Monday, August 24, 2015

Postpartum Weight and Misconceptions

A few weeks ago I was reading a post about the struggles of postpartum weight loss that really hit close to home for me, this fourth time postpartum, and I made the mistake of scrolling down through the comments.

One commenter, who was very obviously well meaning, said something about how gluttony had never been her sin, but she had plenty of other struggles, they were just less obvious and she really felt for those who struggle with such an obvious sin.

Now gluttony hadn't been the subject of the post to begin with, it was about the way our bodies change after we have babies, and on that day I started to write this post in my head and today I think I have the time to actually sit down and write it.

For most of my life I have been naturally on the thin side.  In college I struggled to gain weight to play rugby after a coach told me that I needed to gain at least thirty pounds.  I was fluctuating between a size 0 and 2 at this point and drinking weight gainer shakes (with thousands of calories that I could barely keep down) and eating two Chipotle burritos and a order of chips and guacamole at a time (along with many, many other things) and still the scale would not budge.  At the time it seemed like a huge, huge problem.

In retrospect it's a "problem" I would love to have today.

In the last eight years I've been pregnant five times.  I've delivered four full term babies.  And each time the pregnancy weight loss has felt increasingly more difficult.

With Sadie I was wearing my pre-pregnancy jeans a week after she was born.  I had gained forty pounds while I was pregnant with her, but the weight came off quickly.  I felt "huge" but in hind sight I was delusional.  It took twelve months to totally lose the weight, but it was still easy.

The second time the pregnancy weight came off rather easily again.  I mean, I thought it was work, but relatively, looking back, it really wasn't.  I was making chicken casseroles and eating bread and occasionally pizza and the weight still steadily disappeared.  It was gone before the year mark again.

As I approached thirty my metabolism, which up until that point had carried me along without much effort, hit a wall.  I wasn't loosing much weight post partum with Patch until he came down with a mysterious allergy and we had to wait three months to get in to see his allergist and I went on a full elimination diet for a months that meant I could basically only eat meat and fruit and vegetables, while nursing a two month old.

While eating around the clock to try to get enough calories I lost the pregnancy weight in a month.   I struggled to keep my milk supply up. Without that scare I know that it would have likely been more like the struggle that I'm experiencing this time around.

I guess you could say that up until that point I thought I was losing the weight because I was active and ate healthily and as a result I was reaping the benefits of that behavior.

Enter the James postpartum period.

Coming back from this... isn't easy.

We still walk a lot.  I have no problem pushing a 160 lb stroller loaded with three kids, twelve miles.  My diet hasn't changed.  But my body isn't getting the message this time.  I weight about ten pounds less than I did when I had Sadie.  Which for the first time in my life puts me solidly in the range that the BMI chart tells me is "overweight."
Six months after Patch was born.

It means that I'm about 55 lbs more than my lowest weight after college and about 20 more than I'd like to be (30 would be ideal), which I know isn't a lot, but which has been eye opening for me.

Because life is basically exactly the same.  I'm eating far less than I have at other times in my life.  I'm on my feet just about all day every day.  I cook homemade meals for my family and I know that I'm healthy.

Only this time I'm not seeing the results.

We do all have different struggles, but the assumption that someone is overweight because their "gluttonous" isn't necessarily true.  People metabolize food differently.  Some people can eat like I used to and not gain wait.  Others can look at a cup of ice cream and gain five pounds.

We also have these insane expectations of what a postpartum body is supposed to look like.  I know that I have had those expectations, at least for myself, and because I know that I'm healthy I've been working to see myself through the eyes of my two year old, who thinks I'm a princess and through the eyes of my five year old who giggles when I talk about mermaids and doesn't care that my tummy is more squishy than it was when she was one.

After five pregnancies in eight years my stomach perpetually looks like I'm in the second trimester of pregnancy for about twelve months after I'm pregnant (which seems like a great time to tell you to go read Jenny's post here.  I'm the one in the black dress on the right hand side and it's a great post).

In the past my stomach has mostly gone back to it's old self about five minutes before I'm pregnant again.  I've been told repeatedly by commenters on the blog that I must have diastasis recti, and I know lots of women who do, but I actually don't.

My stomach muscles actually have no separation whatsoever.  They just are soft now.  And stretched out.  They've been cut apart and sewn back together four times in seven years.  And it takes them a little longer each time to go back to their old shape. I'm not totally sure that they ever will, even though I can totally do V-ups again.

I would like to lose these last few pounds.  I won't lie.  Some days I really would.  Other days when I'm playing on the ground with the kids I realize that as long as I'm healthy it doesn't matter all that much if I have a box of pre-baby clothes that I may never fit in again.

In the best moments I can steal glimpses of how they see me, and know that it's all totally worth it, even with my soft, squishy tummy.  After all it makes a much, much better pillow for snuggling than the one I used to have anyways.  Now if I can just remember that all the time, I'll be just fine.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Laundry Can Wait

Today I'm blogging over at Nourish Motherhood!  This is a post I wrote this summer, right after Maggie's elopement.  
I'd been planning on writing something else entirely, had a page of notes and false starts, but after what happened it was all I could think of and so I finally gave in and spilled the thoughts that were swirling around in my head out on the paper:
Tonight I found myself sitting beside my three youngest children, one by one, as they drifted off to dream. My own eyes were already growing heavy as I watched their eyelids flutter and their little chests rise and fall. Time is running out until I’ll be climbing into bed, I thought to myself, but still I lingered at each bedside until each child’s breath grew steady.
Watching my children sleep isn’t an everyday hobby of mine. Usually I am too busy with a mental “To Do” list that I’ve been adding to all day knowing I can tackle it when everyone is tucked into their beds.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The 10 Month Old Hyper Flexible Baby

James hit ten months a week ago, which I find hard to believe since it seems like he was just born a couple of months ago.   


He celebrated the day before his birthday with a visit with his physical therapist (okay, celebrated is a strong word).  I thought, going into the appointment, that it was likely that it would be our last one.  At our previous appointment, before we went back to California, his therapist had said she thought there was a very good chance he'd be caught up by the time we got back and he has been working so, so hard to do things like belly crawl across the room and prop sit.  

In fact in the days before the appointment he'd prop sat by himself for about five seconds and started to make his way on his tummy from place to place. which were both big steps.  


I'd been worried at the last meeting after hearing the terms fine motor delay, gross motor delay, possible speech delay and social communication delay thrown around.  This time I knew we'd come a long way.  Gross motor was my only real concern that remained.


His therapist, who is wonderful with him, asked me questions as she played with him and then she began to ask when he'd be going to see his doctor again.


As the appointment went on she confirmed that he has low muscle tone and is hyper flexible, especially in his legs.  I knew he was hyper flexible since when I would try to sit him up his legs would go totally flat out to the sides (think like the butterfly stretch with your knees touching the ground) and he'd fall forward so that his face would hit the ground.

While we watched him belly crawl to get a toy we both realized that he was only using his left leg (and he wasn't using it much at all), and he was dragging his right leg behind him as he went (and in the days since I've watched him and realized it's pretty much and all the time thing.  Even when he lays on his back and kicks he hardly moves that right leg at all).

So she told me to make sure to ask if they'd tested things like protein and iron, his kidneys and liver and thyroid, just to rule out and physical causes.


I'm not really worried.  He is making progress and he seems happy and healthy.  He's my third consecutive laid back baby, except around 9 pm when I try to convince him he needs to go to sleep so that I can write while I sit next to him and he tries to convince me that he needs to stay up so that we can cuddle more and blow raspberries.


It's kind of odd to think that Maggie took her first steps at 10 months and he's not quite crawling.  Although he sure is trying.

I'm not sure I've had a child who's been worn as much in a wrap or who's had as much tummy time as this little guy.  I started the extra tummy time early, because his head was so, so wobbly for so long (like only a little better than newborn wobbly at six months... thank goodness that ended).


So now we wait for the doctor's appointment the first week of September.

There's one thing I know for sure, he definitely is motivated to move around the house since he wants to be in on the action with her brother and sisters.  He plays mermaids with Maggie and cars with Patch and despite moving rather slowly, he is in to everything. 


Monday, August 10, 2015

On Comments on Family Size

In the last few months, and especially the last few days, I've found myself thinking about the types of comments that I hear when I'm out and about with the kids.

Over the years the types of comments and conversations I've had have changed.  I think that a number of factors probably contribute to the things people are bold enough to say.

I do think that geography plays a large roll in that people in the region that we live in now don't seem quite as emboldened (so many less polite terms went through my head before I settled on that one) to voice their opinions about how many kids they see as they did when we lived on either coast.

The second factor that I think comes into play is Maggie's autism.  As she gets older her language and little bird like chirps make it more apparent that she has some differences and in a way that gives us a degree of invisibility (in the most visible way you can imagine) in that most people don't want to be rude and so when they see something that could be termed a disability they immediately look away.

Many people may not feel that it's rude to comment on a family's size or question whether they have a TV or if they "know what causes that" but most people do still, for the most part, feel uncomfortable directing comments or questions towards a group with a member who appears to have any type of difference in ability.

I know that it still happens, and on occasion we've experienced it, but in a way as numb as society has become to the inappropriateness of questions that relate to matters of sexual reproduction, we're also (generally) rather oversensitive to all things related to differences in abilities.

I do know that that likely shades my experience.

Still, I have a fair amount of conversations about our family when we're out about in town.  Maggie is often at her calmest in the stroller and the triple stroller  inspires conversations.


I use the stroller to get around town and that means lots of trips to Mae's OT with it loaded with kids, where it inevitably leads to conversations with doctors who stop us to look it over and say that it's great.  Other parents stop me and ask me where we got it, and it inspires plenty of "I wish we had those in my day" comments with wistful smiles from elderly people we encounter.

The stroller in undoubtedly conversation starting gold.  And those conversations are almost always friendly and positive.

Then there are the non-stroller related comments.  The most common is :

"You certainly have your hands full!"

Or some variation of that phrase, followed closely by:

"Are they all yours?"
"Are you a daycare provider?"
and
"Better you than me."

There are some others I hear now and then, like the woman who had to let me know that I can't have any more children because there's no more room for them in the stroller, and occasionally we get dramatic sighs, accompanied by glares and shaking heads, but for the most part the reactions (and there is nearly almost always a reaction or ten when I'm out with the super stroller) are happy.

Over the years I've read (and written) posts about comments larger than average sized families get.  I've heard people lament some of the comments above and others argue that some (like "you have your hands full") are perfectly fine.

Since I've been walking around with the stroller though, I've realized that the appropriateness of comments often has a great deal to do with the tone that it's delivered in.

The vast majority of the time when I hear "You've got your hands full!" it's said in a friendly way with a smile.  And when I hear that I smile and agree.  It's true, my hands are full, in the best possible way.

Other times "You've got your hands full!" is delivered in a tone one might use to tell someone they've stepped in dog droppings, with a look of disgust and a shake of the head.  I try to respond in the same way, with a smile and a "Yes, I do!" but I've found that the exact same comment suddenly feels wildly inappropriate.

Inquiries that ask if they're all mine or if I'm babysitting tend to fall in the same category.  Most people are truly just curious and that comes across in their tone.  I'll happily field those comments.

Of course there are always the "You know what causes that?" line of questioning that some people feel is appropriate that just isn't.  I have noticed since moving here that the occurrence of those has gone down basically to zero for us, but I remember how annoyed I was when someone I'd never spoken with inquired in the checkout line whether my husband would be "getting snipped" when we were pregnant with out third or if it was another girl we would "keep trying for a boy."

They don't bother me as much as they used to though (as much as open vitriol directed at my children can not both me at least).

Maybe it's the realization that nearly everyone receives judgments and cruel comments of some sort, whether it's people making assumptions about smaller families or those without children (which have the potential to be far, far more crushing.  Please don't do this.  We never know who struggles under the cross of infertility and I cannot imagine how those sorts of comments sting...) or those directed at those with families that are larger than what's considered normal these days.

Maybe it's because the last few years have toughened me up (most days) in a general way, so that it's easier to sort through the kind and encouraging words and those that aren't so, and push the later aside, and take the former for the breath of kindness that it can be on those days when kind words are most needed.

Most of all I think it helps to remember that the comments that are of a less than kind nature are seldom about us at all.  They usually have everything to do with the person saying them, who is either trying to be funny or, more rarely, cruel, in which case they are most in need of kindness and prayers.
Who knows, maybe some of our joy and gentleness, if we can manage it, will touch their hearts at a later time.  And if nothing else it gives us someone to pray for, because anyone that says mean things about a child, in front of that child, most definitely needs our prayers.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Post for Breastfeeding Awareness Week that I Was Not Going to Write

I wasn't going to write anything for Breastfeeding Awareness week. 

I've been nursing or pregnant (and often nursing and pregnant) for the past eight years this September. 

The current baby has been nursing for almost ten months now, which makes for a collective 68 months of nursing since the past seven years.  So it's not that I don't have anything to say about nursing, but there are so many good posts out there that I sort of felt like it had all been said and I had nothing to add to it. 

Besides, I've never really encountered a negative reaction to nursing one of our babies, and so I think in a way I'd grown complacent.  Sure there are weirdos out there but is it really that widespread that it needs and a week of awareness?  I wasn't sure. 

In fact, as I type this I'm not entirely sure I'll post it.  It's weird and kind of creepy (okay, when I was there it felt really, really creepy) and I spent yesterday afternoon looking for excuses for the man we encountered yesterday in the parking lot at the zoo and spent the other half wishing I'd continued to feed James because I'm pretty sure that he was about to give me the opportunity to call 911 and press charges against him as a sex offender. 

Part of me feels like I was just bullied for feeding my kid in our car and I kind of hate that.  But anyways, here's the story.

Yesterday was a hard day in a series of hard days.  On Tuesday I got Maggie all ready to go to therapy by promising her as she was getting ready that she was going to go to the center to see her friends and her favorite therapist.  All morning she did everything I asked, enthusiastically, because she was so excited. 

I loaded all the kids in the triple stroller and walked a mile to the center.  On the way we stopped at the polls to vote, and she cried the moment the stroller diverted an inch from the center of the sidewalk to go into the polling center, but I promised her she would get to go to school to see her friends and it made it a tiny bit better while I hurriedly checked off boxes to make my selections.

 Then we got to the center where the scheduling person looked horrified when she saw us and asked if her therapist hadn't gotten a hold of us yesterday, to tell her session was cancelled.  No, no she had not. 

So I took them to the park, but the park was not a substitute in any way, shape or form for a therapy session (because they are seriously the highlight of her day) and so there were tears.  And the day was hard. 

Yesterday wasn't much better because therapy was cancelled for Wednesday and Thursday too, which as you may imagine, was warmly received. 

Then, shortly after lunch, Maggie screamed and came running over to me and Sadie yelled that there was a bug on the inside of the window and I was finally able to figure out that a bumble bee had stung her on her thumb, leaving her completely inconsolable. 

I quickly texted Paul, asking him if he could pick us up at the park, as the walls in our little home were rapidly closing in and we desperately needed to get out. 

And we started walking.  I knew right away that it was already too hot and humid for a long walk, but I was determined not to go back.  We walked for over an hour before we got there and then the otters were hiding under a tree and the tigers were inside and the highlight of the entire day was a raven named Rocky who is hilariously funny and brilliant and really deserves his own post. 

Still we walked around the zoo for two hours, waiting for Paul to get off work, and spent a long time in front of the spider monkeys swinging across the top of their enclosure and discovered that the snack bar had little popsicles that didn't have dairy or gluten that all four kids could eat without an allergic reaction, and it was kind of wonderful. 


Then Paul got there, after stopping at home to get the stroller carrier and tie down straps, and we took the kids and used the tickets I had for a pony ride and all three of the big kids had a blast, but I'll admit that I was absolutely beaming when I saw Maggie riding along the little loop with a huge grin on her face:


After that we rushed the kids out to the car and loaded them in.  I took James, who was letting me know he was starving, up to the front seat, and sat down to feed him.  We were all hot and sweaty and tired.  Paul had had to be at work by 6 and we were all beginning to feel the length of the day. 

I glanced around.  I'd been in a rush when we left the house.  I'd remembered epi pens and inhalers that I'd thrown in my small backpack but I hadn't planned on nursing since he'd just eaten before we left and hadn't brought a nursing cover. 

I had on layers, but he was starving and we were in a parking lot with no one around, so rather than fumble with my shirt while holding him I glanced around, saw no one was near and pulled by stretchy necked shirt to one side so that I could feed him.  It wasn't like anyone walking down the aisle would be able to see into the front of our van anyways. 

The baby wasn't cooperating.  At almost ten months he would go from being ravenously hungry to entirely distracted by everything else that was happening in the car.  He flopped backwards and to the side and then nursed again.  I was thankful that I'd waited to feed him until we were in the car where  I didn't have to worry about all the latching and unlatching that was going on. 

After a few moments I had an odd feeling, of being watched, and I looked up from his antics.  I looked from side to side, and no one was around. 

And then I looked straight ahead, across a short grassy area into the next row of cars, and saw a tall grey haired man facing us, holding his shirt up so that his ample stomach was exposed.  His wife was there next to him.

When he saw me look up he began to undo his belt and seemed to be unbuttoning his pants.  I quickly pulled up my shirt and shifted the baby as I reached for my phone.  It was incredibly apparent that he as about to flash, or at least wanted to give the appearance that he was going to flash, our car full of kids.  If he was going to do what he seemed to be doing I was going to be calling the police.  He rebuttoned his pants and rebuckled his belt.  With a slow elaborate motion he lowered his shirt and smoothed it and turned away. 

His wife punched her fist in the air a few times and they turned and walked away, talking with another couple who had walked up and laughing, as they headed to the park. 

I sat and tried to make sense of what had just happened. 

For a few moments I tried to come up with other possibilities for what had just happened. Had he just been adjusting his belt?  I wanted there to be another reason.  But it didn't make sense within the large framework of what had happened.  

Dementia?  Dementia is really the only other possibility I could come up with, but I couldn't help but feel that the actions were incredibly intentional (and I doubt his wife would celebrate the action if it were dementia, although her celebrating it at all seems very, very strange).  He seemed to be equating breastfeeding a hungry baby with unbuttoning his pants and exposing himself. 

Which is pretty disgusting. 

I started this post by saying that I wasn't planning on writing anything for Breastfeeding Awareness Week.  And I'm still not sure that I have.  This post offers nothing constructive, except perhaps my admission that I get it now.  I understand why breastfeeding should have an awareness week. 

It shouldn't be a week to make people who've made other choices feel badly about their choices.  Whenever I've written about breastfeeding in the past I've gotten comments explaining why friends and loved ones had made other choices, and those comments often made me feel as if a wound was reopened, which was never what I intended in my writing. 

But while it sometimes feels like everyone in the world is encouraging new moms to breastfeed, there are also a large number of people out there that think it's pretty gross. 

So thank you to all of you out there who do write and advocate, so that those who don't get it yet might realize that nursing is natural and not disgusting or dirty. 

In the perfect world people would realize that nearly all moms feeding their babies are doing what is best in their individual situation and give each other the benefit of the doubt, whether a baby is being fed by a bottle or at the breast.  Obviously that world is still a ways off but I hope that little by little we're moving towards it, or at least moving away from equating any type of baby feeding with doing anything that involves unzipping your pants.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Our Last Day in California

I realized that I haven't posted a lot of the pictures I snapped this summer, and I wanted to share a few from our last full day in California. 
 
We started the day with a trip into town for Mass:
 









After Mass we took the kids by the local school that they played at this summer:



And then we made a quick stop by a local Buddhist temple that counted as part homeschool field trip, and which had some beautiful views of the mountains:



Paul and I got to go on a quick date lunch and then we hurried back for a trip to the river.  It was the first time Maggie had set eyes on the river in more than two years.


Patch was our super cautious one:


James wasn't a huge fan of the river trip.  The girls on the other hand definitely were.


When we got home there was a bubble bath waiting:


 
And then a tri tip barbeque on the porch! 
 
It was the perfect last day before our long drive home! 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sadie at Mass

Yesterday we went to Mass.

I have this theory.  Maybe if we go to some weekday Masses, that is Masses that aren't on average eighty minutes long, my children will get used to being in church and not act like they're being murdered sixty minutes in.  Not that they aren't used to being at Mass, but you know, desperate times call for desperate measures.

I'm not sure where this theory came from, but I got it into my head and figured it couldn't be worse that standing outside while a certain two year old screamed for sixty minutes either. 

Maggie has actually, in general, been doing much better at Mass.  Most days she can make it to homily being almost entirely quiet.  She'd have a few little joyful squeals of "Ga-wa" as she stared at the crucifix in the front of the church, but her behavior has really come a long, long way this summer, while I was juggling the four of them by myself. 

Patch on the other hand struggles. Or I struggle with Patch.  Which I know is entirely age appropriate.  And I've more of less resigned myself to spending the next years in the vestibule and maybe forever (at least that's what it feels like some days). 

Still I've felt guilty about Sadie having to hang out in the vestibule with us.  She's good at Mass, a little day dreamy, but she is perfectly capable of sitting for seventy or eighty or ninety minutes in silence.  But I haven't quite felt comfortable just leaving her in there for an entire Mass by herself.

Until now. 

Yesterday she asked if she could go inside and sit by herself.  I told her yes, she just needed to make sure she followed along with everyone else, and she could sit wherever she wanted to. 

I watched from the vestibule as she quietly walked to the front and genuflected, her knee touching the ground, before entering the pew. 

Paul had taken Maggie inside too, and I was wrangling Patch and James, wishing that they were both asleep, although neither of them was. 

For forty minutes I watched as she stood and sat and knelt at all the right times, her head turned intently forward the entire time, while I wrestled with Patch and swayed back and forth lest James scream every time I stopped moving.  Midway through the homily Maggie was done, and Paul brought her out to sit with us too.   

That's Sadie at the bottom right hand side in her chosen seat.

As Mass drew to an end Paul took our middle two out to the car.  I stood at the glass door and watched Sadie. 

Mass was over and she knelt.  People filed out.  The church was nearly empty.  She continued to kneel, her head bowed. 

Finally I quietly walked up and put my hand on her shoulder and whispered that it was time to go. We had to get home for Maggie's therapy session. 

She jumped up, bobbed another genuflect, whispered "I love you Jesus, bye!" and followed me out, her American Girl Doll, Kate, tucked under her arm. 

In the car she told me that Kate had done a good job, but wasn't good at kneeling.  And she asked if she could sit by herself, even on Sunday's.  I said yes, that sounded like a great idea. 

And then I reminded myself of a time when she was small and bouncing off the walls at Mass, of the time when she bit Paul's shoulder hard before smiling sweetly at the elderly woman sitting behind us, of the meltdowns and tantrums and hours that I thought would never end.  Having that little reminder that the tantrum phase isn't forever is heartening when you're in the thick of things. 

Maybe it won't be forever before we're all back in the pew together too.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Maggie and the Crucifix

"Father in heaven, I give you today, all that I think and do and say.  And I unite it with all that was done, by Jesus Christ, your dearest Son."

It's 6:30 am and the kids and I are sitting down at the dining room table, about to have breakfast. At the name of Jesus I see Maggie's head whip around.  She jumps up out of her chair and races over to the mantle, and then runs over to her little desk to get her chair.  Dragging it across the room she makes impressive time, as I realize that she really is doing what I think she's doing and I jump up from where I'm sitting at the dining room table to try to get to the mantle before she does.

I make it just in time, grabbing the crucifix before she knocks anything over in her quest to take it down from it's place on the center of the mantle.  I put it in her hand, reminding her to be gentle and she kisses Jesus' face and dances around the room, her eyes fixed intently on his face. 


Patch jumps down and chases her, trying to grab her arm, but she's fast.  "Kiss!"  He shouts!  "Kisses!  Cross!  Kisses!"  He's about to start crying as he tries to wrestle the crucifix from her grasp. 

"You guys.  Stop.  Stop.  We don't fight over who gets to hold the cross.  Patch you can have your turn after Maggie."

"I'll be last."  Sadie shakes her head sadly. 

"You're better at waiting."  I explain.  "But you will get a turn." 

Maggie gives the crucifix a goodbye kiss and hands it over to me and Patch zooms over to grab it, while announcing "Kiss" to the whole world as he kisses the top of the cross triumphantly.  He zooms around the room triumphantly until I rescue the cross again and hand it over to Sadie, able to relax now that it's out of the grasp of our two whirlwinds. 

The crucifix, which we brought home from Israel when I was pregnant with Sadie, was purchased in Bethany, where a man picked me up and put me on top of a camel, and then charged Paul $5 to get me down. 

 

At night time prayers, after another round of Everyone-Wants-to-Hold-the-Crucifix I ask Paul to put it in the kitchen to help them settle down.  I point up to the crucifix on the wall and say "there's on up there. You can look up at it anytime you want." 

"Don't do that!" Paul says.  "She's going to go after it now." 

"I don't think so."  I say, shaking my head as I look at our almost hundred year old home's high ceilings.  "That things like ten feet off the ground.  There's no way she can reach it?" 

I give her a crucifix and she walks around the house wearing it, glancing down now and then to make sure it's still there. 

Paul shakes his head, still certain that I shouldn't have pointed it out, and a few moments later I turn around to see Maggie.  She's stacked a chair on top of the giant mahogany chest that belonged to my grandmother and is standing on it.  With one little arm she reaches the top of the window sill, just barely, and she uses that to grab the bottom of the crucifix. 

Paul swoops over and rescues her and the crucifix.  This one is solid metal with no stand.  It is virtually indestructible.  He helps her to look at it and after more kisses she dances around the room holding the crucifix like she would one of her mermaid dolls so that it's "swimming" through the living room. 

Finally everyone settles in to read a couple chapters of the children's Bible that we read at night before the family rosary. 

I can't help but think that Sadie's enthusiasm is contagious.  Although after several days of repeating this same episode I have to say that there's something unexpected about breaking up fights over who gets to hold the crucifix first.  Maybe I just need to invest in a few child sized, incredibly durable crucifixes so that they can each have their own. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Home

We've spent the last few days recovering from our cross country trek.  We made the drive from California to Michigan in two parts.  The first was based on the idea that if the kids were asleep we might as well keep driving and get as much of the road behind us as we could. 


We drove from Northern California (an hour and a half west of the Central Valley, which meant over 250 miles of driving just to get out of California) through Nevada, Utah and Wyoming before we hit Nebraska and knew that we needed to make at least on stop on the way there. 


So after thirty hours of driving we pulled into a hotel and spent on night in Kearney, Nebraska, before getting up and out of our room by 7:30 the next morning and getting back on the road.  That night, fourteen hours after setting off, we were finally home. 



Since we've been back I've slowly been putting all our ducks back into their neat little rows.  Mae's first therapy session is tomorrow.  I've been making repeated calls to our doctor's office and various other therapy centers trying to get referrals signed and to the right places to start her other therapies back up. 

Things I haven't said include: "Yes I am calling you for the third time in five weeks and I'm very sorry that that clearly annoys you but you still haven't shuffled that referral the five feet it needs to go to get in the rehabilitation centers inbox, despite promising that you were going to do it approximately thirty five days ago, and so yes, I am calling you again and I will continue to call until it gets done.  Or maybe not.  Because now I'm in Michigan and I can just drop in.  Would that be more likely to help you remember to get it over there?" because I'm about thisclose to not being able to be super, super sweet when I call to request something that should have been done a month ago and while I've reminded myself many, many times that you catch more flies with honey than by completely losing your mind the tenth time you make the same phone call, I am rapidly running out of honey when things just aren't getting done (especially when people are actually lying to me about why it hasn't gone through yet, since I'm hearing directly contradicting things about what each office is saying to and hearing from the other). 

Deep breath. 

It will get done though.  Eventually. 

And in the mean time we're enjoying the last few days of an unscheduled summer:




 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

{phfr} California Summer Edition

{pretty}
 
As our time in California draws to a close I've been snapping even more pictures of some of our favorite places.  One is a school that has a great playground that is almost entirely enclosed, that we love to play at:
 


 
 
{happy}
 
Maggie loves twirling around on the cement looking up at the birds in the sky above her and giggling. 

I try not to notice that they're giant turkey vultures circling overhead.  
 
 
Sadie wanted me to chase her all over the playground to get her picture (as in yelling "Get me!  Try to get a closer picture!" as she would sprint off).  I got this one:
 
 
Patch has been reminding me of how different a parent with my third two year old than I was with my first.  
 
 
And James sat up yesterday for about twenty seconds with the help of a basketball.  

 
{funny}
 
Patch is obsessed with basketballs at the moment.  He probably says the word basketball fifty times before ten am.  
 

But he abandoned playing ball with me and went to the corner to count to play hide and seek (he hides and counts loudly... not quite getting the concept just yet). 

I put the ball down and suddenly disaster struck (from Patch's point of view):


"We aren't playing with it anymore!" was met with outrage. 


Maggie put the ball down and did a little victory dance around it.  You know, pretending to be a bird and all.  Patch was not having it.

 
Maggie, who is totally indulgent with both her brothers and gives them just about any toy they want, watched as he raced over and, after a pause to see why he was so upset, kept doing her little bird dance.
 
 
Disaster averted.
 
{real}
 
You'd think I would learn, right? 

Group pictures just don't work around here.

I might they might be good for a laugh... but getting a picture to send to Grandma and a copy for Nani to put on the wall here?  Just not happening. 

Because I can dress them up... but... they're still the same kids.


Earlier this week I saw a sign that said "Please pardon the mess the children are making memories." But the "are making memories" part was crossed out and instead it said "feral" and I was like "I NEED THAT SIGN!!! FOR MY HOUSE!!!! I NEED IT!!!" and of course I didn't get it but I will say that the quote popped into my head when we were trying to take these yesterday and no one was cooperating. 

 
 
Ah well.  The pictures still make me smile.  Because this is so them. 
 
For more {phfr} head over to Like Mother, Like Daughter.