Starbucks was "his coffee place, and Tim Horton's was (Joseph's) coffee place."

It seems whenever I have any small change or cash in my wallet, it becomes designated as coffee money, usually Starbucks.  It has become more of a habit than an occasion. And though I'm not in danger of breaking us financially, I am beginning to think we could allocate the $5-$10 weekly to say, baseboard for the kitchen.

In my attempts to save some coin, but still enjoy my fall traditions - I've been experimenting with homemade versions of pumpkin spice latte.  This morning's was a "close, but no cigar," despite the poster of the recipe proclaiming that it was "better than Starbucks."  

It was still good - and a bit of a change-up from Joseph's lovely, strong, french-pressed coffee - which he didn't have time to make today.

Anyone have a good recipe?

SIX:

I mentioned last 7QT thatI made a spiritual breakthrough after going to confession.  Well this week I took on a small faith study with some other women.  Talk about filling a craving! Our first little session was pretty eye-opening.  There are still thoughts rolling around in my head that I have to make sense of, but the point is, I feel like I'm on a great journey back to spiritual health.

SEVEN:

I'm writing a book!  Well, I've been writing it for awhile now.  It's a children's book - and its first draft is about half-finished.  I was inspired by an old truck - who is the main character.  My mom contends that perhaps some of the tenets of the book, having to do with aging, repairing things that are broken, and well, farm trucks are my way of putting how I feel about my Dad, and our life when he was alive, into something tangible and therapeutic. That is honestly part of it - but I'm hoping the channeling of my raw emotion will help make it something beautiful.

I've written books in my head for my entire life - but not a lot on paper.  To have the confidence to actually type this little story took a lot for some reason, so I'm happy to say that it really is happening.

Any other children's authors out there?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 6

Linking with Jen at Conversion Diary

You might read this and be like "Holy MOM-POST batman..." But you have been warned. Really, if you just read #3, I'll be satisfied.

ONE:

It's my third, third trimester.  Time for comfy everything. Clothes, hair, food.
I attempted to be the somewhat stylish preggo yesterday with jeans (not yet maternity, but I did make use of a hair-tie), my go-to black flats, a bright t-shirt, black, grey and white floral scarf and grey boyfriend sweater, belted... I resorted to the 10-second messy bun, but it left time for make-up, which I desperately need to hide this pregnancy's skin (blotchy with a side of dark circles). Well, I tell ya...Those jeans came off as soon as I was home.  My legs and belly screamed "sweatpants, you fool!" So that's what I wore the rest of the day.  It might be my uniform for the rest of the pregnancy. 
Through the first 2 pregnancies, I had school. I was surrounded by cute, well-dressed, 20-somethings and felt compelled to put in a little effort, mostly to show that pregnancy doesn't have to look as  terrible as it actually is  sounds. Maybe it was also to maintain a little dignity while being asked by other students about my glamorous housewife life.

TWO:

Joseph has been working late a lot lately, trying to get a house done so that people who have been living with a sister and a buddy since July can live in their dream home.  Meanwhile, back at the ranch, still no cupboard doors, trim or baseboard in the kitchen.  BUT, the basement where the boys will be banished to once the young one comes along is looking considerably better. Paint, bathroom tile... we just need carpet and plumbing and... ugh. Okay. It's better not to list what is still needed.

During all this working late, I've come to appreciate my husband so much more. I just have to remember that he's working hard for US.  He wants us to you know, eat, and be able to pay for the glorious day when our house is finally finished and beautiful without going into massive debt.

THREE:

I'm loving this book:
 
I began reading it about a year ago (I know, I know, so much for MY brain).  But I'm not much for non-fiction, sadly, so I read about 50 non-fictional novels to 1 non-fictional book. 
This book is encouraging. With scientific research to back it up, it basically says that the whole "mommy brain" thing is a myth, and that women are selling themselves short when they become mothers.  Ellison goes into detail about neural development and studies on rats, but there are plenty of anecdotes in there to keep your eyes from glazing over.

I'm really tired of moms (myself included, sometimes) blaming their lateness, forgetfulness, bad driving and social blunders on "mommy brain."

Yes, we are tired. We are sometimes prone to turning off our cognitive abilities just to cope with the monotony of wiping bums and teaching kids not to pick their noses or yell in your face when they want something.  What I'm talking about is when moms do something genuinely inconsiderate like cut someone off in traffic, arrive an hour late to an event, or say something rude and blame it on their "mommy brain".  Like being a mom gives you licence to be an idiot.

Essentially, it's blaming your kids for your own inability to cope. 

I keep telling my three-year-old when he claims that I have "ruined his day," by giving him a time out and making him sad, that I can not ruin his day, and that if he chooses to be sad all day as a result of time-out (which he fully deserved) that it is his choice.  Well, the same goes for mommy brain. My kids have not ruined my brain. I'm a smart woman.  I can find a way to be an intelligent, considerate, joyful being, without blaming my kids when I fall.

We need to be telling ourselves that we're smart because of motherhood, instead of "having kids made me an imbecile."

If this little pep talk didn't inspire you, read this book.

FOUR:

Potty Training:
Did not happen two weeks ago when I said it would.  I failed at patience.  I failed at laundry.  I failed to get enough sleep the night before in order to deal with the first day of taking Carter to the bathroom every 20 minutes.  I gave up in a puddle of pathetic, exhausted, mommy-tears, and decided that I need to wait for a weekend when my husband is home to help me.

Call me weak, but I figure, I've done two kids in diapers before, and I can do it again if I have to. On the plus side, he "gets" #2, so no more of "those" diapers, in the 2 weeks since I tried to train.

FIVE:

I'm going to be late for a nice gathering of new moms and mom's-to-be if I don't get myself dressed and out the door soon.  It'll be a lovely morning of holding babies, taming toddlers and mom-talk.  OH the mom-talk.  I just realized the other day that I've talked about breastfeeding, babywearing and birthing for 4+ years of my life, and it kind of looks like it'll be that way for the next 6-10... Kind of like a conversational jail sentence.

Don't get me wrong, I love this stuff - but it is getting a little monotonous. 10-year plus moms are saints... I know several who have patiently had the same conversation with new moms (including me), and have sent them away encouraged and inspired every time. Thanks for that, veteran moms.  I only hope that I can make new mamas feel as empowered and encouraged as you have made me feel.

SIX:

Me and God:

I actually sat down to pray a rosary during my kids naps the other day.  I have been struggling so much with daily (any) prayer and spiritual well-being.  I went to confession for the first time in six months last week, and I'll tell you... way to unblock serious spiritual constipation. 

There's just something about getting all that gross stuff out and then saying "Okay God, I'm ready to eat again. Nourish me."

I think this might call for an entire post - so I'll save my other musings on it for later. Maybe minus the constipation analogy... or maybe I'll keep it. It does work rather well.

SEVEN:

I'm going to be late if I don't get dressed NOW - but my day is so packed that this just won't happen (for the third week in a row) if I don't post now. I'm sorry for having no stimulating thought to leave you with.  Perhaps this is an exampled of what not to do if  you don't want to commit that mommy-brain faux-pas I was talking about in #3.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 5

Linking with Jen and the other fantastics.

ONE:

My computer is still not back from being repaired. However, my phone is proving so useful.  I actually wrote a fairly lengthy post this week.  

It's fairly heavy. Basically, my oldest asked me about rape, which got my mind spinning. Give it a read if you're up for it.

TWO: 

Today we got crafty!

Well, as crafty as you can get with 3 and 1-year-old boys, and limited no-mess supplies. This is a cereal box turned inside out and some dollar-store foam stickers. Our cute mini-clothespin came from Michael's and is probably the most expensive part of this little project. I had Patrick trace the "To Dad," for a little impromptu letters practice. He doesn't quite know the lowercase letters yet, but he wants to know (otherwise I wouldn't bother),". He's always interrupting stories to point to the letters and ask what they are, which makes me super-proud. 

THREE:

Carter gets inventive with "'ats".  He loves to put anything on his head and plays with his hair all the time. He was devastated when I cut off the beginnings of a mullet two weeks ago.

FOUR:

In Jen's 6th take, she touched on people who are isolated, or without "their own village."
I'm neither, but I'm realizing lately that I'm an extremely passive friend, and therefore, very bad at building and contributing to the existing village of lovely friends our family has. Example: I've been meaning to call several friends over the summer to get together, but summer has ended and I've seen 3 of the 6 or 7 on my proverbial list. If they've called me, we've gotten together, and its been great. I always leave those teas and chats and play dates feeling uplifted and like it should happen more often.  
The problem is that I keep myself busy and far from bored at home.  Besides things that need to be done, I have lots of little projects that have been sitting on the back burner for a few years (while I was a student/having two babies), plus, major renovations to our fixer-upper home.  The days just slide by, and I suppose my introversion keeps me from longing for actual adult conversation and contact.  But I have to admit, the little village we have of lovely Catholic families is too good not to put some time into.  Hmmm.

FIVE:

Hate me, fellow Canadians, but when I'm pregnant, winter is my best friend.  I am hating any day where the temperature is over 20 (so basically the entire summer). The crisp morning air of Autumn has brought sweet relief to me, and significantly longer playground stays for the boys.


However, I still languish in the shade.

I just keep thinking to myself that I'll be toasty warm all winter between pregnancy and cozy breastfeeding time with a newborn come December or January.

SIX:

Potty training begins next week for Carter.  I think he's going to do great.  I'm anticipating a couple months with no diapers before the baby, which will perhaps be my first diaper-free time in almost 4 years.  Pray it goes well, please.
Carter drives me nuts, running away every time I need to take him for a change. I've started bribing him with gummy-bears and marshmallows (judge away, I am not proud of this) so I don't have to hunt him down, tackle him and carry him to the change table, kicking and giggling. He thinks its a game, no matter how displeased I get. 
I never imagined I'd be thinking up ways to enact sneak attacks on 2 year olds just to meet their basic needs (and my need not to wash 20 pairs of pants each week).

SEVEN:

These people.
http://www.calgaryherald.com/touch/story.html?id=8885430
I don't know them, but I read their story and cried my eyes out. Mom, with six kids lost husband/father in recent Alberta floods, and now may have to sell their beautiful home.  Please pray. And donate, if you can.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Rape, sex and my three-year-old's questions.

My three-year-old Patrick sometimes has questions about things my husband or I watch on the news.  The other night, as I was setting dinner on the table, a story about rape on university campuses came on.

"What's rape?" Patrick asked, after an interview with a campus advocate for sexual harassment and rape prevention. 

I turned off the TV.  Hesitant. Wanting to give him a good answer, but not wanting to open his eyes to the actual horror of such an act.

I said, "It is something that a person does that hurts another person a lot. It is very bad."

Patrick responded, "Like when people hit and take toys."

I replied, "Yes. But it is even worse than that."

Patrick left it at that, his three-year-old mind moving to something else.  It's been a couple of days, and he hasn't asked about it again. But I have given it quite a bit of thought.

As a mom to three sons, I often mull over how to teach them about their sexuality, especially in regards to how they will view and treat women. I know they're only 3, 1.5, and still unborn, but it really does begin the moment they notice that, hey, they have a penis - they are boys. 

I was somewhat surprised to be discussing rape with Patrick the other night, but it made me realize the need to think about what I want to be telling my sons in regards to sex, sexuality and becoming men.

I knew what rape was at 5 years old. Thankfully, it was not because it, or anything remotely similar had happened to me.  It was because I had heard adults talking about it, and asked.  I was told, "It's when a man touches a woman's private parts when she doesn't want him to."

That definition stuck with me for a very long time.  It is inaccurate and incomplete at best, but it also contains the narrative that it is primarily something that men do to women. I have never heard of a rape case where a  man was not the aggressor, but somehow my five-year-old self perceived rape as a common occurrence, which made me deeply afraid to be a woman.

This not what I think about rape now, having had 22 more years to learn about it, but that first encounter with the word and its meaning was impactful on the way I viewed sexuality, men, women, and myself. Though I don't begrudge the person who said that to me in the least, it left me with the impression that men were not to be trusted. That is certainly not what I want my sons to come through life with. 

But, what do I want them to know? This opens up a whole slew of questions I don't yet have the answers to.

Children are being exposed to aspects of sexuality from birth.  Their understanding is limited, but as a parent, I feel like its my job to disseminate the messages so that my sons (and possible future daughters) a. don't hear inaccurate or harmful things from elsewhere, and b. have enough knowledge for their stages of development to have and maintain a healthy outlook on sexuality and what it means for them.

As a practicing Catholic, my own understanding of sexuality, both general and personal, is basically this: that the sexual act is an amazing, holy, covenant between married men and women and God. But with a three-year-old, you can't go tossing around words like "covenant".
These are things I myself am still grasping.

My husband and I grew up in fairly conservative Christian/Catholic homes. We attended youth groups and retreats and both ended up dabbling in youth ministry. And, we both came away with a view that it is a woman's job to guard men from their uncontrollable desires.  If she did not dress modestly or if she flirted and showed any interest in men, she was automatically a first-rate whore. 
Joseph has told me that he was convinced that good Catholic women do not desire sex, and that sexual desire existed in men, but must be stifled until marriage.  Thankfully we became more enlightened to the beauty and mystery of men, women and sexuality before we began dating one another (thanks, in part to John Paul II's Theology of the Body).  However, Joseph has said to me several times that it still surprised him that I like and desire sex.  For my part, it surprises me just how beautiful and dignified a sexual relationship with one's spouse can be.  It's nothing like the reckless, wild, irrational love we see in movies, it's better.  We want our children to know that they, and their sexuality is amazing, beautiful and holy from the get-go.

I want my boys to view themselves in a positive light when it comes to their sexuality.  They need to know that they were made good, and that their sexuality is good.  I want them to practice self-control, and know that they are real men when they do so.  I want them to appreciate feminine beauty, intuition and intelligence. I want them to be aware that though a woman's clothing and behaviour may not indicate that they want respect, that they are to be treated with Christ-like love and that their dignity as human beings is something to be cherished. I want them to be surrounded by men and women who show this kind of love to one another inside and outside of marriage.

I want them to know that they'll be happier if they don't buy in to the narrative that says lust is a hobby that all men take up.  The narrative that says its okay to treat a woman as an object, because she has willingly objectified herself for the pleasure of men.  The narrative that not only paints men as defilers and deflowerers and slaves to their desires, but glorifies it at the same time. 

Boys and men need to know they are good and worthy as much as girls do - and I've seen a lot of finger pointing from men to women and women to men.  It's a challenge to find some balance for myself.  My fervent prayer is that I can help my sons to navigate the world with their innocent eyes and instil in them their own goodness and worth, and the value and beauty of the women around them.



Friday, September 6, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 4

See Jen over at Conversion Diary for more lovely posts.

ONE:

On Wednesday night Joseph came home early.  Usually a good thing.  This time? 
He'd been working on a window install all day feeling awful. 

When this man gets sick, which is pretty rare, he gets it bad.  When I asked him if I could do anything for him once I'd put the kids to bed and came back to the couch where he lay under a blanket with his feet sticking out (he's tall - the couch throw just won't do), he said, 
"Just shoot me."
To which I replied, "Can't. I have a moral issue there, and I like you. A lot. Also, we own no guns."
"Just go out to the shop and get a nail gun or a drill then," he said. 

Morbid. I know. 

I dragged a mattress upstairs, made him a bed and got a proper blanket.  

He's alive and semi-feeling better. I however, have whatever he has.  At one point yesterday, I felt the nail gun sentiment very acutely.

TWO:

More cheerful thoughts... 


When Joseph was down and out, I made homemade Nutella.  Since I got sick the following day, I feel like it's contaminated. But it was fairly easy, so if I throw it out and make it again, it won't be so bad.

Recipe:

1 c. Hazelnuts
1 c. Semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
2 tbsp. coconut oil (canola would work)
Evaporated milk (enough to almost cover the chocolate chips) 

1. Toast the hazelnuts at 350 for 12 minutes or until the skin is blistered and the but meat is golden brown.  Pour them into a dish towel, fold it over them and roll them around on the counter until most of the skin has come off. Some leftover skin is not a big deal.

2. In a food processor, grind hazelnuts till they form a dry paste.

3. In a microwave-safe dish, pour the chocolate chips and almost cover with milk. (Leave the top layer of chips uncovered).  Microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring till mixture is smooth.  Let it cool a little before mixing with nuts.

4. Add oil to nuts and process.  It will be a runny consistency.  Add the chocolate when just warm and process till everything is smooth.  

5. Strain through a sieve for ultimate smoothness, or leave as is. Makes about 1.25 cups.

This will keep on the countertop in an airtight container for about a week.  If refrigerated, it solidifies but will still melt on toast.

THREE:

We spent Labour Day Monday with my in-laws.  We've established a 3-year tradition of attending the CFL (Canadian Football League)  Labour Day Classic between the Stampeders and Eskimos. Over 3 years I've become a bit more of a fan.  This year I even wore a "Fan on Board" T-shirt with an arrow pointing to my baby bump.  The boys ate copious amounts of sugar and salt (as did I), and we even sent in their picture for the "Get your game face on," prize (a Tim Horton's gift card). They didn't win but they were pretty thrilled to see themselves on the big screen.


I just re-read and realized how stereotypically Canadian this all sounds to possible American readers.  Eskimos... Stampeders... Tim Horton's. 

Interesting fact about Canadian football: 3 downs instead of 4.  As a new sports fan, I'm kind of unclear about what this does to the game... But to me, it sounds like players have less chances to score on a larger field in the Canadian game. Correct me if I'm wrong.  If I am, then I can make Joseph think I'm savvy next time it comes up in conversation.
Joseph, Carter and I. 

FOUR:

I don't know about you, but it does me a lot of good to be married to someone who thinks I'm beautiful.

This morning, while I was curled up in bed, thinking about that nail gun, Joseph came in and said to me,
"I know you feel terrible, but you still look really good."  He does tend to be very honest so I don't doubt he actually thought that.


A selfie I took to confirm whether or not he was lying.  I look pretty bad in my mind, but it just goes to show that love does a lot for appearances.

FIVE:

I may have found some pregnancy workouts that actually work with the crazy changes that are going on right now.

I have been feeling, shall we say, rotund. But also just plain unhealthy. So I decided I needed to get out in these final days of warmth and see if my body has what it takes.  

Walking leaves my hips very sore, so you can forget about jogging.  I'm not in love with the gym concept either, or exercising in front of other people for that matter.  So swimming is for sure out (my allergy to chlorine has a lot to do with that one too).

So what's a self-conscious preggo with a need for movement do?

Exercise videos yes... But on Tuesday, I actually hooked up the bike trailer and took the boys to the library. Why this didn't leave me sore, I don't know, but it was fantastic.  The library is about 2.5 km away, so not overly ambitious.  The route is also fairly flat. V for big victory here.  There's hope for some pregnancy fitness after all.  

It also solves that exercise in front if people dilemma because I ride by people too fast do them to actually observe my million body insecurities.  They probably don't see what I see, but I'm still working on that concept.

Two weeks in a row where my body issues have come up.  Maybe a post on body image is in the making.

SIX:


That's an oldie of Carter at 2 or 3 months.  First smiles.  
Looking at my boys' baby photos makes me super excited to meet little guy #3!
Newborns and little babies are my favourite.  Yes, they don't do much, but I relish the opportunity to hold and snuggle.  Patrick and Carter grew out of that way too fast!

SEVEN:

Quite a few of my friends and family members are expecting their first baby this year.  I am so excited for them! Not just because babies are cute and lovely, but because of the amazing changes in the mothers themselves. 

When I became a mom, I had a rapid learning curve that required me to change so many things about my life, and my heart.  I became softer in a way, more pliable. I suppose that happens when you no longer think so much about your own needs, and when there's a helpless little person who needs everything from you.  Some days you think you're not going to make it through, but somehow you find a way, some inner strength, or just some much needed help.  The first baby makes and breaks you in ways you've never experienced. I witness these changes more in other women than in myself.  It is nothing short of a miracle.  

So, prayers and love to those new mamas today!