Tuesday, June 29, 2010

40 Days

Another fellow blogger, Matushka Emily, has a post up by Matushka Jenny Schroedel:

40 Days With Natalie

It's a great explanation theologically and medically of why women should rest during the 40 days following childbirth.  Maybe I'll post some of my own thoughts on this topic later.  At the moment, I am too sleep-deprived to write much of anything that might be considered coherent.

And I'm trying to observe my 40 days, so as soon as my husband comes home from the service for Sts. Peter and Paul, I'm going to bed!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Enjoying the Here and Now

A couple of fellow bloggers (and thank you, Mary, for the link to the first) have turned my attention to our neglect of staying in the here and now with our thoughts.  Too often we keep our minds in the past or the future, dreaming about what was or what could be instead of addressing what is going on around us.

A newsletter I subscribe to included this article recently, and I include it here in full, with permission.

Cherish Your Children
By Leanne Ely CNC
Indulge me for a moment, will you? Today's column is more about food for the soul, then for the tummy.

Years ago, I was watching TV and I saw a commercial for diapers. I don't remember the entire context of it, but they showed a little baby in the crib, then later, he's a toddler learning to use his pull up diapers and go potty like a big boy.

I almost got teary over that commercial! I don't know what it was about that ad that landed so hard in my heart. After sleeping on it all night, I realized exactly what it was.

I spent a good portion of my children's childhoods wishing it away. Instead of cherishing the moments, I would say to myself, "This is so hard. It will be so much easier when they're older."

My children are there now at 18 and 20 years old. They're close in age, 21 months apart. When they were little, I had double everything: stroller, car seats, diapers, you name it. Their babyhoods were a blur--I was nursing one and trying to keep another happy. I was tired, stressed out and wanted motherhood to be easy and perfect--like it is in magazines. The reality was quite the opposite--I was overwhelmed and spent an inordinate amount of time looking ahead instead of loving their sweet heads. "When they are older, THEN I will (fill in the blank)."

Why am I telling you this? Because I have guilt and regret and can't move forward? No, because I finally realized that even if I did wish away too much time when they were babies, now that they have gone away to school, I thoroughly cherish each moment that I have with them. Oh sure, there are times that they're rotten and need straightening out, but I am not trying to tell you that life becomes perfect when you're looking wistfully back on their childhoods. The root of all discontent however, is expecting perfect out of anyone (child or adult) or any situation; I am thankful I learned that while they were still home.

Here's a way to put this important lesson into practice; instead of constantly trying to correct and PERFECT your children's table manners, consciously try to have a dinner table that welcomes the stories about your son's day, your daughter's dreams and laugh together! My heart's memory book is filled with memories from those kind of interactions and (thankfully) not the guilt of nagging at them constantly.

My children grew quickly and were gone before I knew it. One thing that really helped me enjoy them and love them each day was breaking bread each night together at the table. Having dinner together not only blesses those at the table, but it blesses the hands that make it.

Wherever you are in your journey as a mother, you can begin to cherish your babies now--no matter what age, even if they have children of their own! You are still a mother and you still have moments (God willing) left to cherish. The past is one thing we can do nothing about, but we have today!

Take a moment today and look at your children's faces and understand that they are there in your care by Divine appointment. It is no accident that God gave you that child or those children. They were hand selected to belong to your family--no one else's. What a gift!

So tonight, when you are gathered 'round your family dinner table, thank God for giving you each child even if you can see their tonsils with mouths full of spaghetti. Treasure your sweet children and love them like there is no tomorrow. They are gifts to be cherished at each meal, with each moment.
Copyright (C) 2010 www.savingdinner.com Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

There are no emails in your inbox folder.

Seven Simple Ways to Get Organized

While I realize there's no magic formula to "getting organized," this article caught my attention.  Any short list of organizing tasks probably would go a long way to making my life feel a little more "under control" and I decided to see how many I could cover.

Before I went into labor, I tackled Wednesday's task of organizing the closet.  Well, for us, it was actually the back stairway that we have turned into a sort of mudroom.  I'd had this task listed in my Cycles of Grace notebook for the Pascha season, and it had gone undone and been moved to the Apostle's Fast notebook.  With impetus from this article, I attacked our mudroom.

The bags of "give away" clothes and other items were resorted and moved to the garage to be donated.  The winter coats and boots went downstairs to a small closet in the basement.  The mittens, hats, and scarves were bagged and set with the other cold-weather items.  I reorganized the wire shelving unit that had held a jumble of hats, mittens, chalk, bubbles, and other miscellaneous items.  Now, the summer toys each have their own bins, and when the cold returns, summer items will move out to make room, once again, for the winter accessories.

Today, I finished Monday's task of organizing my inbox.  I've always attempted organization in broad categories, feeling like putting one thing in a folder would be a waste of a folder.  But after learning from my Cycles of Grace project, I find that it is much easier to find things if they are clearly labeled, even if that means using one tab or one folder for one piece of paper—or one email.

I decided that having a folder in my email account labeled "Information" was about as useful as packing to move and writing "stuff" or "belongings" on the side of the box.  I first went through that folder and moved address change information into its own folder.  I then created folders for life insurance, stock, classes and groups, and invitations.  Once "Information" was empty, I deleted the folder.  Then, one by one, I went through the emails in my inbox.  Most of them were comments on  my blog, group emails, or newsletters that hadn't been deleted upon reading.  A very few got filed away.  And yes, a few of the folders only contain one email.

Very early in the process, I realized I needed a holding place for emails I need to respond to but don't have the time to address right away.  If I didn't have that, I'd start filling up my inbox with unread emails again simply because a few emails awaiting my responses would be sitting at the bottom.  It would be like intending to quit making piles, only to leave out a paper or two "to deal with later," and then throwing the day's mail on top of it, quite burying the original papers and creating a mess.  My response to this problem was to create a "Reply Needed" folder and put "00" at the beginning so that it would stay at the top of my folder list.

It also occurred to me that many of the emails could be turned into word documents or downloaded and saved to my hard drive.  Recipes, pdf files, and medical records would fall into this category.  I think I have finally discovered a system I can stick with, so next time I get the urge to clean up my electronic clutter, I think I'll have the time to address these other types of emails.

For the rest...

  • Tuesday's task is to address the kitchen cabinets.  Most of mine aren't bad, but a few are organizational quagmires.  
  • Thursday's mission is the linen closet.  We don't have one of those, but I do need a new system for sheets.  At present they are in several different places.
  • I suppose Friday's assignment could be translated into a general bathroom declutter session.  Again, my bathroom isn't bad, but a few places (medicine cabinet?) could use some attention.
  • On Saturday, I am supposed to draft the family.  I'll have to think about that one a little before I tackle it.  Maybe my girls are old enough to begin having some regular "chores."
  • And I think I will leave Sunday's task until last.  It will be fun to think about some of the things we'd like to do later this summer when John is a little older.

Of course, right now, I'm all about doing the things (like cleaning out my inbox) that can be done while sitting, preferably while nursing or holding a sleeping baby.  ;)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Being Mommy to a Newborn Is...

...finally getting around to eating a rock-hard English muffin that has been toasted three times throughout the day.  And having to eat it cold anyway, because if you toasted it again, you wouldn't be able to bite into it.

...rejoicing at being able to see the veins in your feet again because said appendages are no longer waterlogged.

...trying to nap with your newborn (Child Three) and being joined by Child Two who nurses and falls asleep next to you, only to be pushed aside by Child One who sucks her thumb and holds on to your leg to fall asleep wedged in between you and Child Two.  Mommy wakes up feeling like a Mama cat sleeping with a litter of kittens (but she's thankful that Child One and Child Two are finally getting some rest after this weird week).

...deciding between tweezing stray hairs or loading your iPod with some relaxing music in the time between laying down the newborn and whenever it is in the (very near) future that he will wake up.  (The iPod won.)

...being ready for a nap before 9:30AM.  I'm going back to bed to enjoy my 40 days!

Monday, June 7, 2010

At Last!

Finally, Blogger is responding and letting me create a new post!

And, finally, we have some good news!

I think most people may know already through other means, but we had our baby yesterday!  John Harold made his appearance after 43 hours of steady contractions and about 3 hours of active labor.  I think I pushed for about 20 minutes.  He weighs 9lbs, 13oz, and the doctors told me he had a rather big head (ouch).  It was a very tiring weekend, but surprisingly, I really feel great.  I am sore and need my rest, of course, but this is the best I've felt after a birth yet!

His big sisters are so excited about their little brother and spent a lot of time this morning hovering around him in his baby rocker, rocking him and singing to him any time he would start to wake up.  They are such sweet little Mommies.  They keep bringing him toys, too.  Maggie was careful to pick out one of her few prince (as opposed to princess) dolls for him since he is a boy.

Andrew is taking time off for a few days to be with us and his son.  (His family name will live on!)  He's also planning to take the girls to the Children's Museum one of these days to give them a special day out with Daddy.

Here's our little (well, not that little) boy!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

No Anything

That's Maggie-speak for "nothing is happening."

Well, not entirely nothing.

I have been having contractions off and on all day.  Some of them have been pretty painful too.  But they just haven't kicked into what I'd call "active labor."  This is going to be my longest labor yet.

At one point, Andrew and my sister took the girls to the park.  I should have gone along to keep things moving, but at the time, they were moving and I thought contractions were getting regular.  I called my practice, they eventually sent over the nurse, but then with dinner and conversation, things slowed again.  Andrew and I then took a short walk, which felt productive (read: painful) but it was too late to keep that up, so we came home and put the kids to bed, promising to wake them when the baby comes out.

At this point, everyone has gone to bed.  The nurse went home to get some things (she should probably stay there and get some sleep too).  I tried sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor, hoping to get things moving, but no luck.  I think I'm going to have to go to bed too.

When the nurse checked, I was only dilated 2cm, although the nurse was impressed with how low Baby's head is.  I knew I'd been feeling a lot of pressure lately.  Anyway, I was not completely surprised to hear that I wasn't dilated very much, but I was disappointed.  The nurse is pretty convinced that I'm on my way to having this baby fairly soon, but I really was hoping to have it all over with by now.  All in God's timing, I suppose.

 So, I guess I'll check in come morning.  Good night!  I hope I don't sleep well.  ;)

Here We Go!

Well, friends, I think I'm in labor.  I started feeling odd (read: even more uncomfortable than usual) during dinner last night, but wasn't sure if it was contractions or not.  My husband told me that's what I felt like about 24 hours before Susannah, our second, was born.  I tried not to get my hopes up.

We put the kids to bed and then instead of going to bed myself, which would have been smart if I had any inkling I might be going into labor, Andrew and I stayed up and watched an episode of Dr. Who.  We went to bed sometime after 11pm.  I think I may have had a contraction that awakened me around 1am, but I definitely was awakened by a contraction around 3am.  And I've been sort of dosing and contracting ever since.

My husband woke up at one point and asked if I was OK (not because of anything I was doing at the moment, just because that's been his greeting to me for the last week or so). I said "Yes" and he rolled over.  I hope my husband will forgive me for telling the internet that I am in labor before confirming it with him—I figured at least one of us should get some sleep.

I am up having something to eat (easily digestible this time...), so my contractions have gotten less intense.  I think I'll go back to bed and see if they get a little more serious.  I want to have this kid before tomorrow.
Here's a parting belly shot, believe it or not, from a couple of weeks ago.  I'm probably bigger than this now.  And no, I am not having twins.  :)

Hopefully, the next photos I post will include a baby!

Friday, June 4, 2010

My Morning Routine

I have been working on a post regarding beauty and aesthetics in the everyday, but for some reason, I can't seem to conclude it.  I'm not sure where it is supposed to end up.

However, I was motivated by Mat. Emily's Friday's Feminine Tip for today to write up some of my thoughts on personal care and appearance.  As a mother of young children who doesn't leave the house often (and likes it that way--a topic for another post), it might be tempting for me to go through my days in PJs and a greasy pony tail.

If I did this, I would never get anything done.


I've tried it occasionally, and it doesn't work for me.

One of FlyLady's basic rules and a part of her AM routine is to "Dress to Shoes, Hair, and Face."  As a longtime "FlyBaby," I've long been in the habit of at least knowing I need to do these things.  Shoes really do help me to accomplish more, especially as I gain more weight with this pregnancy and as my feet swell.  I just feel more steady on my feet with good lace-up shoes on.

Lately—probably as a part of my third-trimester nesting impulse (which, as I may have mentioned elsewhere, usually take shape for me as streamlined housekeeping and childcare routines)—I have been showering daily.  A recent new hairstyle helped me along this path.  Once I had a hairstyle that I was happy with instead of the long, long hair I'd had for so long it was ragged, and which I had no idea what to do with any more, I was much more motivated to jump in the shower and figure out what to do with it.  Even though caring for this short style takes more time sometimes (other times I put it up or pin it back a little and let it do what it will), knowing that I'm happy with what it looks like motivates me to take care of it.

Finally, my face.  This is really the part of the routine that I probably can't live without.  If every time I used the bathroom and looked in the mirror I were confronted with a puffy-eyed, splotchy-faced, pale-lipped person, I would quickly sink into depression.  I make it a point to do a simplified make-up routine daily.  I usually go all out and do foundation, concealer, and powder.  In the winter, I follow that with a sweep of blush on my cheeks, a dusting of the same on my forehead and chin, and some more on the brow bone part of my eyelids.  In the summer, I replace the blush with a bronzer.  (When I'm actually going out somewhere nice or to church, I use blush and various eye shadows.)  I add a little eyeliner (or line with eye shadow) and some mascara, and finally some lip gloss.  I even reapply the lip gloss during the day.  It makes me feel put together and truly motivates me to be productive. 

It is my goal to treat what I do during the day as my job—after all, I have to put "homemaker" in the employment section of applications, don't I?  An article about the importance of aprons over at Hillbilly Housewife tells us to recall iconic homemakers such as Donna Reed or Beaver Cleaver's Mom with their full skirts, heels, and pearls. So, I get dressed in something that I like, I put on my shoes, and I fix my hair and face.  It helps me to take me seriously.  I hope it helps my children and others I encounter throughout the day to do the same.

As I will most likely note in my forthcoming post on aesthetics in other everyday things, I am learning that beauty can be extremely functional.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Nothing to Report, Except Some Recipes

Other than increasingly uncomfortable nights, there is little change here.  A couple of things going on with my body might mean that labor is in sight, but I won't get too graphic here.  Of course, my doctor says they really don't indicate a time frame, but it keeps me going.  Trying to will myself into labor this morning (I might have had a light contraction or two) did not work.

So instead of baby updates, I'll add some links to some of my favorite recipes from our Summer Fasting Menu.
To finish sharing the dinners on our menu, here are the final three:

The Shrimp Stir Fry night is just combining a bag of precooked shrimp with a bag or two of stir fry veggies, and either throwing together a sauce yourself (I like to mix rice or cider vinegar, honey, soy sauce, and sesame oil to taste) or using some kind of prepared sauce (either a bottle or something that came with the veggies).  This is my Errand Day easy meal.

The next recipe comes from a cookbook my Mom gave me in college, The Kitchenless Cookbook, by Suanne Beverly.  I've changed it a bit, so I think I can offer it here in my own format.  I love this stuff.  I eat it right out of the bowl.

Finally, I created this recipe from the contents of the pantry in the home of one of the families we house-sat for last summer as we were moving back to Chicago.  It turned out amazing—probably due to the amount of olive oil I used.  It might be improved with fresh parsley.  I used tubetti in my initial creation, but I recently bought shells, because those will catch the peas and walnut pieces well.  I'm making myself hungry....

Now, to see if I get through a week of using this menu before Baby arrives and my Mom takes over my kitchen!  (Thank you, Mom!)
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