Sunday, February 28, 2016

WIWS -17 weeks and my thoughts on Maternity Fashion.

Maternity fashions have changed a lot in the last 14 years since I had my first.  Thank God. 

Fourteen years ago, the options were hideous, tent-like hideous and overall-hideous.  I actually had a pair of maternity overalls....but these weren't denim overalls. Oh no....they were this velvet, dress-up, black overalls.  I actually used to wear them to work.  Gulp.   Let's just say, those did not get put into the "keep" pile.

Even besides the whole-tent like thing, back 14 and 11 years ago when I was pregnant with #1 and #2, most maternity shirts where of the empire waist style.  I hate that style.  It works on some body types...but not mine.  For one thing, it only looks good when you have a sizable belly...which for me is not until the very end.  I tend to not get that big while pregnant.  Not that I don't gain plenty of weight....I do.  However, I have a long torso and tend to carry my babies more around the side than out in front.  With all my other pregnancies, even at the very end, I could still touch my toes, shave my legs, pick stuff up off the floor and overall get around just fine, up until the day of birth. 

Thankfully when #3 came along, tighter fitting shirts with the ruching (I think that's the word) at the side came into style.  I LOVE those shirts.  I love that they work for ALL stages of pregnancy, not just the end.  They don't look dorky and dumb before the belly gets really big.  I love shirts that are tighter and show off the belly, rather than ones that try to hide it in loads on fabric. I don't look good under loads of fabric.

You want to know what else doesn't work on me, maternity wise.  Dresses.  Some moms can really pull them off.  Not me. I hate wearing dresses while pregnant.  You want to know why?.Of course you do, that is why you are still reading.   Because my kids are smart thanks to a certain anatomical part. (Or maybe it's just good genes).  I tend to think I look ridiculous with a big rear end AND a big belly sticking out of a dress. It's just not flattering. Only one side should stick out at a time...the front or the back. Not both.  So, I like the the break-up of wearing separate pieces rather than all one piece of fabric when I have both a big rear AND a big belly.

So, with all that talk of maternity fashion, here's what I wore today.  17 week baby bump. Only 3 more weeks until we get to find out.  I DEFINITELY want to know early.  For sure. Not even a question.  I do NOT get the whole surprise thing. 

Actually, none of these clothes are maternity clothes. The jacket is from ThredUp.  The skirt is from target.  The shirt is old and from a store that is now out of business. The boots are Zulily.  And the tights are super sexy, medical-grade compression stockings from Discount Surgical because when you get to be old like me, you have to deal with varicose veins. 

One of my favorite bloggers, Rosie, is hosting What I Wore Sunday.  Check her out.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Breastfeeding, Morality and Parenting Outcomes

So one of my favorite parenting authors wrote a super controversial piece about breastfeeding and it being a moral choice.

And the Internet exploded with backlash.  Most notably Simcha Fisher who writes.

But the Church does not tell us we must breastfeed. The Church does not tell us this, because breastfeeding is not always the best way to care for babies’ physical, emotional, and psychological needs, which are bound up intimately with the physical, emotional, and psychological needs of the mother and the rest of the family. - See more at:

That is all true.  The church doesn't tell us that we HAVE to breastfeed.  Some mothers can't.  That is very much true.

However, it is still very much true that breastfeeding is ideal.  I'm not going to claim that it's a moral issue, but I am going to claim that it is best. I'm not going to get into the all scientific reasons for it, it's just common sense and you can read it for yourself.  You get pregnant. You give birth.  You have these things called breasts which make milk and you feed the baby and the baby grows.  That's how it was designed to work.  It just makes sense that a natural food that changes as your baby grows, that contains antibodies and immune factors and all the vitamins and minerals and probiotics and differing levels of fat and protein is going to be superior to something made in a factory that comes in a can.  The scientific studies on the benefits of breastfeeding are overwhelming...and not just for the baby but for the mother too....lowered breast cancer risk, faster uterine shrinking, etc, etc.,
 Of course there are people who get formula who are intelligent, healthy people That doesn't negate the fact that breastfeeding is still the best/normal/natural way to feed a baby in a general sense. 

However, it is also true that we live in a world that is far from ideal.  We live in a fallen world. We live in a world where people have health issues.  For many individual mother-baby dyads, breastfeeding may NOT be best for their particular situations. THAT'S OKAY.  Because, while breast milk is ideal, it is more ideal that the baby has enough to eat, so if your body can't make enough milk....well thank God for formula. 

People say that breastfeeding versus formula feeding is a choice.  But, I really don't think it is.  I think it is an outcome.  Yes, I do think most moms should try breastfeeding. Obviously there are exceptions...maybe the mom has cancer and needs treatment or has deep psychological issues or experienced abuse.  There are numerous reasons why breastfeeding may not be best in a particular circumstance, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it is best in general.  When people make recommendations about public is done in a general sense.  They aren't thinking of every single little exception. 

It is not incongruent to say that breastfeeding is best while still acknowledging that it may not be best for some individuals.

Just like it is best if a child grows up with a mother and father who are married to each other. However, if one of those parents is abusive, it is best if the child grows up WITHOUT an abusive parent so in that cases a single parent household may be best for the child.  And sometimes bad things happen, a parent dies, and a child has to grow up without both parents.  Sometimes a single woman or teen or college student gets pregnant and the father of the baby is not a good candidate for marriage or not interested in helping.  In those situations, a child grows up with a single parent.  That's's not ideal, but it happens and we make the best of it.  

Studies have shown that it is best if a baby is born vaginally.  The baby gets important bacteria from his/her mother's birth canal and a Cesarean birth put the baby at more risk of allergies and asthma.  Of course, it is also best if a baby is born alive and without brain damage and if the mother survives childbirth without injury.  So, if a c-section is what is necessary for a baby to born alive and without brain damage and for the mother to survive childbirth without injury, than in that particular situation, a c-section is best.   That doesn't take away from the fact that overall it is best if babies come out through the same passage the sperm gets in.

We have a guilt problem here in the United States.  Apparently we are never, ever allowed to say that anything is best or ideal because there are people for whom the best or ideal is not possible and we might make them feel guilty. Furthermore, we are never allowed to say that anything a mother does is ever linked to an adverse outcome, because someone, somewhere may feel guilty.  I don't get that. 

Guess what, my life is not ideal.  My children are not always raised in the most ideal manner possible.  It would be more ideal if we had more money and could give our children more experiences.  It would more ideal if I didn't have to work at home and could devote more time and energy to my children. That's not our situation, and  I'm not going to waste a single iota of energy feeling guilty about a situation I can't change at the moment.  I believe that it would be ideal if I could feed my kids 100% natural, organic food all the time.  Guess what....I don't do that.  I CAN'T do that.  And I don't feel guilty about it either but I can still acknowledge that 100% all natural, ideal food is better even while saying that it is not possible for me right now. 

Nor should anyone waste a single moment of time feeling one single iota of guilt because they need to use formula or had a c-section or whatever other parenting outcomes they had that are less than ideal, because life is less than ideal.

I'm going to make a confession here.  I am a La Leche League leader. I have put in untold volunteer hours helping mothers breastfeed.  I have NEVER gone up to anyone in a store or restaurant or park any other public place and said anything to them about bottle feeding or formula.  NEVER.  I only help or talk to mothers about breastfeeding who come to me first and WANT help.   And then I put in a  lot of my own time, unpaid, helping them.   People who can't breastfeed say it is hurtful when they hear the slogan "breast is best."  Well, guess what..... it is hurtful when you say "breastfeeding is just a choice, it doesn't matter" to moms who put in a LOT of effort to breastfeed, or moms who give up their own time to help other mothers breastfeed.  I have known moms who went through a terrible time in the beginning and many are very GLAD they continued.  Why?  Because it got easier, it got better and suddenly they enjoyed breastfeeding.  Now, this isn't everyone.  Some moms can't make enough milk, they never can.  And when they decide to use formula, it's a relief. That's okay too.  

No one should be made to feel guilty about their their outcome (because sometimes it's not a choice, it's an outcome).  But also no one should be made to feel that breastfeeding doesn't matter and that it's not important and their hard work is for nothing because it's just a choice anyway.  

How is it NOT okay to claim that "breast is best" (when the science is clear),  but it IS okay to call people who say that, "breastfeeding bullies?"  Yes, there may be a few bullies out there, but the vast majority of breastfeeding proponents are NOT bullies.  They are very nice people who just want to help others.

Why can't we just acknowledge that science says that breast is best/ideal, but that it not may be not best/idea for some individuals because we live in a broken, less than ideal world?  

Is that really so hard??

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

After Homeschooling K-8, Why We Are Sending the Oldest to a Public High School.

When we first started homeschooling, people would always ask me if we planned on homeschooling "all the way though."  And, I always answered with an "I don't know, but we probably will."

Except now we're not. 

Part of the reason is that situations change and locations change.  We've homeschooled in different states and different locations and one thing I've learned is that schooling options vary A LOT. 

Our oldest will actually be going to a small, public, magnet, "early college" school next year. Essentially it's a small school for smart/academic/serious students who wish to earn college credit while still in high school.  She was accepted into it, and we think it may be a good fit for her.  The students are generally more serious and well-behaved and everyone is expected to put a lot of effort into their studies.  

So we're going to try it.

I have to say that for the most part, I've loved homeschooling.  And, I loved all the people we have met through homeschooling.  And, I'll still be homeschooling the younger ones, but is a real relief not to feel the pressure of homeschooling high school next year.

Here are some of the reasons, I was hesitant about continuing to homeschooling through the high school years.  I fully realize that many people very successfully homeschool their children through high school and those students do very well.   I also realize that all children are different and have different needs. 

The stakes are high.   Elementary school is just lower stakes than high school. In the early grades, all you really need to worry about are the basics.  However, grades in high school can affect college admission which can affect future career options.   Academic skills you learn in high school can affect how one does in college. I realize that college is not for everyone.  Different people have different gifts and talents and not everyone needs college. But our family tends to be more academic and not so good at working with our hands.  We are highly educated, but absolutely terrible at things like home improvements, building stuff, crafty stuff, etc. . Now, if our children determine that they have a religious vocation and want to entire the convent after high school, that is great.  But otherwise, I see college in their future. 

The subject matter is more difficult.  With most homeschooling families, the older kids get, the more they are expected to work independently.  Which is a GOOD thing.  I feel as though our children have really learned to be self-directed, self-motivated, how to teach themselves.   The way we homeschool if that I generally assign work, help with any questions, and then go over the work and make them correct EVERY SINGLE THING they got wrong.   It seems to be working fairly well, but as the subject matter becomes more difficult, this process becomes more difficult.  I don't have the time to re-learn chemistry so I can help with it.   

The advantage of the classroom environment.  Not all students enjoy being in a classroom or learning with a group, but my oldest child DOES.  Throughout the years, she's taken several classes through various co-ops and seems to really enjoy the classroom environment.  Listening to lectures, the exchange of ideas, learning in a group all has its advantages.  Especially if you are learning with other students who are serious about learning as well.  When I was in high school and college, I generally liked attending class, just that energy of learning in a group was very motivating. 

Math/Science.  I have heard that homeschoolers in general tend to do slightly better in writing/language skills and slightly worse in math/science skills.Obviously there are many exceptions to this, this is just a generality.  But it makes sense to me.  Many homeschool curriculum and programs are very much liberal arts based and emphasize writing and reading quite a bit.  Plus, many homeschoolers love to read and have the time to do quite a bit of it.   Homeschooling programs oftentimes tend to focus on critical thinking and analysis.  Which is great.  But on the flip side, I do think there is a slight de-emphasis on math and science.  Of course many homeschoolers do quite well in these subjects, but on a whole. I think science is something that's a bit harder to do at home.  Let's face it, I'm not going to go out and buy Bunsen burners so we can have chem lab on my kitchen table.  I have absolutely zero desire to keep a dead cat in my freezer so we can dissect it.   However, I really want my children to have strong math/science skills.  Not that a liberal arts education isn't great, but I do think that it may be a bit easier to find a job in a career that requires more math/science as opposed to liberal arts (for example a career in the medical field or engineering as opposed to being a history or philosophy professor). We've had enough employment issues in our house for me to very much want my children to pursue a field of study/career that makes them highly employable. 

The $$$ involved.  Since I'm not about to have chem lab on my kitchen table with a toddler running around, there are many classes I would want to source out.  And I happen to live in area with an abundance of homeschool co-op classes  And homeschoolers can take college classes.  The problem is that all these things cost $$$ and you can spend quite a bit of time driving kids around to various classes.   Having to chauffeur a child to numerous outside classes sounds somewhat nightmarish to me.   Not to mention the cost of books and curriculum and maybe enrollment in a homeschool program. It can add up very fast.

My own limitations.  Like everyone else, I have limited time and limited energy.  Homeschooling takes A LOT of both.  In high school, the stakes are high.  I don't want my child to suffer because *I* am unable to keep up with homeschooling.  I think most homeschoolers have had times where homeschooling happened via Netflix.  And that is okay in limited amounts in the younger grades.  But not for high school.   I've managed go keep up with homeschooling thought a babysitting gig and working at home and pregnancy. I've homeschooled through multiple moves and new babies.  But it's not easy.  I place a high priority on a rigorous education.  So far, I think I've done okay.  It helps that my kids are naturally smart.  But, I'm just not confident in my ability, either with time or money to provide everything a high schooler needs. 

Motivation/Competition: Several years ago I remember talking to a veteran homeschool mom who stated that she put her boys in high school because they NEEDED the competition/motivation of being around other students and working for someone besides their mother to excel in school.  Now my oldest is a girl, and she's generally very self-motivated, but I can also definitely understand the motivation that comes from being in a classes and competing to get a high grade on an exam or paper.  I can understand that it's more motivating, working for someone besides mom. 

Homeschooling doesn't guarantee kids who remain Catholic.  Elizabeth Foss wrote about this.  Neither does sending your kids to a Catholic college.  Kids grow up and make their choices and keeping them surrounded in a Catholic cocoon isn't going to insure they remain Catholic.  I've heard people say things like "the reason they homeschool is to get their kids to heaven, not Harvard"...which is essentially pitting the child's moral life against their academic learning.  I think this is a false dichotomy.   Homeschooling doesn't guarantee heaven and Harvard doesn't guarantee hell . Not that any of our kids will ever go to Harvard, but you get the point.  In some cases I feel that being in a secular environment really makes a person's faith their forces them to make a choice, rather just remaining Catholic because that is all they've been exposed to.  At least that was my experience with attending a public university. Furthermore, we are fortunate to live in an area where there are many awesome youth groups for Catholic teens, so our daughter will still be able to be friends with and hang out with other Catholic teens, even while attending a public high school.  

I realize that all children are different, but our particular children (much like my husband and myself) tend to be the "do-your-own-thing, don't-follow-the-crowd, immune-to-peer-pressure, I-don't-care-what-other-people-think-type."   Which is a good quality to have.  I think homeschooling for so many years does sorta foster that mentality, but I also think that some people are just naturally like that and our kids tend to have that natural "I don't care to follow the crowd, I'm not peer-driven mentality."    So we're optimistic that school with work out.  

And if it doesn't, we can always go back to homeschooling. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Happy Birthday Heidi, Baby, Lent, Valentine's and High School

1.  Today is Heidi's 14th birthday.  Happy birthday to my wonderful, smart, beautiful daughter.  People say they dread the teenage years, but so far, teenager-hood is way more delightful and easy than toddler-hood.   Now, she actually is turning into a reasonable person who you can converse with in a logical, interesting manner.  And she never throws stuff or spits food out or insists on getting the pink cup or cries because her banana broke. Teenagers are way easier than toddlers. 

2.  Last night she had a bunch of her friends over for a birthday party. Birthday parties for teens are way easier than for little kids.   Just throw some snacks and soda at them, and they're good. They entertain themselves (and it can be pretty entertaining at times).  Nothing at all like having a birthday party for a bunch of 5-year olds. 

Happy Birthday Heidi.

It's the homeboy pose.
3.  Keeping on the Heidi theme, it's looking like, after 8 years of homeschooling, she will be attending high school next year.  A public high school at that.  Actually, it's a very small, magnet school that attracts more "serious/academic" students where you can earn a ton of college credit during high school.  She applied and was accepted into it (they look at grades/test scores and meet with the student) so I think we're going to try it.  If it doesn't work out, we can always go back to homeschooling. Maybe I'll write a future blog post on why are looking at high school after so many years of homeschooling. 

4. How about a baby bump picture.
 I'm almost 15 weeks, so that seems like a good time. I've been feeling what I think is movement for about 2 weeks now, so I think everything is going well, but we'll see.  I feel like I have more of a bump at this stage than I did with the other ones.  That either means that I'm fatter (definitely) or it's a boy (maybe) or my memory is terrible (definitely). 

5. So everyone is talking about what they are doing for Lent.  My sole goal is to pray more and yell less.  Many times my life feels pretty Lenten as it is, so being overworked and underpaid, I'm keeping things simple. 

6. From what I've been seeing on Facebook, the Northeast is getting pounded with snow.  Meanwhile, we've had hardly anything.  Makes me glad I don't live in the Northeast anymore. 

7.  I'm out of ideas for takes, so I'm just going to consider this a wrap and link-up. 

Hope everyone has a Happy Valentine's Day and a holy Lent. 

This is the card I'm going to give my Valentine. 
This was created by the Archdiocese of Detroit
 I figure anyone who can stay married to me, must be a candidate for canonization.


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