Thursday, November 13, 2008

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini


"When we see our efforts are unsuccessful, let us throw ourselves at the feet of Jesus. Groaning over the world's iniquity, let us beg his divine heart to lay bare his infinite treasures of mercy. Then let us return again to our work, without giving in to exhaustion. Hardships must never discourage the spouse of Christ; rather, they should make her stronger and more determined. Do not be dismayed by rejection and mockery. Go forward always...everyone can be serene when things run smoothly; it is in difficult situations that fidelity and constancy are proven."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sweetheart "meme"

Kate over at La Vita Bella tagged me on this one. Thanks Kate! Kinda fun and makes you feel all lovey-dovey for a bit, until DH says something like, "Can you NOT make this for dinner again?"

Husband's Name: Paul Anthony

How long we've been married: 3 years or so

How long we dated: Did we ever really properly "date" after the month or so our junior year in high school? I think not. We have been friends for 14 years now. We dated, sort of, off and on. Kind of. Mostly not.

How old is he?: 30. Two days younger than myself. Can't resist those younger men. There is some debate based on dates of conception, but who really wants that much information?

Taller: Him by about 3 1/2 inches. Yay for that. I'm pretty traditional about those things. I don't wear heels, but lest you be fooled, it is mostly that I find them dreadfully uncomfortable.

Who can sing best?: *blush* I suppose HE would say me. Although I could make a great argument for him. He has a wonderful voice, and although he doesn't remember lyrics well, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the creative lyrics he composes in place of the correct ones. He also has the ability to make up his own little ditties, a talent I lack entirely.

Smarter?: He is AWESOME in ways I never thought possible when it comes to problem solving/troubleshooting. I am book-smarter. I'll tell you though, in daily life, his smarts come in purty handy. I do the mental math for him when he's trying to figure how many square feet and the like.

Laundry: Me. Oh, he's willing, kind of, and he'll do it when necessary, but I have serious issues with his methods (of the cram pack, anti-sort variety). I was not the best at keeping up until recently, when I gave in to his request that I simply do a load or two a day. That's my problem solver!

Paying bills: Moi. I actually relish this task. He has volunteered to take it over to save me the time doing it, but I love seeing where all the money goes and making the monthly budget. This absolutely, positively does NOT mean I am in control of the money however! We mutually decide where it all goes, down to the last blessed penny.

Who sleeps on the right side of the bed?: Huh. As I think about this, I realize that starting out in Denver it was him, then in Chicago it was me (closer to the window AC, I'm guessing), and it has stayed me since.

Mows the lawn?: Are you kidding me? He won't let me touch the mower! Some silliness about it being "the man's job" or something. Truthfully, he really enjoys it and I wouldn't want to take that from him. He spent almost a year choosing a lawn mower. Now that's devotion.

Cooks dinner: Me. He is capable, however, especially in the egg department. He likes to try different combinations of seasonings that my palette doesn't necessarily appreciate.

Who's the first to admit when they're wrong?: Oh boy. We don't need to go there really, do we? Suffice it to say, my husband and I are both choleric in temperament.

Who kissed first?: Paul initiated. It was a first for both of us at 16. How sweet and awesome is that?

Who wears the pants?: Paul. Paul. Paul. That being said, he would say me on account of my, how shall we say, emotional tendencies and his desire to appease said emotions.

I'll tag:

Erin @ Breathe, Just Breathe
Monica @ Every Day is a Gift
Erika @ A Simple Life for Him

Please don't feel obligated! Only if it's fun for you. Tag!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

How Mom Gets Things Done

Joshua, where are your pants?

Yes, I heard the tell-tale thump-thump-thumpety-thump-crash. Again, and again. And again.

I knew what was going on, and I did nothing to stop it.

Don't you judge me. I am not a bad mom. They were supposed to be taking naps but refused. That's my only real defense.

All reachable items from Grace's room, the living room, and the kitchen/dining area.

Proud much my Gracie?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Thank You Good Kind Monks!

You have, no doubt, heard the home life of a mother and her children referred to as the domestic monastery. If you haven't, read a little of this.

Anyhow, I will not belabor that point. It is related to what I wanted to share in a manner of speaking. I want to have a domestic monastery sort of life when I'm at home all day with the little ones. So.........

In effort to bring more peace and less stress and craziness to our day, and knowing the profound effect music has on me, and also just because I like it, I recently started listening to Gregorian chant at various times of day: while preparing and eating breakfast, during morning prayer, doing the dishes or laundry, making supper and trying to de-frazzle myself before Paul gets home so he doesn't walk in to a mess--me mostly but the house get the idea.

So, I wanted to share with you that IT WORKS. It lifts my mind and heart heavenward. I feel like the serene sort of mother I want to be (until Grace flings her yogurt against the wall). Truly, my children even seem to be affected by chant. Maybe it's my imagination, but they seem a hair less wild when it's playing.

Seriously, give it a try. I listen to the first one on this page and this one.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Sometimes I despair of ever being able to actually get into my bed and go to sleep. When it goes like it went last night.

Often as a mom I wonder, "Is this typical? Do most wives/mothers just handle these situations with more grace than myself? Or am I doing something wrong that makes life harder on myself?"

Here's how my attempt to go to bed last night went:

I wanted to go to bed at 10ish. That's usually how it starts; with expectations of normalcy.

That is indeed what time it was by the time everyone was cared for: children, husband, house, etc.

Silly me, I was craving some time to myself that had been previously unattainable until this point when finally everyone else was asleep. So I dwindled away a whole hour on a new-to-me cooking blog. In my defense, it seduced me with its beautiful photography of delicious, unheard of foods, the simple but elegant layout, and funny posts. I was in dreamy kitchen-y heaven for a blessed hour.

Glancing at the clock I realize it is 11. I snap back to reality and get myself off to bed.

I climb into bed and Paul rolls over, pats me, and says something funny in his sleep that is like a puzzle my mind thinks it has to figure out before I can go to sleep.

Frustrated, I throw back the covers, get up, and turn the stereo on as low as it will go, classical station. They are playing some annoying jazz music, not conducive to happy sleepy dreamy time. I decide it is better than nothing and get back into bed. At the end of the song they ask me to send them money. Ok, not better than nothing. I turn it off.

Finally I drift off, several minutes later. I think I got wise and started praying. Should have been my first recourse. Silly Patty.

Joshua starts crying. Exasperated, I throw back the covers. Calming before I reach him, I hold him close and bring him to bed. But, I am trying to move toward sort of night-weaning him, so I stay awake, nursing for 3-4 minutes and then taking him back to his own bed.

Now it is almost midnight. I think I finally fell asleep shortly thereafter, having tried the music once again and shut it off once again after Paul wakes up and asks what that strange noise is.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Encouragement in Suffering from our Sister Therese

This really touched me the day I read it. I had been sick, the kids had been sick, Paul and I had been having a difficult was just the thing, a gift from heaven, Little Therese showering her roses on me. It gave me hope and purpose. I hope it speaks to you as well.

I assure you...I am doing all that is within my power to obtain the graces necessary for you; these graces certainly will be granted to you since Our Lord never asks sacrifices from us above our strength. At times, it is true, this divine Savior makes us feel all the bitterness of the chalice that he is offering our soul. When he asks the sacrifice of all that is dearest in this world, it is impossible, without a very special grace, not to cry out like him in the garden of agony: "Father, let this chalice pass from me...however, may your will be done and not mine."

It is very consoling to think that Jesus, the Strong God, knew our weaknesses, that he trembled at the sight of the bitter chalice, this chalice that he had in the past so ardently desired to drink...

Your lot is very beautiful since Our Lord chose it for himself and since he first wet his lips with the cup he is offering you.

A saint has said: "The greatest honor God can give a soul is not to give it much but to ask much from it!" Jesus is treating you then as a privileged one. He wills that you already begin your mission and that through suffering you may save souls. Is it not in suffering, in dying that he himself redeemed the world?...I know you aspire to the joy of sacrificing your life for the divine Master, but martyrdom of the heart is not less fruitful than the pouring out of one's blood, and now this martyrdom is yours. I am right, then, in saying that your lot is beautiful, that it is worthy of an apostle of Christ...

Let us work together for the salvation of souls; we have only the one day of this life to save them and thus to give the Lord proofs of our love. The tomorrow of this day will be eternity, and then Jesus will restore to you a hundredfold the very sweet and very legitimate joys that you sacrificed for him.

From a letter by St. Therese of Lisieux

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Her Voice Proclaims the Greatness of the Lord

I have heard my daughter 'sing' many times. She sings along to the ABC song (I have even heard her approximate several letters) on the Leap Frog school bus on loan to us from a friend. She sings "Pick-up, pick-up" ("Buh-buh, buh-buh") while we pick up her toys. She makes up her own songs to accompany various activities. But nothing compares to what I heard her sing tonight.

Grace loves to pray. She cannot always be bothered to bless her food before supper, but I'm sure she makes up for it. She sits relatively peacefully next to me when I pray my morning prayers (truly unusual for this always-in-motion child). She begs to hold my prayer book. She loves turning the pages and holding the book open just like mommy does. When she is not holding the book, she folds her little hands beautifully. She speaks her language which God understands perfectly but we have a hard time figuring out.

When my alarm goes off at 3pm to remind me to pray a Spiritual Communion, she folds her hands and says "Suh-suh" ("Jesus"). I catch her praying randomly throughout the day in the middle of her play. It's the best, or so I thought until tonight.

I asked Grace if she wanted to say prayers with me. She eagerly said "Yeah yeah yeah". We sat on the couch together and I opened my Magnificat. She folded her hands expectantly. When it came time to pray the Magnificat, I decided to sing "Holy is His Name" (John Michael Talbot). I began..."My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord..." Close behind me, Grace's strong little voice started belting out the song in her own little language for all she was worth. She sang and sang until the song was over. My heart was so full. What an appropriate choice for her very first song ever she would choose to sing with mommy.

Before tonight, Grace was strictly a solo singer. Oh the blessed heavenly harmony I had never heard before! I had no idea it could be so beautiful! Thank you, thank you, thank you God for this treasure! I would say more but words don't do it justice. :) These are the moments we live for, no?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

For the Mom at her wit's end (like me)

"Calm your anger and forget your rage;
do not fret, it only leads to evil.
For those who do evil shall perish;
the patient shall inherit the land."

(from Psalm 37, today's Evening Prayer in Magnificat)

Ever feel like God is talking directly to you through Scripture? Good news: HE IS.

I thought I was a patient person until I had children. I am not. But I am working on it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

Beautiful Babies

Grace is always asking to hold Joshua.

How you've grown little girl!

"Mommy made me a smoothie and it was good!"

Daddy cut up half of Gracie's chicken. She opted for the chunk.

Grammie Arnold found us this great double-jogger at a garage sale. Complete with two adorable sleeping children. What a find!

"I have something to show you..."

Two new teeth. Mommy says we BOTH worked hard for these.

(Look at these last two pictures. Are you feelin' the Marnold?)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Thought-worthy Quotes

You're probably aware of my choice to birth at home with a midwife from reading this post.

My like-minded wonderful sister-in-law recently wrote this reflection on Birth and Spirituality. Here are some excerpts that struck a chord with me:

I have found that my views on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and mothering are considered quite radical. I never intended for this to happen, one thing just led to the other and this is what resonated with me. It just fits.

Big ditto there.

I believe that we are created in the image and likeness of God.... We are the best thing He created, ... As childbearing women, however, under the medical model of care, we are told that we are created faulty. That childbirth is a dangerous and perilous journey and we are lucky to make it out alive. That our bodies, although they safely housed our children for nine months , became more dangerous as birth became imminent. That doctors must save our children from our bodies...
I believe that for some mothers and babies, medical care is good and beneficial. Let us not pretend, however, that our meddling with childbirth, our over-monitoring, over-surgicalizing, over-medicating has made birth safer. Numbers show this is absolutely and unequivocally not the case. Our meddling has caused more damage to mothers and babies and future children to be conceived than we will ever know or understand. God designed birth the way he did for a reason. Working within the design allows childbirth to be safe.

I realize that some of you may have had good experiences in hospitals surrounded by doctors and nurses and machines and drugs. I gave birth to my first child in a hospital and had a fairly good experience over all. There are a few important aspects of that experience that I would change, but I didn't have the impression that I was in danger. Still, knowing what I know now, I wouldn't give birth in a hospital again unless I had a good reason. I feel safer at home. I trust the body God gave me.

Lest you think I am too radical, please know I have spent weeks in the hospital with my child for heart surgeries, watching her endure countless procedures and interventions. I do not swear off doctors and nurses and machines and drugs. They saved my little girl's life and for that I am eternally and profoundly grateful. They have their place. I just don't think it's at the business end of my birthing body.

And Erin has caused me to consider this from God's point of view now as well. I DO believe I'm choosing as He would have me do. My conscience wouldn't allow me to do otherwise at this point. Birthing at home allows the blessed event to be so much more profound. God meant for us to get a lot out of it, because it's a really BIG DEAL creating a life with Him. Just as the experience of getting the baby in should be spiritual, emotional, and obviously physical, the experience of getting the baby out should reflect all those aspects of me as well. Which is, I believe, part of what Erin was saying if you read her whole post. Good stuff.

[step off soapbox until next time]


Friday, April 25, 2008

Please tell me what you think...

I have always believed that if John and Jane plan to marry (openness to life being a given), one of them but ideally Jane should plan (at such a time when God chooses to bless John and Jane with a baby) to answer the call to be Mommy and become the primary caregiver on a daily basis in their home for their children (with the full support of and in partnership with John).

As I'm sure you're all aware, God created us (women) uniquely from men in our mothering ability, and although dads are nurturing as well (DH is quite exemplary in this area I might add), we carry our children within our very bodies and give them life both in and out of the womb from the very cells in our bodies and if this physical evidence of our gifts of nurturing isn't adequate to convince anyone that a mom is usually what's best for her kids then there are psychological, sociological, and spiritual arguments that can be made as well.

But moving on to my point/question for all of you...

Besides monetary, are there any other 'good' reasons a mom could/should work outside the home and have her children cared for by someone else?

I personally feel that I (being already married and therefore not considering a religious vocation--at least so long as my husband is alive) can't get any higher call than the vocation of wife and mom, but I also think I might be able to fulfill this vocation better if I had more time out of the house. Perhaps a part time job working in my field (catechesis). But I don't know if it would be justified and if this desire is one I am supposed to crucify or consider. Which is why I am posing the question to you.

I am straight up the middle half extrovert, half introvert. Because of this I feel lonely and isolated from not enough contact with others (extrovert) AND overwhelmed from too much contact with my kids (introvert). I know these feelings are common for today's SAHM, and perhaps I am just supposed to continue to pray for the grace to overcome the sadness and anger I sometimes feel.

I do get out of the house several times a week for different activities both with children and without, but I don't want to be always going somewhere because I feel that it is important for my children to have a routine and a secure environment in which they can learn and grow instead of "this day this and that day that and the next day another thing". I think the balance I've got is fairly good, but somehow I am still struggling.

So now, if you all haven't given up on me, faithful and few readers, what do YOU think?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Still Kickin'!

Dear Readers,

Stick with me here, life's been a little wild. Here's a bit of why:

I decided Paul and I needed to have a birthday party for our 30th. This put us (mostly him) into high gear on house projects, including but not limited to painting, decorating, and furniture making.

Besides the obvious Grace-in-a-box, we see here an incomplete paint job, a wall under repair, and a coffee table midway through the construction process. Grace is enjoying a rejected decoration which today houses her books displaced as a result of the completion of the doors for the bookshelf:

Paul did a mighty fine job on the doors. Turns out babies + paper = utter destruction, so until recently the bookshelf had been demoted to play shelf. It's nice to have reclaimed it for us big kids.

Here's the finished (for now, anyway) living room:

Mom and little sister came over the day before the big bash and Mom helped me decorate my kitchen while sister trimmed, highlighted, and straightened my monstrous hair. Thanks lovely ladies! Here's the kitchen makeover; I don't have a Patty makeover picture but I wish I did.

The party was a lot of fun. I'm so glad everyone came. I feel blessed. That being said, we probably won't do that again. I'm not sure our budget (food is expensive) or our marriage could take it. I feel compelled to note: Each of Paul's furniture projects--bookshelf doors, coffee table top, wall shelves--cost a mere $12 each. Thanks to his dad for all the reclaimed pine!

In other news, Joshua is all better and working on a double chin. I took him to the doctor (actually saw the MD!) for a follow-up this week and he had gained over a POUND in the three weeks since our initial visit.

Grace...well what can I say...Grace loves meatballs. She has really improved her eating habits. Perhaps it's the independence. It may be long overdue, but we now just give her the food on her own plate with her own utensils and let her go. Beneficial neglect.

And that's all for now!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Blueberry Ginger Icebox Pie

Here you go Erin!

Click here to go to recipe at coconutlime.blogspot

Julie Arnold tipped off the family to this yummy recipe. I have made it several times. Right now blueberries are a little on the expensive side. Later in the summer you can get a big ole carton that you won't even use up for 5.99. I recommend waiting until then. But I don't blame you if you can't resist. Beware of fibers when you grate the ginger. You might want to pull out the bigger strings because nobody wants to munch on fiber in their blueberry pie. I like real whipped cream on top.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

30 continued

My husband and I are birthday buddies. Today HE turned 30. I love sharing the fun and special-ness of birthdays with him. We get to try to make each other feel like a million bucks just two days apart. Today was his turn, and we both had a good day--him doing the things he wanted and me trying to make him feel extra loved.

What did Paul choose to do on his special day? Work. But of course! I do not know anyone who loves to work as much as my husband. He worked on trenching in his homemade sprinkler system and we made headway on our painting project (I finally settled on a color).

Paul and I met and fell in love when we were 16. It is amazing to think that in a few short years we will have been a part of one another's lives longer than not. Really, it already feels that way. He is like my favorite jeans and t-shirt, all worn in. And yet, I am still learning new things. For instance: I just found out a week ago that Paul doesn't like broccoli. Who knew? Turns out he was just being nice all those times I made it and he ate it.

Ok, don't be sad when you look at this picture--Grace isn't actually crying. It's a funny story.

So here goes. I found filet mignon on sale while grocery shopping today and picked up a special grill rub to complement it. Oh I was so happy to cook up a special meal for my birthday boy! Turns out I went a little crazy with the rub, and although the steaks were just about the best I've tasted (Paul actually did the grilling), they were a tad peppery, as evidenced by the tears running down Grace's cheeks. Her little eyes spurted out tears with every peppery bite. We couldn't help laughing. In spite of her discomfort, after each bite she made an adamant request for "Muh-muh-muh" (more) and was quite sad when there was no "muh".

Grace is not a good eater. We have noticed that when the food is 'nice' (read: expensive, rich-tasting, well-prepared) she eats and eats and eats. What shall we do with her? Mommy is a decent cook, but not a gourmet. Guess we'll have to ship her off to France! (along with Mommy so I can learn to cook for her)

Back to Paul: Some of you know and love him, some of you don't really know him at all. Either way, please ask God to bless him on the occasion of his 30th birthday. Thank you dear reader!

Happy Birthday Paul Anthony! I love you!

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Thank you, God and Dad and Mom, for giving me life!!! There aren't words sublime enough to express proper gratitude for this gift! Thank you Jesus for the gift of your very Self in the Eucharist! Again, 'thank you' doesn't quite do justice to the Gift, but there it is just the same.

I had a great day today. My husband and daughter woke me with a "Happy Birthday Sweetheart" and I got to shower! (It's the little things, you know?) Paul wrote me a loving email describing the gift he is giving me (it involves chocolate) and Mom came over to watch the little ones so I could run away and go shopping with my sister Gina. It was much fun and she treated me to Starbucks. I got an outfit for Easter/Birthday Party and some capris (love 'em) and we got to have girl chat.

Grace actually napped today (she's been under the weather so she hasn't been a great sleeper lately) and Joshua and I had special snuggle time while I caught up on a few shows online (Dancing with the Stars entertains me. I like seeing non-dancers learn to dance. It gives me hope that I could ballroom dance some day.) Paul brought home Applebees, and after the kids went to bed I went to adoration for a half-hour to spend time with my Jesus in the Garden.

All in all a super day. I feel so blessed, and refreshed.

I decided I need to grow up now that I'm 30. I need to act like an adult. More on what that means in a later post. I'm off to old women need our sleep.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Holy Week at the Arnolds'

A week ago today I took Joshua to the doctor after he had been running a high fever for two days. I can never actually get in to see the MD, always a PA, and I am thinking about trying to find a pediatrician, so if you have any advice PLEASE comment. Anyhow, the PA said he had several symptoms of pneumonia so he has been on antibiotics and is recovering well as far as I can tell.

Not to be left out, Grace has had several sick days in the last week. Yesterday was Day Two of fever for her and although she is not running a fever today, she puked this morning. Right now you would not know anything was ever wrong. It is difficult for a toddler to understand REST.

Paul has been up the better part of the past two nights with Grace, and Joshua has had two nights of restless Nurse-a-thon (he may be teething) so we're a little tired around here. Between that and the grey skies, I'd say we're right on track for Holy Week. That is if I can remember in the heat of a tired, cranky moment to offer my challenges to Christ. I'm trying, but it isn't always easy and I have a short memory. I hope He accepts sacrifices retroactively, because I often have to offer it to Him after the fact (while begging for forgiveness for my lack of patience at times).

I pray that all of you will have a truly Holy Week and grow closer to our suffering Lord so that we can all experience the joy of the Resurrection (hopefully with healthy children)!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Tonight Grace is filling in for me, as I am preoccupied with lesson plans and sick baby.

c , xxn Az vcx c md/ CCCG .VCVB ..B..VBF B S.;;;CSDCZC

I second that thought.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Gettin' into my Morning Groove

I love mornings. A whole new day, 'fresh with no mistakes in it' as Anne Shirley would say. A gift from God. Sun shining or not, I just love having a whole day ahead of me with limitless potential. Who knows what it will bring? Even though it has become pretty predictable, I still feel so hopeful in the morning about all the possibilities for accomplishing good.

Prior to about a week ago, the intensity of my daily mommyness began at approximately 6am and went strong until...hmm, not sure when. (In case you haven't picked up on the recurring theme, I am still 'adjusting' to the constant demands of two very needy little ones.) I often found myself at 10am still in pajamas and glasses, Grace still in pajamas, Joshua maybe napping in bed but more likely not, and my initial good morning mood gone after half a dozen spit-up messes, a chunk of hair removed from my head (thanks, Grace), and a poopy diaper change gone VERY wrong. And oh the resentment! I just wanted a little time to myself to transform into someone more 'put together' than Four-Eyed Pajama Mommy with Puppy Breath. I longed for a different start to my day so that I could enjoy my little ones and dive into my duties with vigor.

Husband to the rescue!

Back story: For almost six weeks now, Paul and I have been working out at night after the kids go to bed. We chose a particular set of videos and started out strong--6 days a week. Now it is at 4, but the workout is intense--an hour long and covering all muscle groups. Afterward I feel like a wet noodle. Grand total of pounds lost after six weeks of killing myself and giving up a lot of good rest and relaxation: 0. Now, the pants that fit pre-working out are too big and I am definitely stronger, but I had very high hopes of getting into my skinny pants by my 30th birthday. Sooo....

I mentioned to Paul about a week ago that I would work out an additional time of day if it were possible, and he volunteered to be Superdad from 6-7am so that I could get in a workout and shower, etc. Wow! My whole day has been transformed by 30 minutes of Cardio Hip-Hop (yes, you may giggle, I am sure I look like an idiot but no one is watching and I like to dance).

For a week now I have been able to secure an endorphin rush, de-stinkify myself, go glassesless and put on clothing all before 7am. What a difference this has made, what an impact on my entire day! Thank you, God!

Maybe I will eventually make peace with my 20 extra baby pounds. Maybe not. What I really want is to feel good about myself again. I realize that my worth is found in being a child of the Father, a temple of the Holy Spirit and united to my Savior...or do I? This is truly the ongoing struggle, I know. Knowing and loving myself means seeing me as God sees me. I'll keep working on that one. Meanwhile, I'll be here enjoying my mornings quite a bit more than before. (Thank you dear Paul.)

I think God must be a morning Person(s) too.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Flick Pick


Just finished "The Business of Being Born" and wanted to let whomever is interested know that it is available now with Netflix. Here's the link if you haven't heard of it and want the lowdown.

My critique:

Well, it's definitely one-sided, but eye-opening and thought-provoking. And apparently hyphen-inducing. Anyhow, I enjoyed it because I like to be affirmed in my choice to birth at home with a midwife. It made me feel good and I liked seeing the beautiful births.

I was trying to play the devil's advocate too though while I watched, because I was thinking of persons on the other side of the issue, like medical professionals and those who choose hospital birth. I think if such a person were open-minded, he or she would be very interested in and informed by this movie, but I also think (this is my catechist's mind coming into play) that it could make one very defensive if she (or he) felt sure they had chosen the best for themselves and their baby by birthing in a hospital. I guess what I'm saying is, it might not get to their hearts. Although, how can you see a baby born in such a starkly contrasting manner to a hospital birth (as you do on this movie) and not be moved?

I hope it helps change things because it is just downright scary to me to think what can happen to mothers and babies in hospitals and what all this says about how we view life and the human person.

In other movie news: Paul and I watched "No Reservations" last night (McD in Goddard has Redbox--YAY!!!) and I would rate it 'enjoyable' on the non-existent Patty Movie Rating Scale. It is PG and would be 100% kid-friendly if it weren't for the fact that you know the guy slept over. (They show some kissing and then breakfast the next morning.) The way the guy chef relates to the niece would warm any gal's heart. Just some light movie-watching for the night you feel like a little "Ahhh now that's just sweet." Paul and I have to make what is possibly the biggest decision of our lives. Netflix, or Redbox?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

One of THOSE days

Some days I am just not sure I am doing this parenting thing right. Should I let her just cry herself back to sleep, or should I go in and hold her? Does he really need to nurse or does he just want to and does it matter? Is it okay to swat her hand when she smacks her brother with a toy or does that totally defeat the purpose? Am I introducing solids too soon? He's so darn skinny and I'm just not sure he's getting enough breastmilk.

I want a little mommy angel on my shoulder to whisper in my ear. This is a dang hard job. I know that loving them is the most important thing, but the worrier in me OFTEN overcomes the peacefulness in me and I reach my limit of times I am able to just let go and say, "Jesus, I Trust in You". I guess that is where God's mercy has to flood in because I am just too weak and all the advice in all the parenting books in the world couldn't make me feel less uncertain during these moments.

I know what you will say, you mommies out there--this is normal, trust my instincts, there is no one right way, follow my heart, etc. etc. etc. But sometimes, I'll be completely honest with you, I just want God to write it on the wall what I'm supposed to do, because I just don't know and I want to run screaming for the hills.

I really thought I would love being a mom more than I do. I love my children wholeheartedly and I believe without a doubt that God has called me to this vocation, and furthermore I do not believe in waiting around thinking it will all be perfect one day. What I think about this situation is that God has presented me with an opportunity to unite myself to Him in these struggles, and what an honor that He trusts me with this particular cross to bear!

I do not feel sad and discouraged every day, or most days. I feel happy a lot. I have SO MUCH JOY at times. But I would be lying to say it comes easily to me, this mommy thing. Today has just been one of those days.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


In the five months we have been graced with the presence of our little Joshua, he has had exactly 1.5 "bad days". He is sweetness embodied. His dimpled smiles melt hearts everywhere and his giggles send me into rapture. I could not have imagined up a more delightful child. That being said...

It was love at first banana. When the kid has food in front of him--no, when the kid has a bib put on him--wait, really all I have to do is put him in his highchair, and he becomes Insatiababy. Mealtime goes something like this: Eyes wide, focused on the spoonful of food. Arms flailing wildly in excitement (sometimes knocking the food off the spoon or the spoon out of my hand). Legs kicking, kicking, kicking (again sometimes dislodging the food or spoon onto the floor, me, or him). Impatient "Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm" or "Uh-uh-uh"s. Joshua: Let's practice my spitting with this mouthful of sweet potatoes. I caught mommy off guard and she is looking at me in shock, covered in a thousand tiny droplets of spit-sweet-potato. Wait, I wanted that bite. Can I have it back?

The very first time I ever heard Joshua scream was the first time I reached the end of his rice cereal. Now I dread the last spoonful and the empty bowl and scramble to find a distraction just to avoid the predictable fat lower lip and instantaneous tears. Thing is, if I feed him until he's ready to stop, I'm guaranteed to see the food again. I know this because I've made this mistake more than once with him.

This is not a bad problem to have. It does, however, stand in stark contrast to the eating habits of my 2-year-old.


God just blessed me with a little gift in my hectic day.

I am behind in my catechetical work. The lesson plans I am writing will arrive in time for the teachers to teach the classes, but not much sooner unfortunately. I worry that my work does not satisfy those I am trying to help. Just now I was sitting here nursing Joshua, thinking about my work and worrying. Then I looked at him, all curled up in my arms, warm and happy, I realized that he is perfectly satisfied at this moment, and I helped him feel that way, and whatever else comes my way today I was able to give that security and peace to a little one. Thank you, Lord. May all I do today give you glory.

Here is a link relative to this topic that I found while searching for Mother Teresa quotes for work.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Confessions of an Average Mom

I pick at my son's cradle cap. Once I start, I'm hooked and I can't stop (until he gets squirmy).

I keep my daughter's mouth busy with snacks in the car so she won't scream bloody murder and scare brother and give mommy a headache and make mommy mad.

In desperation I have let my daughter play with the following items: my cell phone, my land phone, my laptop, my wallet, my checkbook, my car keys (think panic button pressed over and over), a roll of toilet paper, a box of kleenex, paperback goes on and on.

My daughter eats a lot of peanut butter.

I'm good at fake sleeping. (That's all I'll say; you'll have to deduce the rest.)

I don't cloth diaper. (I'd like to, but I've just never gotten started with it and quite frankly I LIKE wrapping the poop up in the diaper and throwing the whole business out.)

When I'm working I'm thinking about how I should be playing with my kids and when I'm playing with my kids I'm thinking about work.

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Grace Marie!

When I turn my mind from the everyday and really stop and put life with Grace in perspective, my heart fills to overflowing with love and gratitude for the life of my little girl. (Sometimes the overflow squeezes out my eyes.)

Today our special little girl is two years old. We never could have dreamed on that cold cold night in February when she was born in the little cabin in Kingman what a journey we were beginning with her!

We were nervous of course. I remember Paul staying up all night with her the first night, just to be sure she kept breathing. As I lay in bed, drifting in and out of sleep, I heard him praying with her and singing his own version of the popular James Blunt song "You're Beautiful". We were just a pair of proud, happy parents. We adored our little seven-pound package of sweetness.

At five weeks came 'The Big Reveal'. Grace and I had been having some trouble with nursing. She was only a few ounces over her birth weight. I had been to see a La Leche leader and started pumping to increase my milk supply, but I decided to visit the lactation specialist at Wesley as well. The doctor in charge of that department had been a pediatrician for thirty years. She was the one who told me that day that she was near certain Grace had Down Syndrome. Having no point of comparison, we hadn't really found her short, stubby fingers (fondly referred to as her 'little sausages') or the different shape of her eyes, or her generally small features to be remarkable. There were many tears for me, and much uncertainty for all of us.

We also learned that day that Grace had a significant heart murmur, indicative of a congenital heart defect (or two as it turned out). One BT shunt surgery, one heart catheterization, and one open heart surgery later, Gracie is all better. Those experiences are a whole 'nother story.

Every child's life is precious, and perhaps parents who have struggles less life-threatening than our own love their children just as fiercely and dearly as we love our Gracie, but perhaps, just perhaps, our appreciation for her life is surpassing because of the struggles God has chosen us to bear. Even if this is not so, my gratitude to God surpasses what it would have been had He blessed us with a 'normal' child.

So Happy Birthday, my Special Dear One, and may mommy and daddy always be thankful (especially on those days when you make mommy feel crazy) for the blessing we have in you!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Little joys to keep me going

Grace and mommy read Morning Prayer together, and mommy (for once) doesn't lose her cool just because Grace is grabbing the prayer book. Grace points along as mommy reads the prayers aloud, her little chubby finger bobbing up and down on the book leaving spitty marks.

We go downstairs so mommy can work at her desk (We don't have living room furniture anymore but I have my desk back!) and Grace is able to slide her way down the basement stairs all by herself with no help from mommy (other than mommy hovering behind her just in case).

I am working at the computer and hear Joshua's gasp-y baby laugh and I turn around to see Grace laying on top of him, pulling up his shirt, and kissing his tummy ("Mmmmmmuh!").

Mommy catches Grace reading "Frosty the Snowman" to Joshua. Later mommy is nursing Joshua and Grace brings "Frosty the Snowman" to mommy to read/sing. Mommy starts singing and Joshua stops nursing to look up at mommy and smile a big smile.

It is naptime and Grace snuggles up in my lap and takes my hands to fold them in front of her before we sing "Hail Mary".

Joshua is sleeping peacefully in my arms as I type, having just finished a mid-nap snack.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Racecar Driver Within

Have you ever seen the Goofy cartoon where he is a mild-mannered man in a suit and tie and spectacles but when he gets behind the wheel of a car his face contorts and his business attire flies off and he turns into Mr. Wheeler, speeding along in his roadster and nobody better get in his way? I saw it a handful of times when I was a kid and I guess it made an impression.

So here is my confession: I love to drive fast, and I love fast cars, and furthermore I like to find a good driving song I can sing along to and blast the stereo with the bass turned up loud enough so I can feel it. What is it about flying down the road with music blaring that makes me feel so ALIVE? I find it exhilarating to be pushed back in my seat by the force of the car accelerating rapidly. I prefer the inside lane of a curve. I don't think this condition is rare, just perhaps rare for a mommy. Maybe someone else would like to confess?

Now, I never do this with my kids in the car of course. It is reserved for those rare moments when this crazy, wilder side of me--which is usually buried deep in the recesses of my self--can emerge on account of my being alone. When I am driving with my two little precious bundles in the back, "Mrs. Wheeler" sometimes speaks to me, saying things like, 'Don't let that person pass you! Box them out!' or 'Turn up the radio and step on the gas, would ya?!' But my better sense wins, at least until I have a moment alone again...

I owe my brother Joe for helping me 'dispose of' the one material possession for which I had what may have been an unhealthy love--my Camaro. Those close to me have seen me go all dreamy-eyed at the mere mention of this car. I will spare you the details for fear of lapsing into a semi-conscious state while I need to be caring for my children.

Right now Grace is pulling apart the vacuum; specifically, she is trying to remove the rubber bumber on the front. She is yelling at the vacuum because she can't figure out how to get the dirt that she sees in the canister out to play with. THIS is my reality. And yet...

The desires of our heart are really a part of our desire for God. So, what is it about God that I am desiring when I am behind the wheel of the car?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Small (or Not-So-Small) Accomplishment

Grace is very good about amusing herself most of the time. She will toddle off to her room and imagine up a game that usually involves the redistribution of her toys into boxes or bags. Sometimes she emerges from her room in a hat with a bag of something-or-other and goes around the corner into the kitchen waving bye-bye to me.

Yesterday she was playing happily in her room when I got up from nursing to go to Joshua's room for a diaper change (for him, not me, thank goodness--although some day the tables may be turned, poor kid). I peeked in as I was cruising by and stopped short. This is what I saw.

Believe it or not, I have been trying to show her how to pull things over to use as a stepping stool. As of this moment, I guess she finally got it! She couldn't quite get her leg up far enough to climb into her Pack'N'Play, which would have upset her because she would have been stuck in there. She did, however, proceed to carry her chair around the house, seeing what mischief she could find. Look out world!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mozart Magic Milk Mug

In Grace's "Story of My Life", the Mozart Magic Cube is the soundtrack.

The Mozart Magic Cube, for those of you who are unfamiliar, is a cube that plays several Mozart songs. The six sides of the cube are buttons that represent different instruments that can be added or subtracted to the song that is being played. It's pretty cool. I can't say she carries it everywhere all day every day, but not a day goes by that it doesn't accompany her from room to room at some point. Unlike most toys that make sound, it doesn't annoy me because it's real music. It's like a little kid orchestra. I love music and I want my kids to appreciate it too, so I'm thrilled Grace loves this toy I picked especially to get her cultural education started. But I digress. This wasn't supposed to be the point.

I have found that the way Grace plays with her toys seldom matches the toy's raison d'etre. I find endearing the way she has chosen to use her Mozart Cube. I say it is the soundtrack for her life because Grace uses her cube as the musical accompaniment for her other activities. She will carry it out of her bedroom and set it down wherever she wants to play, push the button to get it started, and then start reading a book, 'folding laundry', or climb up on the coffee table and dance. When the music stops, she pauses her activity and pushes the button to start the music again, then resumes her activity. It is also useful in the way a cowbell is useful; I usually know right where she is in the house based on where the music is coming from. If the music is far away, say coming from her bedroom, I know I can load the dishwasher without her 'help'. If the music is approaching, I know it is time to close the dishwasher.

This morning Grace decided to pour her Cheerios out onto the tray and slurp them up like a puppy. I was busy making pancakes and she was making her happy toddler noises and eating along so I wasn't paying particular attention. By the time I looked up at her, her face and hair were dripping with milk. Paul was there and was not particularly dismayed. But he is generally not the one who bathes her or combs out her crunchy ratted hair while she screams and tries to escape. I tried to take his cue and just be calm (I believe his respose to my "GRACE!" was "What?") but I admit to being a little huffy as I tried to sponge the milk out of her hair.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

My Little Appendage

I don't remember the stage in Grace's babyhood when she went from being an extension of me to being her own little self. Not to say she ever lacked personhood from the moment she was conceived--this is just a reflection on how it feels to have an infant who relies on you for everything.

Tonight was 'Girls' Night' and I went out knowing Joshua would most likely sleep the entire time I was gone, and if not I was a short 7 minute drive away and my darling husband would deal manfully with the consequences of me being gone for those 7 minutes should Joshua wake up wanting something Paul couldn't give. And yet, there were never several minutes together that passed without some thought of his little self, his sweet little sleeping self, and in some way looking forward to being reunited with him when he wakes to nurse tonight.

I have grown comfortable with bringing him into bed with me when he wakes around 12 or 1. I don't even turn the light on anymore, which means I just fall right back asleep nursing. I usually wake up a few hours later (or four) with a sore hip on whatever side I was on and gently take him back to his bed for the remaining few hours of the night so that I can get more comfortable again. I have grown to love this little routine. I wasn't able to enjoy nursing with Gracie like this so it has been a joy.

I often think of how nice it will be when Joshua is a little more independent and doesn't want to nurse so often and can play better with Grace. But I think I will look back with at least a little longing on this time when we are so attached. And not just him to me; it is truly a part of myself that is sleeping soundly in the crib at this moment, and I will miss him a little until he wakes wanting me. :)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Day of a Thousand Fits (and No Naps)

I was really looking forward to today. It's Friday, and beside the fact that it means the weekend is about to begin (I really enjoy having Paul home, and I promise it's NOT just because he's such a good daddy and gives me some relief, although that is a good reason too), I'm going grocery shopping, which I actually really enjoy.

Anyhow, I was really looking forward to today. And I'm still in good spirits, but the morning has been intense. Each time I try to lay down a very tired sleeping baby Joshua in his bed, his whole body tenses up and he is suddenly awake and shrieking. He is adorable and I love cuddling him and I really wouldn't mind letting him sleep in my arms, but I have a toddler to contend with and chores to get done, not to mention lesson plans to write. So, here we are at lunch time and he is swinging (not contentedly) so that I can have a short break and feed Grace, who decided naptime was overrated and is sitting with sleepy eyes eating her peanut butter toast.

Grace Grace Grace, where do I begin? Sometimes when she is throwing a crying fit, screaming in rage with tears running down her cheeks, I am unsure if I should scold her or hold her. I also feel confused as to why it is SO SAD that I won't let her play with the clothes laying out on the table to dry when there are several other more exciting options. The forbidden fruit is tastiest I suppose.... This morning the rule was simple. If I wanted her to do something, she didn't want to do it. If I didn't acquiesce to her every whim (which was about every five minutes) she was beside herself with sorrow. I actually let her make a huge mess with a granola bar so I could have a few moments peace.

Well Joshua has reached his limit and Grace is 'all done'. We are going bye-bye very soon so Mommy doesn't lose it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

"Grace, you're making mommy feel crazy."

Today the scenario goes like this: Mommy is nursing Joshua (this will be a common thread in many stories I weave about Grace's antics) and hears a metal clatter. It has to be the air register in Joshua's room, which doesn't nestle in properly because...well it's a long story. She is removing it for the hundredth time, and I am praying she doesn't throw anything down the hole. I hate it when she does this. "Why don't you just close the door to Joshua's room?" you think. Well, that sounds like a great idea in theory, but for whatever reason it gets pretty cold in there when the door is shut (drafty windows I suppose; shouldn't be, our house is brand new).

Several seconds and a bit of happy toddler chatter later, I hear the mirror leaning against the wall in our bedroom bumping against said wall (will be hung soon but she enjoys it so much we have delayed). Then I hear: "Mmmmmuh. Mmmmmmuh." She is kissing herself in the mirror, I'm sure of it. I have to crack a smile.

As I write, I am STILL nursing Joshua (he wouldn't go down for a nap and I just can't let him cry to sleep, not yet) and Grace is swinging herself very violently in the baby swing. Oh to be two (almost)!