Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Book Review: Dinosaurs on the Move

Back in early July, Kansas Dad and I picked a few little gifts to tuck in the hospital bag for the older kids. They came in very handy, just as I had hoped, as we waited for all the paperwork before we could head home.

Dinosaurs on the Move: Movable Paper Figures to Cut Color, and AssembleMy favorite selection was for First Son: Dinosaurs on the Move: Movable Paper Figures to Cut Color, and Assemble. He loved them! Each page has a dinosaur to cut out that can be put together with fasteners to create a dinosaur that really moves. There are ten different dinosaurs and each has a colored page and a black and white page that can be colored, for a total of twenty dinosaurs to create.

First Son needed some help with the first one but then he took off and handled them all on his own (other than tearing out the page from the book). First he did all the black and white ones, coloring them in before putting them together. He says those are the males. Then he put all the colored ones together, the females of course. He says the males are very excited to have their mates.

The dinosaurs in the book are the popular ones: allosaurus, ankylosaurus, tyrannosaurus, etc. There are some cards at the front of the book that give basic information on the included dinosaurs: size, diet, where fossils were found, and so on. I didn't see anything specifically about evolution in the descriptions. First Son pretty much skipped over those, probably because the dinosaurs themselves were so inviting.

These pictures are from about a month ago, by the way. I will catch up eventually.

Query XXV

How many children must I have before I stop checking to make sure a baby is still breathing if he's been sleeping for more than an hour?

Quote: You Can Understand the Bible

From You Can Understand The Bible: A Practical And Illuminating Guide To Each Book In The Bible by Peter Kreeft:
The account of the fall in Genesis 3, like the account of creation, is couched in highly poetic, symbolic language [...] what they symbolize is real and literal. The event of the fall must have really happened at some point in real time. For if not, if the fall is merely a timeless truth about our sinfulness projected into the form of a before-and-after story, then there never really was a time of innocence; and in that case, we are sinful not because we freely chose to make ourselves that way, but because God created us that way from the beginning. In that case, God is on the hook and we are off the hook for sin.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sleep, Brought to You by The Woombie

I originally read about the Woombie on the Cloth Diaper Outlet blog. We were using some swaddle blankets we bought after the receiving blankets were obviously too small to swaddle Second Son, but he was still waking me between six and eight times each night. (That's not an exaggeration!) That boy just didn't seem able to settle down and I was getting pretty tired. I showed it to Kansas Dad and said I wanted it but thought it was a lot of money when we already had swaddle blankets. He pointed out that it would be a small price to pay if it worked and I was able to sleep more.

So I thought about it off and on for another week when we received an unexpected and very generous gift card. I immediately bought it! We ordered the big baby size (14 to 19 pounds) and started using it when Second Son was almost exactly 13 pounds. The first night was Saturday, August 21st, and he woke up once. All night.


It was heavenly!
Not every night is that wonderful, of course. Sometimes he wakes up twice.

I cannot possibly say enough good things about the Woombie. In addition to giving us some much needed rest overnight, we have been able to zip him into the Woombie and lay him down alone in the co-sleeper in the evenings. (I do nurse him to sleep, though; I like it that way.) He sleeps alone in the bedroom for a few hours while Kansas Dad and I are both baby-free to take care of the million things that don't get done during the day -- or just enjoy having a breather! (I've heard other babies do this, but only one of my four ever did.) He often stirs when we come to bed, but usually doesn't actually wake to eat until the wee hours of the morning (even if we change his diaper).

What makes the Woombie different? You can read about it on the website, but I personally love how easy it is to use. There's no messing with trying to wrap baby in a blanket or even getting the velcro straps adjusted well enough to keep baby inside. Just zip him up! There's a second zipper, too, so you can change the diaper without unleashing the flailing arms. I think Second Son particularly likes the snugged feeling for his arms. He wiggles them, but they don't go far so he feels safe and secure even if we're not holding him.

I love the Woombie so much, I wish I could afford to buy one for all the mamas I know who are expecting or are home with a newborn. I know there are a few babies that don't seem to like the swaddled feeling. Second Daughter managed just fine without it, though she didn't seem to mind. I can only imagine, though, how much easier it would have been with First Son (who didn't let us put him down for the first three weeks of his life) or First Daughter (who insisted on being swaddled until she was over six months old).

I have only one warning: I would recommend not using the Woombie on a baby that hadn't regained the birth weight unless you plan to set an alarm to wake and feed baby. I'd be afraid everyone would sleep too soundly!

You can find the Woombie in a number of stores, in person or online, but at the Cloth Diaper Outlet, you can get a discount if you plan to order more than one. (I'm not even using my affiliate link this time; I feel it's only fair since I didn't purchase mine there.)

I did not receive anything in exchange for this glowing review. 

Has anyone else tried one? What did you think? Is it as wonderful for everyone?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Catholic Company Book Review: We Have a Pope

We Have a Pope by Stephen K. Ray and R. Dennis Walters

I selected this book for two reasons. First, I was hoping to learn how the papacy is supported by Scripture. Second, I have recently been wondering how to describe to the children what the pope does all day and thought this book might give some insights.

This is a small 32 page pamphlet, something that could be easy to share with someone interested in Catholicism and the papacy in particular.

While the authors provide a section entitled "What Does the Pope Do?", I didn't find much to help when talking with the kids. The pope teaches, governs and sanctifies, which is certainly accurate, but it doesn't help me tell a six year old what he does every day. (I didn't really expect to find much of help on this particular question in the book. I'm really looking for a nice children's book on the topic. Kansas Dad tells me it probably wouldn't be that interesting for kids, but I keep looking for one anyway. Anyone want to write and illustrate one for me?)

It does indeed give Scriptural references on almost every page. These could be very useful when talking with someone who may question the legitimacy of the papacy. I think there is a great deal of information that could be useful in supporting the papacy.

This book also accurately describes the papacy today. There's a lot of great information on the pope's role in the church. The section on papal infallibility seemed to address a lot of common concerns from non-Catholic Christians on that topic. It can be a very tough doctrine to explain.

However...there's no description of the development of the tradition of papal authority. In fact, the authors give the distinct impression the bishop of Rome was given the sole place of honor from the very beginning:
The early popes recognized the authority that came to them from Peter, but did the rest of the Church recognize it as well?
In a word--yes.
Yet multiple patriarchs were viewed as authorities in the early church, often consulted on questions of doctrine. From the book it seems like no one in the Church ever questioned the primacy of Rome's bishop, which is just one example of many times in the book where the historical discussions of the role of the pope are ignored. I would be concerned that someone convinced by this book might later be shocked to learn the truth of the disagreements in the early church, perhaps even feel as if they were deliberately misled. Even a sentence or two saying the doctrine developed over time would be helpful.

In another way, too, the book misses out on one of the glories of the Catholic Church, that for two thousand years, men and women have been praying, writing, talking, and thoughtfully grappling with the best way for the Church to be Christ's Church. Through all that time, with many brilliant and holy people contributing to a discussion guided by the Holy Spirit, the role of the pope developed to what it is today. That tale could be a beautiful one, and one that 32 pages would probably be inadequate to tell, but there's not even a hint of it here. (The same authors have a longer book called The Papacy Learning Guide, which might address this very topic among others. I haven't had the opportunity to read it.)

I think this booklet could be a useful tool for a Catholic looking to learn more about the papacy and am glad to have so many scriptural references for our church's beliefs. I would be careful about sharing it with an evangelical Christian in the hopes of encouraging interest in converting to Catholicism without being willing to look to more detailed sources on the development of doctrine.

This review was written as part of The Catholic Company product reviewer program.* I have not received any payment for this review, but I did receive a free copy of the book We Have a Pope. Learn more about joining the reviewer program here.

* Special thanks to Kansas Dad for his assistance with this review. I hope the good folks at The Catholic Company don't mind that I had help with my homework.


I told myself we'd do many more feast day celebrations this year and had every intention of starting with the Feast of the Assumption...back on August 15th. My Marian Devotions in the Domestic Church suggested a Greek meal for this feast, because apparently it's a very important holiday in Greece. I wasn't quite ready to tackle it on the 15th, but last Thursday I decided to take the plunge. (Thursdays will be our liturgical celebration or baking or art day, depending on how ambitious I'm feeling and where we are in the liturgical year.)

So Second Son and I made baklava, by which I mean, of course, I tried to chop nuts and assemble this decadent dessert while bouncing him in the carrier. He pretty much cried until he fell asleep, probably because he's not old enough to eat it himself.

The cracked top at all the cuts is what happens when you're rushing to put it in the oven while Second Son has been dumped in the swing (because the oven is one thing I won't use with a carrier) and forget to cut it halfway down before putting it in. Trust me, it still tasted amazing. I've never had real baklava so I can't compare it to anything else, but it was good and incredibly sweet. In fact, I might decrease the honey next time. Kansas Dad seems to think we should make it an annual tradition.

It is, by the way, a very easy dessert, if you're looking for something to impress. The phyllo dough is the trickiest part, but you can by the sheets already cut to fit a 9 x 13 pan so you don't have to cut or shape at all, just lay it down and spread some melted butter. Repeat with layers of chopped nuts and cinnamon every so often. There's also a syrup to pour on top after it's baked, but that only takes a few minutes on the stove.

We sent most of it to the office with Kansas Dad so we wouldn't eat it all ourselves.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rolling Rolling Rolling

This video is from two weeks ago. Second Son was three weeks and two days old. He rolled over from his tummy to his back about ten times in a row. He did the same thing when he was four weeks old. In the past few days, I haven't seen him roll over. Perhaps he gained too much weight so his arms aren't strong enough anymore. Or perhaps he can control his arms enough to keep himself from flinging them forward with enough strength to turn over. Or maybe he can still roll over; I just haven't given him enough time on his stomach.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Small Successes XXXIII

1. Last Friday, Kansas Dad and I buckled the kids into the van and drove to one of Kansas's natural history museums. We spent more than six hours driving (there and back), not including stops for meals (everyone) and second meals (Second Son only), and only two hours at the museum, including our time in the gift shop, but First Son was thrilled. He's still talking about it and planning our next trip. Kansas Dad and I think maybe we'll try to stay overnight and visit some of the other attractions; it was quite a bit of car-time for such a small museum. It's actually quite a good museum with excellent displays and amazing specimens, just very small.

2. On Sunday, we joined in our local homeschool groups back-to-school party, though Kansas Dad and I were both feeling a little stretched. It was worse for him since I just didn't bother trying to finish everything for our first day of school, but he couldn't really skimp on anything for his classes which started this week. We'll think of the first week as "half-days" if we don't finish everything.

3. Our first day of school was Monday! We've been moving along very well, despite Second Son's best efforts to demand I focus entirely on him.

Of course, I was hoping to have pictures to share but they're all still on the camera...I suppose we mustn't be too successful.

Head over to Faith and Family to read more Small Successes!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Book Review: My Cup of Tea

My Cup Of Tea: Musings Of A Catholic MomMy Cup Of Tea: Musings Of A Catholic Mom by Danielle Bean

This book is a series of essays written by Mrs. Bean over the course of a few years. I have read a lot she's written on her blog and at Faith and Family, so I should have anticipated how much I would enjoy this book. There is no comparison between it and some other "mothering" essays I've read recently.

The essays are short and the book is small, small enough to keep in a guest room, a waiting room, the van, a diaper bag, a purse...you get the picture. You could easily keep this book handy to pick up and read an essay or two at a time while waiting for something. (Before I was a mom, I never went anywhere without a book. Now I go everywhere with a toddler so I don't usually get to read when we're out and about, unless it's a children's book, but there's always the possibility.)

All of these essays are uplifting. I like that; I have enough of trudging through the trenches in real life. If I'm reading a book like this I want encouragement and thoughts that remind me of the many blessings of family life. Mrs. Bean isn't recommending any specific way to parent or nurture or educate, either. She shares a little of their own choices, of course, but I didn't feel like she was trying to convert anyone. (To be fair, though, that our family already follows many of the same paths, being Catholic and homeschooling, even raising chickens.)

I don't think you need to be Catholic to enjoy this book, but you probably need to be Christian. Mrs. Bean finds solace and meaning in her faith. More importantly, in the essays themselves, she finds meaning in her vocation as a mother and wife, helping to guide her family to heaven.

I don't purchase very many books for myself (well, other than that short period of time when I was checking CathSwap way too often), but I'm glad I bought this one. I had some birthday money left and was making a purchase at Sacred Heart Books and Gifts anyway when I saw this book for $10. I couldn't resist (especially since they have free shipping if you spend $25). Or perhaps I could have, but I didn't want to and I don't regret it a bit.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Catholic Company Review: Celebrate the Season

Celebrate the Season edited by Diane M. Lynch

This book is a collection of twelve short stories aimed at 8-12 year old children all set during Advent or the Christmas season. Each story is written to guide children in learning about the true meanings of giving, blessings, gratitude, thoughtfulness and joy. A few discussion questions are found at the end of each story.

The introduction is a great explanation of Advent, the Catholic liturgical year, and some of the Church traditions of the holiday season. We will certainly read this together early in Advent.

I was pleased at the stories themselves, which seem like they would work quite well as read-alouds for First Son. (He may be able to read them himself, especially by Advent.) They are only a few pages long, a good length for us to read together and then discuss. Some of the questions would need to be adapted for a younger child at home. I don't know exactly how well the stories would work with an older pre-teen (wait, are they "tweens" now?), but I think they are realistic enough for First Son. Sometimes modern stories written toward a particular moral can be stilted.

I'm certain it was purposeful, but I like how the stories reflect a wide range of cultures (specifically Mexican and Polish). Our own extended family is mixed (by adoption and marriage) and stories like these can become starting points for discussions of our own family.

The only story that gave me pause was one focused on a boy with a new baby brother. Of course in the end he realizes what a gift his brother is, but it's always a fine line with such stories. We haven't had any problems with the older three showing signs of anger or hostility to Second Son and I'm not sure I want to give them any ideas. We may just skip that story, but I look forward to sharing this book with the kids this Advent.

This review was written as part of The Catholic Company product reviewer program. I have not received any payment for this review, but I did receive a free copy of the book Celebrate the Season. Learn more about joining the reviewer program here.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Is There Hope?

Today, I had one goal: vacuum the living room.

It was 3:00 pm before we finished. There was much cajoling and threatening (from me), whining and moaning (from the two eldest) and crying (from the youngest). I had to vacuum with Second Son in the carrier -- and even then he only stopped crying when the cleaner was actually running.

You might think I'd be proud and happy with my nice clean living room.

Not quite. I am dismayed to report that it is impossible to tell that the living room was clean a few hours ago. It is once again strewn with toys, dress-up clothes, and books. Probably some other stuff, too. It makes me a little depressed to look at it too closely.

At least one of the school cabinets is assembled. (We must end on a bright note.)

Oh, and Second Son has been sleeping soundly on our bed for an hour now. Alone. Without me. Without Kansas Dad.

Did I mention he's alone?

Quote: My Cup of Tea

From "Less Than Perfect" in Danielle Bean's My Cup Of Tea: Musings Of A Catholic Mom:
When prayer time becomes exasperating, it helps to remind myself that when it comes to prayer, it truly is the thought that counts. Even when two-year-old Stephen tires of the rosary and strips off his pajamas to amuse his older siblings, we are trying very hard to pray, and our sincere efforts are pleasing to God.
We might not say a flawless family rosary until Stephen is in college. We might never say one. The point is, though, that we are praying. Just as a loving parent would never reject a small child's imperfect attempt to say, "I love you," our Father and Mother in heaven will not be offended by our well-intentioned prayerful blunders.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Quote: My Cup of Tea

From "Mass Distraction" in Danielle Bean's My Cup Of Tea: Musings Of A Catholic Mom:
Babies may not sit peacefully in the pews worshiping God as grown-ups do, but they praise God in the only way they can, by being the beautiful creatures he intended them to be. They don't waste time wondering about God's expectations or longing for different circumstances. They whole-heartedly embrace the role they have been given. Every squirming, drooling, grabbing, shrieking inch of these little ones testifies to the glory and wonder of God's creation.

Query XXIV

How many toys must a child trip over before thinking "Perhaps I should pick up a little?"

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quote: My Cup of Tea

From "Resurrection Triumph" in Danielle Bean's My Cup Of Tea: Musings Of A Catholic Mom:
During this first Lent since Kateri's first confession, I am particularly grateful that it is not only for the love of me that Christ suffered, but for the love of all his children, including the ones he has lent to me. He endured the scourging at the pillar to gain forgiveness of sins my children have yet to commit. He suffered the crown of thorns so that my little ones might see heaven. Even as the nails were driven into his hands and feet, he saw my children's faces and loved them. He accepted death on the cross so that they might enjoy new life.

My Small Successes XXXII

Lately it seems if I don't post small successes, I don't post much of anything. It's not that nothing is happening; it's that most of what's happening is me feeding Second Son! He seems to think it's a full-time job along the lines of first year consulting on Wall Street.

So here are some of the few non-nursing related accomplishments for the week:

1. I finally made my own cloth wipes solution (while Kansas Dad held Second Son). I had some new wipes for Second Son and was inspired.

2. I have finalized plans to start school on Monday. First Son is starting first grade! Our schedule is still undetermined, especially since some of our activities won't start for a few weeks yet, but I thought it would be good for us to start structuring our days a little now that Kansas Dad will be back to a regular semester schedule.

3. I put away the baptismal gown. It was washed right away, but has been laying on my grandmother's chest for a few weeks. Now it's hanging in the closet protected by a plastic bag.

Head over to Faith and Family for more small successes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sleeping Baby, Happy Mama

Today, Second Son slept in the baby swing for over two hours! We've not had much luck at all laying him down in the swing, the co-sleeper, our bed...anywhere. Every once in a while he'd fall asleep in his car seat and stay asleep after we came in the house, but that's it. The rest of the time someone was holding him or snuggling next to him. It's not that I mind so very much...but there are a number of things easier to do when not holding a baby.

Anyway, I set him in the swing just for a few minutes to clear the lunch things off the table. And he stayed asleep. I quickly started another load of laundry, folded what was clean and dry, picked up a little bit, cleaned out a corner of our room that has been collecting extra pillows and blankets, put Second Daughter in her crib for a nap, planned a bit of our schedule for next week when we start school and even blogged a little bit. It was almost more time than I knew how to fill after so long pretty must just holding a baby.

I could not believe how long he slept!

Then, when he did wake up, I think he smiled at me!

Learning to Ignore the Experts

In the past few weeks, Second Daughter had her two year visit with our PA and Second Son has his two week visit. For those that are interested in such things, here are the statistics:

Second Daughter at 2 years
Height: 34.5 inches (just under 75th percentile)
Weight: 27 pounds (just over 50th percentile)

Second Son at 2 weeks
Height: 22.5 inches (around 95th percentile)
Weight: 11 pounds, 4 ounces (around 97th percentile)

They are both quite healthy, of course, and are right where they should be developmentally. (Second Daughter even stood on one leg for me, though she would only do so while holding on to a chair.)

The PA and I had some time to discuss the "experts" and recommended appointments.

First we discussed dentist appointments. I've read recommendations before to take kids to the dentist when the first tooth appears, but we've never done that. Usually we go around the third birthday and our pediatric dentist agrees. The PA essentially came right out and said the first tooth recommendation is aimed at those parents who give their babies soda and don't brush their teeth. Thank goodness he didn't feel the need to hold us to that recommendation when Second Daughter's teeth are looking just fine. (He did say we should take her if she has an accident involving her teeth or if they look gray or something; which is how First Daughter ended up at the dentist when she was just 19 months old.) I'm also thankful he's never given me a hard time about nursing my babies at night even after they have teeth. Are there really people out there who brush a baby's teeth and then refuse to feed them until morning...or who take the time to brush again after a night feeding?

Apparently, the experts have recently decided there should be a 2.5 year well-child visit. Our PA said we didn't need to bring her back until 3 years because she's obviously doing well, but it's a little annoying to keep adding visits. I'm sure the insurance companies don't want to pay for unnecessary visits; I don't even want to pay the co-pay. (Kansas Dad also pointed out that it takes time and is a hassle to get all four kids to the doctor's office for a ten minute check-up for one of them.) I'm not really sure why, but something about the new recommendation seems wrong to me.I can't decide if I feel like they're taking advantage of us (or the insurance company), if they're just trying to get more money or drum up more business, of if I feel offended because they think I need to bring my kids to an "expert" every few months for years on end. I'm starting to wonder what else is unnecessary...

I guess I shouldn't complain too much. Not only did the PA say we could just skip that 2.5 year visit, he also said we could skip the one month visit for Second Son. He trusts we'll know if we need to bring him in and there's no reason to anticipate any problems for either of them. Just one of the many reasons I love our PA!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Book Review: Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Pre-School Years

Teaching Montessori in the Home: Pre-School Years: The Pre-School YearsTeaching Montessori in the Home: The Pre-School Years by Elizabeth G. Hainstock

I have been using this book for a few years now but re-read Part I (Montessori in the Home) in preparation for our preschool activities this year. I was struck most of all by how Montessori methods are child-centered and activity-center based after recently reading Left Back: A Century of Battles over School Reform by Diane Ravitch. I am not interested in letting my children decide what they'll learn and when through our homeschooling years (I can use the plural now that we're starting first grade, right?), but I do think it's an appropriate methodology for the preschool years. There is plenty of time ahead for First Daughter to learn letters, numbers, logic, Latin, and all sorts of other things, but now I am most interested in encouraging her to develop her own interests and build a solid base on which to place her later "book learning."

Maria Montessori's methods include a "truly good and sound education for the preschooler" but that education is one based on thinking and moving rather than reciting letters.
A young child's curiosity is insatiable, and he should have unlimited opportunities for observation, movement and exploration--in his home, in his garden. Let him discover himself and the world around him. Encourage him to be active and to follow his natural urges, for that is necessary for the development of his character.
In addition to the more structured activities described in the book, Ms. Hainstock encourages lots of time outside (playing and helping in gardens or other outdoor chores) and plenty of opportunities for art (like painting and clay). She also encourages parents to read aloud and often to children. (Does anyone today suggest not reading aloud to children?)

The author likely overstates the importance of a specifically Montessori preschool education, but that's partly to be expected in a book of Montessori preschool activities. I'm also not likely to introduce the activities exactly as Ms. Hainstock suggests. I do not intend to set up our classroom (which is also our living room and First Son's first grade classroom) only as a Montessori preschool classroom. We will have activities at different levels. I will often keep the preschool materials locked away in the cabinet so Second Daughter does not destroy them. We will also not be having "preschool" for up to two hours a day.

Not that I've quite figured out how the preschool activities will be incorporated. We're supposedly starting school on August 23rd and I've set aside a bit of time each day for preschool -- though my schedule doesn't actually have any times on it. I anticipate an evolving routine for the first few weeks. Second Son will only be one month old when we start and, at this point, he's not anxious for me to do anything besides feed him. I'm trying not to set my expectations so high that I feel like a failure after only two weeks of first grade!

I have not read much more on the Montessori methods and philosophy than this book. It is only the smallest of introductions, but I think it's enough to get started with some preschool activities with your children. Personally, I think the Charlotte Mason and classical approaches will better suit our style as First Daughter grows (and already for First Son), but I just love how these little activities seem to lead children to more challenging ones like reading and writing. Also (confession time), Montessori materials are beautiful (at least the ones you can buy). I would love to fill my home with them.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Small Successes XXXI

It's Thursday again and time to recognize the small things we do.

1. Second Son went in for his two week check-up and he's doing very well. So well we don't have to bring him in at one month.

2. I took all four kids to the dentist yesterday morning. The two oldest had cleanings and no cavities! Second Son is getting some permanent molars. The two younger ones did not destroy anything, run away, or scream uncontrollably the whole time. We have a wonderful pediatric dentist's office where they are very understanding. They always say such nice things about babies, too. Of course, those babies are future patients, so they have good reason to be gracious. I still like them.

3. I registered our homeschool! In Kansas, you have to fill out a form that includes the school's name and address. That's about it, but I just hadn't gotten around to it. I figured it was time since the public schools in our area are all starting up in the next few weeks. In other homeschooling news, I finished ordering the last few books I wanted and First Son's Blue Knights materials. We also bought some cabinets to store the homeschooling supplies away from Second Daughter and Second Son. Hopefully Kansas Dad will have some time to put them together for me. It's not really my kind of thing and would be even harder hampered by that pesky Second Son who thinks he needs to be held all the time he's not eating and being held.

Head over to Faith and Family to read more small successes or share your own!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ah, Two Weeks!

I've been thinking for a few days about posting on the two week mark - the wonderful time when a mother's body starts to really be her own again. (You know, except for the whole nursing every two hours part.) Scrolling through the blog archives, I realized I already wrote that post. Honestly, though, I think the recovery after Second Son's birth was the easiest yet. I even carried him around the zoo last Friday at exactly two weeks. (Ok, I just carried him to where the fire truck was spraying kids and then sat with him in the shade for an hour or so while Kansas Dad supervised the older three playing in the water, but I still considered it ambitious. We have a picture of his first trip to the zoo, but the older ones were all tired and cranky so it's hard to tell they had a good time.)

I'll just note that Second Son weighed in at 11 pounds, 4 ounces at his two week visit yesterday. That's more than Second Daughter weighed at a month. Today I put him in the BabyBjorn while I fed the kids lunch, started a load of laundry, folded three loads of laundry and put Second Daughter in her crib for her nap. All together, I carried him in it for just over three hours (when I finally took him out so he'd wake up - we want that kind of sleeping at night!). My shoulders ache a bit! It's easier when they start out smaller so you can build up your strength.

Second Son's Birth Story

Fair warning: This is a birth story. If you prefer not to read such details, skip the post! I also apologize in advance for its length. I think anyone interested in a birth story, though, won't mind the length so much.

I haven't always written out our birth stories, but you can read about Second Daughter's birth compared to First Daughter's birth here.

I woke on Second Son's due date around 5:30 am and felt a little weird. I wasn't having strong contractions or anything; I just felt light-headed and queasy. I dozed on the chair in the living room until 7:00 am, then asked Kansas Dad to get up right when his alarm went off so he could drive me to the doctor's office when it opened. I had an appointment scheduled for the afternoon, but they said I could see another doctor that morning. We gave the kids a little snack and headed into town. Not wanting to believe it was anything, we brought along the grocery bags and list.

By the time we left, I was having contractions about every six or eight minutes. When we arrived after the thirty minute drive, they were closer, maybe every five to six minutes. I'd been fooled by contractions before, though, so I was glad to see the doctor first. They were wonderful at the office, sending me in right away. I was so glad when the doctor said I was definitely in labor and dilated to five! I had been afraid it was another false alarm.

He called the birth center to let them know I was coming in. We met Grammy to hand off the kids and made it to the center around 10:30 am. I was having contractions about every four to five minutes, but they were very manageable. If I hadn't felt so off that morning I would probably not have gone in so early. In fact, the nurses couldn't even tell I was having the contractions until they had the monitor on.

I labored easily until noon when the contractions got stronger. Even then, I think I did pretty well breathing through them until 1:00 pm. Then it got rough. I was still feeling light-headed (though my nurse, Betsy, helped a lot with suggestions on my breathing). I would have two or three strong contractions right on top of one another and then a longer gap in between when I think I may have even fallen asleep. The resident kept coming in to check me, but she wasn't seeing much of a difference. Hearing that every time made me feel like I wasn't going to make it to the end, but my nurse was amazingly supportive. She kept repeating, "The numbers don't matter. Every contraction is bringing you closer to your baby. You're doing great." (Kansas Dad was saying the same thing, but it's always easier to believe a nurse, isn't it?)

Looking back, it's hard to believe how long that hour seemed. I definitely felt like I wasn't in control of myself and wasn't handling the pain well, despite what Kansas Dad and the nurse were saying. It seemed to be getting tougher. I'm not sure what I thought would happen, but it really seemed like I wasn't going to have the strength to get through it. Apparently the resident and nurse could tell I was getting closer because they both called my doctor. He arrived around 1:45 pm.

This was the first birth my doctor attended since the girls were born on weekends and when he was on vacation. I could tell the resident disagreed with his decision, but he told me I could start pushing whenever I wanted. (I'd felt ready, but looking back I think some of that was just that I wanted to end the labor and get the baby out.) He also didn't ask me to move or rearrange anything, which I appreciated later when I realized they hadn't set everything up as they usually do. I certainly wasn't in the mood to be accommodating to other people! It's a definite possibility that I wasn't fully dilated when I started to push. My doctor didn't check and I didn't care.

I only had to push a few times with the girls, but Second Son took a bit more effort. I don't know if that's because he was still pretty high up or just because of his size, but I think I had to push continuously for about ten minutes, stopping only to breathe. It was definitely one of the hardest things I've ever done and I yelled a lot.

I was exhausted when he was born at 2:02 pm, but I still managed to make a joke about how we kept our 2 pm appointment with the doctor. A boy! My doctor said, "I take it this wasn't your easiest birth." I'll say. We could tell he was big, but no one thought he'd be bigger than First Daughter (who was 9 pounds, 10 ounces at birth). I held him and nursed him for about an hour and a half before they took him to get him cleaned up, weighed and diapered.

That's when I realized I still wasn't feeling too well, still lightheaded and queasy. I nearly fainted the first time I was up and out of bed. (I would have fainted if my nurse didn't drop everything and respond immediately when I called out to her. She helped me back to the bed quickly enough.) For the next couple of hours, I had to have at least one nurse with me each time I got up. It was unnerving, but eventually I felt more like myself.

I have a confession. I did not feel like I'd been as strong or controlled as I should have been the final hour of labor and just before Second Son was born. Looking back, of course, I can see I was holding myself to some outrageous standard. After all, most of my labor was in the last hour so it was bound to be intense, and I gave birth to a baby that weighed over ten pounds. I don't know if they would have given me an epidural if I'd asked (probably not, as they anticipated a quick birth based on the girls' births), but I do think it's likely I would have had a lot of trouble pushing for the delivery if I'd had one. Second Daughter's birth was a piece of cake compared to this one.

I'll say this, too; it's a little frightening to think about how big Fifth Baby might be, if we have a Fifth Baby.

    Saturday, August 7, 2010

    The Catholic Company Review: Saints and Their Stories

    Saints and Their Stories by Maria Loretta Giraldo, illustrated by Nicoletta Bertelle

    I think I may be addicted to books on the saints, especially books on the saints for children. I'm not sure it's possible to have too many of them. I just wanted to clearly state my bias before beginning this review.

    This beautiful hardcover book tells briefly of eighteen saints. We learn a little of who they were and why they are saints, but the author also includes a few legends, descriptions of how they are depicted in paintings, for whom they are patrons and when their feast days are celebrated.

    None of the selected saints were new to me, though we have recently read a lot about different saints. First Son's favorite saint, St. Francis, is included, as well as one I've always found particularly impressive, St. Ambrose. The final chapter is on Gabriel and includes information on other angels as well.

    First Son asked me to read quite a few of these stories when the book arrived yesterday, but he also read a little himself so I know the reading level is a good one for him, if a bit challenging. The stories are each a few pages long so First Son can easily finish one in a single setting without getting frustrated.

    The book is also wonderfully illustrated. They are vibrant depictions of the saints during their lives. First Daughter and First Son were especially intrigued by one showing St. Ambrose battling the devil and his temptations.

    A few of the saints are martyrs who suffered horribly for the faith, most notably St. Lucy and St. Cecilia. As always, read stories yourself before sharing with your young children. (Mine are becoming used to such stories. They were not disturbed at all of St. Lucy's sufferings, which included blindness, burning tar and oil, burning coals and finally being killed with a sword.)

    This review was written as part of The Catholic Company product reviewer program. I have not received any payment for this review, but I did receive a free copy of the book Saints and Their Stories. Learn more about joining the reviewer program here.

    Moment of Truth

    Most of my maternity clothes no longer fit (a good thing, really).

    To save or not to save?

    I saved.

    Thursday, August 5, 2010

    My Small Successes 30

    I certainly can't come up with anything to top last week's successes, but let's see what I can find...

    1. Second Son is nursing well. We know he's gaining weight and it almost doesn't hurt at all anymore.

    2. Second Son was baptized!

    3. I'm going to be alone with all four kids for about an hour later today. (Can I post a small success that hasn't quite happened yet?) I'm predicting at least one simultaneous melt-down when two or three of them are crying or demanding attention at the same time. Surprisingly, I'm not that worried about it. (Perhaps that's the real success.)

    Head over to Faith and Family to read more Small Successes!

    Wednesday, August 4, 2010

    A Child of God

    Second Son was baptized last Monday. We were so pleased to be able to arrange everything all the grandparents (and one great-grandmother) could attend, even though it meant having the baptism in our old parish where the air-conditioning had not been on all day during a record-breaking heat wave. Father skipped a few of the optional sections so we wouldn't melt, but Second Son settled right down after the holy water and the chrism. That's what we like to see!

    You can almost see all of his gown in this picture. I just love it! My sister's mother-in-law made it for First Son and all four children have worn it.

    Special thanks to his wonderful godparents who not only suffered through the heat with us, but brought an amazing cake and wonderful home-made mints for the celebration!

    Cloth Diapering: The Beginning

    Read about how Kansas Dad and I started cloth diapering on the Knickernappies blog today.

    If you've clicked over from Knickernappies, welcome! Posts are slow here right now, since I have a newborn in my arms about 23 hours a day. Scroll down and stay awhile, though, if you have some time.

    Backyard Fun

    Have you seen this lovely video?

    My kids wanted to watch it three times in a row...and then they wanted to play some guitars in our backyard. That kind of fun will have to wait until this unbearable heat wave is over (two record-breaking days in a row...so far), but I love that they wanted to immediately run out and play.

    HT: Faith and Family

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    Bulking Up

    Second Son was baptized yesterday and Second Daughter had her two year check-up today. Hopefully I'll have a chance to post on those events soon.

    While we were at the doctor's office, we weighed Second Son, just for fun.

    10 pounds, 14 ounces

    So, to recap, on Friday, July 23rd, when Second Son was born, he weighed in at a hefty 10 pounds, 1 ounce.

    On Tuesday, July 27th, when he was four days old, he weighted 9 pounds, 12 ounces.

    Today, Tuesday, August 3rd, at eleven days old, he weighed 10 pounds, 14 ounces.

    He's gained more than a pound in the past week.

    I'd say he has this nursing thing down.

    Sunday, August 1, 2010

    Great Grandmother

    My grandmother, Second Son's great grandmother, has been visiting with my parents. She had thirteen children of her own and is amazing at snuggling and calming a newborn. She loves to hold Second Son and probably would all day long if he didn't need to eat now and then. I will always treasure pictures of them together.