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


Benjamin Hospital Update
April 14, 2012, 2:38 am
Filed under: Misc | Tags: ,

Our little bear has improved significantly since this morning! His oxygen levels started to go up and they didn’t end up having to give him any extra oxygen. He got breathing treatments throughout the day as well as an IV of steroids. After assessing him this evening, the Dr. thought there was a good chance that he WILL get to go home tomorrow instead of in 2 or 3 days as they previously thought. Benjamin had an x-ray of his lungs to make sure he didn’t have any pneumonia. His lungs were free of pneumonia but the Dr. said they showed his asthma attack was VERY bad. I’m glad I didn’t delay taking him in this morning when he continued to wheeze!

I was so proud of our sweet brave boy during this tough day. He was good as gold except for one major meltdown in the early afternoon when the novelty of the hospital wore off and he realized that being there is boring and dreadful. So hard to see him cry and beg to go home! He also had a really hard time when they were trying to put in his IV (Daniel took him to the treatment room for that while I was with Lucy. I tend to faint when I get shots or blood drawn, so I think he knew he would be better at handling the situation.) Daniel was so amazing with Benjamin all day. Our family is so lucky to have such a wonderful daddy!

And if you have to be sick in the hospital, at least you get to snuggle with Daddy and read Dr. Seuss.

Please continue to pray for our sweet boy’s recovery and that he will improve enough to come home tomorrow! I am so grateful for my precious family, medical care, insurance, and grandparents in town to bring us food and treats for Benjamin, and for your prayers.

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A Dinosaur Birthday
February 8, 2012, 6:58 pm
Filed under: Books, Children | Tags: , , , , ,

Ever since his farm-themed two year birthday party ended, Benjamin has been telling me that he wanted a dinosaur birthday when he turned three. “Well, you shall have it, my love,” I told him.

Daniel’s parents picked out some pretty fantastic decor and our Little Bear dressed like the paleontologist he is with his special dinosaur fossil digging hat. I told him that he could invite whoever he wanted but he just wanted it to be family: uncles and aunts, grandparents, and mama, daddy, and Lucy. And hey! I wasn’t going to argue with that!

The little stinker was VERY specific about what kind of birthday cake he wanted: “Chocolate with chocolate frosting and with dinosaurs on top that look real…but you can eat ’em.” Since he requested chocolate, I knew I would make my favorite chocolate cake of all time that my friends Lara and Rachel made for me years ago on my birthday. They covered it in edible flowers. It was gorgeous and scrumptious and I was overwhelmingly awed by their combined artsiness and culinary skills. I won’t post the recipe because it’s their family recipe, but I’ll make it for you if you come over. Their aunt created it and she passed away recently. So, as I stayed up late the night before Bear’s party to bake it, I thought about his precious little life just beginning and I remembered Lara and Rachel’s aunt and praised God for her life, too. I will tell you this: the recipe includes coffee and cinnamon so…yeah, it’s amazing.

My friend Jenna who owns a cake business took pity on me and told me how to use chocolate molds to create the requested edible decorative dinos. They’re not perfect (Jenna is probably giggling as she looks at this) but Benjamin thought they were pretty cool and we’ve been making dinosaur shaped candies all week to his delight.

“Happy Birthday, dear Benjamin…”

Bear was quite taken with his birthday “grappler logging truck.”

What a nut.

And I was quite taken with the treasure box, treasure (buffalo nickels), and beautiful illustrated Treasure Island from my folks for our boy. (Treasure Island was one of the honorable mentions from 10 Books You Must Read to Your Son and one of the books most likely to be found on the shelves on Downton Abbey’s Nursery in that delightful guest post from Katherine.)

As for other birthday loot, the birthday boy is currently snuggling with his Benjamin-sized T-Rex stuffed animal named “Ronny” from my brother and he’s been moving dried lentils all around the kitchen floor with his new construction equipment set from Aunt Vanessa and Uncle Travis. Win.

So glad we got to celebrate our boy with such wonderful extended family!



Tomorrow You’re THREE!
February 7, 2012, 4:31 pm
Filed under: Birth, Children, Motherhood | Tags: , , , , ,

Oh, Benjamin, my little paleontologist,

Tomorrow you will wake up and you will have turned the venerable age of THREE. The twos that I have loved so much will be over.  I loved the day when you turned two.

And I loved your First Birthday, too.

So many gifts of grace you have brought to our lives. The Blessed John Paul II wrote that the enemy of true love is selfishness. Being your mother has made me (a little) less selfish and therefore more able to love. I love your daddy more, your grandparents more, your uncles and aunt more since you were born and taught me what true love is. Every morning when your precious arms clasp my neck and every night when you demand one more snuggle, a drink of water, a song, a prayer, and an extra kiss you are vessel of God’s grace to me.

Just look how precious you were that first week you were born!  On the night you were born I began to learn, and am still learning, that to die to myself everyday for love of you, your sister, your father, that is freedom. Freedom to love without limit or bounds. Such a gift. And when I held you, dearest, on that first night after waiting so long and through the pains of labor to meet you, love for you was overwhelming. So precious, so sweet that it hurt. And it hit me like a blow as I looked down at you, that Our Lord loves us like that. Like a mother loves her newborn. Even more than that.

My soul, I loved your babyhood.

And I’ve loved the twos as well. Oh how I’ve loved the twos! You have been such a lovable, clever, amazing chatterbox! From the moment you wake to the moment you crash you are talking up a storm: stories, jokes, and QUESTIONS. SO MANY QUESTIONS. Sometimes, I’ll admit, after a bazillion questions, you mama will be about to lose it. And I have to remind myself how amazing you and your “why”s and “how”s are. “Why can’t a real owl sleep in my bed?” “Why does that tree have white bark?” “How do robot arms work?” You never stop. And that is just how it should be.

This year you had to learn to share the spotlight with your baby sister. And you have done it brilliantly. You love her SO MUCH. The gentle and loving way you have with her makes Daddy and I so proud. You are so caring and sweet and seeing you two together makes me love you even more.

Little bear, I have loved every day so far with you. But as I was baking your birthday cake for your party the other night, I told Daddy, “I love now. I love now the best.” I love now, dearest. And I will love your now no matter what birthday you’re celebrating. Happy Birthday, big three-year-old guy.

(Birthday party post to come!)



This Week’s Miscellany: Vol. 5
January 28, 2012, 1:48 am
Filed under: Misc | Tags: , , , , , ,

Coming Up in the Liturgical Year: Candlemas, February 2nd! Get yo’ candles blessed! Check out last year’s Feast.

Listening: Gotye. You can listen to his new album Making Mirrors on NPR First Listen

Quote: “I do not want to be in a religion in which I am allowed to have a crucifix. I feel the same about the much more controversial question of the honor paid to the blessed Virgin. If people do not like that cult, they are quite right not to be Catholics. But in people who are Catholics, or call themselves Catholics, I want the idea not only liked but loved and loved ardently, and above all proudly proclaimed.” – G.K. Chesterton

Links: Bad Catholic: Why Twlight Sucks

Simcha Fisher: To the Mother with Only One Child

My post on Lovelyish about Why Downton Abbey is Better than Mad Men

A Picture Worth Sharing:

This one is going to be the venerable age of THREE in less than two weeks. Seems impossible.

I’m Excited About: Awesome guest post tomorrow by the likes of Katherine Bowers of shouting hallelujah. Get ready!



Sleep During the Newborn Stage: How to Get Some (Or, How to Survive Exhaustion)
January 24, 2012, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Children, Motherhood | Tags: , , , ,

After Benjamin was born I thought I would go mad from lack of sleep. I would sob from sheer exhaustion during the early morning hours when he would inevitably be awake–night after night after night. But this time it’s so different. Mostly because Lucy is such a champ at sleeping (up only once or twice a night) and doesn’t have the colic and reflux that plagued our boy, but also because I think my attitude is different.

So here’s a few tips I want to remember next time I have a newborn (particularly if they’re more like Benjamin) that might also be helpful to other new moms:

1. Don’t expect a full night’s sleep. I would get so frustrated when Benjamin wouldn’t sleep through the night (he really didn’t consistently until he was 1) making it only harder for me to fall asleep again once (if) he did. I would dwell on the sleep I was missing as the minutes ticked by. I would count up the scant, interrupted hours (or minutes) of sleep in horror. This time around, I expected to be up at least every couple of hours for the first few weeks and 2-3 times after that. Lucy surprised me by only getting up 2 times a night from very early on. Sometimes now (at 3 months) she will wake only once between 9ish and 6ish (AMAZING!).

2. Sleep close to your baby. Co-sleeping with Lucy is going great. I love snuggling up with her at night and never having to listen out for her or go to a separate room to make sure she’s still breathing. I don’t think our pediatrician supports co-sleeping but…oh well. It works great for us. Lucy never even fully wakes up. I just hear her rustling around a little bit and I nurse her on my side. She’s done snacking in 5-10 minutes and I hardly even have to wake up. I know all babies aren’t as easy as she is (Benjamin certainly wasn’t) but I think being close helps them settle back into sleep more easily. Having her so close helps me turn down my mommy radar that’s constantly listening out for my babies, allowing me to relax enough to go to sleep. Benjamin also co-slept with us for the first few months and then slept in a crib in our room after that. I so wanted him out of our bed that his inability to sleep by himself drove me nuts. This time around I’m enjoying it so much because I know it won’t last forever.

3. It won’t last forever. It feels like it you’ll be tired until you die of exhaustion. You won’t die. Probably not, at least. There really will come a day when you wake up in the morning and realize that your baby slept all the way through the night. I know it sounds crazy but try to give up control, resign yourself to exhaustion, and enjoy the sweetness of your baby. If your baby is extremely colicky and screaming through the night this is really really hard to remember. I understand. I’ve been there.

4. Be a team. Daniel and I were so tired and so new at being parents when Benjamin was born that we struggled with this. It started to be a competition of who was most tired and miserable. When Daniel was up with Benjamin and exhausted the next day, I felt horrible and guilty. And still tired. When I was up with Benjamin and exhausted, I hated Daniel for being asleep (which he probably wasn’t because of the aforementioned screaming). Oh, and I was even more tired. This time we’re a team. I do the night feedings (well, it’s not like he could help me out with that) and Daniel gets up with Benjamin early in the morning and takes Lucy, too, if she’s already awake. That way I start the day with, at the very least, a couple solid hours of sleep to get me going. When I start to lose it, Daniel helps out and I’m trying to learn not to feel guilty when he’s tired. He wants to help. When he gets really tired, I try to make sure neither babe wakes him up and I don’t resent him for a full night’s sleep. He tells me what a good mom I am when I gulp down my second cup of coffee with blood-shot eyes.  I tell him what a stellar dad he is when he sleeps in a sleeping bag in Benjamin’s room to help console the little sick and congested guy when he wakes up from coughing so that he doesn’t wake up Lucy and I (that was last night. Thanks, Daniel!) Anyhow, encourage each other. Appreciate each other. Lean on each other.

5. White noise. Having some white noise where the baby sleeps helps soothe them and keeps them sleeping longer because it makes them feel like they’re in the womb (who knew wombs were so loud?). It also keeps me from hearing every tiny baby sigh or every time Benjamin rustles his sheets across the hall.

6. Pray. Sometimes I can get through a whole rosary during one of Lucy’s feedings. Or I can start one and pick it up again the next time she wakes. Then I feel like I’m doing something important (as if feeding my baby wasn’t important enough). But you know what I mean, I pray for my family. I pray for my friends. I ask the Blessed Virgin to help me be a good mama. I ask forgiveness for flying off the handle when Benjamin asked me the same question 3,086 times the day before. You get the idea.

7. Swaddling. Swaddle. Do it.

8. Eat well. When I cut sugar and too many carbs from my diet, I am significantly less tired. When I take care to eat plenty of the delicious veggies that Daniel grows in his garden and have lots of protein at breakfast, I can avoid a horrible crash at 2pm.

9. Coffee. Let’s be honest. It’s hard to survive no sleep without coffee. But, to give hope to you non-coffee drinkers, I survived most of Benjamin’s first year without coffee because of health issues. Hot water with lemon does help jumpstart your day. But, it’s not really a substitute for that happiness in a cup: COFFEE.

10: Be thankful. If I recollect how thankful I am to have my babies, I can circumvent some of the frustration at being tired. Fighting some exhaustion is a small price to pay for these little ones and I can’t forget that.

How bout you? Do you have any sleep advice? Any suggestions for how to survive seasons of no sleep?

 

 



On the Last Day of Christmas…
January 5, 2012, 2:55 pm
Filed under: Children, Christmas, Motherhood | Tags: , , , , ,

(Lucy’s Christmas shoes and special Christmas china from Daniel’s mom)

We are:

Listening to Christmas Music

Drinking Hot Chocolate (miraculously, Benjamin hasn’t spilled it yet)

And, by Benjamin’s request, watching the Nutcracker

This little Christmas elf is enjoying the last day of Christmastide.

I think this little man is going to miss the Christmas season. Or perhaps I should say, I think this little man is going to miss candy canes.

I love being their mama.



Our Year in Pictures: 2011!
December 30, 2011, 5:28 pm
Filed under: Advent, Birth, Children, Christmas, Easter, Motherhood, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , ,

I think Daniel and I both agree that 2011 was our best year to date. Here’s some highlights (which turned out to become a monstrously long post with mostly pregnancy pics, oh well).

January

Daniel got a new job and we hoped to get pregnant again. Benjamin continued to amaze us with the joy he brought to our world.

February

In February we celebrated Benjamin’s 2nd Birthday (A Farm Birthday Party) and two days later found out I was pregnant.

March

Our garden produced some great food and Benjamin loved “helping” Daddy tend to it. I was really, really, sick for the whole month with 24-hour morning sickness. Daniel and my mom picked up all the slack for me. Don’t know what I would do without them. Look how tired I look, holy cow:

April

Our first Easter back in Tallahassee and the anniversary of our Confirmation. Benjamin made a little best friend named Ulee from library storytime. His mom, Zemi, and I hit it off and the boys enjoyed playing at the Jr.Museum (Tallahassee Museum) together.

I started looking really pregnant and the nausea started to get a little bit better, although I was exhausted from growing Ms. Lucy.

May

A busy month of leading company rehearsals for the Spring ballet and getting my little students ready for their recital dances. Benjamin and I started doing summery things like going to the pool and Daniel and I celebrated our 5th anniversary by a weekend away at the Animal Kingdom Lodge where we spent our honeymoon. Why we didn’t take one picture…I don’t know.

June

We took Benjamin blueberry picking and we fell into a wonderful routine of morning outings for the summer: park, pool, jr. museum, pool, brogan museum. Such a happy time! And I got bigger:

At the end of June we had the best family vacation ever: a trip to North Carolina for my wonderful friend Jane’s wedding and then a week split between resting and reading at my grandparents mountain home and visiting my wonderful cousins, aunt, and uncle, in SC.

July

We returned from vacation just before the 4th of July and I was suddenly hugely pregnant. My good friend, Beca, was in town for the summer and kept me company. We also said farewell to the Harry Potter film series with a party and a midnight movie. That wouldn’t be a major milestone of most people’s year, but…well, you know how we feel about Harry Potter.

August

August was pretty miserably hot, although nothing near the infernal summer they had in Texas this year. I was getting SO BIG and so excited about our baby girl. Our dear friends, Brian and Lois, moved into our third bedroom while raising support for their mission work in Nepal. We also started to get really plugged in at our parish and starting making some wonderful Catholic friends, something we’d never had before, including my friend Colleen who has been such an encouragement to me this year.

September

I turned 26 this month and started to have Braxton-Hicks contractions all the time. My due date was October 13th but we were sure she wouldn’t wait so long to come since I was already dilated…we ended up waiting, waiting, and waiting some more. I did some pretty nutty nesting to get ready for our sweet girl and we rearranged the house to prepare for her arrival. My friend Erin was visiting for a couple of weeks and kept me distracted with Downton Abbey.

October

We had a scare when Benjamin caught Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease (a mild illness for toddler but dangerous for newborn if the mother has been exposed). He had to be quarantined away from me at Marmee’s house for over a week. Thankfully, I didn’t catch it and neither did Lucy when she FINALLY arrived almost two weeks past her due date and met her incredibly proud big brother:

I love this picture so much, despite the fact that I’m still so puffy from late pregnancy and labor. I think Benjamin’s expression is precious and he’s been just as sweet and gentle with his sister each day since.

And SHE. Well…we’re so in love her. From day one she has been the most precious and sweet of babies. She’s so easy, so adorable. So happy and smiley and SLEEPY. Praise God.

November

We started learning how to live life as a four-person family. Sleep-deprived and full of joy, we celebrated Lucy’s baptism and the anniversary of Benjamin’s baptism.

We hosted Thanksgiving at our house with Daniel’s folks, my folks and brother, and some dear friends.

December

In late November and December we were all pretty miserably ill with colds and sinus/throat/ear/eye infections. Even sweet Lucygirl. But it’s still been a wonderful Advent and Christmas. Having two precious babes is a gift I am thankful for every minute.

Can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store…Praise God from whom all blessings flow.