Monday, April 30, 2012


The doctor at the appointment today was a little shocked that I'd never been diagnosed with asthma before this afternoon's appointment.  Apparently having bronchitis from the age of 5 until adulthood, along with the bout of pneumonia was a giveaway (along with my "asthmatic cough").  He listened to my lungs for a long time, said that I have asthmatic bronchitis, and ordered a chest x-ray.

On the list on not great news, my throat was only mildly irritated, so it looks like the blood is coming from my lungs (I'm guessing that's why he wanted me to get a chest x-ray "right now").  The lab was closed by the time the appointment was out, however, so it looks like I will get to see my OB first tomorrow to talk to her about it... and then likely head over for the chest x-ray.  All that will be after Paul's Criminal Law final, which I'll be helping him study tonight (I have to say I liked helping him study for Civil Procedure much more because most of the answers were so much shorter on the flash cards).

And I have orders to go to the ER if it gets worse.  I'd really, really really rather that not happen.  I'm sick of the ER.

Hoping nothing dramatic happens to interfere with finals.  And hopefully the prescriptions he gave me will work!  At least they're starting to figure out what's going on.  Every time I leave the ER I feel like it's all in my head.

Four Pregnancies... Four Bumps...

One thing that happens as additional pregnancies come along, is that a woman's stomach muscles tend to give up the battle to stay put much, much more quickly.  And that's why, I just had to do this comparrision post, showing each of my pregnancies at 12 weeks.  

I remember taking this first picture (look, it's back when I wore jeans!  And I could fit into those jeans!) and I thought that I looked huge.  Really.  I clearly had no idea what "huge" was (I'd have a better idea right before I delivered a 9 lb baby, having had people ask if I was "almost done" since around 6 months because apparently I looked "ready to pop.").  So this is 12 weeks and pregnancy number 1.

During pregnancy #2 I did feel like I showed a lot earlier... and I do remember getting suspicious looks from little old ladies starting at around 7 weeks, so there much have been some truth to that... but I still think bump #2 looks way smaller at 12 weeks than bump #4 does.  I mean, I know this isn't the best picture (it just happens to be the one we took at 12 weeks) but I can hardly even see a bump!

Bump #3 was actually the largest of the bunch.  I'm not quite sure if that was a sign there was a problem or just how it turned out, but here's my last pregnancy at 12 weeks:

And lastly, the picture from my last post, Pregnancy #4 Bump at 12 weeks.  Strangely enough this bump does feel pretty tiny (I guess it's all relative at this point).  But this definitely shows the difference between a first and a fourth pregnancy!

12 Weeks!

I'm hopefully going to be able to get a doctor's appointment today with my regular doctor.  After coughing up blood all weekend (I feel like I'm an actor in my 19th century period piece... and we all know what happens to the person coughing up blood...) I started coughing up black stuff last night, which, if there had been any doubt about a doctor's appointment today, was pretty much the last straw.  I took my temperature and it was a balmy 96 degrees (It's been right around 99 for weeks)... which may explain why I'm cold all. the. time.

I did get to receive the Eucharist yesterday, with our priest bringing it over after Mass.  In the past (before we moved), Paul would bring communion to me when I was sick, and read from the little communion for the sick booklet, but the Latin form was absolutely beautiful, with Sadie kneeling in awe the entire time (she whispered "I'm not big enough yet" when I received communion) and Paul trying to keep Mae from... assisting... as she obsessed over the big golden bell that had been rung down the hallway on his way in, and then tried to steal our very understanding priest's keys.

Yesterday was definitely a step backwards from the "I think I might be feeling better, at least in the morning" days that had preceded this weekend.  It was the first day when I knew I was worse and not better.

And of course, as someone who's had pneumonia before, that's pretty much a fear every time I get a cold, which is kind of silly because when I had pneumonia I went from being fine to being very ill in about 12 hours time.  This, to me, doesn't feel like that (I remember that elephant on my chest feeling quite well).  Besides, it can't be pneumonia because Paul's finals start tomorrow (I'm really ready for my health to stop interfering with law school... surgery before midterms... coughing up blood before finals...  Can I be any more distracting?!?!?!).

We did manage to snap a 12 week picture yesterday.  I will feel infinitely better I think, after the ultrasound tomorrow.  12 weeks is when I began miscarrying last time (although our little one still had a heartbeat at 12 weeks) and  it's one bridge I will be more than happy to be passed in this pregnancy.

Sadie, had to pose with the baby in pretty much every single picture.  It took quite a bit of effort for Paul to snap one that was all bump.  Here I am at 12 weeks... so far I'm down two pounds from the start.  I imagine that will change rapidly once the flu (or whatever this is) is gone...

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Bae's Trouble Making Weekend

Mae Bae made multiple trips to the safety of her crib yesterday.  You see, she has this obsession of late, that's more than a little dangerous.  She knows she can't get past the outlet covers on the outlets that aren't being used.  But for several days she's been fixated on the outlets that are in use, attempting to grab cords, yank them out and then put them back in herself, while I make a mad dash across the room to grab her little hand, saying in "no!" as I move, which unfortunately, only seems to make her move faster.

She can quickly contort her little body to squeeze into tight places, reaching around corners that are a few inches wide, where plugs seemed so cleverly hidden just a few short months ago.  At one point I just sat next to a plug, which is behind a piece of furniture that she can just slide her arm past, and said no, and removed her from the area every time she made a plug pulling attempt.

She would throw herself on the ground dramatically, scream at the top of her lungs for sixty seconds and then try to convince me a seventy third time that it was really safe and I shouldn't worry about her.

A trip to sit in her crib would dissuade her for a good five minutes, and then she'd be scouting for another plug, hoping I wouldn't notice her inching closer and closer to the lamp and then sharing her outrage when I did.

Sadie would shake her head and say:  "Mae Bae is doing something naughty..." emphasizing the last word dramatically as if she couldn't believe what she was seeing.

I hope the outlet phase doesn't last long.

The "I hate toothbrushes" phase only lasted a week.  But it's going to be a long week if I'm dashing across the room every ten seconds hollering "no!!!!!!!!!!!"

I have to say that she is remarkably determined.  I'm sure this is a trait that's going to be wonderful later in life.  If I only I could re-direct it from the outlets right now...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

VBACs and "Choice"

You know what I think is strange?  That people across the country are outraged when they hear of legislation that would require a woman to look at an ultrasound picture of the life growing inside of her, an ultrasound that would already have had to be done for the doctor to see the baby, but that no one bats an eye when a huge number of hospitals in this country require that women have major abdominal surgery, undertaking far greater risks, because insurance companies have decided they like it better that way.

So it's a woman's right to decide whether or not to look at a picture that's already going to be taken, but it's not my choice to decide whether or not I want to have a surgeon cut into my uterus to remove my baby when there's no actual medical reason, to do so?

When we moved for Law School last year I had one very real hope for the immediate future and that was to move to an area where there existed a hospital that didn't have ridiculous "based on our insurance" VBAC policies, but instead actually based their policies on the health of the individual woman and the advice of her OB.

When Paul was accepted to Ave I immediately started googling Florida and VBACs and found that the area I was moving into was apparently just as bad as the one I was moving out of.  Every hospital I could find had either a formal or a de facto VBAC ban.  In California I could have driven four hours to get to a hospital that allowed VBACs.  Here it would be over a hundred miles north or east to find a hospital where it's "allowed."  The closest chapter of ICAN, according to their site is also over a hundred miles away, but I do plan on getting in touch with them.

With Mae I should have fought for a VBAC and I didn't because I still retained at tiny bit of trust and respect for hospitals and, despite the pretty horrible mistakes that were made during my previous labor (turning pitocin up, when the doctor said to turn it off, causing a contraction that lasted for an hour, after an emergency c-section had been ordered... to name one...), I still kind of believed they knew best.  Or at least had the best intentions.

I no longer believe that.  I've met individuals who I know devote their lives to helping people, doctors and nurses who are wonderful.  And I have a two page apology from one of the local hospitals about the incidents that occurred last April that basically says: "our contract workers really aren't our workers."  But the naivety that resulted in my last c-section is gone.  I'm no longer leaving my safety and health decisions in others hands.  You see, I've also met doctors who've endangered my life with their arrogance, so the blind trust has certainly disappeared.  I'm not going to do anything just because the hospital says it's best for them.

There's so much insanity surrounding VBAC policies.  When I went to the hospital the day before Mae was born, they sent me home.  I labored for hours at home, which seemed ridiculous since they were just going to make me do a c-section at the hospital.  And it sort of destroys the idea that they were so incredibly worried about my contractions rupturing my uterus, since they were okay with me having contractions and progressing at home, and told me to wait until I was far enough along to go into the hospital (I was 3 cm the first time I was sent home... my c-section was scheduled for three days later...).

And as for dangerous, what's going to be more dangerous, trying a VBAC after one or two c-sections, or having c-section after c-section since our family is open to life?  While I have no idea how long I'll be fertile, at thirty, it is possible that I have quite a few years left, just as it's possible that this is it.  We have averaged a baby every two years since we've been married.  Would they rather risk seven c-sections, or a VBAC after two?  I have a feeling that one is much more dangerous than the other.

But the hospitals and their insurance companies, often seem to only care about the risks right in this moment, at the expense of the individual's long term well being.

I'm really hoping for a VBAC this time.  If there's a medical reason for another c-section than I'll have one, but I'm not having one because the hospitals insurer prefers it that way.  I've heard that my doctor does VBACs, and I'm planning on asking what she thinks at my next appointment (all my other appointments have been about some scare or another and I always forget to bring it up!).  Does she do VBA2Cs?

I sure hope so...

I'm also thinking of trying hypno-babies since the nurses at the hospital did go out of their way to try to terrify me about VBACs during my miscarriage (isn't that sweet?).  So if anyone has any experiences with that program I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, April 27, 2012


I saw the restricted number on my phone and knew instantly that it would be my doctor on the other end.  I bet she's finally calling me back to okay the medications, I thought as I picked it up, thinking as I said hello that it was a bit odd that she wasn't just waiting until my appointment this afternoon.

Then I heard the words that there was an emergency and my appointment was cancelled and that she'd reschedule for next week (Tuesday at 2pm to be exact).


I tried.  I really did.  "So," I said hoping for a good answer, "does this mean that I'm still on bed rest until Tuesday."  She explained that she couldn't let me off bed rest until she examined me.  "Because, I continued, I'm really hoping you're going to say I'm off when I see you."  She agreed she was hoping that too.  We ended the conversation when she confirmed that she also couldn't tell me over the phone that it was okay to fly back to California in a few weeks until she's seen me (mom was really hoping to purchase tickets after the appointment...).


After I got off the phone I attempted to convince Paul that I was okay to go out and get lunch.  I was really ready to suggest anything that might get me out of the house for half an hour and I thought sitting down a getting a quick lunch might be a possibility (I think bed rest just became more difficult because I'd spent the last week fixating on leaving the house for the ultrasound and appointment this afternoon... It was the goal during all that laying and doing nothing.  And now it's just a little further away...).  He reminded me that I was coughing up blood last night and that going out in pubic probably wasn't the best idea (the flu seems gone.  The evil cough remains, although they tell me the blood is just from my poor throat being ravaged from all the sickness symptoms... and the never ending coughing...).  I tried to convince him the cough was way better this morning, and I honestly believed it until a coughing fit in the middle of my words destroyed the argument.

So Tuesday it is.  Four more days of bed rest...  Sunday #3 without Mass.  This will definitely be the longest I've gone since converting without receiving...

7 Quick Takes Friday: My First!


Yesterday was the last day of Paul's classes for his first year of law school!  I didn't even realize that until he told me (reminded?  I'm sure he's mentioned it before...) in the morning before he left for class.  I cannot believe how quickly that went by (while at the same time feeling like shouting: "Will this ever be over?!?!?!  When will we see you again?!?!?!?!" pretty much every week since August.).  And when I think that by the time the New Baby is Mae's age he will have graduated, it makes it feel like time is soaring by.


There is one thing that arrived in the mail last week that I desperately wish I had ordered eight months ago.  Actually, I should have registered for in when I was pregnant with Sadie and taken it with me on every vacation and trip.  After reading the mixed reviews on Amazon, that showed that not everyone realizes the greatness of this device, I was a little nervous about ordering it, but upon setting it up I am confident that it is going to make my weekends much, much more peaceful over the next couple years.  Here it is:

It can drowned out the sound of late night party goers tromping by the girls bedroom, cups in hand (for some reason that particular wall is the only one in the house that appears to have no sound proofing qualities whatsoever).  It can drowned out people celebrating (or mourning) the Alabama/LSU game.  And it will hopefully cut out the sound of the large metal door one floor down slamming over and over again on Saturday nights.  I should have bought a white noise maker years ago.


I have ruined Mae Bae's greatest joy in life.  Here's what it was:

She would go into the kitchen, open the locked dishwasher and attempt to remove all the cups and utensils.  We've been locked in battle over that particular little problem since before we moved to Florida (she loved Nani and Grumpa's dishwasher too).  I'd stop her four or five times on an average day.

I finally saw some dishwasher locks for less than $5 at Target and bought them, rejoicing.  And then of course I promptly forgot about them.  Until I found Mae in the kitchen, on the dishwasher, jumping up and down on the open door, while trying to swipe things she couldn't reach of the counter.

They are now installed and have thwarted Mae's dishwasher joy.  Life is much, much easier when I'm not closing that thing and standing in front of it constantly.  Mae Bae doesn't agree.


I posted this on the blog facebook page, but for those of you who missed the Sadie Quote Cuteness, we had this conversation yesterday:

Sadie: "How big's the baby Mommy? Is it this big?" (makes baby sized motion with her fingers)
Me: "Mmmhmmm."
Sadie: "is the baby ready to come out?"
Me: "Nope."
Sadie: "Oh, I give up!"

She's going to have a hard time waiting until November...  Then again, I guess a lot of us are having a hard time waiting for November (for non-baby political reasons!)!


I was very disappointed in my husband last night when he arrived home early from studying and said that he did not, in fact, want to watch Doctor Who with me.  I raised my eyebrows.  There may have been pouting.  It wasn't pretty and I'm not proud of it, but about ten minutes earlier I'd been thinking: "Well, I probably won't see him for the next two weeks with finals... At least I can catch up on watching Doctor Who..."  Thirteen Days of Bed Rest (yes I'm counting like a prisoner) have not necessarily brought out the best in me 100% of the time.

It was worse because not only did he not want to watch Doctor Who, but he was demanding custody of the TV remote to turn off my episode, just before we found out if the red eyed Ood were going to kill everyone.  After failing to find anything that looked good on Hulu or Netflix, Doctor Who was restored and he went to study (which is, let's face it, what needed to be happening anyways).  I thought I had him hooked after he watched the episdoe "Blink."  I guess he's just not as nerdy as I thought...

Photo from Wikipedia


I've been writing and not just for my blog!  This has been one good thing that has come from sitting on the couch all day, watching the girls play.  I found a notebook (for some reason, I think I do better with first drafts by hand) and started filling it up.

For those of you who don't know how neurotic I am about my writing, I've finished two novels, one of which is not printed and the other which has some fifteen manuscripts sitting on the top shelf of a closet in California, never to see the light of day.  Those are my practice novels.  Maybe this one will be worthy of not being stashed away forever and ever.  

Paul pointed out that I'm a little crazy when it comes to my writing and won't ever think anything is good enough.  I guess we'll see...


It's finally Friday, April 27th.  Which means today is my OB appointment.  I'm a little nervous.  So much has gone on and I've been stressing over whether there will be a heartbeat and whether everything will be okay.  12 weeks is where we caught the problem last time, with the slow heart rate, and today I am 11 weeks and 5 days.  I think if we just get through this appointment and everything is normal I might actually begin to relax a tiny bit.  At least I hope I will.  

The second wish after the strong heartbeat, is to hear the doctor say:  "Every thing's great!  Of course you're off bed rest!  Travel? Oh that won't be a problem at all!  You'll be fine!  Enjoy your summer!"  So I can actually clean the apartment and make plans for the next three months.  Here's hoping for a happy update later today!

And that is the very first time I've joined in the Seven Quick Takes fun!  Thanks to Jen for hosting!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Revamping NFP? Yea or Nea?

I think that this is it.  I've turned the corner.  Last night was not as horrible as I imagined and I'm hoping this is actually the end of the flu or whatever virus has struck our house.  Now if I could just get rid of this cough.  Sadie was cuddling with me after sneaking into bed with me in the early morning and after hearing me cough a few times she got up and went back to her own bed without saying a word.  The sound is apparently that annoying.  But I promised I wasn't going to write about being sick for the half dozenth time this week.

And I've been thinking about writing a NFP post, partially because it's what all the cool kids are doing right now, and partially because even if my recovering brain doesn't nail the subject, I know there are awesome brand-new links out there that might just carry the post along that I've been wanting to share with all of you since yesterday when I was trying not to sleep.

First I'll give you a few of the highlights from the recent NFP links I've been reading.  It was pretty late last night when I stumbled across Martha's latest post (I'll admit, I stalk her blog, waiting for her to post something new and refraining from posting comments in the combox like: "Hey, post something new!  If we can't get together for tea this week because I don't want to send you to the ER with this flu, you have to at least write an another awesome blog post to distract me for ten minutes!").  The first time I met Martha we were involved in a discussion about NFP.  Now anywhere else in the world that would sound unusual, but not in our little community here in Southern Florida.  Here it's not all that unusual that it comes up in casual conversations as a topic (or even in a discussion in a group), which sounds kind of funny when you really think about it.

The next post is from another favorite blogger, Calah Alexander.  Now Calah's post would have made it into the round up just because of the Doctor Who reference, but it's an honest and awesome post apart from that, all on it's own.  It's refreshing to read in a corner of the online world where it can sometimes seem that NFP is perpetually viewed through rose colored glasses.

JoAnna's post reminded me of sitting in my hairdressers chair, back before I decided to hand the scissors over to Paul and save myself some prying (immediately before), a proud new mom, with a cuddly pink baby.  The woman, who I'd been going to for a couple of years, asked immediately what method of birth control we used and when I said we didn't use birth control, we used NFP, in a nervous, wow, I don't want to be talking about this with you, sort of way, said loudly, "Oh the rhythm method."  She then looked skeptical as I tried to explain temperatures and that it's actually quite scientific and reliable.  Of course, it's rather disappointing when major universities decide to use the same word of mouth description from decades ago, since we'd all like to believe we can expect a teensy bit more and Cornell at the very least should know better.

Now that I've given you three awesome blog links about NFP I'll share my own muddled at-the-moment thoughts.

I've had mixed feelings these last months as NFP has been thrust into the public eye, but I'll begin with a few disclaimers.  When I'm talking about NFP, as it's come up in the public discourse, I'm not talking about couples who are using it to try to achieve pregnancy.  I think that's one of the greatest aspect about NFP and that it's praise in helping many couples with infertility problems should be shouted from the mountain tops.  I can't even imagine questioning using it to help bring a new life into the world.  Using knowledge of when your fertile to help along a complicated process just makes sense.  And being able to gather knowledge of what's going on with your body so that problems can be pinpointed and diagnosed is another wonderful NFP aspect.

But that's not how NFP has come up in the media of late.  It's branded the form of birth control that's okay for Catholics, generally with a bit of eye rolling and the attitude of "when will they join the 21st century?"

The Catholic response has been impressive.  There've been blogs on mainstream media sites attempting to make NFP hip and modern, "sexy" even, because heaven help us, we seem to think we need to make the truth "sexy" in order to sell it.  Thus begins my problem with the tactics I've seen lately.

In the past I disliked the way NFP promoters I would read online pushed "NFP as 99% effecting!  That's better than any other type of birth control!" because I felt like they were missing the point and basically selling NFP as another form of contraception.

In these later cases I dislike the way everything has to be made overtly sexual, otherwise we're afraid that it won't draw people in.  Do we that we have to be like that commercial where women are in a store looking hip and picking out their lives, with a trip to Paris and a beautiful home?  Are we afraid that the truth, that this is right and good and beautiful, won't be enough?

I'm not saying there shouldn't be a modernizing of pamphlets and books if they're outdated.  I can't really say because my NFP book, didn't have any pictures at all.  It was green with a colorful stripe down the middle.  It wasn't the coolest looking book on my shelf, but you can bet I poured over it, because the information inside of it was pretty awesome and I was amazed that a woman could know all those things about her fertility.

Then again, in the interest of being honest, I'd be thrilled if we never used NFP again to avoid pregnancy.  That's the plan and short of some catastrophic event I hope we're able to stick to it.  I have used NFP and while I think there are some great points, I'm also happy that my husband and I are on the same page when it comes to our understanding of "serious" as it applies to us.

And I guess that's what I wish was stressed more about NFP: that you don't have to use it!  Yes, it's useful to know.  But it's not supposed to be the default.  We're really supposed to evaluate whether we have serious reasons or not.  And that's something that the mainstream media's articles on this form of "Catholic okayed birth control" will likely never understand, because it's an entirely different sort of mentality.  Maybe if our culture regained it's understanding of life as a blessing, they'd be one step closer to understanding the Churches teachings on sexuality.  As it is I don't think we'll bridge the divide by making NFP "sexy."  Because while it's many things, it's not going to pass the Cosmo test of doing what I want to do when I want to do it because I feel like it.

But just in case I'll throw in some pictures of me trying not to look frumpy.  I wouldn't want to hurt the cause (eyeroll)... sorry I just think some of the arguments I've heard lately are beyond ridiculous... and if you're endangering your soul solely because you're afraid of how you might someday look, than you might seriously want to recheck your priorities.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An Update (yuck)

I'm avoiding going to sleep right now.  It's been three nights since this bizarre night time sickness started (because before it was just plain all the time flu) and I know that roughly half an hour after I fall asleep I'm going to wake up and be very, very sick.  And after being violently ill I'll be okay for roughly four hours until I wake up at three something and am sick again.  Then I'll wake up in the morning try to eat a Popsicle because honestly, I'm starving and nothing sounds good and instantly be sick again, because that's just how it is now.

That's the new schedule and I have to say:  I don't like it.

I broke down and went to the ER this morning.  First I called my OB and she said general practitioner or ER (it's the whole vomiting blood thing that tends to generate that response).  When my general practitioner's office wasn't picking up the phone, I left the apartment for the first time in twelve days and drove to the hospital, feeling very much like an idiot for showing up for the ninth time in nine months.  I felt more ridiculous checking in for the flu.  Who goes the the ER for the flu, even if they can't keep a single sip of water down?  Not me, I'd told myself less than twelve hours earlier.  And yet there I was.

Everyone was nice, although conflicted about how sick I was.  One nurse told me I didn't look sick enough for them to worry about dehydration yet.  Another appeared and asked if there was anything he could get me because I looked pretty horrible.  I tended to agree with him, since I have caught my reflection in the mirror of late, and half the time the only color that fits is green.  I actually look green.

They took my blood pressure, noted that I had a fever and a pulse of 100, gave me two prescriptions for nausea, said it's probably not an ulcer, and sent me on my way.  No tests of any kind were done.  I can't take the medicine until I get a hold of my OB, per the doctor's orders and since that was a fail (it's only easy to get a hold of her in the morning) I'm thinking it's going to be another long night.   

I have to say, being told I probably don't have an ulcer, when I've had ulcers on and off for over a decade and can tell pretty early on when one is flaring up, is rather annoying (I am 99.999% sure after this morning).  It happened when I was pregnant with Sadie too.  Everyone assumes the bleeding must be from a raw throat from morning sickness and instantly rules out an ulcer.  And apparently explaining the horrid, searing acid sensation doesn't get you anywhere.  Because there's a preconceived idea that it's the pregnancy and not anything else.

So I'm avoiding going to sleep.  Because I've decided to cling to the slightly delusional dream that staying awake will mean not getting sick.  It's bound to fail though.  My eyes are already feeling heavy.

I might as well just get this over with and close my eyes...

Who knows, maybe last night was the last night of the flu and I'll wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed tomorrow.

And tomorrow I'll try even harder to write an actual post about something other than being sick.  Being sick is getting more than a little boring.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On a More Lighthearted Note..

I should have realized that something was up, when the large male mourning dove began attacking Mae Bae through the window.  She was sitting on this storage/window seat that I got for my birthday in her pink fleece penguin pajamas and a bird swooped down and tried to come through the window just above her head.

At first I thought it must have been a mistake but then he started laying siege to our windows, one by one, circling the apartment frantically.  Paul was finishing up the dishes and I pointed the crazy bird out to Sadie while Mae continued to play, completely oblivious.

Paul came in to see what the commotion was about, and he was the first one to spot the little bird on the ledge.  A larger bird landed next to it (quickly labeled "the Mommy") and they began to huddle together on the ledge.

The larger bird continued to make occasional appearances as it circled around the windows, finally landing on another part of the ledge.

Our guess is that the little bird was resting after it's first flying lesson and was resting before trying again.  After half an hour all the birds were still there.  Fifteen minutes after that they'd all disappeared (so hopefully baby bird, who was flapping his wings quite a bit, finally flew!).

Sadie loved to watch them from a distance (and after the Mom gave her a look through the window she stayed quite a ways back!).

Now on to a totally unrelated story.  I had Paul cut my hair today.  I even pulled out my only-used-for-sewing scissors.  We agreed on just below the shoulders.  But apparently using actual sharp scissors took some adjusting to.  Which related in my hair getting shorter and shorter.  About half a foot later I had shoulder length hair that suddenly, freed of it's own weight, began to curl quite a bit (although you can't really tell in this picture!).

The new volume, combined with the humidity, doesn't seem to be a good thing.  But the new shorter cut is definitely more manageable!

An Update from the Couch

I've been going back and forth over whether or not to write this post, or how to write this post, because honestly I need to post about something other than whining and I feel like I may have reached my whining quota for the month of April sometime a week or so ago (so I'm going to try to write another post after this one, that isn't pathetic or whiny... feel free to skip straight to that post once it's up!).  Then again, I'm not sure how much of that complaining has been external here on the blog and how much of it has managed to stay in my head (or has just been taken out on poor Paul who's trying to get ready for finals).

I have very grand ideas when it comes to "offering it up."  I always have an idea of prayers and intentions during labor and I always fall way, way short.  But the flu?  It's not labor.  It's not even close to labor.  You'd think I'd at least be able to manage that.

But no.  I can manage it for an uncomfortable five minutes on and off.  Like if I'm bundled on the couch not moving.  Then I just end up thinking about how much I hate being sick.

Anyways so last night would have been one of those awesome offering it up nights.  If you're squeamish you may want to skip the rest of this post because it involves blood, although not miscarriage type blood, thank heavens.

I didn't call the doctor yesterday because I woke up feeling slightly better.  Not a lot but a teeny, tiny bit.  And I thought that I was likely on the upswing, and going to my regular doctor would be silly and I'm waiting until Friday to see my OB, so I might as well just wait until then if I'm getting better.  At least that was the logic that convinced me not to call my primary care doctor yesterday after a week of the flu.

Instead I found myself vomiting blood at 10:47 pm, while Sadie and Mae, who happened to wake up at exactly that moment, began to scream together, hysterically (I can't even remember the last time that happened!!!).  It wasn't a lot of blood and it wasn't particularly scary to me.  I have an ulcer that has come and gone over the years since college.  When I was pregnant with Sadie I was throwing up blood clots the size of quarters.  These were teeny tiny baby blood clots, followed by a slightly bloody nose that led me to believe this might not even be my ulcer, but the result of blood from my nose going into my stomach when I was asleep (or however that would work).  I called Paul at 11:22, because he was still studying in the library, with the girls still crying although I'd been in their room for quite a while, because Sadie was worried that I was sick and worried about the baby (the kid misses nothing, despite my explanations that it's just the flu...) when I realized I just needed to hang out in the bathroom for a while.

He heard the words "vomiting blood" and wanted me to go to the ER.  I rolled my eyes and said no way.  I've been to the hospital eight times in the last nine months.  At this point I think I'd have to have some sort of a broken or dangling limb to cause me to go voluntarily, unless my doctor is actually sending me (or have a baby related problem... see I'm just not good at going in for me!).

I didn't end up going.  Although after another day of the flu I'm guessing I should call my regular doctor and OB tomorrow and let them know what's going on...

Thankfully the days aren't bad.  I feel okay in the mornings when the girls play.  I start to crash in the afternoons when Paul gets home (how can you crash when you've been laying down all day?!?!?!).  And then I get sick at night which usually isn't bad, unless both girls for some reason wake up, creating the perfect storm.

And so that's the latest bed rest update.  Since the flu seems to be dragging on it looks like I'm going to get another shot at offering it up.  Maybe this time I'll do better!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Crafts from the Couch: Smocking

I'm starting a new series that I'm really hoping will be one short week long, with one, or maybe two instalments (in which case it won't be a series at all!).  But on the off chance my couch time is extended beyond this week, I thought, I might as well start now.  

I've been trying to keep busy during the days, especially when the girls are off playing princesses (or pirates) on their own, which gives me quite a bit of crafting couch time since I can't really be up cleaning and doing what I'd normally be doing.  This weekend I decided to try hand smocking.  And so I began googling and discovered one thing:

It's really hard to find anything about smocking that doesn't include the words "pleater" or "iron on dots."  Since I had no intention of beginning my foray into smocking with a $300 pleater and since the chances of sending Paul (successfully) out for "iron on dots" sounded rather unlikely, and since I knew there had to be another way to do this, since smocking surely predates both iron on dots and pleaters, I finally googled "smocking without a pleater or iron on dots" and found exactly what I was looking for.  

After a nap time hour of studying this post I was ready to give hand pleating a try.  I carefully drew my pleating graph on a practice piece of muslin and then stitched the pleating lines.  Unfortunately by the time I was done stitching nap time was ended, and a run in with Mae Bae meant that the pressed piece of muslin, was no longer pressed.  Alas.  At least it made it through the graphing process unwrinkled.

Here's a view of the front of the fabric, with it's tiny, orderly stitches just ready to be gathered into pleats!

And because I was so proud of the graph when it was done, a close up!

Then I pulled the strings and, voila, a pleated piece of fabric!  Without a pleater!  Or iron on dots!

I waited until yesterday to begin smocking.  I kind of followed the same brilliant bloggers second tutorial (I'm so horrible at not going off and doing my own thing... even when I'm just learning...).  I started out having a little problem with sewing in a straight line.  And with keeping my lines the same length.  But this is a practice piece of fabric.  And by the end things were looking pretty good for a first try!

Once all the stitches were in place I snapped one last picture, then it was time for the big reveal.  I was a little nervous.  Had it worked?  Would it stretch?  Had I pulled the stitches too tight so they would just sit there?

I carefully clipped the pleat strings and gently tugged at the fabric:

And it was smocked!  I could actually pull quite a bit further out, but it was difficult to pull it with one hand and take a picture with the other!


I think smocking could definitely be addictive...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The View from the Couch

Having the flu while on bed rest has made me realize that just being on bed rest won't be that bad minus the flu... of course I doubt I'll feel that way if bed rest lasts for any length of time (we're on day 8 since I've left the apartment for those of you who are counting along).  However I did snap quite a few pictures today and I just had to share.

Sadie woke up in the middle of the night last night to tend to her baby dolls.  I had to tell both of them to go to bed, and even then there was quite a lot of baby swaddling going on as Sadie tried to swaddle the baby in the blanket she was wrapped in.  

Mae Bae did her best to stay away from all the dolls and the swaddling that was going on across the room:

Of course she couldn't avoid her sister's baby cuddling gaze for long and Sadie swooped down when he eyes were closed to give her a quick cuddle.

And a kiss...

From the window seat Sadie has a view of the street below.  And of course she was already in her second princess dress of the day:

Here you can see the full wreckage that was our living room.  Paul actually cleaned the living room yesterday, complete with vacuumed floors... but clean rooms don't last long around here, especially when Mommy's on bed rest.

Sometimes when your on the couch, a red scarf wearing Mae attacks:

She indignant about all attempts to remove said scarf:

Even for a kiss!

When Daddy comes home for a break from studying, the fun begins!

Daddy even snapped a few pictures:

It's tough to get pictures of Mae when her sister is diving in front of the camera:

And sometimes the girls overwhelm Daddy!

What a day!  And can you believe that the pajamas that Mae is wearing are a size 6?!?!

She's getting so big!

And so that is the view today from the couch... And looking through the pictures (all taken today) I realize how many times my girls insist on changing on a given day (I don't think I even got all the outfits photographed, they change so quickly!)!

Book Review: The Essential Lenten Handbook

If you're like me there are certain years when Lent starts and you feel less than prepared to begin this time of preparation.  Particular years stand out when despite giving Lent weeks of thought before hand I still feel like my efforts fell short or missed the mark.  The Essential Lenten Handbook is absolutely essential for those years (as well as being great for those other years when you feel a bit more "on track"). It's filled with traditional and modern practices and prayers that will enrich your spiritual journey and that help each individual put as much into their Lenten progression as they are able each year.

The first chapter explains the different ways one can use this book in their spiritual preparations for Easter.  Three models are given: The Traditional Model, which includes repetition as a useful part of your spiritual preparations, The Contemporary Model, which uses the Word of God, guided by the liturgical calendar as a starting point for your spiritual preparations and the Family Model, in which the family agrees to share their spiritual preparations together (even if they use different models individually).  I was surprised when the contemporary model was actually the most appealing to me (although I'd love to convince my whole family to take part in the family model when Paul isn't insanely busy with Law School and the girls are a bit older!  I had a feeling suggesting adding anything to his schedule wouldn't be looked on kindly during his year as an L1!).  

The second section of the book was one I read twice, once before Lent began and then again during Lent.  It talks about the meaning of Lent and gives a short history of Lenten preparations.  Explanations on everything from the scrutinies to the traditions acts of prayer, fasting and alms giving are given, along with a more in depth explanation of penitential living, which is reinforced with key references to scripture, particularly focusing on penitence in the psalms.  

After deepening our understanding of the history of Lent and the importance of penitence, you're ready to move forward into the sections on the practices of Lent and implement them in your own Lenten journey, using whichever model you originally decided on as a guide.  Saint Alphonsus Liguori's Way of the Cross is given in the Traditional Practices section, along with a Family Centered Way of the Cross during which the Stations are reflected on with brief, simple prayers over the course of the weeks of Lent in the Contemporary Section (so you meditate on each station for several days before moving on to the next on).  

The Traditional Method also includes Saint Alphonsus Liguori's Lenten Meditations, a section on Lenten Reconciliation Services, a Traditional Examination of Conscience that leads the penitent through each of the ten commandments to help them understand more fully what each commandment entails, a section on visiting the Most Blessed Sacrament and the Little Chaplet of the Five Wounds of Jesus Crucified.  It also includes Saint Alphonsus Liguori's Rule of Life, to help us structure our days, which includes everything from praying as soon as we wake in the morning, to visiting the Blessed Sacrament daily and daily time devoted to spiritual reading (along with much, much more!).  And of course, this section is filled with traditional prayers to be prayed on your Lenten Journey.

A section on Lenten Family Graces includes special prayers and suggested additional scripture readings for Ash Wednesday, the Fridays in Lent, the Triduum and Easter Sunday (my goal for next year will include following this section together as a family, no matter how busy everyone is!).  As in  the traditional section there are plenty of modern prayers that accompany the Contemporary model.

Much of the book is devoted to daily meditations that I was excited to discover match the liturgical cycle of the year (it took me a few moments to realize that the meditations matched the cycle as I excitedly opened to this section and began immediately looking for the daily meditation, without reading the instructions!  I did realize that first night that there were cycles however, which is a step in the right direction for someone with my flaw of skimming instructions to get to the meat of the activity!).  

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who's looking to deepen their understanding of Lent and their experience of penitential living as they prepare their hearts for the resurrection of Our Lord at Easter.  One of the most wonderful things about it is that you can put differing levels of effort into your Lenten journey, by adding and incorporating prayers and practices that may someday be remembered as family traditions.  It's packed with information and I know that I will be able to read it year after year, while still learning and growing and discovering new sources of inspiration.

This review was written as part of a Catholic book review program as a Tiber River Reviewer!  I was provided with a copy of The Essential Lenten Handbook in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The First (and hopefully only?) Week of Bed Rest

Bed rest has gone more smoothly than I expected.  The last time I stepped outside our door was a week ago this morning, and surprisingly I'm not going as stir crazy as I expected (resignation? or maybe because I'm trying to keep my hands busy when I'm sitting still watching the girls? or more likely at this point, that I cannot stop coughing long enough to think about leaving the living room...).

I expected Sadie and Mae, who are used to mornings outdoor with trips to the park, to have a harder time with out confinement.  But they've both been relishing the extra cuddle time, although their have been brief struggles over how we're all going to fit together on the couch, with a rather long hour yesterday where they both had be on my lap, under one of my scarves, giggling hysterically at each other while I made sure they didn't topple off the couch.

During nap time earlier this week Sadie decided she needed to have a talk with the new baby.  She's asking every day if the baby is finally big enough to come out and play and I finally suggested she talk with the baby about what it would be like when the baby got here.  I gave her a few suggestions ("Why don't you tell the baby about our family?  Will the baby have sisters?  And a Mommy and a Daddy?").  Sadie began to chat and suddenly the talk turned to Mae Bae.  I can't remember exactly what she said but it seemed to imply that things would be different for this baby, because we already have a baby right now (with her tone implying that the baby that we have is pretty wild).

I reminded her that she was younger than Mae Bae will be when the new baby was born by several months, but she didn't seem to believe that that was possible.  Although frequently when Mae Bae does something naughty, like pull all of the DVDs out of their cabinet and attempt to remove them from their cases so she can use them as Frisbees (I'm just guessing her plot because I never let it get that far), Sadie will look at me, shake her head and say:  "When I was a baby I used to do that too" which in fact is true.

I did have a major success with Mae Bae this week, despite the fact that it was the result of a questionable parenting tactic.  Mae was trying to remove all of the water from the bathtub and spread it across the bathtub floor with giant splashes.  I'd tried everything short of taking her out to stop her and nothing was working.  Exasperated I finally said:  "If you don't stop splashing I'll..."  glancing around and seeing the tooth brush... "brush your teeth."  I realized as I said it that using something we've been working on as a good thing (although that we'd seldom get through without hysterical screaming) was probably not the best idea, but Mae paused to watch me.  I got the My Little Pony toothpaste and put it on her brush as she began to splash again, undeterred.

And so I brushed her teeth.  And she sat perfectly still and let me, and then laughed.  Because when she's in trouble and I tell her not to do something, she tends to laugh in response.  The next night I decided to try brushing in the bathtub again and again she sat still and let me.  Last night she went and got the toothbrush and handed it to me and then handed it back to me when I was done and opened her mouth so I could brush even more.

At least some good came of the giant splashing episode!

Maybe Sadie's on to something.  Mae Bae's likely to be the big sister teaching the baby to climb up the pushed in chairs to get on top of the table to dance around in their sleepers...