Monday, September 9, 2013

Why I like to Shutterfly

5x7 Folded Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New Boy on the Block, I mean, Blog!

I had hoped to post some thoughts before Baby Boy arrived last month, but time got away from me.  Without further adieu, meet little Joey, born on April 24th.

 Spectacular photo, courtesy of Cuddle Bug Photography

Little Guy minutes after birth.  The doctor had to push VERY hard to get him out of my belly!

So many family, friends, religious prayed for my delivery and I felt the effects!  My C-Section went smoothly, as did my recovery.  I met so many compassionate and kind nurses too.  Although I can't lift anything heavier than the baby for 3 more weeks, my body has healed nicely.  It's a big adjustment going from one child to two. Although KB pays attention to her brother for a few seconds and then ignores him (yea), trying to take care of two simultaneously has been challenging.  We're just taking things day by day.  Good thing Joey is rather mellow and flexible. 

Still praying for all IF friends still waiting...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Quick Takes Friday: Easter Octave Edition

Yes, sports fans, it's another attempt to prevent week-long gaps (or more) between blog posts.

1.  Easter Vigil at my husband's parish (his cousin became Catholic) + a 2-year-old + 8:30 start time = dreadful combination.  NEVER AGAIN.  KB took a couple of quick naps through the 2-hour Mass (sorry to say, but I'm glad they only did 5 readings instead of 9!), but stayed up past midnight.  We skipped the family photos, Easter Egg hunt, and a couple other things the next day because we were all so tired.  Lesson learned: get a baby sitter if we absolutely have to attend another Vigil in the next 8 years.

2.  One of the members of the SHE Infertility Support group here in town shared this review of a book she read.  Although the book's topic covered various saints, my friend found great insight into infertility and motherhood  thanks to the author's reflections.

3.  Weeks ago, I neglected to mention the excitement of the conclave and papal election.  Access to social media and portable devices made the news travel even faster than 2005.  I am so jealous of journalism students who get to work with these mediums, as most did not exist during my college career.  And what a relief that the election came during the afternoon of EST!!  I got to "watch" the coverage simultaneously with my brother in Oregon via Fac.e Time.  KB decided to nap during the big event.

4.  One of my favorite bloggers, Fr. Dwight, has penned several posts about the new pope.  This one is my favorite.  I definitely love and welcome Pope Francis, but have been a little bit surprised by some of his novel choices.  But it's his prerogative.  I hope he's able to reconcile some of the Eastern churches still in schism (a more urgent project, IMHO, than trying to bring back the SSPX).   Fr. Dwight's balanced approach between the "Pope Francis is better than his stiff predecessor " and "Give me back B16 because the sky is falling!" camps makes a lot of sense.  

5.  Baby Boy will arrive at the end of April via C-Section.  My doctor and I thought this was the best option, considering my age, medical history, and previous C-Section.  This decision raised so many eyebrows early in my pregnancy that I stopped talking about it all together.  But now I really don't care; after all, I recoil at the thought of giving birth naturally or languishing through labor.  Yet I avoid saying so to the women who choose these routes.  I just wish the same respect would be given in the other direction.  But the result is the same (a baby is born!), and my C-Section with KB went smoothly.

6.  Divine Mercy Sunday is this weekend!  Go here for more information on the background of this devotion and the feast of Divine Mercy.  I'm friends with several of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, the order who runs the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy.

7.  I'm attempting to fill our freezer with meals, as some of the friends who helped me post-birth last time have moved away (come back, Molly!).  Unlike last time, I am armed with the power of Pinterest!!  Thanks to that addictive little bulletin board website, I have gleaned numerous tips and recipes.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Different Kind of Lent

(I actually started this post a week ago, but life and a toddler's earache got in the way!). 

A few years ago, my local bishop gave a talk on the topic of Lent.  He compared the annual season to a spiral staircase; each year was another step, winding up and down through our lives.  

Recently, I've really come to appreciate his image.  Some Lents go more smoothly than others.  Last year, the few Lenten goals my husband and I had set came to a screeching halt after my miscarriage.  After those terrible two weeks, I’m glad we even made it to Easter.  Other years have been more fruitful, the result of practicing a goal for the 40 days.  The single days and college Lents went well too.  But simply enduring another round of “Pan de Vida” without running in terror should count as penance, right?

This year, Lent is a bit different.  And that’s OK.  Being in the final trimester of a pregnancy and dealing with a strong-willed 2-year-old has been harder than I thought.  In fact, it’s an accomplishment if I can get through the day without losing my mind or temper. Thus, my Lenten practices are practically non-existent.  I’m grateful to have been spared fasting.   My husband and I have eaten the Girl Scout Cookies.  But at the same time, we’re dealing with the adjusting life of disciplining a toddler, preparation for a baby, SLEEP WAR Part 1 (more about that in a future post), and the little aches along the way. And we especially know that a few weeks from now, we will be balancing care of a needy newborn with an energetic toddler, while I recover from surgery.

Sometimes life hands us sufferings or periods of hardship.  Or, more accurately, Lent comes to you.  In the past three months, a friend lost her baby at 24 weeks gestation, another friend’s father passed away after a battle with cancer, and my own uncle is battling cancer while my aunt tries to care for him.  I think of my years of infertility, and of the friends and family members walking that journey right now.  

I’m not a fan of the classical pious images of Jesus on the way to His crucifixion: a barely bloody man, gazing up at the sky as if watching a comet.  Movies such as The Passion of the Christ give a more realistic (albeit very graphic) image of what He endured.  I also don’t appreciate the saints whose writings chastise us for not skipping joyfully to pick up our individual crosses, because apparently Jesus did.  Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but there are saints who seem to like suffering a bit too much.  Instead, I think the images of the Passion of the Christ show suffering like an athlete whose eye is on the prize, getting through difficulty after difficulty.

Our big battle will be getting KB through the Easter Vigil at my husband’s parish.  One of his cousins is becoming Catholic, so we want to celebrate the occasion.  The curmudgeon in me wonders how long KB will stay awake and if the parish will make us sit through all 9 readings (yes, I know how symbolic they are, but the length of each one is rather extreme!!).

So this Lent has been a bit nonexistent in the staircase.  And that’s OK.  Really, my spiritual director said so. J  There will be future Lents for fish frys (we can’t go right now as KB doesn’t behave), setting goals, or special crafts like my mom did in our school age years.  

And that’s OK.  Time to take another step.  

Friday, February 15, 2013

Quick Takes: Meatless Edition

1.  Usually, this quick take would be dedicated to my annual statement, "No way, Lent already?"  However, today it's "No way, the Pope has resigned?"  Seeing  my news feed explode early Monday morning was a lot of fun.  I look forward to following the conclave, especially with the new additions of social media.  Some of the many wonderful blog posts about the matter include this article about an African Pope, Fr. Robert Barron's TV interview, and another article addressing that pesky St. Malachy prophecy.

2.  Quite a few people (including my OB/GYN) asked if I was upset about B16's decision.  Like many other Catholics, I was quite shocked, but understand.  When I saw him in person during my honeymoon in 2006, the pope already looked a bit tired.  His job has become so much more complicated in this age of the 24-hour news cycle, the fast flow of information, the ease of world travel, not to mention the secular issues the Church faces.  It's quite a lot for one person, let alone an 85-year-old man, to handle.  I trust he made his decision after lots of thought and prayer.  Besides, our president has gray hair after only 4 years in office, and he got the job at a much young age than B16.

3. I tried the MOPS group for the second time today.  The "mentor mom" gave a neat talk about keeping marriages strong. I really admire other Christian denominations for their zeal and fervor.  Still working on meeting other moms (it's a bit cliquey), but we'll see.

4.  In my area of the USA, the weather has changed about as quickly as fashion trends.  One day we need parkas, the next day, KB and I skip merrily in sweatshirts and jeans.  Then the next day, some snow arrives.  This is the fastest way to bring on Spring Fever!

5.  We had a very low-key Valentine's Day.  We always avoid the restaurants (even in the pre-children era), choosing instead to dine on Jimmy.John's.  And my sweet husband has become quite adept at picking GOOD chocolate, as in the kind without fruity fillings.

6.  Baby Boy is now at 29 weeks. He's kicking quite a bit these days, which makes me wonder if he will become a soccer player or boxer.  Thankfully, I still have the OK from my doctor to keep Irish dancing.  Perhaps he may learn a few moves!  This pregnancy has gone by much quicker than KB's, but it's been far more difficult than hers too.  Another chance to pray for the IF ladies.

Have a fabulous weekend!!  And since it's Friday and I'm craving meat.....

Friday, February 8, 2013

Finding Support

Another Friday, and another lack of Quick Takes.

Before I attempt to put pen to ink, or fingers to keyboard, please keep the following caveats in mind while reading this post: 1. I am immensely grateful for the gift of my little girl, baby boy, and Rachel (in heaven). My infertility journey has never left my mind. 2. My husband and I made the decision together to have me stay home with the kids. It is a hard job, but one we think is best for our particular family.

The reason for these caveats is because my post could come across as ungrateful and complaining. Rather, I hope to illustrate a gaping need in this point in my life as a newbie mom: the need for support.

Support groups (formal or informal) exist for a reason: some of the best support one can receive comes from others in the same situation or ordeal. This holds true for groups for cancer patients/survivors, AA, Celiac Diseas and the like. Teachers (or those married to one) best understand other teachers.  Youth ministers best understand fellow youth ministers.

Back in the early days of Infertility, I found it quite isolating. The advice and consolation of people who had endured it helped me tremendously. As more friends and acquaintances became aware of the situation, they became more empathetic. But there was always something extra special talking with someone who had traversed the same waters. My mom could still recall her feelings from going through IF 35+ years ago and knew very well of my hardship. Several other women from various circles (church, school, etc.) began to offer support and advice too. I started my blog and met other IF bloggers at various stages in their journey. And one of THE best resources, the SHE infertility group, took shape and form.

Then 2010 came, and life changed dramatically with the arrival of my baby girl. While a new baby isn’t a walk in the park, for the most part KB’s first year was pretty smooth. The baby carrier made going places easier, and there was no chasing involved in our errands. We were able to do more activities outside the home. She would sit through Mass contentedly.

A couple years later, the toddler years have really thrown me off the wagon. My experience with this age group is very lacking; I skillfully avoided babysitting kids under the age of 5 while in high school and never taught students younger than 3rd grade. I was 4 years old when my little sister was born and don’t remember much. So my only experience has been KB. (Lucky her, ha ha ha!)

But what’s beginning to happen is that life has REALLY changed. A typical day’s schedule is more rigid; nap times have become sacred. In addition, parenting has really started. Tantrums. Drama. Yadda Yadda.

I know a few moms of toddlers, but most of them work outside of the home. Quite a few other friends have cute babies that haven’t reached the same stage yet. I have been attending an excellent Bible Study at our local cathedral; but that has seen a huge decline in young women’s attendance. Most of the ladies in my small group are retired or have a daughter my age.

The lack of a supportive group of moms in the same stage has left a gaping hole.  The days of staying at home with a toddler can be challenging, as All You Who Hope can attest in her most recent blog post (and she has 2 toddlers, 1 newborn!).

So, a new mission has begun: it’s time to find some toddler moms for support and companionship. Perhaps 50 years ago this would have come in the form of a neighborhood full of kids, where the moms would help each other and offer the newbies advice. Or if we attended another Christian denomination, there would be a mom’s group. Sadly, most Catholic parishes tend to focus activities on school age children. My parish doesn’t have much that would help a mom, and if I suggested it to my pastor, he would tell me to start my own group (can’t blame him, but the timing is rather bad).

From what I can tell so far, the solution will be to find the right group. My spiritual director advised me to take these last couple months before Baby Boy arrives to research existing groups. Our local Cathedral has a moms’ group that also offers childcare. I've also checked out a Christian MOPS group. And there may be a few that surprise me.

This need has become so critical that I’m officially pulling back from just about every activity except for Irish Dancing and a couple other things. While a group may not solve everything, it will provide some relief when toddler tantrums leave me guessing. The first time a fellow IF survivor told me that she avoided baby showers during her journey, I felt so relieved. The IF support group provided a way for women to walk through a difficult period of life and come out as friends. I hope for the same camaraderie in this new stage of my life.

Time to grab some binoculars! 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Quick Takes Friday: Neverending Sinusinfection Edition

1.  Ah, the optimism of my last post.  Little did I know that KB would fall prey to croup, a viral infection I thought had disappeared years ago.  Let's just say I'm better informed now, especially after a Sunday afternoon visit to the local children's urgent treatment clinic. KB's fever is gone, but she is still coughing after two weeks.  I also learned another vital lesson: adults can't get croup (our airways are bigger), but they can catch the cold or infection.  Ergo, two weeks later I am walking around with a sinus infection.  Thankfully, my OB/GYN prescribed me a z-pack.  Hopefully health will return soon.  Everything last week went on hiatus: Bible study, Gymb.oree, any type of activity, even (gasp!) Irish dancing, and (obviously), blogging.

2.  I think the facial tissue corporations should personally thank me for keeping them in business.  This household has consumed a lion's share of tissues the past two weeks.  We also are running low on herbal tea.

3.  Some of the worst words to hear on a Thursday night, after a long day at work or caring for a sick child:
"The bathroom is flooded!" my friend announced.  I ran downstairs to find brown water (use your imagination) spewing out of the sink.  I sprinted back upstairs to deliver the unwelcome message to my hubby, who had barely sat down.  Despite the yuck, we were lucky.  The water never reached beyond our bathroom.  We also found a new respect for emergency plumbers who show up at 11pm at night!

4.  Les Miserables (the movie) surpassed my expectations after seeing the show three times on stage.  The always poignant melodies intertwined with the movie's cinematography.  I especially liked Hath.away and Hug.h's performances.  While Russel Cro.we's singing wasn't the best, he definitely made a sinister Javert whom you love to hate.

Fr. Robert Baron has an excellent commentary on the Catholic themes found in Les Miserables.  The video has a few spoilers, so you may want to wait to view it until after the movie.  Special thanks to my parents for baby-sitting KB so my hubby and I could watch the long movie!!

5.  For the past 3 weeks, the fiancee of  a friend has stayed at our house for the past 3 weeks.  Not only has the extra company been welcome, her coming forced the household to re-evaluate the room situations.  We decided to relocate the guest room to the ground floor, making the present guest room the soon-to-be baby room.  This decision also involved excessive purging of junk in order to make the new guest room livable.

6.  Shoved To Them is hosting a unique campaign called "Dump the Frump."  The idea greatly appeals to me, as I notice a difference that a few touches of makeup and cute clothes can make.  I definitely feel more confident, even if a particular day's outings only consist of a wagon ride around the block and a trip to RiteAid.  My new favorite quick make-up goodies are Benefit's Fine-one-one stick and BellaBamba blush.  A little of each of those puppies goes a long way.

Have a great weekend, and please stay healthy!

KB now thinks that car doors are overrated, and attempts to enter her chic "Coz.y" in Dukes of Hazzard Style!