Monday, June 30, 2014

AMT {Vol 10}

This week I'm only 1 day late!  Mostly because I'm procrastinating on folding the next load of laundry.

Linking up with Kendra for Answer Me This!

1.  How often do you take public transportation?

Just a little more than never.  When we travel to cities with trains, we usually make use of them.  Once I used a train to go visit my brother's family across the country.  That was a very long trip.  Lots of flooding re-routed half the trains in the country to our route and we ended up spending something like 10 extra hours on the train.  After that, we drove the 17 hours to visit, usually all in one day, and it was better than that train ride.

2.  How many cousins do you have?

Eight on my mother's side and three on my father's side.  Eleven cousins, but I have eight siblings, so my cousins have a lot more cousins than I do :)

My dad's side of the family

3.  Have you ever fired a gun?

Yes.  For the first time this summer.  I'm actually pretty good with a handgun.  The shotgun was much trickier.

Getting some tips

4.  Do you ride roller coasters?

Yes.  I love roller coasters.  Spinning is something I could do without, but the roller coasters are my friend. 

About to go for a roller coaster ride!

5.  What's you favorite flower?

Lilacs.  I love lilacs.  Their smell is unparalleled and they remind me of my childhood.

6.  Are you allergic to anything?

Bee stings and ragweed.  Seasonal allergies are the pits.  Local, raw honey is doing wonders.  The irony that I'm allergic to bee stings and their honey is helping me with the pollen is not lost on me :)

So.  Much.  Help.

Beating Back the Dark

Reading through my drafts folder, I found this post I'd never published.

I wanted to share this now for everyone who is grieving.

This was a hard place for me to be.  Life without Sweet Baby is still hard, but visits have become a once or twice a month regular part of our lives now.  We take her and her younger bio sister for the weekend and give her dad a break.  It is time we treasure, but sometimes it is still hard.  When she calls me "Mommy", when she says she doesn't want to go home, those are hard moments.

But, overall, I feel so incredibly blessed to have been her mother even for the short time I had.  Read more thoughts on how truly worth the heartache she was here.

For all those walking in the darkness, seek support, seek help, seek joy.  Finding little bits of joy helped bring me back to life.  Working on my hormone imbalance with a doctor made an immeasurable difference in my recovery.  However you find your way back, seek the joy and know you have my prayers. 

And now, the unedited pain of April 2014:

I haven't talked about Sweet Baby lately.  Because it's hard and it hurts.  Her bio-family is at liberty to choose whatever level of communication/contact they care to maintain.  I have no great certainty that I'll ever see her again.  But I've been in this spot before and seen her again, so I know there's no way to calibrate my expectations.  I will see her or I won't.  I have no control.  I hate this space.

Just when I think I've grown as much as I possibly could be expected to, I look up to realize I haven't come so far internally.  I have to practice something painfully difficult - detachment.  I have to detach from the desires of what I wanted for her life and ours and give that offering to God.  I have to trust that there is plan and purpose here. 

About two weeks ago, I was having a moment where everything seemed too much.  I was still suffering so much over the loss of our child that I was frozen in place.  I cycled through grief, anger, and depression.  I could feel no lessening of that great burden.  I woke up everyday knowing a member of my family was out in the world wondering why I'd left her with someone me when I say that'll pull the plug on any productivity you might have thought you had.

My everyday joy has been in a quagmire of grief.  Two weeks ago, I found the grace to make a change.

I'd known for about six weeks that I was in a place I couldn't stay.  I had to stop recoiling from life at every turn.  I had to stop retreating beyond the reaches of my daily life.

I had to stop the sad.  The deep, aching, unable-to-get-anything-accomplished sadness.  Since we are trying to conceive, I didn't want to go the route of anti-depressants.  Had I felt they were necessary at any time, we would've delayed conceiving to get me back to me, but I still had enough clarity to know that I was depressed.  Maybe a functional depressed person, but I knew the joy was gone.

I've been trying to get back out of the dark place basically since I got there after Christmas.  I've been focused on working out or maintaining the house, but I wasn't finding joy.

Two weeks ago, inspiration struck.  I am sad at the loss of my child.  I need to focus on reveling in my children.  Not just making it through the day with them, but looking for ways to bring them joy.

So, we signed up for Mommy & Me gymnastics for SP and me and Tumbling for LB.  It's been a little thing, but it seems to be the start of a ball rolling.  Spring is begrudgingly making itself known in these parts and the sun is shining again.

I won't be my old self when I'm finally back to full speed.  I'll always be someone different than I was before SB.  But maybe, little thing by little thing, I'll work my way back to happy.

A baby in a leotard and leggings is a sure fire pick-me-up :)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

{AMT} #35K4SMA Edition

Last week, Kelly sent out the call for us all to join her in #35K4SMA, her running campaign to raise money and awareness for families affected by Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
SMA Logo_tshirt FRONT

Kelly has been dedicating this year to running 5Ks to raise money and awareness.  Last week, she asked us all to join her. 

Last week, I knew I would run a 5K to help raise money/awareness, but I didn't know I would be doing it with one special baby in mind.

This week, a woman I've known since high school (she's beautiful, faith-filled, just all-around-lovely) found out that her infant son (4 months) has Type 1 SMA.  This is the worst possible level of SMA and he is on the weak end of even this spectrum.  In short, this sweet 4 month old is dying, quickly.  He has just a few months left to live.

His mother works full-time while his father is a SAHD.  The extended family has set up a fundraiser to allow his mother to afford to spend the final months of his life with him.

If you haven't made your SMA donation yet to one of the great places mentioned by Kelly, please consider contributing to this fund. (Or do both!)

The family could use the money, they really could.  But, they absolutely need your prayers.  Please pray that the final moments with baby Isaac be full of grace and beautiful memories.  Please pray that baby Isaac becomes well enough to leave the hospital and spend his final time at home.  Please pray that baby Isaac be miraculously healed.  Fulton Sheen needs another miracle, and he's demonstrated his love for babies (just ask Bonnie!). 

Please pray for this family.  Let's surround this family with prayer.  If you have a bit to spare to make this time more bearable, that is also greatly appreciated.

On a lighter note, my requisite selfies for #35K4SMA:

Here's a before, so you could see a bit of the hazy morning

And a very sweaty after when the fog burned off!

Linking up with Kendra to Answer Me This:

1.  When's the last time you got a new bathing suit?

October of 2012.  We went to Florida for a wedding, so I got some sun gear for our week-long beach stay.

I'll even share a picture of me in said swim gear after I just had a baby.  Because my kids care more that I'm holding them in this picture of us than about how I think my thighs look way too big in this picture.  This shot also shows me that despite the scale not budging, my workouts are making a difference!

2.  Who made the last incoming call on your phone?

My dad.  He wanted to make sure I got a text from my mom earlier in the day.

3.  If you receive communion, do you receive it on the hands or tongue?

Hands.  In our diocese, that's standard practice.  Unless I'm holding an infant, then it's on the tongue because I'm using my own hands to hold the infants' hands lest she make a swipe for Jesus.

4.  Do you have a tattoo?

No.  I have my cartilage pierced, that's about as wild as my youth got.

5.  How many dinner plates are in your house?

About 20 assorted kids' plate, 12 piece china set, and another dozen assorted plates for everyday use.

I much prefer paper, though.  Does using cloth diapers balance out the occasional paper plate usage?  How about the slightly-above-average usage?  I'm hoping so!

6.  Do you have an accent?

I was born and raised in the Midwest.  They put call centers in the Midwest because it has been determined by some research gurus somewhere along the way that we have the least amount of accent and are the most understandable for all Americans.  So, I'm going to go with, "no". 


WIWS:  Linking up with FLAP for What I Wore Sunday.

I recruited my oldest into taking a picture as we were rushing around getting ready for church, so blurry, but I'm liking this new dress, so I thought it worth sharing!

Dress is this one from Old Navy.  They had a bunch of their dresses on clearance, so I snatched this one up!  This color was clearanced out....clearly not everyone knew this was SOTG green!  They have black, blue, pink, and navy right now for $15/each.  (The link above isn't affiliate, so if you know someone with an affiliate link, hop over there and use their link!)

I'm liking this dress because it's a good shape and the fabric is thick enough not to be clingy. 

Ignore those paint swatches, I think I'm going to leave the girls' bedroom pink.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Only Guilt

Did you read what Mandi said?  You should.  She guest posted over at Bonnie's place and it resonated so deeply.

From another mom of few to the moms of many.  We love you so hard and we're trying to show that love so much, but we're working through some things that make your life look like a storybook. 

Then I started thinking about how I'm reading about that storybook from the comfort of my nap time lie down....sans baby.  Just me, taking a little rest break because the tornado alarms went off at 3:45 am (thankfully sans actual tornadoes!) and I'm exhausted.

Sometimes when I'm taking a siesta, I think about all the moms that are slogging through their day with no breaks.  I have those days, but they're not as frequent as I imagine them to be for moms of many.

Molly did such a great job talking about that guilt.  That guilt we moms of few carry.  Because when my only toddler is napping and my nearly 9 y/o is reading a book (or maybe doing the dishes), I can read, watch a show, take a nap, work from home....lots of things that maybe aren't possible for a mom with many young children.

It's so true; out of all the feelings we feel, "that guilt lingers the longest."  Because who is to blame if not our bodies?  Who are we to fault if it's not us?  Maybe I wasn't grateful enough for my first child.....I carried that thought around for five years like a noose, ever tightening. 

Secondary infertility carries heavy doses of guilt.  That I have an easier time parenting (although there's magic in playmates and two has been easier than one for me); that I have a child and am still depressed by the longing for more, as if I must not be a good mother to not be wholly satisfied with one. 

Guilt for having the time to go to the movies with an only, then the resources to buy that child a generous birthday gift.  Guilt that the only child doesn't have siblings; that the siblings aren't close enough in age.  Because somehow, I will ruin this child without having the siblings for her that I perfectly pictured would line up in my perfectly ordered family.

Guilt over the people who look at me every Sunday and think that I'm not open to life.  Guilt over the congratulatory conversations I seem to find myself in with people who think that two is a choice. 

No, it's not my choice. 

But here's the thing.  Here's what I started to say in Molly's combox before it became way too long.  That guilt is really heartbreak.

It is a hurt so deep, you can only blame yourself for finding any joy in your life.  Because how could these moments feel peaceful and easy when I'm dying inside for another child?  How could I for a moment feel contentment when I am praying for more?

Because God is so good.  That's why.  That guilt is not your conscience guiding you towards openness.  We're already there, waiting at the threshold of new life for our turn to carry it again.  We're not guilty because we need to be reminded of the goodness and beauty of carrying and caring for little souls. 

We are guilty because we do not fully understand that God brings comfort, even in our greatest afflictions.

I didn't understand this until a mom of many pointed it out to me.  I was in the midst of losing Sweet Baby.  I looked at my friend and admitted something I had been carrying that made me feel like the worst mother to ever walk the earth (okay, maybe top five worst). 

I said, "You know, I would give up just about anything to keep her, but part of me thinks how much easier it'll be when she's not there.  She's so high needs.  Then I think about what I've just admitted to myself, and I feel like I'm an awful person.  I would choose the hard, but I just know it won't be as hard to parent when she's gone."

She looked at me and said, "But don't you think God would bring you some small measure of comfort in your sorrow?  If it's easier in some ways, just take that as a gift and a reminder of His love."

That was the day I stopped feeling guilty that I can take a nap or watch a movie with my oldest daughter, or go out for ice cream with the girls because my finances are not tight.  We're not rich, but with two girls and my ability to work from home with my super manageable brood, we're much more comfortable than we would be if we had many. 

I don't have to feel guilty about that anymore.  God gives us all consolations in our sorrows.  I choose not to let the guilt weigh down the joy He has for me. 

Share your gifts, share your time and talent.  Give to the world your voice and your heart.  But, when it's 3pm and your only is sleeping, eat the secret ice cream.  And when you do, remember how much God loves you, that even in your hard times, even as you walk through the sorrow of secondary infertility, He brings you comfort.  Don't lock that away from yourself because you think yourself unworthy.

You are beautifully and wonderfully made.  I have walked the path of infertility for eight years now.  It's hard enough, enjoy the moments that come easy.

I am continually blessed by the beautiful women who walk this path of infertility as well.  If you struggle with your abundant fertility, your sub-fertility, or your infertility, know that I offer the cross of my struggle for you.

Answer Me This {Vol. 9} Procrastination Edition

Linking up two days late on the procrastination edition of Answer Me This with Kendra over at Catholic All Year.....irony, I'm a fan.

1.  What's something you intended to do today, but didn't?

Um, I meant to write this on Sunday, or at least Monday.  I really thought I would get it done Monday because I so enjoy playing along with everyone. 

I've also been meaning to write a post about my beautiful baby sister's graduation.  I'm going to put that out there so I actually do it.  Accountability is a close friend of mine.

I'm also supposed to be sorting things in the attic today, but the tornado sirens went off at 3:45am, and my bed is just so comfy....I'll get up soon, I swear!

2.  What's your favorite grilling recipe?

When I think grill, I think bratwurst.  My super-simple method is boiling in beer and onions, then crisping them up on the grill.  Grill some onions out there too and throw them on top.  Yum!

3.  What movie did you most recently see?

I haven't watched many movies lately (I did see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, meh), but I've been binge-watching old episodes of Eureka on Amazon.

4.  Would you say your tendency is to over react or under react to medical situations?

Under react.  Queen of cool in an emergency.  I'm your go-to if you need a ride to the emergency room.  I vividly remember driving my brother (my dad was sitting with him holding pressure) when I was 16 (he was 8) and holding his hand while they put in stitches. 

I also have a tendency to under react to a dangerous level.  I'm pretty sure I'm a strong candidate to die from something that I should have gotten checked out.  When I had internal bleeding, I decided maybe it wasn't so bad and was on the fence about just going back to bed.  My guardian angel is pretty haggard, I think.  Thankfully, I was prompted to go to the ER, and am still here.  Since that experience, I'm trying to be much more conscientious/cautious with my health.

So, I'll be your ride to the hospital and handle it all cool under pressure.  I even can add inappropriate humor to the package, upon request :)

5.  Do you squeeze the toothpaste or roll it?

Squeeze it until it starts to run low, then roll it until it's gone.

6.  What are you doing for Father's Day?

We spent Father's Day with my little family and my extended family.  My sister drove in from the East Coast, so we spent many hours snuggling her cute little babies and visiting.  In fact, we're spending most of the week that way.  Seriously, cute babies.  Cambodian-Irish is a stellar combo :)

Friday, June 13, 2014

7 {QTs} Way to Make Yourself Crazy TTC

You know what I'm thinking about right now?  Not much besides that long, long wait between ovulation and the next cycle.  Because when you're Trying to Conceive (TTC), that wait of a few days before the next cycle is approximately three months long in emotional/mental energy.

So, here are seven ways I'm making myself crazy this week....because after 8 years(!) of TTC, I'm actually, really, really good at pysching myself up/out.

So, come join me in the crazy.....because before now, you probably thought I was such a sweet, normal mom who said sweet, heartfelt things.  Nope, certifiable.

Does the crazy show in my eyes?  I thought so.

{1}  Go to this site.  Type in the info, obsess over when you can take a pregnancy test.

{2}  Read all the messages on every one of the fertility groups you follow. 

{3}  Worry about morning sickness on your overseas work trip (insert your summer plans here) that's already been planned.

{4}  Then worry about fertility injections and the logistics thereof for said trip if you're not expecting.

{5}  Review your charts.  A lot.

{6}  Internalize and review every symptom....from that last meal you ate and how it made you feel to the weird stomach spasms to the seasonal allergies.  It's all trying to tell you something! (Like maybe you need some medicine and a nap, but still!)

{7}  Keep it all in.  Don't tell anyone that your mind is going in circles.  Because really, people shouldn't know that you're quite as crazy as me!

For all of you TTC'ers, just know, the mental Olympics you're playing is a game we all play, you're not actually crazy and my truest recommendation is schedule stuff to do that'll keep you busy....or at least marathon watch something on Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu :)

I'm off to do some work this afternoon, then I've got to finish up the Father's Day plans.  Tomorrow includes the Farmer's Market and if I get really desperate for activities, I might actually clean my house, which is in a sore state since I've had a cold and felt yucky all week.

The other best thing you can do is call/text your friend and tell her you've gone to the crazy place.  She'll be super-sympathetic to your craziness, even when she's sitting in the doctor's office for her kiddo's check-up.  (Thanks C!)

And whatever the outcome, I'm sure once my head clears of sinus pressure, everything will seem a little sunnier :)

Linking up with Team Whitaker who are hosting this week's 7QTs.

Monday, June 9, 2014

How to Create a Pro-Baby Parish

Recently, I read Haley's great article over at Catholic Exchange. If you didn't have a chance to check it out, go read now. I'll wait.

Does anyone else want to move to her parish?  After I read that article, I felt a mix of emotions; happy that wonderful parishes like that exist to affirm and support young families, sad that Haley's experience hasn't been my overwhelming experience of my church family.

There are many wonderful, loving people at our parish, even the older woman who compliments my children and misses us (and says so!) when we attend a different mass or take a family vacation.  We've sat in the front, the cry room, and places in between.  I've gotten compliments on my children (deserved and undeserved) and I've gotten quite a few miffed expressions.  I'd venture to say my experience has run the gambit of typical parent experiences in Mass.  Complete with two toddlers running in opposite directions.

Right now, my family sits in the cry room....because someone is a chatty one during Mass.

She only likes sound when she's the one making it

Hubby and I are of different views about when it's time to head back into the actual "grown-up" section of the church.  My preference would be to stay in the front.  All the time.  With toddlers, newborns, pre-communicants, new communicants, and us old hats.  However, I understand that leaving the pew forty-three-ish times each Sunday with a loud/angry toddler is not ideal for everyone, so in the cry room, we remain.

Except Haley's article got me thinking, "how are these people ever going to have the opportunity for the grace of accepting/embracing/loving children during Mass if I'm hiding back here?"  Really.  Have the few angry/perturbed stares and stink eyes been enough that I should hide my family in the back of the church in a sound-proof box?  Well, I have been.  But I'm starting to think perhaps not.

To cultivate a parish that loves children and values them as part of the church family, the change starts with me.  I need to re-evaluate my own mind set.  I need to cultivate first an attitude that my children and those loud ones dropping books over there (well, those might be mine too) should be there, deserve to be there, are blessed by being there, are a blessing for being there.  How else can I expect anyone else to see them as blessing?

Someone recently mentioned that our parish needs a nursery, so the children can be tended while the parents are in Mass.  I love the idea of attending Mass in relative tranquility, but is that what's best for us as a Church?

Jesus said to let the little ones come.  I don't think He meant they should come to coloring sheets and wooden blocks, I think He meant that they should come to Him.  Will this make Mass as a parent harder?  Absolutely.  Will I still end up back in the cry room holding a fussy toddler?  On occasion.  Can I be an example of the blessing children are to our parish?  Absolutely, but only if I first see that my own are a blessing.  Mass isn't just to be survived with young ones, we're bringing them to celebrate too.

Even if their celebration lacks the finesse we would wish.  Even if I end up walking in the cry room or narthex with a fussy little, they're supposed to be there.  We're a poorer church for segregating and separating ourselves from our children.  

Thanks to Haley's take, I'm going to attend with a different mindset, and hopefully a more open heart.  For my children, for other children, for the older folks who might be giving me the stink eye, for everyone.

Once I have cultivated in my own heart a willingness and openness for my own children in the Mass, I feel confident this mindset will allow me to see the openness and kindness of those around me that I haven't noticed before.

I'll also work on being a voice of kindness to others.  Pretty sure there's no rule stating that as a mother of young children I can only get the compliments.  I need to be a source of joy and support to those around me, as well.  Because we're only going to have the kind of Church our children want and are on fire for if we make it a place that welcomes them wholeheartedly.

Children are always, every time a blessing.  They are a gift from God, and I'm going to be thinking a little differently about my attitude when I bring those blessings and gifts before our Lord.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Answer Me This {Vol. 8}

Answering all Kendra's questions - just a couple days late!

1.  Do you have a smart phone?

Yes.  I recently switched from HTC to an iPhone....mostly because Hubby has one and he was kind of insistent.  I got a smart phone a couple years ago so I could keep track of work emails on the go.  Pretty handy, and bonus, it's a work expense! (I'm a stay-at-home instructional designer.)

2.  Which is your favorite meal of the day?

Breakfast.  Like, REAL breakfast, where you eat eggs, bacon, pancakes, all that deliciousness.

3.  Shower or bath?

Shower.  Really, really peel-your-skin-off-hot. I don't drink coffee, but I feel about showers how most people feel about coffee.

4.  Think of a person you love.  How many days have you been in love with that person?

Hubby and I just celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary in April.  We dated two years before that.  According to this site, that's 4367 days!

5.  What's the best church you've ever been inside?

St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.  When I was 19, I went there with a pilgrimage/college group.  One day at dawn, we climbed the crazy sideways stairs to the tippy top of St. Peter's and watched the sun rise over the city of Rome.  One of the most memorable moments of my life.

6.  Happy feast of the Visitation!  Has anyone ever come to help YOU?

When my oldest was very small, I broke my ankle.  My SIL came over and took down my tree, cleaned my house, the whole deal.  At the time, she had 1,2,4 year-olds. 

One of the reasons I love my homeschool group so much is the outreach we give each other when a new baby is welcomed home.  We have a list where moms sign up to bring meals and I have been the recipient of meals when we welcomed home SP and also was the recipient of meals when we SB returned home and we lost Mara.  Love comes in the form of a casserole and a hug, friends.....speaking of which, I really need to start cooking, I'm getting a new niece this week!!! 

Please say a prayer for one of my SILs, she's being induced this week.  Please surround her in prayer as she and my BIL welcome their first little one into the world.