Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Family Friendly

I want to take a moment to say that I am so thankful that I have such a family friendly employer. Seriously. It is hard being a working mom. REALLY hard. Its even harder when, like me, you don't have a traditional 40-hour a week type job. Being an attorney is a demanding job, both mentally and in terms of time committment. I honestly do not think I would be able to continue doing it if I didn't have such an amazing boss and firm.

As with most associate attorneys, I have a minimum billable hour requirement that my firm expects me to meet each year. Its pretty ambititious and requires a lot of hard work to meet it. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons (mostly Bennett's multiple hospitalizations and illnesses this past year, and his insane number of doctor appointments), I just was not able to meet that requirement. I was definitely working hard, but the demands of life were simply too much.

So, I was rather expecting that my boss would really get on my case about it. I prayed on more than one occassion that they please not fire me! I went into my year-end review with a healthy sense of nervousness and anticipation.

Now, don't get me wrong, the issue definitely came up. But my boss said to me "You are a wife, mother and lawyer. If you have to be mediocre at any of those things, it should be the lawyer." Wow.

A lot of employers claim to be family friendly. But when it comes down to it, they really aren't. I am SO incredibly thankful and lucky to be able to work for a firm that really truly is family friendly. When I was in the hospital on bedrest while pregnant with Bennett, they didn't push me to work. They said to do what I could. After Bennett was born and during his 9 week NICU stay, they told me to focus on my baby. When my maternity leave ran out, and my baby was still in the hospital, and later when he was home on oxygen and a gazillion medications and there was no way I was leaving him yet - they compromised and let me work from home part time. No one blinks an eye when I roll out of here at 5:30 p.m. No one says a word when I miss time because I have to take Bennett to this doctor or that doctor. They have my welfare as a person in mind, and realize that being a mom is a HUGE part of who I am. If they were not so accomodating, there is no way I would have been able to continue pursuing my career. They made it so I didn't have to choose between my career and my children.

I do not take this for granted. Not one second. I know this comes at a cost to my firm. I know they are making a long-term investment in me. This type of work environment is invaluable. It makes it easy to be loyal to a firm like this. The more they invest in me - the more I want to invest in them. If only more employers were like this!!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Merry (belated) Christmas!

Be forewarned - there will be a picture explosion in this post! I take that as a sign of a great holiday!

Our festivities started Christmas Eve! Carter and I set to work in the kitchen busily cooking up a storm! See me here modeling my new apron my mom made (yes, with her own two hands) for me!
Carter and I baked a delicious cranberry-apple pie! It was very yumm but a tad tart, so of course, you must pair with vanilla bean ice cream. Of course!


Pie in hand, we headed north for a celebration with my family. Here is Grandpa with his two boys! These kids adore him!
Bennett tackling Grandma!My sisters made the most wonderful gifts for the boys this year! My sister Katie knitted stuffed animals - a lion for Carter and a rabbit for Bennett! They are toooo adorable!

And my sister Tia knitted each boy a blankie with their initial on it! Bennett instantly took to his!
Katie also made me this adorable wall hanging! Well, she didn't carve the frame, but she sewed the little quilted picture that went inside! She is opening an Etsy shop soon, and I will share that info with you once I get it. Of course!

Then we made the late-night trek back to our abode. Christmas morning, Carter came downstairs and warily tiptoed toward the family room. Afraid to peek in, he stopped short and said "Mom, did Santa come???" Then he did his happy dance and bee-lined toward the mountain of presents. Now, I should put a disclaimer that this mountain also includes presents from Nana and Pop Pop - we don't spoil our children that much. Nope, we let their massive family do that!

Bennett seemed to prefer to climb on top of his presents...
The poor thing isn't heavy enough to operate his bouncy-turtle, so we have to bounce it for him! Soon little buddy, soon...
Modeling the new boots daddy got mommy!
Chillin' in his new wheels - his absolute favorite gift. From Nana and Pop Pop!


Later Christmas day, we headed to Ace's parents' house. Here I am with my gorgeous sisters-in-law!

Here is the whole clan! Including Ace's 99 year old grandmother!
Our little family. Don't ask me why Ace wore orange on Christmas....My favorite part of Christmas with Ace's family are the games his dad comes up with! Each year, he has several games, and he awards cash prizes to the winners! This year, we had diaper races with the babies! Here are my nephew Ethan and Bennett (who are only 2.5 weeks apart in age!) racing! I loooved the awesome racing shirts my father-in-law had made for them!
Bennett took off with zest, only to be intercepted by Carter, allowing Ethan to take the lead and steal the win!
Then the big kids decided they needed to race too! My niece Charlize handily won that match :)
We had such a wonderful holiday this year! Everyone was in the Christmas spirit! So much love and laughter.

Merry Christmas!!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Birth Stories! Birth Stories!! Calling all Birth Stories!!!

I love birth stories. LOVE them. I love hearing how a woman feels at each stage in that incredible transition to motherhood. So, give 'em to me!

Now! That's an order! ;)

Please??? Pretty pretty pretty please???

I'll post mine too!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Only Time is Now

I think I have made at least five half-hearted attempts in the year 2009 to lose weight. I'm hanging on to about 10 lbs of Bennett weight (I blame 6 weeks of total bedrest) and about 10 lbs of weight I had accumulated over the years prior. So, 20 lbs. Eeek!

Well, now I'm fed-up. I have GOT to lose this weight. Its weighing me down.

I know, you're saying "Oh yeah, fabulous idea to start a diet right before Christmas, genius!!"

Yeah, that will suck. But there is no time but now to do something. Now is all we have. Plus, if I can manage to drop a few lbs between now and the New Year, that will make my New Years Resolution more palatable, right??

So, I expect you all to hold me to it this time. No quitting. No flaking! Tell my pansy ass to man up and DO what I set my mind to do!

The "rules" are simple (and based on what has worked for me in the past):
* I can eat all the lean protein, fruits and veggies my little heart desires.
* No dairy.
* No processed foods (with the exception of salad dressings)
* Most definitely no processed carbs (breads, pastas, etc.) or added sugars
* Only water to drink, and must drink 100 oz per day (bye bye coffee with yummy creamers!)

That's pretty easy, no? Its not totally carbohydrate free, as I will get some from the fruits. I can do it. I CAN DO IT! I CAN DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now for the all-important question - In addition to a new fabulous figure, what should my reward be when I hit my goal? Ideas????

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Grams, Ounces, Pounds

Ok, so I will admit it - Bennett's growth has been somewhat of an obsession of mine. It started when he was in the NICU and I would anxiously await the daily verdict of how many grams he gained (or lost). I tracked his journey through the NICU to our home in grams - each one hard fought for and well-earned.

When your baby is born so small, grams mean more than pounds. When Bennett was born, he weighed 1417 grams. 3 lbs, 2.4 oz. 14.5 inches long. He lost a lot of weight the first few days after he was born. Some of it was water weight since the doctors infused 3 bags of IV fluid into me while I awaited my c-section. And some of it was caused by the fact that he didn't actually start getting any food until he was a week old and was entirely dependent on TPN - nutrition through a PICC line. His lowest weight was 1219 grams - 2 lbs, 11 oz.

So yeah, we obsessed over each one of those precious grams, because each and every one of them mattered so much.

When Bennett came home from the NICU at nine weeks old, he was 6 lbs, 2 oz. Almost twice his birth weight!
But our worry and concern over his weight gain didn't stop. Nope. Bennett has always been incredibly small, even if you look at him according to his "adjusted age" - how old he would have been if he was born full term. In fact, his weight has never even been on the growth chart. He's never reached the 3rd percentile growth curve. Ever. So you can see, we care about the ounces. We've tracked and agonized over each and every ounce this child has gained.

At one year old, Bennett was 17 lbs 5 oz. Still not on the growth chart. Sigh.

Oh, but I had high hopes! I really thought that at his 18 month appointment he'd have reached 20 lbs! I am not sure why, but 20 lbs has always been a big milestone in my head for Bennett. But nope. He came in at 19 lbs 6 oz. And you may think "Big deal! He's almost there!" But in my world where we count each and every last ounce - it matters. He was at the .3 percentile.

Well, yesterday Bennett FINALLY got his victory. Just days shy of 19 months old, he tipped the scale at EXACTLY 20 lbs!!!!!! Few people will ever understand what a feat this is!!!! If nothing, it is a psychological victory for me.
At 19 months, Bennett is now the same weight that Carter was at five months old.
Look at that delicious chunka-baby-love! Carter was a "healthy" one, he was!

From grams, to ounces, and now pounds. You've come a long way baby. We love you so much and we are SO SO SO proud of you!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Just when I thought I was ahead of the game, I realized I still have several laps to go.

Christmas. Oh, beloved and festive holiday. Oh blessed and holy time of reflection. Why doest thou causeth me so much anxiety and angst??

Seriously?

I had an afternoon to myself about a month ago to do some Christmas shopping while Ace took Carter to a movie. By "myself," I mean me and Bennett, but Bennett has no clue what is going on, so he doesn't "count" on this particular occassion. I briskly roamed the aisles of Toys R Us and Target and snatched up the things that were on my list for the kids and rushed home to stash it all in the back of the laundry room before the boys got home. (That's a pretty safe place to store the goods considering that I am the only one who ever even opens the door to the laundry room.) I was pleasantly surprised that everthing on "The List" was available at the store, and much of it was marked down.

And yes, I am quite glad I got that little head-start. I sat back and had a good laugh at those who waited for those coveted Black Friday deals this year. Apparently, retailers are maintaining lower inventory (anticipating that people wouldn't be shopping as much due to the recession), which actually has the opposite effect of driving the prices UP when the products are in higher demand. I was amused to see that nearly everything I had purchased a month prior was actually marked UP on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Neener, neener, neener!!!

So, I was feeling pretty darn good about myself and patting myself on the back for making the holidays this year a little less stressful. That was until I realized that the presents were only the start of it...

On my Holiday To Do List still remains:

* Advent Calendars (yes, I realize its already December 2nd...)
* Christmas cards, and I haven't even taken photos of the kids yet... And I was thinking about doing one of those family "newsletter" dealios this year too...
* The Tree (and I'm dreading the logistics of keeping Bennett from knocking it down...)
* The stockings
* The compulsory gifts for various people at work
* Make something for the grandparents from the kids
* My "secret santa" gift for Ace's family's gift exchange.
* WRAPPING said gifts...

And what would the holidays be without the umpteen events and get togethers? I mean, that IS the point, right?

I do love the holidays, but there is just so much that goes into the production, especially now that I have children and am charged with the responsibility of creating the "magic." I guess I better start listening to the Christmas channel on the radio to get myself in the spirit!

Am I alone? Does anyone else feel overwhelmed??!! Who is in the spirit? Pass me some of your happy-juice!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Delicious Start

Every Thanksgiving, I try to make a special breakfast for my family. We don't usually have dinner until late afternoon, and so I figure a big late breakfast is necessary to tide us over.

This year, I heard of this idea from NPR - Pumpkin Bread French Toast!

You start with a spiced pumpkin bread (I use my friend Lolly's famous recipe):


Then you cook it just like you would any french toast. Top with maple syrup and wah lah! A very sweet start to a wonderful holiday!
Carter inhaled it!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks


When I was growing up, my mom used to cover up one of the doors in the house with paper and each of us would write or draw on there what we were thankful for each Thanksgiving. This year, I decided to carry on that tradition with my own kids! They thought it was a hoot getting to "write on the wall" (now let's hope they realize that they can't actually write on the wall anywhere else...).

Carter drew pictures of his family, a Bakugan, and he asked me to draw the world. He also asked Ace to draw him a "skinny elephant" - and the significance of that is completely lost on me, but you can't squelch their creative spirit ;) Bennett made some scribbles, and just like his talking, we have no idea what he means.

Ace put some "odd" things to be thankful for, but I guess that is his prerogative. It was a really fun activity to do together as a family though and I think we'll continue this tradition through the years.

Do you have any particular Thanksgiving traditions you do with your family?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mr. Not-So-Sleepy Pants


From these pictures, you would think that Carter was a great sleeper, right?

Wrong!

He used to be a fabulous sleeper. Than, when I was in the hospital on bed rest (yes, over 20 months ago...), he started sleeping with Ace in our bed. No big deal. Poor kid was away from his momma!

When I came home from the hospital, I gave him a few nights, then started the process of moving him back to his bed. In essence, I bribed him. I bought him a few much-coveted pieces to his Imaginext Jungle (by the way, jungle is out and Bakugan is now in), by rewarding him every few nights if he stayed in his bed. And it worked for a good while!

Then, somehow, I don't know exactly how, he made his way back into our bed. I rarely even wake up anymore when he comes in!

But that isn't even the full of it. Nope. The kid now has the hardest time actually going to sleep! It does not matter what time I put him down at night - 8:00, 8:30, 9:00, 9;30 - he will not fall asleep prior to 10:00 p.m. He's been known to still be awake at midnight on occasion!

That is problematic when you consider that he has to wake up by 7:00 a.m. (ideally). At his age, a child should be getting 9 to 13 hours of cumulative sleep. He rarely ever naps during the day anymore, so his 9 hours at night just don't cut it. So, to compensate, to the detriment of my own schedule, I usually let him sleep in. The kid will sleep until 9 a.m. some days if I let him! Since I aim to arrive at work by 9 a.m., and preschool starts at 9 a.m., that obviously does not work as a matter of course.

So, what to do? I've tried putting white noise in his room, music, a nightlight, no light, no books, books, threats, conjoling, bribery. I tell him "you only grow while you sleep, so if you want to be as big as your Uncle Mike [the tallest member of our family], you better go to sleep fast!!!" Nada.

I don't so much mind if he is in our bed every once in a while. I realize he is growing up all too fast, and I rather enjoy cuddling with him some nights (when his toes aren't up my nose...). But the kid does need more sleep. I just don't know how to get him to achieve it!

Advice????

Friday, November 20, 2009

Conversations with Carter: Where Babies Come From

It is common knowledge that four-year olds are chock full of deep and profound questions. As they get older and older, it gets trickier and trickier to satisfy them with answers. I try my best to provide him with as accurate and truthful answers possible, yet age appropriate.

Here is a dialogue from a recent conversation that occurred on our morning drive to preschool:

Carter: Mommy, how do babies get in your belly?

Me: Well, when God decides that he wants a mommy and a daddy to have a baby, he takes a part of the mommy and a part of the daddy and puts them together to create a baby, and puts that baby into the mommy's belly. The baby starts out very teeny tiny small and then grows big. When its big enough, the baby comes out!

Carter: How does God put it in your belly? Kind of like magic?

Me: Yes, Carter, very much like magic! (wink, wink)

Carter: And then, how does the baby get out?

Me: Well, there are two ways a baby can come out. The first way is that the muscle that holds the baby squeezes the baby out of the mommy and the mommy pushes the baby out of her girl part. Kind of like going #2. The other way, which is how you were born, is the doctor can make a cut on the bottom of the mommy's baby and take the baby out through the cut.

Carter: Wow, I can't wait to tell my friends that mommy's poop their babies out!

Me: Well, kind of, that's one way. But you probably shouldn't talk to your friends about that because that is something their mommies and daddies need to tell them about.

Carter: Mommy, I want you to have another baby. But my choice is that you squeeze the baby out your girl part. I don't want the doctor to cut you, because that hurts! That's my choice.

Me: Mine too, Carter, mine too...

Carter: My friends are not going to BELIEVE this!!!

Me: (Thinking to self - oh great, I can't wait for that call from the teacher...)

Thankfully, no calls from school (or irate parents), yet!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

National Prematurity Awareness Day: Some Scars Never Fade

You know our story. My water broke when I was 24 weeks pregnant with my second son Bennett. Bennett did a kick-butt job of staying put, beyond all odds imaginable, until he decided at 30 weeks gestation that he'd had enough. He was born ten weeks early.

I've told you all before about the medical challenges Bennett has faced - the severe respiratory distress syndrome that later turned into bronchopulmonary dysplasia (chronic lung disease), his acute anemia, the severe calcium deficiency, and a slew of other more minor issues. So, what I want to tell you about today is the part of prematurity that most do not know about. The emotional scars. I thank the Lord daily that Bennett will not remember those very difficult times. But we do. His mommy, daddy, big brother, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends - those of use who peered in at him through the tiny hole of the isolette for weeks and weeks on end. Those of us who held our breaths, both in awe and fear. We all shed tears. That is our burden to carry, and gladly we shall, so that this precious little one never has to.

But there are some scars that do not fade.

The scars left when the neonatologist warns you merely minutes before you are wheeled into the operating room that your baby's lungs may be too compromised to survive. That the best case scenario she expects is that he will be a ventilator, and the worst case is that his lungs are too underdeveloped and brittle from the lack of amniotic fluid to be ventilated.


The scar that is left upon a mother who gets to see her newborn baby for only a few seconds before he is whisked away to a fate yet unknown. Who does not get to see her baby, aside from photographs, for the following 22 hours because neither he nor she is stable enough. Who does not get to hold her baby for the first time until he is a week old.

Scars that are left from the sight of one's child on life support, with countless wires and tubes coming out of them. Of not remembering what your child's face looks like, because you only caught a brief glimpse of it before it was covered up for weeks by tubes and tape. Of not knowing from day to day what will happen, and knowing that at any moment, things could turn for the worse.

The scars that are left on a family divided for months. From trying to explain to a big brother why he can only see his baby once a week for only a few minutes at a time, and that the baby is too sick to be touched. From trying to be brave for that big brother and assure him that everything will be ok, when you yourself aren't so sure you are telling the truth.
The scars that are left from doing the "preemie dance" for 9 long weeks - because just when things seem like they are getting better and you are making progress, your baby suffers a major set back. From going home night after night knowing that you are leaving your newborn baby alone in a box with strangers.
Scars that are left from finally getting to bring your baby home at 9 weeks old, but knowing that he still needs oxygen supplementation to breathe and a monitor to make sure he doesn't stop breathing. From the looks that strangers give you when they see your baby like this. And later on, the strange looks people give you when you tell them how old your child is, but he looks half his age.
The other day, I was looking at Bennett's heels, examining the physical scars that were left from the countless hundreds of cuts that were made to collect blood from him, sometimes hourly, while he was in the NICU. The scars are so faded now, that unless you knew they were there, you probably would not notice them. I am thankful that the physical scars are all but gone now. But, all too aware, a year and a half out, that some scars will never fade.
But, I want to tell you the joys too! Oh the JOY! Joys I never would have experienced in the same way if Bennett had been born a healthy full term child. Joys I didn't experience with nearly the same intensity when my first son Carter was born healthy and full-term.
The joy and relief we felt when we heard our son cry!!! upon birth!
The extreme joy that we felt when we finally got to hold our newborn baby a whole week after he was born!
The joy and awe of seeing one of God's real-life-living-breathing MIRACLES on this earth! And he's ours!
That intense and unyielding joy you can feel only upon the occassion of bringing your newborn baby into your home at 9 weeks old. Of finally being together as a family! Of not having to make those midnight drives to and from the hospital ever again!
The joy of taking him for a pulmonology appointment and seeing that he was saturating 99% oxygen on his own!
The joy we felt when he finally fit into a size 0-3 month outfit at 4 months old!
The JOY we felt when he smiled at us for the first time at 18 weeks old!!!! And the heightened joy and awareness of the gift of each successive milestone - rolling over, sitting up, standing, walking, the first word!
Oh, the joy that comes from looking at my happy and thriving toddler and knowing that I have been blessed beyond comprehension and measure.
So, please, let's fight together so that fewer babies have to endure such struggles and fewer families have to suffer so much pain. Pain that cuts deep and never completely goes away!!!

























National Prematurity Day: Did you know?


In honor of Prematurity Awareness Day, I will be posting a series of blogs on this topic throughout the day. I ask that you join me in spreading awareness of the crisis of pregnancy and share information with the ones you love. If you feel called to do something, please consider donating to the March of Dimes' Fight for Preemies to aid in their life-saving research.
Before my own son was born ten weeks too soon, I knew very little about prematurity. I had no idea the long-lasting health and developmental repercussions that came with premature birth. Nor did I realize just how sick and fragile these precious babies start out. I certainly had no idea that so many lost the battle. That is why I want to share that information with you.
Did you know....
That 1 out of every 8 babies born in the United States will be premature (born before 37 weeks gestation)? That's 12.5% of all babies. 1,400 babies born premature every day. The only continent with a worst prematurity rate than North America is Africa.
That the prematurity rate has risen by 36% in the last 25 years? The only "good" news about that is the rise has been mostly attributable to an increase in late preterm births between 34 and 36 weeks gestational age.
That prematurity is the single greatest cause of perinatal death? Nearly 28% of babies who die in the first month, die from complications of prematurity.
That of the 13 Million Babies born this year worldwide, an astonishing 1 Million will die?
That only 17% of babies born at 23 weeks survive?
That only 39% of babies born at 24 weeks survive?
That only 50% of babies born at 25 weeks survive?
That most doctors will not intervene medically to help a baby born before 24 weeks?
That the youngest preemie to survive was born at 21 weeks and 5 days gestation and the smallest preemie to ever survive was only 9.9 ounces and 9.5 inches long at birth?
That ten percent of those born premature will develop a permanent disability such as chronic lung disease (my son Bennett), cerebral palsy, blindness or deafness?
That half of all babies born before 26 weeks gestational age are disabled?
That some of the most common complications a preemie born before 34 weeks gestational age include respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), bleeding in the brain, patent ductus ateriosus (PDA), necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC - an infection of the bowel), and retinopathy of prematurity (ROP - the nerves in the eyes grow through the retinas and can lead to vision loss)?
That the risks of prematurity persist even after the baby is "ok" and into adulthood? Preemies are much more likely to be infertile, much more likely to suffer learning disabilities and more likely to die at an earlier age.
Yes, prematurity is a BIG problem indeed.
So, what can you do???
1. Support the March of Dimes. The March of Dimes has funded and supported research that has led to amazing tools to fight prematurity. Two of the most amazing accomplishments include the use of surfactant (an enzyme which is injected into the lungs of babies with respiratory distress to keep the lungs from collapsing, since many preemies cannot produce surfactant on their own) and the use of steroids to quickly advance the baby's lung development when a mother is at acute risk of delivering premature.
2. Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of pre-term labor, pre-ecclampsia, preterm rupture of membranes, placental abruption - some of the main causes of premature birth.
3. Take folic acid even if you are not planning on getting pregnant, and definitely for a full year before you plan to try to conceive! A recent study showed a huge decrease in the rates of very premature births in women who took folic acid for a full year before they conceived!! How easy is that!?
Let's band together and get this information OUT in the hopes that TOGETHER we can reduce the risk of prematurity. No baby should have to suffer so much so early. Every baby deserves the best start possible!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Be Fruitful & Multiply

The religion of reproduction.

So, I don't know what prompted it, but for the past few weeks, perhaps months, the whole sticky issue of my religion's teachings on reproduction and birth control have been meandering in and out of my thoughts.

I'm Catholic. I guess I ought to tell you how I became Catholic, so you can properly put my thoughts into context. My parents were Catholic and baptized me Catholic as a very young child. When my parents divorced and remarried, I was raised from about age 3 on by a WONDERFUL woman, who I call my mom as well, who was Lutheran. For a good part of my childhood, we attended the Lutheran church. Then, I'm guessing around the time I was in middle school, my parents couldn't find a Lutheran church they liked in the area we lived. So, we began to visit many different churches, and if memory serves me correctly, I think we ended up attending non-denominational churches for the remainder of my unbringing. My (step) Mom is a deeply spiritual woman who I look up to with great admiration. She is also an apologist and fervently studies the Bible in detail and thinks critically about the purpose and teachings behind each passage. So, this is how I was raised on "religion."

Bible study for me is, while primarily a spiritual exercise, it is also very much an intellectual exercise as well. I dissect and compare and juxtapose until I usually end up with more questions than I have answers.

My husband and his entire family is Catholic. I followed my husband (only my boyfriend at the time) to Mount Saint Mary's University for college and took several courses in theology there. I was left with a deep impression of the spirituality and tradition of the Catholic Church while I was a student there, and decided to be confirmed a Catholic. I went through RCIA under the spiritual leadership of an amaaaazing Sister, who was also a professor of the school. I wrestled with a lot of the doctrine of the Catholic Church, but always seemed to find an explanation that somehow satisfied me. Apparently, heresy is out and prayerful dissent is "in."

So, back to the subject matter... Shortly after we got married, we decided to follow Church doctrine of not using artificial birth control. It was kind of an easy decision to make, since we decided to start trying to get pregnant pretty much on the plane back from our honeymoon. Since then, I've only taken birth control for very short periods of time when I needed to for medical reasons. As it also turns out, I don't get pregnant very easily. So, the more natural methods of birth control work rather well for me.

But, the Catholic Church takes the doctrine even a step further. Aside from abstinence, any efforts to prevent procreation is a sin. A mortal sin. Yikes. That's a tough bit of information for a 21st century woman to swallow. As the website www.catholic.com explains, the doctrine is derived from the following Bible passage:
Coitus interruptus, was used by Onan to avoid fulfilling his duty according to the ancient Jewish law of fathering children for one’s dead brother. "Judah said to Onan, ‘Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.’ But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife he spilled the semen on the ground, lest he should give offspring to his brother. And what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord, and he slew him also" (Gen. 38:8–10).

I guess my hang-up here is that this passage seems to be to be more about breaking an ancient Jewish law that required a brother-in-law to father children for his deceased brother's wife than about reproductive practices between a married couple... I mean, no one follows that law anymore (right???)! So, I'm having difficulty making the jump the Church asks us to make.

I do believe God wants us as Christians to increase his kingdom by bringing Christian children into the world. I guess, I just want to do that on my own timing. And with the number of children my husband and I believe works well for our family and our plans.

But then, I think about the quiverful movement, which has been widely publicized lately by the Duggar family. Its easy to judge the sanity of such people, since very few of us could ever imagine having more than a few kids ourselves. But, what if they are on to something?

The Bible does say, "be fruitful and multiple" (in several different places, in case you missed it the first time). Thinking in mathematical terms, this means you should have more than two children right? Because two children merely replaces the parents and does nothing by way of multiplying. So, what is the appropriate number?

Yes, I know, I think too much. I don't expect to find an "answer" nor anything remotely reaching a consensus among thoughtful Christians. Its just one of the ponderables I ponder and try to iron out for myself. But you, my loyal and faithful blog readers, are always very thoughtful and have a wide range of views - so what do you think about all this?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Watching Words

A very vivid memory has been haunting my thoughts today.

On Friday, March 21, 2008, the day I turned 24 weeks pregnant, I had a conversation with a co-worker, another attorney at my firm, about my pregnancy. I exclaimed to him that I felt like I had been pregnant FOREVER, and did not know how I would last another 16 weeks. My co-worker agreed that indeed it did seem as if my pregnancy was progressing rather slowly.

(In my defense, I suffered hyperemesis for the first 20 or so weeks, so every day during that time felt like seven.)

On Saturday, March 22, 2008, I was standing at my kitchen counter assembling a lasagna, when I felt the unmistakable sensation of my water breaking. I was 24 weeks and 1 day pregnant.

Many times over the ensuing months that followed, my words to my co-worker have echoed in the recesses of my mind. And while I know that what happened was a fluke - nothing I did caused it - I cannot help but having that sickening feeling of dreadful guilt over my comments.

So now, every time I hear a pregnant woman make similar, perfectly normal and common statements, my stomach falls to my feet and I want to scream - NO!!! Don't say that! Don't even dare think it. Because it just might come true.

I know, I never in a million years thought it would happen to me either.

So What Next?

Alright, Book Clubbers! What do we want to read next? Post suggestions!

That's an order :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Book Club: The Heretic's Daugther Discussion Post


Ok, book-clubbers! It is that time again. Actually, its past the date I had set, but I needed a bit of an extension and forgot to tell ya'll about it :)
This month, we read The Heretic's Daugther by Kathleen Kent. The book was set in a town not far from Salem, Mass. at the time of the Salem Witch Trials. I thought it would be a seasonly-appropriate book for Halloween.
So, let's give it a stab and DISCUSS!
1. What was your overall impression of the book? Love it? Hate it? Stopped reading in the middle of it? (ahem, Patty!)
2. What do you think of the character development? Were there any characters that you felt the author should have spent more time on? What about the main character Sarah?
3. Who were the "villians" of the story?
4. How did Tom's history play into the story?
5. If your mom had given you the opportunity to divulge all your complaints to her at the age of 12, would you have done it? Why do you think Sarah didn't want to?
6. What shocked you most about this book?
7. Did this book change your mind about the Salem Witch Trials and the people accused?
8. If you were Martha Carrier, would you have "confessed," or stood your ground to the truth even though you knew you would die for it?
9. If you were Sarah, would you have "confessed" or given testimony against your mother?
10. Closing thoughts?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bennett is 18 months old!!!

Well, as of yesterday - I'm a little slow.

Here are his 18 month stats:
Weight - 19 lbs 6 oz - 0.3th percentile
Length - 30'' - 3.3th percentile
Head - 47'' - 20th percentile!!

Some news and happenings with Little B -

Last week, his developmental nurse declared that he has fully caught up to his adjusted age for fine and gross motor skills, and is about 80% caught up to actual age, so she discharged him from physical therapy.

He is, however, at about the level of a 12 month old in speech, so he will begin speech therapy very soon. He says "dada," "Ace" and "light." The thing they are most concerned about is he doesn't say "mama" and doesn't have any "word" for use in referencing me or Carter at all. They think he may have some low muscle tone in his mouth making it difficult for him to form words. Receptive language seems to be very good, as he will point to objects on the page when asked, and follows commands. They are also having us do some electrical stimulation of his cheek muscles and tongue to help strenghten them. We just use an electric toothbrush and massage, and he loves it!

He needs to see a pediatric dentist soon b/c his teeth aren't properly developing. They are very sharp and some of them are brown and very soft. The Ped said the brown spots are very common in preemies with respiratory problems, as it signals oxygen deprivation, and it usually doesn't cause any problems with the adult teeth. However, Bennett has always had very low calcium levels, because babies get the majority of the calcium they need in the last 2 months of pg for bone and tooth development, and he was 2.5 mons early. He's been on calcium supplements since birth, and the labs show that his bone development is good (whereas before he was borderline Ricketts). But the Ped. said the body prioritized and the teeth got the short end of the distribution. She isn't sure what the dentist will want to do, but said in some cases they put an enamel coating over the teeth to strengthen them and prevent break-off. Its not "urgent" that he sees the dentist right away, but we should do so before he is two.

His last opthamology exam was excellent and his retinas have developed beautifully and his sight is perfect for his age!! So, it looks like we are out of the woods for the usual preemie vision problems, at least for now. He doesn't need to go back for another year! WOOT!

The Ped. said Bennett is maintaining a good growth velocity, but his weight to height ratio is starting to skew a little more. She suggested that we add olive oil to his food for more fat and calories. He's a great eater and drinks about 20 ounces of whole milk a day and nurses twice a day still. He could use a little more meat on his bones though, and he is VERY active now that he's mastered the art of walking (and climbing and causing mischief of all varieties)!!! I REALLY thought he was going to break the 20 lb mark this visit, so I was a tad disappointed. Oh well.

Sorry for the novel. Here is your reward:

Aunt Gen teasing him with a giant tennis ball that doesn't bounce:
Of course, he has to play soccer too!

Representing!

Our 'Lil Punkin'





Sunday, October 25, 2009

Books for Baby

When Carter was a baby, we read to him obsessively. I have a vivid memory of him at two weeks old, curled up between Ace and I in bed, reading Dr. Seuss' ABC's. Ace and I marveled at how attentive he was and concluded that certainly our newborn was a genius! (you know, typical new parent stuff!). I was hooked on reading to him. Its no wonder that at the age of 1, Carter could tell us the names of all the animals and their sounds (except giraffes, they don't make any sounds), and the colors. By 18 months, we were having conversations with him! Albeit simplistic. He could already sing the ABC song! Perhaps it was just his natural aptitude, or perhaps it was the endless hours of reading we did together. Who knows!

So, of course, I would do the same thing with Bennett, right?? Sadly, no. I haven't. I read to him here and there, and I know his Lolo reads to him during the day. But, I haven't invested the same level of commitment in reading to him as I did Carter. And I swore I wouldn't burden him with second-child syndrome... There just never seemed to be enough time in the day once I had two kiddos to nurture. And Bennett just never seemed to love reading the way Carter did. So, I slacked. Yes, what an awful confession.

So, Bennett is nearly 18 months old. The only words he says are "light" and "Ace." Granted, he was a very-early preemie, with chronic lung disease to boot, so speech delays are to be expected. Yet, I can't shake this sick feeling that part of that is my fault. Perhaps, if I had been reading to him every single night all this time, he wouldn't be delayed? I recently learned that the bulk of speech development doesn't start until 18 months, when they begin to learn up to 10 new words a day - I still have time to redeem myself as a mother! So, I've re-committed.

For the past month, I've been reading at least one book to Bennett every single day. I've discovered that he does indeed LOVE books. Now, when I go to the library, I excitedly scour the shelves looking for titles that will rapture him! Recently, I've discovered two books that Bennett particularly loves, and decided I must share them with you all!

The first is Pots and Pans by Patricia Hubbell. Its a sing-songy book about a little boy who makes music in the kitchen. Bennett signs "more" everytime we finish the book!
The second favorite is All of Baby Nose to Toes by Victoria Adler. The book goes through the various body parts of baby, and I kiss each part on Bennett when the books proclaims "Who loves baby's eyes? Me! I do!" Bennett squeals with delight. And toddlers looooove identifying body parts. (Although, Bennett points to his cheeks still when we ask him where his eyes are...)

You should also check out Oprah's Reading List for Babies (she has lists for all ages!) for ideas too! Reading, and the love thereof, is afterall, one of the best gifts we can give our children!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I WILL

You know me. I'm stuck on the proverbial hamster wheel. Not just with my career, which is endlessly sucking hours out of my day that I don't even have. But, with everything. Every week I start off believing THIS week, I will do it right. I will keep my life in order. I will enforce routines. But it never happens. I swear, once upon a time, I really did have my life together. I dunno what happened. Oh yeah, I had another baby (and I want another one too, like, really bad). But, I refuse to surrender defeat and conclude that those days are gone for good. So, yep, each Sunday night, I sit here and write out my game plan for getting my act together.

This week I WILL...

...get up when my alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m. No matter how sleepy (or, lazy) I feel or cold the house is. Or, how much sleep I got the night before.

...work out each and every morning. Again, no matter how lazy I feel. I mean, sleepy.

...leave the house on time, no matter what dilatory tactics Carter pulls.

...focus at work and make every minute count, resulting in less work I have to bring home with me and more billable hours.

...eat healthy, whole foods. I will NOT cave into that evil little demon inside my head that says "but you NEED that Coke because you need the caffeine jolt."

..."eat the frog" and conquer my most-loathed task first thing in the day.

...not sit down at night to "relax" until my home to-do's are scratched off, and I've spent 15 minutes doing general pick up around the house.

...fold AND put away the laundry on the same day I wash and dry it. As opposed to leaving it in piles around the house for the entire week like I usually do.

Yes, I WILL do these things. You'll hold me accountable, won't you?

But if I don't, please don't judge me too harshly because I never have a problem with plastering my babies with kisses, and cuddling with them and soaking them up and breathing them in. And those "to do's" mean so much more in the long run, right??? But I digress, because I'm determined. I WILL regain control.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Silver Lining

My husband forwarded me this feel-good article about finding ten good things from this sucky economy. The list included things such as "you'll find the true meaning of happiness," and "you'll learn to appreciate yourself for things beyond your earning capacity." Well, I dunno about you, but this stuff doesn't make me feel any better. We all know someone who is struggling right now. We all have friends and family who've been laid off. Perhpaps some of them have had to declare bankruptcy or foreclose on their house. I doubt to them these "fluff" reasons cited in the article are much of a consolation.

So, I came up with my own list of 10 REAL good things that have come from the crappy economy:

1. People won't look down on you ask much as before for foreclosing on your house or declaring bankruptcy. Its in vogue. In a few years, people will simply see it as a causualty of the the recession.

2. Creditors are too swamped to really pursue you. Or at least as fast as they used to.

3. Companies are writing off debt left and right and are willing to settle balances much lower than what you owe because they know if you file bankruptcy, they are SOL. And even if they sue you and get a judgment, chances are you have nothing to pay them with.

4. It gives you a chance to hone your entreprenurial skills.

5. There will be a baby boom because sex is the best free entertainment - which will help later on down the road to fill the void the 1950s baby boomers leave, and fuel the economy for the next generation. (Hey, someone needs to keep paying into social security, right?)

6. Its ok that your credit score took a hit - the credit markets are so tight right now that no one with less than an 800 will get a loan.

7. All the useless gawdy gold jewelry you've hung on to over the years is now worth a lot! (Because gold increases in value when the dollar is weak).

8. Shopping at thrift stores, garage sales, Craigs List, e-bay and bartering is good for the environment - reuse and recycle baby!

9. There will soon be a lot fewer ugly, crappy American-made cars littering our roadways.

10. There is only one direction to go from here - UP!

Disclaimer: The above is intended for entertainment and satire only. Please do not construe this as financial and/or legal advice, nor a predictor of any future outcome. Its only intended purpose is to get a laugh, or at least a smile.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Uh Oh...

video

So, the video speaks for itself. The crib mattress has already been lowered. Major brownie points to Ace for lowering it on his own initiative!

He's 17 months old, so I guess this isn't abnormal, but I'm not ready! I was actually thinking about maybe going to a toddler bed. We kept Carter in the crib until he was 2.5. So, we'll probably keep him in there.

*Sigh* They grow up too fast....


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Focus

Its really quite simple. So simple in fact that I feel a bit silly even posting it. But, its something that I needed to hear, so I figured maybe some of you do too?

The number one impediment to my productivity and success is - lack of focus.

Adult-onset ADD? Perhaps. I speculate that its more properly diagnosed as declining self-discipline. And why not? There are zillions of things these days to steal moments of our attention away. We live in a fast-paced world that is over-immersed in information. I have found that this makes it more and more difficult to train my brain to focus at the task at hand. Hello, Ritalin??

But naw, I don't need medication. I need to buckle down, grit my teeth and focus. Set my course and not deviate until I have reached my planned destination.

Who knows...perhaps if I can focus long enough to complete the tasks that need to be completed, it will get done more quickly so that I have more play time left at the end of the day!

So, dear friends. I know its Wednesday, and it feels unnatural to start anything in the middle of the week. But, starting tomorrow morning, join me in this little experiment and really truly focus and concentrate on your tasks and see how much more productive you really are!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

An Executive Decision

Being that it is now six days into the the month of October and we still do not have a book selection for this month, I'm taking charge and declaring that our Book Club selection will be...


[insert drum roll]

This book came highly recommended to me, and it was on the National Bestseller list! Its supposed to be a bit "spooky" so I thought it would be fabulously festive reading for the month of October! Our discussion post will be on Friday, November 6th!

I received a lot of interest when I posted my idea for the Book Club, so I really hope more people can participate this month!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Not Me! Monday

I'm a huge fan of MckMama and her blog My Charming Kids! She never ceases to amaze me with her unending ability to post interesting, creative, and funny content. Plus, her kids are just too darn cute, and her photography is amazing. I feel compelled to apologize that I'm not nearly as entertaining as she is, but thank you for following me anyway.

Every Monday on her blog, MckMama has an interactive post where she tells us all about the embarrassing, funny, human things she... does (ahem...not) do during the week. In turn, readers post their "not me" stories on their own blogs, and link to hers. I've never played along. But, today it just sounded fun!

So, this week, I did not polish off Carter's 1/2 full (yes, I'm an optimist) tub of rainbow sherbert. Nope, I would never do that to a small child! Nor did I feed Bennett chocolate covered raisins for breakfast yesterday. Never!

Of course, I did not deliberately leave three loads of unfolded children's laundry out in the open with the hope that my father-in-law-turned-nanny would take pity on me and fold it for me. (He did).

I most definitely did not spend the majority of my weekend lounging around listening to a riveting book on cd while playing solitaire on my iPhone while Bennett was asleep, rather than tackling my mile-long To Do list on this auspicious 1-child weekend I was blessed with. Come on, you know me, I would never do that!

This morning, I did not let Bennett fuss himself to sleep when I accidentally woke him up at 5:30 by covering him up with a blanket before heading downstairs to get my work-out on. That would just be mean. And selfish not to skip my workout and rock him back to sleep.

Nope, not me. I wouldn't do any of that.

How about YOU?? What did you not do?? Play along, I LOVE reading these!