Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Saint Therese Projects

Sadie carefully watched me sewing during Mae's nap time and while this doll was still being cut out she asked:  "Is that Saint Therese of the Child Jesus?"  I was a little surprised at the name, but she quickly went back to talking about "Marie Therese like they were old friends."

But she had guessed what I was making.

There just aren't many surprises in this house.  

This picture doesn't do the doll justice at all, because the stitch that I used for all of the seams is really neat... but it's very late and I'm a little bit too sleepy to do a photo shoot with a doll... so this picture will have to do for now.  I'm experimenting with saint doll ideas at the moment.

I think I'll try to hide this away for a while.  Maybe if she forgets about it, it can be a surprise later.

This is another little part of a project I've been working on.  It's far from finished, but Sadie loves carrying it around the house.

I made this one entirely by hand, but having discovered the stitch that I used on the doll I think this project is going to be coming along much more quickly.

Now to get a little bit of sleep before the girls wake up.  I can hardly keep my eyes open!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Wonderful News!

I have really good news.

Okay, not as good as a positive pregnancy test, but still, pretty good.

After the miscarriage we had a couple thousand dollars in medical bills after our insurance paid what they were billed for.  The rest would have been covered by our insurance, but the various groups refused to accept it, and so we ended up with quite a bit to pay.  I put the first thousand on our credit card somewhat begrudgingly.  That covered pathology and radiology, (and that's where the balance remains, although hopefully I'll be able to pay it off sooner rather than later).  I was annoyed that they'd charged me to test my whether I was RH negative, when I told them that I was not when they asked.  I was also annoyed that they insisted on taking the baby, running a ton of tests when I told them not to, and then charged me $300 for finding absolutely nothing out, before returning the body in a taped up cardboard box.  But we paid.

However, I was absolutely not willing to pay for the treatment I received for something like 15 minutes with two PA's that added up to a whopping $1600.  I'm sorry but they each talked to me for five minutes, did one quick exam each (two separate trips) and said there was nothing going on yet, and then left me in a room where I delivered at 14 weeks by myself while everyone ignored my cries for help (if you're new, the story of what happened this last fall is here).  One nurse that came in to try and help was stopped by another nurse and I heard her tell him she would be in there in a few minutes (didn't happen though).  I had a major problem paying for that.

But the very idea of fighting the hospital over it made me sick.  In fact, driving by the hospital would make me feel panicky.  And it didn't help that the hospital has signs plastered all over this town and commercials on the airwaves talking about how wonderful they are.  I let my Dad and Paul take care of it, and the payment company launched an investigation.  I wrote up the story of the trip itself and they said a doctor looked at it and it was reviewed and that we had to pay.  A collection agency began to call.

One night I took a deep breath and started writing out everything that had happened.  Three months of incidents.  It was hard.  I was incredibly thankful for this blog because I'd written much of what happened here as it happened.  I had exact dates for every problem, doctor's appointment and complication.  I cut and pasted a lot.  And in the end I had around 11 pages (I thought it was 20... but I went back and looked and it wasn't quite that long) of single spaced words, that described the entire process, up to the present.

Paul took it in while I waited in the car with the girls in the hospital parking lot, trying not to be upset by my proximity to that building.  About twenty minutes later, Paul came out.  Apparently the first woman to read it had begun shaking and rushed to give it to someone else.

A few hours later we were informed by the hospital that an investigation was being launched and that while it could take some time, they would try to do it within 30 days.  Today, which is just about 30 days later, we received a letter.

I was very nervous opening it.  I'm usually pretty optimistic, but this situation has been nothing but bad, and I wouldn't have been surprised to have more negative news.

The first page of typed words told me they were sorry that I was dissatisfied with my experience.  I was pretty sure they were going to tell us to pay up, by the way the letter was headed.  They went over what happened.  And then...

They informed us that the people that had made the mistakes had not worked for the hospital.  They were contract workers.  And that they wouldn't be bothering us anymore, because our unpaid debt had been erased.  I had to read it twice before the words actually registered.  Then Paul read it too, noting the emphasis on "not our employees."

So I'm pretty excited.  I was thinking of having a super sale on my stores to try to pay it off, if the letter had read differently, with a "hospital" etsy coupon.  What a relief!  And an answered prayer!

Mae Bae's Cabinet

I can now jokingly tell Mae Bae to go to her cabinet.  It's one of her favorite places in the house.  In reality, I was spending so much time dragging her out of it, that I finally gave up and let her make it into her own little fort.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sadie and Mae's Karate Class

Sadie and Mae had their very first karate class today.

Okay... it wasn't a typical karate class.  Mommy was the sensei (Show of hands:  how many of you knew I actually am a real sensei?  It doesn't come up often here!).  It took place in our living room after we picked up the toys (Sadie is seldom that enthusiastic about picking up her toys!).  And in the beginning it was a private lesson, with just Sadie, who had begged for nearly an hour before our little lesson to start learning karate so that she could be a "rescuer."  She's very into "rescuing" Mae Bae these days, regardless of whether Mae wants or needs to be rescued.

To really explain how excited Sadie was about her "karate class" I'd have to add that she actually agreed to wear pants.  Of course she changed out of them moments after our lesson was over, but getting her into pants any other time is pretty much impossible.  We had tears at bedtime when I only had pants and a shirt for her to wear as pjs... because she had her heart set on a nightdress that was in the hamper...

Mae didn't take much notice of what we were doing at first. She was playing with a flashlight that Sadie has swiped out of my closet.  After about twenty minutes she noticed and came over and laughed hysterically at every punch or kick.  She loved the sound of my gi snapping with each kick and she was especially amused by the fact that I was counting out loud in Japanese.

After she stopped hysterically giggling, she joined in and we saw Ninja Mae Bae return.  Sadie was a little hesitant when she was beginning to learn to punch.  Mae watched us and started throwing punches left and right as fast as she could while still laughing.  She practiced in the bathtub.  She practiced while Nani was on Skype.  So I guess she's pretty enthusiastic too.

By the end of the lesson Sadie had actually managed a few pretty good kicks.  Not bad for a three year old!  I kind of wish I'd started when I was three!

I've decided to start training again for exercise and I have a feeling that Sadie and Mae's enthusiasm to "practice karate," will be good motivation to train daily.  It would be nice to have a place to train outside the house, maybe once a week... but I have a feeling that's a few years off!  Maybe after Paul graduates.

I haven't mentioned karate on her very often, but it used to be a big part of my life.  I have a black belt in Shorin Ryu Karate, a brown belt in Kyokushin Karate, a green belt in Taekwondo and I studied Aikido and Wushu for a bit in college (I was horrible when I gave Wushu a try when I was in Cape Town... it was too different from all the training I'd had previously).  I taught a class briefly for the recreational sports department at my college, but hadn't had the time to train very often in the past half decade.  Now it'll be something fun that the girls can learn with me, that will mean a little more exercise.  I have a feeling I'm going to be sore tomorrow morning from the little we did today!  It's definitely a good way to get back into shape!

The Green Dress

The dress that I've been working on was finished just before midnight last night (just in time to wear it to Mass this morning).  I managed to follow the pattern until it told me how to put on the zipper... then I just couldn't help myself as I caved in to my "I know a better way" impulse.  I'm counting this as basically following a pattern though.  It may be as close as I'm going to get!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Machine

Yesterday I finished all the remaining headcoverings and chaplets that had been ordered in the past month. It's the first time all month I've been completely caught up on paid for orders, although things have been working out perfectly, with each new order coming in within twelve hours of finishing the previous order.  I have a few custom orders I've been working on, that I'm finishing up, but last night I paused to do a task that I've been dreading for the last two weeks.

I got out my new sewing/embroidery machine, with the manual and decided it was time for the machine to do more than decorate my bookshelf.  For the last few weeks I'd been so busy with all the orders that I knew I needed to finish each night before the girls woke up, that I didn't have time to sit down and learn how to thread the bobbin, or use the auto threader to thread the needle (that was the toughest part... I've never had a problem threading a needle, and for a while I just did it manually, but I did want to figure out how the auto-threader worked, and when I finally got it to do what it was supposed to do I felt like I deserved a medal!).  Being busy is a very, very good thing, but it meant that the sewing machine would wait a little longer.

I didn't want to try the sewing machine out on an actual order.  That could be disastrous.

So instead I decided to do something that was slightly insane, while learning to use my machine.  I got out the fabric that I had managed to cut out during nap time one day, and began sewing a dress.  More specifically, I began sewing a satin dress, while ignoring the small voice of reason that was determinedly asking if I'd lost it.  Satin is, after all, not my favorite fabric to sew.

After getting the sewing machine set up to sew I made it all the way to step two on the pattern before I encountered a problem.  I needed to "gather" the fabric around the bust.  On my old sewing machine this would have involved turning a dial.  On the new sewing machine it involved a fancy touch screen (that I didn't realize was a touch screen) with a bunch of buttons with no words.  I looked at the manual, which showed buttons I couldn't find.  I tried pressing the buttons that were there, without luck.  Finally I realized it was a touch screen (the problem with reading only the part of the instructions about the specific task I was trying to do) tapped it, and the buttons in the manual magically appeared on the screen.  And voila, I could adjust the stitch length.

The machine sews beautifully.  I still have to finish the sleeves, hem and neckline on the dress, and add the zipper but I'm pretty excited about how it's coming along so far.  I do wish I'd used a more casual fabric, because the satin looks really fancy and it would have been more practical to make an everyday dress that I would wear more often.  Or maybe I'll just wear this anyways, day to day, because the crepe back satin I use has already shown, via the princess dresses, that it's really, really tough.  I went with this particular satin because I had so much of it laying around, that I got during a sale months ago, and I decided to test my poor pattern reading skills on it, before moving on to a fabric that I liked more.

This is a big step for me.  I usually don't use patterns and just make things up as I go along, which either turns out very well, or ends in disaster.  I'm like this with cooking and knitting too.  Following instructions is apparently a weakness of mine.  I always end up with some idea I think is "better" and end up switching things around.  But I'm determined to follow this pattern all the way through...  and I'm hoping (and expecting) to learn a bit about pattern reading (and patience) along the way!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Holy Water and Nightmares

The first words that I heard this morning when I woke up was a small whisper saying: "Mommy.  I need Holy Water."

This was in the wake of Sadie's concern earlier in the week when she discovered that we were out of Holy Water and ran up to me and said:  "Mommy, Daddy needs to go to the store and get Holy Water!!!! in a panicked tone.  I told her we don't buy Holy Water at the store, Daddy could just go next door to the chapel and bring some back, but she still raced out and told him in an equally alarmed tone that he needed to go buy some at the store, in a tone that indicated that it needed to be done right away.

Our Holy Water fonts are a pretty new addition to our home and Sadie seems to think that they're absolutely wonderful.

I first thought of ordering the fonts when Sadie began having her nightmares.  They stretched on, nightly, for months and the subject was always the same... the "new baby," and specifically, as far as I could tell that the new baby wasn't with "mommy."  We talked about the new baby being in heaven with Jesus and Mary, we prayed that she would not have any bad dreams, and we'd tried ignoring the subject, but nothing was working.  I remembered reading somewhere that some families would have the father bless the children with Holy Water before bed and many of the people in the comments section of that particular article, that I can only vaguely remember, had said they did the same thing with their children and that nightmares largely disappeared.

So we decided to give it a try.  I went through Ebates to the Catholic Company (5% back on anything you order, and since I was buying them anyway... yeah... I'm totally hooked...) and found two that were beautiful.  I ordered the Our Lady of Grace font for Sadie's room and I ordered the Holy Family font for our entryway.

The Holy Family font was originally backordered, so the Our Lady of Grace font arrived first, and Sadie was thrilled.  I put it on our little home altar to wait until I'd bought strips to hang it, and Sadie war frequently found swiping it off the altar and carrying it carefully around.  One day I found her in her room, with the font on a shelf, praying beside it.

Once it was hung and filled with holy water, Paul began blessing each of the girls each night before we said our family rosary at bedtime.  Sadie hasn't had a nightmare in over a week.  She did wake up and get out of bed the other night to come get me when I was sewing, something that's never happened before.  In the past she always woke up screaming in terror.  So for her to silently get up, without waking up her baby sister, and walk across the dark room to find me was a big step in a good direction!

The font also means that she loves to run and reach up and dip her fingers in it and make the sign of the cross.  She also crossed herself, without prompting, yesterday when we walked in past the chapel on our walk.  And of course, she loves to go around making the sign of cross on other people too, afterwards proudly saying:  "I blessed you Mommy!"

My heart swells when she says those words and I must admit that I do feel very blessed!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mae Bae... The Plato Reading Ninja Toddler...

I can now tell, quite easily, when Sadie is frustrated about something.  Because she now looks at me, through gritted teeth and says:  "I will never bite you again Momma.  I promise.  I will never bite you again." And then I know that she's thinking about biting me (and thankfully resisting the urge!)...

Mae Bae has had an interesting day.  The scariest part of the day was when she charged across the room and jumped up on the big red leather chair in our living room.  She was going so fast that it actually started to tilt backwards.  When it tilted she threw herself forward and somersaulted over the back, brushing her head against the table behind the chair as she continued to roll, while somehow managing to spin around and land, in a sitting position on the ground to the side of the table and the chair, completely uninjured.  She did look somewhat surprised.  I was so panicked (because I was thinking "how can she not be hurt?!?!?!) that when I raced over, my finger poked her eye as I scrambled to scoop her up... which did result in a few moments of tears.

This may be Mae Bae's first lesson that Mommy is clumsy, particularly when in a panicked is-the-baby-hurt??? mode.  I'm not sure where she inherited her toddler ninja skills, since Daddy shares the same clumsy gene.

Mae Bae has been doing something else that Paul and I both think is kind of funny.  There's a book of Plato over on one of the bookshelves that Mae Bae is in love with.  Some kids have blankies.  Some have stuffed animals.  Mae has Plato.  She carries it around the house with her.  There's an empty cupboard in the kitchen that she loves to climb into and she'll go in the cupboard, with the book, and close the door and sit in the closed cupboard with it.  Sometimes she pages through it.  Sometimes she just holds it or carries it around the house.  Today she cried hysterically when it was time to go on our walk, and she actually convinced Paul to let her take it with us.  She sat and looked at the pages for part of the walk, and then hugged it to her chest for the remainder.  It's the strangest "lovey" I've ever seen!

Daily Dose of Cuteness: Mae Bae's Smile!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Momma. I promise. I will never..."

The first words I heard this morning when I woke up were: "Momma.  I promise.  I will never bite you again."

Someone's been feeling pretty badly about an incident when we were leaving the park yesterday, and after two days and well over a dozen freely volunteered apologies, I doubt she will ever bite anyone ever again.

We'd gone through a biting phase that lasted a terrible six months from 2 to 2 1/2, but after more than a year without biting I was rather surprised when, mid tantrum about leaving the park and ending our play date, she reached over and bit my arm.  Hard (although thankfully not hard enough to break the skin this time... I do still have a scar from one of those year old bites!).  There was yelling.

After about a minute calming down in her stroller I went over and showed her the teeth marks and explained that when she got mad and bit me, it really hurt.  She went from outraged at the injustice of leaving the park to very quiet.  "I meant to bite this right here Momma." She pointed to the stroller.

I paused for a moment.  Do we begin to learn about lying now?  Sadie's a pretty honest little kid.  She's wonderful at pretending and imagining, but she doesn't usually tell outright lies to get out of trouble.  I decided to cut that tendency off immediately.

"No you didn't mean to bite the stroller Sadie.  That's a lie.  And lies make God sad.  You need to tell him you're sorry."

"I'm sorry God."  The words were tearful.  "I'm sorry Momma.  I'm sorry for biting your arm!!!!"  Tears.

I told her that it was okay and that I loved her and we headed home.  After we got home and Daddy came home from class she told him what happened (and then I repeated it because she could hardly be understood) and I thought it would probably drop... But periodically throughout the day:

"I'm sorry Momma!  I'm sorry I bit your arm."  And then I'd tell her not to worry about it.  It was over.  I love her no matter what, even if she did bite my arm again.  And that was when the new apology began with the promise that she had no biting plans in the future.

I think we may now really be past the biting phase with her.  And oh how I hope Mae doesn't go through the same thing, when she turns 2!  Now to get Sadie distracted so she stops worrying...  Sometimes accepting that we've been forgiven something is the hardest part.  Thankfully a three year old is easily distracted.

Of Pie and Palestrina

I just had to write a quick post pointing you all towards a great new blog.  Katherine is writing "Of Pie and Palestrina" and it's definitely worth following!   I've been meaning to write a longer post, talking about all the great blogs I've been stumbling across lately, but I always end up sewing or writing about something else at the last moment, and so until I get organized enough to actually make a list, it's probably best that I just share as I go along!

Her latest post talks about the modern relevancy of a great play, and shows that the terrible choice our government is asking religious men and women to make in the coming year, in violation of their consciences, is nothing new.  It's the play that inspired one of my shops' names and a play that Paul was assigned to read and that then watch during orientation (the movie version) before class began this year.

Katherine's Life List post is another favorite of mine (I think I could have written it!)!

So I'd definitely recommend checking it out!

Snow White (x2)!

I think everyone guessed correctly on the new sewing project!  A Snow White Dress (two actually... since I know better to make just one of anything these days!).  

Sadie is actually the one who is constantly trying to convince me to let her watch Snow White when Mae takes a nap.  Mae likes the princess, but thinks the movie is scary.  Sadie laughs through the movie like she's watching the funniest comedy ever.  

Now I just have to figure out whether or not to sew a collar... and if I do sew it... how to sew it!

This dress is definitely going to be a challenge!


The girls were so excited about the playoff game this weekend.  They love to watch Paul cheer for New England almost as much as they loved playing with their bouncy balls (and an orange) while the game was on.  Sadie kept trying to convince Paul that the game was going so well that she needed to be tossed in the air.

I couldn't find Mae's Bruschi jersey, and so I found a tank top that she barely fit into and a pair of pants that almost matched.  Sadie on the other hand, was determined to squeeze into her cheerleader outfit.  I think this year will be the last time she can wear it.  She barely got it on.  It's a 4 and while she can wear a 5, she's easily fitting into 6-6xs now.  It's almost Mae Bae's turn to wear it (Mae's a 3T)!

The camera has a hard time catching Mae Bae when she's moving at top speed:

The good thing about this picture is you can't tell quite how small the top is!  She's just so tall that it doesn't really cover her tummy anymore!  I had to search for this picture!  And like her little sister, she's too fast for my camera's regular setting!

After quite a while playing ball they settled down to watch the game with Momma.  We were hoping Daddy's team was going to play Grumpa's team in the Super Bowl, but that was not to be...  On to the big game!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Newest Sewing Project

Care to guess what Sadie's finally convinced me to sew...

There will be two of them.  Here we are picking out fabric colors (I gave her a choice between to reds... the $3 a yard red and the $20+ a yard red... can you guess which one she picked?  I was hoping she'd pick the $3 satin over the $20 dupioni silk... but she apparently has expensive taste... thankfully the project only requires a tiny bit of red!).

Hint on the original question: She's thought Mae Bae has needed this for a while...

A Random Picture Filled Post!

This post may end up being rather random.

I am supposed to be sewing right now... but a late night migraine has struck.  It's not that bad (medicated), and I'm still pretty excited about my new week/migraine ratio since I've been watching what I eat.  It's nice to have figured something out.  We now know that there's something in candy and soda that triggers migraines for me.  It doesn't take very much.  I know that it's not sugar... because I could bake a ton of sugary treats and eat a ton of chocolate (not good for my diet) and be fine.  But a soda and a handful of skittles and insta-migraine.  The problem for me was that I usually kept a coke on hand because caffeine used to help my migraines... but that proved to be not good at all since now coke seems to be a big, big trigger.

The good news it that, since testing this theory out, I've gone from 3-4 migraines a week to right around 1 migraine a week.  And a decrease like that has me pretty happy right now.  I don't think they'll ever be completely gone, because they definitely seem to also be tied to my hormones, but this is a step in the right direction.

Anyways... Sadie is really into having her picture taken now.  And posing.  So here are a few of my favorites, with a running commentary:

A lot of twirling goes on around here.  Mae Bae twirls now too.  Life is a swirl of pink satin in our home.

Mae Bae is holding her favorite toy in this picture: it's a pink cooking mitt that I got in the dollar section of Target a few years ago.  She loves it and constantly wants me to wear it, and then pretend that it's a monster that's chasing her.

Just don't call those pigtails "pigtails."  They're "two ponytails."  Sigh.

A Mae Bae smile.

Another picture of Mae Bae with her oven mitt, which has somehow earned the nickname "Gillywompus."

This is around the point where she started saying: "Take my picture Momma!  Take my picture!" And then running over in between shots to look at them on my camera. 

I'm not really sure where she got all her little poses from!  She kept trying to look serious!

And then Daddy got home with a pizza!  Mae Bae loves pizza.

Maybe she was missing Gillywompus?

Daddy saves the day!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Living for Him

Over the centuries, various scriptural "interpretations" have been born, sometimes twisting the meaning of scripture so that it seems to contradict itself, when no such contradiction exists.  Take these verses from Matthew, chapters 5 and 6:

"Be careful not to parade your uprightness in public to attract attention; otherwise you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven... And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them. In truth I tell you, they have had their reward." 
 Matthew 6:1-5 

"Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven; this is how they persecuted the prophets before you.'You are salt for the earth. But if salt loses its taste, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled under people's feet. 'You are light for the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in people's sight, so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven.'Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. In truth I tell you, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, is to disappear from the Law until all its purpose is achieved." 
Matthew 5:11-18 

Some would take the first verse and use it to tell others to hide their faith.  They become bullies, intent on enforcing the status quo, whatever it may be.  Any deviation from their standard must be stamped out.

Over the years I've heard from many women who are afraid to cover their heads for Mass, despite a strong longing in their hearts to show their respect for the most blessed sacrament in this way, because they don't want people to think that they're "holier than thou."  And so they suppress the quiet urging that they feel.  Some overcome the disapproval (it took me about a year of worrying what other people would think before I finally began to wear the veil that I'd felt drawn to and that I desperately wanted to wear in the presence of the Eucharist, before I actually did it).

After all, attracting attention is apparently to be avoided at all costs, even if we're following a gentle pull on our heart to a certain devotion, or to live in a certain way that might seem odd to others.  Yet we know that  we're supposed to be in this world and not of this world.  Can we really expect to blend in if we follow this command? Jesus tells us that we're going to be hated for his sake.  That generally doesn't happen when we're the embodiment of the status quo, after all the world loves its own.

It does happen when our lives or actions or words cause people to question something about themselves.  It happens when we somehow threaten some safe assumption that someone else doesn't want to think twice about, because questioning it might lead to a change and let's face it, it's easier to be who we've always been.  In these cases that first verse becomes a fall back response.  "Don't be a hypocrite.  You're just putting on a show."

I was trying to remember tonight where I'd recently read that particular verse, used in that very way, and I finally stumbled across it.  That verse was being flung around by David Silverman, in regard to Tim Tebow and his very public faith.  "Bad Catholic" gave a great explanation:

Silverman: “It is not surprising Tebow ignores Matthew 6:5 in which Jesus says, ‘When you pray, do not pray like the hypocrites in the street…They pray to be seen praying. Pray in the closet.” Right, that’s what Christ said. Pray in the closet.
Not to be all Catholic, but stop with your fundamentalist interpretations of Scripture. Why was Christ angry at the hypocrites for praying in the streets? Was it because public prayer is inherently wrong? No, because there’s that whole “Let your light shine before all men” bit that needs taking into account. The key word here is hypocrites. The problem isn’t that they’re praying in the street, it’s that they’re only praying in the street. The problem is that everyone liked them for praying in the streets, that everyone thought they were holy for doing so.
You see, despite the fairly consistent twisting of Matthew 6, Matthew 5 makes it abundantly clear that we're not supposed to hide our faith.  We aren't supposed to put on an empty show either.  God made us.  He knows us.  He knows our hearts and what he wants from us is so simple, that a young child can understand it easily.  

He wants us to love him.  He wants us live for him.  

Living for him isn't going to look like living for the world.  And it isn't going to look the same from person to person.  He made each of us differently, with a variety of strengths and talents that he will use to transform our world, if we strive to serve him.  

We could put a basket over our little shining light, hiding our precious fledgling, stumbling faith.  Or we can pick ourselves up, over and over again, trying to keep our eyes on what really matters: God.  

It's our choice... our only choice really... at least it's the only one that matters at all...  And what will our answer be?  Will we tell God yes or no?  We decide daily, over and over again: will we serve him?  Or will we turn away?  Our "yes" changes everything.  It has to.  

As a side note: I will be moderating and deleting obnoxious comments.  There's a difference between discussion and repeated insults and certain readers have cross the line.  I will no longer be publishing or responding to your comments.  I will continue to remember you in my prayers.  

"My Babies are Getting Away from Me!!!"

She came up with this... all on her own... this morning.  Then she started chasing three bouncy balls around the house while saying: "Oh no!  My babies are getting away from me!"

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The "Extreme"

It's raining Anonymous comments these days.  Here's today's winner:
"Tell me your little girl is not dressed up as a nun. For Heaven's sake... Must everything be done to the very extreme?"
I have a feeling this is a drive-by comment and that the writer will never see my response and yet I can't help but answer.  After all I've met with this misconception before... and it couldn't be stomped out soon enough for my liking.  

Where to begin...  Let's see...  I could just link back to my past writings on this topic... after all, sometimes it seems like it's been covered ad nauseum.  But instead, I'll start anew today:

Hi Anonymous-

Welcome to my blog.  I can tell you're not a regular reader, because if you were, you'd probably remember that my two and a half year old began a campaign for a "Holy Baby" birthday party last spring, which developed into one request for a birthday present (that would be from the "Holy Baby" rosary DVDs... although you might think that's extreme too?  DVDs about the rosary?  The child should be watching Elmo!  What are parents thinking these days?!?!).  

I know it may be hard for you to imagine, because it surprised me a bit, but there was only one thing that her little heart desired and she let us know loud and clear:  A "Holy Baby" dress.  She lobbied for it.  She brought it up frequently.  She begged and pleaded.  I suggested Tangled and Dora.  After all, Tangled and Dora would have been a lot less work.  But she was adamant.  

And so, when it was clear that that was what she really wanted, and that it wasn't some passing phase, I got to work.  I sewed and sewed.  I found a few Nun accessories and took a print out of her favorite nun doll in to the bakery and explained that she'd been begging for a Holy Baby cake.  

The day rolled along, blazing hot like many June days in Northern California, but despite the heat she tore open the present and insisted on putting it on immediately, so she could wear it for her party.

I guess my family might seem a little "extreme" to you, if you're disturbed by a photo of a child with her hand's folded in a nun's costume.  Let's see...  We do pray the rosary together every night.  And we go to Mass on Sunday's.  My children have probably been to confession (accompanying me or my husband) more times than many Catholic adults.  We pray before meals.  And they frequently tackle me when I'm praying the Divine Office.  

And you'd never guess what she's already asked for, for this year's birthday present: this snood.  I asked her if she was sure.  I suggested something in pink.  She's brought it up for a couple of weeks though, a sure sign that she won't be changing her mind any time soon.  And so daily I will be hearing: "Mommy, for my birthday... I want a black and white snood!" for the next five months.  

Today at Mass she grinned from ear to ear when she saw a nun come down from the choir loft to receive communion.  

While we read about the saint's and her little children's Bible, and pray together, I am still surprised when she tells me that she wants to be a nun.   I'll admit that I've pointed out nuns when we see them, because of her love for her doll, but her fervent wish began and continues of her own accord.  Just as her own sweet whispered prayers come from her own two lips, so this wish is her own.  

Who knows if it will last?  I pray only that she finds the vocation that God is calling her towards.  So that she may serve in whatever way that she will be called to serve.  For now she seems to understand what she's supposed to be doing well enough.  She loves God.  She prays to him.  She talks about Mary like she's a family member that comes by the house every day.  She asks questions and absorbs the answers like a sponge.

Maybe what our world needs is a little more of this type of joyous love.  You call it "extreme," giving it a negative connotation.  I think passion is a much better word for it.  And I think that if we had more of this faith, like little children, and the love that pours forth from it, we might all be much, much better off.  

And maybe, just maybe, you should pause and wonder what it is about the sight of a cute, happy child with her hands folded in prayer, that brought about your reaction.  

I pray passionately that all my children will be given the same gift of faith that my oldest has.... and that we all may be granted it.  I pray that it lasts a lifetime, even if that means that more than once they will be certainly called "extreme."    

After all, there is only one tragedy in this life... not to become a saint.  And it seems to me that more often that not, the path to sainthood looks "extreme" to those looking on.  So let us love God passionately, like little children and pray that we too can become like these little ones, who rejoice in their Savior and love him with their whole hearts.  

"To Love Him"

Me:  "Who made you?"
Sadie:  "God!  God made me!"
Me:  "Why did God make you?"
Sadie:  "To live...."
Me:  "And?"
Sadie:  "To love mmmm... and to live in a town!"

We've been reading here Catholic Children's Treasury and the answer we were going for was "to love him" from the little Therese story she wants to read constantly.  She loves reading those books!  And they're causing her to ask so many wonderful questions!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

And the Diagnosis is...

...something like Lactational Amenorrhea... but with anovulatory cycles, instead of an absence of cycles altogether.

Amelia (who has some great recipe's you might be interested on her Gluten free blog) made that suggestion yesterday and when I went in and began talking with my doctor she agreed that she believes that this is exactly what is going on.

Basically because I was 14 weeks along when I miscarried and then had another 11 weeks of retained "debris" with positive pregnancy tests, my body has something like 25 weeks of pregnancy hormones.  When I'm pregnant my milk supply does dip dramatically, after the D&C I did notice that it went back to normal (toddler normal, so nothing dramatic, but there was a definite increase).  So...  it look like this means that my body think that I'm nursing a newborn right now (or is just really confused about what's going on) and we've gone into anovulatory cycles as a result (maybe because the toddler doesn't nurse enough to completely stop everything?).

It will be kind of interesting to see how long this lasts since we don't even come close to meeting any of the criteria for ecological breastfeeding (obviously) at this point.  She nurses 1-2 times a day, in the morning and sometimes at night.  She still sleeps with a pacifier in a crib (this could be it's own post... we co-slept with Sadie... I expected to co-sleep with Mae.  Mae was not having it.  Mae needs her space.  And she needs a lot of it.).  In the past nursing has meant exactly 6 months of non-fertile time.  We are planning to wean in... around 6 months... although I'd imagine it won't last that long with the serious lack of nursing time.  I wouldn't think nursing 20 minutes a day would prevent ovulation for too long.

My poor General Practioner.  I like her a lot, but I know my teariness on the subject makes her uncomfortable!  She's a very stoic woman with a strong Eastern European accent.  She asked me when my OB had said we were okay to try again and I told her that I'd been to sooner is better. Her response was that that put a lot of pressure on me, but that the cardiology report says that I'm as "healthy as a horse" and that she think the biggest problem is (surprise, surprise) anxiety from the whole experience.  She said she'd really like to prescribe me Xanax, but that that wouldn't be a good idea since my cycles might restart at any time.  

Anyways, some time in the midst of this conversation I burst into tears and started sobbing hysterically (talk of the miscarriage in person does this to me... this likely confirmed her thoughts on the whole "anxiety about the miscarriage" thing).  I would have laughed when she said "You American women and crying..." if I hadn't been crying.

I am glad we found her, because she actually seems to have a firm grasp on how women's bodies work and that we can actually know things about them and our cycles.  When I said I've had two anovulatory cycles she didn't say:  "How can you possibly know that?"  She just nodded and made a note of it.  That's refreshing and I do feel blessed to have an OB and a GP that both understand how women's bodies work!

I am still getting blood work to check my thyroid, but she seems to think that everything, include the resting heart rate of 100-ish, is the result of stress from the miscarriage.

And so I guess now we wait and see.  At least she seemed to think that this should be very temporary.

I am ready to skip the next... oh... four or so weeks...  talk about anxiety.. I'm really dreading February 7th (the due date).  I'd like to fast forward past it... a couple of weeks.  I will just have to make sure we stay really, really busy that day...

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Answer to Yesterday's "Hazard a Guess?" post...

Most of you had an idea what I was holding in yesterdays "Hazard a Guess?" post.  I ended up holding back most of the responses (and publishing them this morning) after the first ten minutes because they were so overwhelmingly right, which makes me imagine than more than one of you would understand the acronym: POAS (which was actually the hint I gave along with the post on my facebook page).

First I'll clarify one thing:  I was not announcing that I have cancer (I'm guessing that answer was because of the snood?  If you'd like to read about headcovering, click here).  If I did have a horrible announcement of that sort it certainly wouldn't be in a picture with a smile, with my husband sneaking in and flexing.  But I digress... back to the original post:

The answer to the question is... 100 pregnancy tests.

Yes, 100.  I buy them in bulk from Amazon.  I usually only order 50 at a time, but since I've gone through 50 since October (that would be about 16 a month?  Ugh.) I decided to double this order and hope that I didn't have to order again until summer (or better yet, for like 2 years).  And as I mentioned, I'm really hoping that I'll be giving away at least half, if not like 99 of them (which would be the dream).  50 tests are $9.41.  I bought two packs (and the book Saint Catherine of Sienna by Sigrid Undset, which I've been wanting to order for months) to get the free Super Saver Shipping.

I have a pack of the blue ovulation tests too, but they just depress me, originally because they were hard to understand (the bottom line has to be darker than the top line, not just "there" like a pregnancy test for them to be "positive") and then later because they're blank all. the. time.  Completely blank.  Like not a drop of luteinizing hormone showing up.  Ever.

I should really be thrilled about the LH tests (not the blank part) because the package I ordered before my D&C did really speed things along (if anything that happened during the entire experience could have been called "speedy").

You see I'd wondered if, through everything that was going on, I could be ovulating, so I took the test and it came back positive. The next day I took another, because I'd found out about the whole "tests have to be super dark to be counted as positive" thing and wasn't sure if it had been dark enough.  This time the bottom strip was definitely darker than the top.  For some reason (this is where my addiction to taking tests comes in handy) I took another one the next day.  Still positive.  For a couple weeks it was positive.

I knew that was not how LH tests were supposed to work.  Which is what took me back to retaking a pregnancy test (I'd had 1 negative and thought I was done) and finding out it was still positive (everyday for weeks while I tried to find a doctor who would listen), which was the giant red flag (okay, first I was excited and thought maybe I was pregnant).

As we all know I wasn't and along with everything else that happened, it led to finding an NFP OB,  who immediately did the right tests, found the problem and ordered a D&C.  I think knowing that LH tests can come back positive if your pregnant is very good to know!

But back to the pregnancy tests (and the reason for giant quantity).

These past two months I've learned the meaning of the word "anovulatory."  It's not a fun word.  It had me on the verge of tears sometimes.  This month looks anovulatory, and when I actually thought back on last month, I'm pretty sure it was too.  Blank LH tests and about 10 days of my body "trying" to ovulate (I'll avoid being too graphic with too many details).

This means super long cycles and lots of time to test because the amount of time from when I "might" have ovulated is so far from when the next cycle starts.  And basically what it means, if you've never had it happen, is that from your bodies signals you think you've ovulated.  And then it signals (think Creighton method) that you've ovulated again.  And again.  And again.  If you've had an anovulatory cycle you know what's happening.  If you don't you spend a month baffled, wondering if you're body released 10 eggs, until you talk to a friend whose taken the Creighton class and explains what's going on and tries to calm your near hysterics (thank goodness for Martha!).

For those of you who've gone through this for any extended period of time:  I am so, so sorry.  It makes me a little crazy and it's only been two months.

I do wonder if it's linked to the Prometrium, because I did find various sites where women who'd taken it had an anovulatory cycle the next month.  But no one mentioned two (which had me right back in panic mode after briefly calming down) and there was a doctor who wrote in saying that it absolutely does not affect ovulation.

I am going back to my general practitioner today for the follow up to my cardiologist visit (my heart is 100% okay, with the exception of a resting heart-rate the went between 97-120 during the visit, which could point to a thyroid problem, but is within the range of "normal").  So I'm hoping I can convince her to refer me to my own OB, so that our insurance will cover the visit.  I'm a little worried, because any time I mention knowing anything about my cycle, the doctors I've gone to usually look at me like I'm insane, for example a response of: "How could you possibly know when you ovulated?!?!?!" in an annoyed tone.

And that, in one rather long post, is what's been going on.  I know I'm stressing out way more than I should and that I just need to relax (and I didn't even write the post I'd intended to write, which is about how much I hate buying pregnancy tests in stores, where the clerk more often than not acts like they feel sooooooo sorry for me... and it wasn't even the other post I intended to write about my lack of formal NFP training...).  But relaxing is easier said than done!  I doubt I'll get any answers today, but hopefully I can get a referral that sends us in the right direction (to my NaPro/NFP OB!).

Because frankly, I'm really ready to host that giveaway.  I don't think I've ever been more excited about the idea.