Friday, February 27, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday


-1-

Maggie had a doctor's appointment today and I had another one of those moments where my eyes just about rolled so hard that I nearly fell over (or they would have if I hadn't exercised an incredible amount of self control).  

I feel like I've written this post before.  I almost did two years ago when this child,


was four and the doctor told me that the BMI chart said that she was overweight (insanity).  

Today our doctor (who I really like) showed me the graph and explained that the BMI chart says that Maggie is not just overweight.  It says that she's obese.  

I paused and let the words sink in and then said "That's so strange because I can see the outline of the muscles in her stomach."  The child basically has a six pack.  

And she said that that absolutely could be it, because she is incredibly strong and incredibly muscular.  But we still had to have the talk about how I need to encourage her to be more active, get her into sports and watch what she eats.

Hold on.  I think I found an appropriate use for this picture:


More active?  I find myself amazed when she holds still for five minutes.  She's spinning around and jumping on roller skates through my house all day long.  She's climbing and jumping and whirling and running all. day. long.  She never holds still.  At least not when she's awake.

And it's not like my gluten free and casein free kid can sit around eating junk food because, let's face it, even if I wanted to purchase junk food for her GFCF junk food is ridiculously expensive.  

Anyways, I just had to share a picture of the kid who the BMI chart said was "obese" today:


And while I totally get that there are tons of kids that do have these problems I also wonder how many parents put perfectly healthy kids on restrictive diets because they've been told that they are unhealthy.  

-2-


Before Mae's doctor's appointment she had an OT evaluation.  At one point during the eval I was asked if she knows her colors and shapes.  I answered that I know she knows her colors (because she points out colors to be constantly), and then paused to think about how well she knows her shapes (I was having a hard time remembering because they've really been focusing on numbers and letters lately, but I'm 99% sure that's because she's mastered her shapes).  

As I said: "I think she knows..." I looked over at where she was sitting next to the therapist and saw that she was holding her hands up in the air in the shape of a diamond (her favorite shape) while smiling hugely at me.  

Yes, she knows her shapes.  And she was happy to show me that she knows them when I couldn't remember.  

-3-


Patch has a hearing test and a speech evaluation next week.  

A couple of weeks ago I saw a statistic that said that children who have an older sibling who are autistic are more likely to receive speech or occupational therapy when they're in preschool, even if they aren't on the spectrum.  

As I sat in Patch's pre-evaluation evaluation this past week I couldn't help but think that that is because by the time many of us have gone through all the tests and evaluations with our older kids we're way more likely to seek out an eval at the faintest hint of a delay, because we've learned that early intervention can be really, really helpful.  

Now here's hoping that Patch's hearing test goes far more smoothly than Mae's did last week.  


-4-

I've just discovered the Divine Mercy Chaplet and I realized that I had all the parts I needed to make one.  But when I went through my beads I discovered three that I wanted to use and I just couldn't decide which one to make the chaplet with:


So I finally decided to use all three:



-5-


I've been steadily trucking along with putting together my 40 bags in 40 days.  Yesterday I tackled the horrible wreck that our utensil drawer had slowly turned into.


I actually thought that almost all of our knives were lost (and I was baffled by how it had happened).  Instead I discovered that knives can just really blend in when there's forty pounds of junk on top of them.  

Here's the after:

Look!  We have knives again!


-6-


Oh James...



-7-

I stepped into the kitchen with James while Patch was eating a bowl of oatmeal.  When I walked out of the kitchen this is what I found...


For more Quick Takes head over to This Ain't the Lyceum!  

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

In the mail today...

When I filed out taxes I knew exactly where our return would go.  I carefully allotted portions to pay down debts and pay bills, ordered a table for Maggie's therapy because she's completely destroyed the current school table, and then I turned my attention to convincing Paul that we should form our own little in house book club and read a book that I've wanted to read for years, together.  And then, after he agreed, I put in my order.

It arrived today: 


And so I've been sitting here trying to think about writing when all I can really think about is this book next to me and while I know I should be going to bed, or writing, or helping Paul assemble the ridiculously hard to assemble table that also arrived tonight, but all I really want to do is dive into reading Kristin Lavransdatter.

Super-Maggie and Her Amazing Roller Skates

She finally mastered this pose on roller skates.
Super-Maggie has a new word that she loves to say.  "Woah."

It started when she was racing back and forth through the living room on roller skates.

I could watch her skate all day long.  Her skates have back breaks and she's mastered skating in them.  She skates fast and stops suddenly.  She uses the back break to make sharp turns and to even twirl.  And she hardly ever falls.

Yesterday she was skating and fell and I said "Woah!" and before I could even ask if she was okay she was laughing hysterically and repeated the word back to me.  Then she jumped up and skated across the room fast, looked at me and smiled and then very intentionally (and carefully) fell and looked over at me and waited until I said "woah!" again and laughed and laughed and laughed.  After repeating this several times she changed into her mermaid tail, and then another mermaid tail and then back into her Elsa dress (which is her favorite outfit to roller skate in).

Later in the day she did something and I said "woah!" and she laughed again and ran and put on her roller skates.  Then she skated into the living room and I watched as she leaned forward, lifting her left leg up behind her until it was straight out at waist level, with her arms held out to the side.

It was obvious from her face that she expected to fall, but instead she floated across the room on her skates and then looked surprised that she'd actually successfully done that particular skating move (she has a Dora DVD cover that she's carried around for ages, and that is exactly what Dora is doing on the cover). Then she fell, on purpose, and laughed and laughed and laughed.

We've got to get this kid on ice skates. I have a feeling that she would love them.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Long Memory

Earlier this week one of Sadie's catalogs arrived in the mail.  We were flipping through it when we came to this picture:


This conversation followed:

Sadie: "Does this dress remind you of someone?"
Me: "You?"
Sadie:  "No."
Me:  "Maggie."
Sadie:  "No."
Me: "Me?"
Sadie:  "No.  Does this dress remind you of your grandma?"
Me:  "My grandma?"
Sadie:  "Yes.  Your grandma."
Me:  "Not really. But which grandma were you thinking of?"
Sadie:  "Hoey?"
Me:  "Hoho?" (the nickname given to my grandmother long before I was born by grandchildren who were trying to say her given name of Helen)
Sadie:  "Yes.  Does this dress remind you of her?"
Me:  "Not really. Why?"
Sadie (looking shocked):  "Because of the roses in the ocean."
Me: ...
Sadie:  "Remember?  When she died, we went out on a boat and threw roses in the ocean, didn't we?"
Me:  "Yes, we did.  You remember that?"
Sadie:  "Yes."

The reason that I was shocked that she remembered was because these are the pictures we snapped the weekend when we went out in a boat off of Point Lobos (where her family had a ranch years ago) for her memorial service:




Sadie was not even seventeen months old.  I was in the first trimester with Maggie.  And since I hardly remembered the roses, I was kind of shocked that she remembered them!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Maggie, Destroyer of Baby Gates (a Baby Gate Review)

Maggie breaks baby gates like it's her job.

And since she requires a level of supervision that isn't possible without restricting certain areas in our three story (including the basement) home, they're also a must around here.

Over the last three years I feel like I've become an expert in baby gates.  If there's a baby gate out there, there is an excellent chance that we've bought it and that Maggie has broken it.  From gates that were under $20 to a gate that was just over $100 (that one was a gift), Maggie has broken a wide array of baby gates in the last two years.

For ages I've been meaning to right a review of what we've tried and learned along the way, so that I can share what's worked for us, so far, and what hasn't.

I'll start with one of the basic gates you see pretty often.  These wooden pressure gates can usually be found with the other baby gear in stores that carry a variety of baby supplies.  They aren't a bad gate.

Image from Amazon.
We've gone through around a half dozen of them over the course of roughly two and a half years (and I would not have kept sending Paul out to buy new ones if I hadn't thought that they worked fairly well).  They're convenient because they can adjust to fit a variety of doors and because they don't require any screws for installation.

The draw backs I found were that they did leave little dents on the wood of the door frame (at least they did at the level of pressure necessary to keep Mae from knocking them down easily) and they can be hard to put back up if you don't know which little number setting they were on  when you took the gate down (because the little metal piece that sets the length moves easily when the gate isn't set up).  However that problem is easily solved by making a small mark on the correct number once you've figured out the perfect setting for each door.

Unfortunately, this was the first type of gate Mae mastered breaking.  She realized that if she grabbed the lower corner on either side of the gate and twisted it up diagonally, the wood frame would snap and that would be the end of the gate.

How can someone so little be so good at destroying baby gates?
That is the question that I frequently find myself asking.

And that brings me on to Gate #2 .  

Another photo courtesy of Amazon.  

Again, this gate worked very well... until it didn't anymore.  Although Mae didn't break this gate.  I did.  In order to get this gate tight enough to keep our little ninja from forcing it out of the door frame I had to keep the pressure on the sides very high.  One day when I went to close it, the handle snapped and the entire gate broke.  I would estimate that it lasted for a solid six months.

That's not a bad run for a baby gate in our house.

Moving on...

I love this baby gate.  I was very, very sad the day that Maggie realized that if she used both arms to push the bottom of this gate in, with a great deal of force, very rapidly, the wooden frame on the side would snap into two (or more) pieces and the entire gate would fall apart before our eyes (and then her little brother would swoop in, grab the broken piece of wood and start wielding it as a sword...).

Another photo from Amazon.
These gates are my favorite type of baby gate.  They expand to fit a wide variety of doors.  As far as baby gates go, they're really quite tall.  And they're very sturdy (that is, if you don't live with a person who dedicates themselves to destroying baby gates).  If memory serves we've owned three over the last four years.

This month she broke the last two, within a week of each other and we realized that she'd mastered the trick to breaking this gate and that we needed to move on to something else.  But if I were to recommend a baby gate that's both sturdy and won't break the bank, I think that this would be my favorite.

Then there was this gate.

Photo from Lowes.
I was certain that this one was going to work.  I mean, look at it.  It's metal.  What could possibly go wrong?

If you're answer was, "She'll break the latch off the gate on the first model, and when the store it was purchased from replaces it, because they agreed that a four year old really shouldn't be able to destroy a hundred dollar baby gate in a month, she'll break the second one by ripping the "optional" hardware out of the wall" than you would be correct.

This was the prettiest gate.  It was the easiest to open with one hand.  And it was the easiest for her to break.  Go figure.

I don't actually own this next gate .  But my parent's do.

Photo from Amazon
And remarkably, it's still in one piece.  I know, because I just called my mom to make sure.

Maybe it's because she was being polite, not smashing a gate that wasn't in our own home.  Maybe it's because she didn't have enough time while we've visited Nani and Grumpa's house to do her worst.  Or maybe it's because she could climb the baby gate and get over it, and so she didn't need to break it.  Either way, this is one of the few baby gates that has survived Mae's amazing strength.

The other product that we've found extremely helpful this last year is the door monkey .  Of the three we've owned, she's only managed to wear through one (so that it broke).  The other two are still in working order and they insure that she doesn't leave her room (and our house) at night.

Amazon, again.
When a friend recommended the door monkey I was extremely skeptical.  How could a little piece of plastic keep Maggie in her room at 4 am, when multiple baby gates couldn't do the job?  The door monkey did. I bring them when we travel.  I bought a new one to take with me when we went to my parent's house last summer.  They are amazing.  They, along with a security system that lets me know if the outer doors open and close, keep me sane, by letting me know that she's still safely indoors.

And what baby gates are we using right now? Let me show you:

The bottom half of the gate was made by Grumpa.  If you look at the hinges you can see they've been replaced
because she broke the first ones off.  The upper part of the gate was made by Paul today.

The bottom half is homemade.  The top half we found at a second hand store and somehow it has
survived the wrath of Mae. Maybe because it's only a month old.

We're moving past buying baby gates.  We are now building our own. Maybe it's surprisingly that it's taken this long.  She's become too good at breaking them and buying a baby gate that's only going to work for two days (if that) is silly.  But hopefully my ample baby gate buying experience can help you if you're wondering which baby gates are the toughest when put to the test.

This isn't a sponsored review.  It's just one I thought I should right so that all this baby gate experience doesn't go to waste.  The Amazon links are affiliate links, as any Amazon links on this blog are.  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

What I Wore Sunday: On Cold Days and Beautiful Masses

Today was lovely.

I was able to go to Mass by myself.

Okay, so maybe it's loveliness was somewhat tempered by the reason I was by myself... I am one of the only people unscathed by the bug that's going around our house, and so I was the only one to slip out into the snow to brave the cold to go to our parish.

The day started with a lesson.  If, when you're getting ready to go to Mass, you kneel down to pick something up and put your knee in tea that the four year old spilled, make sure to dry you're knee off before stepping out into the sub-zero (with windchill) temperatures (also, tights are always a good idea... mine however are hidden in the reorganization going on in the basement, so tight-less I was).  Lesson learned.  


Mass was beautiful.  And it was more than the fact that no one was crying or whining or pulling my hair.

I've mentioned in the past few weeks that our ordinary form Mass is now said ad orientem.  Well, today's Mass went a step further and today we had a schola that sang a good portion of the Mass in latin... and as I said at the start of this post, it was lovely.  And our pastor mentioned that it's going to be happening once a month.  A part of me hopes it might become a every Sunday thing, in at least one of the three Sunday Masses.  

Now, since this is a WIWS post, I probably should mention what I'm wearing.  Today I wore one of my favorite, most forgiving (in other words, I can fit into it) post partum dresses.  It's one that I purchased from Thred Up shortly before finding out I was expecting James.  I paired it with a belt from Target, my water proof leather boots and my new (also from Thred Up) diaper bag!

I have to run and find out why the girls are telling me my presence is required upstairs immediately!  I hope you are having a great Sunday and for more WIWS head over to FLAP!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

He's Always Good for a Frown

It's been more and more difficult to capture James' frowny faces lately, mostly because he's become such a smiley baby.  Today, however, I felt like I hit the jackpot when I snapped this picture, in between smiles:


After snapping this I made a little video, which he lay next to me and watched while laughing and loudly "talking" back to the baby in the frame.

This particular photo is inspiring a "4 months old" post tonight, in my oddly quiet house, where everyone is home and everyone else has already been asleep for more than an hour (poor Paul came home from work sick tonight).  I almost titled it "3 months" before counting on my fingers to realize that James is actually 4 months and 1 week old (and then I had to double check, because that can't possibly be right, can it?)... although I know that I knew that he was four months old at some point, roughly a week ago, because he did have his four month doctor's appointment.

But tonight for some reason I started to think he was three months old again, maybe because the fact that he'll be five months old, already, next month, doesn't seem like a real possibility.  And I'll have to file that under Things That Never Would Have Happened with Sadie, since I'm pretty sure that I could have told you exactly how many months old she us all the way up to (and slightly past) her second birthday.  You may note that that particular skill department approximately when Maggie arrived, and hasn't been seen since.

Now back to the 4 Months Old post...

James is now four months old.  His face lights up when he sees Sadie, Maggie, Patch, Daddy or Mommy.  He is still slightly suspicious of the cat (in return, the cat is slightly obsessed with him and would very much like to lay on him, if he wasn't certain that my reaction would be bad).  He thinks he's pretty big now that he can control his head almost all of the time, and his favorite thing to do is sitting on my lap and watching his siblings play.  He's also finally confirmed that he can in fact hear all the commotion in the house and has started to cry when the older kids get too loud (previously he would sleep through just about anything).  His hair still looks slightly reddish, but seems to be getting steadily blonder in most lights. He's in the 90th percentile for height but only the 25th for weight, which baffles me, because last night I realized we were done with 6 month sleepers because I couldn't squeeze his little chubby legs into them any longer.

And that is what's new with James at 4 months.

Friday, February 20, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday

-1-

As you can tell, the boys were totally on board with this photo.  Especially James who brought his standard I'm-so-excited-about-this-grin to the frame:



-2-


He'd probably like me to tell you that he has good reason to be concerned. Take, for example, this picture of Sadie holding him for approximately one minute while I locked a baby gate and then snapped two pictures:


What was she thinking?!?!?!

-3-


As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm taking a break from the internet during the day for Lent.  And the funny thing is that I thought I would be instantly jumping online after bedtime... but instead I've found myself doing other things or a couple hours the last few nights before I've even picked up my computer.  Which isn't great for blogging, but is actually really nice for real (offline) life.

I think some of these habits may be sticking around after Lent.  At least I hope they will.


-4-


I am trying not to stress too much about the upcoming week, but I'm not having the best luck.  Next week on Monday, Patch is going to see his pediatrician about a possible speech delay. On Tuesday Early On will be here to start the evaluation process.  On Wednesday Mae has an Occupational Therapy Eval.  On Thursday Maggie has her first appointment with Patch and James' pediatrician (since we're switching offices).  And on Thursday, after 16 months of waiting, Mae has a speech eval across town.  Plus five regular therapy sessions for Mae too, and Sadie's two OT sessions.  

Every four months it seems like there's one week where all the doctor's appointments from the other three months some how end up being scheduled.  I need to work on spacing them out a bit more.

None of this would be stressful, except we found out today that this week Paul will start training for his new job (I guess I should say job #2, since he'll still have the other job) on Monday and so I don't have his schedule for the upcoming week, which means that there's a big possibility that I'm going to have everybody with me for any given appointment... and that would be... interesting.

It wouldn't be so bad if it were warmer and we could walk... but there's no way I can walk with everyone for twenty minutes in this sort of cold.

I just need to make it through this week!  

-5-


So far I'm right on track for 40 bags in 40 days.  I currently have 3 1/2 trash bags full of clothes ready to be donated.  And I'm beginning to think that I'm going to need more than 40 bags to get the basement as organized as I want it to be.

-6-


That is mostly because I have big plans for the basement.  I want to completely empty out one of the rooms and deep clean it so that I can put some of the big outdoor toys down there and maybe a water table and let the kids play when it's too hot or cold to go outside (when it's not flooded... which happens to be why I wouldn't worry about water in the room in question because with it's bi-annual flooding I know nothing splashed out of a water table will do anything close to what is going to happen when the snow melts).  But first I need to get rid of all the boxes in the "box room." 

Hopefully before the snow melts.

-7-

How cold is too cold for you?  

I don't mind the cold when it feels warmer than -6.  I'm not a fan of the weather, but I don't really hate the cold as long as it stays above -10.  

Anything below -10 makes me want to hide in my house forever.  Anything below -15 motivates me to actually call and cancel appointments (unless they're ones we've been waiting on forever, like most of those coming up next week).  

Last night when I woke up at 4 am I could feel the cold through the window, the plastic over the window, the curtain over the plastic and the layer of fleece over the curtain.  I clicked on my phone and saw that it was -29 with the wind.  

I don't even know how those of you further north go about functioning when it's this cold (or much, much colder) all year round!  I would never leave the house!

For more Quick Takes head over to This Ain't the Lyceum.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Day in Our House (or one very long Ash Wednesday)

This was yesterday...
shortly before one of the longest nights ever.
11 pm (last night): I'm just about to take James to go upstairs to go to bed when I hear Patch start to shriek in his room.  I run up the stairs and find him banging on his bedroom door hysterical.  At the same time I hear Paul get home and run downstairs to ask him to keep an eye on James while I try to get Patch back to sleep.

1 am: Patch is still awake and still tossing and turning next to me, which means I'm still awake too.  I go downstairs and ask Paul to go in and make up Patch's bed (he loves to pull all the sheets off of it when he's on strike about going to sleep) and switch with me.  He brings James up from his bassinet in the kitchen, where he's been sleeping like the most laid back baby in the world and goes to lay on the floor next to the pirate bed in hopes that Patch will go back to sleep with someone else in the room.

2:10 am:  I've dozed, off and on, but in between the "off" part managed to pray almost an entire rosary as I nurse James and hear Patch continue to fuss.  After about an hour he starts to scream because Paul doesn't fit in the pirate ship bed and Patch's blanket can't cover Patch in the pirate bed and Paul on the floor.... and apparently Paul being covered by this particular blanket is suddenly very, very important to Patch.  The screaming wakes up everyone in the house except James.  I hear Maggie start to make her little chirping "is it morning?" sound in her room.  I assure her that it's not.

2:35 am: Paul tries to sneak out of Patch's room.  Screaming commences.  We hope that it will stop after a few minutes but when it doesn't he grabs a pillow and goes back in to lay on the floor and try to calm Patch down.

James, demonstrating how we all
felt last night.
Except him, since he slept through
it all.  
3:10 am: After more crying I realize that Patch's allergy prescription ran out two days ago and we forgot to pick it up... and that he was itching his arm when he was in our room.  I get up and run downstairs and get his back-up allergy medicine and a sippie with milk.  I run back upstairs and give the medicine and milk to Paul.

3:25 am: Patch starts to scream.  Paul emerges from the room for a second time. Paul pokes his head in the bedroom and tells me that the sippie cup is empty and Patch is freaking out about it.  He's going downstairs to get more cashew milk.  Before he starts back up the stairs (approximately a minute and a half later) Patch falls asleep.

3:28 am:  I mentally kick myself for forgetting to pick up his medicine as we all finally get back to sleep (in case you're wondering Patch is usually a champion sleeper who sleeps a solid 13 hours a night).

7:08 am: Sadie and Maggie announce that it's morning.  I grab my phone and look at the time.  It's after seven o'clock and that is "sleeping in."  Paul takes the girls and James, who's already nursed, downstairs for breakfast.  I stay upstairs and try to grab few more minutes sleep before I have to get up.

7:44 am:  Olaf the Snowman (or Maggie dressed as Olaf the Snowman) climbs a baby gate, sprints up the stairs and climbs in bed with me.  She tells me she's "happy, happy, happy" and smiles when I say that I'm happy too.  After snuggling for a few minutes I ask her is she wants to take a mermaid bath and she springs out of the bed and sprints to the bathroom.

7:46 am: I run a bubble bath with epsom salt in it and help Mae out of her Olaf costume.  I sing "mermaid are brushing, mermaids are brushing, brushing their hair, brushing their hair..." and she actually lets me brush her hair while laughing, instead of crying.  I call that a victory.  Patch wakes up and Paul takes him downstairs so he can have breakfast.

8:25 am: I get Maggie out of the bath, get her dry and apply Patch's allergist ordered Crisco/Vaseline mixture since her skin has gotten super dry this winter.  Then I help her into her Elsa dress.  We go downstairs.

8:31 am: Paul vacuums the crumbs from breakfast up before the therapists arrive and I run downstairs and change out of my pajamas.  I grab an outfit for Patch and Sadie, since I know Mae will insist on wearing her Elsa dress and James already has a spare outfit upstairs.  Paul goes upstairs to try to sleep a little.

8:36 am:  Mae realizes that Sadie's dress is black and green and looks strikingly like Anna's and she starts holding it up to Sadie and trying to convince her to change into it immediately.  Sadie gets dressed and asks me to give her her veil so that she can wear it while we do school.

8:42 am: I slip into the kitchen and quickly eat breakfast while the kids clamor at the baby gate.

8:55am: I remember to turn off the alarm so that it won't go off when I open the door for Mae's therapist.  I get Mae's snacks for therapy ready.

9:00am:  One of Mae's favorite therapists arrives.  All three kids rush to the door to welcome her.  Upon seeing the snacks Patch runs to his high chair and I pick him up and help him into his seat.  He starts to eat crackers and color in a coloring book while.  Maggie goes into the play room and starts her therapy session.  Sadie sits down with her school books and starts working on spelling and reading.

9:25am: Sadie moves on to her grammar book.  She answers a question in French.  We aren't even studying French as a subject.

9:38am: Patch starts to get wild, but his eyes look incredibly tired.  I take him upstairs for a nap and he flops on the bed.

9:41am: James wakes up and shouts to let me know that he's hungry.  I feed James while Sadie works on her Copy Work and Memory Work.

10:24am: Mae wanders over to give James kisses and practice saying his name. She's been talking up a storm and has been saying (her version) of "wonderful" and "great."  When I help her with something she spontaneously says "thank you Mama" for the first time in her life.

11:00 am: We finish math and I get out my computer so that Sadie can watch Holy Heroes as part of our religion class during Lent.  And then she colors a printable calendar that counts down until Easter and we talk about making sacrifices and about penance.  She declares that she's giving up candy until Easter.  I fill out a form to register our homeschool with the state of Michigan.  It isn't something that is normally done in Michigan but it's a requirement if you need special needs classes and speech falls into that category.  So after many months of fighting for speech we've finally been told that this is the next step that we need to take.

11:30 am: We're done with class for the day and I suddenly realize that I need to get the kids fed fast if we're going to make it to the noon Mass.

11:45am: I'm working as fast as I can but I kind of feel like I'm moving in slow motion.  I get Mae a piece of toast with peanut butter in bananas on it, make Sadie a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and give Patch the banana that he's repeatedly requested. I cook up a few eggs for Paul and I and while I'm focused on the pan I don't realize that a nearby pot holder has caught on fire until I smell it.  I put out the fire and change James into clean clothes, tell Sadie to put her boots on and hand Paul the clothes I got out for Patch and ask him to get him dressed. Mae is still working on therapy, but that's for the best since she needs to be the last one dressed or there's a good chance she'll change her mind and get undressed before we make it to the door.

11:55am: I say goodbye to Mae's therapist and admit to myself that we're going to be late.  Paul is pulling the car around.  I tie on the Moby wrap and put on my jacket.  Mae hops the baby gate and goes upstairs.  I follow her and find a sleeper for her to wear under her dress, since she'll refuse to wear pants or a jacket with it and it's pretty cold outside.

12:08pm: Mae is finally in warm clothes.  We're late.  But the kids are all in the car and strapped into their car seats and the church is only a few blocks away.

12:15 pm: We arrive at Mass and there's no parking.  We have to drive quite a ways away before we find a spot.  We step out of the car and find that the windchill has dropped temperatures dramatically.  While it wasn't bad when we left the house a few minutes earlier we're now facing a freezing wind and "blowing snow."  As I get Patch into the Ergo on my back and James into the Moby and wrap a blanket around him I guess that it's below -20.  The muscles in my face start to feel like they're freezing.  It's very, very cold.

12:20 pm: We're finally in the church.  We stay in the narthex and I immediately fall into the familiar pattern of hushing Mae every few seconds and swaying slightly in an attempt to get the boys to stay silent and maybe take a nap.  Except Patch just took a nap and he's feeling whiny.

1:00 pm: Victory!  We've all made it through Mass.  Admittedly we were late, but with the vocal stims we've faced in Mass lately, having everyone there for the final blessing feels like a major victory.

1:14 pm: We stop by Paul's work on the way home so that he can pick up his tips.  The nearby parish's Mass ends and dozens of college students walk by with ashes on their foreheads.

1:15pm: While we wait in the car I realize that Sadie is very, very excited that she's the only one of her siblings that the priest gave ashes too.  James is a close second, since some of my ashes smeared on his forehead when I cuddled him, but Sadie is feeling pretty grown up since her other brother and sister have clean brows.

1:30pm: Paul gets back to the car and we swing by the store to pick up an on sale gluten free pizza crust.

2:00pm: We get home and Paul agrees to let the kids watch Song of Bernadette since it's a special day.  While they watch the movie for the second time this week I make mushroom, onion, olive pizzas.

2:30pm: The kids eat.  The grown up pizza takes a little longer to cook... I feed James while it bakes.

3:00pm: Everyone has been fed.  I take James out of his bassinet and we say a family rosary.  It's chaotic.  Maggie needs quiet time and ends up going upstairs to her room.  Patch runs around yelling and pretending everything is a sword.  I get hit in the eye with one of his "swords" (a long piece of plastic that's part of something else).  Thankfully James, who's sitting on my lap, is unscathed. Sadie sits next to me and says every prayer along with me.

3:17 pm: I realize that Sadie has a "make up ballet class" since her class on president's day was canceled and tell Paul that I'll need to take her at 5.

3:25 pm: Everyone is remarkable calm while I pray the Divine Mercy chaplet (for the first time ever, I just happened across a prayer card).  They must be exhausted from all the wildness during the rosary.

Also, apparently Patch stacked the rocking
fire truck on the driving fire truck.
4:01 pm: I go down into the basement and find clean tights and a clean leotard for Sadie's class.  She gets dressed and I see out the window that the mail man has just delivered our mail.  I look out the door and discover a package that I've been waiting for.  The purse that I ordered with my Thred Up credit (after trading in quite a lot of clothes that I no longer wear) has finally arrived.  Patch starts chanting "open" and is a little disappointed when he sees what it is.

4:18 pm: With Sadie dressed I transfer all my gear from my old purse to my new one.

4:40 pm: We wish Paul good luck with the feeding and changing into pajamas of the babies and head out the door and into the cold.  It's a good thing we left five minutes early, because we hit traffic and get their just in time.

5:00 pm: It's that awkward moment when you're sitting outside a ballet class and the topic of the highly controversial movie of the moment comes up and every other person there has read the books and starts discussing the "hot sex" in them.  Half of the women are grandmothers and another is a nanny who seems to be right around college age and I think I'm the only one there who feels at all awkward at the direction the conversation has taken.

5:14 pm: I text back and forth with two of Mae's therapists as we figure out who can make what appointment in the coming weeks.  One will help me help her through her hearing test and the other is coming with us to her intake appointment with her new doctor.  Since she tends to panic in doctor's office their help is hugely appreciated.

5:45pm: Class let's out.  A little girl says something mean to Sadie about the way she pronounces the "th" sound and her mom stands there and says nothing at all.  I bite my tongue to keep from saying something mean to an eight year old.  Thankfully Sadie, who sees so much good in people that she often doesn't realize when someone has said something mean, doesn't seem to notice.

6:00 pm: We're in out of the cold.  Patch and Maggie, have both crashed. I ask Paul to start bath water for Sadie... unfortunately Mae has a sixth sense when it comes to bath water and this rouses her... and she starts to kick the door because she wants that bath to be for her.

6:14 pm:  I go into the girls room and discover that Mae has finally completely destroyed her bed tent. She's also flipped her sister's mattress off the bed and pushed the bed frame apart (one of her favorite proprioceptive activities).  I put the bed back together and she hops into it and giggles.  She says "ashes, ashes" twice and touches my ashes, gives me many kisses, says a new word that I can just not figure out, and goes to sleep in her sister's bed.

6:22 pm: I go into the closet and find the spare tent parts from the last tent she destroyed (although since they've lasted nearly a year I'm still impressed) and take it downstairs to put together a new tent.  Unfortunately now Patch is awake and he's starting to yell. I hope this isn't the start of another hard night.

6:27 pm: I give up on putting the tent together and go in and help calm Patch.  I give him a drink of milk and put on his light up elephant and say his prayers with him.  When I leave he cries but stops almost immediately, which is a good thing, because I hear James start to cry downstairs.

6:28 pm: I arrive downstairs to find James crying.  I give him his binkie and put the tent together. Then I go back downstairs to check on James.  After that it's back upstairs to tell Sadie that bath time is over and to bring her a towel and pjs.

7:00 pm: Sadie's in her pjs and asks if she can watch Top Chef Junior and write in her journal (her two favorite things to do at night).  I take the tent upstairs and set it up on Mae's bed.

7:30 pm: Sadie, who was also awake for a good portion of last night, goes upstairs to get ready for bed.  When I tell her that I need to move her sister she assures me that that's okay, and I tuck her in next to Maggie in the same bed.

8:00 pm: I go online and see I have 55 notifications from Facebook.  One of my Lenten resolutions is to stay offline, except for a few sites with religious podcasts and programs that I listen to while I'm cooking, during the day...

I am also still using Instagram to upload pictures throughout the day however, and those do post to my personal facebook page too (you're welcome Mom!).

8:11 pm: I muster up all my energy and clean the bottom of the stairs, a place where tons of "stuff" accumulates.  I finish about 3/4 of the job and then go downstairs and bring up two boxes of clothes.  I sort it and decide about 1/2 (or one garbage bag full) will be donated.  I have my bag for the day for 40 bags in 40 days.

9:30 pm:  I decide to write this post.  And then enter my calories in for the day at My Fitness Pal and have the app tell me I haven't been eating enough.  Despite my resolution not to fast, the day has been so busy that I haven't had much time to eat.  So I have cereal and pretzels and write this post and nurse James again when he wakes up and wait for Paul to get home.

11:28 pm: It's just about time for bed... before someone wakes up again!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Should I Fast While Pregnant or Nursing during Lent?

I first wrote this post in 2011 and while I would change parts of it if I were writing it today (I'm definitely more aware of how difficult it is to give up meat when you have other major dietary restrictions), it's a topic that I still see come up every year around this time and I thought it would be the perfect time to repost it.  And while I don't stress it in this post because I was so focused on nursing when I wrote it, the same definitely also goes for those of us who are pregnant during this Lenten season.  When you're body is nourishing others it's not a great idea to deprive it of nutrients.
      
  Every year I see the question come up on the Catholic forums. Are nursing and/or pregnant mothers excused from the fast? There is always immediately a flurry of responses. For the most part they are filled with common sense. But then the encouragement starts... as in "I'm nursing and I'm fasting and I still have a ton of milk. You should do it too." These answers worry me (more on that below). Anyways here is the formal answer to whether or not we're required to fast, which will be followed by my own experience with the matter:
"Those who are excused from fast or abstinence Besides those outside the age limits, those of unsound mind, the sick, the frail, pregnant or nursing women according to need for meat or nourishment, manual laborers according to need, guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving great offense or causing enmity and other situations of moral or physical impossibility to observe the penitential discipline."

From EWTN's Fasting and Abstinence
Now many of us can give up meat. I know that, as I design my food schedule on a budget, we have plenty of days that, unintentionally, don't include meat. And since eggs and dairy products are allowed, it's pretty easy to get adequate protein in other ways (we tried Greek Yogurt recently, I believe it was Yoplait, and it had something like 13 g of protein! It's hard to beat that in anything! And for those worried about health it has 0g of fat! And it was tasty!).

Fasting, however, is an entirely different thing. And the mentality that many of us can fall into can be dangerous. We may think "well she's only nursing x number of time a day... How much can one day of fasting in a week (two during this first week) really affect my milk supply." For some, rare women, it may not be much. But for many of us, the result would be dramatic.

When Sadie was almost one I thought I'd be okay "cutting back" on Ash Wednesday. She was eating a lot of baby foods and while she still nursed quite a bit I didn't think that one day would really affect my milk supply all that much. Besides, I told myself, I would still eat two small meals and one big meal. I wouldn't be doing the whole bread and water thing. Really the main difference was that I was cutting out snacks.

I was fine all day and so was my milk supply. Then it was bedtime and I was faced with a very hungry baby. And suddenly it was gone. I had no milk. And I had a baby who lay next to be and sobbed herself to sleep.

It took over a day for my milk supply to return to normal. And in that time I had a miserable, hungry, cranky baby and a dribbling supply of milk that slowly returned as I ate.

You may be able to nurse and fast. But there's a good chance you may not. And why would anyone want to risk finding out? I think we can all agree that the babe in our arms isn't included in the fast.

Sure, some little bit of pride in the back of my head tells me I can fast every single year. After all, I'm only nursing... well let's see... six.... or seven times a day... and Maggie gets a lot of her food from baby food these days... I tell that tiny thought to be quiet. It's not what's best for my baby. And that is the important thing.

There's very likely plenty of time in the future for fasting. For now, if you're a nursing mom, accept your exemption and know that sometimes it's harder not to fast when everyone else is fasting and you'd really like to join them (aren't we an odd bunch! Really, wanting to fast?).

Besides, there are many of substitutes we can make. Give up the internet (okay, I'm not doing this, but I've heard of brave souls who do!). Or your cell phone (that would be easy for me... I'm always forgetting mine. I haven't seen it in two weeks although I suspect it's dead at the bottom of my diaper bag). Or television! There are lots of sacrifices we can make that don't affect the well-being of our children.

Just pick something that has become a distraction in your life and see how the next forty days go without it!