Friday, February 28, 2014

On the Overratedness of Well-Timed Babies

*This is an announcement*

I got really creative and surprised Chris with the big news by inventing a reason to go shopping and then pulling into the 'expectant mothers' parking spot in front of the commissary, which is something he always encourages even if I'm not pregnant and I always refuse.  He nearly ruined the whole thing with his irritation over the fact that I was not parking in the closest possible spot to the door he wanted to go into nor was I taking the most direct route to get there.  He surely was surprised--mostly because I had already had our ubiquitous must have tested too early negative pregnancy test and thought I was on my way to another eighty-five day funfest of repeated pregnancy tests and confusing charts.

I guess I should be proud of myself for not almost getting to my second trimester before realizing I was pregnant this time.  I decided to double check and take a second pregnancy test after sitting down on the couch one afternoon and immediately falling asleep.  I jumped up with a start and thought to myself--"hmmmm....that's not normal tired......that's pregnant tired......."  Well actually, my first thought was, "oh no, where's the baby!" and then I thought "pregnant tired."  And for anyone concerned about my countdown clock (and I know you all are)--the baby is due in October--which is also the month when we may or may not be moving to somewhere in or perhaps not in the Continental United States.  As always, our timing is impeccable.

When in October is the baby due you ask?  I have no idea, but I'll be sure to fill you in once I get my first ultrasound--NFP for the win!  

And when will we know when and where we're moving?  Apparently sometime in May so......that should give us plenty of time to plan :)

It looks like I'm relegated to being that mom who perpetually arrives at her next duty station about to give birth or having just given birth and depending heavily on the kindness of strangers......I mean, friends I haven't met yet.  I guess the good Lord is just driving home the message that I don't need to be in control of everything, or I suppose more accurately, I don't need to spend my life thinking that I can be in control of everything and I should just try to relax and have faith in His timing.  

In the meantime I'll be sure to keep busy explaining to everyone who asks (and it's already a lot of everyone) that no, we aren't trying for a girl--I just really like that prime parking spot at the front at the commissary.


And on another note, I'd really appreciate everyone's prayers because being pregnant still makes me feel panicky.  I'd like to think that I'll feel calmer once I see a heartbeat but I probably won't be totally calm until I've actually got this little one in my arms.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Try Not to Hate Me if You Currently Feel Like You're Living in the Tundra

It's Florida Winter here, which means that occasionally it's cold (and by cold I mean less than fifty degrees) and sometimes it's in the eighties.  So we've taken our annual February pilgrimage to the beach  on one of those days when you wake up and realize it's actually beach weather--well the air temp is beach appropriate not so much the water, but that didn't stop my little nuts from diving in sweatshirts and all.....

...if it makes you feel better, I'm pretty sure our drastic temperature changes are triggering my migraines which means I only get horrifically debilitating headaches when the weather's crazy--so that's just about once or twice a week during the schizophrenic winter.  Don't worry, I've let my husband know that I'm allergic to Florida and hopefully we won't be moving back anytime soon*.

Giant logs were lugged out of the water and dead jellyfish were poked with sticks.........

John Michael loved it.....what can I say, the boy loves to dig....and also attempt to wreck things his brothers make--including this magnificent fairy house we constructed for all those homeless coastal fairies.

Henry thought the seagull wing he found was the perfect finishing touch for the doorway.  I told him that I was sure dead animal parts are exactly what any fairy is looking for in their dream home.

Yes, I let my children play with pieces of dead seagulls.

No, I'm not winning any parenting awards over here.

I apologize to any Northerners if pictures of us frolicking at the beach makes you feel even colder than you already are.  Think warm thoughts, I'm sure Spring is just around the corner!

*Sorry Florida, I love you but you make me sick :)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Patching Up a Bad Day

When I'm having a bad day (and if you've ever seen David have a bad day in person you can imagine how bad a bad day can look like in our house when a certain someone gets grumpy) I always attack a housework project to make myself feel better. The size of the project attempted generally corresponds to the horrificness level of the day.  If Chris comes home from work to find the entire contents of the garage dragged into the driveway it's a good sign that mommy needs him to escort the children off the property so she can have a calm down break in the shower.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

St. Valentine's Day Fun

Okay, that title's misleading, this is just regular Valentine's Day fun.  I didn't even manage to remember to get the Saint Valentine book from the library this year....oh well, I'll just summarize it from memory as the children gorge themselves on chocolate for breakfast.  I'm pretty sure that's the liturgically correct way to celebrate his feast day anyway.

We had a playdate last week and of course I didn't realize when I read the invitation that it involved a valentine exchange.  Luckily I am well supplied with construction paper and googly eyes.  Well, I was well supplied with googly eyes.......

I had seen this idea on Pinterest and I have to say, we totally nailed it :)

The boys had a lot of fun making their heart monsters and, bonus! I taught David how to cut out paper hearts so this activity totally covered math practice and fine motor skills development......

I know, I didn't even manage to be the obnoxious Catholic friend who makes sure to write "St. Valentine's Day" on the cards.  You can just give me the liturgical year dunce cap and send me to the corner now.......

I suppose we could have done some handwriting practice as well, but I didn't want the valentine creating process to take an additional ten hours so I opted to print out something (hastily scrawled) for the boys to color in and glue to the back of their cards.  We were also lame and gave one joint valentine to each of our friends from all the boys, which of course none of the other moms opted to do.  Hopefully the other children weren't too devastated but I just do not have the mental energy right now to make extra valentines to give out from my baby who has no idea what's going on to other people's babies who are equally indifferent.

I hope the valentines you all receive this year are made with just as much love and attention to detail as these beauties ;)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Over-Dressed: A Book Report and Photo Shoot


I finished reading Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion a few weeks ago and it answered a lot of my burning fashion questions, like "why are all of the tops I try on see-through?"

Cline gives a  history of the fashion market in America and details the downfall of the department store and the descent from quality, well-fitting clothing  to what she calls "fast fashion" typified by chains like Forever 21 where clothes are ultra-cheap, ultra-trendy and meant to be disposable.  

The main thrust of the book is that cheap fashion has ruined the fashion industry in general since American consumers now expect clothes to be inexpensive  thereby forcing non-fast-fashion companies to find ways to lower the cost of their garments by lowering quality and moving manufacturing overseas in an effort to compete.  She basically sounded the death knell for American clothing manufacturing and said that even if a company wanted to manufacture in America, it's pretty much cost-prohibitive and also there are hardly any factories left in the country that even have the machinery to create textiles anymore let alone seamstresses to sew clothes which I found shocking and sad.  

As I was reading I thought back to my school days when my mom would take me shopping in the Fall for back-to-school wear and then again in the Spring for warmer weather clothes.  The malls were full of stores whose merchandise didn't really change until the season changed. Not so much anymore.  Cline says that with fast-fashion (spurred on by the internet) stores are constantly restocking their merchandise with the latest trends and you can shop to your hearts content year round and always find something new and cheap. Trends are constantly changing in an effort to get us to buy more and more and who cares if it falls apart after two washings!  It's cheap!   And it won't be "in" anymore in two months anyway.....

Her solutions to the problems of the American fashion industry are to buy comparatively much more expensive clothes from ethically sourced boutiques or buy older well-made second hand clothes and either get handy with a sewing machine or find your own dressmaker.  I'm not sure how practical that is for a busy mom--although I would love to learn to sew clothes from pattern (bust still not all my clothes).

I'm not a fashionista *cough* *cough* I hate to shop and I really hate to waste money on non-essentials so I'm not exactly the customer stores like Forever 21 are vying for, but this book has given me a lot to think about--the ethics of where and how my clothes are made and what happens to all of those disposable garments after the thrift stores can't sell them, the wastefulness of disposable clothes and our constant consumerism, what a reasonable price for well made clothing is, and how much clothing I actually need--because clearly what I need in my life is more things to worry about.  

The book did give me the push I needed to finally take the plunge and order something from eshakti.  This company will sew clothes for you based on your measurements and you can customize the length and/or sleeves for everything.  Of course the best part is that pretty much all the dresses and skirts have pockets :)  They're always having sales and new customers get $30 off their first order so there's really no reason not to give it a try.  The skirt I bought only ended up costing $20 with shipping and once I received it I got an e-mail thanking me for my order with another $35 in gift cards--yes please! 

I tried to get my little helper to take a picture so I could show you all the gloriousness of this skirt but alas.....five year olds apparently do not make for great photographers.......

Me:  Are you sure you're getting my whole body?

David:  (exasperated that I would doubt his abilities) Yes mommmm.

Me:  Make sure you wait for the camera to focus.

Me:  The skirt David, get a picture of the skirt.

Me:  Am I even in these pictures?

Clearly I've missed my calling as a fashion blogger.  You'll just have to imagine the bottom of the skirt--it's the "under the knee" length and it's perfect :)  

And yes, it is February.  And yes, this is what I wore outside today in Florida :)

All this thinking about fashion reminded me of an article from the Notre Dame magazine circa 2012 (I know, I know, it's not all bad!), The Lost Art of Dress about Linda Przybyszewski--a master dressmaker and fashion historian.   She appears to be sounding a clarion call for us all to relearn the art of knowing how to dress appropriately which I think goes hand in hand with buying fewer, well-made pieces of clothing.  One of my favorite parts:

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, educating young women in the “art” of dress was as integral a part of their formal education as the “science” of housekeeping. High school and college textbooks with titles like The Mode in Dress and Home and Art in Home and Clothing enlightened the young female mind, assuring that garish gauntlets or passé peplums never hampered the future happiness and productivity of educated American women.
In 1923, the United States added a national Bureau of Home Economics to theUSDA. By the 1930s, every public high school in the country and 36 land grant colleges had Home Economics Departments right alongside English and Science departments. Basic information like the six occasions for dress was taught to young women with the same academic rigor as algebraic equations or the periodic table of elements. (Incidentally, the six occasions for dress were: school; work/travel/city; housework; sports/spectator; evening in or out; afternoon affairs/tea.)
Simple, artful dressing (and living) was at one time so valued that home economists elevated the concept to the level of morality and honesty. Consider this, from Shelter and Clothing, a 1914 college textbook written by two women who taught at Teachers College at Columbia University:
A home based on the right principles will be simple. There will be simplicity of living, honesty in the expression of what is offered in the home. No ostentation or living beyond one’s means; simplicity in entertainment and in offering freely of what one has to friends, without apology or explanation; simple furnishings, simple, healthful food, simple, artistic clothing, all help to simplify life and give the homemakers more time for the family joys and intercourse.
So what happened?

I intend to find out! I pre-ordered her book, The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish (I like the working title better--Nation of Slobs: The Art, Ethics and Economics of Dress in Modern America).  

So, in summary:

Read Overdressed--it's super interesting.  Me = loves pockets, hates shopping, not a fashion blogger.  Also, apparently on a reading about fashion history kick which is ironic because I'm not the least bit fashionable at all. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

On First Birthdays

Well, since we were on the road for the funeral on John Michael's actual birthday, we had to cancel plans for his super fun groundhog's day party* and we ended up celebrating at home once we got back.

Poor thing had his one year well baby visit complete with vaccinations that morning so he wasn't feeling very festive.  Bless his heart.  He's the victim of our sorry-you're-not-the-first-born-first-birthday-policy of only buying one present for the baby who has everything.  Contrary to his feverish grump face he really likes his new glockenspiel.

We did cake before his birthday in Texas but we didn't have any candles so we had a do-over at home.  He didn't quite know how to approach his cupcake and he absolutely refused to get his fingers dirty so we ended up giving him a spoon to get him started.

Then he tried to go completely hands-free.

Then, once he tasted the deliciousness of it all.......he went for it........

Happy birthday John Michael!  Next year you'll have those cupcake groundhogs....promise :)  

*Children born on Groundhog's Day should just resign themselves to years of groundhog themed festivities.

Monday, February 3, 2014

On Funerals and Traveling with Children

Last week we lost my grandfather--a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, a scientist, a WWII vet--just the best man I ever knew.  It wasn't unexpected--he was ninety and he had been suffering.

Of course we are glad that he is finally at peace, but that doesn't make us miss him any less.

We decided to drive out to Texas for the funeral and we learned several important lessons:
  1. Our days of pushing through 16 plus hours of straight driving are over--from now on we'll be stopping at a hotel halfway through the trip like normal people.
  2. Always go for the hotel suite.  I don't care how much more it costs, this trip was made infinitely better by the fact that Chris and I were not hunkering down for the evening in the bathroom while trying to get two children to sleep in the actual room with the baby in the closet.  
  3. Children can withstand any too-long-of-a-car-trip-hardships with grace and dignity if the tantalizing promise of an indoor swimming pool hangs in the not too distant future.  
  4. Always make sure the indoor pool is actually heated--the children won't care but you most definitely will.
  5. You can always count on children to lighten the mood of a funeral. 

David:  Where's great grandpa?
Me:  He's up in heaven.
David:  But if he's in heaven, where's his skin?

Henry:  I want to go see what's inside that treasure box.
Me (trying to keep him away from the open coffin during the viewing):  Not right now sweetie.
Henry:  Mom, I want to see what's inside that treasure box with the human head sticking out of it.


This fresh loss drove me back into my stack of Peter Kreeft who always offers me words of comfort:
In summary, Jesus did three things to solve the problem of suffering.  First he came.  He suffered with us.  He wept. Second, in becoming man he transformed the meaning of our suffering:  it is now part of his work of redemption.  Our death pangs become birth pangs for heaven, not only for ourselves but also for those we love.  Third, he died and rose.  Dying, he paid the price for sin and opened heaven to us; rising, he transformed death from a hole into a door, from and end into a beginning.
That third thing, now--resurrection.  It makes more than all the difference in the world.  Many condolences begin by saying something like this:  "I know nothing can bring back your dear one again, but..."  No matter what words follow, no matter what comforting psychology follows that "but," Christianity says something to the bereaved that makes all the rest trivial, something the bereaved longs infinitely more to hear:  God can and will bring back your dear one again to life.  There is resurrection.
What difference does it make?  Simply the difference between infinite and eternal joy and infinite and eternal joylessness.
 ~Making Sense Out of Suffering

So for now we're still grieving but joyful.  Joyful in the innocence of our sweet children who always  manage to make us laugh and joyful in the hope of resurrection.    
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