Wednesday, January 29, 2014

When the Sun Marries the Moon

I don't know if I'm an INJT.  (Is that even a thing?  I just threw some letters together.  You know what I mean though.) (Myers-Briggs.)  I don't even know if I'm an introvert or extravert.  I've taken all the tests.  I've tried.  But I'm always solidly between the two (or the hundred in the case of MB). Usually because I never even understand the questions, so on a scale of 1-10, I go with the safe bet and every answer is a 5 or 6 because I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT YOU ARE ASKING.

But I know one thing for absolute certain: I'm a night owl.

And my husband's the epitome of annoying, perky sunrise worshiper.  (Early bird.)

I didn't really realize this until we were married.  The signs were there, but I didn't realize how drastically each one of us leaned toward our respective opposites.  

I'm quite happy staying up and chatting or reading or watching movies or playing games until 2 in the morning.  Every night.  David would be happy to be asleep by 9.  Every night.  

Although I think sunrises are beautiful, I think it's the rarity of seeing them that make that beauty.  David rarely wakes in the sunlight (and likes it that way).

And I didn't realize how much a seemingly little difference like that affects a marriage.  It turns out that my best hours are my husband's worst.  And vice versa.  Don't underestimate the difference between interacting in your best hours and your worst.  The difference is incredible.  Let's explore some situations in my household.

A weeknight.  David comes home from work.  I attempt to pack in family time when he gets home (before his worst hours) and sometimes we go on a walk or play with Lucia, but more often we have things that just have to be done around the house and that time when both of us are in decent moods is wasted on laundry or some such thing.  Then comes dinner, which more often than not is too late because I don't mind eating at nine at night (when the night is still young) and then by the time dinner is over and dishes are done, David's half asleep.  He usually puts Lucia to sleep and as he walks back downstairs, I'm thinking, "Yes, this is IT!  Alone time!"  And I say, "Let's watch a movie!  Or play a game!  Or just talk!  How was your day?  What did you do?"  And David says, "I'm really tired. I'm going to bed." Or, "Let's just watch some TV for awhile." 

Now, let's deconstruct those two choices:

TV.  Within about 5 minutes of sitting down in front of the TV, he's asleep with his mouth open.  He pretends he's not.  So, you know, after about 5 more minutes of glancing at the fly-catcher, I tell him to go up to bed.  Which inevitably leads to option 2.

Go to bed.  He's asleep within ten seconds of his head hitting the pillow.  I know some couples make a priority to go to bed at the same time, but we usually don't.  It just doesn't make sense for us.  I want to chat and deconstruct our day and talk about plans or our family or deep theological concepts or whatever and he's asleep.  I can read or do Sudoku, but more often than not, it's more fruitful for me to just do whatever else I want to do and join him in bed when I'm finally tired (about 3 hours into his slumber).

And another situation (this one is shorter, I promise):
A weekend morning.  He wakes up, ready to take on the day.  I'm still sleeping.  He knows NOT to wake me. The end. 

Ok, so that was my really long way of asking for HELP!  Does your significant other have an opposite schedule? How are you able to fit quality time in?  How to you stay off each other's nerves?  Are there any good resources out there to help us conquer these differences? 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Can we all just agree that fertility is not small talk?

I'm sure you're all with me on this one if you think I'm talking about menstrual cycles or the nitty gritty of Natural Family planning or sex.  No one wants cervical mucus to be the topic of a casual conversation with acquaintances or any conversation in public.  It's just not appropriate.  But what about some of these common questions that seem to often come up in public, casual conversations and often between complete strangers:

"When are you going to start trying to have a baby?"

"Was this pregnancy planned?"

"When are you going to give (your child) a sibling?"

"Are you done (having children) yet?"

Are these questions appropriate?  Unless they're part of a (private) conversation with close friends or family, I would say these (and related questions) just aren't appropriate.  Because these questions are about fertility.  They are about sex.  They are about cervical mucus and life and death.  And they aren't small talk.

I totally get it.  You're curious.  I'm curious too.  When I see a young couple who has been married a few years and there aren't any babies, I also wonder when they are going to have children.  I used to also think some kind of judgy thoughts, like the couple must be too selfish to welcome children.  Not any more folks.  Now I wonder if they are having fertility problems.  Perhaps they have gotten pregnant and lost the baby.  Maybe that's happened many times.  Maybe they are actively postponing pregnancy for valid reasons that I know nothing about.  Employment or financial issues.  Health problems.  Or a million other things.  And the truth is, as much as I want to know, I know it's none of my business.  There might be a lot of hidden pain behind that couple and that question might be publicly opening a wound. 

And also think about what you are conveying about fertility: That you think it's easy.  It's a commodity.  That people can control it.  When a baby is desired, all they have to do is "try".  That, for some reason, it's significant whether a baby was "tried for" or an "accident".  That that somehow makes a difference.  But what's the difference?  A "planned" baby is more loved, more wanted, more important?  Even if you think your words are innocent, they have deep meaning.  Even if you greatly value life, you might not realize that your "small talk" is not just a harmless repetition of the questions that you've heard others ask a million times, but a reflection of some deep societal ills.  So before you ask something about fertility, think not about your intention, but about what message you are really conveying.  And if it's not consistent with your beliefs, take that out of your "small talk" repertoire. 

You know what is terrible?  That I had to experience these questions with my own hidden pain in order for me to understand what they can do.  I couldn't get outside of my own little box and into the lives of other people, I couldn't imagine the pain.  I had to experience it.  So I'm saying this on the behalf of the ignorant.  I know you don't want to hurt the people you encounter, but if you ask these questions, you just might. 

I was especially blissfully unaware of secondary (in)fertility issues.  I naively assumed that once a couple has a healthy pregnancy and baby, that's it.  They're always going to have healthy pregnancies.  But sometimes they can't get pregnant again.  Ever.  Sometimes it's a struggle or they have miscarriages.  Or serious economic or health or other reasons crop up that put off another child, perhaps forever. 

Unless you're comfortable hearing the answers, don't ask the questions.

"Actually, we've been trying to get pregnant for years, but can't."

"We did give our child a sibling, but then miscarried."

"We are done because of a serious health issue (that's none of your business)."

I know that anytime I've been asked an insensitive questions about giving Lucia a sibling and have responded about our miscarriage, it's made the conversation mighty uncomfortable.  Because the question was asked as small talk, a cute little question where the questioner doesn't even care about the answer either way.  It's just what you ask when there is a lull in conversation, right? 

Can we all just agree that issues of fertility are never small talk? 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pregnancy Loss: It Is Still a Birth Story

The following is a birth story written and shared with me by a mother who experienced pregnancy loss.  It is my hope that by sharing these stories, we will bring pregnancy loss into the conversation and acknowledge that even in the loss of a child, there is still remains a story worth telling. The story of a baby. A birth story.

When Jenna (of Call Her Happy) had Sam, we were all eagerly awaiting her Sam came to be. I loved birth stories, but was a mom on a different side of the line. I wrote about the magical experience of taking your first breath and taking the place God created for you. See, as one mom commented, I hadn't experienced the other birth story.  I was happy go lucky in life. I was the mom things went right for. Well, I am back. I still love birth stories, but I have grown a little.

This past June, my husband and I were floored when we found out we were pregnant for the second time. We hadn't really been trying. Our daughter was approaching 2 and a half. We were in the middle of trying to find a new place to live. I was in the middle of interviewing for my dream job. And something was wrong. I couldn't explain it, but something was wrong. We were pregnant, but I didn't feel right. My fears were confirmed when I started bleeding two weeks later. I spent a week on the couch. The day we closed on our house, I passed the final tissue at 7 weeks. I bawled. I apologized to my husband. I didn't understand. My daughter and I spent the next three weeks making a weekly trek to the doctors office to watch my hormone levels go down. She loved it.  She would watch with wide eyes and excitement. I was ok. As my doctor said, at least I knew I could get pregnant.

So imagine our surprise when we found out we were pregnant again 4 weeks later. I didn't even get my period! What! Two no tries and we were blessed again. This time, I felt the pregnancy was right. I could tell I was. I was vomiting in the middle of the night. My boobs...hurt. Woo hoo! There were a few snags. Because I didn't have a period, my doctors wanted early ultra sounds to determine the size of the baby. I couldn't make the first appointments because school was starting. The downfall of teaching, you don't get any day to just go places. I had to push my ultrasound to almost the 11th week. However, in we went. Baby did flips. We were so excited. I had to return the following week to get an accurate growth measurement. Baby did wonderfully. Because I am a teacher, I have very limited days. I asked if we could push the next appointment until the day before Thanksgiving. Before than, there is nothing the doctors do other than listen and measure. If something were wrong, it would happen and I would know and call. The doctor agreed we we in a good place to do that. Our next appointment would be at the 19 week mark, where we would get to see baby bean do flips again!

Enter Wednesday before Thanksgiving, here we go. Ultrasound, tech, family.  We were so ready to see baby! The tech came in, turned on the screen, did one measurement, and told us she didn't have good news. Baby bean did not have a heartbeat, and was measuring 3 weeks behind. We we devastated. We were taken to see the doctor. We were given options. The whole thing was a blur. I remember we ate Chinese food that night and started praying that they were wrong. We called everyone we knew. We begged for prayers. Begged everyone. We scheduled a second ultrasound for the following Wednesday...sure in our hearts this had to be a mistake.

Saturday I pulled out all of our Christmas decorations. I was going to paint the house happy. Except, our daughter wasn't. She had developed a weird low grade fever. Which is SO not like her.  A little Tylenol, she was running around and eating. Back to happy. Until she sat down and almost fell over.  Her fever had spiked to 104. After a call to the doctor, we packed up and headed to the after hours clinic at our hospital. All tests were done, and nothing was determined. So strange....until we were checking out. I began bleeding, and then I started to see why the mysterious fever spiked. I was not going to have to wait to make a decision on what to do. God was helping making it for us. I checked into the hospital Saturday night, and waited for labor to start.  I spent all day Sunday getting things in order for my leave. Again, the joys of teaching. Not only do you get to figure out how to leave work, but there are 26 little beings that need to understand. Life just got more awesome. By Sunday night, I hadn't started so I decided to induce labor. I took the first round of meds at 7:30. At 11:30, the second round of meds came. I declined medication. I wanted to feel the contractions. I wanted to feel the pain. It may sound crazy, but I don't know if I will ever be blessed enough to be in this position again, so I wanted to feel for as long as I could. At 1:30 I had piggy back contractions and couldn't take it. I went off to happy land for a little while. At 5, I needed assistance to use the bathroom, and on the way back to bed felt baby drop. I delivered our son, Andrew Gregory, at 5:30am. I held him. Talked to him. Spent as many moments as I could with him. I had amazing staff at the hospital. They all gave me the support I needed to keep going.  

Since Monday, we have planned our sons funeral. We have cried. My husband and I have grown closer. We have had so very many people reach out to us. We will bury our son Saturday. And I am eternally grateful to Andrew. I am beyond hurting, but his story, our story, is now forever in our hearts. I love his story. I love that one day I may learn that our daughters fever was a gift from my son and God so that I didn't have to wait or decide on my own...both of which were eating me alive. I love every single contraction I had  I love both of the two pushes it took to deliver him. And I am grateful for every moment I held the perfect little man in my arms. This is our story...and although I feel like curling up in a ball at times, I honestly also feel that I couldn't feel more alive. This pain connects me to my God. A God I don't understand at the moment, but I pray that like Job, greater joy will come. I am still so thankful for birth is truly the way to experience life.

Monday, January 20, 2014

How to keep the SAINT in St. Valentine's Day

This post was originally posted on February 12, 2013. I thought it was worth another look with Valentine's Day coming up in a few weeks and have added a few additional ideas as well.

Many people "hate" Valentine's Day, especially if they don't have significant others.  But the original Valentine's celebrations were not celebrations of romantic love, but the love of God.  And that is something ALL can celebrate - man or woman, young, old, single or married.  Most likely there was more than one Saint Valentine in the early Church, but tradition holds that at least one was known for writing with love and encouragement to Christian communities.  This Valentine's Day, do something to honor the original meaning of Valentine's Day: the love of God and encouragement of fellow Christians.

Make/send a Valentine to someone who wouldn't otherwise receive one - a widow(er), an unmarried family member, a neighbor.
Make many Valentines to take to a nursing home and pass them out to the residents. (This would be great to do with kids!) 

See if there are any projects in your area to bring Valentines to veterans.  Our local library has a program.  If you are short on time or can't find a program in your area, you can also leave a Valentine message for a veteran here.

Read Corinthians 1:13 (suggested by Jen):

Write a love letter to God, telling Him how much you love Him and thanking him for the loved ones in your life.

Support marriage by offering a married couple you know a night of babysitting so they can have a night to recharge.  (Think especially of couples you know who don't have family in the area!)

Write a letter thanking the people in your life that have been examples of love and/or marriage.  Tell them how their examples have been beacons for you.

Hand out St. Valentine holy cards instead/in addition to Valentines (suggested by Kinsi):

Pray.  For your spouse (or your future spouse if you are not yet married).  For your loved ones.  For those who are lonely on Valentine's Day.  For those who don't know God's love. 

If you are going on a Valentine's Day date, bring the love of God with you!  Pray before, during, and after your date (suggested by Amanda).

Read about St. Valentine.  Beth suggested this kids' book about St. Valentine and the true meaning of Valentine's Day.  Here are a couple other options as well: Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda and Saint Valentine by Ann Tompert.

Put together a Valentine box for children who have been affected by chronic illness.  This would be especially great to do together as a group -  as a family, a group of friends, a youth group, etc.

Head to the grocery and thrift store to buy items to make a backpack of necessities for the homeless people you may encounter.  I like the explanation and ideas in this post.  Then leave the backpack in your car until you come across someone who needs it.  

Friday, January 17, 2014

Cleaning Out My Post Drafts: 7 Topics You'll Never Have to See in Full Post Form #7QT

I can't take credit for this genius post idea.  It's all Cat's.  But considering I have exactly 78 posts in drafts, I'm thinking it's time to clear some out that, let's be honest, probably aren't ever going to see the light of day.  So without further ado, a quick run down on some posts you might have seen but never will:

1. How to Choose a Pediatrician:
  • Go to "meet the pediatrician" night. 
  • Go with your gut instinct. 
  • Ask questions 
    • Questions to ask:
      • The number one question to ask a pediatrician is what he believes his role is. His answer should be along the lines of working with you to take care of your child's health needs. If the pediatrician thinks that it is his role alone to take care of your child's health, that he is in charge, or that he is there to tell you what to do, you probably don't want to use that pediatrician. The pediatrician's job is to partner with you to care for your child, healthcare is not a dictatorship, and the pediatrician should acknowledge since you are the parent and spend the majority of your child's life with him, you have the most important role in his health. You can spot the signs that something is out of the ordinary through daily interactions while a doctor can easily miss them in a 15 minute appointment.
Hmmm...well, don't know where else I was going with this one, but I suppose that is good advice.  I will add a personal anecdote that I most likely meant to add.  When we went to a "meet the pediatrician" night, the pediatrician leading the meeting asked if anyone planned on cloth diapering.  When I raised my hand, she questioned me about it and told me that parenthood is hard enough without making it harder on myself.  Then, she proceeded to suggest that anyone who planned to breastfeed should avoid seeing any of the male doctors in the practice because they weren't very supportive of it.  Ped office that questions cloth diapers (a non-medical issue) and then doesn't fully support breastfeeding (a medical issue)?  Cross that off my list.

2. The Best Gender Reveal Party

Gender reveal parties seem to be the next big thing.  But I think that the best gender reveals are at birth.

Think that about covers it.  Don't know how I expected to make that a full post.

3. A marriage is made of...

A marriage is not made from the "big moments" - the anniversaries and Valentine's Days, the trips or the fancy nights out - but made from the little stuff.  Laughing at that same ridiculous commercial that comes on all the time.  The difficult years of financial hardship and scraping by.

4. The Mom Haircut, The Newlywed Haircut

Just had a title on this one, but I remember the gist of what I planned to write.  It seems that most of the newly married women and new moms I know got a short(er) haircut.  Part of it is probably convenience - babies pull hair and many women who like their hair short grow their hair out for their weddings.  Part of it has to do with identity - getting a new look as an outward sign of a very important change in life.  I definitely very deliberately did not cut my hair out after I got married or had a baby - I've been growing my hair out since I got engaged in July 2009.

5.  What I've Learned From Frequent Moving

Pack a box easily accessible with necessities - shower curtain and rings, towels, sheets, soap, etc. so you can be comfortable after a long move

Whichever moving truck/trailer you choose, it won't be big enough, so go a size larger than what you think you need

Package children's toys in saran wrap  so the parts stay together (puzzles/toys without lids, etc.)

6. Lulu's 18 Month Photos

Guess I can toss a few up for you:

7. I understand why couples who experience the death of a child are more likely to divorce.

I am not angry, and the hurt is mostly gone, but still I feel great sadness, which I am told by many mothers who have similarly lost children in the womb, will never entirely go away.  So right now, I'm trying to avoid reminders of our child - seeing pictures of pregnant friends due around my due date (why are there so many?), etc.  Every time I see my husband, in his face I see our children - our daughter and the one we lost to miscarriage.  Both happy and sad emotions.  And right now, the sad is still overwhelming.

At the same time, he is the only person, beside God, that I can truly share my sorrow with.  Only parents who have lost our child understand.  Other parents have lost their children and they can understand to a degree, but it is different for each one of us.  Their circumstances, their emotions are unique to them.  The only ones that fully understand are the ones who lost this child: me, my husband, and the Lord, who created this child, who Fathers us all.

I'm sure I could make this into a full post, but I just don't have the desire to rehash all these emotions.

Now I have 61 drafts.  My goal is to clear them out entirely by the end of March.  You lucky readers, you.  

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Serve and Be Silent

Last week, I shared my word for the year, Serve, and the shortcomings and sin in my life that have prompted me to focus on that word.  Now, let me tell you a little bit about the Saint I am asking to walk this journey with me.

The Sunday before last, the Church (at least in the U.S.) celebrated the feast of the Epiphany.  (The traditional feast day is the 6th, but it is often moved to the nearest Sunday.)  The Epiphany celebrates the arrival of the magi to venerate the Child Jesus.  The following is part of the Gospel reading that day (you can read the entire reading here):
They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:10-11)
The priest mentioned something that would have completely escaped my notice.  In general, when mentioning the members of a household, the male head of household would be mentioned first, then his spouse, and then the children.  But Matthew writes: "...they saw the child with Mary his mother."  Jesus, the child, has the place of honor in this story.  Mary is then mentioned by name.  

What about Joseph?  Surely he was present, yet there is no mention of him.  In fact, he plays a very central role in the story of salvation.  Without him, the Child Jesus would not have survived to adulthood.  He first took Mary into his home, promising to care for her and her Child.  He also took Mary and Jesus to Egypt to escape the slaughter of infant boys.  He was responsible for the clothes on Jesus's back and the food in His belly and roof over His head and most certainly for fatherly love and affection.  He passed on his trade as carpenter to his Son.  He was also responsible in the fulfillment of the Messianic prophesies.  It was Joseph, not Mary, who was from the line of David.  The Savior had to be born in Bethlehem, and without Joseph taking her as his wife, Mary would not have given birth in a stable there.  The Savior had to come "out of Egypt" and without leading them there, not only would they not have lived, but this prophesy would not have been fulfilled. 

And yet, despite his preeminent role in the Gospels, Joseph is barely mentioned.  He is content to do the work of God and then disappears into the background.  He does not seek recognition or praise.  This I admire.  This I desire to emulate. 

I can't imagine that the work God wants me to do in His name will ever get me mention in history books.  I don't believe I'll be a canonized Saint.  (But a saint, an unrecognized soul that makes it to heaven?  That I do strive for, though am hardly confident in it.) In fact, I've never sought that kind of recognition. But I do seek daily recognition for the tasks I do within my family.  Not only have I realized my failings in serving my family, but also my desire to be recognized when I do serve them.  

"Honey, did you notice? I did ____________!"

"You didn't even thank me for _________________."

*Sulk, sulk, sulk* "He didn't notice!"

So this year, I'm seeking not only to serve, but to do so silently.  Without expectation of praise or recognition.  I want to learn to care of the people around me out of love, nothing more.  And I'm asking St. Joseph (along with St. Catherine, of course) to walk this walk with me.  I've always felt a great pull toward him.  A humble man.  An imperfect man.  (How difficult it must have been to have a sinless wife and Son?  To care for them when he must have felt so unworthy? So inadequate in comparison?)  I can relate to him in a way I cannot relate to Christ or the Blessed Mother.  He was imperfect, sinful, like me and yet still able to do incredible things for God and all humanity!  And the things he did, while sometimes incredibly difficult (Marrying a teen pregnant with Someone Else's child? Taking your wife on a long donkey ride at nine months pregnant? Picking up your family on a moment's notice and traveling to Egypt long before the advent of airplanes or automobiles?), were within the realm of parenthood.  He clothed.  Fed.  Sheltered.  Loved.  Protected. Taught.  We're not talking about great, seemingly impossible feats, but the everyday actions of a father and husband.  

St. Joseph, help me to serve God through serving my family, as you did yours.  Guide me to see the beauty in selflessness and service.  Aid me in doing the tasks of marriage and motherhood, both big and small, with joy and love.  Teach me your ways of humility, so that I may never seek recognition or reward.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Five Favorite Blogs That You (Maybe?) Haven't Heard Of

I'm really, totally awful at realizing which blogs are "big" and which aren't.  There are some blogs that have a small readership that I for some reason think everyone has heard of and just put off the "huge blog" vibe.  Probably because they are hilarious and/or very deep and/or have great pictures and definitely have great writing.  And then they'll write something like, "I'm so excited I got 500 page views today!  New record!" And then I think, "No way!  I assumed you got 10x that number of page views. Hourly."  And then I feel bad because I was assuming they were big blogger status and that I was the last person on earth to discover them and 


So today, I shall be sharing with you the blogs that perhaps, maybe you have not heard of and that I love, love, love.  My-heart-bursts-with-excitement-when-I-see-a-new-post-from-one-of-these-blogs-in-Bloglovin' kind of love.  I had planned to share these blogs this week anyway, but it just so happens that Bonnie is taking nominations for the second annual Sheenazing awards through Friday, so I will also be adding which categories each of these blogs should dominate in case you are up for doing some nomination domination.  And even if you do not wish to nominate, won't you thank Bonnie for her hard work because organizing something like that sounds scary.

Without further ado and in no particular order:


You've heard of this one, right?  Been following along for quite some time, right?  I was kind of reluctant to put this on the list because I feel like everyone has to already know and love Jenna, but in the case that you are the one person on the earth that does not, you should and you will.

Nomination domination: Coolest Blogger, Best Blog by a Mom


Rosie has the funniest kids, good fashion sense, and a great sense of humor about the disasters that often befall a family with four kids (including twins). 

Some of my favorite recent posts: perhaps the funniest post I've read ever Not Much But Grace..., her regular "What They Said" link up, Words That Shouldn't Be Said

Nomination domination: Funniest Blog, Best Blog by a Mom


This one is a rather recent find, but one that's so good I've been working my way through the archives.  And can I mention the really cool way I found this blog?  Another blogger contacted me and asked me to send Mary, author of Better Then Eden, a Flexi clip (I'm a Lilla Rose hair accessories consultant).  And it was all to be anonymous.  How fun right?  Anyway, I had to visit the blog to find email address to tell Mary that her fairy godmother (or fairy blogmother?) was sending her a clip.  And I was curious about how awesome Mary must be that she would have such a sweet anonymous friend and I started reading and I found out why.  Mary has a lot of love and some deep insights into faith.

Nomination domination: Most Inspiring Blog, Best Lifestyle Blog, Best Blog by a Mom


Ok, I know, you'd been reading this blog for years before I stumbled upon it.  Everyone reads this blog.  BUT, it just didn't feel genuine to make my list of favorite blogs without including Haley's.  This was my favorite blog long before I ever exchanged an email with Haley, but now that we're blogger friends, I have even more respect for Haley because she's not only a quick mind and great writer, but a sweetheart too.  And if her blog isn't enough for you, you can always purchase her liturgical year book of recipes and reflects, Feast! 

Some of my favorite recent posts: Breastfeeding in Public, Hungry Babies, and Pope Francis, What Happened to Christian Art? (Why is CCM So Awful?), Sex, Tomatoes, and High Fructose Corn Syrup (this last one is one of the semi-regular guest posts by her smart husband, Daniel)

Nomination domination: Smartest Blog, Most Inspiring Blog, Best Blog by a Mom


I love Kendra's post because they are so matter-of-fact.  I don't always agree with her, but I always appreciate the confidence with which she rights. And that confidence comes from being the mom of seven children and a very unapologetic Catholic and just plain knowing what she's good at and what works for her family and not feeling the need to please others.  When you read her posts, you'd be shocked to find out that her blog is just over a year old because she definitely has her personal writing style down.  I also really trust her movie/TV reviews.

Some of my favorite recent posts: An Open Letter to People Who are Good at NFP, The Cuckoldry of a New Era: TV husband and abortion, all her birth stories (and remember, I don't like birth stories!)

Nomination domination: Smartest Blog, Best Lifestyle Blog, Best Blog by a Mom

Go nominate and then see Hallie for more Five Favorites!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A box from the people who know your child (better than you?): Citrus Lane Review

I thought I was a fairly good judge of what my newly two-year-old likes to play with.  Until I received a Citrus Lane box in the mail to review.  I'm sure you've heard of subscription boxes like Citrus Lane.  You sign up for a subscription based on your child's age and then receive a box in the mail each month with toys and snacks curated specifically for your child's peer group.

I've reviewed a couple boxes like this before - PetiteBox and a children's clothing box called WittleBee - and loved them both but unfortunately both are no longer around.  The subscription box competition is fierce, it seems, with many newcomers setting up shop and just as many going out of business.  I've been hearing the name Citrus Lane for years now and was excited at the chance to finally get to try it since this would most likely have been my top choice for baby shower/new baby/young child birthday presents because this more established service seems much less likely to go out of business.

Let's get back to the fact that I don't know my child as well as I thought I did.  You see, when I first opened the Citrus Lane box, I wasn't thrilled.  I just wasn't sure Lucia would like the items.  They seemed like nice quality toys.  I liked them.  But I just didn't think they were her speed.  Oops, mom, you're wrong.  Lucia loves them and three of the items in the box are going in the "best gifts for two-year-olds" post I'm in the process of writing.

Here's a breakdown of what we received:

Puppy Slide Whistle from Hohner Kids - $10 value 
I thought this whistle was super cute but that Lucia might not be old enough to understand how to use it.  I was wrong.  Here's a video of her using it for the first time:

As you can see, it took her about 2.2 seconds to figure it out.  We frequently have "concerts" in our home now.  

Dreamz to Go Octo from Cloud B - $20 value
I cannot recommend this enough for little ones!  It's a little too bright, in my opinion, to use as a night light, but Lucia loves to go into her room at night, turn out the lights, turn this one and just stare.  It's definitely a nice way to get a overactive little one to sit still and relax for a while before bed.  We'll lay on our backs on her floor and stare up at the stars together, giggle and talk, as if we were in a meadow looking up at the night sky.  This is something I would have never thought to buy but that has really been a great addition to Lucia's room.  

Ladybug Magazine - $4.95 value
+ free 3-month digital subscription - $4.50 value (calculated based on $18/year)
My grandparents asked me to order Lucia a magazine subscription with the money they gave her for her birthday, so I was pleased to get this magazine as part of the box.  I had been trying to decide between Ladybug and High Five magazines, and decided to go with the Ladybug after receiving this issue and the discount code that came in the box ($19.95 for a full year print + digital, which sells on the Ladybug website for $51.90!!!). Ladybug is for children 3-6, so I was surprised to see it in my box, but for Lucia, I think it's a better option than Babybug, which she's probably outgrow soon if she hasn't already.  I'd prefer to get reading material slightly above her current level that we can reuse for the next several years.

BOPS from Good Boy Organics
The Baked Organic Potato Snacks (BOPS) were a flop.  I like that it was organic but they tasted like cardboard to me.  Lucia didn't care much for them either.  I offered the bag to her on several occasions and she's maybe eat one.  Obviously, with a food item, not everyone is going to like it and if there was a flop item in the box, I'd prefer it to be the low value food item.  

Overall, I was very pleased with the box.  It had relatively few items, but I think that most parents would appreciate a few higher-quality items than a bunch of smaller items.  The items, save for the BOPS, were obviously chosen by someone who knows two-year-old and the surprise of the box, as well as the value, make it worth it if you are looking for a great gift or a fun monthly surprise.  Citrus Lane has subscriptions for newborns through five-year-olds, each costing only $25 per month.  If you are interested in trying Citrus Lane for yourself, use this link to get $10 off your subscription. 

I received the above mentioned Citrus Lane box free of charge in order to facilitate this review. I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are 100% mine. See Disclosure Policy

Monday, January 13, 2014


A Mama Collective

Thinking about: how blessed we are that David found a job in Raleigh.  If we had to move away from family, there is no place I'd rather be (and it seems many people agree).  When we moved here the first time, several of David's fellow grad students and their spouses moved down with us (and most of us ended up living in the same apartment complex, which was uber fun).  Most of them have since moved away, but we made other friends while here so after we moved back, we once again had a community of friends waiting for us.  Raleigh has a lot of other things to offer - jobs, great weather, beautiful scenery, etc, etc, etc, but it's truly the friends we have here that have made it a home for us.  We also have an incredible parish with a brand new church, vibrant apostolates, two wonderful priests, and a welcoming, inclusive attitude.  Yup, just thinking about how blessed we are. 

Reading: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.  The first is a re-read, the second is another fabulous book by my favorite author, the third a "I feel like I'm the only adult woman who hasn't read this" attempt to catch up.  I'm actually surprised that I am not currently reading more books, but I did just finish four this past week that I had been really dragging on.  Possibly time to start a few more, though Outliers is a library ebook loan that's due...maybe tomorrow?  And I'm only half done...

Listening to: "Come a Little Closer" by Cage The Elephant, "Pompeii" by Batille, and "Midnight City" by M83 on repeat.  You know when you love a song but then it's played and played and overplayed on the radio and you get tired of it?  Well, that's never happened to me.  If I truly love a song, I could listen to it on a loop and never tire of it.  These three are my loves right now.  Listen.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat. 

Watching: my phone waiting for a phone call from a friend saying she's in labor.  I'm attending her birth to care for her not quite two year old.  Her due date was yesterday.  I have to say, I think I'm way more anxious waiting for labor to start as a friend attending a birth than I was waiting for my own labor.  And remember, Lucia was 8 days late.

Thankful for: my husband.  That man is so, so selfless and hardworking it puts me to shame.  I read a little blurb yesterday about some research that said people named "Katie" and "David" make the best spouses.  I'm not sure how people find the money or time to research such things, but as the wife of a David, I definitely agree with the results.  Also note: my name isn't in the top ten "best wife names".  That is not an accident, folks.  

Also thankful for my sponsors this month.  And for my readers that will support these small businesses. *wink, wink*

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Running in Place, Setting Goals, and Birthing Babies #7QT

I'm going to be attending a friend's birth any day now.   I'll be going to watch her almost 2 year old son so he can be there for his brother's arrival.  I am super excited and so, so honored she asked.  I am definitely not doula or midwife material since I theoretically think birth is beautiful but literally...not so much.  But I love the idea of being involved in birth so going to watch big brother is the absolute best role I could ever play in that aspect.  That honestly sounds like an amazing career - "big sibling supporter".

Which isn't a bad idea for a job really; I could definitely see the need.  Back when I was pregnant in September, I started asking around to figure out someone to watch Lucia so she could attend the birth and there really weren't "people who do that".  We have some great friends here but at the time of the birth, they would all have had kids under the age of one or work.   

Monday was the Epiphany and I had every intention of leaving little treats for Lucia from La Befana.  But she threw up on both Saturday and Sunday morning so I thought it might be cruel to give her treats without the intention of actually letting her eat them.  Or at least that's what I told myself after I forgot to pick anything up for her when I went grocery shopping on Sunday.  

I guess I have to get myself together before she is old enough to remember these traditions and notice the lack thereof.  I'm guessing she's be pretty aware by three, so 11 months and counting?  Oh, and that's probably the time when I'm obligated to buy her birthday/Christmas presents.  I mean, the girl is spoiled by so many people that she doesn't need another gift but eventually she'll notice and think it's strange that her parents don't get her gifts, right?  So lots of shopping and getting on the ball awaits me this year. How to parents of large families manage this - birthday presents for all AND Christmas presents for all AND remembering to pick things up for various celebrations throughout the year? 

We are getting a treadmill today!  While staying at my in-laws over New Year's, we used their treadmill and thought, "Wouldn't it be nice to have one?"  So when we got home, we started checking Craig's List.  Only one little problem: It's just after New Year's.  Perfect timing.  Only I would decide to get a treadmill completely unrelated to New Year resolutions right at the new year when I have to compete with everyone who made New Year's resolutions.  So every time we emailed about a treadmill, we got "We have a list of people interested, we'll add you to the bottom if none of them end up getting it."  At which point, I thought, "Nevermind."  Because if a long line of people turned it down, I probably don't want it anyway.  But we finally got lucky and David happened to check CL the other night just after someone posted the treadmill and called right away and we're scheduled to pick it up tonight.  Here's to hoping it's not so heavy that I can't help him carrying in the townhouse and up the stairs.

Speaking of New Year's Resolutions, I haven't made any this year and I'm perfectly happy with that.  I will be focusing on my word of the year, but I think I would also like to make a few process-oriented goals after reading this post at Modern Mrs. Darcy.  I think focusing on the small steps will work much better for me than making results-focused goals because I often get lost in the details of how to execute.  So far, I'm thinking that one goal should involve the aforementioned treadmill and another will be reading a certain number of pages a day (something reasonable, like 20, and including all reading materials - fiction, non-fiction, magazines, etc.).  And I probably should aim for a certain number of glasses of water each day.

How do you approach resolutions/goal setting, etc.?  I think starting new goals at the beginning of the year is a bit arbitrary since real life runs more in seasons than calendar years, but it's when I tend to set my goals nonetheless, simply because that's when everyone is talking about it and, thus, when I'm thinking of it.

I'm thinking that goal-setting post I linked above is going to be a game-changer for me, similar to how this post from Quick Takes hostess, Jen, helped me gain a semblance of organization.  The whole genius of that post is catchall containers without lids.  When we moved into our new place, I bought several different size bins for our bathroom closet (which less like a closet and more like shelving because there is no door - which also helps!).  Each bin is assigned to hold a certain category of bathroom stuff - makeup in this small one, hair stuff in this other, hand towels and washcloths for this one, everything else over here - and because I only have to walk two steps, toss stuff in the right bin, no lids are drawers or doors in the way, I actually put things away almost every time.  I still need to figure out how to work this into other rooms, but five months into use in the bathroom, I think I can say without a doubt that this is the perfect organizational solution for me.

I've read several great posts this week.  Mind if I list a few?

Sex, Tomatoes, and High Fructose Corn Syrup - Carrots for Michaelmas

23 Things to Do at 23 (No Matter Your Relationship Status) - Molly Makes Do

Be Not Afraid - This Ain't the Lyceum

Let Me Tell You of My Foolishness - Annery at Home

My Party Trick: "I Have Five Kids" - guest post by Christy at Call Her Happy

Lucia: I want ogurt.

Me: Ogurt? Like Shrek's favorite snack?

David: Hahahahahahahahaha. 

Not sure why he thought it was so funny (and he's told me several times since then that he thought it was super witty) but I'll take it.  And now when Lucia asks for yogurt she says, "I want ogurt like Shrek".  I don't think she gets it.

Have a beautiful weekend!  On Fridays, Mary Margaret spends the day with us so we have a great day ahead filled with tea parties and tutus. 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!