Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Finding Hope in the Midst of Difficulty



Lately my family has taken to calling me a Negative Nancy. 

I'm not naturally a happy, cheerful person in the best of the times.  And the worst of times bring out my worst.  

No one has ever accused me of being too happy.  And when life is tough, it's even harder.

Being positive in the midst of life's difficulties does not come easily to me.

Or at least it doesn't in certain situations.

I'm actually pretty good at taking certain situations in stride.


That's because sometimes hope is easy to find.  We know that eventually the snow will melt and spring will come and things will warm up. We know that no woman has ever been pregnant forever.  We know that eventually a child will sleep through the night or potty-train. We know that a broken bone will heal or that more likely than not, a child will recover from a seemingly never ending snot-fest of a cold. 

But what about harder situations? Where there is no easy end in sight? What about when hope is harder to come by?  Many times people aren't healed of their disease.  The unemployed don't find good jobs.  Poor people remain poor. The infertile don't get a baby. 

Sometimes life is nothing more than a serious of dashed hopes and fallen expectations. 

Sometimes it's easier to stop hoping. 

Yet, hope is the only thing that sustains us. 

The opposite of hope is despair.   And while despair is especially tempting for my melancholic personality, it's not a healthy or fun place to live.

So, the only other choice is to hold onto hope..as tenuous as that grasp may be.
And if there is no hope in this life, as we can at least have hope in the afterlife. And THAT is sometimes the ONLY thing that sustains us when life is especially difficult.   

So this Lent...my ONE goal is to pray more and find hope. And if I can't find hope in this life, at least I can find hope in the next. 

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Birth Story and a Pinterest (fail) Worthy Castle Cake

Happy Birthday John! It's been 7 years, since my most difficult birth (yes..the 3rd baby was harder than the 1st).   He's worth it though!  Happy Birthday John.  We love you!



In honor of his birthday, I decided to share his birth story. 

And show you his "cake". 

Back story: At the time John was born, Ben was working on a small island only accessible by boat or plane and we lived on the mainland above my parents.  So Ben used to come home on weekends and stay on the island during the week.  This caused me quite a bit of stress because I really wanted him there for the birth...but being on an island only accessible by boat or plane made things complicated when you are just waiting around to go into spontaneous labor. Not to mention that in the winter, the boat only took one trip off the island each day. 

Heidi and Greta had been born 10 days early...so we were thinking he would be too.  And he was!!  Elsa however broke the pattern and was born 13 days early.  

Here's his birth story, as written shortly after he was born. Skip if you don't like birth stories or the word cervix.  


I had been *really, really* hoping to go into labor by 6:00 AM on Monday so Ben wouldn't have to go back to Island. The day before, we had decided that if I hadn't gone into labor by then, he would take Mom's car to the 6:30 AM boat and come back on the 2:30 PM boat. Repeat on Thurs, with taking Wed and Tues off.  That's how confident we wer that he would be born early. So, on Mon morning, I hadn't started anything, so he went off to Island as planned. Around 9:00 AM, I started feeling a general crampiness which turned into regular contractions about 10 minutes apart. I still wasn't convinced this was labor, so at 11:00 AM I took Heidi to our scheduled homeschool field trip at Science center. While there, I was still having regular contractions, but didn't say anything to anyone else. Around 12:30, I started thinking it *might* be labor, so I went out the van with Greta and called Doula and Midwife and Ben to alert them that I might be in early labor. 


As time went on I became more and more convinced that I was in labor...both how I was feeling psychologically (like I wanted to retreat from the world and not talk to anyone) and that the contractions were getting more intense. Around 2:30 PM, I went downstairs to work on the gift shop, as I started thinking this was labor and I had 4 orders which had accumulated over the weekend and didn't want to leave them. While downstairs I had Mom time my contractions and it was really hard to tell what a contraction was and what wasn't. They seemed to be right on top of each other and lasting a long time, although they weren't very intense or painful. Ben was due to get off the boat at 3:30, and I needed to make a decision on if he should come home or meet us at the hospital. Since the hospital is about 50 minutes away and we were were approaching rush hour time, we decided to meet Ben in City Near Hospital. Mom drove me up with the girls and while at Meeting Place, we switched cars, so I went in the van with Ben and Mom drove the girls back home. Then we decided to go to the hospital so I called Midwife and Doula and told them we were on the way.

I still wasn't sure if it labor or not and not sure if I wanted Doula there yet, or if we should wait. We got to the hospital and I was about 4-5 cm dilated and maybe 70% effaced. The monitor showed contractions around 6 minutes apart. We decided to stay so I called Doula and she came over. Things kinda died down, but then I started walking and pacing around the room and they picked up some more. In the meantime, I was having a good time just chatting with Ben and Doula and occasionally Midwife when she came in the room to check on us. Things were still progressing kinda slowly and I was starting to feel frustrated. I had Midwife check me again around 8:00 PM and I was up to 6 cm. I continued walking, tried the jacuzzi briefly (but didn't like it, so came out again), I was having regular contractions but they seemed spaced really *far apart* and was getting worried that this would take all night. I really, really, really didn't want to be in labor all night. At that point, I started wanting to be alone and kicked Doula and everyone else out of the room (except Ben). 

Shortly after 10:00 PM I was checked again and I decided I wanted my water broken to speed things up. At that time I was 7 cm, 90% effaced, however baby was still at -2. The problem was that baby wasn't really descending down. I was dilating and effacing, but he stayed high up.

Midwife broke my water and I started pacing again. Gradually things picked up and the contractions got more intense, but were still spaced several minutes apart. However, they were getting more and more painful and I was really having to concentrate on walking and breathing through them. Eventually..around 12:30 AM or so, they started getting really, really intense and painful and right on top of each other. At that point, I knew I was in transition and things were getting close. I also wasn't handling it well. At that point I was at 8 cm and when I heard that I almost cried. I was like "only 8". Ben was applying counter pressure to my back and Doula was massaging my head, and I still felt as though I couldn't handle the contractions. I was also feeling pressure and the urge to push, so I tried pushing. 

Then they put the monitor on me and started seeing some heart decelerations. Even though I was only 8 cm and crowning hadn't occurred, Midwife said it was okay to push and she tried to spread the cervix apart and encourage me to push. I kept intermittently pushing while just groaning in pain and praying to God for it to be all over. I felt like I was in the worst pain I had even been in. Pushing was so exhausting. 

Then I started hearing more soft talk about heart decels and they needed to get the baby out right away, and I was really encouraged to push hard and keep pushing and push through it. I was starting to get really scared with the pain and trying to push and everyone kept telling me that I HAD to push and push and I was the only one who could it. I kept asking them to just take the baby out, as the pain with the contractions was so intense and pushing was so hard. I think I would have happily had a c-section without anaesthetic at that point..just to make the contractions stop. I couldn't even feel crowning and I was told to push and push. They kept telling me to change positions ( I assume to give the baby more oxygen) and then they gave me oxygen while pushing and I kept trying to push. At one point, the decels were down to only 60 bpm for over 2 minutes. Finally, I felt the baby's head start to come and I ended up pushing him out while kneeling on the bed on my hands and knees with my head on the birthing peanut. Feeling the baby slide out was the greatest relief. However, I so tired, I didn't even feel that I had the energy to roll over and see him. 

It's probably a good thing I didn't see him right away as he was very gray when he was born and not pink at all. They worked on him for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, he was crying the entire time they were working on him, so I wasn't worried. He was also having trouble maintaining his temperature so when they finally did put him on me skin to skin under warmed blankets and I was shivering and shaking so they kept warming up blankets to put over us. 

After he was born, and the placenta came out, it was discovered that he had a short umbilical cord which is the reason why he wasn't descending down.  He eventually did of course, but the short cord made it harder, as the cord was being stretched while he descended.  Although technically, I don't think his cord was short enough to qualify as "short cord syndrome" it was just the shortest cord the midwife had ever seen.

Looking back, I am really thankful that I didn't end up with an emergency c-section or vacuum extraction as I knew they were considering making that call. I'm also REALLY thankful he was okay.

After that first shaky start, he was fine.  And we actually went home just 18 hours after he was born.

Overall, it was definitely the most difficult birth I had. My midwife was. wonderful.  The doula..not so much. I was very thankful for the midwife and mostly just super thankful that John was born safe and healthy. The entire pregnancy I had a "feeling" that something was "wrong", and was just waiting for the ball to drop. I am so thankful he is now here safe and sound and healthy, and I attribute that mainly to all the people I know who were praying for us, along with St. Gerald whose medal I wore all through pregnancy and birth.


Note again:  Apparently Elsa also had an umbilical cord that was on the shorter side of normal.  Yet her birth was totally easy and she practically fell out of me.  I think all the walking/pacing while in labor with her made a huge difference. And she was born while I was standing up.  Looking back, hands/knees was probably not the best position for giving birth with a shorter umbilical cord.   

Also, 7 years later, I think we can confidently say that  John seems to have suffered no ill-effects from his difficult birth. 

Yesterday he was the #5 rated 6-year old chess player in ALL of the United States.  

Today he is the #32 rated Chess Player age 7 and Under in all of the United States.

And he won 3rd place in the Indiana State K-3 Chess Championship.




Plus he's super smart in math and is doing fine in reading.  He does have terrible handwriting...but then so do I.  So that's probably just genetic and has nothing to do with any lack of oxygen during birth.

Here's his Pinterest (fail) worthy cake.  He made it himself....with some help from his sisters.

Totally his idea.





Happy Birthday John!


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Sunday, February 22, 2015

What I Wore Sunday and Fashion Trends I Don't Understand

Time for another edition of What I Wore Sunday.  

The jacket and the tunic shirt are from ThredUp (if this is your first time shopping and you use my link, you get a free $10 and so do I.  It's win-win).  In fact, I think I got both those articles of clothes for free thanks to kind readers who ordered through my link.)

The leggings are Target and the boots are Payless. 

The picture looks a bit dorky...but oh well. 

Now...are in you interested in hearing about some fashion trends I just don't understand?  Probably not...but I'm going to forge ahead anyway.   Because I feel dorky posting JUST what I wore...without giving you some meat in your blog reading, So feast your eyes on these fashion trends.

1. The short-sleeved sweater dress. 

I mean, it's cute and I like it.  I really do like this style.  But it's a sweater and it's short-sleeved.  Which sorta makes it an oxymoron. If it's cold enough for a sweater, it's cold enough to need long-sleeves.  And if it's warm enough for short-sleeves, it's too warm for a sweater. Don't get it...even though I think it's super cute.

2. Bandals.


Just why?  I mean..there's a reason people wear boots and there's a reason people wear sandals.  And they're opposing reasons. This is a match made in hell. 

3.  His and Hers Matching Pink Argyle Footed Pajamas


At least they are better than these.


I mean...the model looks like she is trying to do sexy.  And you just can't do sexy in blue, fishy footed pajamas. 

4. Finally if you are in the market for a swimsuit this summer...check out this beauty (found here).  


For some women, it takes a lot of guts to wear a swimsuit...so why not show them off?  And what better way to promote modesty, than to remind people that underneath all that beautiful skin, it's just a bunch of muscles and intestines (which technically are muscles as well). 

Come to think of it...I'm in the market for a new swimsuit this summer. Dare me to get this one?

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Friday, February 20, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday


1.  Heidi is doing much better.  Three weeks of antibiotics and her back pain is much improved.  Her blood work is all back down to normal as well.   So that is very encouraging.  She still has a few more weeks of antibiotics, but we are so happy that things are so much better.

2.  Greta is going to write a sentence; The hungry hippo married Hilda 11111 times a day so do not backspace.




3.  From now on  unicorns should always be colored blue and bears should be red and zebras yellow.

4. Greta is done hacking the blog now.  So instead I'll share with you, this article. 

5. Dear Winter.  I'm breaking up with you.  I want to move back to Florida now.   You're much worse than I remember you being.   Honestly, I never really understood the idea of cabin fever before. I always liked winter. That's because it's not just winter that is giving us cabin fever....it's also the super small house, the fact that we aren't settled and the fact that we don't much money so options for outside classes, activities and field trips are severely limited.  If we had a lot of outside activities going on, I totally wouldn't mind the cold and snow so much.   So small house + no money/limited activities + cold weather is the perfect storm of wintertime blues.   And it's even more frustrating when the few activities we do are cancelled due to weather.

6. We 're working hard to change all those things though.  We're still searching for a house and trying to pin down a location to start a solo law practice.

I really like this one.  Too bad it's in Bernardsville, NJ and costs 12 million.    And New Jersey?  Who would have thought a house that beautiful would be found in New Jersey???  (I was born in New Jersey..so I'm totally allowed to make fun of the state). 



  It's a really tough decision.  Espeically since our price range for a house is considerably less than 12 million.  Really tough..and there are LOTS of things to consider.  We've never had such a difficult time making a decision before.  All our other major decisions have actually been fairly easy decisions to make.  Not this one.  But we're really hoping that a year from now....things will be MUCH improved. Or two years from now.  Or they have to get better at some point..right?  Right?

7. So, I need some hair help.  What's your favorite brand of shampoo and conditioner.  Preferably something more natural and less expensive.  And please don't say something like no-shampoo, just baking soda and vinegar.  I've tried that and my hair just ended up greasy and icky.   But I'm not really liking what I'm using now.  My hair is just sorta dried out and frizzy.  Help!

{See Kelly for more Quick Takes}
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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Two Rules for Lent


It's that time of year when Catholics everywhere start wondering what they can give up or take on for Lent. 

Lent is almost like the New Year for Catholics.   The time to make new resolutions and grow closer to God.  The time to weed out bad habits and form new, good ones, 

I don't like it. 

My melancholic side feels like life is one big Lent. Especially the last few months.  We've been in Lent for awhile.  The waiting.  The suffering. Life has been difficult.  So adding on even more penance seems unfathomable.  

That said..that's not really an excuse to just do nothing. I mean..I could certainly stand to be a better person.  And, I really should pray more.  I'm back on speaking terms with God now..but for awhile I wasn't. I still need to pray more. So that's really part of it.   But this post isn't about me.  I'm not totally sure what I'm doing.  Except I'm going to pray more. Because that is what I NEED to do. 

I don't know what you NEED to do for Lent.  Only YOU can know that.  

But when considering what you should do or not do during Lent...please keep the following rules in mind.




1) Don't take on or give up anything which makes more work for someone else.  For example, don't give up all computer/phone activities and make everyone call you instead of using email. Reconsider giving up Facebook if you belong to a group that primarily communicates via Facebook, and you might miss important information and then someone has to track you down and contact you individually. Don't make someone else cook special foods for you.  Or make someone else do lots of extra work while you trot off to daily Mass. Your penance should really only affect you (as much as possible) unless the other person agrees to help you. 

2) Don't take on or give up anything which is going to turn you into a miserable person. Fasting may not be the best idea if you are subject to low blood sugar induced anger episodes. If you need coffee to function normally..then don't give it up.  If sleep makes you a nicer person, maybe deciding to get up at 4:30 AM everyday isn't the best idea.   


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Saturday, February 14, 2015

14 Lessons in 14 Years of Marriage

In honor of World Marriage Week and St. Valentine's Day, Mary is holding a link-up about lessons we've learned in every year of marriage.  Since we're still married 14 years later, clearly I must have learned SOMETHING along the way.   Maybe a little something, anyway. 



1. Everyone Changes - Neither Ben nor I are the same people we were 14 years ago.   Hopefully we've changed for the better.    But everyone changes.   When you marry someone, realize that you aren't just marrying them, you are marrying the person they will be years and years from now.  And you really don't know what that person will look like or be like.  Which just means that marriage is a journey and not an end destination.  It's a risky...but pretty much all things worth doing in life are risky.

2. Someone has to give in..it might as well be you.    Actually this really only works if BOTH people have this attitude,  If they are both willing to give in and are more concerned with the other person, than with being right.   Nothing kills a relationship more than someone who always has to be right. 

3. Don't turn little stuff into big stuff.  Let's just say that your spouse does something little...forgets an anniversary or snaps at you or forgets to call home when they are late or calls you too much on your cell phone or squeezes the toothpaste the wrong way.   Don't turn it into A BIG THING. It's not worth it and it's NOT A BIG THING.  So don't make it into one.  

4. Little Solutions Make A Big Difference I have this vague memory of hearing somewhere that a lot of couples get divorced over toothpaste tubes.  Squeezing it the wrong way.  Leaving the cap off.  Don't do that.  It's ridiculous and stupid.  If you don't like the way your spouse handles a toothpaste tube, buy your own tube for crying out loud and forget about it.

5. Remember You Are Marrying A Real Person and Not an Ideal.   I think when we are young we all have an idea of what our perfect spouse would be like.  But then we end up marrying a real person.  A person who is not perfect. A person who maybe gets tired and grumpy.  A person who maybe gains weight or loses their hair or makes a bad financial decision.   And we have to extend grace.

6. Remember That You Aren't Perfect.  Every time I'm tempted to get mad at my husband for one his shortcomings, I remember the numerous shortcomings I have.  I am certainly NOT perfect (shocking..I know), so I can't very well expect him to be.

7.  Let Final Decision Making Rest On the Person the Decision Most Affects I've breastfed all my kids.  Which means that all the night-wakings would fall on me...since babies wake up and need to be fed.  Which means I choose to co-sleep...because I love co-sleeping and I hate getting up at night and I absolutely hate hearing babies cry, so co-sleeping allows myself and the baby to get the sleep we need. It works really well for me.  I realize it doesn't for everyone...but for me..it's the perfect solution to babies waking up at night.   People always ask how to get their husband on board with co-sleeping.  Well I can't speak for other husbands, but mine is more than willing to let me make decisions like this, because the decision primarily affects me.  And he knows that if I am well rested, everyone is happier.  However, he makes the parenting decisions that affect him. He watches way more movies with the kids than I ever do.  Which means he sometimes chooses to show them movies that I would not choose to show them.   But since he's watching the movies and I trust that he loves our children and has their best interests in mind, I let him choose whether or not to show a Sherlock Holmes murder mystery to a 10-year old.

8. Your marriage doesn't have to look like anyone else's.  It doesn't have to look like your parents' marriage or your friends' marriage or my marriage.  You don't have to go on date nights every week if you can't swing it.  You don't have to turn Valentine's Day into a big deal just because your sister's husband makes it a big deal. Every couple needs to find out what works for them.

9. Trust is important.  I am nosey.  Like super nosey.  Honestly, that's why I love reading blogs and being on Facebook. I'm nosey about everyone else's life.   Occasionally that can annoy my husband.  Because nosey people are annoying....I know that..even though I'm one of them.   So he's had to learn that my nosiness is not a lack of trust, but just a rather annoying fault. 

 10.  Sex is important and you should prioritize it (<blush>..my MOM reads my blog..so I'm blushing as I write this).  It's totally true though.  One of the worst things a couple can do is turn sex into a power play or one person withholding it to "punish" the other person.  I think a lot of marriages break up over that one thing.

11.  Extend grace when it comes to finances.   They say a lot of marriages break up over finances.  Which I can totally believe because finances are tricky.  I think it's important to extend some grace.  Everyone wastes money occasionally or makes poor financial decisions at times.   So, extending grace to your spouse when they make a mistake is super important.

12. Love flourishes in the every day.  There's a lot of marriage books and website out there that emphasize the important of "getting away" and "weekly date nights" and all that.  Those things can be wonderful, but you don't need them for a happy  marriage.  You really don't.  Don't make the happiness of your marriage dependent on romantic weekend getaways or date nights.  Because there will be seasons in life when those things just aren't possible.  And you can still have a happy marriage and let love flourish when those things aren't possible  Yes, you do need to spend time together, but it doesn't have to be outside your house.  Even just a simple hug can bring about connection.  Physical connection is important.  Laughing is important. But it doesn't need to be planned and it doesn't need to be away. 

13. Don't pit your marriage against your children.  A lot of people out there talk about how you should always prioritize your marriage above your children.   I think that's ridiculous. It's not one against the other.   Sometimes kids WILL come first.   And sometimes your spouse will. Check out a post from the early days of this blog.  Who's on First?

14. Try to make life easier for the other person.  It's the little things you do for another person that make a marriage.  Putting gas in their car.  Washing the dishes.  Making their lunch/coffee/tea.  Whatever you can do to make their life easier.  



What about you?  What lessons have you learned during your marriage?

(Also linking up with Blessed is She)


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Friday, February 13, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday - Birthdays and Houses


1. We have a teenager in the house! It's Heidi's 13th birthday today! So far, it's not so bad.  Everyone says teenagers are awful. But, my teenager is way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way easier than my toddler. Way easier. And Heidi is an exceptionally good teen.  She's smart and friendly and kind and helpful and responsible and honest.  Plus she's turning into a very good writer, a not bad chess player and a wonderful person. Happy Birthday Heidi.  We love you!
This is how she wanted her picture taken. 

Everytime I see this picture, I think that's me.  Until I realize it's not me.  It's a bit disoncerting that my daughter is the same size as me.  Plus she's wearing my hat...so I get confused.  Sometimes I like to wear her jacket. It's fun. 

2. Life has been a bit hectic lately.   We're moving forward with plans to start a solo law practice.  And part of that involves house searching.  Which I thought would be fun but it's actually a major headache.

3. Mostly because we have all these requirements.  While still trying to keep the price under a certain amount.  It's sorta like trying to find a magic beanstalk. 

4.  Actually we had found the "perfect house".  We were getting ready to put an offer on it.  Then we read something in the paperwork about checking for meth houses and registered sex offenders. Sure enough, there was a registered offender in the house right behind that one..and another one two houses down.

5.Yes, I realize that not all people on the registry are dangerous.  But when some one's offense is "Offense against Children" it makes one think twice and thrice about buying a house near them. 

6. Of course, nothing is ever simple. After that didn't work out, we decided to change strategies and look in a different locale. So we're back to trying to find the magic beanstalk.  Every time we think we find something that might work...it doesn't work.


7. To make the week even more crazy...Ben got a flat tire and apparently the lug nut and stud broke.  Whatever that means I don't know. But apparently the labor is expensive and we got some miracle mechanic who was able to fix it without taking the hub off.  Because apparently the 16 year old car that I got brand new when I graduated from college is completely rusted.  If they had taken the hub off, the entire thing would have fallen apart.  Or something like that. Or so the mechanic says. He seemed like an honest guy anyway.  He even showed me videos of his granddaughter on his smart phone while I was waiting.  Anyway...thankfully old Gabe is still trucking along a little longer.  We'll see how long he lasts.

Gabe in his younger years.

Linking up with Kelly for 7QTF.
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