Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Five Favorites from the Road


Linking up with Hallie and her gals for more Five Favorites


1.


Prayer


All the prayers of those out there in internet-world.  They really matter!  Thanks to everyone who prayed yesterday and today for Ben while he takes the bar exam.  While, we won't have the results for quite awhile, Ben said he could feel your prayers working yesterday as he did the essay portion of the exam.    So, thank you!

You all are the best!  Keep praying today for the multi-state multiple choice section. 

2.


Indispensable when you are driving in a new city....especially a city with lots of hills and winding roads and twists and turns.   What did we do before GPS technology?  Seriously?  Well, I know what I did...I got LOST all the time.

3.

Just chilling at the hotel this morning while Elsa takes a MUCH NEEDED nap, so I'm perusing all my blog favorites and came across this awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome blog post by Jennifer Fulweiler.  Never before, have a I read a blog, where I identified SO MUCH with the author.

Organizational Hacks for the Rest of Us. 

Skip reading if you are a neat freak that naturally folds all their towels with the folds facing out.   Read if you are like me, and fear for your life from an avalanche of pots falling out every time you open your cupboard or if you can't fold a fitted sheet to save your life.

4.

The Mountains



We're in the mountains again and I LOVE it.  I love hiking and forests and mountain streams and winding mountain roads.   People talk about if you'd rather live near the beach or the mountains.  I spent most of my life living near the beach...but I think I prefer the mountains...I love the quiet and the shade and the wildlife.  I love everything, except the ticks...but this is Five Favorites, so we won't talk about those.

5.

What's better than one cute baby?

Two cute babies?


Thankfully the baby in the mirror isn't nearly as destructive as the baby outside the mirror.


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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Oh, the places we'll go


Blogging to you live here from Roanoke, VA.  Ben is taking the bar exam (please, please pray for him) and John, Elsa and I are doing the tourist gig.   It's fun (for us...not so fun for Ben). It's definitely very different having just two kids, instead of four (the older two girls are staying with grandparents). 

Yesterday, while Ben was studying, we made a trip to the local zoo.  It was super small, but super quaint and charming.   Here's the massive obligatory photo dump.

Checking out...something

Red Panda....isn't it cute?

Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard


Not sure what these are?

My favorite...the Golden Pheasant.  It's so colorful, and is how I always pictured a Phoenix would look. 


Of course, we have to add pictures of cutest baby. 

Check out my super cool sandals...NOT


For some reason, I never noticed before that he had such a gap between his teeth.  

A Cavy

Because I'm the dorky type of person who takes a self-portrait of the 3 of us in the bathroom mirror.

Vulture...check out those beady eyes!
Maaaaa....isn't it cute?  I love goats..they are my favorite farm animal (next to horses of course).

This was right outside the zoo, so I was able to get some great butterfly shots.


Now...off to see what fun things we can do today while Ben slaves over the Bar. 
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Sunday, July 28, 2013

What I Wore Sunday: It's All Smoke and Mirrors


This week, I took the kids to see a magic show...just a small ,simple one...one of those freebies libraries do during the summer. 

But, it got me thinking about magic and illusion and how in the online world...things aren't always what they seem.

And, then yesterday, I came across this article.

Seduced by the Illusion: The Truth about Transformation Photos

And, while I always knew those transformation photos weren't always what they seem...it kinda blew my mind how different the same guy could look with different poses and lighting and clothes and hair style.

And, it got me thinking about my own WIWS photos...and how each Sunday, I take no less than 1 dozen of them...from different angles in slightly different poses and then sort through to find the best...the most flattering.  It's actually pretty amazing how different someone can look in photos...how the lighting and the angle and the way you stand, make a huge difference.

And, I don't have a fancy camera, and I don't do hardly any editing...but still, I can look very different just depending on the angle and the pose. 

You see, our online selves are always an illusion.  We pick the best photos, we crop out the messy toys in the background, we change the lighting and fix the blemishes.  Few people look as good in real life as they do online. 

So, I thought that today, today...I would go past the illusion and showcase two of my past WIWS photos...the good ones..and the bad ones.   

Check out this:


vs. this:


I look much slimmer in the second photo.  And,  that's with the exact same outfit on...so think about how much illusion can occur with different outfits and lighting and real professional editing. 
And, check this out:



vs.


It's amazing how just the angle and the way I can stand can make me look thinner or fatter. 

See..it's all an illusion.

I've always tried to be very real in my blog.  I'm not a huge fan of blogs that come across as too Pinterest-y perfect.   I'm not perfect (far from it) and I try to be very real. because those are the blogs I like to read..the ones from real moms...the ones that may look a little tired, or haven't quite lost all the baby weight yet..yet they go ahead and show themselves anyway...in all their real person glory.  I'm the mom who yells too much and doesn't have the energy to make heart pancakes on Valentine's Day and Shamrock rolls on St. Patrick's Day.   The one with the the messy house and kids with messy hair and sticky faces.  And, that's okay..because I figure I was put on this earth to make others feel better about themselves. 

Now, onto what I wore today, which was actually Saturday, not Sunday. 

Since we're leaving Sunday to drive to VA so Ben can take the bar exam (begging for prayers, please), we went to the Sat. Vigil.  

Elsa got a C- for behavior...we had to take her out several times.  Granted, it was 5:00 PM and she WAS tired (from NOT napping much today)...but hey, if she napped more, she might get better grades..so that's her fault.

And, here is what I wore.  And yes...I took the best picture and discarded the rest. :)  Sorry, you don't get the bad ones from today!  This one is unflattering enough.

These pictures were taken outside our parish, right in front of the beautiful Mary garden (well that's what we call it anyway).

Looking at Elsa who is crawling between my legs
Shirt: thrifted
Tank: Wal-Mart
Pants: Given to me
Belt: Amazon
Shoes: Payless

I don't particularly care for this outfit...but I got dressed in a hurry and I clearly did not really look at myself in the mirror (and it shows) before getting dressed..  And, I think it might be better without the belt. 
And, I just have to share this picture...because it's cute. 

Greta hugging the Mary statue


Now, go check out Fine Linen and Purple to see what everyone else wore Sunday. 

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

{Simple Saturday}

Linking up with Iris at Country Girl's Daybook for Simple Saturday, although this Saturday is anything but simple. 



Today I am:

  • Packing 
  • Grocery Shopping
  • Cleaning
  • Attending the Vigil Mass
  • Preparing Food
  • Preparing detailed lists and instructions

You see, tomorrow, we are leaving on a jet plane  in an automobile to drive down to VA for Ben to take the bar exam on Tues and Wednesday next week.  This is IT.  The culmination of THREE years of hard work and study. 

We're taking the younger two and leaving the older two with grandparents.

Any prayers you have to spare (for a safe trip down and passage of the bar) would be GREATLY appreciated!


And, any tips you have for things to do with a 5-year old and 10-month old in Roanoke, VA would also be appreciated. 


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Friday, July 26, 2013

7QTF...The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding


In my NFP post from the other day, I mentioned how ecological breastfeeding can be used to space babies and how for us, for many years, we didn't really have to worry about NFP at all.   So, I thought I would devote a whole post to what ecological breastfeeding looks like for me.  

My first three kids are spaced 32 and 40 months apart..mostly due to a combination of breastfeeding and a general lower fertility level.   I'm not counting the spacing between #3 and #4 because we did use NFP in there. 

Warning:  Womanly Talk about Cycles Ahead.  Avoid if squeamish. 

After my first three births (after the 4th is still to be determined), my cycles returned at 12 months, 14 months and 17 months (consecutively), but I don't think full fertility returned until my babies were totally night weaned.  By full fertility, I mean a normal length (as opposed to a short-length) luteal phase.  The luteal phase  is the period of time from ovulation until the start of the next menstruation and it typically lasts 14 days.   Once my cycles do return, I tend to have very clear signs so, even without full-on charting or using NFP, I can generally tell when I'm ovulating and so had a general idea that the length of the luteal phase was shorter when cycles first returned and lengthened to the normal 14-day length after night-weaning occurred (around age 2). 

This is MY experience...and definitely NOT the same for everyone., but from talking to other moms, I do think it can work this way for MANY of them.  Of course, there are exceptions....there are always exceptions. 


The 7 Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding

Let me say, right off the bat, that I don't believe this is the best way to breastfeed or that there is anything wrong  with not following these standards.   I believe this is the way that babies were traditionally fed...but, we live in modern times, not cave-man times, so certainly not everyone can, or even desires to follow these.  And, that's okay.   They work for me, and I follow them....not because I necessarily am trying to follow this style of  mothering, but because this is what comes naturally to me.  

And, because I'm lazy...super lazy.

But, again, for a multitude of reasons, another person may not be able to..and that's okay. 

So, here are the 7 standards and how they work for me.

My one blurry picture of breastfeeding which is decent enough to post. 


1.

Do exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. 

This is pretty self-explanatory...it just means no formula or solids for the first 6 months and even the AAP recommends not introducing solids until 6 months of age.


2.

Pacify the baby at the breasts. 

This basically means comfort nursing, nursing to sleep.  When I had Heidi, 11-years ago, one of the first things I noticed was the nursing made her fall asleep.   And, I was all ha, an easy way to get the baby to fall asleep...I'm all over this one.  Because, teaching the baby to fall asleep without nursing seems MORE work than just letting them nurse to sleep anywhere..and remember..I'm lazy.  Plus. this nice thing about always nursing to sleep, is that you can do it anywhere...you don't have to be home for naps or even night-time.  We can be out at night, past the time the baby typically falls asleep, and I can just nurse and baby will sleep in arms or the sling until we leave wherever we are..so she can nap anywhere.   It's awesome..she's even slept through fireworks on the 4th of July. 

This just works for us...which is why we've stuck with attachment parenting.  

3.

Don't use bottles or pacifiers. 

I'm lazy, so it's easier for me not to worry about pumping and introducing a bottle or using a pacifier (that will NO DOUBT get lost and dirty in my home).   If we used pacifiers, I'd probably have to buy like 3 dozen of them, because we have a tendency to lose things around here.   So again, it just works for me, NOT to use those things.

And, I'm fortunate enough to not have to work outside the home, (I do some work at home)., so this is possible for us.

Plus, I'm lazy..so I'd rather be all sorry, can't wash the dishes, I'm nursing the baby. cause ya know, nursing is easier than washing dishes. 

4.

Sleep with your baby for night feedings.

This is the ultimate in laziness for me.  Plus, I'm a worry-wart, and if I put my newborn babies in a crib, I CAN'T sleep and am constantly checking on them. Are they still breathing? Are they still breathing? Are they still breathing??    What can I say, I'm neurotic.  

I just sleep better with the baby right next to me, since I know they are all right.  Plus, I hate getting out of bed, so I'd rather have the baby right there and just nurse, instead of having to *gasp* get out of bed.   I honestly, have NO IDEA how moms can get up in the middle of the night with babies.  I've never actually been UP in the night with my babies, they wake up to nurse A LOT, but we all stay in bed and I can sleep while nursing, so it works out well for us and I don't feel too sleep-deprived. 

5.

Sleep with your baby for a daily nap feeding. 

I actually have never done this on a regular basis.  Who has time for that?  It still hasn't affected when my fertility comes back, so I don't know that this part is all that necessary.  What I do is nurse the baby to sleep for naps in bed, and then get up and leave them sleeping  (our bed is a mattress on the floor, so I don't have to worry about them falling off).  Then, I do sometimes have to go back in and nurse them again in the middle of nap, so they'll sleep another 30 minutes or so, but I rarely actually sleep WITH the baby for naps. 

6.

Nurse frequently day and night and avoid schedules. 

This I do, because honestly, a schedule seems more work than just nursing whenever and wherever.   And, I'm lazy. 

7. 

Avoid any practice that restricts nursing or separates you from your baby. 

Again, I realize that this isn't possible for everyone, but I've basically learned to just take my babies everywhere with me.  And, it really doesn't restrict my activities at all.  I've taken them to doctor's appointments, mom's nights out, conferences, retreats, etc.  My babies are pretty happy to be wherever I am.  Of course, as they get more mobile, it gets more challenging, but a good sling and nursing to sleep (so they can sleep anywhere) makes this much easier. 

This is the style of breastfeeding which works for us...and has helped space our babies.  This is what my mom did, so maybe I subconsciously picked it up..but it works for our family.

And, since there are 7 of these, I'm linking up with Jen  for 7QTF. 

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Life is All Askew

Today's theme for Theme Thursday is askew...and when I saw that I was all- Ha...story of my life.   
So, it really wasn't all that hard for me to come up with some photos that are askew..that show things that are crooked, out of line or just plain not the way they are supposed to be. 

So, when I walked around, looking for askew pictures to take, this was the first thing I saw.


It's not really askew...other than the fact that disobedient kitty is totally out of line in a place he's not supposed to be. 

Then I saw this:

Check out those askew legs...and his whole body is a bit askew. 


And how askew is this?  A 10-month old happy baby sitting askew on the potty.

In case you were wondering, no, she didn't actually "go" on the potty..but we're working on it!

And, finally I will end by saying that I sincerely hope you will not askew these askew pictures. 

Go forth and check out more askew-ness with Cari and the Clan


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

3 Reasons + 2 More = 5 Favorites


Double link-up fun today and joining with Hallie Grace for Five Favorite and Micaela for Three Reasons I love Catholicism

1.

Sacramentals 


Especially holy water...it's just good stuff to have around...to bless ourselves, to bless our children, to bless our mini-van should she decide break down.  

2.

The Memorare

It's just such a beautiful prayer and reminds me how I always run to my earthly mother whenever I have a problem...and we can also always run to our Heavenly Mother with any problems or worries.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.Amen.
3.

Big Catholic Families
Going along with my wildly, somewhat, a teeny, tiny bit popular  NFP post from yesterday, I love how Catholicism tends to produce some big families...they are super fun to hang out with.  Small Catholic families are good too...all families are good.  I love the emphasis on the family that Catholicism has. 

4. 

And..now TOTALLY switching gears...because I'm crunchy and actually do make my own granola. 

This recipe for stovetop cinnamon granola.  It's super easy, and because it's made on the stove, you don't need to worry about burning in the oven.  Not that I ever burn anything mind you (says the woman who uses the smoke detector as a dinner bell). 



5.

And, switching over to yet another vein.

Classic, comfy, flattering and you can wear it anywhere, if pregnant, not-pregnant, post-partum, not post-partum, dress it up, dress it down..it always works. 



And, that's all she wrote. 

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

NFP Week...Why we did/didn't/do/don't/will/won't use NFP


In case you weren't aware, this week, July 21st-July 27th is Natural Family Planning Week (NFP). 

If any of my esteemed readers aren't familiar with NFP, NFP is simply a method whereby a woman charts her monthly cycles and collects data from her body....this data could include things such as  cervical mucous, cervical position, basal body temperature, and the presence or absence of a LH surge as detected by an ovulation monitor to determine when she is or is not fertile and then uses that information accordingly if the couple wishes to pursue or avoid pregnancy.

It's all very scientific and sounds a lot more complicated than it is.

As practicing Catholics. we don't use artificial contraception,  but NFP is fundamentally different from artificial contraception, because with artificial contraception, a couple has sexual intercourse but does or uses something (a pill, condom, IUD, what-have-you) to prevent pregnancy.  However, with NFP, IF the couple should choose to avoid pregnancy, they simply avoid sexual intercourse during the woman's fertile time (about 9-10 days out of every month).

And, there is actually a lot of confusion out there about NFP...I've talked to a lot of friends who say NFP didn't work for me, but really, they just didn't know how to use NFP, because they were misinformed about the actual length of the fertile period.   So, if you are interested in NFP, I highly recommend you take a class or meet with an actual instructor. 

And, you know what...when NFP doesn't work you end up with a baby...which really isn't so bad after all.  In fact, it's  a pretty good thing. 

All that to say...in 12.5 years of marriage...we haven't used NFP (to avoid pregnancy) all that much and still only managed to pop out 4 kids (5 pregnancies...1 early loss at 7 weeks). 

Here's why.  Children, really are a blessing.  And, in my experience, the babies that come along at the worst time, bring the biggest blessing. 



Like this one...who was born after 14 months of marriage.  We were young...only 24 and Ben was teaching at a Catholic School and I was working at the same school and then later got a job teaching at a different Catholic school.   Most people thought we were too young and should wait until we had more money or were more established.  But, you know what...I was a better mother back then than I am now...I had more energy and more patience.  That's a big benefit of having kids young.  And, she brought a lot of blessings to our life...she blessed our marriage at a difficult time and having her helped me grow A TON as a person.   We've gone through a ton of moves and changes, but having children actually helped ME deal with those changes better, because the children ground me, keep me sane (sometimes...sometimes they drive me crazy) and give us a reason to persevere through hardship. 

With Heidi, I discovered ecological breastfeeding....which I will elaborate on more in a different post...but let's just say here, that it works (for me) and without having to use NFP or anything, it CAN space  babies.

Let me also say, that I think a couple's fertility falls on a scale...and we are probably on the lower end.  We're not infertile obviously. but we also aren't super fertile and with the next two babies, Greta and John, we used NFP to TRY to conceive after several months of simply letting the chips fall where they may. 

Greta Marie..born Oct 19, 2004



John de la Croix, born Feb. 26th 2008 (only 3 days later, and he would have been a leap year baby). 

Then, when John was about 1, we dealt with unemployment and Ben decided to go to law school and we decided it was best to avoid pregnancy for awhile...because we were poor and he was going to go to school.  So, that was the first time we really, truly used NFP to avoid.  So, Ben got a scholarship at Ave Maria School of Law and we moved down to Naples and got assimilated into an absolutely wonderful Catholic community where we had the beautiful witness of lots of young families having lots of  babies..even during law school, even when they were poor...and they were fine.  In fact, they were happy....they were even thriving.   So sometime that summer after the first year of law school, we stopped using NFP to avoid and started just letting the chips fall where they may.  And, because we really aren't all that fertile...it did take several months...but eventually at the beginning of the 3rd year, this beautiful baby was born.

Elsa Rose, born Sept 11, 2012

And, the 3rd year of law school is the most stressful...with job applications and bar applications and decisions to be made.  And the summer is stressful, with the looming bar exam and job applications and more moves.   

But, how can one be stressed or anxious when they look at this bundle of adorableness??  

Sporting the baby top-knot. 

You see the baby doesn't really add to the stress...she actually helps alleviate it (except when she'is trying to eat cat litter). 

And, this baby has been a huge blessing to our family.  She has brought the older kids closer together as they all fawn over/play with her and cheer on every milestone.  She had the biggest cheering section when she started smiling and rolling over and crawling and standing up, and standing up without holding on to anything, etc., etc. 

So, will we use NFP in the future (to avoid)?  I hope not.  We've already had a baby when we were poor..and it was fine..we've always had everything we needed.  I'm already 35, so my baby-bearing years are quickly zooming to a close and babies really are such a blessing, so I hate to waste time avoiding when we don't have too much longer anyway.  You see, generally, families don't regret the children they do have, only the ones they don't.   But, who knows what the future will bring...we may end up dealing with serious illness or something which makes NFP necessary.   But for now...ecological breastfeeding is still pretty good at spacing babies and we're looking forward to having another when Elsa is a bit older. 

Linking up with NFP and Me for NFP Awareness Week, cause you know...I got to do every link-up that comes around. .
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