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March 30, 2011

10 Interesting (I Hope!) things about my Husband and Me

Hallie at Betty Beguiles posted 10 facts about her and her better half and encouraged her readers to do the same.  So...here goes!

I was out with one of my closest friends for a "girls night" when I met Craig.  She had mentioned that her cousin performed at Comedy Sportz where we were going for entertainment.  The Referee came out to begin the show and I looked at my friend and said, "He's your cousin, right?  He looks just like your dad!"

Craig flirted with me the entire night at the "after party" we conjured up after the show that night, but I was kind of putting him off............until he said he was Catholic and one of 5 kids.  Then he had a little more of my attention.  :)

Craig proposed to me on his 27th birthday.  Right after I gave him his present, he pulled the box with the ring out of his sock.  Oh yeah and my sister was there and she felt kind of out of place, hee-hee.

We moved our wedding date up three months because we found out we could have the wedding at Craig's home parish (where he grew up) and wouldn't have to pay for it.  

During marriage preparation classes, when our discussions were directed to turn toward having and raising children, we prefaced almost every thing with, "Well, we know we don't really want kids, BUT, if we end up with one anyway..."  (I'm sure God is laughing at us sometimes.)

We went on our honeymoon in Branson, MO.  July is a really bad time to vacation in Branson...too crowded.

We were married for one year and one month the first time I mentioned to Craig that I thought maybe we should think about having a baby.  He was shocked and stammered out, "B-b-b-ut....I thought we weren't going to do that?"

We had no way of knowing how God would change our lives through the baptism of our daughter, Sarah.  Saying we would raise our daughter in the Catholic faith gave us the fire we needed to learn our Catholic faith (we were both poorly catechized).  I praise God and thank Jesus often for the Sacraments.

We used to have goals about having a certain amount of money in the bank and vacations we wanted to take.  Now our goals are about paying for Catholic high school, paying for braces, helping our children to turn to God to discern His will for their lives and which kid to point in the direction of med school so we can hit her up for an in-law apartment at her house in our old age.

We will be married 12 years in July.  Our oldest will turn 10 in July.  Our 5th child will be born in July. 

March 29, 2011

What's Going On Wednesday

What IS going on on Wednesday?  I have no idea...but it sounded good for a title.  :)

And okay...so I'm hitting "publish" on Tuesday night...but you get the idea.  

First - This weekend, Sarah and Dani got their ears pierced.  It was a good time to do it because we're far enough out from volleyball and basketball season (when they'd have to take the earrings out for games) that they can keep the earrings in for the needed time to establish the piercings.  They were so good!  Dani didn't even cry (although on the way out when I told her how impressed I was, she said, "Well, Mom, I did ALMOST cry.")  And Sarah didn't get upset either, although she acknowledged it was a bit more than a pinch.  

Second - Dominic's leg is healed!  Funny story:  Dominic had walked around on his leg with no noticeable limp the entire weekend before his follow-up.  Even his babysitter commented on how well he was doing.  We arrived at Children's Mercy for the follow up at the orthopedic clinic and he immediately began limping and saying, "leh---huww, Mama."  (Leg Hurt, Mama)  It was hilarious.  He put on his act all the way through the x-ray and the consult with the doctor.  Too funny.  My little drama-man.

Third - Helen has started reading little bits!  It's so much fun to hear her sound out the words.  I cannot begin to describe the thrill I get from my children learning to read.

Fourth - My husband is awesome.  Last week, he kept the laundry up all through the week and I didn't have to do any this weekend.  I couldn't believe it and I am so grateful.  I know I need to pitch in and do the laundry some, too, but it was so nice not to have 6 piles of laundry on Sunday.

Finally - I am 26 weeks!  Omgosh!  And I gotta tell ya...I am HUGE!  Okay, maybe not HUGE.  Maybe HUGE.  Maybe.  Anyway, I had my glucose tolerance test on Monday and I hope to find out the results on Thursday (my doc isn't in the office on Wednesdays).  I am trying to get up to swim on Wednesday and Thursday mornings and Saturday mornings and Sundays if I can make it.  But it's kind of hard.  Pretty soon, Track meets will take up my Saturday mornings for a few weeks, so that swim won't happen.  And I am more exhausted every day.  I think the third trimester exhaustion sets in a little earlier as I get older.

I hope you're having a fabulous week.  I hope I haven't been too much of a downer this week with my topics.  This will probably be my last post before I go live with my new look.  I'm really excited and be sure to stop by because I will be doing a giveaway!

On Being a Jayhawk Fan

This past weekend, my beloved Jayhawks bowed out of the NCAA tournament in the Elite Eight.

You know, for any other program (except maybe UNC, Duke, Kentucky) that would not be cause for major mourning, but rejoicing in a great season.

Yes...other programs would rejoice in their team NOT winning the conference, NOT winning their conference Tourney and NOT getting to the Final Four BUT getting to an Elite Eight.  The fact that KU's cross-state rival, K-State, made it to an Elite Eight last year (and fell short of the Final Four) was the cause of much rejoicing and partying.  The fact that our Border-Rival Missouri made it to the Elite Eight in 2009 (and not the Final Four) made their coach much-beloved. 

Even the fact that other teams (like Pitt, for example) lost to lower seeds and didn't even make the Sweet Sixteen doesn't remove this stigma that KU for some reason didn't live up to expectations. 

In 2011, not one top-seeded team made it to the Final Four.  Further...no second-seeded team made it to the Final Four.  And Kansas lost to VCU, a team...by the way...that is mature, focused and playing some great ball (and it helps that they shoot lights-out from behind the 3-point arc).

No, I'm gonna say, there's no shame in KU's loss.  I don't think there is EVER any shame in being one of the top 8 teams in the tournament. 

Add to the Elite Eight appearance the fact that KU - for the 7th consecutive year - won the Big XII title.  7 years in a row, KU is tops in their conference.  KU also reclaimed the Big 12 Championship title in the post-season tournament.  Oh yeah and their record is 35-3.  KU wins a heckuva lot more than they lose. 

Being a Jayhawk Basketball fan is bittersweet. 

You get to root your team on to a win most of the time.  You get to wear your gear and have lots of people in lots of different places say, "Rock Chalk!"  There's a tradition of winning basketball that's difficult for most other programs to go up against.  KU's first coach was the inventor of the game himself.  We've had many "greats" play for KU - Wilt Chamberlain being the main one.  We have a coaching tree that spans to other great programs - Dean Smith, Adolph Rupp - both known for establishing and nurturing amazing programs at UNC and Kentucky respectively - hail from KU (played together, coached by Phog Allen). 

But because your team is in the NCAA tournament every year and usually seeded fairly high, many years, if/when they don't make it to the Championship game, you have to put up with jubilant "other" fans telling you how your team choked.  And you have to listen to pundits talk about how KU didn't fit the bill...yet again.  Even though your team was the only local team to make it that far.

I suppose I will take putting up with the sour "other" fans if it means that every year my team is winning the conference, winning the post-season Championship tournament and getting into the tournament...even highly seeded.  By the time you get to the Elite Eight - any team you meet is good.  Whether it is because they are on a roll, playing with a major chip on their shoulder or whatever. 

It's true...KU didn't win the NCAA Championship for 2011 (really?  losing in the Elite Eight is a choke?).  Fine.  It doesn't mean their season is a major disappointment (I swear MU fans must write all these articles). 

Sure, as a KU fan, I'm disappointed they didn't go all the way.  But I think it's wise to remember that more years than not, KU is not going to go all the way to the Championship.  I'm so glad someone reminded me about 8 years ago...ONLY ONE TEAM WINS THE FINAL GAME

Why would some of my fellow Jayhawk "fans" want to berate this team and what they did not accomplish?

I'm pretty darn proud of our Jayhawks and what they DID accomplish. 

Further, I wish VCU well in the Final Four (I have family hailing from Richmond, VA - I'm a fan!)  I think we have a VERY good chance of seeing the tournament champion with an 8 or an 11 by their name (indicating their seed).

March 27, 2011

Nature Vs. Nurture

I am naturally on the heavy side when it comes to stature and body type.  I grew up believing I was fat.  Looking back on it, I probably wasn't.  I was probably built a lot like my daughter, Helen, nice and solid through the legs and hips with strong, slightly broad shoulders.  But, I never believed as a child that I was cute or strong or pretty.

I remember being told I had been "sneaking food" and I remember having a large appetite, even as young as four or five, and having my mother scorn me for eating too much.  My mother often told me that the "doctor" put me on a diet when I was two years old because I was so fat.  And I remember that my mother loved to tell me how cute and "petite" my sister was...(well, she was a tiny little thing as a child) but I think the nature in which she expressed this to me, often felt like a "why can't you stop eating so much so you can be more like your sister?"

It got worse when my parents divorced.  In the third grade in the spring, my mom told me she was putting me on the swim team because I was "getting too chunky." Maybe a year later, my cousin (who is two-and-a-half years older than I) sent me some clothes she'd grown out of.  I remember when the box arrived...my mom quickly began pulling things out to try on me...and she gave me a pair of pants...I put them on and buttoned them and tried to zip them only to hear my mother say (in her disappointed/exasperated voice), "Oh..you look like a sausage!  You are so fat!  Take those off."  And as I tried to remove them, the zipper wouldn't unzip, the snap or button broke and the pants were somehow ruined and this was cause for a major punishment for me.  

My mom restricted the food I ate and I know part of it was due to finances, but she often referred to my unacceptable state of fat-ness.  She lumped me and my older brother together...we had our "father's metabolism," or "we really had to watch it" and we "would be really fat if it weren't for her."  She was saving us from ourselves.  All that jazz.

The summer after my fifth grade year, my mom got home from the grocery store one night and we were on our way out to help bring things in.  She got to my brother first and basically punched him square in the gut without saying a word to him.  I only saw him double over in front of me and didn't know what was coming.  She came to me next and she punched me, but left her hand in my stomach and pinched it so hard, I bruised.  Apparently, she was upset.  She had checked ice cream and milk before she'd gone to the store and she was convinced my brother and I had eaten all of the ice cream and drank all of the milk and caused her to have to purchase more when she wasn't expecting to.  As soon as we were inside we were lambasted with her yelling about what filthy pigs we were and don't we know we are so fat and it's all because we sneak all the food? 

By the end of the summer after my 6th grade (with benefit of 2-a-day swim practices and major growth spurt), I was tall and skinny.  My mom couldn't be happier.  Or could she?  She constantly reminded me that I needed to swim or do something active to keep the weight off.  I quit swimming year-round in 7th grade, and naturally, began to fill out like most 13 and 14-year-olds do.  My mother was constantly harping on me about my weight and she filled the refrigerator and cupboards with "low-fat" this and "diet" that.  It was a constant focus around our house.

High school was more of the same.  My mom continued to comment about my weight.  Rarely was she showering me with compliments, either.  She would make unkind comments about other girls and how they looked and then compare us to them (of course we were worse...although every once in awhile we'd get, "well, at least you're not as bad as ________"). 

My mother grew up in a dysfunctional family environment.  She was the oldest of the four children and she often described for us how embarrassed she was of her sister, who was severely obese.  My mother spoke of days when people would say to her, "You're the only normal sized one in your family...what happened after you?"  So, her resentment of heavy people was deeply rooted and difficult to expel.  And she was acutely aware and nervous that any of her children might end up like any of her other siblings.

As an adult, I've recognized the impact of my upbringing.  It's a fact:  I'm someone who constantly struggles with weight.  When I gain weight when pregnant, it really wears me down.  If I don't lose it quickly after I have the baby, it really wears me down.  My weight fluctuates in such a way that's probably not the most healthy.  I've never settled into a regular healthy-eating pattern where my weight stayed within a 5-7 pound range.  I'm not sure how much of it is my nature and how much is because of the way I was raised.  I'll never know that.

As a mom, it's been difficult to feel comfortable as I attempt to manage my children.  I am hell-bent on NOT repeating the behavior and treatment my mother gave to me, but then, I wonder if I am doing a disservice to my children who might not be making the best choices.  I try to present food and dietary considerations as "healthy" vs. "unhealthy" choices and the balance that's required.  But so often I wonder if I am failing somewhere else where this is concerned.  I want my children to be active, but I want them to WANT to do what they do.  

I'm thankful at this juncture that I haven't witnessed unkind comments about appearance between my children, and I pray I never will.  I have heard stories of problems in schools at the ages my children are reaching, though, and I begin to panic.  What if someone undoes all my hard work with one unkind comment or gesture directed toward one of my kids?  No matter how hard I have worked to build my children up to see that they are beautiful and wonderfully made in the Lord's eyes...one mean comment from a classmate, or an acquaintance can undo it all.

My biggest focus has become to help us all view each other and ourselves as images of God.  God, our Heavenly Father, created us.  We need to maintain and care for our bodies.  We need to keep them healthy and strong.  We must yearn to see what God sees within and without. 

March 22, 2011

I Didn't Know What I Didn't Know

I became pregnant for the first time in October 2000.  I never got a positive home pregnancy test, though.  (I don't think I knew how to pee on a stick very well.)  I learned that the doctor's pregnancy test was positive via my step-mother when I arrived at my father's house for a visit (Craig had called and simply told her to tell me, "the answer is Yes").  

At that point, I really hadn't put much thought into pregnancy, labor, delivery or being a mom.  The idea was like some far off fuzzy possibility that I never really believed would come true.  I mean on the outset, I believed I would get pregnant - and probably rather quickly - but the idea of another soul, another human being, in my care was kind of a foreign concept.  I can sort of liken it to the way a teenager feels about his or her mortality.  They know it's a possibility that they might die if they behave recklessly...but still maintain the it-won't-happen-to-me mentality.

Since I hadn't put much thought into the real possibility of becoming a mother, I didn't start doing it then.  I heard people talk about birth plans...but I didn't make one.  People asked me if I would breastfeed the baby...I assumed it was a no-brainer...who DOESN'T breastfeed in the 21st century?  Was I going back to work?  You bet.  But Craig was going to be a SAHD - so no daycare issue for me.  

It's silly and foolish, I know, but I didn't even shop around OB/GYN practices.  I looked one up close to the hospital where I lived and went in for my first appointment.  I got all kinds of information and I read through it.  I started reading What to Expect When You're Expecting.  I was turned off by a lot of it because it didn't feel like it was applicable for me.  It seemed to have all kinds of things in it that could make me worry if I wanted to focus on them...so I didn't like the book much.

The OB/GYN clinic I went to was rather large and they informed me that I should see a different doctor at each appointment so that when it came time to give birth, I should have met them all.  Yeah...that didn't happen.  

The OB/GYN clinic I went to also pushed birth control on me from the sixth month of my pregnancy on.  I was asked over and over, "What birth control do you anticipate using after you have your baby."  When I got brave and told the nurse at my eight-month checkup that I really wanted to look into Natural Family Planning, I got a lecture about how it wasn't really reliable and I'd be back in their office within three months pregnant again.  I left my 6-week post-partum visit with a prescription for birth control pills.

We attended the hospital's "birth classes" which focused on hospital policies and procedures and taught us what to expect.  I began the classes thinking they were going to help us learn how to labor naturally.  And they discussed relaxation techniques, breathing, etc.  But I ended the classes fully expecting I would be getting an epidural for pain.  Because I wasn't going to want to handle the pain, you see.  Oh yeah, and all I would really care about in the end was having a healthy baby, don't ya know? <sarcasm>

Labor with Sarah was induced at 41 weeks*.  I received a gel on my cervix overnight that was supposed to soften and ripen and prepare my cervix for labor.  At 6:00 a.m. the next morning, they began pitocin.  Contractions began a little slowly.  They broke my water sometime around 10:30 a.m.  I labored through some major contractions (my sister was watching the monitor and apparently I had some hell-A-cious "triple-peak-ers"!) after that and finally, I asked for an epidural around 1:00 p.m.  I played cards with my husband and my sister for awhile, then I nodded off to sleep for a nap.  Around 5:00, they came rushing in put me on all fours and attached a fetal monitor to Sarah's head.  Apparently her heart rate had dropped quickly and they needed to make sure they were monitoring it and not reacting to the monitor simply slipping off my belly.  

The doctor on call was not a doctor I had met before. She immediately began talking c-section when she checked me out.  "This is a big baby...might have to do a section..."  Inside I kind of rolled my eyes.  I was bound and determined NOT to be cut open.  I hit 10 cm dilation at 5:30 p.m. and (finally!) I was ready to push.  No birth class prepares you for what you do when you push.  The nurses always remind you it's kind of like a bowel movement...but just a little different focal point for the pressure.  

My first few pushes didn't do much.  Okay....so the first 45 minutes of pushing didn't seem to do much.  The nurse was assuring me that I was making progress...but the doctor (AGAIN!) mentioned doing a c-section if I couldn't push the baby out.  Of course, I was determined to push that baby out, so I started putting more force into my pushes and Craig was counting to 10 for me to hold my pressure.    My sister was on one side of me, Craig on the other.  Craig was using a wet washcloth to cool my head in between pushes.

Finally, after an hour and forty-five minutes of pushing, my baby was laying on my tummy.  I was so stunned.  Sarah was laying on my tummy, eyes wide open quietly looking at me.  I said to Craig, "Look!  Her eyes are BROWN!"  I remember being so surprised at that because everyone says that a baby's eyes are blue at birth.  And she was so quiet.  No crying.  I had to ask..."Is she breathing?"  Sure, she was and she was turning pink, but she was just so calm.  I touched her cheek before they took her to clean her up.  

One of my first mistakes was not trying to nurse her right away.  But I didn't know that.  They brought her back to me once she was cleaned up and all that and we tried to nurse.  She wasn't all that interested.  The memory is fuzzy right now, but she did latch on for a little while.  

I found out after the fact that the c-section-crazy doctor gave me a barbaric episiotomy.  I have suffered major pelvic floor problems since then, though I have been able to manage some of it through some physical therapy.  We also found out that Sarah's collarbone broke as she entered the world because the doctor didn't help me to wait once her head was out and turn her body...just had me push her right on out head and shoulders.  I was horrified to learn about the break, though it healed very quickly.

I didn't end up breastfeeding Sarah.  That's another post all in itself.  But after four weeks, she was exclusively formula-fed.

The thing is, at the time, I couldn't have told you that this birth experience was horrible or wonderful or not exactly what I wanted because I didn't know what I wanted.  And I didn't know there was any other way.  And I didn't even know I could question it.  And even if I know I could and had questioned it, I can't say I would have asked the right questions!

I can tell you that my three subsequent labors/deliveries blow that one out of the water (even though I still use epidurals to manage pain).  My NFP-friendly/only doctor is one of a kind who treats my whole person (including the baby in my womb, when there is one) - as a strong Catholic, he is even able to give a spiritual bent on decisions I need to make and how to move forward with my (and the baby's) care.  I've not been cut "down there" one more time and actually, through the births of Dani, Helen and Dominic, haven't torn all that much.  I think I had one stitch with Helen, no stitches with Dani and maybe more stitches with Dominic due to his ginormous head. 

Were I to get a chance to have my first baby over again, some of my choices might not be different knowing what I know now.  I would probably elect for an epidural again.  But I for sure would shop around for an OB/GYN practice and ask questions like, "What is your c-section rate?" (let's at least be below the national average, eh?) and "How many episiotomies have you performed?" (a doctor who would get my business would answer that they are so rare that he could count them on one hand).  And, I would take a REAL birth preparation class.  And I would enlist some REAL help for breastfeeding and not listen to all this nonsense of how it's so "natural" to breastfeed (which makes you feel like a complete failure when your child is starving and you're unable to get her to latch) that you and baby will adjust just fine.  I probably would have chosen a different hospital, too...because I didn't research that either.

I'm not sure why I approached new-motherhood the way I did.  It's obviously worked out fine in the way I have done it so far.  I don't have a lot of regrets because I've been able to find ways that work for my family.  I guess in a way, that simply shows that sometimes, the Grace of God finds you whether you invite It or not.

*I have since questioned when I was due with Sarah.  Because I didn't chart, I have no idea of conception date and I had irregular cycles from coming off the pill (we weren't real well-Catechized and hadn't come into full understanding regarding the Church's teaching on sex in marriage).  Because she was 9 pounds, 9 ounces chances are she wasn't "early" but since all of my babies since have been about that size, I might have just been 40 weeks.

March 21, 2011

Monday Mumbles - 2

It's a Monday and I have some jumbled thoughts to share, so thought I'd go the Mumble route.  Have a great Monday!  TOOJE usually has some Mumbles up on Mondays.  Whether she does today or not...go check her out.  She has adorable children!

1.  First of all...ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK!  My team is in the Final Four Sweet Sixteen (wow...got ahead of myself!!  fixed on Tuesday morning).  Granted, their bracket is all sorts of messed up with upsets just about everywhere but by them, but they're still playing!

2.  Woke up to this article over at National Catholic Register on the disconnect in the message from "over-population" people to stop having babies...or to control the number and the fact that they are silent regarding whether people should continue to engage in sex.  It's a refreshingly different take on the argument.

3.  I have swum four times since my last OB visit.  It seems I finally got the motivation I needed to get to the pool...in the form of keeping my weight in check over the four weeks proceeding that check-up. 

4.  Swimming wears me out like nothing else.  When bedtime comes around...I am literally out within a minute.  And I feel worn out all day long (when I get it in first thing).  The schedule is Wed-Thur and then Sat-Sun.  That's the only way I can get it in with Craig's work schedule.  Longer swims on the weekends.  The second day in a row...I REALLY feel the fatigue from the previous day's swim.  But I'm glad to be back in the pool.

5.  I take Dominic to his orthopedic checkup today.  I noticed last night he was walking more smoothly...like the limp had finally gone.  I haven't seen him really run, yet, though.  So, we'll see.  But I'll be glad to see how it's doing.

6.  My kids go back to school today after spring break. They NEED to go back.  This weekend was full of bickering and fussing at each other.  I think they are tired of each other. 

7.  Lent is going fairly well so far.  I finally got a book to read to feed my soul...The Virtue Driven Life.  It seems to have the premise that we have lost our way when it comes to the virtues these days.  I am a little ashamed to admit that at a given moment, I probably couldn't name the seven virtues.  But maybe this will help me!

8. I volunteered to be track coach for grades 4-6 at our parish school.  It's been interesting since I am pregnant and haven't been running so I can't really just start running with the kids.  I am able to do some of the plyometric exercises though and I love saying (as I keep my plank-hold for the entire minute):  "If a 37-year-old 5-months-pregnant woman can do this and keep her belly off the ground, you 10-year-old girls can do it!"

9.  I think I'm going to start a "Whine List" and write down all the "Whiny" complaints I get from the kids girls during workout.  "It's too hard."  "I'm tired."  "I caaaaaannnnn't do it!"  I bet if I focused I could remember the really funny ones.

10.  It's a new week.  Boss is back from vacation.  I realized I really am just four months away from this little one joining the world and spring is upon us!  Life is good.

Have a great day!!

March 17, 2011

Pregnancy Pondering

I've been thinking a lot lately about how very different I am as a pregnant woman versus my non-pregnant self.  Being pregnant is such a huge blessing, but it's probably one of those blessings that I overlook due to the fact that there are so many things I don't like about myself while I'm growing a baby in my womb.

I find that I feel guilty whenever I complain or even think about complaining about my pregnancy.  For one thing, how blessed am I to be able to conceive at all?  For another, each child is a gift from God, how dare I find one thing wrong with it?

There are so many things that I complain about when pregnant.  I gain weight.  Quickly.  I lack energy for exercise.  The last thing I want to put in my mouth is a vegetable or a fruit.  Clothes never fit right.  I'm short-tempered and easily frustrated with my children.  I'm more withdrawn at work.  Every time I am out with all of my children, I get this weird sensation that everyone is looking at my belly and wondering what is wrong with me having all these kids.  I could go on...but you get the picture.

How much of this comes from within and how much is a product of the society with which I interact?

It seems like I remember while pregnant with Sarah that no one thought it "weird" that I was having a baby.  I got lots of fun, nice comments about naming and whether I knew if baby was a boy or a girl.  Everyone was excited for the new arrival.  When I was pregnant with Dani - again, not a big deal.  Everyone seemed to think it was just grand that Sarah would have a sister.  What a blessing!  I had two girls born in the same time of year - lots of hand-me-downs!

When I was pregnant with Helen, it seemed...again...to be okay (but not AS okay as with Dani) with everyone that I was having another baby.  Get it out of the way!  Have the babies while you're young (though I was 32 at this point)!  With a third girl on the way, I heard, "Poor Craig" an awful lot and "Craig will never see the bathroom again."  While not overtly negative...we did not get nearly the amount of support that we had gotten in the past.

With Dominic this seemed to be worse.  I got a lot more of the comments like, "Don't you know when to quit?"  and "Don't you know what causes that?"  I actually felt keen disapproval from some family members about our decision to grow our family and there's a section of my family that seems to look down on us for having more than two or three kids.

With  both Dominic and Helen, I felt the cloud of depression during the last trimester.  With Dominic, it turned into a pretty long stay of Post-Partum Depression...I kind of came out of it when he turned one.  I wonder how much of that was caused by the lack of support I perceived from those within my family as well as complete strangers.

What's really interesting is that this time around, none of that has surfaced.  For some reason, I have not experienced one negative reaction to the fact that we are having another baby.  Everyone is excited.  It's almost as though I am having my first baby again.  I feared informing people of the pregnancy - but those fears have turned out to be completely unnecessary.

And - I'm having a pregnancy where I feel really good about where I am with everything regarding our family.  I'm content that I'm 24 weeks along and not wishing I were 40 weeks so I could get this over with.  I find myself expecting to go a week overdue and I am okay with that.  I am finding the energy to make it to the gym and get in the pool for a swim workout again.  While my frustration rears its head every once in awhile with the kids, I have noticed so far that it's not as bad as it was the last time around.  I'm still a little bit more sensitive to criticism, but don't let things bother me as much.  At least I don't think I do.

Obviously, I haven't done an extensive, scientific study about whether my experience with family and society at large and their opinions on my childbearing decisions directly correlates to how I feel.  It does seem like this time around, I've struck a good balance of feeling content about where  we are with our family and my experiences with those on the outside of our immediate family unit. 

Maybe people are treating me differently. 

Maybe I've just grown up.

March 12, 2011

Humility, Revisited

I don't have a lot to write at this particular time.  But my Tweet feed this morning put humility in perspective for me.  I LOVE it when I find new ways to find meaning in the virtues!

The quote was from my CSLewis twitter feed and here it is:

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.

Wow!  When I pray that Litany of Humility, I often get hung up on the fact that I feel like I need to think of myself as dirt or something.  Everyone else is better than me.  But now, it puts a whole new perspective on it.  It's that I need to think of OTHERS more than I think about myself!

And now, as I read and pray through each line of the Litany, and I look at it more as..."don't love myself so much, but love others."  Or, "don't desire to be esteemed and made to feel worthy...but esteem OTHERS and make OTHERS feel worthy."

Wow.  I love it.

Have a blessed weekend!

March 9, 2011

You Are Dust, and to Dust You Shall Return

It's Ash Wednesday.  It's the beginning of Lent.  It's the day that I am reminded over and over as every person in Mass--babies, young children, teenagers, adults, elderly--everyone comes forward to receive on the forehead a cross made of ashes and I hear Father say, "Remember Man, you are dust and to dust you shall return."  Every single person is reminded. 

Earlier this week, I read this post from my friend TOOJE, which got me thinking about faith.  Her post reminded me that I have tried over and over to write about my feelings on faith in the big picture, only to be foiled every single time because my thoughts come out a jumbled mess. 

And so, I stick to the small things, the non-earth-moving things.  The simple ideas and I try to paint a picture fitting each one into the whole.  But I can't ever satisfactorily paint THE BIG PICTURE.

And the reason is because I am Dust.  My body and mind and experience on Earth is fleeting.  I can only touch a small amount of this world during my time here and I pray that I join the Saints in Heaven at some point so that THEN...it will all make sense.  THEN, I will understand God's plan for the suffering in this world.  THEN, I will completely appreciate the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  THEN, I will rejoice and praise God eternally and constantly without the mundane concerns of worldly matters.

Today, I read this piece from Jennifer Fulwiler at National Catholic Register.  She's just too good a writer.  I feel like she writes it so none of us have to try anymore.  She has a beautiful perspective on why Christianity makes sense when you simply reflect on these nine words, "thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return."

I plan to join Lauren on Fridays, reflecting on the Power of the Tongue.  Sins of the tongue are my biggest downfall.  She mentions several "powers" we wield with our tongues:  Criticism, Gossip, Complaining/Negativity, Junk (idle talk and swearing), Encouragement, Praise and Silence.  What a great thing to focus on during Lent and try to be Christ to others with the power of words.

I have disconnected from Facebook for Lent.  I would imagine this would help me with my focus on my words since it is so easy to fall into arguments or petty comments in the social network.

I will not eat desserts during Lent.  All sweets, cookies, cakes, candies...none will cross my lips until the glorious Day of the Ressurection. 

I plan to participate in the Lenten activities and sacrifices our priest has laid out for our parish.

Lent is a time to sacrifice, to grow in holiness, to walk with Christ to Calvary and attempt to comprehend the sacrifice He made for us all.  I anticipate the next 40 days with joy, not trepidation.  It is my chance to make myself better, to offer up my mundane sufferings and to look outward to Christ, to His suffering and death and to His Glorious Resurrection. 

March 7, 2011

Monday Mumbles - 1

My blog-friend and real-life friend TOOJE does something she called Monday Mumbles each week.  I may not participate each week, but had some thoughts this week and Mumbles seemed like a good format.  Please go visit TOOJE

1.  Get this out of the way.  YAY for my Kansas Jayhawks!  They beat their rival, Missouri Tigers, won the Big 12 Conference, outright and maintained their hunt for a #1 seed in the big dance!

2.  I love going to my Familia group on Saturdays.  I really do.  Because it makes me realize just how far in holiness I have to grow.  

3.  I get so confused by some of the discussions.  Like I'm not holy enough or something (and this is my own personal failing...no one points a finger at me and says, "You are SO not holy").  Somehow I have a feeling if I were to bring up how much I really love the Harry Potter books, I would "out" myself as some sort of evil person.  (I have read many resources of Catholic priests speaking "against" the Harry Potter books and Catholic priests speaking "for" Harry Potter books.  There are a plethora of articles on both sides of the argument...I don't really intend to get into an in-depth discussion at this point on Harry Potter.)  Or the fact that every minute of my radio listening day isn't tuned to Catholic Radio and that I enjoy Sports Radio 810's programming or even some Gen X radio songs...that I'm somehow in a well of sin I can never crawl out of.

4.  And maybe that is what I am supposed to be thinking about these days.  Maybe I need to make some tough choices and turn completely away from things that are even just borderline "can-lead-into-sin" stuff.  I don't know. 

5.  We had a terrific discussion regarding Godparents.  There is a couple that Craig and I are planning to ask to be this baby's Godparents and I find myself praying that they'd even accept.  (There I am all worried they'd say I'm not holy enough or something...stupid inward-thinking.)

6.  And then there are other discussions where I feel I am completely on the same page with all these other women and I feel so blessed to know them and be sharing an hour or two with them.

7.  I am trying to think of what I am going to do about Lent this year.  I am planning to stay off Facebook.  But I need to find a family sacrifice.  Our priest sent out a great letter with some weekly prayers, sacrifices and almsgiving we could do.  We plan to incorporate those.  If you're a Lent-practicing family - what do you do together as a family?

8.  I watched the movie Inception last night.  Personally, I like movies that keep me wondering and thinking when they are done.  And this movie did not disappoint!  I won't do any spoiler here...but I may blog about it at some point.  (I'll be sure to give a Spoiler Alert!)

9.  Track practice starts today.  I have agreed to be the grades 4-6 track coach even though I don't really know how to teach kids any field events and the mechanics of running are a little hard to explain (I think) to 10-year-olds.  But...here we go!  I hope the kids enjoy it...I am happy to have found a place for running in my life.

10.  I am heading out to work in a little bit.  Off for another week.  I find myself praying for peace to make it through the week.  Every week.  Surely that will be enough.

March 5, 2011

Big Game!!

I love my team.  I really do.  I have been a Jayhawk fan for as long as I can remember watching college basketball.  Which means somewhere around 1984 I started following them when I could.  The Jayhawks winning the National Championship in 1988 probably sealed it that I would be a Jayhawk forever.  I had posters of Danny Manning all over my wall.  The Kansas City Star ran a special edition right after KU won in 1988 and I had those pictures all over my wall, too.

Today is a big game.  It would be a big game whether or not KU was playing for the Big 12 title outright.  KU plays MU today.  They play in Columbia, MO where it's always a crap-shoot whether KU will play a good game or not.  MU plays AWESOME when they play at home, so it's a pretty tall order for KU to go in there and win.

The way I grew up with this rivalry, people really would get down to the bottom of it...back when Kansas was a "free" state and Missouri was a "slave" state.  Much blood was shed between the states over the issue.  And I think that history provides much intensity to the rivalry.  Unfortunately, that hatred boils over into much less important things these days...you know, like college basketball games.  But I love an intense rivalry.  It adds to the "flavor" of life sometimes.

As rivalries go, I always want my team to win.  I don't think I'm too unique in that.

And from an emotional standpoint I probably would like for my team to win by 20 points all the time. But thankfully, that's just my emotions, so I don't get too upset most of the time.

But it's really not my thing to "hate on" another team.  I would definitely rather beat a team when they are at their best than to just pummel a team that's not playing their "A" game.  Of course, I'd rather the Jayhawks show up with their "A" game, too........it's SO not fun to watch your team play below level and get punked.  However, I'm quite hopeful that it's true that the Jayhawks really aren't over that loss in Manhattan.

Therefore, today I hope to see a great game between two talented teams where everyone plays to the best of their ability.  (I also pray the Morris twins don't throw any elbows or any other punk moves...butwell...I hope I don't see it from any players...these games get pretty intense). 

So, let the game begin!  

March 4, 2011

Unfulfilled Expectations

About the only thing I remember about the time of year when my parents informed us of their impending split was that it was winter.  I can't remember if it was Christmas break or if it was just some other winter day.  I remember it was cold.  I remember that my father was stationed with the Navy somewhere really far away (as in, not down the street where I could see him all the time).  I also remember that I still had really long hair, so I must have been in 2nd grade, which means I was 8.  

All of us kids were on the floor sitting "Criss-Cross-Applesauce" as they call it these days.  Back then, they called it "Indian Style".  I think my mom might have been holding the baby.  This would have been around 1982, so my baby brother would have been about 19 months or so.

The word DIVORCE fell like a bomb.  Oddly enough, my older brother seemed completely ready for it and acknowledged it as if it were a foregone conclusion that this is what was going to happen.  But me?  Tears flowed quickly and ferociously...and I remember thinking...wondering...would he say next that I was going to go with him?  I would sure miss my sisters and brothers, but surely I was going to stay with my Daddy.

But those words never came.  I don't know if my brother asked what was to become of the children or if my parents just moved right into that part, but it was made clear that we would stay with our mother.  I didn't understand.  Why would I stay with my mother?  Didn't my dad want me?  I mean, I didn't understand why he'd leave at all...but surely (in my 8-year-old brain) he couldn't bear to just leave me there?!?!

I don't remember anything else about that particular day.  It's very hazy.  It's probably best that I don't.  I'm sure there was a lot of crying from my mother.  I think I was probably in some sort of state of shock.  I don't remember feeling angry necessarily...just very confused and very unsure and maybe a little bit rejected and unloved.  I don't remember if I hugged my sister that was old enough to process what was going on (she was 6) or if I hugged my brother.  I really only remember sitting there, wondering why I wasn't going with my dad.


I started seeing a therapist through Catholic Charities about three years ago.  My reason for starting was because I had all these pent-up, unresolved feelings about what happened to my Dad and to me.  I realized through talking it out that what I suffered was abandonment, in the classic sense of the word, though it took quite a few sessions for me to term it what it was and really accept it.

I'm really happy that I talked with this therapist about this stuff.  She reminded me about the climate for our situation in the early 1980s.  

It would be quite a fight for my father to "fight" for custody for me or for any of the children.  Especially since my mom had been and still was (at the time) a Stay-At-Home-Mom.  My father would have to try and prove my mother to be an unfit mother in order to have any sort of chance, and there was practically zero chance that a court would see my mother as an unfit mother...because, well, she wasn't.

Besides that, my mother had cared for the home and children while my father had attended and completed law school.  My mother had cared for my father, the home and children for 16 years, while my father had been in the military, stationed in several different locations, including internationally.  

And...my father, in my adult opinion, "wanted out" and didn't want to mess with a messy court battle that would upset the children or even my mother.  As it was, I am fairly confident that my father wasn't getting a lot of support from his own parents with this move.  So as a man on his own, doing what I have come to see as what he felt he had to do...trying to take me with him was not going to be a very smart move.

The only way I might have had a chance to go with my father would have been to ask for it, to beg for it, to let the screams of my desires reverberating in my brain to overflow out of my mouth.  And, well...that's a tall order for an 8-year-old, seeing her mother crying on the couch, being told by her father that he's leaving and not knowing what that really means.  I mean, as an adult, I can look back and see that my parents' relationship was far from healthy and that my father was trying to "get out" of a bad relationship.  But when I was 8, it sure felt near impossible to see my father leaving as anything but leaving ME.


I realized after my post the other day, that perhaps writing about this stuff might cause some people to misconstrue my intent or my relationship with  my father.  While my relationship with my father is nothing like it would or could have been, I consider it strong at this point in my life.  That is possible only through the power of God's forgiveness and the Grace He has bestowed on me to accept my father with all of his failings...as my Dad.  

God has granted me the GRACE to see as an adult what I could never see as a child.  

God has bestowed upon me precious gifts of my husband and my children to show me that the evil of divorce doesn't HAVE to be a cycle and that I have a choice to love beyond myself.  Through these gifts, I am able to see that my dad was broken (as we all are broken) in sin and God has enabled me to believe that my dad really did love me and that it was probably very hard on him that loving me and my siblings wasn't enough.  As a mom, I can't truly empathize with it, but I can see it just enough in the way my dad has handled our relationship since I've been an adult to know that it was painful for him to be separated from us...because he was separated from God as well. 

Anyway, as I write of these experiences, I am still on a journey of discovery and forgiveness.  I'm able to write about this part of the journey BECAUSE God has enabled me to reach the point where I understand and God has touched my heart just enough that I can see the situation the way that I do.  I can't predict how long this journey will continue as I am currently processing much related to my mother and her role in all of this, but I feel confident that I have resolved enough with regards to my dad, that I am able to share.

And the Gender Is...

We just got home from the ultrasound and the baby is a BOY Thanks, everyone, for playing along.  I don't have any pictures I can post because they didn't give me a CD or anything.  I'll have to scan in the pics I have and do a post later.

And now, to get to work on baby boy names!

March 3, 2011

The Big Day!

Okay, so that (the title of the post) could mean any number of things, right?  But TOMORROW is the day I get to see our baby and we will (hopefully) find out the gender of the little one! 

Plus, Sarah and Dani will accompany me and I can't wait to share the experience with them.  They are VERY excited to see their baby sibling. 

I pray everything will go smoothly.

I have hinted before that I have my gut feeling about the gender of this little one, but I've been wary of posting it for all to see.  Now that it's 24 hours until I will know for sure, it sounds like fun.

Of course, I'm so in love with baby already that it really doesn't matter whether it's a girl or a boy.  I honestly feel that way.  I will say that I have a plethora of girl names I've considered but have had a very hard time considering boys names.  Dominic was my choice for a boy name for so long, that I knew my son would be called "Dominic" as soon as I knew he was a boy!  But this time, I am having a hard time coming up with something for a boy, so I'm anxious to find out how much work I have to do.

Here are a few trends for my pregnancies:

1)  With Sarah, I had some morning sickness for a few weeks with about three REALLY BAD days.  Then, when pregnant with Dani and Helen, I had a feeling they were girls because I wasn't sick at all!

2)  Each of my girls heart rates were always high...never below 160 and usually around 168-175.  Never failed with every visit...they were always beating away at a high rate.

3)  Dominic, my son, caused me to be sick for about 24 weeks.  I mean, I felt BLAH BLAH BLAH yuck for what seemed like FOREVER. 

4)  Dominic's heart rate was never over 140.  It was 140 at 8 weeks.  Then it was in the 120s for most of the rest of the pregnancy.  I might have had one of his OB visits where his heart rate was in the 130s.


1) I have hardly been sick with this little one at all.
-->This could mean it's a girl, right?  I mean, Dani and Helen were fairly non-sick.  However, they followed Sarah, with whom I was sick with some REALLY BAD days.

-->Or...since I was sick with Dominic, if this one is a boy, I am not sick because my body is handling boy-baking better the second time around (like my body handled girl-baking better the second and third time around)

2)  This little one's heart rate has never crossed 140.  It was 135 at the 6 week ultrasound.  It was 140 when doctor found it at 12 weeks (remember my scare I talked about??  We had a hard time finding it, but when we finally found it...it was 140 beats per minute).  At my first prenatal appointment, the heart rate was 128 and at my last appointment (around 16 weeks) it was 125.

Therefore...so far, my gut feeling has been that this little one is a boy.

Please leave a comment and let me know which gender you think it might be or if you're "pulling for" either a girl or a boy!  This could be fun, right?

In the meantime...I can't wait to see my little baby tomorrow!!!

March 2, 2011

Always His Little Girl

A few years ago (when Helen was a baby) I began having serious reflections surrounding my relationship with my parents, my feelings about their divorce, the way I grew up and what that meant for my family. 

It's a solid statistic that most kids who grew up with divorced parents, end up in a divorce themselves.  I had become aware of that.  It was something I didn't want to face.  It was much like what I'd heard about victims of abuse.  Abuse perpetuates abuse.  Divorce perpetuates divorce.

I wasn't contemplating a divorce by any means.  However, I began paying a lot of attention to my own interactions with my children and with my husband.  I was attempting to comprehend this idea that so many people come to the conclusion that ending marriage is a good idea.

One of the catapults into this contemplation on my life was my daughter Dani and her relationship with her dad.  Dani and her dad are very close.  Even now, while Dani will tell me that she loves me, she ALWAYS prefers her dad to take her to a practice or to her games.  When we "pair up" kids for outings in different places, Dani ALWAYS chooses...and usually gets to go with...her dad.  She looks at him with stars in her eyes.  Really.

I am a "Daddy's Girl".  I say that, but for some reason, that doesn't even sound close to how I feel about my dad.  I think I probably look at him with stars in my eyes, too.  I literally have memories including my mother that I can count on ONE hand before the divorce.  Sure, I knew she was always around (she was a stay-at-home mom) but I remember the same recurring fights, and I remember a couple of traumatic instances from age 3-8 that include my mother...but everything else involves my dad.

Watching Dani with her dad reminded me of this relationship I had with my dad before he left.  I have memories...
  • there is the day he told me he was color-blind and I asked him how he knew which light meant "stop" and which light meant "go" on the traffic lights.  I was probably four or five.  He explained that he really disliked it when the stoplights were hung horizontally because that made things a bit more difficult for him. 
  • I also remember when I accompanied him to the barber shop on base and afterward, he got me an ice cream cone and told me that I shouldn't talk about it when we got home. 
  • Another thing I remember is holding his hand walking somewhere and trying to come loose because I thought I was big enough to get to walk on my own (probably age 5 or 6) and he let me for a short while. 
Most of my memories of my father are just being with him...not an event, or special time specifically.  Tickling.  Laughing.  Teasing.

My memories, though, are dominated by my feelings.  My dad was EVERYTHING to me.  I remember being sad when he wasn't at home when I was little and he would go to work or to school.  I remember the elation at his arrival home every night.  We played the game "Concentration" when I was very small.  "Concentration" is what we called the game "Memory" and it was played with a deck of playing cards (you collected pairs as you turned over the cards).  I was really good at this game for a little kid...or at least I felt like I was and my dad thought I was and I beat my older brother once in a while.  I remember always feeling happy because I could impress my dad.  His approval was my addiction.

One summer night, when my dad had finished law school and was studying for the bar exam.  It was hot.  We didn't have air conditioning.  I wasn't sleeping very soundly, but it was late and I was in and out of sleep.  My dad came into our room (I shared with my sister) to say good night, even though we had been in bed quite a while.  I heard him go to my sister's bed and tell her that he loved her and good night.  He made his way over to my bed and I was feigning sleep.  Did he know?  Probably.  Because he talked a little more to me.  But I'll never forget the words he said, "Michelle, Daddy loves you.  You will always be my little girl.  Good night."  And he kissed my cheek.

You will always be my little girl.

He has said this to me numerous times in my life. 

My father has four girls of his seven children.  And maybe he hasn't had to remind his other daughters of this as much as he has felt the need to remind me.  But even today, when I am 37 years old and a mother of five, I wouldn't be shocked to hear him tell me this.

Words are sometimes a double-edged sword.

You will always be my little girl
The words always made me feel good to hear him say them.  I always did and will want to be his little girl
You will always be my little girl.
The words made the abandonment when I was 8 years old more difficult to process.  How was I still his little girl when he wasn't in my day-to-day life anymore?