Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Year in Review - 2017

Maybe it's just me, but 2017 has felt longer than a normal year. And yet, it wasn't quite long enough to get certain things done. Alas, isn't that how we often feel at the end of things? That we didn't have enough time to do the things that really should have been done? I hope I'm not the only one with this feeling - but more importantly, I hope there's grace for folks like me who probably didn't spend time correctly. Oh, wait, there is! It's called tomorrow: where there are mercies new every morning.

Even mornings when you wake up to fire and smoke.
But before I turn the page on 2017, I'd like to share some of the highlights of my year - at least according to the social media I was on. (Look carefully and you might notice a theme!)

#2017bestnine on Instagram

And the winner here is... Fire Baby! No surprise, really, as he was the best gift of the year. But in a bit more detail (going from top left to bottom right):
1. sharing a My Sunday Best reflection on the week after Fire Baby was born
2. Fire Baby on his birth day
3. 400 pounds of Fire Baby cuteness pinning me to the couch
4. an in utero profile pic of (you guessed it) Fire Baby
5. our Butterball Fire Baby wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving
6. Not pregnant! Drinking tea! Wearing my mom-iform! #thatpostpartumlife
7. a "Bumpie" in the bathroom while on a little getaway with the hubby in Scotland
8. Costco shopping with mom really wiped the little dude out. I guess.
9. Fire Baby's baptism!

I'm not sure how we'll top this in 2018 - I guess by taking more pictures of Fire Baby?? 😂

The Top 3 Posts on this here blog

So, who is this Fire Baby, you ask? Well, the number one viewed post on my blog was his birth story, and the second most viewed post was his birth announcement. Third up was a reflection on God's provision, but I have a sneaky suspicion that the picture of my baby bump may have had something to do with that (as it seems that social media likes babies!). So again, if I had plans to make things bigger and better on this here place, I guess I'm going to have to include more posts on/about Mr. Fire Baby. 
Either that, or get pregnant again! 😜

How did that (fill-in-the-blank) work out for you?

I'm not usually one for making resolutions or goals, but I do have one tradition of setting a goal for reading a certain number of books: this year it was a book a month, plus one:
 Looks like I fizzled out sometime around October... Gee I wonder why? #iblamethebaby #orthefires #orboth #betterlucknextyear

I also did a word for the year and a patron saint - and oddly - I wrote all of that up in a post that I never published. (I wonder why? It was a decent post!) In any case, my patron saint was Our Lady of Guadalupe and this was so fitting as she is also the patron saint of the unborn and I definitely felt her prayers during Fire Baby's birth.

My "word" for the year was (ha ha) GOALS - which I think I failed miserably with as I neither met my one goal above, nor made any to aspire to. I think I will have to do better this year, so I shall now turn to the internet to give me both my WORD and PATRON SAINT for 2018:

My word is:
Ooo. Striking. I want to make fun of this word, but somehow, I feel like it will be appropriate. I shall let it sit and ruminate on it a bit. There could be some wisdom in here.

My patron saint will be:
OK. This is so not cool. I actually did this a week or so ago with the kids and back then it picked a saint for me that was also the patron saint of those who have lost a spouse. And now this?? (And her name is just a feminized version of my husband's name?!)

I am officially weirded out. Someone needs to go talk to Jennifer Fulweiler about getting some better saints in her generator.

Alllll-righty! Well! This post took quite a turn for the strange and unsettling - so to close, I'll bring it back to something I know social media loves: Fire Baby!
Happy new year to you and thanks, as always, for reading. 💗

(Now can someone please hold my hand and tell me everything will be alright? Cuz that saint thing was really spooky!)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Fire Baby - Matthew's birth story

This is actually a two part post of my experiences during the Santa Rosa fires - for part 1 click here. In this part we learn of new fires and (if you couldn't guess from the title) have a baby.

October 14

A new fire starting up to the east of us
The kids playing (unironically) on a fire truck at a nearby park.
This day was odd. One the one hand, this new fire that popped up truly made us think about evacuating for real, but on the other hand we had some of the best air quality out of the whole week because of the direction of the wind. So we stayed on alert but also at home. We also decided to go to vigil mass at our cathedral instead of our home parish - which turned out to be slightly fortuitous (I guess) as the next day our parish was in a mandatory evacuation zone.

October 15

No church means more Lego time
With no church to go to on Sunday morning (because, again, we had gone the night before, not because it burned down!) we were all feeling a little bit "off". We received an invite from a friend to head down south again - but neither Paul nor I were feeling up to the travel. And again, this turned out to be fortuitous as at about 2pm I started having sensations that I thought were gas pains. When I was still having them at 4pm I realized they weren't gas pains, but I still wasn't willing to call them "contractions" though they were about 30-45 seconds long and coming every 7-10 minutes. In any case, I called my midwife to let her know what was up and she conceded that I could very well be in early labor. I did not like this news, so she gave me some things I could do try and slow the labor train down: drink water, put my feet up (i.e. rest), take a bath or shower, have a glass of wine. (Ooo! A glass of wine? Yes, please! Only problem: I had no wine in the house. Enter Big Sister to the rescue! She brought over a lovely bottle of pinot gris.) I tried all of these things to no avail. By 8pm things were definitely picking up the pace and I was emotionally a wreck - texting friends and even acquaintances asking for prayers that baby boy would stay put. In my mind there were so many good reasons to not have a baby just then - things like:
  • we had no diapers yet (but thanks to Amazon Prime, I would have them in 2 days)
  • we had no bassinet/crib (yet)
  • there was no birth center, and only 1 hospital in Santa Rosa still open
  • oh, and fire with all its accompanying smoke
But I needed to call the midwife again and let her know things were not slowing down - so I did, and received a welcome piece of news: they decided to open up the birth center early for us. I broke down crying at this news - I was so grateful. It was funny - this whole pregnancy, whenever anyone asked where we would go for the birth I always responded "Lord willing, we'll go to the Birth Center." I'm so glad the Lord was willing! But I knew it still wasn't time for us to head over to the center just yet. But at least when I hung up the phone a part of my heart and mind were at rest.

My sister, who was kind enough to supply the wine, went home but stayed on call and I went to bed. My previous labors have been 43 hours and 30ish hours, so I was sure I'd be in for a long night and wanted to get as much rest as I could. Rest wasn't in the cards though. As I laid there the contractions continued to come, but something was changing: I'd have 2 or 3 that I could handle just fine, but then I'd have a really big one where all I could do to cope was shake my leg (much like a dog's leg will spasm when it's dreaming - such an attractive picture, I know). After one such contraction, I received the words that would become my mantra for the rest of the labor, "Pass through". I don't know where these words came from, but they turned out to be a premonition of what I would really need to have happen, and I would repeat them over and over whenever a contraction came. This pattern of 2-3 "easy" contractions and 1 "big" contraction continued to build in intensity until I had one that knocked the wind out of me - and that's when I told Paul we needed to get to the Birth Center. This was about 10:30pm. So the midwife was called and the sister was called back and we got in the car.

Again, that 1 mile drive to the center was just the worst. I don't know how any laboring woman can stand to have a drive longer than 5 minutes to get to wherever they're birthing. Car rides are just the pits! We arrived at the same time as our midwife, who was fully decked out in scrubs and her N95. She checked me and I measured 5cm - which was both welcome and a bit disappointing. Welcome, because that meant I could be admitted, but disappointing because I thought for sure I'd be farther along. In any case, we made our way back to the birthing rooms, and because I had the choice, I chose to be in the same room where I had delivered both the wee girl and the little dude. Having that continuity was comforting and I needed all the comfort I could get.

When I labor, I like things to be dark, quiet and warm. Oh, and also new for this labor, I liked to have my barf bowl next to me at all times. So basically then, the things that I remember are the times when one of the "rules" were "violated". Like when I had to ask Paul 3 or 4 times for my bowl. I got so mad at him for taking it away, and then I got doubly mad at him for making me have to talk to him to get it back. I mean, after 2 labors with me he still can't read my mind?!? Sheesh, man.

(It wasn't actually this dark, but you get the idea. Turn up the volume to hear baby's heartbeat!)

Anyway, once the midwife checked me in and took my vitals, she and the student midwife left us to "work". I wanted to lie down on the bed, so I did and worked on saying my mantra and breathing through the contractions. But at some point, I couldn't even say my mantra anymore and that was when the midwives came back into the room. The student midwife was truly wonderful, very professional, always explaining exactly what she was doing - but because she was breaking my "quiet" rule I started to get really irritated. At one point, when I thought they were gone, I asked Paul, "Could you please tell the midwives not to talk to me?" not knowing that they were actually in the room. When I found that out later, it made me really glad that I had said what I did and not what I was thinking which was, "Can you tell her to shut up?" (That would have been awkward!)

At midnight, the midwives checked me again and this time I was fully dialated; so they offered to break my bag of waters, in the hopes of moving the labor along. But I refused - not because I wanted a repeat performance of the waterworks at little dude's birth - but because having my bag of waters broken for the wee girl's birth was something that I had always kinda regretted. So I said no and continued to have really painful contractions that didn't seem to do much of anything to get the baby out. The midwives suggested I sit on a birthing ball (a big NOPE), and then go sit on the toilet (another NOPE but it was a bit better than the ball). The birthing stool was brought out and that was somewhat helpful - but the big problem this time around was that while I could feel a whole lotta pain, I couldn't actually feel when I was doing an effective push. So I would push 3 or 4 times and on that last push the midwife would finally say, "There! Yes! Do another one just like that!" Except I didn't know what I was doing any different than the way that I had been pushing before, plus, I was so tired from those pushes that I needed to rest and wait for the next contraction. At which point, the cycle of ineffective pushes would start again.

I started to pace back and forth in the room, almost like a caged animal, and more than once I wondered if I was going to be able do this. When the midwives offered to break my bag of waters again at sometime around 1:30am, I said yes enthusiastically and almost frantically. Get this baby out!!

The relief I felt as the bag broke was wonderful, but short-lived. Very quickly we were back to painful contractions and ineffective pushes. I threw up once... then twice. As my midwife shared, "Some women vomit their babies out". And that had definitely been my experience. After the second time, I remember feeling somewhat encouraged because with my other labors the baby was delivered shortly after the second spew. But it was not to be. I just couldn't figure out how to effectively push this baby who seemed very unwilling to budge. Finally the midwife and I hit on a strategy that worked - as long as she had two fingers pressing on my cervix I could focus on where I needed to direct my energy and my pushes would be effective. Of course, now her fingers were in the way of the baby's head creating a ridiculous Catch-22 situation. "Pass through" indeed! But I was finally making some progress - some very slow and hard-won progress.

With my previous 2 labors, the work up to the pushing stage was long and arduous, but the actual pushing was only 30-45 minutes - jubilation! Once again, this was different: I pushed for about 3 hours and it was (dare I say it?) horrible. The pain was just getting worse and worse, and even though they told me baby was coming, I didn't feel it. Plus I was getting frantic and I remember crying out, "Can you just reach in and pull him out?!" (Though I don't remember an answer to that request.) And forget "working noises". This was an all-out fight to get this baby earth-side complete with Wonder Woman-esque battle cries.

I prefer this image over what was probably the reality.

When I finally got baby's head out I expected to feel the slip and slide of the rest of his body - but again - this was not to be. One of the midwives (either the student or the attending, I can't remember) exclaimed, "Sunny side up!" and the other said, "Just a few more pushes..." All I could think was, "MORE?! He's supposed to just slide out now!" Turns out "sunny side-up" is just a poor euphemism for "hard as hell". (Ok, no, it isn't but whatever.) Finally - finally - at 4:30am, all of baby's 19 inches came out and we welcomed Matthew Francis with cries of relief and joy.

When I met Matthew I was surprised by his dark hair, red skin, and cries. They were strong and MAD! I couldn't blame him, and in fact I wanted to tell him "Dude, the feeling's mutual," but then he opened his eyes and I was stunned by the clarity and intensity in them already! All I could think was, "He is a smart one!" The rest of the morning was quiet and uneventful, so at 8:30 we were discharged and ready to go home. Stepping outside the smoke in the sky made a sun as red as my little one when I first laid eyes on him.

October 16

Anniversary cards, still in the plastic! We'll put heartfelt messages
in them next year.

We brought our little "fire baby" home on our 9th wedding anniversary - our Matthew - truly a "gift of God" to us.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Week in Pictures - October 9th - 16th (Part 1)

This ol' blog has been quiet as of late, I know. I seem to remember back at the beginning of this latest pregnancy making a statement about "getting back to writing" more often - and wow, that didn't happen! This pregnancy was definitely the most difficult of the 3 so far: the worst "morning" sickness, odd and transient food aversions, and the most uncomfortable.  That last one, by the way, is what I blame the lack of writing on: I couldn't sit at a desk or table for more than 15 minutes without inducing really bad "tightness" (for lack of a better word).  And then October came.

So much has happened this month, with the majority of that stuff happening in the one-week span from the 9th to the 16th. I've tried to be vague on this blog about where I live - being on the internet and all - but I can't talk about this particular week and remain vague since our town was all over the news that week. (Look at me still trying to remain non-descript!) So while I could factually tell you all the things, what I really want to do is share how they affected me. Because it both was and wasn't like how it was shared on CNN or BBC - at least not for us - and the last thing I want to do is participate in sensationalism.

To be sure, we were scared. So scared, that it took us nearly 4 days before we realized that we lived *across the street* from the emergency responders' Headquarters. They would not have made that place their headquarters if they were worried about it being burned down. Or at the very least, as my sister observed, if we see them packing up and heading out then that would be a very good sign that we should do the same. No need to frantically look at our phones every time a text message came in.

Which again, to be honest, I wasn't doing anyway. We all deal with crisis differently: some folks want to tune in to the local news source and be in the know at all times, and some want the tv/radio/phone to be off unless absolutely needed. Fortunately, in our home Paul landed in the former camp and I was part of the latter group. It was a good division of responsibilities. I was able to stay responsive to the family's needs and Paul was able to keep us informed/educated as needed.

I regret that maybe in some ways this made me make light of a situation that was truly dire for some. I hope those hurt will accept my apology for attempting to bring levity when a shoulder, tears and kleenex would have been more appropriate.

So, until I can pull my thoughts together, I thought I would rely on the "picture is worth a thousand words" addage... and hope that it doesn't communicate more than intended.

October 9

The view from our front door at 6am
We stayed home that day.

October 10

Photo: KITV news
I chose this picture for 2 reasons: first, this was the only picture I could find that showed the color of the sky all day on the 10th. Obviously, we stayed home. But the cooped up animals in the picture were much like our children on day 2 of staying inside. Both were clamoring to get out (of the smoke/house). What I liked to say was that on day 1 of being inside all day, my children played constructively, but on day 2 they played destructively. So by day 3 both animals and children got their wish (in case you were wondering).

October 11

Reminding ourselves of truth... one of the ways that I was grateful for a homeschool routine that we could keep while everything else was uncertain.

The park we escaped to on day 3
Not perfect air quality to the south, but certainly a lot better than where we were.

October 12

From our front door again. Escaped south for the day again.

October 13

Who's got 4 thumbs and a face mask? This gal!

While at this appointment we discussed what would happen in the event I should go into labor while the Birth Center was closed - we all thought that would be extremely unlikely, as I was only at 37 weeks - but I thought it would still be prudent to ask. Bottom line: if I went into labor I would have to go to the only hospital that was still open, and only maybe would I get to have a midwife with me. Needless to say, this was not what I wanted to hear... but no worries, right? 37 weeks! We're fine...

It's not "participating in sensationalism" to split this into 2 posts, right? Hope so. Part 2 to come soon!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Things Not to do the Morning of your First Day of Co-op - a 7QT

We here at Wild Goose Academy are still finding our groove on this whole "home education" adventure... the rhythm is starting to fall into place - though we still have trouble with the concept that we can't go outside to start our "Play Block" until we've put on clothes, and we've already made some curriculum "adjustments" (tossing aside a curriculum is counted as just an adjustment, right?). But generally overall, things are working out just nicely. We do homeschool on Monday and Tuesday, the wee girl goes to preschool on Wednesday and Thursday, and Friday was "field trip" day.

That is until yesterday, when we started homeschool co-op!

Now, logistically, I was thinking this would be a piece of cake to do - since on Wednesdays and Thursdays we have to get out the door by 8:15 to get the wee girl to preschool, but on Fridays co-op doesn't start until 9:30 and it's literally a few blocks down the road. To my (inexperienced? ever-optimistic?) mind this was a whole extra hour of time in the morning to get ready!

However, as I learned yesterday, this really doesn't mean much. So here are a few things NOT to do in the morning before going to co-op.

- 1 -
If it is a feast day - as yesterday was (Happy belated Michaelmas, y'all!) - do not think you can read all the bible stories from your children's story bible that have to do with angels. There are more in there than you think! And chances are your child will want to know why certain angels have swords (easy. Because they fight the devil) and others have blonde hair (ummmm....) and you just don't have time to tackle all that.

While we're at it... why do Gabriel's wings look like they could use a lint roller?

- 2 -
Regarding said feast day, don't think you can start preparing dinner for it at 8:30am, even though you are thinking to yourself "Well, all the squash is doing is just roasting in the oven..." It *might* have been possible at 7:30 when you're brain was in a slightly better frame of mind and you could have pulled out the recipe to make sure you were following it *correctly* - but, news flash, it's now 8:30 and the kids still aren't dressed (nor are you), breakfast hasn't been cleaned up (or entirely eaten - little dude, get back to the table), oh! And you haven't fixed everyone's lunches yet! Or taken a shower. And the kids are now fighting over that cute little Archangel Michael you bought. You're bound to mess something up or burn the squash.

Or in my case... both.

- 3 -
St Kateri could have been a bit more helpful...

Which brings me to my third point - don't give out "surprises" the morning of co-op. I loved that little angel sitting on our table before the kids came out to the kitchen. Yay for liturgically-themed table decor! But I neglected to remember that there was only 1 of them... and I have 2 kids.  Normally, this kind of math doesn't bother me in the slightest. There will always be instances where one kid gets something that another kid doesn't, and better to learn that lesson early. However, again, teaching that lesson before co-op is *not* the best use of your time. Getting the kids dressed, and their hair/teeth brushed is much more on point.

- 4 -
Don't think you can pack 3 lunches the morning of co-op without at least a little bit of prep. Especially if there are students in the co-op with a food allergy. As they say, a stitch in time saves nine. Plan ahead by at least washing the grapes the night before. Or figure out how you're going to carry 3 lunches and snacks. Or both! This will not only save you time, but also precious counter space as you will not be tearing out all your lunch bag options at the same time as you are searching for a place to let your grapes dry.

- 5 -
For the sake of the other members in your co-op, try not to let personal hygiene be the first thing that gets bumped when you look at the clock and realize it's 9:25am. Cleanliness is next to godliness after all, and if you're not going to be punctual, at least you can have clean teeth. (Sorry co-op members)

- 6 -
OK, now it's 9:30, you're dressed but your hair/kitchen/teeth are just a mess. Try not to take this out on your wee girl by yelling "SHOES!!" at her repeatedly. It isn't exactly her fault that you're all running behind, and now your yelling is only making her flustered. She will only respond with how all 4 year-olds respond: with more foot dragging and (probably) doing something to make her little brother mad... like, say, taking his hot chocolate while he's not looking and drinking it all. Cue the 2 year old brother meltdown when he realizes his cup is empty.

(If I were on the receiving end of this, I might be flustered too)

- 7 -
One thing, nay 3 things, you *can* do once you've realized you've gone astray: Repent - rejoice - repeat. Truly, things did not start to get better until I prayed (out loud!) "Jesus, this morning has been a mess. I'm sorry. Please redeem this day." And He did! Our first day of co-op was great. It was so exciting to see the wee girl make connections between what we had been working on all week and the lessons we did in co-op on Friday. She made a great sand painting to boot. And the little dude did just great in the nursery (despite his still sensitive mood from his sister's hot chocolate-pilfering) - even making me look (dare I say it?) good by impressing the nursery teachers with his alphabet-singing-while-hand-washing and staying in his seat for *all* of lunch. (Now if he would just do that at home!)

So there you have it - feel free to learn from my mistakes! We're all about real-life education over here. *wink* There seem to be some other homeschool related links over at Kelly's, so pop on over and continue to get educated!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Wild Goose Academy - our adventure in home education

I had a friend tell me once that you should never reveal the name of your baby until he/she actually arrives, as this will save you from hearing all those stories about your baby's soon-to-be-name.

"Oh, I knew a ________ back in grade school. He would beat little kids up for their lunch money."

"Oh, that's my cousin's name too! Well, at least it was before she joined a commune and became Butterfly Sparkle Princess."

Et cetera.

The idea was that no one tells you these stories once your little bundle of joy is staring them right in the face. Makes sense to me.  And I guess you could say we took the same tack here...

Welcome to Wild Goose Academy!

The "classroom"

The lesson plans

New books, new binder, new pencils

We are here!
Today was our first day of school - and I couldn't be more pleased with how things turned out. That might be due in part to low expectations (I just didn't think the wee girl would be cooperative) and it was definitely due to reading this blog post last night (so well timed, one could only say it was from God... especially when this morning I found out we had (not enough) eggs and the little dude was running a slight temperature. How in the world did she know?!?)

But whatever it was, no one could be more surprised than me at how willing the wee girl was to just jump right in: Morning Time - pray, sing, read. Check! Get ready to go play - then play. Check! Run an errand, come home, have lunch, put the little dude down for a nap. Check! Make lemonade - measure, count and add. Check! Read our first chapter of Farmer Boy, do an oral narration... ok the narration was a little like pulling teeth, but it's our first time, so check! Extra credit: make a bookmark for our book. Check!

Ok, that makes it sound like I'm happy because we checked things off a list and that's not entirely accurate. I'm really happy because the wee girl was so happy. All. Day. Long. When I shared this with him, my husband pointed out, "Well, she got a whole day with Mommy," which stopped me in my tracks. Doesn't she always get a whole day with me? (And then some?) But no. She doesn't always get days focused on her. Today was special because I was focused on doing things with her (and if I didn't know it already, then I learned it today - quality time is totally her love language).

What my husband also reminded me of was one of the reasons why we wanted to home educate in the first place: family relationships are important and we want to cultivate those relationships through the time we spend together. When I first articulated that value, I had thought about it purely in terms of sibling relationships - I want them to love and take care of each other - but I had totally forgotten the parent/child relationship benefits from this as well. *smh*

I know not every day will be like today. (In fact, I'm fully prepared for tomorrow to be everything that I feared today would be - minus the lack of eggs part. I fixed that during my errand run today.)

But I will celebrate today. I will be (already am) thankful for this beautiful start to what I hope will be a year full of discovery. And I will ask for the wisdom and guidance to make more days like this one happen.

I think we're going to have a good year.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Lord Will Provide - My Sunday Best - 08

I'm sitting here on my bed typing this up, listening to my little dude pound the wall with his... feet? Head? Hands? I'm not sure, but whatever he's using he's doing so with great force and gusto. Much like in this picture below:
So please forgive me if, at the moment, my only thought is "Lord, please provide at least an hour's nap so we may all have an enjoyable evening."


Skirt: it was a maxi skirt that I picked up at Costco... seems to get shorter every week
Shirt: Old Navy Maternity
Shoes: just some flats from Target
Bump: 29 weeks

We had a guest priest from India today, here to do an appeal for the missions work that he's a part of back in Calcutta. We also brought our lovely niece with us to Mass too, and at one point she looked at me and asked (in hushed tones) "Auntie, what language is he speaking?" (Me: LOL!) His accent was a little thick, but I think the novelty of it helped keep the kiddos quiet (well, it was that or the extra coloring materials their cousin brought with her) because I was actually able to listen to most of the homily today!

The Gospel was the story of the Caannanite woman, who's persistance and iconic line about even dogs getting the scraps from their master's table, made Jesus exclaim "O woman, great is your faith!" Father used this line as the jumping off point for talking about other people with great faith - notably St Theresa of Calcutta and also Abraham. The story that stuck with me was Abraham's. In Father's retelling of Abraham obeying God's command and offering Isaac as a sacrifice, he said that Abraham's only prayer through the whole ordeal was what he also told Isaac, "The Lord will provide." Abraham didn't tell Isaac, "God has asked me to kill you and I'm just not going to do it." Nor did he say, "Sometimes God asks us to do hard things. And right now, even though I love you greatly, I'm going to offer you as a sacrifice because I love and fear God more." He only said, "The Lord will provide," and continued forward with the plan.

Who can say what was really going through Abraham's head? The writer of Hebrews posits that Abraham must have believed that even if he killed Isaac, God would raise him from the dead (Heb 11:17-19). But I wonder. If it's true, what Father said, that the only prayer on Abraham's lips for the 3 days he journeyed to Moriah was "The Lord will provide," well then, that sounds far more like a desprate cry of the heart to me. And in those moments of desparation - where all I can do is say the same prayer over and over again - you can be sure I'm not using my spiritual imagination to think up ways that God can answer my prayer. I'm just hoping beyond hope that He *will* answer my prayer before it's too late.

The closest I've ever come to that kind of desparation was when I was in labor with the little drummer above. It was a natural, unmedicated labor that was becoming far more intense (for me) than the labor that I experienced with his sister. Close to the end, I had what I can only describe as an epiphany, "We're not both going to make it through this. One of us is going to die."

(I will pause here to mention that midwives are very familiar with this kind of talk from laboring women - and in fact, they take it as a very good sign that labor will actually be over very soon. So everyone present was prepared and ready to go for that last important push.)

But back to me. In that moment, I knew I had to choose: either I give up and my baby would die, or I push through and I die. To me, there was no third way. And I remember (wildly, desparately) thinking "God I hope your offer of eternal life is true... because I so want to see this baby grow up."

Father's encouragement was that when we make that sacrifice, God will meet us there and say to us what he said to the Caannanite woman: "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." (Matt 15:28)

I don't think Father meant for this to be some version of a prosperity gospel - where you can "sacrifice" something in order to gain something better from God - as his examples of Abraham and St Theresa were profound enough to (hopefully) discourage that kind of thinking. Rather I think he was acknowledging the spiritual reality that God meets us in our moments of desparation and confirms what we madly hope in faith to be true: that God does actually love each one of us and desires life - real life - for us all. We may not know what that's going to look like, but if we can trust Him, we know it will be good.

Join Rosie over at her place - she's canning and freezing and basically making hay while the sun shines - oh, and she's the one who hosts My Sunday Best too. It'd be good to say hi. :)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A New Library (to) Love

I feel like a bit of a cheat to say this, but...

...I think I found my new favorite library. The outside is nothing spectacular, but of course, like all the good things, it's on the inside. When you walk in the "New Arrivals" are well presented, front and center. The kids' area has a wee... dome? rotunda? with a fresco painted in it of literary characters and a little stage for putting on puppet shows. I love that. There's even a book "store" (a room of used books for sale).

It's just too bad it's in the next town over. (And yes, I *can* hear the snickers of all you folks around me who think that driving to Rohnert Park is an issue. Let's just say, "Different strokes..." mmm, kay?)

In any case, we loved taking the little field trip this past weekend to a different library - and as a result, I picked up a few books worth sharing:

The Kraken's Rules for Making Friends
So, around here, we are not above the occasional bribe to get behavior we want - i.e. would you just stand still and let me brush your hair, please?! On one such occasion I found a video combining two of the wee girl's favorite things - Lego and ocean-stuff - and it was just the right length for getting her hair brushed and in a pony tail. (If you've got 7 minutes, it's fun and worth a watch.) This was how she learned about The Kraken - so when I saw this book in the library, I knew we had to check it out.

It's definitely quirky, and some of the Shark's rules (yeah, it's actually the Great White who makes the rules) rub me the wrong way - but the overall message "Be the friend that you want to have" and the illustrations, and of course The Kraken, have made this a winner here.

Pancakes, Pancakes!
It was the wee girl who had a very valid insight about this one: "Why is it called PancakeS? There's only one!" Which is true. But it's a great story about how one *really* makes pancakes (you gotta thresh wheat to get the grain, and feed chickens to get eggs and milk cows to get milk, etc...) AND it's illustrated by the beloved Eric Carle (substitute "iconic" if he's not beloved at your house). Even though I find this to be a bit on the long-side for a 2.5 year old, it's actually been the 2.5 year old who has requested this book every day since we brought it home. He likes it a lot (and I do too)!

Today Is Monday
Another Eric Carle one. There's only a few words - but one of them is "ZOOOOUP!" so it's a hit at our house. Apparently, the text is from a song, and the sheet music is included at the back. I have yet to fire up the keyboard and plunk out the tune, but it looks catchy. :)

Songs and Story: Cars
A friend introduced this Disney/Pixar CD series to me. Each CD has a few songs from the movie and then a dramatized (and much abbreviated) narration of the story afterwards. This is the only other audiobook that I've been able to get both kids (but mainly the wee girl) to listen to - and I can't tell if that's because she's familiar with the story, or if the character's voices are included, or what. In any case, when she turns it on I have at least 20 minutes of "quiet time" to myself, so I'm not complaining! It's well done too, so I'll be looking into the others in the series.

That's the best of the best here! What have you been picking up at your library (or the next town over's library)?

Sunday, July 2, 2017

A Little Bit of Community - My Sunday Best - 07

Just barefoot and pregnant - though my husband
insisted that I not (also) be standing in the kitchen
for this picture ;)
Hey look! I found something new to wear to Mass! Thanks, Mom! :)
Top: H&M  Skirt: Old Navy  Bump: 22 weeks

We made it back home! It really was so nice to be back in our home parish - seeing familiar faces, singing songs also so familiar I don't need to hold the book for them (a definite plus when those hands are needed to pull wandering boys back into the pew *ahem*). I think the kiddos also appreciated being back on home territory - if nothing else, they were back where they get their own special bread after communion! And they were pretty well behaved (knock on wood?) so I even got to hear some of the readings and homily.

Today's first reading gave me a lot to think about today - most all of it pretty superficial, I have to admit. (Sorry.) First of all, the Shunammite woman: she decides she wants to build Elisha a room, and one sentence later, BOOM. It's built and Elisha's moved in.  Clearly, this is a "woman of influence"! We started our own building project last year, and have yet to even break ground on the project, much less furnish it with a "bed, table, chair and lamp."  Though it's not for a lack of trying! (What do we gotta do to find a contractor around here??)

But really, it was her hospitality that struck me. Hospitality is truly a gift from God - when done right, people open right up and community is forged. I'm always awed by it when I'm on the receiving end, or even when I just witness it for someone else.  That's why I was so grateful to meet a few ladies after church today for a little park picnic. We had "met" through Blessed Is She's regional group on Facebook and decided to get together IRL this afternoon. Our kids ranged in age from 2 to 14, but they all seemed to get along great and us moms got a chance to introduce ourselves and learn a little bit about each other. It really was a lovely afternoon and we ended with plans to get together again next month - so I think, "Success!" But as always, glory to God - because it had very little to do with me and a lot more to do with Him (and the mom who brought the package of cookies to share)! What's been your best experience of hospitality (giving or receiving)?

Rosie, her sister and I are (apparently) barefoot buddies this week... head over there for more MSB community!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Do Not Be Afraid - My Sunday Best - 06

I should be packing things up right now, but the lure of blogging is stronger than my desire to be responsible. This is always the hardest part of any trip for me. Well, to be honest, packing *for* the trip is harder than just packing back up to go home, but either way the act of packing reminds my body that change is on the way. And *that* is the hard part: forcing my body to change its environment and routine. (And again, let's be honest, forcing my body to get on a plane. I haven't quite reached the point where drugs are necessary to get me through a plane trip - and I hope I never reach that point! - but we've considered it more times than I care to admit.)

Just me in my pregnancy-standard Mass outfit, Saint Margaret
 of Scotland and a wee little photo-bomber.
Which is why, upon reflection, today's Gospel and homily were more timely than I first considered. " not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." (Matt 10:31) God cares for us more than we let ourselves believe sometimes - and Jesus reminds me of this often.  Because of God's love my fear is truly unfounded. But what I find odd though, is that in this gospel reading he basically says, "Look. If you *are* going to be scared, at least be scared of the right thing. Let's get our priorities straight here. Don't fear people who can just kill your body. Fear the one who can kill your body AND soul." I need this no holds barred kind of talk sometimes (especially when I'm about to get on a plane.) And just in case I missed it in the gospel and the homily, the priest also said it as his parting remark as I was shaking his hand and leaving. "Do not be afraid!" All I could say in response, was "Yes, Father!" But Father was African, and I think the way they say it around here is more entertaining/endearing:

The Scottish equivalent of "Keep Calm and Carry On"?
So yes, we're getting ready to go home... I'm sure you won't mind then letting me take this opportunity to dump some photos of our trip on you (and should you want to skip this part and head back to Rosie's for her My Sunday Best, then go ahead and click away. I won't hold it against you ;) )

See you back State-side!