Friday, May 24, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday (Volume 2)

7 Quick Takes from this week:

- 1 - 
I started facilitating "The Bible Timeline" study by Jeff Cavins and Tim Gray this month.  Holy Toledo!  I am learning so much, and we're not even halfway into Genesis.  Not only do I feel like I'm growing in my head knowledge of Sacred Scripture, but the structured study is instilling the desire to read Sacred Scripture as my own personal love letter from God.  I love, love, love it!

- 2 - 
As fantastic as "The Bible Timeline" study is by itself, I'm learning so much more by doing the study with Jeff Cavins' book "Walking With God: A Journey Through the Bible" at my side.  Basically, the book breaks down the story of salvation history into 12 periods (the same 12 periods explored in the Bible Timeline), and draws you into the story.  

For example, have you ever read the story about Noah getting drunk and passing out naked in his tent?  Then, remember how his son Ham shows up and "uncovers his nakedness"?  Yeah, I know.  I thought it was strange, too.  Well, that whole story would have thrown me for a loop had I not had Jeff Cavins' book nearby.  I wouldn't have known to explore the passages in Leviticus that explain that this Hebrew idiom ("uncover your father's nakedness") actually means to have an incestuous relationship.  

Having this book as my reading companion (as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church) is helping me to confidently read Sacred Scripture within the heart of the Church.  

- 3 - 
My hair dryer of 3 years broke, and I got a brand new one.  It's nothing fancy, but I had no idea how terrible my old one was until I got this new one.  Am I the only one that was just introduced to the hair dryer retractable cord?!  Wow!  That feature is amazing!  I just push a button on the hair dryer and *zoom* the cord is gone.  Even though I carefully kept my old hair dryer cord untangled, it managed to twist itself so tightly that it ended up being more like one of those old school spiral telephone cords.  With each use, it would wind itself up more and more, and I'd end up untwisting it at least once a month.  

Not only am I loving the retractable cord, but new dryer cuts my hairdrying time in half, and my hair seems less frizzy.  When your getting ready time is limited with little kiddos, this is a big deal!  Have I dedicated an entire paragraph to my new hair dryer?  Yes, yes I have. 

- 4 - 
We found a steal of a deal on Craigslist for Jane's new big girl bed.  We picked it up the other day, and Jane was so excited that she asked all morning, "Is it naptime yet?!"  

Pretending to sleep in her big girl bed after we got it set up.
Jane and Walt are going to share a room, and Baby will move into the nursery when he/she arrives in August.  (Jane will sleep in her new big girl bed, Walt will sleep in Jane's old toddler bed, and Baby will sleep in Walt's crib.) 

The day we got the bed, the kids slept in their own rooms at naptime, but they insisted that Walt get to sleep in Jane's room that night in the toddler bed.  Long story short, it didn't go so hot, and we haven't attempted putting them together since.  We'll wait a few more weeks until we attempt it again.

- 5 - 
Speaking of attempting things again, Jane finally warmed back up to the idea of potty training.  For awhile, she was absolutely terrified of the potty.  I think a lot of it had to do with constipation.  Thanks to a steady regimen of Miralax, I think we, uh, got that problem all worked out.  Unfortunately, she just doesn't care if she's wet.  In fact, I think she'd stay in the same pull-up all day long if I'd let her.  Blech!  

She told me before naptime this afternoon that she wants to wear her big girl underwear, so I told her we had to go on the potty to wear them, and she said, "OK!" with a big smile.  Here goes nothing!!!  

I never thought I'd be potty training a three-year-old, but here we are, and I'm not letting myself worry about it.  We'll get it figured out.  As one mom told me, "You know, they never ask you when your child was potty trained on college applications."  

- 6 - 
I officially start my third trimester of pregnancy tomorrow.  Yay!  At yesterday's OB appointment, I did my blood glucose test for gestational diabetes, and I'm still waiting on the results.  I've never had it before, but I'm a little nervous about the results this time around for two reasons:  1.  I was up 5 lbs. from my last appointment, and 2.  I was measuring 31 weeks instead of 28 weeks (and technically, I was still 27 weeks at my appointment).  Both of those things don't bode well.  Until I get the results, I'm trying not to obsess over it.  If I do have gestational diabetes, I know I should be able to manage it with diet.  I guess I'm just nervous that I'll have a baby that will be so big that I won't be able to deliver vaginally, and I'd like to avoid a c-section if possible.  Hopefully I'll get the results before the weekend...

- 7 - 
Can I break out the violin and play a sad song for my poor body?

The old mare is exhausted.  After all, I got pregnant with Thérèse August 2012, miscarried November 2012, got pregnant two weeks later (yay!), and this baby is due August 17, 2013.  So, by the time Baby arrives, I will have been pregnant for a year with a two-week "break" from my miscarriage. Don't get me wrong!  I am so, so, so thrilled to be pregnant, and I can't wait to meet Baby, but my body doesn't seem to be up to the job these days.  

First, I had the back-to-back first trimesters with the two pregnancies.  With both, I battled some rough "morning" sickness.  The second trimester was pretty uneventful, but the sciatica keeps getting worse, so my OB wrote me a prescription for a maternity belt.  If the belt combined with the physical therapy exercises I learned last pregnancy don't help, I'll probably start physical therapy up again.  Spending any amount of time on my feet makes my legs throb, so it might be time for some sexy compression stockings.  More and more varicose veins seem to be appearing on my legs.  Youch!  Having to sleep on my side doesn't help matters.  Whatever side I'm sleeping on goes numb after awhile, so I wake up to roll over, and I end up having to make a bathroom run.  I'm averaging 3-5 bathroom trips a night.  I just keep telling myself it's all practice for the nighttime feedings, right???  

Wah, wah, waaaaaaah!  

All things considered, this pregnancy has been pretty darn good, and I'm counting my blessings that Baby seems to be doing great in there.  I'll gladly take the physical stuff on my end in exchange for a healthy baby.  I just know my limits, and I know that sleep deprivation is the fastest way for me to become a meeeeeeeeeeeeeeean mama.  Perhaps a little nighttime Benadryl is in order...

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Want to join the fun?
Head on over to Jen Fulwiler's blog at Conversion Diary and post your own 7 Quick Takes!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Dear Thérèse, A Letter On Your Due Date

Dear Thérèse,

After we lost you in November, I thought I was going to dread today--5/20/13, your due date.  Somehow, though, today has actually been a pretty great day.  Actually, our little family has been stronger than ever these last few months, and I'm confident that you are the reason for our happiness.  I know this seems like a strange thing to be doing, but I wanted to write you a thank you note on the occasion of your due date.

Since leaving our family on earth, you have been our family's favorite saint and intercessor in heaven.  I love that your big brother, Walt, and big sister, Jane, will never know a life without including you, "Baby Thérèse in heaven," in our bedtime prayers.  

Now that my tummy is at the hand magnet phase of pregnancy, I'm getting lots of questions on a daily basis about our familyI am getting braver at answering honestly when people ask how many children we have--even strangers at the grocery store.  I always say, "We have two babies on earth, a baby in heaven, and this baby (pointing to my belly) is due to arrive in August."

Even though I never got to hold you in my arms as our precious baby, you are bringing our family so many blessings on a daily basis.  I thought I'd write you a little list of all of the blessings you bring us (at least all of the ones I can think of right now):  
  • God is finally my primary relationship, Dad is second, your siblings are next, and so on.  Keeping that order straight is keeping everyone at their best.  
  • I find myself offering more prayers of thanksgiving than ever before, especially as I go throughout the day.  
  • I play with your siblings more than ever.  With the housework, I am able to call things "good enough" and mean it when Jane or Walt remind me why I'm home in the first place.   
  • After asking some girlfriends to pray for my patience with this parenting phase, I find that I'm appreciating the little moments and extending bedtime story time so that I can soak up the cuddles.  
  • As I know you know, I still have my not-so-grace-filled moments, but knowing that I can ask for your prayers brings me peace.  
  • I am getting better and better at putting our family first, knowing my limits, saying "no" to extra commitments, asking for help when I need it, and finding time for fun.
  • I'm getting better at hearing God's voice and being brave.  I still can't believe I started leading a Bible study this month!  I am grateful for the opportunity to do it because the study probably wouldn't have started had I been 9 months pregnant with you.   
  • Perhaps one of the biggest differences I'm noticing is my new outlook on pregnancy and motherhood in general.  I don't take the kicks that I never felt with you for granted.  I'm actually excited about trying breastfeeding (again!) as an opportunity and a gift rather than another stressor.  (I'll keep praying that it actually works out this time around, and I'll remember to pray for wisdom if it doesn't.)  I say it all the time, but I simply cannot wait to meet this miracle baby face-to-face that never would have been a part of our family had you remained with our family on earth!  God must have some exciting plans for this precious little sibling of yours, huh?     
Your dad is so sweet.  I found this on the kitchen counter when I woke up this morning:
"Catherine on 5/20"
Before today, Dad and I talked a lot about what your due date would be like emotionally.  Dad said he wrote me this card a few days ago so that I would know that he was praying for our family and that he hadn't forgotten about today being your due date.  Of course, the card made me cry, but they weren't tears of sadness.  I guess I cried because I know our family wouldn't be nearly as happy or strong had we not gone through the pain of losing you.  Today, on your due date, I'd love to be swaddling you, breathing in that new baby smell, and kissing your little fingers.  Somehow, I know today more than ever that God knew what He was doing when He took you and that He continues to have our family's best interest at heart.  

So, Thérèse, thank you for being our family's precious "Little Flower."  We've been on quite the journey this last year!  We've had some of our lowest lows and highest highs, and we are the family we are today because of all of it.  Thank you for helping us to keep the long view in mind, especially when we struggle with shortsightedness on the bad days.  Thank you for continuing to hear our prayers, interceding as our prayer warrior, and helping us to live out our roles within our domestic church on a daily basis.  We promise we will try our hardest to make you proud.  Dad and I know now that our ultimate goal in marriage is to get our entire family to heaven.  Having you already there is more motivation than we could ever ask for!  Thank you for everything you've already done and will do for our family.  

We love you, Baby Thérèse in heaven!   

All my love,

Friday, May 17, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday (Volume 1)

Here's my first attempt at "7 Quick Takes Friday," a quick, straight-to-the-point list of 7 things going on in our world right now.  I got the idea from one of my favorite bloggers, Jen Fulwiler, over at Conversion Diary.  Click here if you'd like to join the fun!

Here's what's going on in our world this week:

1.  Jane will start going to preschool in August.  I'm afraid she is going to be disappointed that she only gets to go two days a week.  She'll probably try to dart out of the car without looking back on her first day of school.  We got her uniform the other day, and she had a ball giving us a little fashion show in the dressing room area.   

2.  Due to an unseasonably cold spring, our lilac bush was delayed in blooming this year.  I took this picture of one of the blooms this afternoon.  The local meteorologists are predicting some severe weather this weekend (large hail, isolated tornadoes, etc.), so I'm afraid our blooms will be very short-lived this year.  Even though they haven't all completely opened up, I think I'll snip a few off tomorrow before the hail comes.  I'd hate to see them all get torn to smithereens! 

3.  A few months ago, Walmart opened a "Neighborhood Market" up the street.  You can't beat a 3-minute trip to your grocery store!  Unfortunately, the store doesn't have a full-service bakery with complimentary cookies for the kiddos like the huge Walmart we used to go to.  I learned this the hard way the first time we went to the store after I had already promised the kids their usual cookie from the bakery if they were patient and good listeners.  I ended up buying a box of Oreo cookies (Double Stuf, of course) and letting them each have one in the checkout.  Ever since that first trip, I've been bringing a little baggie with an Oreo for each kiddo to eat as we pay for our groceries.  

This week, Jane spied an Oreo fragment on Walt's short leg that he had dropped.  She snagged it when he was distracted and stuffed it into her mouth as quickly as she could.  Of course, this was a problem for Mr. Walt, aka our Cookie Monster.  Here's a picture of the hysteria.   

4.  I'm afraid Jane and Walt love their sleep as much as their mama.  Unfortunately, Jane also inherited her mama's struggle to come back to earth after naptime.  Walt is Mr. Happy Go Lucky from the moment he opens his eyes, but Jane requires some special "quiet time" on the couch before we dare suggest an activity or engage her in real conversation.  Here she is post-nap with crazy bed head, munching on some Berry Berry Kix, easing back into the world.    

5.  One of the cutest things about Walt is that his little cheeks get soooooooooo rosy after any kind of physical activity.  We spent 15 minutes at the neighborhood park this afternoon, and here's what Walt's face looked like five minutes after being inside the air conditioning.  He had to hold his buddy Gordon for the photo op. 

6.  Jane has always enjoyed coloring, but she blew me away the other day when she called me over to look at this picture: 

She had drawn three people with heads, facial features, and some limbs!!!  She said, "That's Grandma Sally, and you, and me!"  All of a sudden, my little girl is really drawing instead of scribbling!

Here's another face she drew this morning:

7.  Philip took the kids to Costco after dinner last night while I went to my Bible study.  Costco had a bunch of cute (and cheap!) Carter's summer jammie sets, so Philip had the kids pick out a few.  They insisted on wearing them to bed last night, and Philip snapped these cute pics of the kids running laps around the couch in their cute jammies.  Look at how excited they were!

Off to make dinnerI'll be praying that the severe weather doesn't put a damper on our birthday celebration for Walt on Sunday!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A New and Improved "COEXIST" Bumper Sticker

I think we've all seen the other blue "COEXIST" bumper sticker.  You know, the one that borrows symbols from various world religions and uses them to spell out the word "COEXIST"?  

I've always disliked that bumper sticker because, well, I think it sends the message that: 1. it's enough just to tolerate living next to other people of different beliefs, and 2. that moral relativism is the way to go -- we're all on different paths to the same goal, so just back off if you don't agree with me.  

Thanks to Simcha Fisher, I learned that there's a new and improved "COEXIST" bumper sticker.  17-year-old Isabel Pope from Ann Arbor, Michigan created it last summer, and here it is:    

"COEXIST" Bumper Sticker Image from Isalife Pro's Facebook Page
From the "Isalife Pro" Facebook Page:
Last summer, at age 17, Isabel had the idea for COEXIST bumper sticker when, stuck in sweaty, going-no-where Ann Arbor traffic, surrounded by a sea of “COEXIST” bumper stickers, she mentioned, “I don’t think they mean COEXIST. Planned Parenthood is right down the street. Not too many people seem to care that babies are NOT coexisting here.”

Out loud, Isabel imagined what a REAL co-exist bumper sticker would look like. Voila. Her imaginings are the design you see on this page.

The bumper sticker finally saw the light of day this past winter, just in time for Father Pavone’s Roe v Wade anniversary visit to Isabel's parish, St Thomas in Ann Arbor. Father Pavone said of the sticker, “It really challenges the liberal to live up to their own beliefs.”

Now you know what they say: the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to NOT buy the bumper sticker..... so..... order one today!

1 sticker: $3.00
2 for $5

If you'd like to order your own new and improved "COEXIST" bumper sticker, contact Isalife Productions at or via Facebook by searching "isalife pro."  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

From "should have been" to "exactly as it should be"

When we found out we were pregnant in August and due May 20, 2013, I started daydreaming about what May 2013 would look like.  Mother's Day would be a week before my due date, and our son, Walt, would turn 2 the day before my due date.  May 2013 would be a month full of celebrations and excitement! 

Daydreaming about Baby came to an abrupt end when that pregnancy ended in miscarriage in November.  I was twelve weeks along when I started to miscarry, and I ended up having to have an emergency D&C from severe blood loss.  We named the baby Thérèse (after St. Thérèse of Lisieux) since we thought she was a girl and thought of her as our own "Little Flower."  

Just as we were beginning to process our emotions, the grieving process was truncated when we found out a month to the day after we lost Thérèse that we were pregnant again.  Of course, we were thrilled, but I lived in constant fear that we would lose that baby as well.  A few episodes of bleeding and an incident around 11 weeks when my OBGYN couldn't find Baby's heartbeat on the doppler didn't help matters!  A few months later, I'm 25 weeks pregnant, and Baby is due August 17--just three months after Thérèse's due date.

The pain of losing Thérèse is still very real, but it doesn't take my breath away or reduce me to tears like it used to.  During that in between month before we knew the kind of roller coaster ride God had in store for us, I experienced what I'm sure a lot of mothers who have suffered a miscarriage experience.  I would be going about my day, trying to lose myself in the ordinariness of laundry, dishes, and changing diapers, and I'd get caught off guard--I'd receive a formula coupon in the mail, an e-mail saying how large my baby was compared to a vegetable, or a bill from the hospital from my emergency D&C.  It was tempting to think about how things "should have been."    

I used to dread Thérèse's due date and thought it would be one of those "I don't know if I can get out of bed" days.  Other moms that are due around Thérèse's due date are having their babies.  Instead of preparing to go into labor with Thérèse at any moment this Mother's Day weekend, we arranged for her burial in November.  We added "Baby Thérèse in heaven" to our family bedtime prayers, and I'm nearing the end of my second trimester with "New Baby." 

This "New Baby" in no way replaces Thérèse, but I'd be lying if I said getting pregnant so soon after losing Thérèse didn't help with the healing process.  I tell our family and friends that having our faith throughout this last year sometimes "feels like cheating."  Without our faith, I don't know how we would explain the kind of pain we experienced.  Instead of falling into despair and constantly thinking about how things should have been, we are confident that things are exactly as they should be.  After all, if we believe what we say we believe as Christians, Omniscience knows what He's doing, right?  

Philip and I are confident that God wouldn't take our precious baby Thérèse from us unless a greater good would come of it.  Countless unexpected blessings have already come to fruition that never would have been possible had things gone how they "should have."   
Jeremiah 29:11-14 took on a whole new meaning in light of what we experienced with losing Thérèse. 
"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.   Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.   You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile."
God knows well the plans He has for us, and I now know that they are plans for my welfare and not for woe.  Sure, it hurt like heck when we found out in that ultrasound room that Thérèse had died, and I'll never forget the emotional trauma of having to miscarry and have an emergency D&C, but I know God allowed it to happen so that I could become an even better wife and mother and bring other countless blessings to our family through it.  

Now, we are doubly blessed.  We get to have our precious baby Thérèse as our family saint interceding for us from heaven, and, God willing, we will get to meet "New Baby" in August.  Obviously, I was excited to meet each of our babies with each pregnancy, but anticipating seeing "New Baby" face to face has a whole new level of drama.  I simply cannot wait to look into the eyes of the baby that never would have been had things gone how they "should have" with Thérèse.  Now that I know the pain of losing a child, I anticipate the opportunity to try my darnedest to love a baby the best I possibly can from his or her very first breath.

So, I'm not dreading Thérèse's due date anymore, and I'm excited to celebrate Mother's Day with our family exactly as it is.  I'm sure Thérèse's due date will be bittersweet when I think about wanting to hold her in my arms.  By God's grace, any sadness I feel will be softened when "New Baby" kicks and I remember that things are exactly as they should be--because He made it so.   

From left to right: 23 weeks with Jane, 27 weeks with Walt, and 25 weeks with "New Baby"