Monday, July 26, 2010

Of Lost Slippers and Monions

My daughters, like many their age, are fond of princesses.  They own many tiny princess dolls, dress up in princess costumes, and play various "princess games" of their own creation.  Here are two of the most recurrent and my favorites: 

Cinderella ~ This game goes something like this: One girl is Cinderella and one is the Prince.  Cinderella arrives wearing some kind of (preferably heeled) fancy shoes.  The Prince takes Cinderella's hand and the two dance to some kind of music.  Then, they often take a seat together and look like an awkward new couple—they do not speak.  Suddenly, Cinderella remembers the time!  Both her hands fly to her cheeks (think Home Alone).  "I must go!" she cries.  ("Go" is said with some sort of mock British accent.)  The Prince is horrified.  "No!  Don't go!" (Both "no" and "go" are said with similar mock British accent.)  Cinderella stands and rushes away, struggling to kick off a shoe in the process.  Once succeeding, away she runs with the remaining shoe.  The deserted Prince retrieves the shoe and either looks off wistfully or runs to find his love.  The girls then switch roles, exchange shoes, and begin again.     

Snow White ~ For this game, some kind of apple or apple-stand-in is required.  Their are long and short versions of this game, but it generally goes like this: One girl is the Witch and one is presumably Snow White, although her identity is apparently determined by the apple, as you will see.  The Witch offers Snow White an apple and says, "Try it!"  Normally, Snow White takes a bite and then falls down dead (or, I suppose, asleep).  Then, I think the girl playing the Witch takes on the role of the Prince, who kisses Snow White.  The princess pops back up with a ridiculously large smile on her face.  Switch and repeat.

The other version of this game begins in similar fashion.  The Witch offers Snow White an apple.  "Try it!" she begs.  Snow White takes a bite, but instead of falling asleep, she declares, "I like it!"  The Witch cackles, "Then you are my monion!" (We've tried telling Maggie that the word is "minion" but she'll have none of it.)  Once again, they switch roles and do it again.

I can't get enough of watching these!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stick It to the Fashion Industry

So, here's my favorite maternity clothes trick for this pregnancy.  Go to the sales racks and find some incredibly discounted tube dresses with a large elastic top to fit over the chest area.  Something like this:

These would be strapless, fairly short, and definitely immodest if worn as intended. However, if the chest band is worn around your burgeoning belly, it becomes a modest skirt that will see you through the early weeks of pregnancy, the ginormous weeks toward the end, and back down through the postpartum period.  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Trusty Timer

No matter what I think of a few of the aspects of FlyLady's method, I owe my changed way of thinking about housekeeping to her.  BF (before FlyLady), the state of my house and my person at this moment (fairly messy, both of us) would have quickly overwhelmed and paralyzed me.

I've fallen into some habits with the computer and fallen out of many good routines with my housekeeping—natural for someone with a newborn.  But it's time to take back my house and jump back into my life (or well, at least slide back in, shall we?) and I know exactly what to do.

First, I pull out my trusty timer.  (OK, well, in reality, first I blog about pulling out my timer, but you get the idea.)  Next, I pretend I'm starting my day (which isn't a huge stretch, considering I'm still in my pajamas).  And I go from there.

I don't have to rewrite my routines.  I have some very good ones written down already.  I just need to get up and do them.  My timer will help me know when to take breaks (from playing on the computer as well as from cleaning), as will my little one-month-old son.

I don't know who wrote that other post, but I certainly don't think I need to worry about being "too productive."  John must have been taking a really long nap or something.  Allons-y!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

He is merciful; we are forgiven

Molly Sabourin has a great post up!

Some Rules

Now that I'm beginning to feel like myself again, I need some rules for the next 40 days (or so).  So here, in no particular order, they are:
  • I will attempt to pray during the first nursing session that happens outside of my bed in the morning.
  • Taking a shower will be my first priority of the day.
  • I will do no more than one load of laundry a day.
  • I will attempt no more than one major cooking project a day—this isn't meant to include dinner, but if dinner comes to be a "major cooking project," then it does.  (For example, today I will limit myself to making the granola that Mary told us about and not also attempt a batch of homemade baked beans.)
  • As soon as I feel tired, I will grab some water or a snack (or possibly both) and get off my feet.
  • I will make every attempt to only do one errand at a time (obviously not always possible or even practical), and do it in the morning, before my almost-three-year-old has a chance to sneak a nap in the car.
  • Eating dinner as soon as my husband comes home will be a priority to get the kids (and myself!) the rest they need without naps and to give us some quiet time in the evening.
  • I will begin making or at least thinking about making dinner at 3PM.
OK, that's enough for now.  If I sound like I'm being too productive (and probably wearing myself out), please refer me back to this post.

The Blessing of a Shower

John fussed a lot yesterday afternoon.  Maybe it was 0 - 3 month-sized onesie I squeezed his well-over-ten-pound body into.  Maybe it was all the fresh garlic I put in the salad the night before—or all the cheese.  Maybe the four or five poops in a row or his diaper rash had something to do with it.  Whatever the cause (a combination?), he was not staying soundly asleep for me, and that was upsetting him further.

I finally settled him slightly, though I could tell he really wanted to be asleep, and set him in the swing.  I hadn't showered in a day or two, and anyway, it was already afternoon and I was still in my pajamas.  I sprinted for the bathroom with a change of clothes.  Flinging off my pjs and stepping into the tub, I felt the hot water relieve my tense body.  I realized that with the closed door and the sound of the water, I could only hear John if I really listened.  He hadn't been crying when I entered the bathroom, but by now I could occasionally hear his wail.  But only just barely.

I realized how tense I'd become that afternoon, how frustrated with him that I couldn't figure out what was wrong.  And not because I couldn't comfort him, but because I was selfishly impatient to start dinner, to get myself dressed, to clean up the house a little.  I wanted to set him down to get some things done.  I tried to only listen to the sound of the water.  He'd be OK out there in his swing.  The kids' crying doesn't get to me as much as it used to—hours and hours of toddler and preschooler whining and crying has desensitized me just a bit.  I realize that he's a baby, but I knew he'd be OK once I emerged and comforted him.

I hadn't intended my shower to be a "break" or "me time," but that it certainly was.  It was the difference between me dissolving into tears of anger that afternoon or tears of frustration and exhaustion when my husband came home.  It meant I'd be less likely to be yelling at my girls in the next few hours.  It was the break I needed, and I hadn't even realized it.

Once I was clean, mostly dry, dressed, and my hair combed, I came out and attended to John.  He'd been crying of course—had even worked up a few tears to run down his pudgy cheeks.  I held him close, and sat down in a chair with nothing to do but nurse him.  I didn't try to read, check email, or whatever—I have no problem with these things, but I figured I owed it to him to focus on him after leaving him on his own screaming for a while.

It worked.  He finally drifted off to sleep at my breast.  As the girls played their elaborate sibling games around me, I put my head back on the chair and dozed a little, waking up just enough to mediate a noisy squabble here and there.  But I stayed in my chair and let my overtired baby claim the sleep that had been evading him that afternoon, breaking the cycle of missed sleep that ironically makes it even harder for children to finally switch off and sleep.  "Sleep begets sleep," say the seasoned parents.

My little shower break gave me the patience to sit there with him and make dinner a little bit late, which resulted in slightly later bedtimes for the girls, but it was worth it!  For much of the evening, all our children slept simultaneously.

There is peace after childbirth!

Monday, July 12, 2010


I'm coming to the end of my 40 Days.  I had sort of intended to go back to church yesterday, but when it came down to it on Saturday afternoon, I didn't know where my clothes that fit and are presentable for church were, I hadn't laundered or picked clothes for either my baby or my older girls, I didn't really think we (I) could handle being out all day for church and then a wedding and reception on my first Sunday back, and my husband was away at a wedding rehearsal and couldn't help me if I'd wanted to tackle all these preparations just the night before.  Add to all of those things that my lochial bleeding seemed a wee bit worse this weekend and I'd really like it to stop already, since it really is almost gone!  (Sorry if that's TMI.)

So, since 40 days for me would be about Thursday this week, I decided to wait until next Sunday.  My parents will be in town anyway for my Dad's and sister's birthdays. (Chicago is a good converging point for everyone—aren't we lucky that we don't have to travel!)  I know they'll be happy to see (and help with) the Churching.

Anyway, I'm coming around to the point of this post (really!).  I wrote up a list of preparations I'd (ideally) like to finish this week before Sunday so that the day goes smoothly.  I thought I'd share it with you all since I know there are a few people who have just had babies recently:

Feel free to download, print, share, or whatever.

We'll see how much of this I do.  I really was brainstorming as much as I could think of so I know exactly what I'm leaving out if I don't do all of it instead of just forgetting to do something important while I instead focus on laundry or something that may not be as ultimately important.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Look What I'm Getting!

I know I shouldn't brag.  But I'm so excited to get this for Baby John!

Thank you, Matushka!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Excerpts from Master and Commander: Childbirth, part III

The final installment:
The Citoyen Durand ran smoothly through the darkness down towards Minorca, a steady breeze behind her; now that the screaming had stopped Dillon posted a reliable man at the helm, visited the little watch below in the galley and came down into the cabin.  Stephen was washing, and the husband, shattered and destroyed, held the towel in his drooping hands.
'I hope...' said James.
'Oh, yes, yes,' and Stephen deliberately, looking round at him. 'A perfectly straightforward delivery: just a little long, perhaps, but nothing out of the way.  Now my friend,'—to the captain—'these buckets would be best over the side; and then I recommend you to lie down for a while. Monsieur has a son.' he added.
'My best congratulations, sir,' said James. 'And my best wishes for Madame's prompt recovery.'
'Thank you, sir, thank you,' said the captain, his eyes brimming over again.
The officers sit down and take some refreshments, while the captain joins his wife:
... and next door the poor young woman slept at last, her husband holding her hand and her crinkled pink baby snorting at her bosom.
And there you have it.   I'm sure my "crinkled pink baby" spends many an hour with his mother, "snorting at her bosom."  That's usually how he wakes me up—snorting.  :)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Exerpts from Master and Commander: Childbirth, part II

We resume our story of the woman in labor aboard an English Navy vessel.  Stephen (Maturin) is the doctor aboard the Sophie. 
 'I am afraid the poor woman is dying,' said James.
'Well, I don't know, I'm sure,' said Jack hesitantly; and now that he could put a meaning to the remote, dreadful noise he heard it far more clearly. 'Ask the Doctor to come,' he said to a marine.
 Now that the excitement was over, Stephen was at his usual post... ; and when they told him there was a woman in the prize, having a baby, he said, 'Aye? I dare say.  I thought I recognized the sound,' and showed every sign of returning to his place.
'Surely you can do something about it?' said Jack.
'I am certain the poor woman is dying,' said James.
 Stephen looked at them with his odd expressionless gaze and said, 'I will go across.'
 I think I have gathered so far that James is "afraid the poor woman is dying."

Monday, July 5, 2010

Exerpts from Master and Commander: Childbirth

I like to read some nice, long novel (or two, or seven...) during my 40 days.  I've begun the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian, of which several provided material for the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.  These men, who fight battles at sea and are no strangers to pain and blood, have no idea what to make of a woman in labor.  An amusing read for someone who has experienced childbirth firsthand a few weeks ago.

At this point in Master and Commander (the first novel of the series), the Sophie, commanded by Captain Jack Aubrey, is pursuing a French ship through one night and intends to take her as a "prize."  Upon morning, the pursued ship behaves erratically giving the appearance, among other things, that no one was on lookout.  It finally signals its surrender to the crew of the Sophie.  James Dillon is Captain Aubrey's lieutenant.

The following ensues:
The reasons for her behaviour were clear enough to James Dillon once he was aboard her, taking possession: the Citoyen Durand was laden with gunpowder—was so crammed with gunpowder that it overflowed her hold and stood in tarpaulined barrels on her deck; and her young master had taken his wife to sea.  She was with child—her first—and the rough night, the chase and the dread of an explosion had brought on her labour.  James was as stout-hearted as the next man, but the continuous groaning just behind the cabin-bulkhead and the awful hoarse, harsh, animal quality of the cries that broke out through the groaning, and their huge  volume, terrified him; he gazed at the white-faced, distracted, tear-stained husband with a face as appalled as his.
Leaving Babbington in sole command he hurried back to the Sophie and explained the situation.  At the word powder Jack's face lit up; but at the word baby he looked very blank.
To be continued....

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Bacon frying in the kitchen (thank you, Dear!), coffee at my elbow, and a nice long three-day weekend ahead of us, one which we decided not to spend traveling.  We're all tired—what with often finding all three kids in our bed now (thank goodness we decided to get a king-sized bed a few years ago), and with one or the other of the younger two waking up at night to fuss and want Mom.  Of course, I'm still tired from being a new Mamma who has just given birth a few weeks ago and who is nursing more often than not.  And my dear husband is picking up a lot of housework slack in addition to losing sleep.

I'd love to post about my nursing caddy (basket filled with various essentials that travels with me around the house to various nursing spots), or how much my girls love their brother (when my eldest is in the same room with him, she pretty much has to be physically touching him), or any number of those types of reflections.  As my sleepy little son gets more regular with his schedule and is alert more often, I'm sure I'll get around to writing about some of this stuff.

Right now, I'm just happy for a lazy weekend.

Happy Fourth of July!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Sibling Revelries's New Look

Wow, there are so many more ways to personalize blogs on Blogger now.  Yay!  This feels a little more summery, doesn't it?  :)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

40 Days of Patience

I am in a funny place, routine- and homemaking-wise, right now.  Three weeks ago, I birthed our third child.  As anyone who has had this experience knows, I am doing a lot of nursing, sleeping, not sleeping, and healing.  And with the healing comes bleeding, which brings me around to that weird place.

In order to make the bleeding stop as quickly as possible, I need to do as little as possible around the house.  In some ways it is freeing.  Spend as much time on the internet as I want?  Sure!  Go back to bed after breakfast?  Yes, please!  Watch another movie?  Why not?  Read another chapter of a giant novel?  Absolutely!

It is also the antithesis of what I normally try to accomplish with my days.  Usually, I try to put away what I take out when I'm finished.  I watch the floor for piles of crumbs or spills to clean up.  I monitor the laundry piles, and the dish piles, and the amount of food in the fridge.

Thanks to many hardworking women in my parish, we are receiving meals for the next few days.  Thanks to my mother and mother-in-law, we had in-home care for a few weeks beforehand.  And thanks to my tireless, child-loving brother, we have help now too.  I don't have to do most of what I normally do.  I can focus on mothering my baby.

My mantra right now is "almost anything can wait four weeks."  I recently read this in Dr. Sears's The Baby Book.  Actually, I'm waiting closer to six weeks.  And if I do as I plan, that means I'll be "going back" next Sunday (the 11th of July).  That's going to come up pretty quickly.  Seems this is a good time to practice living in the Here and Now and actively enjoy the rest of this precious newborn/postpartum period.
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