Five favorites, wish list version

^^^ Unrelated other than it is one of my favorite photos from the summer ^^^

Linking up with Jenna for my first five favorites in quite some time. 

I'm still a minimalist when it comes to baby items. White onesies are still my favorite outfit for Conor. I listed my five baby essentials here. And let's be real, this baby is going to be using same cloth diapers that I bought with Ryan, the same co-sleeper and then the same pack-n-play inherited from Chris' family, and if he is a boy, all the same clothes and shoes and so on and so on. But! I will admit we did splurge a little ... we snagged a $20 high chair off of craigslist just in time for you, Baby. This purchase might also have been because our first high chair was actually falling apart and swayed every time Conor sat in it. 

Minimalism aside, here are five of the want-don't-necessarily-need things I've been eyeing lately for tonight's Five Favorites post: 

--- all-white swaddle blankets  Neither Ryan nor Conor were swaddlers. I think part of it was that both preferred to sleep on their bellies, and then part of it was that I only had one swaddle-size blanket. Of course they were going to bust out of the small blankets! Everyone raves about the aden + anais swaddle blankets so these white ones caught my eye. I've found that I prefer white as opposed to the go-to yellow or green or patterned for gender neutral stuff mostly because we were only dressing newborn Ryan in yellow and had no clue that his jaundice was at a dangerous level. 

--- Chambray linen baby sling - I've wanted a ring sling since Ryan was a wee babe, and we would go to La Leche League (or breastfeeding club as my brothers-in-law would call it) almost weekly because I had essentially no mom friends and that was the place I could soak up all the birthing, nursing, babywearing conversation until the next week. I already had a Baby K'tan and an Ergo so I couldn't take the plunge and buy a sling, too. Then I was delusional when I was pregnant with Conor and thought I would sew my own ring sling because there are some thorough and safe tutorials out there, but come on. My to-mend/to-alter pile of clothes doesn't get any smaller, it just grows. A handmade sling has no chance. But my dreams of a sling haven't dissipated! Nell is always talking about how her sling saves her life, and Jacqui, who is the sling expert, told me that the Sakura Bloom chambray line would be best for my newborn/toddler needs. I checked them out and the color that I'm drawn to is named black currant! You can ask Chris - I annoyingly love anything black currant. It's definitely a sign that I need to keep praying and praying for a used one because $160 is just not going to happen right now, right? 

--- Sophie the Giraffe. Our infant sized one was eaten by a dog and then the original Sophie was chucked out the window on a road trip by a toddler testing his arm. I loved both with the boys so I will probably end up getting them again. 

--- Blue and Gold Baby Bow. I have almost no girl things. Which is fine because, as I mentioned, I'm all about the white onesies, and with the white onesie window, I'll have enough time to peruse the thrift stores and consignment stores to build a collection of girl clothes just to my liking. But! Football season does begin less than a month after the baby is due so I won't deny I've looked at a few blue and gold headbands, just in case. I prefer delicate and dainty headbands, and that one fits the bill. 

--- a 50 mm lens. I love using the 18-135mm zoom lens that came with my camera when I snagged it off of craigslist last year when we are outside, but a 50 mm lens that lets in much more light indoors would be such a pleasant change since we live in the land of the perma-cloud for a large part of the year. 

What's on your superfluous wish list? 

And here is my latest print available in the shop

Some of the links are affiliate links so you if order through them, I do get a teeny tiny portion at no extra cost to you! 


Could you be pregnant?

So far the consensus seems to be yes to a potential vlog post, but I've only received three questions so if you have one ... let me know!
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Okay, let's rewind a bit all the way back to early November. 

I was potentially a little late. We weren't trying at all, but I was going on basically twelve months of baby fever and it was kind of like when I thought I just might be pregnant with Ryan. Once the idea was in my head, the desire to be pregnant rose and rose and rose. I got to thirty-five days, and I definitely felt alive and well and pregnant. We went to dinner with Chris' program and then I pulled the only trick out of my bag and promptly took the boys to CVS and then straight to the Basilica bathroom because I'm the most sentimental person you will ever meet. I was also wearing the yellow sweater I wore when I found out I was Conor's first home. Totally planned. 

Yet, nothing. 

I was sad. I was, really, very sad. I barely slept that night just waiting to test in the morning. Finally it was four something in the morning, and I deemed that morning enough to try again.

Nothing. 

Within the week it was evident that I wasn't pregnant at all. Which was good! We weren't trying. But I was still sad. 

I tried to be really on top of charting in November and December, but it was pretty puzzling. Come December 15th, I was late, but I hadn't been able to read any signs of ovulation so I thought it was just that particularly stressful month taking a toll on me. Plus I had been so let down by the previous hopeful surprise that wasn't that I blocked that possibility from my mind. 

That afternoon I just felt ... crazy. Immensely emotional. Incredibly sensitive. I lost it about something and then told Chris that I just wanted to cry all the time. I was sitting with my sketchbook on the black counter about to paint since we had just decided that I would open a print shop a few nights (really a few mornings since it was at 4 am or so!) earlier after an all nighter of crunching numbers. Chris tenderly prodded, "Could you be pregnant?"

NO! 

He went down to hang out with the kids while I basked/sulked in my alone time. The thought "I really have been feeling ... crazy," scrolled around in my head while my paintbrush sat idle. I sat and sat and sat and then got up and walked to our bathroom. I pulled out a pregnancy test, looked at it and thought, "If I really thought this would be positive, I would only take it in the Basilica bathroom." So I took it. 

And then I laughed. 

I went down and told Chris very seriously that I really wanted to go to Confession at the Basilica. Chris didn't notice the yellow sweater I had swiftly donned. We gathered coats and then stuffed ourselves into the car and trekked to the campus. I was sitting in the back on the driver side so it would be easier for Chris to open the door for me.

When we parked outside, I was about to burst, but I kept thinking, "Just a few more seconds!" Chris opened the door for me, and then started to walk around the car to open the other door for Ryan, but I stopped him and asked him,

"So ... do you think you just opened the door for your two girls or your girl and your boy?" 

And then he laughed.

............

The answer to my question is within reach! What fun. 

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^^^ Big brother times two blessing himself after we walked in ^^^

^^^ Praying for the fifth soul in our family ^^^

^^^ A new flame. ^^^

^^^ Just exuding with excitement and care ;) ^^^

 

 

 

 

 

Lincoln logs, er ... linkin' blogs

Should I do a vlog? What do you think? Now that I feel like a quick dip into the blogging pond post-move and pre-baby, I thought it would be fun, but maybe it could tank. We will see! I loved Ana's back in January so let's do something similar. If you have a question, send me it by Tuesday, and I'll try to have a vlog up by the end of the week! Key word: try.

And now I'd like to share links I've been stashing away.

First, so many babies! EveyMary JaneBoscoJoe! My best friend's baby! I know I've missed some more, which is kind of an abundant oversight to make, huh? 

I thought this piece on showing up  was spot on. Some days that's all you can do, but it means so much to do so. 

Maybe it was the move or if this pregnancy is just different because I've moved in each of the other pregnancies and I've never felt this way, but I'm all about the nesting this time around. Well not nursery stuff. More like cleaning and getting rid of so much! Anyway, I was a pretty happy puppy when this series on  keeping clean started up, and I want more, more more  (whenever she has time, of course :)).

This post on the shortage of sandman dust is sweet and the bags under my eyes can commiserate. 

I SO appreciated this post on parenting amnesia and aggressive toddlers with babies. I was sharing with Ana the other day that Conor is not gentle past the first few minutes (or sometimes five seconds) with babies and of course within the hour he downright walloped little Joseph Pio. Oh boy. I know they grow out of it as Ryan had quite a few moments and is now really good around babies, but Blythe's honesty about not having a perfect angelic toddler made me feel much better. 

Annie's raw honesty about infertility and big families is a great read. 

I might be biased, but check out my goddaughter's birth story ! What a day full of prayer and rejoicing. 

These are my kind of people. Kate is my role model. You just do it! And I miss having uncles living with us. 

I really want any of these audio stories Nell raved about. 

Arbonne's shea butter is still my favorite. Samantha, the Arbonne consultant who generously gave away $50 of product last month (Anne Peterson was the winner!!) is offering 20% to any readers right now! And Arbonne comes with a 45 money back guarantee. Here is Samantha's website or you can email her at samathastonepsb (at) gmail.com if you would like to take part! 

And then, here are two pieces by the wise Auntie Leila at Like Mother Like Daughter that I just wish I had when I was a new mother.

-Nursing your baby
Postpartum does not mean one day after your baby comes

Fortunately my mom and my mother-in-law are all about cuddling newborns and weren't discouraging when I just wanted to nurse and nurse the baby. This is how she defines nursing: 

 "*You should nurse your baby. You should breastfeed your baby if you can, and I think you almost certainly can. Maybe you really can’t breastfeed. But every mother can nurse her baby. That means cuddle, hold, and in general understand that nursing the baby isn’t reducible to a delivery system for nutrition — rather, the milk is a vehicle, if you will, for getting to know and love your baby. It also happens to make him grow."

And this is how she defines postpartum: 

 "Postpartum does NOT mean “the day after you have the baby.” It means “one week after,” “six weeks after,” and also “six months after.” Those are your milestones. When you are in sight of one, re-adjust and think of the next. Keep moving that target out."

Did you see that wonder woman, Britt, is giving away Hatch Prints goodies? Two days left! There might be a coupon code over on her blog as well :) 

I was so honored to be able to paint the desktop and phone wallpapers for Blessed Is She this week. You can download them here

And finally, here is my newest print, available in the shop both in 5x7 and 8x10. 



Am

Tuesday really knocked the wind out of me. Better put, it knocked a tooth out of Ryan. And for the first time, it was all my fault. 

Long story short, the boys and I had a perfect morning that literally went downhill. Humidity wasn't smothering us, Ryan was a champ on his bike hollering, "Thank you, cars!" for letting us cross the street and showing me the way to the the amazing "dirt mountains" Chris had found for them to play on during a previous boys-only bike ride, and we closed  out the morning with a visit to the candy wall and playing in a tree while church bells rang. Next on our agenda was to stop to pick, "Black-eyed susans, Mom!" on our short bike ride home. I didn't think it all the way through and decided that we should go down a hill (probably one of the only hills in Indiana!) to get to our path home. The morning was going so perfectly, it slipped my mind that maybe Ryan wasn't capable of going down the hill on his bike safely. And he definitely wasn't. Not a single image has been as haunting to me as the image of him gaining speed, panicking and crashing crushingly hard into the fence at the bottom of the hill. I was too far away to do anything. I couldn't protect him. I couldn't protect him from the harm I put  in his way

Rough and tumble describes both of our children, but especially Ryan, so seasonal phenomena like summer knees all scraped up from playing outside don't make me bat an eye. Their injuries so far have made me sad and want to take all their pain away, but those knees and bruises are little speed bumps in their daily adventures that grow more and more independent each day. They are being children. I'd give as many healing kisses as they'd need rather than snuff the adventure out. But those adventures involve climbing reasonable ladders and jumping from reasonable ledges. They explore in reasonable environments that I put them in. Ryan's crash and resulting injury came out of my stupid decision even though I am the one past the age of reason. 

Since the crash, Ryan's gums and face are bruised and the right side of his face is covered in scratches. But his memory is so forgiving! He has already begged to go on a bike ride again and again, and he has eaten an almost innumerable amount of popsicles. He proudly recounts that he ate an ice cream AND a milkshake. He's successfully practiced going down the hill while practicing braking (with Chris walking in front of him), and he tells me, "I can still smile, Mom!" 

I haven't been as forgiving. Each smile and laugh from him just reminds me of Tuesday makes me replay the helpless image again in my mind. Maybe it's the raw nature of this inaugural pain-causing mistake, maybe it's just testimony to the fact that I am a good mom who cares about her children as the priest I spoke to yesterday pointed out to me when I asked for advice.  But I feel like I'm the fence; I feel like I knocked his tooth out with my own force. 

In spite of my present inability to forgive myself, I have reached a point of clarity. 

It came yesterday when I was wallowing and entering a tunnel of self-loathing thoughts, and I found myself thinking, "I shouldn't be his mother." 

Ummm ... no.

My judgment of should or deserve or want or need doesn't belong there. 

I am his mother. 

I am his mother.

I have been his mother since before I knew of his presence. I have been his mom since before he was born. 

I can't ever change that honor, lost baby tooth or not. My children can be brave enough to get back up, and I can be brave enough to kiss away the hurt again and again. So I'll keep just keep pedaling, just keep pedaling and hopefully soon I'll forgive myself like the boy I'm a mother to already has. 

^^^ Our grainy photo from bedtime on Tuesday ^^^

All Aboard

IMG_0948.JPG

This is really long. Everyone always says that people don’t want to read long things, but I'm not everyone. I normally want to read long love story posts and long NFP posts, and I want it all in one place. So maybe take breaks if you aren’t like me.

I’m not going to get into the teachings on NFP because you can find those very eloquently written about in many forms whether they be encyclicals or blog posts. I don’t intend any of this to end in debate. I hate confrontation. This post has been in my drafts for months and my mind for longer, but I was finally inspired to share by this post to finish it and press publish. As you read, remember that this is our ongoing relationship with using NFP, not everyone’s. However, I feel like there are more practicing couples out there that would resonate with some straight talk.

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"All aboard! All aboard!" Ryan kept bellowing from atop an upside down white laundry basket. 

He had recently woken up which, of course, began the domino effect of his being up spurring his baby brother being up spurring me being up. We were up!

"All aboard!"

I asked him, "Are you a conductor?"

"No. I'm just a kid saying. 'All aboard!'"

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We knew and currently know the beauty of the teachings behind NFP. When we were engaged, there was never any question if we were going to use NFP, but there also wasn't any question if we were going to wait or not to expand our family of two to a family of three. We were going to wait. Sure, I'd daydream about having our babies the second we got married, but that just wasn't in the plans. 

Two years. Yes, two years. Two years would give us plenty of time to pay a good chunk of student loans off. There was no way we could afford children while paying off students loans at first. Plus, we were already going against the grain by tying the knot, and I couldn't imagine ruffling more feathers by putting eggs in the newlywed nest. 

But, I didn't do anything about it until four months or so before the wedding. This demonstrates that the gravity of our financial situation maybe wasn't as grave as we thought. 

I finally saw a flyer at my school for NFP classes and went by myself. I really was actually by myself because I was the only person beside the teacher who showed up, and Chris lived almost two hours away at the time. Fortunately for the kind teacher, NFP was already going to be the way for us, I didn't need any convincing. She had been teaching for decades, and her material showed it. She taught using slides. Not PowerPoint slides. Real, click, click slides. The rest of her outdated materials are beside the point. What I heard from her that came from her well-intentioned heart, was that NFP would be easy. The idea wasn't that abstaining would be easy, but that the science of it would be easy. It was the same thing I heard from every other couple I had asked. Just temp and check throughout the day and chart and you will be able to tell when you ovulate! What a blessing! 

(I want to put it out there that I am not a good example if you do really do have grave reasons to avoid pregnancy and need to be diligent about charting and avoiding. Find a teacher who works for you and begin at least six months before your wedding. It's never too early to learn NFP. I'm pretty adamant about teaching our daughters someday about NFP once they reach maturity and raising our boys to know that NFP takes two people. There is nothing dangerous about knowing more about how a woman's body works - Chris might claim there's something distinctly dangerous about NOT knowing how it works). 

I half-heartedly starting charting using a computer program, and I was as stumped as my sophomore self in macroeconomics. My mind was mostly preoccupied with what our honeymoon would be like, fun or not, and every new day charted seemed to contradict the previous day’s forecast for fun or not. With a generous estimate, I had maybe three full charts completed before April 2, 2011. But, oh well, I was told that it was going to be easy so I naïvely thought it would take care of becoming easy on its own! We were totally good was my stubborn thought. 

Our honeymoon consisted of alternating between having the time of our lives and shrugging bewilderedly at the signs of the day.

I remember someone strongly telling us on our honeymoon to wait two years to have children, and I completely agreed, definitely. We were going to wait.

Then I remember being home in Chicago a couple weeks later and venting to Chris in our room that I had no idea what was happening and that we could be pregnant. That thought - that possibility I let gestate in my mind suddenly became something that I wanted. It was kind of like the moment I realized I had a crush on Chris. I didn’t know I liked him until I realized he might not ask me to be his date, and I didn’t know I wanted a baby until I realized there might not be one. I realized I wanted to be a mother right then, but damn it, wasn’t NFP supposed to be easy?

Chris told me that if we were pregnant, it would be wonderful. That would be a gift - but also that the odds were incredibly low. We weren’t intending to try, but we always knew our intimacy was open to God’s plan.

His words soothed me and they are some of the most favorite words he has ever spoken to me, but as the week went on, there was that tug-o-war I had planted in my mind. I want a baby, but I’m supposed to make NFP work – I can’t be a part of another "'What do you call people who use NFP?' 'Parents!'" joke.

 NFP didn't make us parents. The birds and the bees made us parents.

And then April 29th came. It was the 35th day of my cycle and the longest cycle I had had before the wedding that had been charted was 35 days. I watched the Royal Wedding in the wee hours of the morning, and that night the test turned positive pretty much before I could say wee. That’s a slight exaggeration, of course.

I was ecstatic to be pregnant. But there was that tug-o-war! At the same time, I was also mortified to be pregnant. To my mistaken mind, our honeymoon souvenir meant that I lost a victory for NFP. Easy NFP that is already such a hard sell. I felt horrible that I was going to deter couples from even considering it.

When I told all of my friends we were having a honeymoon baby, I’d follow up each time with a quick plea, “But make sure you tell everyone that we didn’t follow the rules! We knew we were open! NFP does work, we just didn’t really use it correctly!”

Thank you, God, for that.

Thank you, God, for not giving us our plan.

Thank you, God, for showing us that there doesn’t have to be a one hundred percent success avoidance rate for NFP to work.

Thank you, God, for showing us that, bottom line, NFP is about life.

Thank you, God, for giving us our honeymoon souvenir.

Thank you, God, for giving us someone who is half me, half my husband, and all yours. Thank you for giving us our son.

A honeymoon baby seems to have made us more daring because we are more at peace with a plan that isn't our own. I can tell you that if Ryan hadn't been born, Chris wouldn't be chasing our dream in grad school right now. He would still be working a lucrative, cut-throat job that made him miserable. 

We have learned that for us at this time of life, NFP is fittingly more like a dare than a promise. I dare you to trust me. Now, I’m more of a truth girl, but I’m going to keep choosing dare.

Once Ryan was uncorked, we knew that we wanted to him to have siblings so Conor was planned. Well, he was loosely planned. This baby just made us laugh. I’m already brainstorming what method will be employed after this little girl or boy. My planning ahead shows that we aren’t considering jumping ship.

But that doesn’t mean it is easy.

NFP is gold, but NFP is hard.

Attempting to learn NFP while nursing and walking in the fuzzy cloud of newborn mom brain for months was, no wait, will continue to be agony.

At present, our reaction when we look at my charts the majority of the time would be most accurately and almost most bluntly described as, "WTF WTF WTF." 

However, we choose to be here. I personally don’t feel enslaved to Church teaching, I feel free, humbled and pretty damn lucky.

But how can we fix the marketing? How can we enhance how NFP teachers and users communicate the stunning difficulty to those dipping their toes into the waters without scaring them away? That, yes, NFP is beautiful, but often the beauty really starts to shine and grow after sifting through the grit. I don't have answers for those complex questions, but I know that I can start by being honest about its beauty and its cross when couples come to me asking questions.

It’s been over four years since I saw those blue lines cross, and I still cringe at my attempts to defend NFP rather than fully and unabashedly celebrating our newest vocation. Is Ryan a lost victory for NFP? No, he is just a soul saying, “Lead me home!”