Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

...people around here need to get in shape.

I know, cliche, right? I was going to be clever and say get back to pre-postpartum shape, but that would be pregnancy. As much as I love my children and would like to add more in the years to come, I'm not clamoring to get on that bandwagon immediately. (God, if you have other ideas, I am most sincerely yours. Love, Betsy)

We have friends, a married couple, who have set individual weight goals and are competing against each other for a (significant) monetary prize that they may spend however they choose. I'm quite tempted to join in the competitive revelry with (against?) Mark. It seems like a fun way to get us serious about our health.


...projects on the exterior of our house. 


...permanent move of a certain sister+family to the St Paul, MN vicinity. Please, God!


...weddings. At least.

Not my own. I am already happily married. ...although, I do have reoccurring dreams that Mark refuses to marry me despite our 3 children together, or that I'm about to marry someone else, or that we're not married and Mark is dating someone else. Strangely, I don't mind these dreams because they serve to remind me how blessed I am. *Happy sigh* 

What are your resolutions for 2012?

Friday, December 23, 2011

*Friday* Quick Takes - for real this time

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!

The Girls at 8 Months
Lydia (03/10):

 Annie (12/11):


I love to drive around and look at Christmas lights. Unfortunately, in our neighborhood there are a few beautiful displays and the remainder can be grouped into, "Look, Christmas threw up on their house" or, "What did they think it would look like?" If you're wondering what I mean, this site, uglychristmaslights doesn't hold a candle (led, incandescent or real flame) to what's going on around here.

I took out the trash today, a task usually done by my wonderful hubby. I was shocked to discover that the garbage from our room - a week worth's of Annie's diapers - was nearly more than I could lift. This was even more surprising considering the babe is still nursing 100% (floor crumbs and fuzz notwithstanding) so all that weight came from me. It might be slightly more satisfying to lug around 50 lbs of my body weight in a garbage bag if at least a few of those pounds weren't still hugging my hips. But that would require giving up BK shakes, er, calcium supplements.
For my husband: My Facebook post from yesterday...
The older two have been excommunicated from the first floor. (It was play in the basement or naptime; tough choice, eh?) Now, to get some work done. Willpower, which cupboard are you hiding in? Maybe I stashed you next to the chocolate...
I took all three kids with me to the eye doctor. Iain insisted on wearing his soldier uniform, down to the boots. Did I mention my new mantra: Pick your battles (no pun intended, really). We played "I Spy" while we waited for my eyes to dilate. It's harder than you might think to come up with things to "spy" that a 3.5 yr old can guess, ina 6x9 ft exam room. Regardless, Iain thought it was a great game and wanted to have a go at "spying" something for me to guess. He picked the computer. He was so proud of himself. I made a good effort at having a hard time finding it.
A friend of mine from MI has a dog that gets into the bathroom trash as an act of retaliation when she feels ignored. This friend stopped in for a brief but blissful visit about a month ago. Since then, any time Annie disappears I find her in the bathroom, pulling things out of the trash. This can not be mere coincidence. Nor could it be due to Annie's new-found ability to crawl. (Note to self: keep bathroom door closed.)
Muddy Buddies or Puppy Chow. What do you call it? Either way, I've been craving it all week. All this writing works up quite an appetite. Time to make sure these hips of mine don't shrink anytime soon.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quick Takes


Er, Tuesday. Moving right along...


Jesus was fully God and fully man, so obviously he had a fully-functioning digestive tract. Yep, guess where this is going...  Something tells me that Iain might be among the first to delve into this particular dimension of Christology, without a hint of disrespect. He just headed for the bathroom chanting, “we are going to the Potty of Christ.”


To cure the “I have nothing to wear” disease, I’m thinking of creating my own Look Book by taking pictures of each of my wearable outfits. I guess that reveals that I don’t have many outfits. I’m okay with that, especially since I’m in a balloon-up-’n-down family-growing season of life. But seriously, when I’m drawing a blank I could look through the pictures, pick something, throw it on and run out the door to whatever event I would’ve otherwise been 20 min late to. It would also enable my husband to give an opinion when I desperately plead “what should I wear?”


I love to sing. I was in choir from 5th-12th grade. I’m humble enough to know that I don’t have a stellar voice, and being twelve years out of practice has taken its toll. However, it wasn’t until Mark and I decided to do simple recordings of our favorite Advent songs that I fully realized that I have a vocal range of only about 8 notes, with an ideal range of maybe 4 notes. On top of that, my vocal control and ability to find and stay on pitch are all but gone. It was a depressing revelation, but it has also prompted me to sing more, hoping that I might retrain this warbley little voice of mine.


Iain loves being involved in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program at our parish. We were out of town for the orientation, so I’m pretty clueless about what goes on in the Atrium. I get little glimpses during the course of daily life: “Mom, that angel’s name is Gabriel!” or he’ll sing lines from a song he’s learned.  Today’s glimpse was prompted by the Christmas song “Mary, Did You Know” which I can almost guarantee they haven’t sung at Atrium. He stopped singing mid-verse to ask me, “What are the actions for this song?”
Glad to know that he’s internalized that every song has actions.


Speaking of “Mary Did You Know” here’s an awesome Star Wars spoof on it:


On a different note altogether, fellow parents, I have a question: What non-corporal forms of discipline do you find effective for getting-out-of-bed and don't-want-to-clean-up types of infractions when the "go to your room/time out" is not an option because a) they're supposed to be in their room or b) that would let them off the hook from cleaning up.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Exiting the Cult [of Christmas Cookies]

As some of you know, our family has to deal with all sorts of food allergies and intolerances.  Since this is the first Christmas that I'm trying to avoid flour, my desire to bake gobs of cookies has greatly diminished. Ok, that's a lie, I've never enjoyed baking cookies. At least now I have a better excuse than "my oven hates me and ruins every single cookie attempt, no matter the modifications to the recipe/temp/time/cookware..." 

Despite my long-standing disinterest in the Cult of Christmas Cookies, now that I'm left out of it, I suddenly find myself throwing pity-parties as I watch the baking revelry unfold in the blogosphere around me. What's a girl to do? Well, drown my sorrows in Peanut Butter Cups, for one. Enter the inspired Simcha Fisher. I happen to friends with her on Facebook - note my unabashed hint of pride, and today she posted a link for these. (As a loyal Wolverine, I can't actually type the word). I feel almost famous since my comment about them got "liked" by Simcha, herself!, I know, I need help. From Al Giddings to Simcha Fisher. I really know how to pick my heroes. I included her previous comment for your enjoyment; it's a glimpse into why I love her writing!

Ok, back to the point: there's no flour in these things and what's more, I can substitute Sunbutter and make them Iain-friendly! 

I also tried my hand at Candied Grapefruit Peels. I love grapefruit flavor, but these were too bitter. I think next time I'll just stick with the tried-n-true orange peels. ...dipped in chocolate, of course. A theme seems to be developing, here.

So, here's my question for the blog world: what are your favorite Christmas candy or otherwise flour-free Christmas goody recipes? Please post links/recipes in the comments.

(Note: I'm not so much looking for flour-substitute recipes here; that's a different yet-to-be-written post. Although if you have a to-die-for recipe, feel free to post it now.)

Thanks, in advance! ...and happy cookie baking if you're one of them.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chipped Plans

I awoke with grand plans to finally take the kids outside to play in the snow. Actually, I fell asleep with those plans and awoke to the sound of drip. drip. drip. It was a dreary, wet morning.

On days like this, or really every winter day after 3 pm, I'm so grateful for our overhead kitchen lights. Their warm, cheery glow is like photon-shower of caffeine (yes, I'm a dork.) Today, they motivated me to take "Before" pictures of the various cluttered areas that need addressing. It's Advent-nesting I guess; just in case Christ really does return, my linen closet will be ready. Well, that was the plan, anyway....

...until Lydia began her death-defying adventures. It began with a slip, thud, scream. I didn't witness it, but it was easy enough to deduce that she was running across her room, slipped and hit her mouth on Iain's bed. What took a little longer to realize was that 1/4 of her left front tooth was missing. Later, I was relieved to find the missing piece under the bed. I had been trying not to imagine what that sharp shard could do to her insides!

She's never been a big smiler; always our stoic child. I couldn't even get a picture of her newly-chipped tooth, so I'm not terribly concerned that she's going to be traumatized by her appearance. We're off to the dentist, tomorrow. Hopefully they'll give me some good news - not sure what that might be.

Fortunately, the tooth was the only visible wound of the day, but far from the only - or scariest - accident. Not 2 hours later, the poor girl plummeted, headfirst, over the back of the couch while 3 adults failed to grab her in time. Later, she was standing on a dining armchair, watching me make dinner when the chair suddenly tipped over to the left, she landed tangled in the armrest and a step-stool. I'm still not sure how she survived that one unharmed. *Thank you, Jesus!*

Perhaps I will buy her a pair of weighted boots for Christmas. How many accidents can she have if she can't move?

Suffice it to say, my linen closet is not yet ready for the Second Coming, or Christmas. Maybe next week.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Just Because...

Because it's now the middle of December, I thought I'd share a video from the summer...remember the summer? Those 3 warm months when the sun shines past 3:30 pm? Yes, someday it will return to Minnesota. In the meantime, enjoy the memories.

We took a little family trip to the playground:

In other news, Mark helped me pick out a beautiful wool winter hat. It's quite feminine and goes well with my dressier winter coat. On the long walk to Mass (ahem, across the street) I suddenly felt foolish wearing my beautiful winter hat, dress coat, pretty scarf, skirt and other women jumped out of their cars in their khakis and jeans. Now, I'm not at all against wearing pants, but I generally try to wear skirts to Mass.

In that moment of feeling silly, I made the decision that I would try to banish the silly feelings and instead try to adopt the humility and grace which should be the attire of my soul regardless of my appearance. I may be the sore-thumb dressed-up lady, but if I do it reverently and kindly, perhaps I can be a silent influence on others? (Except on those days, esp. Saturday Vigil Masses, when I literally run across the street, and fling my children and pants-clad-self in the pew as the Responsorial Psalm is beginning...really there is no excuse, I mean, we live across the street!)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It is Finished! or, Is it Finished?

Seeing the first snowflakes fall this morning, brought back memories of last winter's cold season made even colder by the lack of siding on our house.

If you haven't heard, while Mark and I were off on our 5th anniversary Hawaiian dream vacation, the final work on the exterior of our house was being done...or so we thought. Before I get to that, here's a look at how far we've come in these 2.5 years:

The house when we bought it, complete with two, yes two, front doors not 20 feet apart.
After rectifying the front doors issue (which enabled us to expand our kitchen)
You can just make out the new blue roof, replaced thanks to hail damage. Additionally, the cinderblock is painted to match our siding. This photo was taken by my mom and sent to us while we were in Hawaii. If you look closely, you'll notice that the trim around the garage is brown. Replacing this with white trim was the finishing piece that we were waiting on...(do you hear the ominous music??)
Instead of replacing the brown trim around the garage door, the crew thought they were replacing the siding on our house - not that I didn't think it needed it, but it wasn't certainly wasn't in our budget! We got a call from the contractor while we were in Hawaii, informing us that 3/4 of our home was siding-less and as a result of their (huge!) error, we would be receiving all new siding...for free! (cue angelic choirs!)

The downside to this was that it was by now too cold to install siding - thank you MN winter - and we spent the coldest months of the year learning exactly how much protection/insulation siding provides. ...and I'm sure baffling our neighbors!

In the end, we were beyond thrilled with the final result. But this also required a repainting of the cinderblock, etc.
Repainting had to wait on the completion of the rear exterior stucco insulating our walkout basement...that's another long story. But, low and behold, just before winter, we finally have a completed exterior. For now. (Cue ominous music battled by angelic choirs. With us, you just never know what's going to happen next!)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lawn Vacuuming

Our yard is 1/3 of an acre, with lots of trees. Last year I raked leaves, I mower-mulched leaves, I blew leaves, I carted leaves with the wheelbarrow, and finally I let piles of leaves kill grass when I gave up.

I was determined that this year was going to be different; this year I was going to do nothing! I just didn't have it in me to fight the never-ending leaf battle. I didn't know what would happen to our lawn, or how I might regret it in the Spring, but this year's plan was one word: forfeit.

Enter the Holy Spirit with His divine inspiration.

The parish across the street has a lawn service. When their gigantic tree dropped its leaves (90% of which landed in our front yard) the lawn service drove a giant ride-on leaf vacuum machine across the grass and sucked up that measly 10%. I looked on in envy and thought bitter thoughts as I gazed at the remaining 90% littering my front lawn. (Er, that part wasn't the divine inspiration, in case you were confused).

I tucked that image of the vacuum machine away in the back of my brain, pulling it forward whenever I glanced out the window at the thick carpet of leaves accruing. Despite my "do nothing" stance, I was feeling pulled between certainty of the futility of managing those leaves and guilt regarding my obvious failure as a responsible home owner.

Yesterday, (this is the H.S. part) it dawned on me that we have a bag that attaches to our lawn mower. Could I create my very own lawn vacuum simply by attaching the bag to the mower? This seemed too easy. If I've lived 30 years and not heard of this, it must not be a feasible option. I googled it. I found a website that sells oversize bags to attach to your lawn mower in order to vacuum leaves. That seemed promising. Then I Facebooked it. Apparently it has been done... multiple people! Have I been living in a cave, why have I not heard of this?!

So, last night after Mark headed off to class, I put our lawn mower to the test. I finished the front yard in about 45 minutes. I had to empty the bag pretty frequently, but compared to what I've done in the past, it was a piece of cake. Today was the true test: the backyard (and the huge Maple hasn't dropped it's leaves yet!)

After pass #1. This picture gives a better view of the quantity of leaves:
Halfway done!
Two and half hours after I began. Ta Da! (hours later, I'm still in awe)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I inadvertently opened Pandora's Box :(

The *problem* with the human mind is that is constantly pressing on to greater knowledge and a deeper grasp of truth...well, at least mine does on occasion. If this doesn't sound like a problem to you, than you're probably not currently wrestling with something of which you'd prefer to have remained ignorant.

Because I know that I do not possess one of the great minds of humanity (mine is pleasantly average) I've decided that I must not suffer this alone, so I'm inviting you all to join me in my misery. If you'd prefer to not join in the mental wrestling, I urge you to stop reading right now.

A little background: I've known for the greater part of my life that I'm particularly sensitive to issues regarding/related to the inherent dignity of human life. I can only be grateful for and proud of my Catholic faith, as greater minds than mine have spent centuries on many of these issues and I rest in the knowledge that I need not reinvent the wheel.

Unfortunately, an issue that I assumed was resolved, not only in the medical world but also in the Church, came to my attention and I now know that while there is legal resolution, there is no true consensus among medical or religious voices. As we know well, what is legal is not always what is moral (abortion being a case in point). So where does this leave me? I'm stuck needing to make the most-morally-correct decision that I can based on the little knowledge that I have.

Having said all that, I'm sure you'd like to get to the point already, so here it is, and I'll lay it out for you:


I. Is "brain death" (also known as irreversible coma without respiration) true death?

A. What is death?:
i. irreversible loss of mental faculties? (present in "brain death")
ii. loss of ability to breathe independently? (present in "brain death")
iii. loss of bodily ability to grow and heal? (not present in "brain death" - ie, body still grows, heals, reaches puberty, gestates fetuses, etc. given artificial respiration)
iv. some or all of the above - how many of the above, and which one(s)?

II. Assuming for the moment that brain death is death:

A. How is brain death definitively determined?
i. While there are certainly many tests that must be done to determine "brain death," a close look at actual practice makes me shudder. It appears that the tests are not always performed, performed correctly, and even, in the case of the apnea test, may cause brain death.
ii. It is well-documented that some patients have been diagnosed as brain-dead only to fully recover within days, or to be found at autopsy following organ harvesting (rarely done) to indeed NOT show signs of brain death, but rather brain damage to one extent or another (seen as brain necrosis in the hemispheres with intact brain stem, etc.)

B. What role do spinal reflexes play in the brain dead patient?
i. Organ donors are given muscle-relaxants to prevent movement during harvesting (incidentally, they are not given general anesthesia/pain meds)
ii. There is a spinal reflex to painful stimuli that causes heart rate and blood pressure to rise - this occurs during organ harvesting.

III. Where does this leave me?

A. If brain death is true death:
i. There MUST be a clear, definitive way to determine this which must be correctly and thoroughly assessed 100% of the time.
ii. Since this does not seem to be the case, I can not be ok with organ harvesting as there appears to be a risk of misdiagnosis and/or inadvertently further maiming the patient by the performance of at least one of the tests (apnea test).

B. If brain death is not true death:
i. I hope it goes without saying that mostly-dead or almost-dead is NOT dead and therefore can never justify the taking of organs resulting in the complete death of a person.

IV. Ok, so what do I suggest is done with the brain dead (irreversible coma without respiration) patient?

A. Do we waste these precious organs?
i. YES. As already stated, if there is no 100% guaranteed way to be sure that a person is in fact dead, you must err on the side of life.

B. But they're going to die as soon as you turn off the respirator.
i. YES. But we all must acknowledge that there is an infinite difference between allowing nature to take it's course (via cessation of extreme life-support), and taking someone's organs, in spite of the fact that the end result is exactly the same: death.

C. So, assuming it's been x-amount of time since life-support is removed, the patient is not breathing and there is no heart beat...
i. It depends entirely on the "x" amount. I'm not qualified to define "x" but I would think at least 15 min or so would be required before all bodily systems have been dead enough to be truly irreversibly dead (as opposed to the 2 min rule for non-heart- beating-donors where they wait for the heart to stop and then put the body on life- support in order to obtain organs - this is done in non-brain-dead patients...don't even get me started!)

D. Am I so callous as to not care about the people who need organs to live?
i. I absolutely care. That's why I'm so frustrated that I find myself here. But I can not and will not ever justify taking a life to save a life, and it appears that we don't have an accurate enough and dependable enough system to declare true death prior to organ harvest.
ii. What if it was me or a loved one that needed an organ to survive?
a. See above. I just pray that science gets going real fast on adult-stem-cell organ generation. That would be awesome.
iii. What about people who've had loved ones become organ donors?
a. I will absolutely assume the best - that they were well and truly dead beyond any shadow of doubt or error, that their family made a fully informed and extremely loving, generous decision in allowing their deceased loved-one to contribute to the well-being and life of others.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Getting to Know You/ Quick Takes

1. This title is taken from song in "The King and I." It is the theme song for my relationship with my new MacBook Pro.

2. One of the reasons I'm excited about my new laptop is the ease with which I can post blog entries with pictures. While I could on the other laptop I was using, it was more complicated and therefore not a justifiable use of my time (according to myself).

3. Here, for your enjoyment are some of my favorites from the past few years, in ridiculously random order

Our newly landscaped/roofed/sided/painted house:
Hawaii. Beautiful, isn't it? Yes, we were there and Mark took that picture. :)
Our favorite Lydia-bear (as Mark has nicknamed her)
The younger versions of the older two, gosh it goes by fast!

The rainbow (double, actually, but not really visible in this picture) that appeared the day Marianne was baptized.
Marianne ("bee-bee Annn-eee" in Lydia-speak)
Calvin (as in ...and Hobbes) and Suzy? Dumb and Dumber? Nope, just my cheesy, wonderful children getting ready to play tennis. :)
4. My postpartum recovery is directly proportional to the re-expansion of my creativity. I become creatively-inept while pregnant; any and all creative energy is, from the moment of conception, funneled into nesting. It is refreshing to actually feel part of my brain awake from hibernation, but perhaps, especially for Mark, somewhat terrifying ("What WILL she come up with next?!) In the 2.5 months since Marianne was born, I have: dreamt up elaborate plans for a 2nd-floor deck (I think that idea has been officially laid to rest), reseeded the lawn, landscaped around the house, priced patio pavers for a patio (and perhaps driveway at some point?) and returned to daydreaming about my business venture "The Batter Bistro."

5. I guess when I complain about not being creative, what I'm actually whining about is that I'm not materially crafty. If I really think about it though, my creativity often leads to a) quality time with Mark as we do our house/yard projects together, and b) increased equity. Can't complain! :)

6. Mark came home for lunch today, as he does semi-frequently. I was commenting on how wonderful it was to see him mid-day and he responded that we really have a very high quality of life. I said "Yep, it feels like we live on the doorstep of Heaven." Praise the Lord, life is good!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The name story (as promised)

When I was roughly 17 weeks along in my pregnancy with Marianne, and before we knew if we were having a boy or girl, Mark and I flew across the world and celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary in Hawaii.

We had already decided on a boy's name, but were having a difficult (to put it mildly) time agreeing on a girl's name that we both liked. We decided prior to leaving on our trip, that this task would be one of our vacation to-dos. Mark even packed two baby name books.

After putting it off for nearly the first of our 2 weeks away, Mark brought it up one evening as we were eating Haagen Daz, sitting on the beach, watching the waves roll in. I agreed that we could begin the conversation, thinking that this would be just as fruitless as the last times we'd attempted the same discussion.

So, we sat there in silence and then Mark said, "What about Marianne?"
And I thought about it for a minute and said "I really like that!"
And Mark said "What about Grace for a middle name?"
And I thought about that and said "I think that's beautiful!"
"Marianne Grace"

And we talked about all the reasons we thought it was a beautiful name:
- It's clearly Marian which was something that Mark had particularly wanted but I wasn't sold on "Mary" as a name.
- Ann is my middle name, Mark's mother's middle name, and Mary's mother's name
- Grace seems an obvious and beautiful choice to accompany a Marian first name
- It sounds beautiful and classic

So, we decided that when we returned to our hotel room, we would "google" it and see if there were any St Marianne's, and make sure there weren't any scandalous "Marianne Archibalds" or similar.

What we discovered when doing our search surprised and delighted us! Here we were in Hawaii, having felt quite inspired by this name that seemed to hit us out of the blue, and our internet search revealed that there is indeed a Blessed Marianne. She just so happened to be a Religious sister who spent the later part of her life serving the leper colony on Molokai, Hawaii, with Fr. Damien.

I turned to Mark and said, "I think we're having a girl!"

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Marianne Grace's Birth Story

nNote: this post has taken a week to write. Marianne is now 2 weeks old and I'm doing wonderfully after having some issues with my recovery, last week.

I'm not feeling so hot at the moment, so I thought I'd take this time to write down Marianne's birth story. It's hard to believe she's already a week old...and that means these pictures are already out of date. Those super-cheeks are looking less Winston Churchill-esque and more feminine.
For those of you who aren't interested in the looooong story, as I'm sure this will turn out to be, here's the summary:
9:45 pm - water breaks while walking around Target
12:07 am - arrive at the hospital
12:43 am - Marianne is born
Now for the guts and glory version:

I'm sure you all know the bedrest and prodromal labor bits, so moving right along, I found myself at 39w3d and still pregnant. It happened to be Good Friday. I hadn't slept particularly well the night before, complete with tears at 3 am, the prodromal contractions having ceased yet again.

I talked to my mom on the phone that morning, and she shared a sense that she'd had. It went something like this:
- God wanted to allow us to participate in choosing the timing of our daughter's birth.
- Mark could pray over the baby and I to that end.
My completely human response was: Awesome!...if that's really from God...and gosh prodromal labor would've been more mentally manageable if I'd had that word weeks ago! (But, knowing me, I would've said, "great! 37 weeks sounds like a nice baby!" And the Lord needed to protect this beautiful daughter of ours from her selfish and impatient mother!)

Having something between a Zechariah moment and a Mary moment (ie, I wasn't struck dumb from doubt, but I wasn't convinced that this was the Lord) I figured it certainly wasn't going to hurt to go ahead and pray. So, after we put the kids down for a nap, as I prepped the bathroom to give Mark a haircut, we discussed our baby's birth as though we could actually plan it out. Mark then prayed over me, offering all this to the Lord, if it be according to His will. So, here's what we (I) requested:
- Being Good Friday, I considered what a gift it would be to be in REAL labor that day.
- I wanted to make it to the 7 pm Good Friday service.
- I wanted to be at the point of going to hospital sometime after the kids were in bed (ie, have their emotional and physical needs of the day met, and not have them see me in hard labor)
- Have the baby some time on Holy Saturday (again, to over-theologicalize...yes, I made that word up...I had in mind Jesus freeing the captives/opening the gates of Hell)
So, that is what we prayed for.

And throughout the day I had a small handful of unremarkable contractions, just like any other uneventful day.

Just as we were leaving for the Good Friday service, I happened to discover the tiniest hint of bloody show. I tried to remain calm, as I knew I was 3 cm and this wasn't a "sign" of anything more than what I already knew...but I called my mom anyway, because hey, it was fun to see something. And I told her that perhaps I would have this baby sometime in the next week. ;)

The brief drive to the service was accompanied by a couple of slightly more remarkable contractions. As soon as we arrived, my uterus went silent. Nothing during the service. Nothing during the drive home, and perhaps a couple unremarkable ones as we put the kids to bed.

Earlier in the day, putting some faith in the sense Mom had, we asked Kate if she wouldn't mind sticking around the house so we could walk around Target, after the kids were in bed. She agreed (she wanted to meet this baby almost as much as me!) However, by the time the kiddos were in bed, it seemed pointless. I almost called it off, as I knew it would get my hopes up and I was so weary of the mental game...but again, that tiny seed of faith said "go." So we went - it was 9 pm.

We had a small list of items we wanted to pick up at Target, but mostly we walked up and down every aisle, trying to keep me in constant motion. True to prodromal form, my contractions did pick up due to the walking. They were also a bit stronger - a good pain, akin to the massage of a knot - and it felt wonderful to walkwalkwalk through them.

While there, we ran into my friend P who had sat with us at the service and knew our plan for the evening. She was doing last minute Easter shopping and it was a joy to see her, and have a laugh about trying to get things going. Not five minutes later, as I was power-walking through a nice long contraction, I felt a familiar "pop" as my water broke!!! Mark was a few aisles over, and I called out his name while trying not to increase the flooding (thank you GAP jeans for being so absorbent, there was no "clean-up in the kitchen goods aisle" necessary!) We made a bee-line for the door, stopping briefly to share the news with P, while trying to not look conspicuous - wet pants or a coat wrapped around my bum, which would draw more attention? It was 9:45 pm.

On our way home, we called my mom to let her know that our baby was going to be born sometime in the next 24 hours. Fortunately (or so we thought) we knew we could relax at home for a bit since I had no obvious risk factors (engaged head = little risk of cord prolapse; group B negative = no need for antibiotics). We figured we'd finish packing our bags, watch an episode or two of Prison Break, go to bed...etc.

When my water broke my contractions were about 6-7 minutes apart. By the time I finished packing my bag, they were strong enough that I had to pause and concentrate through them. 10:30 pm(ish) I was waiting for Mark to finish packing and plopped down on my large exercise (aka birthing) ball. I was amazed how much more manageable the contractions felt! By this time they were about 5 min apart. I realized that I was disappointed that I didn't feel like eating any of my yummy labor snacks; I wasn't quite nauseous, but felt like I was heading in that direction. Around this time, Mark and I had the "lets try to do this naturally" talk. I felt up for the challenge, and we agreed that this would be our plan, unless it became obvious to do otherwise.

We settled on the couch to watch an episode of Prison Break, and 20 min later, I gave up trying - I don't think I paid attention for more than the first 5 min. My contractions were about 4 min apart. I had to change positions. I'd heard the toilet is a good option for labor, but realized as soon as I got there that I just wanted to lie in bed.

Once in bed, I attempted to get into the famous Bradley relaxation/sleep pose, but it was too painful to put my legs together. Contractions were now 2-3 min apart. This was when I started saying "I can't do this!" - mostly because I felt stuck in an uncomfortable position without a better option while excruciating contractions were flying at me. Thankfully, Mark had the good sense to realize that we had to get to the hospital now. I was preoccupied with thinking "well, these contractions sure are close to together and horrifically painful, but I don't think they're lasting for a whole minute and they haven't been this close for an hour, yet." With Mark insisting, I managed to crawl to a chair and slump over the seat while Mark put my shoes on. This was the most comfortable I'd been for awhile and I didn't want to move. One of the only things I clearly remember Mark saying is "you can't wait for this contraction to be completely over or you won't make it to the car in time for the next one!" This gave me the motivation I needed.

Thankfully, we're just a short drive from the hospital and I found the van surprisingly comfortable. It was midnight.

As soon as my nurse finished her "put on the gown..." routine and left, I knelt on the floor and leaned on the bed, like I had on the chair in our room. Almost instantly, I was grateful for Iain's potty-chair insert that we had brought with us, as had a contraction and threw up. I figured that was probably a good sign - with Iain I started heaving around 7 cm, and I was hoping to be at least 6 cm at this point. The nurse came back and started in with the "do you want an epidural?" talk and Mark interrupted with "we'd like to know how far along she is before we discuss that." (I love him!) so she checked me: 8 cm!!! I knew I could still have a long haul in front of me, but chances were decent that this was going to be over soon. With our nurse's encouragement, and knowing that an epidural was likely useless at this point, we forged ahead with our natural birth. Mark and the nurse were an excellent team, coaching me through each excruciating contraction as I continued to yell "I can't do this" - knowing full well that I didn't have a choice - for the duration of labor. It was 12:35 am.

I pushed. I didn't really mean to, but as soon as I did I realized that I had to! The nurse said "I thought this was coming soon, go ahead if you need to." Which confused me because I thought I was supposed to be checked before I pushed to make sure I was 10 cm. But I didn't care, I just had to push. But then she told me to breathe through the next one, and I thought that was probably going to kill me. I tried. I couldn't. I heard another nurse say that the hospital doctor was on his way and he was great. Just then, my doctor walked in the door. Hurray! I could push freely and I did. I just pushed and pushed. I couldn't tell one contraction from the next; I don't think they stopped, they just peaked and subsided a tad and peaked again. So I just kept pushing. 12:43 am Marianne Grace Archibald was born! All 9 lbs 14.4 oz of her.

My immediate recovery was a bit rocky, and after a natural birth I needed an IV, pitocin and cytotec to get the bleeding under control. I wasn't allowed to get up out of bed or be moved to my recovery room until 4 am. Marianne, being so large, had trouble regulating her blood sugar, but aside from my bleeding and her glucose levels, we were both doing great. We were discharged on Easter Sunday!

Up next (I hope): Marianne's name story.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Good, The Bad, The Pregnant

The Good:

- Baby is officially full-term! (38 weeks)
- Spring has finally arrived: green grass, flowers, 60-70 degrees, sunshine!
- My Mom close by and willing to rescue me when I need rescuing!
- An evening walk with the love of my life - exactly what I needed to boost my spirits!

The Bad:

- Snow is predicted for the weekend
- Living life day-to-day, unable/unwilling to make plans. (Really, I should just make plans; it would give me something controllable to look forward to!)

The Pregnant:

- Prodromal labor has been joined by nature's enema/nausea
- All this can occur hours to weeks before labor actually begins
- At my 38 wk appt today, I was told "no change" from 2 weeks ago; if anything, baby has moved up a bit (0 station).
- Waking up from a nap this afternoon, about to lose my cookies, I turned into a sobbing mess. All this waiting, wondering and "is this it-ing?" is taking its toll on me.
- I have diagnosed myself with Gestationally-induced Insanity r/t taunting labor symptoms. I've been playing this "when will she arrive?" game for 11 weeks. Now that we're in the safe-zone, I'm beyond ready to get on with it! Meanwhile, my body keeps me guessing as it throws every clue in the book (well, almost) in my direction, promising "SOON!" But, as any pregnant and eager mom knows, each day of this stage is an eternity, and I could have up to 3 more weeks of this. Happy Lent.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Uneventful events of life

This is a baby #3 update. Just giving you fair warning.

I am 35 weeks and 5 days today, putting me 2 days past the day that Iain was born. Hurray! I just read (and enjoyed) a very accurate blog post by my friend Karen on The Point at which pregnant women just want the baby to be here already.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Best Granola EVER

Note: italicized words "link" and "coconut granola" are links that may or may not appear to be links.

We get 5 lbs of oatmeal per month from the government food fairy and, as much as I like a warm bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, it's a lot to go through in a month. I know there are a multitude of ways to use oatmeal but my favorite tends to be sweet rounds of tastiness commonly called cookies (or biscuits for my foreign readers.) Unfortunately for me, and most of the rest of the world, this is not the best way to consume 5 lbs of oatmeal.

On to a new idea: Granola.

I've known a number of people that have made granola themselves, but my limited experience with the homemade variety had me convinced it wasn't worth the hassle. ...Until one day when I remembered the jar of coconut oil that my sister gave me for Christmas. Yes, coconut oil. Now, before I continue and before you start praying for my arteries, check out this link (not comprehensive, but makes my point...and if you still have doubts, google it yourself or talk to my sister Heidi who will tell you everything you (n)ever wanted to know about its benefit. Just kidding Heidi, I'm so glad you introduced us to coconut oil!)

My recipe was an adaptation of this Coconut Granola recipe. Being the first time I made it, I mostly followed the directions, and next time I will change a few things (mainly the sugar content which doesn't need to be as high as it is, though it's pretty awesomely tasty!)

I'll let you follow the recipe yourself, but in case you're interested, here are the modifications I made this time around:

- No oat bran (didn't have any)
- sweetened flaked coconut and used a bit more than a cup (that's what we happened to have)
- no almonds (don't know if Iain can eat them)
- light coconut milk (happened to be leftover from a Thai dinner a few nights before)
- all coconut oil instead of splitting it w/ veggie oil (Iain's allergic to soy)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar instead of maltose syrup

I also toasted the plain oats/coconut at 350 only until they were just a light honey color - about 10 min, stirring 1/2-way through; if you over-toast them they get very bitter. Also, because coconut oil has a low smoking temp (350) I didn't want to toast the final product for very long - 15 min stirring every 5 min when coated with the syrup. It comes out of the oven feeling soft and chewy, but crisps up beautifully when cooled (make sure to stir it once or twice when cooling so you don't find yourself with a huge rectangular granola brick).

The result: YUM. Yum. yum! Everyone in the house is a fan!

Modifications I would make in the future?

- unsweetened coconut flakes (sweetened is really delicious, but unnecessary)
- try cutting honey/brn sugar down to 3/4 cup total and then maybe 1/2 cup total if possible

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Gift of Waiting

I realized, after I chose this title, that it sounds like I'm writing a piece for an abstinence campaign. Not so much, so you can all breathe a sigh of relief. ;)

I really don't like waiting, so saying that it is a "gift" is really just my way of trying to acknowledge that God has a bigger/better plan that I can't see and for the moment it involves waiting...

...5-7 more weeks to meet my baby
...5-7 more weeks of this awful preterm labor diet*
...4 more weeks of 2x weekly shots in my bum
...4-ish more weeks of modified bedrest
...for Spring to arrive
...for Easter

*My doctor is doing an independent study of sorts with me and her other preterm labor patients, to see if going Hurdite...

3 servings of 1/2 cup legumes
3 glasses of psylium husk nastiness (I put it in very diluted cran. juice - yes, I know that's sugar)
5-7 serving veggies
No refined carbs, alcohol (duh), sugar, caffeine

...can reduce irritation/inflammation that may result in preterm labor. I really do feel quite a bit better, but it's a rather Lenten feat to try to eat/drink all that nastiness.
Note: I quickly became very lax about the whole thing, eating pasta/pizza/fruits when those are my meal options. But I did successfully delete caffeine and almost always have beans for lunch/snack and am amazed how much better I feel, despite being 3rd trimester tired; guess who's taking more naps these days? (Also probably why I'm feeling better).

Back to waiting... So I'm waiting, and I know that 5-7 weeks, which is really the longest I'm going to have to wait for any of the things listed above, is a ridiculously short amount of time and I should just get over it and settle in for a bit more gestating/shots/lenten diets/winter.

But the real challenge is feeling like a complete and utter failure as a mother right now and knowing that my children have to put up with this for another 5-7 weeks. Here's the equation:

Up and moving = I feel great, want to "nest" and play with kids...
Sitting/resting = immediate disappearance of all of the above replaced by extreme exhaustion and complete mental vacuity re how to occupy their time.

...and guess which one I'm supposed to be doing for the majority of each day? Yep.

So I either rest on the couch while the kids bounce on me and each other, or I hand them off to my saintly sister and am out like a light for nearly 3 hours (this is more what's been happening to the last week or so). I wake up feeling so much better, but it also means I'm sleeping through 1/2 my children's waking hours. I just don't feel like a great parent, for some reason.

So, I wait for this to be over, and I wish that I could just be full-term already. And I wonder what on earth God is trying to teach me during this season...

- That's it's ok to a sleeping bum and a 1/2-involved parent?
- That I should ignore my doctor and just keep moving so I can parent?
- That I need to just accept that I don't have the vaguest idea/energy re. how to make Iain's and Lydia's days productive (I don't really think God wants my children watching movies all day long, do you?)

So, how is this a gift, and what am I supposed to be learning?
How do I wait well and what are my children supposed to be doing while I wait?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Dream is Alive

Note: I wanted to include pictures of my children and our new exterior, but the only ones available to me are on Mark's facebook page which I used to be able to copy here, until Facebook changed them to a non-jpg format. So, I really do apologize for no pictures...but check out Mark's facebook page if you haven't in the last month or so. On to the post...

This seems an appropriate title for my blog post considering that the shuttle Discovery was retired yesterday. From one dream to the next and I have a MUCH grander to one to replace it. Who really cares about the vast expanse of boring old space, anyway? (Honestly, I think space is pretty amazing!)

My dream? If you recall from a few posts ago, I would really love to have a sweet cherry tree in our yard. This dream was squashed due to our harsh Minnesota winters and late arrival of Spring. Enter the Mesabi Cherry tree. It produces a semi-sweet/sour cherry somewhere between the Bing and typical sour cherries. If this is the closest I can get, I'll take it! I also decided, prior to this discovery, that even sour cherries, while nearly inedible when fresh, would be tasty treats if dried and covered with chocolate. The Mesabi however is the best of both worlds: edible when fresh or dried (or pied/tarted/jammed/sauced...). Did I mention it's a natural dwarf? It grows to about 10-12 feet with the bottom branches a mere 2 feet off the ground, making for easy picking!

I also decided that Tulameen raspberries, while not promised to thrive in our climate, were worth the risk at a mere $3 per bush. So I'm out about $10 or I'm in raspberry heaven. The Tulameen produces the giant sweet raspberries you often see for $1/ounce in the store.

Kate also asked about blueberries. I was under the uneducated impression that homegrown blueberries were basically small, tart and seedy. A simple internet search proved me wrong and introduced me to the beautiful Chandler Blueberry. These are HUGE and supposed to be sweet, juicy and all around delicious. Again, I'm not overly sure that they'll thrive here, but they're supposed to be ok up to zone 4 (which is us) and I'm willing to risk it. I'd probably have to winterize my blueberry and raspberry plants, but the hassle required is well worth it when you consider quantity, availability and cost compared to the store!

Guess who is a fruit farmer at heart? :)

Mom did mention that I should be sure to note the pH of the soil, as different plants require different soils. There's always one more thing to consider, isn't there?

And praise God it won't be spring for at least another month because I can't garden very well from the confines of modified bedrest! (Let's not talk about the difficulties of gardening with a 3 yr old, a 20 m. old, a newborn and a postpartum mom.)

By the way, re the coffee maker, thank you! to all who contributed your comments; it was very helpful. We're leaning towards a glass French Press for the cost, simplicity and excellent coffee (and we already own a grinder, so no prob there).

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Calling All Coffee Snobs!

Mark and I are increasingly snobby about our coffee. Our first coffee maker got us through our first 5 years of marriage. The hot plate began disintegrating not long after we got it and try as we might to ignore it, we increasingly found ourselves enduring pots of coffee that were either warm or burned; there was no happy hot medium.

Not long ago, we decided that it was time for a new coffee maker. Having had success in the past with small appliances from Goodwill, off we went in search of some wealthy person's castoff coffee maker. We thought we'd struck gold when we found a beautiful black and stainless model by GE. Unfortunately, it proved to be terribly inconsistent in the brewing department and the all-too-frequent "error" message provided us with a lukewarm pot of weak coffee.

Having put up with this coffee maker for far too long already, I began the hunt for the perfect coffee maker that produces a consistently strong, hot pot of coffee. I think I've narrowed it down to these two similarly priced options. (The pictures are from

Option A: Thermal Carafe Drip Coffee Maker.
This one is obviously made by Cuisinart, but this is more a picture of the genre rather than the specific thermal carafe drip maker that I might want.

- No hot plate means no burned coffee; thermal carafe keeps coffee drinkable and hot.

- Depending on the make, it could still give us inconsistently brewed coffee. We like our coffee strong and a weak cup of coffee made with lot of coffee grounds is both disappointing and frustrating.
- Large size. Our old coffee maker was a nice countertop size while our "new" Goodwill one is quite large. It would be nice to have one that is more of a sedan than an SUV of the coffee maker world.

Option B: Delonghi Electric Moka Pot (it has a longer official title)This is the specific model of electric moka pot that I think I'd like.

- Moka pots are known for making strong coffee.
- This model makes 3 or 6 (espresso size) cups, so you don't have to waste grounds to make just enough for yourself (as you would with other non-adjustable moka pots).
- Keep-warm function keeps brewed coffee warm for 20 minutes.
- Presumably it's smaller than the "SUV" above.

- Doesn't make large pots of coffee for guests, etc.
- I don't have any personal experience with this type of moka pot, only the stovetop variety.
- It seems like it could be a conversation-starter piece that makes you look like a hopeless snob as you describe the various faults of all other coffee makers. (Yes, I already mentioned that we are coffee snobs, but we try not to shove it other people's faces too much...instant coffee drinkers aside, Kevin.) ;)

So, fellow coffee lovers of the world, which one would you recommend? I'd really like your input.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Love of My Life

One day, Mark called and Kate answered the phone. She announced to me that "the love of your life is on the phone." I took the phone and said, "Jesus?!"

Ok, I thought it was funny (Mark was a little confused, initially).

Five years down the road from our beautiful and very blessed wedding day, I can only say that marriage is infinitely better than I had hoped. Not just because it's great to have my best friend around all the time, or the knowledge that he's committed to loving me for our whole lives, but because fundamentally, he refines and purifies me (and hopefully I him) as we strive to live love in all its selfless glory. That is the greatest joy of my vocation. To grow together with Mark in holiness and therefore in love. To seek together to weed out the rotten roots of sin so that we can be fully who we were created to be without the constraints of selfishness and sinfulness.

Sounds like a nice ideal, doesn't it? And that's what it is; it's not reality yet. But the more we strive for that ideal, the further we progress. And as we progress in the growth of selfless love, the more I discover that "I love you more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow." It's so true! That's why, when I hear the warnings about the fleetingness of feeling "in love," I can joyfully smile, knowing that the love that I experience is so much better, so much deeper, so much purer than what fades with time because it points us to eternity. How truly amazing...and to think, this is just a foretaste of Heaven! Wow!

I tried to express some of this in my Valentine's Day card for Mark. I said something along the lines of "the way you love me teaches me about the love that the Father has for me and each one of us." Yes, he was touched by that, but he rightly pointed out that what we have, and in particular this love, is a gift for which we can thank our parents, our first teachers and mentors in the faith. So, THANK YOU! It is your example of Christian life and marriage that protected and nurtured us and allowed us to be free from so many of the wounds that riddle society, eroding and destroying the vision for real love (and know to whom to look for healing for the wounds and weaknesses that we do have).

If it weren't for Mark leading by example, I don't know that I would be able to say any of this. I am so blessed by all that he is. He calls me to higher ground, to be a better more selfless person, to love more fully and embrace the crosses of our chosen vocation in order to live the joy set before us. Thank you Jesus for giving me this man to be my husband! May I truly be the wife to him that you (and he) desire me to be. ...and may our children be so blessed, and more, in their vocations!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dear Baby

I'm watching you wiggle around in my tummy. I'm a hopeless navel-gazer this time around. Your brother and sister weren't this active and it's such a treat to watch you move.

When I was pregnant with your brother, I felt led to pray that he would be filled with joy. His first word was "happy" and now, at age 3, he inquires about whether I'm happy multiple times a day. "Mommy, are you happy and tired? Mommy, are you happy and not tired? Mommy, are you not sad? Mommy, Lydia is happy. Mommy, I'm a happy boy!"

When I was pregnant with your sister, I felt led to pray that she would be filled with wisdom. At 18 months, our wise little monkey gives us much joy (and grief) with her mischievous streak and her understanding of her little world. Sometimes, as I watch her, I wonder if praying for wisdom was a good idea; but true wisdom is a precious gift, and I trust the mischievous streak will mellow as the seed of wisdom grows in her heart.

Being pregnant with you, I feel called to pray that you will be filled with faith. What a gift to have. I think this is a gift that I have been given and the older I get, the greater becomes my appreciation for it. Faith is an anchor in stormy seas and the wind in your sails on calm seas. I pray that you truly have "faith to move mountains."

A joy-filled brother, a wise sister and faith-filled soul for you my dear baby. What blessings the Lord has given my children. And how blessed I am to be your mother. I love you!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Leisure Activity #1

To add a little interest to this post, I've (finally) entered the world of public domain pictures. Hurray for me, welcome to the 1990s!

Along with the thaw last week came the Spring Fever bug. All it took was a glimpse of grass and I was infected. Bedrest, a laptop and wi-fi are a dangerous and wonderful combination and I quickly became immersed in sifting through landscaping ideas for our front and side yards.
**Since then, we've had a 12"+ blizzard.**

Our front yard has 2 small gardens containing an odd assortment of perennial plants: tulips, small irises and lilies, a climbing rose and clematis, and a tall spindly flowering-something to cap off the whole mess. While its better than nothing, it really is a mess and doesn't make a lot of sense.

So, because I know you're all dying to know what I have in mind, here goes:

2 Hydrangea plants (bushes?) on the east side of the house, spaced between our 3 basement windows.

3-5 Raspberry bushes on the west side of the house. I'm not sure how many to plant. Suggestions?

2 Peony plants in our front under-the-living-room-picture-window garden.
And a sweet cherry tree in our front yard. Except that we live in plant zone 4 and sweet cherry trees basically die in zone 4. So I'm slowly letting go of my life-long dream of having a sweet cherry tree in my yard. ...and trying not to cry about it. Perhaps I'll drown my sorrows in raspberries.

If anyone has experience with raspberry bushes, I have a question, taking into consideration that a) Our house is a south-facing ranch/rambler, b) I'm hoping to plant the raspberries next to the house running the length of the west side. Will they get enough sunlight planted there?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Addendum to my last post, and praying for a fence

First of all, how exciting that I have a following 200% higher than I supposed. ;) Just teasing, but really, thank you for your comments, they helped me clarify a few things in my own head:

- Leisure time is important and, as Mark pointed out last night, he doesn't feel bad about leisure time. (Yes dear, I know that, thank you.) But, more importantly, he commented that perhaps the difficulty is that I live, work and leisure (can that be a verb?) in the same location and that may be what's causing the difficulty in the mental separation. Sounds about doesn't offer much in the way of a solution, but knowing where this is coming from seems a good start.

- I also wanted to clarify that I am extremely blessed by the outpouring of help with the kids, meals, etc. that friends and family around here are providing. The burden of bedrest is made so much lighter because of that help. As I told Mark, "the things I have to complain about aren't worth complaining about." So, please forgive my ungrateful tone in my last post. I think I was mostly grumbling about the fact that bedrest provides the "perfect" opportunity to catch up on all the parts of life that I dislike the most (scheduling, bills, calling this that and the other companies inquiring about x,y and z issues, etc.) and while I can accomplish these tasks while on bedrest because they require little movement, they also must be done when the kids aren't around because I can't get away from grabbing hands and backs-that-want-scratching and button-pushing fingers...which means naptime, my 1.5 hrs of solitude, are highjacked. Oh dear, here I am complaining again. Will I never learn?!

- And lastly, lest you think I've morphed into an other-worldy creature who must be busy all the time, I should honestly admit that as much as I dislike doing nothing, I often find myself doing exactly that because my brain says, "I can't/am not up for doing real work right now, but I have a bit of time right now. If I spend that time doing something leisurely that I enjoy, I will feel bad that I didn't do real work, so as an alternative, I shall do nothing, and then I can't feel as bad because it's not like I was doing something else." Twisted, aren't I? I think I've been that way for most of my life.

So perhaps my new goal in this area will be to be more attentive to when and why I am wasting time, and work to balance that time with work and leisure.


I'm praying for a fence. A black chain-link fence to go around the perimeter of our backyard. Please pray with me!

God has dumped miracle after miracle on us/our house and I feel bad (can I not get away from the dumb bad feelings?!) asking for a fence when He just gave us a free roof and siding!!! But, I am trying to trust that it's good to ask, so please pray along with me and then we can all rejoice together.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Straining to hear the distant call of the elusive Leisure spirit

Does anyone ever read this? I know I used to have a dedicated following of 2, sometimes 3, people. I've nearly stopped largely because a) it takes too much of my time and b) it takes too much of my time. Yes, I know, that was repetitive. But it's time that I could be spending a) with my kids, or b) doing any household chore you can possibly think of. To sum up: I feel bad blogging, and I feel even worse when I'm trying to justify it taking that time. So I slowed to a crawl and feel inclined to give it up, regardless of how much I might enjoy it (in those moments when I can say "to heck with feeling bad.")

But if I peel back a layer or two of this "feeling bad" moldy onion, I also have to recognize that I would feel the same about any leisure activity. That just doesn't seem right. Right? Crafts, reading, exercise, the occasional nap, correspondence (hah! not on your life; my hand starts cramping and I miss whole words and then send a scribbly scrawly nonsense letter. Wouldn't you feel special receiving one of those?) Any of those are things that it seems my friends do, and do frequently, and don't appear to feel bad about doing them. Do you? I mean really? Do you feel like you should be doing something else, or reading another story to your toddlers? Let's be honest, the to-do list of a mom and/or homeowner and/or human being is ENDLESS.

Please don't tell me "well, I make sure I have balance in my life by scheduling my time so I have an hour of x,y or z and then an hour of leisure time." Because even if I do that, I spend that hour feeling bad about the to-do lists, esp. the ones that could seem leisurely, or at least will give me some mental peace: organizing the baby clothes (which I'm currently doing, on bedrest, as best I can.) Painting the stairs (which is on hold for a few months; I can't imagine painting and newborn care go well together.) Or any other jillion things that require spreadsheets and filling out forms and phone calls and gathering information and stops at the post office, etc. that really aren't leisurely at all but must be done and when they are done I feel a weight lifted from my shoulders...perhaps that's it? Perhaps the question is: how can I justify and enjoy leisure time when there is a weight on my shoulders that will not lift until it is all dealt with, but dealing with it all right now might be the end of us all? So I just feel bad. And the kids are grouchy because I'm not reading them a book.

And now they are awake from their nap and I haven't done the 3 easy things on my naptime to-do list because I was trying to enjoy leisure time.

And I'm on bedrest for crying out loud! The one (ahem, second) time in my life I am ordered to remain still and do nothing. But I can't do nothing because that's not leisure it's lazy boring nothing, and surely I can at least fold clothes, read books, sort through stuff, make phone calls, reply to emails, pay bills...gotta say, bedrest ain't what it's cracked up to be, it's just normal life made more difficult and complicated. And they say stress isn't good for the baby. Pardon me while I quietly pull out my hair (wouldn't want to scare the children!)

Well, how was that for a rambling post, let me see if I can follow myself:
1) Does anyone still read this?
2) How do in incorporate leisure time when there's so much to be done and you know you'll feel better when it's done?
3) Bedrest is the pits.

Ta-da! ;)