Carrots for Michaelmas: Musings of a Catholic Wife, Mother, and Occasional Redhead


This Week’s Miscellany: Vol. 7
March 31, 2012, 1:59 pm
Filed under: Misc | Tags: ,

Coming Up in the Liturgical Year: Palm Sunday! I can’t believe Holy Week is almost upon us! Other than a very special Easter lunch feast, we haven’t developed very many Holy Week traditions in our family, yet. Any suggestions for Holy Week activities, recipes, etc. that are helpful for little ones to learn to observe Holy Week?

Listening to: Handel’s Messiah (so good during Lent!) and also some of the other recommendations from Simcha Fisher in this post about Lenten music. Also completely obsessed with Feufollet these days. We read about this young Cajun band in Garden and Gun and then looked them up on Spotify. Sooooo good. And I’ve always hated it whenever Daniel connected with his New Orleans roots by forcing me to listen to Cajun music….now I see the light. You should probably listen to this right now:

We’re also listening to The Chieftains Voice of the Ages album featuring Bon Iver, The Decemberists, etc. Especially great on St. Patrick’s Day.

Links:

Kony 2012 Video Reopens Uganda’s Old Wounds: an excellent piece by my friend James Arinaitwe, a Ugandan, on the contraversial Kony 2012 video promoted by Invisible Children.

Chesterton on a Child’s Imagination by Christy at Fountains of Home. The topic reminded me to tell everyone I know to read Anthony Esolen’s Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child.

Lazy Parenting 101 by Kate Wicker

The Quotable Benjamin:

Benjamin on why people should wear shirts in public: “Sometimes people don’t want to see other people’s nipples because they’re kinda yucky and other people wouldn’t want to see ’em.”

“Daddy is SO SWEET! He knows how to take care of us. AND he knows how to take care of chickens. Some guys don’t know how to take care of their chickens! But daddy does! Daddy’s THE BEST!”

“Do princes poop?”

Pictures Worth Sharing:

The boys checking out the progress of our oats in this beautiful warm weather.

Sibling snuggles!

Getting to be such a big girl!



Crossroads
March 30, 2012, 2:56 pm
Filed under: Breastfeeding, Motherhood | Tags: , , ,

(Lucy getting a snack before Ellie’s wedding, Photo courtesy of Jade Pierce Photography)

Well, I feel like I’m at a motherhood crossroads with my sweet baby girl. I’ve been following the principles of ecological breastfeeding very thoroughly since her birth. I read Sheila Kippley’s The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding and Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood which promote mama and baby togetherness, on-demand nursing, co-sleeping, no pacifiers, no bottles, baby wearing, exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months, and daily naps with baby (what’s not to love?!). Ecological Breastfeeding naturally delays the return of fertility because of super frequent breastfeeding as a way to naturally space out babies.

The natural baby spacing aspect of this method of mothering is what attracted me to it in the first place since I’m terrible at charting. But then I really adored the close relationship with my baby that ecological breastfeeding supports. I guess it’s a good thing that I really enjoyed it because I was surprised and a little bit bummed that my fertility returned after only 5 months. I was seriously really careful to follow all the principles, although occasionally I didn’t take a nap, and was shocked that my fertility returned before I even started solids with Lucy. I had friends tell me that it would be so unlikely for my fertility to return before a year if I was co-sleeping still. Oh, well, not having to even consider NFP was nice while it lasted! And it did delay the return of my fertility a month longer than after I had Benjamin. And the past five months have maybe been the best of my whole life with my precious baby. What a light this sweet girl has brought to my heart!

Anyhow, now I need to decide if I want to continue doing ecological breastfeeding or make some changes. Should we get the crib out of it’s packaging and start moving her toward sleeping in her own space? Should I start pumping so that I can occasionally leave her at home with Daddy?

As for co-sleeping, I’ve slept much better having her in bed with me than during my desperate attempts to try to get Benjamin to sleep by himself during his first six months, but maybe we could move towards sleeping through the night if she had her own room. She’s such a good sleeper already! We got 5 hour stretches for the past three nights which was awesome. We tried cry-it-out when Benjamin was 6 months old because I was so sleep-deprived I thought I would lose my mind. But I don’t want to go that route with Lucy, I just can’t. Whatever we choose to do sleep-wise won’t involve tears.

And as for no bottles, I hate the idea of having to pump (I pumped so much when I was working during Benjamin’s infancy that the idea is just repellant to me) but on the other hand, having a girls night also sounds amazing. But who knows if she will even take a bottle? And washing out bottles….blerg. Hate it.

And what kind of NFP should I use? I was using the sympto-thermal method (kind of) but taking my temperature at the same time each morning after having uninterrupted sleep is just…NEVER going to happen. Uninterrupted sleep? What is this miracle you speak of? So, I want to look into NFP methods that look for other fertility symptoms, not temperature. Got any recommendations? Part of me doesn’t really want to bother…babies rule.

I’d love your thoughts on good methods of NFP and gentle sleep training!

 



11 Things
March 28, 2012, 1:04 pm
Filed under: Misc

My dear friend, the lovely Lara of Little Adventurer tagged me to answer her 11 questions. Reading hers was so delightful that I just had to comply. I haven’t seen Lara since we moved home from Texas and didn’t even know that she and her husband are simultaneously adopting and pregnant! I knew they were adopting, but had no idea they were pregnant, too. How exciting! Two babies!

The Rules:

1. The first rule is to post these rules.
2. Post a photo of yourself and 11 things about yourself/your life .
3. Answer the questions set for you in the original post.
4. Create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them.
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them that you’ve tagged them.
About myself:
1. At least 3 times a week after Benjamin is in bed I read in the bath tub with either coffee, hot tea, a glass of wine, or a gin and tonic on the edge of the tub. Sometimes Lucy chills in the bouncer next to me, but sometimes she hangs out with Daddy and I get to be all by myself for 5 or 10 or occasionally 20 minutes.
2. Right off the top of my head, I think I’d say my favorite book is Brideshead Revisited. But The Violent Bear it Away would be a close second.
3. Sometimes I’m allergic to coffee, but not when I’m pregnant or nursing. Obvious solution: be pregnant or nursing forever.
4. My husband and I were high school sweethearts and have known each other for over a decade. I still like him a lot.
5. We went to the largest baptist university in the world and came back Catholic.
6. We’re buying a pig with some friends. Well, we’re buying half a pig, and our friends are getting the other half. Let me clarify: It’s not alive anymore. We had the option of paying for it to be processed but our husbands “saw some videos online about butchering pigs” and plan to do it themselves. How could that go wrong?!
7. Benjamin has a slumber party at Daniel’s folks house every Friday night. I know I just made you so jealous. Don’t hate me for having amazing in-laws.
 8. I did Art History grad school for one semester before deciding to be home with Benjamin and teach ballet part-time. But I have a really good story about the conversation that convinced me to quit. I’ll tell you sometime.
9. I think I have had every kind of schooling except for Montessori and Parochial schools. Private Christian school, private secular school, public school, and homeschool. Long story short: planning to homeschool.
10. My parents and Daniel’s parents are still married. What a blessing.
11. My freshman year of college I lived on Cinnamon Toast Crunch, coffee, and no sleep. Slightly shocking that I’m mildly obsessive about natural, real, local, healthy food now. Probably Daniel’s influence.
Lara’s questions:
1. What is your cocktail of choice?
Whew. Amaretto Sour? White Russian? I can’t decide.
2. If you could hop on a plane to anywhere, where would you go?
Rome. Or Paris. Or Edinburgh. This is hard. Is Hogwarts an option?
3. What is your decorating style?
Well, I’ll  ignore the obvious “cluttered mess” option. I honestly don’t know anything about decor terms. Somebody give me a word for the combination of real wood antique furniture, bohemian, and baby gear. Oh, with a touch of “trucks.”
4. What is your favorite garage sale/2nd-hand find?
Well, they’re not so much “finds” as 2nd-hand (3rd-hand?) hand-me-downs from my brother, orignally owned by my grandparents. Butterscotch-colored couches in my living room.
5. What is your favorite flower?
Camellias.
6. Which style icon best describes your personal style?
Lara, your questions are so hard! Friends, help me out here! Who’s my style doppleganger?
7. How would you describe your sense of humour?
I’d like to say witty, but weird would probably be more honest.
8. What is your favorite thing to cook?
Shepherd’s Pie. Hands down. Well, if you don’t count cookies. Or bacon.
9. What is one health habit you are working on?
Cutting gluten out of my diet.
10. Facebook or Pinterest?
Facebook. But I’m not proud of it. It would be way cooler to be able to say Pinterest.
11. Beatles, Elvis, or Willy Nelson?
I’ll be honest. Not a huge fan of any. Don’t hate me, Lara. Probably Willie Nelson if I had to choose. I’ve tried to get into the Beatles for as long as I can remember and I just can’t. That Across the Universe movie was torture. But, I mean, I could jam to Eleanor Rigby like everyone else.
My questions:
1. What’s your favorite musical (I know, how to choose, right?!) If you don’t like musicals…oh, wait, that’s impossible because we couldn’t be friends.
2. Who is your patron saint or who would you choose if you don’t have one?
3. What literary character do you wish you were friends with in real life?
4. Are there any movies that you like better than the book they’re based on?
5. What kind of monster/animal did you think lived under your bed when you were little?
6. If you could live in any era, what would it be and why?
7. Dogs or cats?
8. Mountains or beach?
9. If you were trapped on a desert island with books from only one author, who would it be? (And no, you can’t just say “the Bible.”)
10. Your favorite book when you were a child:
11. Would you rather never be able to drink coffee again or never be able to eat dessert again?
Tagged: (but, if you don’t have time, no pressure!)
Katherine
Eleanor
Kaitlin
Holly
Anybody else who wants to! Just let me know in the comments that you’ve answered!


The Solemnity of the Annunciation and Back Porch Dining
March 27, 2012, 1:36 pm
Filed under: Annunciation, Feasting, Husband | Tags: , ,

Just a quick post of instagrams today. We’ve been fighting colds at our house and life is busy, busy.

For the Solemnity of the Annunciation, I made Sweet Potato and Carrot Lentil Curry Soup and Spelt-Flour, Dairy-free biscuits (hello, bacon grease!) for Benjamin and my gluten intolerance and his dairy allergies.

It’s been so beautiful outside that last night I set up a table on our back porch for dinner. Benjamin thought it was mighty fine to eat outside and when Lucy and I woke up this morning, the boys had breakfast prepared on the back porch for round two of eating outside.

Days when you wake up next to your sweet baby, stumble bleary-eyed out of your bedroom, are immediately handed a cup of miraculously delicious coffee by your handsome husband and are treated to German apple pancakes, fruit, and granola on the back porch are…well…splendid.

Gluten-free, Dairy-free success! And North Florida this time of year is simply gorgeous.

Oh, glorious Spanish Moss! I’m feeling very grateful despite all the runny noses in our household…

How is your family enjoying springtime?




Why I Hated Breastfeeding (And How That Changed) Part II
March 25, 2012, 2:41 am
Filed under: Birth, Breastfeeding, Children, Motherhood | Tags: , ,

In Part I, I described my horrible experience breastfeeding my firstborn and how after four months I gave up. I was stressed out. My baby was stressed out. It wasn’t working.

I am so glad to say that round two has been totally different! Part of it must be due to Baby Number Two’s easy temperament, but I think other factors are lower stress, and a shift in my attitude and mothering methods.

By the time I became pregnant with my second baby, so many things were different. I had quit working full-time as an editor and started working part-time as a ballet teacher. We had moved back to our hometown where our amazing parents live. I had drastically improved my health by breaking my addiction to sugar and taking the supplements I needed. So, in general, everything that had made my first pregnancy and post-partum really difficult had changed and I had great hopes that breastfeeding would improve the second time around as well.

When Lucy was born, I was braced for several months of exhaustion and colic after the challenges of Benjamin’s first year. But, my worry was for naught. The moment Lucy arrived in the world, she was calm, happy, and loved to nurse. I’ll never know if it’s simply the way her little soul was formed or if she was relaxed because I was relaxed. Like my firstborn, she spits up constantly (at 5 months it’s improved some) but she isn’t bothered by it the way he was.

Now I know what everybody was talking about when they said I would love breastfeeding!

I think sometimes babies are challenging due to health issues like reflux or simply temperament, but I do think there are things mamas can do that help make a good breastfeeding relationship possible. Here’s what I did different the second time around (I was greatly influenced by the mother-baby togetherness ideas in Sheila Kippley’s book The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding):

No more working full-time. Quitting work for baby number 1 wasn’t an option. My husband was two semester’s away from his degree and me working that year was the best choice for us at the time. However, being able to be home with my babies this time around has made the experience so different and wonderful. I haven’t had to pump one time because I’m always with my baby. Now, I know working mamas who have pumped for over a year so that their baby will be exclusively breastfed. It is possible and those mamas are amazing. I’m NOT saying you have to stay home in order to be a good mama, I’m just saying that the breastfeeding experience is much easier for me since I’ve stayed at home.

No pacifiers, no bottles. Just offer baby the breast. Benjamin was given a pacifier when he was one day old and a bottle at 3 weeks. I think that had serious negative consequences for our breastfeeding relationship. So far, Lucy doesn’t know what a bottle is.

Nurse baby to sleep and co-sleep so that nighttime feedings are a breeze. With my firstborn, we only co-slept for the first few weeks and after that I would have to get up out of bed so many times a night to pick him up out of his crib, nurse, rock him back to sleep, and (hopefully) place him back in his crib still sleeping. Most of the time, he woke up the second I set him back in his crib and I would cry because I was just so tired. Lucy is 5 months and we’re still co-sleeping. I nurse her when she starts to rustle around (she doesn’t even have to cry) and after 5-10 minutes we’re both asleep again.

Have support. Living in the same town as family has made a world of difference. An exhausted new mama doesn’t really need somebody to tell her that breastfeeding is great and she should keep doing it. An exhausted new mama needs somebody to cook dinner or watch the kids so she can nap and have the physical and emotional energy to nurse.

Get comfortable nursing in public. I remember when I was pregnant with my firstborn someone asked me, “You’re not going to, like, BREASTFEED everywhere, are you? I saw a woman breastfeeding on a train once! I was so gross. I can’t believe she did that in front of everybody!” I’m not sure exactly what she expected the poor woman to do. Let her hungry child scream? Is that preferable to other passengers? Anyhow, that conversation and others made me ultra-sensitive to making other people uncomfortable by feeding my kid. Long story short: I’m over it. I’ve nursed baby girl in restaurants, concerts, Mass, adoration, work, the park, banquets, parties, the Nutcracker, weddings, you name it. I can take her anywhere.

Don’t wait for your baby to cry. Offer baby the breast often. If your baby is crying for food they will be frantic and nursing will be difficult. Let baby nurse at the first sign of hunger. I usually offer Lucy the breast every two hours or so, that’s what’s working for us.

Try to remove stress from your life. A stressed-out mama means a stressed-out baby. I’m sure this isn’t a universal rule, but it’s true in our household. I was SO STRESSED as a new mama, working full-time, a thousand miles away from family. I think Benjamin would have had challenges no matter how relaxed I was, but I’m sure my stress made all his issues worse.

Nursing a happy and content baby to sleep has to be one of the sweetest experiences of life. I watch her eyelids flutter and finally close, her arms relax, and her feet cease to wiggle as she falls into precious sleep. I wouldn’t trade it for anything and I’m so glad I got a second chance.

Photo credit: Jade Pierce Photography. She’s seriously amazing. Jade photographed my beloved friend Eleanor’s wedding a couple of weeks ago and took some shots of me and Lucy. I was in the wedding party and getting wedding photos taken with Jade was a blast and all the photos I’ve seen are gorgeous. So, if you’re in TX and in need of a lifestyle or wedding photographer, look her up!



Why I Hated Breastfeeding (And How That Changed) Part I
March 23, 2012, 7:31 pm
Filed under: Birth, Breastfeeding, Children, Motherhood | Tags: ,

I am a huge supporter of breastfeeding. I nurse my baby girl everywhere and do my best to promote breastfeeding and support nursing mamas.But, I never judge another mama for choosing to bottle-feed. Some mamas can’t breastfeed even after trying everything to produce enough milk for their baby. Sometimes circumstances make it almost impossible. I know this first hand…

When I was a few days away from delivering my first born, my mom came to stay.  “You’re going to LOVE breastfeeding,” she said. “It’s so special to bond with your baby that way. You’ll just love it.” Whether I was going to breastfeed or not hadn’t even crossed my mind. I knew I would love it. But I was WRONG. 

After birthing a perfect and healthy baby boy, I nursed him right away. It worked but…it wasn’t exactly intuitive. For the first day he nursed on and off and seemed to be latching well. He was sleepy and happy. But on the second day everything changed. He started to cry. ALL THE TIME. I didn’t know it then but I had just birthed what seemed to be the most colicky baby in existence. I would snuggle him and he would cry. I would nurse him and he would cry. Nothing would console him and HE WOULD NOT SLEEP. I continued to nurse him but he would latch and unlatch a thousand times during each feeding and about 30 seconds into a meal he would arch his back and start to scream. It was unbearable.

At his first pediatric appointment, I explained to the Dr., “He cries…like all the time. Even when everything should be ok! And he’s spitting up so much.” I was told, “Babies cry. Babies spit up. He’s fine.” “Well, sure,” I said, “but he cries so much that it just doesn’t seem right.” “Well, you’re a first time mom, so you’re just not used to it,” he retorted.

I kept nursing him, but it was horrible. We would both cry. It was clear: my baby hated to nurse. And I hated it, too.  After 5 weeks, I had to go back to work. So, I pumped dutifully and my son took the bottle pretty well. So well, in fact, that he didn’t want to feed at the breast ever again. So I pumped. I pumped and pumped and pumped some more. I was pumping about 3 hours a day which was more than I was sleeping because the child WOULD NOT SLEEP. At his next appointment, his weight gain was still good, but after describing his behavior again, the Dr. diagnosed him with reflux and prescribed Zantac (which did nothing).

By four months, I was a mess. Working full-time away from my baby was killing me. I would cry on my way to work knowing that I wouldn’t see him for 9 hours. And the sleep deprivation. Oh, the sleep deprivation! I was so exhausted that it hurt, physically hurt, to be awake. My whole body ached. I couldn’t think. My baby would sleep for an hour at a time, no more, and I was unraveling.

I hated nursing. My baby hated nursing. I was pumping more than I was sleeping. I just couldn’t do it anymore…

I wish the end of this story was that I perservered. I wish that I knew other breastfeeding mamas who had similar struggles to encourage me to keep going. I wish that I had been able to quit working and focus on my baby. I wish I had figured out sooner that the reflux and eczema my baby struggled with pointed to a milk allergy. Sadly, that’s not what happened. I switched to formula. The good news is that I had a second chance…

Part II coming soon! While you wait for it, check out Why I Breastfeed in Public: The Blessed Virgin Mary Does it!

Photo credit: Jade Pierce Photography (Jade does Lifestyle and Wedding Photography and she’s amazing.)



I’ve Got Greens and the Terrible Threes Growing in My Garden

Here’s what’s been going on outdoors in our neck of the woods:

Lots of park dates and outside play for this little guy. Baby girl is content to just sleep in the baby wrap with Mama while Little Bear gets his wiggles out. Although the terrible threes subsided a little bit in the past couple of weeks (perhaps due to extra time with Daddy during our trip), they were back in full force yesterday. You know the mother you see at the park that is carrying an infant and attempting to wrangle a misbehaving toddler? A toddler that is screaming, I WON’T! I DON’T WANT TO! when she asks him to throw away his trash, then succumbs to sobs when a kind park user cleans it up in his stead and he screams, “BUT I WANTED TO THROW IT AWAY! GET IT OUT OF THE TRASH SO I CAN DO IT! *SOB*”? That mother? The one that makes you say to your friend, “she has HER hands full. A little discipline? I would be mortified if MY child ever behaved like that!” Well, I am that mother. Nice to meet you. I now sympathize with all mothers of children who misbehave in public.

After a full-fledged meltdown in the car and an early nap, Benjamin surprised me by saying, “Hey, Mama. You know what? I love you.” He doesn’t usually say that out of the blue. Made the difficult morning worth it. Thankfully, he’s been good as gold today.

Our vegetable garden is exploding with wonderful things!

Bright Light Swiss Chard has to be one of the prettiest things ever!

Tomato flowers already! I can’t wait to eat tomatoes with every meal. Daniel has grown so many seedlings of different varieties.

We’ve been eating all the lettuce we can handle. Picking lettuce for salad 10 minutes before dinner time is so fun.

Cabbages are looking lovely!

My farmer.

This was our St. Patrick’s Day feast. Guinness Beef Stew made by Daniel, Spring Salads from the garden with Strawberries, and amazing Sweet Potato Fries by our friend Kaitlin.

What are you growing in your garden these days?