Some thoughts on Lent

Friday, February 28, 2014
I may or may not spend too much time on the internet reading my favorite blogs, but what can I say? I love a good blog! One good thing about blog reading is that it reminded me that lent is starting soon (next Wednesday!). Normally I am more on top of liturgical living, but this year, the demands of a high needs baby has left me barely able to put my shoes on the right feet. I'm still discerning what our Lord wants from me during these 40 days before Easter; trying to uncover the things that prevent me from knowing and loving Him more. It's not that I don't reflect on these things throughout most of the year, but these 40 days are for drawing even closer to Christ through fasting, praying, and almsgiving. This list, 100 Things to Do for Lent, has been really helpful at suggesting ideas. Every year I at least try to fast from complaining to my husband, but I have failed miserably for the past 8 years. In the last 2 years I fasted from Facebook by shutting down my page, but to be honest, it wasn't that hard. I think the bigger challenge this year, will be to exercise a little temperance, and fast from social media sites like Facebook on a weekly bases and only allow myself to check in 1-2/per week. Which leads me to sharing this ancient, beautiful Lenten Prayer I first came across a few years ago:

       "O Lord and Ruler of Life, take from me the spirit of idleness, despair, cupidity, and empty talking. Yea, O Lord grant that I may see my own sins and not judge my brother. For thou art blessed forever and ever. Amen."

And as I was searching for it online, I came across this reflection by Elizabeth Foss that really hit home. Here are just a few things she says about this prayer :

     "Take from me the spirit of idleness, despair, cupidity, and empty talking. Idleness? Dear Lord, I have eight children who still live at home and are all still homeschooled. How in the world can I be idle? Ah, but I can and I am. When I sit at the computer and mindlessly click away while I nurse the baby, I am idling my brain and, more importantly, my spirit. 

And this last quote also struck me:

     "I cannot live my vocation if my time is taken with idleness and empty talking. Even talking about motherhood, homemaking, and God himself can be empty talking if I talk (or write) about it and I neglect to do it. Time on earth is finite. The days of childhood are numbered. Distracted mothers are a curse to their children."

Her entire reflection on this prayer is a great read and has me contemplating how I will spend my online time over the next 40 days. That part above where she mentions "mindlessly clicking away while nursing a baby?"....that's me! Guilty! I know that I could be using that time to read something more edifying. And since it's way past my bedtime (aaah, it's 2:30am...why am I up?), I'll wrap this post up by sharing this great list of reading suggestions for Lent. And this book is the one I'm planning on reading...instead of mindlessly clicking. Pray for me because I am easily distracted, and I will pray for you. :) 


"Resting" when you have Mastitis

Tuesday, February 25, 2014
This past week, I had another mastitis infection. I've lost count of how many times I've had it in the past 8 months, but if I had to guess, maybe 10? My tried and true remedies* saved me, yet again, from taking antibiotics. And thankfully, I've only had to take antibiotics once when I caught the infection too late and my temp shot up to 104. I don't want to scare anyone away from nursing their babies, because no matter how painful these infections can be, I still think breastfeeding is worth it. I wish I could say that each time I've had an infection, I handled it with grace, and didn't complain, but that would be a lie. "Whyyyy God, do I keep getting mastitis...why me?!?" is usually my pitiful prayer/cry. Dr. Google has offered a lot of suggestions/advice on prevention, but the bottom line is, I have no clue why it keeps happening. So I battled it, and attempted "to rest". Resting isn't easy when you don't have family nearby to help, two little boys to care for, and one 7 year old to get to and from school. Naturally, Netflix became the glorious baby-sitter, but even back-to-back episodes of Danielle Tigers Neighborhood can only do so much. Ryan came home early (cue: mom guilt for having my husband come home from work to take care of me) and within a day things were back to being crazy and good.

This right here is what "resting" looks like when you've got two little boys by your side...       
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Thankfully, the week only improved from there and now it's Monday night (technically, very early Tuesday morning) and I'm ready to take the Blogging Challenge to post everyday this week! I can't promise perfect grammar, but I should be able to check in everyday to share a few stories.

*I'm not a dr. and a lot of cases of mastitis do require antibiotics, but for me, this is what works to fight the infection naturally (in addition to lots of rest, water, and hot compresses to work out the clog):  1.) Happy Ducts. I've only found this available online and none of our health food stores carry I always make sure to have plenty on hand. It's the BEST! 2.) Fresh, raw garlic. Obviously this doesn't taste great, but it's a natural antibiotic and if I'm fighting an infection, I take it with breakfast/lunch/dinner. 3.) Apple Cider Vinegar (I take 2 TB mixed with water) & Vitamin C to boost my immune system and here's my favorite website where a lot more remedies are mentioned.


"A portrait of my children once a week, every week, in 2014"

R: I was sautéing some peppers for our tacos but got side tracked, and she looks over at me and says, "uuhh, mommy, I think these are burning...I'll save them!"  Yes!!  Stir them!!!  She indeed saved them from burning (and my camera was nearby so I was able to grab a quick snap). I admit, I have a tendency to want to be left alone in the kitchen while I cook because it's easier/faster and I enjoy the alone time while Ryan watches the kids...but...well, I'm going to have to just get over that. I want my kids to know how to cook and that means I'm going to be the one to teach them! Bon Appetit! 

L: Oh, my sweet middle child!  I hate to label, but he acts very much like a Middle Child, always finding ways to seek my attention. He's highly sensitive and has a temper that only comes out at home. He's imaginative, empathetic, and the perfect mix of gentle and tough.  He's the one who challenges me the most, and sends me to my knees begging for help. Nothing surprised me more when I saw him take on the role of Big Brother. I thought he would be jealous, and the tantrums would multiply, but it was far from that. He was tender towards the baby, and often times it is only the baby  that can soften his grumpy moods. So here he is, as he often is, dressed up like Peter Pan lost in his imaginative world. 

D: He's 20lbs of cuteness! It was a rough start with him, but we made it through and now things are more content (for now!). We had a bit of a heat wave this past week so I took him out for some vitamin D.  He's wearing his teething necklace again, and for the record, the jury is still out on whether or not they work.


Monday, February 17, 2014

"A portrait of my children once a week, every week, in 2014"

Riley: watching her two brothers play.
Luke: always finding trees to climb.
Dominic: he has 4 teeth coming in so his little hands are alway being chewed on.


Monday, February 10, 2014

"A portrait of my children once a week, every week, in 2014"

R:  Getting ready for the Father/Daughter dance. It's getting harder to capture real moments of her now that she's 7...but it's a nice challenge. 

L:  He, on the other hand, is going through one of the best stages in terms of capturing his day to day life.  He's got a great imagination and it's been fun following him around with my camera.

D: My heart! He's 8 months old tomorrow and has started crawling really fast.

Dominic's Birth Story. Part 1

Before I begin to tell the story of the day Dominic was born, I need to share a couple premises. 

Throughout my pregnancy, I struggled with constant anxiety and fear that something would go wrong with the birth. We had been praying and hoping to have another baby for over a year, so when I finally did become pregnant, the thought of something terrible happening was always forefront in my mind. I didn't experience this with my two previous pregnancies, and I think it was a case of "ignorance is bliss". As I've gotten older, I've had friends lose babies and the world of Social Media has allowed for heartbreaking stories to become more widely known. Bad things happen to good people all the time. It's a reality we must all come to terms with, but with this pregnancy, it was especially hard to battle the demon of fear.      

The other challenge I faced throughout the pregnancy, was that I no longer had a choice about where I would give birth because our insurance had changed since I had my last baby.  Having leaned more toward the "natural birth" camp (and having 2 previous natural/water births), I had a tendency to view traditional hospitals, with their high intervention rates, as evil less than ideal. Plain and simple, I just don't like hospitals. So knowing that I would have to give birth in a place I was not looking forward to, well, cue full blown panic attack.  I felt this anxiety up until the day I woke up in labor...but something very unexpected and unpleasant, ended up taking all that anxiety away.

It was June 11th, the day of my due date. It was also Ryan's birthday. 

Our Good Lord above, knowing of this extreme anxiety I was facing, had allowed for me to wake up at 5am, puking from a stomach bug. How did I know it was the stomach flu and not pregnancy hormones? Oh, because my 3 year old had thrown up all over me 2 days prior right in the middle of church (during the consecration I may add). It was quite the scene, as I waddled down the aisle towards the bathroom, carrying my 3 year old on top of my 9 month pregnant belly, with vomit all over my hair. Yes, It was definitely the stomach flu.   

I called my dr. at 6am and she wanted me to go to the hospital for fluids because I couldn't hold anything down, and to monitor the mild contractions I was experiencing. We didn't know if the contractions meant today was the day we would meet our son, or if they were caused by the dehydration. All that anxiety I was feeling? It was gone! I felt like death and could not wait to get to the hospital for some relief!  Funny how something so physically miserable ended up taking away something so emotionally challenging, isn't it? Our bags were already packed, so after dropping our kids off with family/friends, to the hospital we went.

The dry-heaving and constant nausea made the 5 minute drive to the hospital a verrrry looong 5 minutes; it was brutal!  When we got there, I went straight to the labor and delivery unit and was greeted by kind nurses who immediately checked me in and got me hooked up with fluids and the wonder drug known as zofran! Hallelujah! I had never been so thankful for the modern advances of medicine! I could finally focus again. Now that the dehydration/nausea was being treated, it was time to see if these contractions meant real labor or not. I was currently 3cm dilated.  

For Part 2: click HERE

Below is the last selfie I took before giving birth the next day! I gained the same amount of weight with all my kids (40lbs) but with Dominic I was the smallest.  

7 Quick takes

Friday, February 7, 2014
Happy Friday!  In no particular order, here are my 7 very random Quick Takes for the week. Check out Jen's blog to see the Linkup.  

1.)  I mentioned in my last 52 weeks post that we recently took a trip to my little hometown of Lompoc to visit dear friends. It was one of the best trips we've taken in a long time (minus the drive down, which made me want to consume an entire bottle of wine.  I'll spare you the details). We stayed at our friends Walnut Farm, and the kids had an entire orchard to run around and could be as loud as they wanted! Much to my surprise, the trip was a lot more relaxing than I had envisioned because usually when we get back from a trip with our kids, I feel like I need another vacation. It's nice when you can put your kids to bed, and then have all your friends right there to hang out with...welcome to fun in your Thirties :) 

2.)  I'm not pregnant, but I just discovered this baby naming website called Nymbler, have you heard of it? You can plug in your kids names and it will help you come up with baby names that go with your current children's names...genius! I may or may not be planning someday-baby-number-4's name :)  

3.)  I tried out a new breakfast recipe this past week, and I highly recommend it!  It was delicious, healthy and easy...Overnight Oats!  It took about 5-7 minutes to prep before I went to bed and was ready in the morning (I filled 4 mason jars so we each had our own...minus the baby because he still spits out most of his food). The recipe is from My Whole Food Life and you can find it by clicking HERE.

4.  My current Mothering Struggle is getting the baby to nap. You'd think I'd have this figured out by baby #3, but I don't (and because God likes to keep me on my toes, I probably never will!). This kid wants to nurse 24/7 and the minute I try to delatch him, he screams. He's also an extremely light sleeper no matter how many white noise devices I have playing.  So, I either end up laying down with him, while the other 2 kids get into trouble which usually involves making a mess; or he just doesn't nap. He turns 8 months old next week, and eventually I'd reaaallllly like to get him taking naps that don't involve me laying with him. I'm not sure if I'm writing this out to vent, or because I could use some suggestions on what has worked for other moms, but I'm open to advise.

5.) Anyone excited about The Olympics? I grew up loving to watch the Ice Skaters but once I got to High School, I lost interest. But something happened with the last Summer Olympics and I became *obsessed*...I'd ignore my kids everyday just to tune in and watch. I'm looking forward to tuning in this time too (and can you believe all the crazy #sochiproblems?!?). Also, a friend sent me this hilarious post about "Momlympics", which I recommend reading if you want a good laugh.

6.)  Ryan and Riley are going to their first Father/Daughter dance this weekend and I'm really happy that these kinds of events exist! Speaking of dancing, one of the best things about photographing weddings was watching/capturing people dance during the reception. You wouldn't believe some of the crazy dance moves I've seen people do (mostly good) in the 5 years I photographed weddings. But one thing I never saw was a choreographed mother/son dance, so when I saw this video the other day, I thought it was especially awesome (her dance moves are good!!)

7.) It's a Friday Night Miracle...all 3 kids are asleep by 7:30! Where's the wine? Have a great weekend!


Thursday, February 6, 2014

"A portrait of my children once a week, every week, in 2014."

We had a really great week, which is why I'm behind on posting these photos. Better late than never, right? Whenever we travel out of town, it always takes me about a week before I get back to our routine of day-to-day life...the laundry alone kept me up way past by bedtime these last few nights. But I'm back and still feeling excited about and committed to this project, so here is week 5:

R:  In honor of the Feast day of Thomas Aquinas and to celebrate vocations, her school let the kids have free dress as long as they wore black and here she is after school looking quite lady-like. 

L:  We took a trip to Lompoc (my hometown) to visit some good friends and we stayed with them at their Walnut Farm.  Luke had a great time climbing all the trees in the orchards!

D: This is the only photo I took of him all week!  But I love how he is holding onto his sister as we went to visit some of the animals on the farm.  

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