Thursday, December 30, 2010

Help! My Baby Doesn't Speak English!

Ok, this is a question for all you supermoms out there:


What can be done when my baby is in one of those "don't-you-dare-put-me-down-or-I-will-scream-and-cry" moods and you SERIOUSLY have to get something done? 

I am the queen of procrastination as it is, and I'm a true believe to responding to my baby's needs and cries, so I'm no stranger to the whole "the work can be done later, your baby needs you now" mentality. This is basically my life 24/7. However, there are times when something legitimately must be done that requires both hands and all of my focus. Like finishing a resume by a deadline. 
I can't very easily edit a resume and type out a cover letter with Gemma on my lap. Not very quickly either. I also cannot concentrate with her crying like a lunatic either, which is what she does when I set her down.


So. Sad.

So ladies... what do you suggest? (And no, she does not take a pacifier.) Right now, my only answer is to one-hand it and pray that this skill continues to improve with time and practice!


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Favorite of the Day: Sleepy Time

Let's face it, there's just nothing more amazing than a sleeping baby. Why do I love a sleeping Gemma? Where do I start?

Back when she was only about 2 weeks old!
 
First of all, she's absolutely, breathtakingly adorable when she's sleeping. Her little hands curled into tiny, relaxed fists. Her breath steady and subtle, making her chest move gently up and down. Her eyes moving around beneath her beautifully lashed lids she got from her daddy. I just love it! I could watch her all day.
But, this lady's got things to do! Which leads me to my next question...

2 Months!
About a Month!



What else do I love about sleepy time? Well, for one, I actually have two free hands with which to type this blog. And wash dishes. And unpack from the Christmas trip we've been back from for three days now. 
I also love taking picture of Gemma sleeping. She's the perfect subject when she's just lying there, still, looking gorgeous. Lastly, I love to dream about what it is she's dreaming about.

My little 4 month old dreamer!

I assume babies dream about the things that they see and experience throughout the day. So in Gemma's case I'd say she is currently dreaming about teddy bears, light-up sea creatures, boobies, water, bubbles, mommy's and daddy's faces, little purple lamb blankie, and angels (I am convinced she can see her angels! She's always looking off into the corner of the room and giggling!), all to the soundtrack of Jingle Bells and the Itsy Bitsy Spider.

I have no way of ever knowing if that's truly what goes on in her baby brain while she dozes off, but I sure wouldn't mind having a dream or two like that myself. Unfortunately for me, one has to actually SLEEP in order to have dreams. Someday, someday...

She slept through her whole Baptism! (She was 5 weeks old here)


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Friday, December 17, 2010

Favorite of the Day: Dress-Up!


"Be careless in your dress if you will, but keep a tidy soul."  
-Mark Twain


Dresses. Overalls. Booties. Tutus. Onsies. Bibs. Leggings. Hairbows. Tights. Skirts. 
The list goes on, my friends. 

When I was a little girl, there was no end to my doll-playing. I wanted every doll and every doll outfit there was! I could sit in my room for hours just dressing up my dolls in never-ending, ever-changing outfits. So, naturally, what could be better for someone like me, than to have my very own real-life doll to dress up every day!? Not much, folks, not much. It is so much fun having a baby girl! 

Every morning when I lay Gemma onto her changing table, I just start dreaming about the possibilities. I always ask her, "What do you want to wear today?" Now, she can't quite answer me yet, but we're practicing for the day when she can start picking out her own outfits. (And as a side note, I cannot WAIT for some of those wacko toddler creations she comes up with!) So anyway, I hold up various outfits, colors, and combinations for her to see before I finally settle on some always-adorable baby fashion for her to wear. We get all gussied up in, say, a butterfly onesie and pink tights under a purple tutu and matching bow around her head. It's all so girly and so adorable.



And then, the drool begins. Now, this girl can DROOL. She's like a leaky gushing faucet! So, since a bib didn't quite go with the butterfly outfit, before I know it, she has literally drenched her onsie down to the belly-button level. Now, I could just put a bib on her, or just change her onesie, but c'mon, where's the fun in that? Onto outfit number two!! 

Outfit number two definitely includes a bib. So I find a cute little pink and black panda outfit with matching bib for her to sport during the late morning/early afternoon phase of the day. 
And then, the megapoo occurs. No matter how perfectly the diaper has been placed on that precious little booty of hers, somehow, the megapoo will always win. Up the back, or down the legs, or out onto the belly. I'm pretty sure I'm keeping Oxyclean in business with all the stains we accumulate around here.
So, we switch gears to outfit number three of the day which Gemma will sport for the rest of the evening, and sometimes, when I'm feeling lazy and no more messes have occurred, will double as her pjs for the night. Therefore outfit number three is usually one of those super cozy button-down-the-front footie outfits. With a bib. Which will turn into three bibs by the end of the night. 

Then we have a usually have a bath and change into pjs for sleepytime. All in all, we AVERAGE four outifts a day on this little one, but it has been as many as seven outfits in a day. And I guess if you include the number of outfits I go through after all the spills, poos, and spit-ups, we're racking the numbers up to double digits every day! 

All I can say is, get me out of this apartment and into a house with my own washer and dryer!

And then there's just good ole fashioned costume dress-up!



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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Favorite of the Day: Baby Forgiveness


"To err is human; to forgive is divine."
-Alexander Pope

Today's Favorite of the Day actually deals with a topic that is very difficult for me, and moms everywhere, I'm sure. As moms, we want to be perfect all the time. We want to believe that we can give our child(ren) everything good in the world, and somehow protect them from everything bad in the world as well. Unfortunately, not only are we unable to protect them from everything bad, sometimes we are the source of the bad! 


Of course it's always unintentional, but crazy things happen with babies, no matter how careful we try to be. They fling themselves out of your arms and fly face first into the floor. You accidentally bonk their head on the way in or out of the car. You clip that fingernail a little too closely and end up drawing blood. You lay the baby on a cool beach blanket tent that your mother-in-law gave you and while trying to shift the blanket, you kick up a bunch of sand into your baby's eyes.
I have done all of these things. At first, Gemma would scream bloody murder. I would immediately respond by picking her up, holding her close, kissing whatever bumps and scrapes she received, all while crying hysterically. I swear, I cry harder when Gemma gets hurt than she does. After cuddling and or nursing her for a few minutes, she is completely over it. No longer crying, she's moved onto the next activity and could care less about what happened five minutes earlier. 

I, however, require intensive therapy to get over the trauma. I literally cried for three hours the first time I banged Gemma up. I was SO sad that I caused her to cry, even if she only cried for a few minutes. I kept snuggling her and apologizing to her. At some point, I quit my sniffling, looked Gemma in the face, and smiled. She looked back at me and beamed this enormous smile at me. Of course, she couldn't speak to me in words, but that smile spoke directly to my heart. That beautiful, toothless smile said more in the way of forgiveness than a thousand "I forgive you"s ever could. It was a special moment; a special connection. 

Too bad I couldn't forgive myself as easily! I was still shaken up about it for days. Eventually, over time, it all fades a bit, but I will never forget that day! Gemma, on the other hand, completely forgives and completely forgets. A little over a week ago, Rocky had his first run-in with an accident resulting in Gemma getting a few bumps. He. Was. Devastated. Of course, I'm home with Gemma everyday, so by this point, I was an old pro at the experience. I assured him that it's okay, accidents happen, and Gemma will be over it long before he would.

Later on that night, we were all cuddling, and he was just looking down at Gemma who was merrily busying herself with her hands. He said something that I'll never forget. He said, "She's just like God." He was referring to her ability to forgive so easily, to forget so quickly, and to move on so happily.



It's such a blessing to live with this gentle, little person who teaches me so much about God's love for us. I'm learning something new everyday, and I am so grateful.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Favorite of the Day: The Laugh-Cry

I've been putting off writing my next blog post recently, because for awhile now, I've been wanting to write a "My Favorite Things" post, highlighting all my favorite things that Gemma does. The problem is, almost every day, she comes up with a new one! So, I've decided to start a series, cleverly entitled, "Favorite of the Day". As a personal challenge, I will try to write a post each day, but we all know how crazy life can get, so I may miss a day here or there.


Onto the topic at hand. My favorite of the day is something Gemma has been doing for a few weeks now. I call it the "laugh-cry" and it's awesome. One of the most entertaining things about babies is that every moment is something new and exciting to them, leading to an overall state of amused bewilderment with the world around them. In short, they don't know what's going on. Mommy does something ridiculous and baby laughs. Then baby hears herself laughing, and finds the sound to be hilarious! She laughs more heartily. By this point, she doesn't even know why she's laughing; she just likes to do it. Then she looks at Mommy, who is laughing and clapping with joy at her baby's state of jubilation, and baby finds this to be altogether pleasurable, so she laughs at Mommy some more. Then she hears herself laughing again! How hysterical this sound that is coming from her! It's all so blissful until the moment she realizes she would rather be in Mommy's arms right now.

At this time, ladies and gentleman, I would like to introduce you to, the famous Laugh-Cry. In order to best represent how it works, let's illustrate it from Gemma's point of view.
Look at Mommy's silly face. It's so funny, she makes me laugh! Oooh! This laughter sound is amazing! It makes me laugh even harder. And I love when Mommy claps. She's so great. Wait a minute, that's Mommy. Pick me up, Mommy! Nooo, Don't make faces, pick me up!! Oh, that felt funny on my belly! And laughing is so fun!! But I want you to pick me uuuup, Mommy! Mmmm, maybe all this growling will make you realize!
Funny face. Laugh. Silly sound, so funny. Pick me up. Noww, uuuugh. Mommyyyyy, grrrr. Oh. That's a funny face too! Pick me up! Cry. Laugh. Cry. Laugh. ... Confusion. Amusement. Laugh-cry.

Greatest. Thing. Ever.
I will catch it on video someday soon, so I can share the splendor of it all with everyone.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Is it just me, or is Lady Gaga an idiot?

 
"Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you're wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn't love you anymore." 
Lady Gaga
 
Wow. Seriously?? I am not sorry to say that I could not possibly disagree with this quote more!! It is just plain false, Lady Gaga! First of all, YES, your career can and most definitely WILL wake up one day and tell you it doesn't love you anymore! Especially if you are in the "show business" business. But any career a woman chooses carries a high risk. What happens when you're too fat, too skinny, too old, too young, not experienced enough, too experienced, too opinionated, too hard-working, not hard-working enough, too soulless, too shallow, too profound.... for your fans or your employer or the world? I'll tell you what, your career looks at you and says "You're fired." "You're not hired." "You're laid off." "You're being replaced." Maybe those are not the exact words "I don't love you anymore" but they're pretty darn close. 

Secondly, "some women choose to follow men" is such a negatively stereotyped phrase. Yes, some women enter into relationships with men, and some choose to marry those men. But if you're a smart woman, before you ever date a man or eventually marry him, you will be following one man very, very closely. Listening to him. Obeying his every word. Devoting all your heart and soul to him. Holding back nothing of yourself, but giving your whole self to him. Completely surrendering to him.
At this point it's almost a little too obvious to say who I'm talking about, but I will, just because he's the coolest guy ever and I like his name! Jesus. And the fact is, if you are in fact following this man, then the persons you choose to date and the man you eventually marry will be following him too. And such a man will not hurt you the way so many people hurt each other in this world. The way somebody or somebodies clearly hurt Lady Gaga at some point in her life. She's the same person who once said, "
Well my music was different in high school; I was singing about love—you know, things I don't care about anymore." So somewhere along the line, somebody hurt this poor woman enough to make her give up on love altogether and actively preach against it! And for that reason (among others), I pray for Lady Gaga.

Lastly, the thing that bothers me most about the quote is that she puts "following a man" in OPPOSITION to "following a dream." I don't know how many of you have seen the movie Mona Lisa Smile with Julia Roberts, but it's one of my favorites. It was set a few decades back, but the themes are timeless. It's about a group of beautiful, amazingly gifted, young women in college, all preparing to take the next step in life. Julia Roberts' character seems convinced that in order to be fulfilled, a young woman MUST enter into a professional career of some sort, that married life will not fulfill her. As the movie comes to an end, we find that both professional life and married life have their pros and cons, and both lifestyles are EQUALLY, albeit differently, fulfilling for women.
What always strikes me in the movie is the idea that women who choose to marry young and start a family are all too often harshly criticized as settling for something less. As if listening to God's call and making her vocation her true, number one priority is somehow foolish and makes her less of a woman, leading a life that is less fulfilling than her career-seeking peers. Although this movie is set in the 40's or 50's, this theme is still so strongly present in our generation! 
I think as a married woman, I am easily offended by this particular mentality, particularly because I can say from experience that married life is EXTREMELY fulfilling! It also bothers me that so many people think that married women who have chosen to completely give up on their "careers" in order to have a family, when the reality is that they've simply put marriage and family ahead of their careers; prioritized one ahead of the other. And for those who truly have made being a wife and mother their life's work, I say more power to them! And more power to working moms! And more power to work-from-home moms! In fact, more power to MOMS! 
Married life and motherhood isn't an easy life, but one thing it most definitely is - is FULFILLING. And with Thanksgiving approaching tomorrow, I can honestly say that I am so thankful to be a wife and mother. I am thankful for the vocation God has given me. I am thankful for my own mother, who has been a working mother, a work-from-home mother, back to a working mother and has done it all with more flair than Lady Gaga has ever been able to muster in all her shenanigans!
 So. Whether you're a woman who's focusing on a professional career right now, or a woman who is devoted to family life, or a superwoman who can do them both, give thanks! Give thanks to God for whatever life he has given you, and let's not get down on our fellow women who may have been given a different path than our own.   

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Four Random Things All Thrown Into One Post


Yesterday, my best friend, Jaime, shared this link with me, so I thought I'd pass it on. What an incredible miracle! Let's just pray for the parents of that child, that they give thanks to God their baby was not harmed, and that they have learned their lesson to never, ever leave their children alone again!!

I also came across this amazing article from about a month ago. Very interesting stuff! Of course, Gemma isn't even close to ready for real food yet; she's only 3 months. But considering how fast the first three months went, I'm quite confident the next few will fly by as well, so there's no harm in reading up early! I've ordered both of these books from the library; have I mentioned how much I love the Cincinnati Public Library system? Seriously, it rocks. They have everything. Anyway, for those of you who are mamas to food-eating little ones, I want to hear your opinion about the article. What do you think?? Have you tried this? Has it worked for your kids? If you haven't tried it, would you consider it?

Next, I wanted to talk a little bit about my most recent library checkout, Bedtiming, by Drs. Marc Lewis and Isabela Granic. Devoured it in a matter of days. I like that it's not really a "sleep-training" book; it doesn't really tell you how to "sleep-train" your child, but rather when the best times to do so are. If you're like me, the term "sleep-training" might make you feel uneasy. For me, all that comes to mind is the "cry-it-out" method and I have these tragic visions of listening to my child screaming in the other room all night. 
However, the authors define "sleep-training" fairly loosely - it could be establishing a consistent sleep routine/schedule, getting your child to sleep through the night, nap sufficiently during the day, sleep in his/her own crib or bed, etc. They also assure the reader that there is no one way to "sleep-train" your child, that there are many viable methods that can be very effective, if used at the right time. Whatever your opinions on "sleep-training", if you are a parent to little ones, I highly recommend this book. Like I said, they do not push any one method; the book simply describes the periods of cognitive and emotional development of the child, and how each period of development offers either opportunities or roadblocks to the "sleep-training" process.
Rent it. Borrow it. Buy it. Just give it a read; it's well worth it.

Lastly, I'm looking for advice! We're going to be flying to San Diego in a few weeks. We are very  fortunate to have a nonstop flight, however, it is about a 4 1/2 hour flight, maybe a titch longer. I have read that it'll be best for me to nurse Gemma during take-off and landing, so I'll be doing that. But my concern is with the many hours in between take-off and landing. My little one does NOT take long naps; they usually only last 30 minutes. I just don't want to be that parent that everyone on the plane wants to stab by the end of the flight because Gemma won't stop crying or something. So. Anyone know any special tricks that work for a 3 month old?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Apples? Oh yea. Apples and Pumpkins? Double oh yea.


Family life is a bit like a runny peach pie - not perfect but who's complaining?
-Robert Brault



Quite true. Family life isn't perfect, but let's be truthful here - how unbelievably boring would life be if it were perfect? Having said all that, I'd like to conclude that my family has had a pretty perfect October. (This is where I'd insert the appropriate emoticon of that gleaming, sarcastic smile one makes after making an absurd statement, if such an emoticon actually existed. I digress.) But seriously, it was an awesome month. Not really 'perfect', of course, but that's what makes it so fun. 
Before I get into all the highlights, let me first say this: I'm really bound and determined to update my blog more often. There's a few reasons for this.
Reason 1: I'm a chronic procrastinator, so I'll use this as therapy to work through this particular flaw.
Reason 2: Hopefully I won't be so overwhelmed when it comes time to update. When I wait too long, then there's soooo much to write that I end up a) becoming stressed about it and b) writing way too vaguely about life and leaving out potentially entertaining and awesome details!
Reason 3: Well, having more frequent posts is just more exciting for my hoards of avid readers! (Insert previously described emoticon.)
Why did you need to know all that? So that you can keep me honest, people! (Seriously, yell at me if it's been too long since the last post.)

So a few weeks ago, the Rhoades fam took an excursion to an apple orchard. It was Rocky's and, of course, Gemma's first time ever apple picking so this was a big deal!! Sadly, it was raining when we got there, even though the ever-reliable weather man had promised a clear afternoon. Nevertheless, we Rhoadeses are optimists and weren't about to let anything rain on our apple-picking parade... not even rain. So I put the Gemster in her Baby Bjorn and the two of us took shelter under my trusty Yankees umbrella that somebody gave me during the summer that I worked for the environment, as I like to call it. But THAT is a story for another time...
Anyway, Rocky and I had the greatest time picking apple off trees and chomping right into them to see which ones were worthy of taking home. (Don't worry Mom, it was an organic farm -- no pesticides, no one else touching them, no need to wash! haha) Oh, and for the record, this IS acceptable apple picking protocol at this orchard!
We had a great time, despite the rain. In fact, the only real disappointment of the rain was that I was unable to take pictures, due to fear of my camera getting wet. So, we went back two weeks later to snap some shots and buy more apples! (But mostly just to take pictures.)






So, being in the Fall spirit and with Halloween right around the corner, we of course had to go pick some pumpkins! Another first for the hubster and the Gemster. Had a super fun time again even though we got a whole bunch of those bramble things stuck to our pants and shoelaces. (Is that what they're called - brambles? Ya know, those spikey ball things?) Anyway, here are a few pictures for your viewing pleasure:




So then, we went home. And I got this great idea to take pictures of our little baby INSIDE the big pumpkin! Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. But we hit a few bumps along the way... 
Bump 1: Gemma has a big booty. (Of course, it's mostly diaper, but still.)
Bump 2: We cut a bigger hole for her to fit through. But she was still a bit to tall for it.
Bump 3: Apparently, sitting inside a pumpkin is CHILD TORTURE. Seriously, this kid was not having it.
Anyway, here are the results of failed operation Take-Pictures-of-Gemma-In-A-Pumpkin:





Fortunately for moms and dads everywhere, crying pictures are still completely adorable. Pitiful, but adorable.
So we moved on from there to hopefully redeem ourselves with a successful carving experience. And succeed we did! I'm not sure if Rocky really enjoyed gutting the pumpkins but he did a great job nevertheless. He even helped me finish sorting out the seeds from the stringy stuff once he was done. Why wasn't I finished with the sorting, you ask? Well... Mom, Dad, if you're reading this, I'm sure you're already laughing. You see friends, sometimes in my life, usually while working on some sort of inane project like this, I happen to engage in what some might call perfectionist tendencies. In other words, I was not about to have even one tiny little piece of stringy stuff on my seeds! I digress... again.
So. We sorted them out, baked them up, and munched happily away on them as we carved big ole faces into our fresh, rotund little gourds. 





Yes, those are upside down flower pots. Seeing as I killed my plants long ago due to my extreme lack of a green thumb, I figured I could still put them to use somehow! 

By the way, I do indeed have some great pictures of Gemma on her first Halloween. Once I upload those pics, I'll post them!! Toodles till next time! :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Miraculous


The only way to live is to accept each minute as an unrepeatable miracle, which is exactly what it is: a miracle and unrepeatable.
- Storm Jameson




So I figured it is about time I share a bit with the world about my little miracle, Gemma. Hard to believe she is already over 2 months old!! (And that I haven't blogged since shortly after she was born!) I guess time flies when you're a new mom. I feel like there is so much to say, I hardly know where to begin!

The first few weeks were really a blur. Getting used to living with a baby in the house wasn't as crazy as I had been warned it would be, but it was definitely an adjustment. It's really an interesting challenge to be 100% in charge of this other very small person. A person who happens to have no concept of time, schedules, routines, etc. Taking care of an extra adult full-time would at least have the benefits of easy communication, scheduled mealtimes, bathtimes, and bedtimes, and the person's ability to sit still while clipping fingernails. I digress. I also had a pretty difficult labor and delivery (see previous post), so I had a lot of recovering to do. Needless to say, one day I woke up, and Gemma was already a month old! That was when life really started to be fun.


By this point, I was fairly well-adjusted to my new life and new schedule (or lack thereof). I was also considerably well-rested. I always hear you aren't supposed to brag if you have a good baby, but man, I have such a good baby!! She was sleeping at night for solid four-hour stretches at this point, so I usually only had to get up with her once or twice a night. I also have the advantage of being able to pass right back out after waking up in the middle of the night. I know, I should stop bragging.


Alright. So around one month of age, Gemma went bald. Well, almost bald. Ok, she just lost the hair on the very top part of her head. They say this is common with babies; nevertheless, I suddenly had a baby girl who looked like an old man! (An extremely adorable old man, of course). I did therefore, commence my obsession with hair bows at this time. I'm sure there are hoards of people out there curling their fists in rage that I would start pushing strict and old-fashioned gender confinements upon my child at such an early age. To them I say, "but have you SEEN how adorable she looks in her bows???"




We started to really see the Gemster's personality emerging around this time as well. She is an extremely curious, observant little girl. She would just sit for an hour straight staring at everything around her, taking it all in. She is extremely social, and just loves to be held. Which is a nice way of saying she would cry every time we set her down. Thankfully, she likes her Baby Bjorn, otherwise I'd never get anything done!!


She's been smiling more and more over the past month, and now she smiles all the time. She is also talking all the time, and even though she still can only speak Baby, I feel like I can understand her most of the time. After all, Baby was my first language too. One day, she be multi-lingual just like her mama! (Oh yes, I speak to her in Spanish, sing to her in French, and talk to myself in English all day long so she's bound to pick it all up.)
Her hair is growing back in nicely, and it's looking just like mine - sort of a sandy blonde with reddish tints.

Here are some of my favorite things to do with Gemma: 
:-: Cuddling! There is nothing more cozy in the world than 
snuggling up on a couch with a teeny little baby!
:-: Bathtime. Gemma just loves the water, and who can resist
kissing that adorable fresh baby skin?
:-: Believe it or not, I love changing her diaper, not necessarily
the diaper part of it, but for some reason, Gemma
smiles non stop on her changing table!
:-: Singing songs to her. Lately, she has started making all kinds
of cooing sounds to sing along with me!
:-: Photo shoots. She's a regular ham! I'm telling you, this kid is
a total natural on camera. She's probably gonna be a model ;)


Well, as Joaquin Phoenix would say, "I'm a miracle man." There is no doubt about it, life really is miraculous and I thank God every day for giving me such a beautiful baby to love.



There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."
- Albert Einstein

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Precious Gemma


"One joy shatters a hundred griefs."
- Chinese Proverb



Alright. For those of you who are interested in all the harrowing drama, it's officially time for the official birth story. I tried to be specific but believe it or not, many of the details are already a bit fuzzy! (One of the many blessings of childbirth!)

It all started at 2:19am on August 12th - my water broke. I had woken up a few minutes earlier to get a drink of water and as I was lying in bed, trying to fall back asleep, it happened just like the movies. I felt this huge gush and would have possibly thought I was wetting myself if I hadn't just visited the bathroom minutes earlier! I immediately knew this was the real deal. I ran to the bathroom. Ironically, earlier that day I for some reason thought my water had broken and was slowly leaking so I had bought some pH strips to test myself. The results in the afternoon were negative for amniotic fluid but when I tested myself this time - oh boy was it amniotic fluid! At this point, I woke Rocky up to tell him what was going on. He was SO excited; exhausted, but excited. I called the midwife and she said to call once my contractions started.

So I hopped in the shower, not being able to do much else, considering my leaking was pretty constant. After some time, I decided I should try to rest a little bit since I only slept for about three hours. Almost immediately after I laid down, my contractions began. It was 3:11am. At this point, Rocky decided he should go to his work to get all this food that was in the fridge so we'd have something to eat when we got home. It's always hilarious what husbands find absolutely necessary to do right as their wives go into labor. But it was so great he did that because the first thing we ate when we got home from the hospital was that food!

After an hour of contractions that were roughly 5-7 minutes apart, I called the midwife (Cindi). We talked for a bit and decided that since this was my first baby and I was planning a natural labor and delivery, I should stay at home for awhile longer. She said to call once my contractions were strong and about 2-3 minutes apart. I ate a bowl of cereal, watched Hitch with Rocky, and labored pretty steadily. I was going back and forth from just walking around the room and bouncing/rolling on my yoga ball. I felt at this point that my labor was going quite well, and I was really dealing with the pain just as I had hoped. It honestly wasn't that bad!

Hours rolled by, and after a plate of delicious blueberry pancakes made by Rocky (aka super husband), I called Cindi to say that my contractions had been strong and close together for over an hour now. She said if I felt ready to come on in! We were anxious to finally have this baby - we'd already waited 41 weeks and 2 days! - so we packed it up and headed to the hospital, arriving around 10am.

When I was checked, I was 90 percent effaced and only 3cm dilated, which was better than the 0cm I had been a week earlier but I can't deny that I was hoping to be a bit further along. This particular day at the hospital was apparently the day that every baby in Cincinnati decided to be born, so by the time I got through triage, there still wasn't a room ready for us. The nurses told us to just walk the halls and come back in about an hour. While I was sitting in triage for almost 45 minutes, I noticed my contractions had slowed a bit so I was eager to get walking so I could keep moving my labor along.

We got into our room around 11:45am. My midwife suggested I get an IV of fluids to give me a bit of an energy boost since I'd gotten so little sleep. I got hooked up but kept walking, pushing my little IV rack thing along. I also labored on the yoga ball in the room as well. My contractions were very strong and I was breathing through them really well, just focusing on the goal - getting my baby out! I was feeling optimistic about this labor, and imagined myself having a baby by sundown. Oh, expectations, how you amuse me.

I was checked at 3pm and was only 5-6cm!! I was really upset to tell you the truth. I couldn't believe all that labor had produced such a measly result. I was also a bit worried that after 12 hours of contractions, I was still only halfway dilated. My midwife suggested putting me on a slow drip of Pitocin (synthetic oxytocin to speed up/strengthen contractions) but I refused it at this point because I was still really determined to have a natural childbirth.
Also at this check, Cindi discovered that the baby was definitely in the posterior position - she had suspected it earlier and now it was settled. A posterior baby is head down, but face up rather than face down. This makes labor a lot more painful, and also makes delivery more difficult because the mother has to push the bigger part of the baby's head out first, rather than the smaller part. I wasn't necessarily disturbed by this news, but I can't say I was looking forward to the pushing part!

Everything changed an hour later. My baby decided to throw a proverbial wrench into the whole system. I went to the bathroom and discovered that there was meconium present in the amniotic fluid. (Meconium is basically baby poo). Usually when meconium is present, hospital staff tends to freak out because there is a chance of the baby inhaling the meconium into her lungs. So once this was discovered, my midwife thought it was really necessary to move things a long a bit more effectively. I was torn, but in the end, I realized that my baby's well-being was more important to me than having this perfect natural childbirth I had pictured. They started me on a slow Pitocin drip to hopefully get things going. The contractions absolutely became stronger, and my labor became much more intense.

Rocky and I decided to watch Dumb and Dumber, hoping it would distract me a little from the contractions. I was still laboring without any pain medication, which was going okay pain-wise, but it was really exhausting me because the contractions were SO powerful. It was taking all my strength and energy to get through each one. I was praying for strength from the Lord and every female saint I could think of who was a mother. Again, I just kept focusing on holding my baby in my arms. I knew the pain would be worth it once she was finally here. Time was wildly flying by. Before I knew it, it was 8pm and time for me to be checked again. I was so worn out and looking forward to hearing the midwife tell me I was ready to start pushing.
I was only 7-8cm.

I was shocked. I had just endured four hours of EXTREME labor only to progress about 2 more cm. It just goes to show that Pitocin is NOT a miracle drug of labor and it does NOT magically progress your labor. The other negative update was that the baby's head was still very high in my cervix and had not descended one bit since I arrived at the hospital that morning. Cindi told me that I still had a LOT of work to do before I could start to push this baby out. I got really emotional and started crying because I honestly couldn't fathom how I was going to get through it. I was going on 3 hours of sleep, hardly any food because I wasn't allowed to eat anymore once I was on the Pitocin and had been in labor for 18 hours already. I could barely hold my head up. I was also just feeling so vulnerable and alone. No one was supporting my desire for a natural labor, and it seemed like everyone just wanted to "get the baby out" regardless of my feelings or role in this labor.

My midwife tentatively brought up the word epidural. She knew it's not what I wanted, but she thought it was really what I needed at this point. I was so upset, and cried some more because I saw my birth plan slipping further and further away every time my midwife checked me. However, as deep as I could dig to find the energy to go on, my reserves had been spent. I didn't know where to find the strength to go on. If there was as much work to be done as Cindi said there was, I was going to have to get some relief. I expressed to her that I was afraid my labor was backtrack and slow down if I got the epidural. She assured me that since I was close to completion, I didn't have to worry about that. It was her hope and belief that once I took the epidural, my body would be able to relax and open up quite quickly. She added that she understood this was not part of my plan, but we can't choose the kind of labor we're given. She described my set of circumstances as the worst case scenario for a woman who was trying to go natural; it was her professional opinion that I was most likely going to need some rest if I was going to make it through the transition and delivery. After a few more exhausting and excruciating contractions, I reluctantly agreed to the epidural. The ink hadn't even dried on my statement of consent, when the anesthesiologist was in there poking me in the back! By 8:40pm, I was officially pain-free from the waist down.

Once the epidural was in, I had to be on constant monitoring. I felt like a science experiment, sitting there with all these tubes and wires hooked up to me. For a moment I mourned the peaceful, natural childbirth I had once dreamed I would have. I had to stop feeling sorry for myself though, so I somehow got over it enough to focus on the only thing left I could focus on - giving birth to a healthy baby girl. So Plan A was officially out the window, and I replaced it with a much simpler Plan B:
Give birth to a healthy baby. Don't have a c-section.

I laid back to hopefully get some rest and gave Rocky permission to sleep. I was no longer in any pain, and I was going to need him when it came time to push so he needed his rest too. My body rested, but I could not shut my brain off... there was just too much going on in there. Around 11pm, the nurse came in and told me that my contractions hadn't slowed in frequency but had dropped in intensity. Which basically indicated that I would be progressing extremely slowly. The baby's heart rate was strong and steady, which was all I cared about really. Even still, Cindi thought it would be a good idea to switch to internal monitoring to get a better idea of just how strong my contractions really were. Whaaaaatever. By then, I had gone emotionally numb to the interventions (for my own sanity I think) and I was already physically numb wasis-down, so they hooked me up to a new set of wires.

I laid back down, and prayed to God to please allow me a safe delivery, and to avoid a c-section if it was possible. I dozed on and off; the nurse came in every hour to flip me from one side to the other, in hopes it would turn the baby from posterior to anterior. It didn't.

At 4am, Cindi checked me. I was FINALLY fully dilated and fully effaced. However, and of course there had to be a however, our baby was still sitting up very high in my cervix. Hmm.. maybe if I wasn't on the epidural, I would've been able to get up and let gravity do its work?? Not an option though. I was just barely at +1 station and normally you don't start pushing till +3 station. How that was ever going to happen was a mystery because I couldn't exactly walk around or bounce on the yoga ball to coax her down. The best I could do was sit as straight up as possible and hope she would come on down to the Price is Right. After an incredibly stimulating hour of sitting still, she had moved down a teensy bit almost to +2. The nurse, midwife, and I all made an executive decision to just start pushing this baby out. So at 5:15am, the pushing began.

After an hour, my nurse said she could see about a dime sized amount of the baby's head - she was happy to add that there was hair! Unfortunately, she said, we were going to need to see a lot more than a dime sized amount of head if I was ever going to hold this little girl in my arms. Cindi was concerned about my body's ability to get her head out in the posterior position; she wasn't sure if my bone structure was wide enough to handle it, yada yada yada. With every negative concern she expressed, my fear of having a c-section grew. What if she was right? What if my body was too small for her head to fit? Even though I had read that it is actually a VERY rare condition that a woman's body is unable to accommodate her baby during birth, I was way beyond thinking rationally at this point. Cindi said that I should let the OB on duty come in to assess me. She said if anyone could help turn and/or deliver this baby, it would be him. I couldn't believe after all this time, being cared for by a midwife, that I would in the end have some random doctor step in at the last minute to deliver my baby.

I said if he could get my baby out, then bring him in. He came in with a let's-do-this attitude that took me a little off guard. He didn't inspire a lot of confidence when the first thing he said after checking me was "This is a huge baby." He asked me how tall I was. He did an internal check. He very matter-of-factly said that she may come out if he assisted me with forceps. If that didn't work, he said, I'd need a c-section. Nice bedsie manner, Doc. I kind of lost it a little bit here. I just started crying so much because I was so scared of what seemed like a good chance I'd have to get surgery, and also scared of the idea of my poor little baby's head being yanked on by huge metal salad tongs. How did it all get so out of hand? Why was having a baby so stinkin hard?? I was also crying because it was 7am and that meant it was time for a shift change. Cindi, who'd been with me for 24 hours had to leave. My nurse, Mandy, who had been with me for 12 hours, and who I LOVED would be leaving too. I was seriously stressed out, people! Everyone could see it.

I knew my midwife felt guilty for leaving but she had to, and was replaced by the ONE midwife of the group I used that I really didn't like. Of course. She busted in the place like a football coach on speed. The new nurse that came in seemed really sweet, but Mandy - this is how awesome she is - decided she would stay till my baby was born. It takes a special person to stick around a crazy lady in labor after a 12 hour shift! Love. Her.
Anyway, everything got insane really quickly. People were leaving, new people were coming. There was some random nurse assistant person who was never introduced to me and whose face was covered the whole time. (This made me very angry - I mean, she was all up in my business helping the doctor down there and didn't even tell me her name!) Also, the drug man came back in to give me a super shot of painkillers to make sure I wouldn't feel anything. (Did I consent to that? Don't even remember.) The doctor went in with the forceps and as soon as the next contraction came, everyone started screaming for me to push! Let me just state for the record that I think it is an awful idea to shout at a very tired, very emotional, very scared laboring woman. It really startled me!

I pushed a little bit but not my best because I was so shook up. Not to mention, it is very difficult to "push" WHEN YOU CAN'T FEEL ANYTHING. How am I supposed to know if I'm pushing?? Arggh. At the next contraction, I just listened to Rocky because his was the only gentle voice in the room. I prayed with all my might, literally begging God to bring me my baby so I wouldn't have to have a c-section. I pushed as hard as my body could manage. And all of a sudden, just like that, she was there.

I heard her little cry and I think everyone was as surprised as I was that she came out so suddenly after 29 hours of such slow progress. They laid her on my stomach and I put my hand on her to make sure she was real! I have never cried so hard in all my life. Once she was finally out, it was clear why it had taken so long. Her very short cord was wrapped around her twice - once around her neck, and once around her body; it had essentially been creating a bungee cord effect. So every time she came down a bit, it would pull her back up... every time I pushed her out a bit, it would pull her back in! But I didn't care about any of that or any pain I had gone through - my baby girl was in the world, right there on my belly. I just kept saying "Thank you, Jesus."
Plan B had worked out: Healthy baby. No c-section.

Gemma Therese was born at 7:37am on August 13th. She weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces. She was 20.5 inches long. She was perfect in every way.

My immediate postpartum care unfortunately left A LOT to be desired however. At some point, somebody cut the umbilical cord even though we had explicitly stated that Rocky would be the one to cut the cord. That was really, really disappointing. I don't even know if it had finished pulsing before they cut it, as I had also requested. I don't have any real recollection of birthing the placenta either. No one coached me through that and the doctor was pushing really hard on my belly, which was uncomfortable even with the epidural. The hospital staff took my baby girl away from me (albeit she was about 2 feet from me for only 3 minutes or so) to clean her off even though I specifically said I did not want them to take her unless there was something wrong with her (which there wasn't). Finally they brought her to me, but then they told me I wasn't allowed to nurse her until the doctor finished stitching me up (which, with all the violence of the forceps, I had torn to the 3rd degree - once again, thanks a lot Doc). I ignored them though and told them they couldn't stop me from nursing my baby. Thankfully they let me win that battle.

I won't go into the details of the remainder of our hospital stay, since this is a birth story and our story pretty much ends there.

We've been home over a week now, and I have so much more to say about mommyhood but this post is crazy long as it is so I'll hold off for now!

Lastly, let me just say how thankful I am for all the love and prayers during those 29 crazy hours - I can't imagine how much worse it would have been without it!!



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Friday, August 6, 2010

How I Long For You




"The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand, you satisfy the desire of every living thing."
-Psalm 145:15-16






Waiting. Oh, sweet anticipation. How we loathe thee. It's true that there are few among us who find any pleasure in the act of waiting for something -- for something to come in the mail, for someone to come home, for God to answer a prayer, and in my case, for a baby to be born. No, waiting in and of itself is a rather unenjoyable activity, and I'm sure most people would agree with that.

It gets me thinking though... about all the waiting we do in our lives. It's something we spend so much time doing that it must have a purpose. It also gets me thinking about all the things we spend our energy waiting for, at times even becoming obsessive in our anticipation. Of course for me right now, I'm very much in one of these obsessive states of anticipation. My baby was due to be born six days ago and she is still frustratingly hanging out inside her mama. It's a serious accomplishment for me if I can make it two or three minutes without thinking about this baby and wondering when she is ever going to arrive!

And of course, Rocky and I are not the only people who are waiting for her.... she's the first grandchild on both sides, first niece to our siblings, first "niece" to quite a few of our very close friends, etc. etc. so naturally everyone keeps checking up on my status. They can't be blamed -- this is an amazingly exciting event we're all preparing for! I must get roughly fifteen calls and texts each day from very loving and very well-intentioned friends and family members asking me for updates. I hate to even say anything negative about this, because I am truly so so grateful for all the love and support but at the same time, it makes my waiting 100 times more painful! Every minute of every day, I'm coping with the maddening amounts of thumb twiddling I am forced to do, and to top it off, I get the pleasure of continually replying to the aforementioned inquiries with a big whopping "nothing new here." I feel guilty for all the disppointment I'm causing these poor people! I wish more than anything I could just say, "I'm in labor!" or "I started having contractions last night!" or even "I feel like she's coming today."

But I can't say any of those things. Simply put, I got nothin'. So who can I blame for my being in this situation? Who am I allowed to get mad at? Whose incompetence can I complain about?? These are the burning questions people!! The burning questions with a big ole wet towel of an answer: no one. How unjust!! How can the world be so cruel to put a woman through so much turmoil and leave her no one to cast her anger towards?

All joking aside, I'm realizing that it IS very natural to want to blame someone or something when things don't go our way. This is such a human tendency. I'm no psychologist so I don't know why people always want to blame and complain but we just do. However (**warning: cliche fast approaching**), it does us no good. All our griping and feet stamping will not bring us our desired results any more quickly or more effectively. Patience wouldn't be a virtue if it were easy. And patience isn't just making it through the waiting period, because let's be honest, we ALL make it through the waiting period. Time does continue to tick and tock and eventually we all make it. Patience is making it through the waiting period gracefully. And this, my friends, is not an easy feat. Especially when you have an ever-growing squirmer kicking at your ribs and keeping you up at night, incessantly reminding you of the fact that SHE IS STILL IN THERE!

Ahem. Through all of the ups and mostly downs of the past six post-due-date days, I have slowly started to form one small useful musing in my mind. I have been chafing at the bit to hold my baby in my arms. Rocky has been the same - restless, eager to meet his baby girl. Our families and friends are all on high alert, poised in their assorted standby stances. Everyone is waiting, waiting... I get this image of people frantically pacing, others quietly tapping fingers and toes on various surfaces, others biting their nails, most people hardly breathing, everyone trying to conceal huge smiles until we're sure that all is well.

I saw this picture in my mind the other day and I thought "If only we waited with that kind of zeal for the Lord..." And we should. We should be in an even more excited state of anticipation for Jesus; our joy, our desire, our need to be with the Lord should be uncontrollable! It should be bursting out of us at every moment! We should be sprinting to the Adorable chapel, dancing up the aisle to recieve Jesus in the Eucharist, flying towards our bookshelves to open up the Word and hear what God has to say to us today! If only we waited for our Lord in this way, I think our waiting on other things in life would be much easier, because God satisfies our waiting so tenderly, so perfectly. He never lets us down when we long for Him. He is the one reward that consistently delivers. We're hungry, and he feeds us at the altar. We're lonely, and he comforts us in his presence. We need direction, and he speaks to us in his Word. We miss him, and just like that, he's there.

I think if we could ever truly get accustomed to this reality - the reality that God really DOES satisfy our needs - then at least the mystery part of our everyday waiting periods would be lifted. While we're waiting for something, part of us is always just a little unsure if this event is really going to occur. When you were a little kid and you had a birthday party to go to, waiting for it was torturous because you were secretly wondering if it was really going to happen. It wasn't until you were actually there, stuffing your face with pizza and candy, jumping on the trampoline with your friends that you could truly believe in the birthday party. With God, we don't have to wonder. He WILL be there when the waiting is over. We should get used to this feeling, that way when we're waiting for something else to happen, we can just rest assured knowing that yes, it will eventually come to pass.

Our faith requires that we believe in the Lord and the promises he has made us. So as we wait for him, we learn what it means to make it through a waiting period gracefully, what it means to have patience. We wait, but not with anxiety or doubts in our hearts. We wait with joy and freedom, because we believe with all our hearts that when the waiting is done, he will be there, he will answer us, he will keep his promise to us.

So all there is left for me to do I suppose is to listen to my own advice there. Trust in the Lord and try my best to wait with joy and grace. And maybe eating a jalepeno pepper after a lively skip around the block wouldn't hurt either! ;)

Thank you for all your prayers!! I love you all.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Growing




Change always comes bearing gifts.
-Price Pritchett








Wow, I cannot believe how insane the past 2 months have been!! I apologize for the spontaneous hiatus, but I'm back with mountains of musings to write about.

The main event which consumed my life the past few months was moving. My husband got a job in Cincinnati, OH as a chastity educator for a pregnancy center. Fortunately, as far as moving while you're pregnant, it was extremely smooth. Cincinnati is only four hours from Steubenville and my husband (along with numerous helpers) did all the lifting - which I am so grateful for (however hard it may have been to just point and direct traffic). I did, however, keep wondering how it was possible that I was so exhausted during all the packing, and driving, and unpacking... and then it dawned on me -- I'm 7 months pregnant!! Walking up a flight of stairs is enough to wind a woman in her third trimester! As exhausting as it may be... I must say I really am enjoying fulfilling my nesting instinct finally.



Along with the physical nesting - setting up the house and such - I've been doing a considerable amount of mental and emotional preperation for this baby. For those of you who might not know, I am planning a natural childbirth for our little bundle of joy. I will be relying on a midwife to guide me through the delivery. For pain management, I'll be using breathing, hydrotherapy, and hypnobirthing techniques. As confident as I am in my body to carry me through the birthing process, this is my first baby so I have no real way to know just what to expect.



Fortunately, there is an amazing Public Library system in Cincinnati and my town branch is about a block from my house. I've been in Cincinnati for one week and two days now and I have already read four books on natural childbirth, with another in progress. The one which has helped me the most is the one I most recently finished called Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, by Sarah Buckley, MD. She is a trained family medical doctor, with extensive experience in obstetrics and pediatrics who also happens to be a huge advocate of natural childbirth. She has four children herself, all of which she delivered at home, naturally. It's not often that a woman with so much personal experience and conviction for natural childbirth also happens to be a medical doctor, with intellectual insights into the true birthing process, as it is, and as it is meant to be. If you are at all interested, I'd just say to go pick it up at your local library or bookstore and read it for yourself. It took me less than two days to get through it!



Buckley is clearly a spiritual woman, and makes many references to her spirituality, which is very Eastern in approach. I am also a very spiritual person, and have been actively, passionately Catholic for many years now. I am sometimes weary when I come across literature containing strong suggestions to various forms of spirituality, not because I fear it or disrespect it in any way, but because I can sometimes find it hard to reconcile my beliefs with the spiritual structure of other religions, especially Eastern religions. However, one of the things that I loved most about this book, was that Buckley was very sensitive in her mentions of spirituality and I never felt her being pushy about one kind of religion. She in fact made numerous references to the Blessed Mother and included scripture verses from the Bible as well.



She has a deep respect for women, and in particular the power of the birthing woman, in fitting with the subject matter of the book. She spends much of the time stressing the importance of an instinctual approach to birth. Women have been giving for for thousands of years after all; our bodies know what to do. She also gives a full account of the role our hormones take in the birthing process. If left undisturbed (by interventions, drugs, and even excess stress), our bodies will instinctually lead us through the entire birth experience, using a most ancient and beautifully orchestrated hormonal and biological process.



Since reading the book, I have already begun to tune in more closely to what my body is telling me. It may sound simplistic, but if I have an urge to sit, to drink lemonade, to stretch my neck, to rub my belly, I'll just do it. Again, I know it sounds oddly simplistic to make a statement like that, but I feel like the world we live in has, in a few ways, trained us to ignore our instincts, rather than to trust them. Women begin restricting food intake to an unhealthy degree in order to look a certain way. Men abuse themselves and women by looking at pornography, rather than listening to their instinct to protect women, and emasculate themselves in the process. People actively avoid eye contact with strangers in order to respect their "personal space" when really, we'd much rather smile and say hello. Humans are extremely social in nature, but we've learned to supress our social instincts in order to fit into our strange autonomous culture.



So it's been an interesting couple of days, tuning into my instincts. By tapping into my right-brain functions more actively, I already feel more connected with my baby. I allow myself to communicate with her, to imagine and wonder about her, to cradle her in my mind's eye. I'm excited to continue to learn more about her in the next month and a half before I meet her face to face.



So I've moved to a new city, joined a new parish, found a new prenatal caregiver, and am preparing for a new life to enter my world... these are just a few of the big and little changes in my life. To be honest, it would be very easy for me to give into fear but I have let go of the fear and replaced it with hope and joy. I am truly embracing this time of change, enjoying the beauty and mystery of life, and hoping in the many gifts the Lord has in store for Rocky and I. I'm taking it one day at a time, as my mother always taught me. Right now is Operation Baby Prep, and I'm really looking forward to learning even more - as much as possible - about how the heck to handle this crazy, wonderful notion of natural childbirth.

That said, my current blessing: my husband works at a pregnancy center :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

On the Job Training



"In spite of the six thousand manuals on child raising in the bookstores, child raising is still a dark continent and no one really knows anything. You just need a lot of love and luck - and, of course, courage." - Bill Cosby



There's just no denying it - there is a baby growing inside my belly... getting bigger and bigger everyday. In about 4 months, my husband and I will be parents. We can't run, we can't hide, we can't push some magical pause button to stop the process. So with the inevitable reality looming ahead, that classic nagging question continues to tug at my sleeve: "Can you handle this?"

It is a comfort to me to hear so many voices echoing one solid truth about parenting: no one really has it all figured out, and they never will. Now, that might not seem like the confidence-inspiring pre-game pep talk in the locker room of Momhood but I find it to be a very positive sentiment. To me, it's not a garauntee of failure, but rather a solicitation for success.

Fortunately, I have been blessed enough to have some quality "on the job training." In my time out here in Steubenville, OH, I've gotten very close with a very big family. Jen and Bob Rice have six amazing kids: John - 11, Kolbe - 9, Bobby - 7, Ellie - 5, Maria and Joseph - 2. Rocky and I have been put in charge of these kids many, many times. The good news is, whether it's been just one kid or all of them, we have totally been able to handle it! Now, don't get me wrong, there have been tantrums, meltdowns, injuries, and a whole myriad of other crises to deal with. The important thing is, we've taken each problem as it's come, tried not to get overwhelmed, and never given up.

One thing is for sure, I need my husband! I can't even imagine trying to raise a child by myself. I mean, I can handle the logistics of taking care of kids: dinners, games, chores, bedtime, etc. but at the end of the day, I'm emotionally drained and just having Rocky's arms there to fall into is exactly what I need. It's even better when he's able to help out with watching the kids and we can tag-team the whole operation.

Childcare is no walk in the park, that's for sure, but in a way, I feel uniquely prepared for parenthood. No, we don't even remotely have it all figured out, but the one thing we do have figured out is good enough for me: yes, we can handle this. I know we're going to make mistakes and come up against dilemmas we can't even conceive of at this point, but we have confidence on each other and our abilities... and ya know, we make a pretty darn good team.

In the end, the most essential capability we will need is that of love. I know it might sound a little syrupy but I know it's the truth. With the joy of Easter in my heart, I am certain that the theme of Christ's Passion, Death and Resurrection is love. I won't launch into a theological tangent here, but I can simply say that if the most important message our Lord has for us is Love, then I put my trust in it. That divine Love will brighten our most joyous celebrations, and strengthen us during our darkest struggles.

Love is the soul of our family, and as long as we remeber that, I think we'll be alright.


May the joy of Easter be with you and your families. He is Risen! Alleluiah Alleluiah!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Lord is Kind and Merciful

Shortly after publishing that last post, a thunderstorm struck! Not only do I LOVE thunderstorms and find them to be the perfect soundtrack to anything I'm doing... I can now do my work in peace without the strong desire to be outside!!

God is really nice to me.

And Straight on till Morning

"I'll teach you to jump on the wind's back, and away we go."
- Peter Pan




It is currently 68 degrees and sunny with just a slight breeze... pretty close to my ideal weather. I think I prefer a -bit- warmer (about 75 and sunny) but after a long and always annoying winter 68 feels like Heaven on earth!

All I want is to be outside right now, going for a walk and then just sitting in the sun, iced tea in hand, flip flips on my feet, t-shirt and shorts, hair pulled back... just relaxing. I've fantasized about this numerous times today, letting my mind wander as I stare out the open window, feeling the breeze flittering through, teasing me. Every time though, just before I give into that dream and run out there, arms flailing, screaming freedom at the top of my lungs, reality grabs me by the ear, tugging me backwards with cruel intensity. Why am I robbed of fulfilling my sweet daydream? Well, you see, I'm a teacher, and there's this -thing- that is always ruining my life!!

It is a large, heaping, ever growing MOUND of papers, just waiting to be graded. For those of you reading who even know me just a little a bit, you already know exactly why this pile is so huge.

Hi, my name is CA, and I'm a Procrastinator.

Now, I've improved -considerably- in this area as I've matured but in no way have I mastered the art of time management. If I am to be the heroin of my own story, then procrasitination is clearly my epic flaw. My Achilles Heal.

Usually Mondays are my "school work" days since I don't have to go into the school but I feel like it's a school day so I try to be as productive as possible on these days. I always underestimate how much working grading papers truly is! I think, oh, there are only three assignments to grade. Yes. Three assignments. For 150 students! That's 450 papers!!

And yes. I know by writing this entry right now, I am committing the very crime that got me into this trouble in the first place. I only justify this because A.) I promised my readers a post today and more importantly, B.) I have been working straight since 11am. Halfway done. Need a break. Deserve a break.

So, in a few minutes, I will not be going for a pleasant stroll through the neighborhood. I will not be kickin' back with a cool drink on comfy lawn furniture, sun kissing my face. Nope. In a few minutes, I will resume my painful duty of assessing my students' work and giving their efforts a number which can be recorded and later calculated into a numerical percentage which will quantify their acedemic success this past quarter.

One of these days, adults need to find a more effective way of communicating to children that they don't know how lucky they have it. I don't think "hey, sonny, you don't know how lucky you have it!" has been adequately absorped into the minds of the youth. Otherwise they would all refuse to grow up. They'd all just fly to the second star on the right and straight on till morning...

Maybe it's not too late late for me give that a try.



After, of course, I finish my work.
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