Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Life in the second trimester...

I just love Baby CL updates. :) Since I've passed over into the coveted second trimester, I thought I'd post a progress report.

Life is pretty good in the second trimester. I had heard from some women that they felt that they got bigger a LOT faster with their second baby. I haven't found that to be the case. Granted, I think I'm a little bit bigger than I was at this stage with Hank, but not by a lot. I'd guestimate that I'm measuring right now (at 15 weeks) what I did with Hank at about 16-17 weeks. That's not too bad.

Happily, I'm still fitting easily into my regular clothes. This is aided by the fact that I lost some weight prior to conceiving. With Hank, I couldn't wait to start wearing my cute new maternity clothes. This time, I know better. :) By approximately 32 weeks, I will loathe the very sight of those previously cute maternity clothes, because I will be SO SICK of them. No matter how many you acquire, it's still not going to be as vast as your regular wardrobe. You will wear the same ones again and again, and you will eventually hate them. With the fire of a thousand suns. So, I'm in no hurry to pull them up from the basement. My goal is to make it to 20 weeks before donning them. That may be delusional. I'll let you know how that comes out. :)

I'm at that stage where I don't have a traditional bump yet, but I look just a tad like a stuffed sausage in my pants. It's not the most flattering of stages. :) But I'll hold out as long as I can. I have one of those Bella Bands, which you can use to smooth over your unbuttoned pants. Glamorous, huh? My pants are still buttoned, so I've got even more time in my regular clothes. The pair I have on now still has plenty of room, but the ones I had on yesterday were cutting off my circulation by dinnertime. My belly has taken a definite turn in the outward direction.

Aside from that, there's the wonderful stuff, and there's the icky stuff that nobody tells you about. I'll start with the good stuff. A few times, lying in bed at night, I've felt the baby move. This is the MOST wonderful thing about pregnancy. I've awaited this with much anticipation and joy.

Ok, so the yucky stuff. Put your TMI hat on. I don't hold back in this blog, and this is one of those times. In the second trimester, you tend to be past the nausea. But something that doesn't go away? I'll just say it outright: gas. For the love of all that is holy, my God, the GAS. As if I didn't already feel unladylike enough given the sausage pants problem, mentioned above.

Unfortunately, this little beauty lasts from the moment of conception, up til delivery. At first, you just feel like you have more indigestion than usual. Then you realize the awful truth: sometimes, maybe when you first wake up in the morning, or have been sitting for awhile, you will feel like your stomach may explode from the sheer volume of pressure. Since you don't really want to take care of this indelicate issue in front of other people, you will have to make your way to the restroom. And this oftentimes means limping over there while the excruciation factor in your innards escalates by the nanosecond. Good golly, it is painful.

And then. Nobody else will tell you this, so I will. Sometimes you'll be talking, you know, out in PUBLIC. And with no forewarning whatsoever, WHAMO! You'll burp. It's *mortifying*.

*shudders* I'm just saying. It's better to at least be prepared, so that when this happens to you, you'll know that it's not just you. There's solace in numbers, no?

That's pretty much my physical life these days. Another thing that doesn't go away, at least for me: exhaustion. I'm pooped every night by 8 pm. I was hoping to do another belly dance solo at our upcoming hafla, but I simply don't have the energy to choreograph in the evenings. I am going to be performing the group numbers, but I know them all well, so I don't really need to do a lot of evening practice. A solo, hand-created choreography is a different story. And I just don't have the needed energy right now. Something to look forward to after the baby comes. Here's praying that I still fit into my costume in 3 weeks. :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving weekend recap, and we wait in joyful hope...

Well, I'm back. :) And I had a *wonderful* holiday, and a fabulous vacation. It was so, so nice to be away from work and with family.

So. A recap. I did lots of cooking and baking with my mother-in-law, and I didn't cause anything to explode. This is good. Mike handled the turkey, as he does every year, and it turned out very well. It's amazing what a little olive oil and rubbed sage will do. I always handle the broccoli casserole, a family favorite. We also made fresh stuffing, green beans amandine, and mashed potatoes with gravy. My mother-in-law showed me how to make pie crust, and I may be brave and bold and attempt an apple pie for Christmas. I say this with much trepidation, because I am a terrible baker. I mean, TERRIBLE. I'm a decent cook, but baking eludes me. I think that ideal baking consistency requires much more precision than cooking, and most of the time I'm just not that exact. And a liquidy cream cheese ball just never did any good for anybody.

This weekend we made a pie plus cutout cookies. My mother-in-law bought me a stand-up electric mixer as an early Christmas present, and already it has proved indispensable. She praised me as being a very good dough roller outer, so maybe there's hope for me yet.

Friday, we went shopping. Yes, shopping. I know, I know, it was Black Friday. But as you know, I do enjoy a Black Friday tradition. I refuse to get up at 4 am to do anything except nurse a baby. However, I'll get up at a normal time on Black Friday, battle plan in hand, and wait in a few long lines to get a handful of non-electronics items. People get stampeded for electronics items, and well, I'm just not willing to do that. This year, I thought maybe I'd get Hank a board game or two real cheap, and I had a kitchen goods item in mind for my mom. My mom had also asked me to pick up a Perfect Pillow for her (marked down from $80 to $19. 97) so I was set to go. My mother-in-law generously wanted to get me some warm nightgowns, since I'd mentioned that my usual flannel pant and top sets were getting a bit uncomfortable now that Baby CL is growing bigger. So off we went, bound for Bon Ton at 9 am.

My local Bon Ton is divided into 2 separate stores, the regular department store and a home store. We started out in the regular store, which is a good thing, otherwise we may have lost our nerve. My MIL got a nice purse for herself, I got Chutes & Ladders for Hank for $4.97, and we found a great selection of long nightgowns. I found some really cute ones. They're a bit matronly, no doubt about it, but SO COMFORTABLE. I'm totally in love with them. I got 2 long-sleeved cotton ones that extend to my ankles, and 3 micro-fleece that are a bit shorter (they go to about my upper calves), but so cozy and warm you can hardly stand it. And the funny thing is, Mike thinks they are the most attractive sleepwear that I now own. Everytime I don one of the floor length cotten numbers, I get happy raised eyebrows, which I find amusing since these things are the complete opposite of Sexy Sadie. Think: Grandma Moses. Anyway, all were 50% off, so we were thrilled. We waited in a line that took about 10-15 minutes to sail through. Life was good.

Off we happily went to deposit the packages in my trunk (Stalking of Us to Our Car, Incident #1) and headed into the home store. Quickly, I grabbed the Perfect Pillow and found the item I wanted for my mom. Marked down from $100 to $39.98, I'll have you know. See? Now you want to go shopping on Black Friday too. We attempt to find the check-out line, and this is the first time we get alarmed. I thought I saw the end of the line, but realized it went all the way to the back of the store. We get to the back of the store, and realized that it snaked off to the right. We go off to the far right corner, and see that it snaked back toward the front. It was ugly. We got in line and hoped for the best. Inevitably, as we waited, bored out of our skulls, we noticed other things that caught our eye that the line crawled past. Oh look, Christmas tablecloths. Oh, a cute snowman decoration for $2.97 (grabbed one of those. He was cute and a door buster, so can you blame me?) I also managed to nab a Pyrex 9x12 pan with accompanying snowflake carrying basket all for $9.97. By time we got up to the cash register, an hour and fifteen minutes had elapsed. That's probably the longest line I've ever stood in.

We limped out to the car (Stalking of Us to Our Car, Incident #2), and then walked over to the nearby grocery store for a few weekend baking supplies. Finally, the person stalking us to our car was actually able to get our spot (Incident #3), and we hustled on to the mall.

The mall is a scary, scary place on Black Friday, my friends. The one we were traveling to is the largest in our area, and quite popular year round. We were going because my mom and my aunt wanted to meet us for lunch there. I knew it would be bad, but I had a plan: Sears. Usually, there is always parking at Sears. I felt confident in my Plan A.

About 30 seconds after our arrival on the grounds, I knew that Plan A was a big, fat failure. There was not a spot to be had anywhere. I drove around stubbornly for about 5 full minutes, figuring that eventually, we would happen upon a small empty spot. I have a Honda Civic, he squeezes nicely. Nothing.

Finally, I got desperate. I started watching people. Are they just arriving or leaving?! Oh LOOK! Someone is pulling out up ahead... Crap. Another car is already waiting. It's very difficult for me to lower myself to following people to their cars, but at this point I realized that I had no choice. Stalking began in earnest, when suddenly:

MIL: "I think those people are loading up their car."


MIL: "Yes, they're closing their trunk."

CL: *zooms!*

Within 3 seconds, I had backed up, pulled into the row, and had my blinker on. The universal sign for: "Look elsewhere, Buddy. I've got dibs on this one."

Finally, we pulled in. We had a long walk to the restaurant area, but I felt vindicated and happy. Although my feet were sore.

And that was my Black Friday. For the rest of the weekend, we baked, relaxed, got and decorated our tree, and ran a few other small errands. It was really, really nice.

Of course, we all know that one of my favorite liturgical seasons began on Sunday: The first Sunday of Advent. I have a Magnificat Advent Companion this year, which I've already put to good use. My brand new Advent wreath is out, with fresh candles, and all feels right with the world. I love Advent. It truly is a time of hope.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pre-Thanksgiving preparations, and accompanying 'poo event'

When you're the parent of a young child, the word 'poo' comes up in your everyday conversations with alarming frequency. You also realize that you also have lots of stored information about color, consistency, ease of cleaning, and the always key: regularity of deposit.

I thought that once Hank was potty trained, our potty life would be golden. I'm here to tell you (in case you were wondering, and even if you're not) that this simply isn't the case. Unfortunate though that may be.

It seems that many children, boys especially, like to hold on to their poo as if they had the crown jewels up there. They have it, and they don't want to give it up, no sir. Sneaking stool softener into their morning juice, adding pineapple to every meal, all of this makes their work all the more difficult, it's true, but still, they will not give up the ghost. I'm not certain if it's that they don't like the sensation? Perhaps that's part of it. And holding it does nothing to make it more comfortable, to be sure. Mostly, I think it's that they simply don't want to stop what they're doing (playing with a bat cave) to go sit on the toilet for a few minutes. Unfortunately, this means that about 5-7 days will go by, and then Mommy makes him sit on the toilet, and *then* he's stuck there for about 20 full minutes while much discomfort ensues which will almost certainly end with a plumbing crisis. Oftentimes, tears are involved. Every time, complaining and whining will be involved. It's very unpleasant for all parties.

So, this morning, we had one of those. And with my in-laws arriving from Florida this afternoon, I really didn't want this poo thing hanging over our heads. My mother-in-law tends to fret about the poo thing much more than I do, and even though I blog about poo, I really don't want to be discussing it over Thanksgiving dinner. So thankfully, even though it caused Hank to nearly miss his bus, we had poo production. Much rejoicing and celebration followed. The glamorous joys of parenthood. We deserve a medal for it, each and every one of us.

With company coming, as you can imagine, I've been tornadoing (I've officially coined that word) around the house like mad. This weekend, I:

(1) Cleaned out the refrigerator. Anybody with me that this is one of the grossest chores ever? "Something going bad" smell makes me gag much more than kid poo.

(2) Swept and cleaned the kitchen floor.

(3) Gave the stove and counter tops a much needed scrubbing.

(4) Swept the side entracenway, which seems to accumulate dirt faster than any other spot in the house.

(5) Did several loads of laundry.

(6) Scrubbed the downstairs bathroom and shower.

(7) Cleaned the guest room.

(8) Touched up paint on a few places in the trim, and on the kitchen ceiling.

All told, especially #8? Pretty neurotic, I'm certain you'll agree. I can't help it. It makes me feel better.

I haven't even been grocery shopping yet. Going to tackle that tomorrow morning, and I'm certain that it will be a near occasion of sin. But I'll do my best. The rest of the day will be taken up cooking and baking. And I am very much looking forward to it. :)

I won't be online much until next Monday, so no blog posts until then. But rest assured that I'll report in every detail then. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

What's new in Baby CL's world?

Baby CL is officially doing quite well. I was to see my obstetrician this morning. All of my tests (including the nuchal fold scan) came back completely normal. This is a relief, and now I won't have to worry about much resistance when I decline the amniocentesis. When the doppler was applied, BABY CL cooperated easily and we heard his/her heartbeat right away. This baby definitely seems very 'chill.' As opposed to Hank, whom we had to chase around my womb several times with the doppler. Every time we glimpse this baby, he or she is hanging out in a very relaxed-like manner. Maybe this one will sleep through the night prior to the end of one very long year. A girl can hope.

As for me, I'm officially in the second trimester, and glad to be free of a lot of my (much stronger than last time) first trimester symptoms. I have gained about 1.5-2 pounds, which I know is totally normal, but I can tell that I've officially begun to gain pregnancy weight. I don't care how temporary it is, it's still a struggle for me. But I try my best. It's pretty difficult to watch what I eat, considering how I'm HUNGRY ALL THE TIME. I mean, I actually fantasize about food. It's quite disturbing, actually.

Saturday, Mike and I went out on a date night, which we haven't done in far too long. Money has been tight with Christmas approaching, so we've let this slip. But every married couple needs this quality time, so we made it a priority. I was craving Thai food, so we went to a very nice Thai/Vietnamese restaurant. Holy smokes. The food was so good I'm still fantasizing about it to this very minute. I had a flat noodle dish, with vegetables and sea scallops, in a sweet soy sauce. I ate every bite. I could have halved my portion and saved the rest for leftovers, but I mean, really? There are some things in life that are meant to be simply enjoyed. I also liked the fact that Mike and I could split a big pot of hot green tea, and therefore I didn't miss having a glass of wine as much. It was fab. We walked to a local coffee shop afterward and had hot chocolate. I forced Mike to split a biscotti with me. :) A wonderful evening.

At any rate, I digress. Baby is doing well, and I couldn't ask for more. I'm keeping up with my exercise and hoping that my weight gain stays under 30 pounds. I gained exactly 30 lbs. last time, and even 5 less pounds may make me a lot less uncomfortable. We'll see. The time that will tell will be after 20 weeks on that one.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Some pre-weekend good news

I rushed into work this morning, since I had 3 classes to teach, beginning at 9 am, and hurriedly checked my email. As I quickly deleted spam and unsolicited publisher messages, I very nearly missed a gem: my article was accepted for publication. :) I was so thrilled, I didn't even mind that I had to go and stand and talk in front of people for 3 full hours. I have to make some minor revisions, and force my image files into compliance (which I'm sure will not be a pleasant task) but it will appear in print in early 2011.

Thrilled, thrilled, thrilled. This means that my chances of achieving tenure next year are better, and well, that's REALLY good considering that if didn't, I'd have to leave my job. 0 incomes = bad. So, thank God for small blessings. :)

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Christmas traditions and the Jewish roots of our faith

Yesterday, I attended a meeting here at work that ended up being incredibly interesting. I'm on a committee concerning the global civilizations course required of all students here, and the guest speakers yesterday addressed incorporating Jewish culture and history into that course. They always serve us pizza and soda at these shindigs as well, so all things considered, I had a fabulous lunch hour.

I'm a religion person. Have been since my reversion back to the faith in my early 20's. It's been, let's see...12 years now. *feels old* Anyway, I digress. I just love learning about religious beliefs and practices. Certainly, my passion is primarily for my own Catholic faith. But I also read a good amount of non-Catholic Christian literature, and secondarily, I read a bit about the Jewish faith.
I find a lot fascinating in Jewish religious practice because of it's obvious foundation and influence on Catholic worship. One of my favorite memoirs is Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner:

Lauren is a Jewish convert to Anglicanism, and I enjoyed her writing very much, as well as learning about her journey through her Jewish roots to ultimate Christian faith. She wasn't technically Jewish by blood, since her mother was not Jewish. So she formally converted to Judaism as a young adult, and the process was fascinating. I definitely recommend this book. It's a wonderful read.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the talk, and it inspired me into a subsequent Amazon search and addition to my wish list. This caught my eye (Why is There a Menorah on the Altar: Jewish Roots of Christian Worship):

Good stuff. Relatedly, I'm reading a book now that I grabbed from the public library last weekend on a search for some Christmas movies.

The author has included a whole boatload of Christmas traditions, and for each includes a short chapter on how that tradition got started. So far, I've read about Advent, angels, and Christmas carols. The Advent chapter was wonderful, noting that the word comes from the Latin for "a coming," and includes a discussion of Advent wreaths, candles and calendars. This is so seriously up my alley.

Apparently, Christmas used to be a bit of a bawdy, over-indulging kind of season, and consequently many churches did not celebrate it. Advent was a way of trying to make the season holier. Really, really interesting. A good seasonal read.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Helping our children to be saints

The other day, I was listening to one of the Catholic podcasts that I keep up with, and in discussing parenting, one of the hosts mentioned our ultimate goal as parents: to do our very best in raising our children to achieve heaven. For them to be a saint.

They were discussing that in so many instances, it's easy for us as parents to become absorbed in our tasks, and feel that every child-led interruption is a nuisance. You know.

"Mommy, can I ask you a question?"

"Yes, Honey."

"Why does the moon follow the car?"

"It doesn't really follow the car Sweetie, it just looks like it does. Why don't you ask Daddy about it?"

"Mommy? Can I ask you a question?"

"YES, Honey."

"What are you doing?"

"Mixing some things for dinner, Honey."



"Can I help you? I like to eat some of the grated cheese"

The first interruption or so you can handle, but at about interruption #17, you start to lose your patience. It happens to the best of us.

So, on this podcast, the host noted that she tried to stop what she was doing and ask herself, "is my attitude/reaction/behavior helping my child to get to heaven?" I thought about that for a long time, and this was a very humbling analysis for yours truly. :) SO often, especially after work when I'm TIRED and have a bunch of things to do (put work items away, change clothes, start dinner, pick up scattered toys...) I shoo Hank away when he's trying to get my attention. Lately, I've been trying to stop myself before responding to him.

Is what I'm doing at that moment really all that important? Almost every single time, NO.

Would me neglecting his needs right now help my son to be a saint? NO.

It's a good exercise, and humbling in every instance. I'm going to ask myself this question a lot more from now on.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Holiday shopping, oh joy

Yesterday was a bit of an overcast, chilly day here, and my mom called to see if I'd like to do a bit of holiday shopping. I'm always game for such an activity, so I quickly agreed. Hank and Mike were secured watching Sunday afternoon football, and off we went, Target and Toys R Us bound.

Well. We arrive in Target's parking lot to see that perhaps they are giving away free bars of gold, if the chaos therein was any indication. We managed to find a parking spot only in the very back, and struggled through the wind and rain all the way to the front door, past many dour looking souls trying to find a spot closer to the doors. Whereupon, before we even tick a single item off our list, my mom announces that she's hungry. This turned out to be a very fortuitous decision, given that what occurred thereafter required us to have a full artillery of strength. We split a personal sized pizza and some lemonade at the cafe, and set off.

We were having a difficult time finding many of the items that we were looking for, and that did not get any better as we approached the toy department. I was looking for 2 Fisher Price items: the Trio Batcave, and the Imaginext castle/fortress. Both were on sale at excellent prices. Unfortunately, both seemed to have been taken with the swarm of locusts that had very obviously gnarled its way through the toy department prior to our arrival. We struck out with every single toy that we originally had our eye on. I had a gift card to use, and really wanted to apply it toward a Christmas purchase, so I ended up getting Hank a V Tech VReader, which is an adorable new eBook reader for kids. It was marked down $5, so I snagged a blue one. But we left Target feeling a bit deflated.

Our arrival at Toys R Us miraculously showed a much calmer parking lot, much to our surprise. There, also armed with a gift card, I picked up both of the toys I wanted for Hank (a remote-control Buzz Lightyear marked down $20, and some books marked down $5 for his new VReader). We spent a lot of time analyzing gifts for my nephews, and by time we were done, I was falling down exhausted. This was before we glimpsed the checkout lines.

There were about 5 open, which is much better than usual, but yet every one was completely stopped up. Each person currently being waited on had some sort of complicated coupon or otherwise involved inquiry about the price of something they were purchasing. 20 minutes later, we were finally able to check out and head to my mom's car, barely able to walk.

And this was a pre-Thanksgiving Sunday. Last year, we lost our minds and went to Toys R Us on Black Friday, and let me tell you, I learned a thing or two. Here is my list of rules for Black Friday shopping:

(1) Always bring a partner in crime. You will need them to:

(a) Guard the cart with your purses as you dart into an aisle completely clogged with desperate shoppers and their carts, which inevitably will be right in front of the item you want to look at. Or vice versa. And,

(b) Gossip with as you wait 30-60 minutes in the checkout line.

(2) Have coffee beforehand. Or perhaps whiskey.

(3) You may arrive to find that there are no carts. WAIT FOR ONE. Yes, you will feel like a stalker, but trust me, you NEED one. Do not try to navigate the madness with just your bare hands. You will be sorry.

(4) Mentally prepare yourself for the fact that people will be in your way every single moment until you arrive safely back in your house. You will also be in theirs. Once you accept this, you'll feel a lot calmer.

(5) Don't have your heart set on a single, specific item. That is reserved only for those crazy people that line up outside the store at 9 pm on Thanksgiving night. Unless you want to be stampeded by them, you're not gettin' that TV. Resolve this within yourself now. You'll still get some great deals on other gifts, and that will have to be good enough.

There you have it. Only 10 more days until Black Friday 2010. :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

A new Advent wreath, and some book reviews that are simply PRECIOUS

Yesterday I had a wonderful, wonderful day off with Henry. I had a hard time coming back to work today and leaving him. I miss him. :(

We started the day off at the grocery store, and it got me all excited scoping out Thanksgiving turkeys. I'm terribly excited about Thanksgiving this year, it's one of my favorite holidays. Definitely my favorite of the secular holidays. It was so nice being in the store during a weekday morning. So much less crowded and so much more pleasant. And Hank was an excellent boy. As he lounged in the cart, munching on a slice of bologna that he charmed out of the lady slicing our deli meats, I thought ahead to my maternity leave late next spring. My maternity leave with Hank was a bit dicey. You see, I cried, well, ALL THE TIME. In retrospect, I'm pretty certain I had a fairly substantial case of postpartum depression, but I was simply unprepared and didn't know what to do about it. It was a difficult thing, and sometime during my pregnancy I'll devote a whole post to it. It's a very important issue, and the only way to help women is to talk about this and increase awareness. So, that's coming, but in the mean time, I'm trying to prepare for a mentally healthier time for myself after this baby is born. This time, I feel hopeful that my preparation will serve us well.

Anyway, we loaded up on food for the week, and after stashing everything in the refrigerator, we headed out to the local Christian goods store. Hank had never been there before, and he was enthralled. He was very good, but as you parents might have already discerned, him being enthralled means me not being able to focus on anything else for longer than a 10 second interval:

CL stops to look at gift Bible selection.

Hank darts off.

"Mommy, look at this ornament! It has baby Jesus on it!" (from 2 aisles away)

"Ok Honey, but remember, look but don't touch."

"It has a jingle bell, Mommy!"

*jingling, followed by a small crash*

A little bit stressful. But I managed to pick up a few gifts, AND, *drum roll*

A beautiful new Advent wreath. :) It looks very much like this one:
What I like about it is that it's very traditional, and what I've always wanted. Pine cones, greenery, purple ribbons. Mine has a bit of glitter on it, including some glittery gold balls. The clincher was that this model has little spikes in the candle holders, to secure the tapers. This is my main problem with the wreath that I currently have, my fear that they will tip when lit. It was only $24, and every year that I put out my old one I long anew for a wreath such as this. I figured I deserved one. :) So I scooped it, and soon it will adorn the center spot on our dining room buffet. *proud*

Hank especially liked the Advent section. We spent about 20 minutes in there poring over various details. Well, Henry pored and I supervised. I really, REALLY enjoyed it.

Then I lured him over to the childrens book section, because I wanted to get him a new Bible. I've mentioned before that Hank loves his original Bible, this one:

We read through it about 3 full times, and it's all beat up and tattered. I felt that he was outgrowing it a bit, so I replaced it with another one that I chose. Big fat failure. For whatever reason, Hank just did not dig this Bible. Illustrations are big with him. They have to capture his imagination. And the stories can't be too lengthy; it simply won't hold his attention. This new Bible just did not have the mojo that he needed to keep up our nightly Bible reading habit. So, at the store, I encouraged Hank to pick out a Bible that he did like, and that we could start reading again before bedtime. He chose this one:

I would rather that he picked a Catholic childrens Bible, but no biggie. I have to say, this one has GORGEOUS illustrations. The scenes depicting the first Christmas took my breath away. And it is in fact slightly larger than his old Bible, thus including some stories that he hasn't heard yet. That was my goal in the upgrade, so I was happy. It was also very reasonably priced, about $14 for a hardback. Last night we read about Gideon, new stuff for Hank. I'm very glad that we're picking up this tradition again.

Finally, I spied a book that I simply couldn't resist, and have been dying to blog about. It's called Angel in the Waters and is published by Sophia Institute Press.

This is a story of an unborn baby, adjusting to life in his mother's womb, and being comforted by his guardian angel. He grows and grows, enjoying his aquatic existence, until he becomes so big that he can't swim anymore. He knows something is changing, and his angel assures him that there is a larger world out there that he will be entering soon, but everything will be ok. The parts with the baby being upset at his water leaving and frightened by the sudden sensations made me cry.

When he is born, he's very disoriented, and can't find his angel. At this point of the reading, Hank, who despite initial protestations at wanting to read something of his own choosing, was listening with rapt attention and wide eyes, and declared:


We read on to find that the baby indeed sees his angel again, but also comes to be comforted by his mother and father. The angel tells the baby that even when he can't hear or see him, he'll always be there. When we got to the part about the angel telling the baby that there is even a larger world than this one out there, and that one day, he'll lead him there too, I couldn't help it. I simply burst into tears.

This is a wonderful book. At $6.95 it was a few dollars more than I wanted to spend on a childrens book, but it is WELL worth it. This is an easy and enjoyable read (for parents too!) but it is not a quickie read. You know, those hardcover books for kids nowadays that you can spend $12.99 on and it turns out to be about 5 pages total, all of which are fluff. This is a substantial read, and there is a good amount of sound content. The illustrations of the baby growing are too freaking precious for words.

For anyone with a baby on the way, or just looking to share a pro-life message with children, this is an outstanding resource. Definitely check it out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Advent preparations...

Tomorrow, Henry is off from school for Veteran's Day, so I decided to stay home with him and save us a bunch of money in child care costs. We have an exciting day planned of Mommy/Precious Boy togetherness. First, I want to get to our local Christian Bookstore. We have several Catholic stores in this area, but the closest ones are a tad small. This general Christian store is very good about stocking Catholic merchandise, and is fairly large. I'm looking for some nice Christmas gifts, and want to browse. I've also bribed Hank with the prospect of a new Bible that he can pick out himself, since he never took to the one I bought him earlier in the year. The have a beautiful children's area in this store.

I'd also like to look at Advent wreaths. A bit of a splurge, since I already own an Advent wreath, but mine is somewhat problematic. It's a simple gold circle to hold the taper candles, very much like this one. And the candles simply refuse to stay upright. My thinking is that this could be very dangerous when the candles are actually lit, no? So, I think a small splurge is in order. I'd like one that is a bit more decorated. Doesn't have to be too ornate (or expensive! since I'm on a very limited budget this Christmas :) ) but something like this would be what I've always wanted, or like this. We'll see.

My mom and I have also been plotting a trip to Build-A-Bear with Hank. We're total suckers for this sort of commercial money grab aimed at the tender hearted. When we saw that they have their Christmas collection out, complete with Bumble, the Abominable Snow Monster from Rudolph (and Hank's favorite) we knew we had to go. So, I'm hoping to get there tomorrow too.

We'll get all of our Christmas decorations and Advent gear out the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and I couldn't possibly be more excited. We always have multiple Advent calendars in our house - chocolate, wood, and this year Hank has a brand new Lego Advent Calendar. He also has his own felt Advent wreath that I bought him last year. Very reasonably priced, available from the Catholic Company. I wish the baby were already here to share it with us!

Next year, he or she will be 6 months old, and at an adorable age to have his/her first Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas season. I absolutely cannot wait.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I'm all screened...

for now at least. I'll just write out my whole experience sparing no details (because that's what I do best :) ) since I know I would have benefited from reading such a thing beforehand. This is a fairly new screen, so not a lot of familiarity out there with it. So, here goes.

Mike and I arrived, and naturally, I had to fill out a slew of paperwork. I don't do illegal drugs or pound alcohol when pregnant. They always want to know about that. Of course, lots of questions about previous pregnancies. Then, the nurse took me in for the preliminary stuff. I was very unhappy to be weighed, since I wasn't expecting that at an ultrasound appointment. *begin rant* I loathe getting weighed at the doctor's office. It's always a bunch more than on my scale. Probably because I only weigh myself first thing in the morning, after a first pee, with absolutely no clothes on. Don't want a single ounce skewing the data. My scale is also on a tile floor, as opposed to carpet, which the doctor's office inevitably has. Plus, I've eaten twice already. Oh ugh. Anyway, I just hate it. I always feel portly when I leave. *end rant*

She also did my blood pressure, and asked if I wanted the blood test. She explained that you don't have to do the blood portion, but it does increase the accuracy of the final result. It's just a finger stick, so I readily agreed. She pricked my ring finger and put 5 drops on this special piece of paper. No biggie. Then I went back out to Mike, where I needed to fill out even more paperwork. Finally, we were called back.

An ultrasound technician lead us to the room, and the facilities were very nice. Beautiful large flat screen up on the wall, and the table for me to recline on was nicer than at my regular obstetrician. It was an easy transabdominal jobbie, and as she squired cold gel on my belly, she explained the test.

This new late first trimester screen (also called a nuchal fold screen, or Nuchal Translucency Screen) looks for signs of Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome), Trisomy 18 (Edwards Syndrome) and Trisomy 13 (Patau Syndrome). To do this, they look for a nasal bone (somehow this is related) and measure the thickness behind the baby's neck. The thicker the measurement, the greater the risk is that your baby is affected by one of these chromosomal abnormalities. Full results need to be combined with the blood work, and that takes about a week. She said that if the results come back normal, they just forward them to your regular obstetrician, who will address them with you at your next appointment. Mine is in less than 2 weeks. If your results come back high risk, the perinatologist calls you.

Ok good. Ultrasound gets underway, and I was relieved to see a very active baby therein. Heart was beating rapidly, and the baby liked to keep his or her hand up by their face. :) In fact, at one point, they appeared to be sucking on their little hand. Extremely precious.

The technician said that all of our measurements were "thin" which was a good sign. Also, baby had a nasal bone, another good sign. She printed off some cute pictures for us, and we were done. I'm scheduled for an 18 week ultrasound with them, and this time I will meet with the perinatologist. She will discuss amniocentesis with us (which I highly doubt I would get, but I'll listen to what she has to say about it) and address any questions we have. This ultrasound will also screen for open neural tube defects, like spina bifada, as well as continue to look for markers for these same chromosomal problems, and measure the baby's overall development. So far, Baby CL is right on track for his/her due date.

So, I'm glad that the news is all good so far. I also feel freer to tell people now that we're expecting, like my co-workers. Good stuff. This is particularly important given how my waist continues to thicken. It's good to have that out in the open, so that nobody will think that I've just overdone it with the Halloween candy. This in-between time is tough. But happily, my maternity clothes days still seem far off in the distance, so I'll take it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Nuchal Translucency Screening tomorrow...

So, prayers appreciated. :) As I've mentioned before, this test is becoming increasingly common for women aged 35 and older, and generally those considered at high risk for having a baby with a chromosomal abnormality. I'm sure everything will go fine, but I'm still feeling a bit anxious about it. Of course, as soon as I return tomorrow afternoon, I will update you all. :) I'm not certain how to scan in photos, or believe me, you'd be having ultrasound photos foisted onto you...

Friday, November 5, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and guess who's turning 5?

Ahhhh, winter. I'm one of those odd people that truly enjoys winter. Of course, I also just particularly enjoy this Thanksgiving and Christmas season, which most people do, regardless of their feelings about winter. I'm already playing Christmas music in my office, and during my walks my holiday playlist is all I listen to. I'm plotting Christmas gift purchases, and I'm stalking the Hallmark Channel's web site for upcoming shlocky Christmas movies. I can't tell you the pleasure I take from watching these. They're all pretty much the same. Some workaholic scrooge of a person, usually a banker or a lawyer, has a miserable view of life and humanity and by some quirky twist of fate must go home for the holidays. Lots of touching moments ensue, and they change their outlook and their path in life. Usually, they also fall in love. *sighs blissfully*

This weekend *set your DVR's!* Hallmark Channel is running a movie called A Family Thanksgiving. Saturday at 9 pm; everybody make your husbands watch it with you! Mine is already prepping his beer selection appropriately.

Anyway, I just love this season. Every week, I've been trying to tuck gifts away. Having children makes Christmas SO MUCH FUN; it's even better than when you yourself were a kid. The other night I got all emotional on Mike *snorts* (this happens *frequently*) because I started to wonder: how many more years will Hank believe in Santa? I can't tell you how magical Christmas is to have a young child that believes in Santa. When we first had Hank, I asked Mike how he felt about Santa, because I was a bit squeamish about, well, lying. I didn't want our kids to think that we also lie to them about other people (Easter Bunny, tooth fairy sound familiar? Well, nah, that's not really what I meant). Namely, God. Mike looked horrified that I would consider not having Hank believe in Santa, and I'm glad he convinced me. It's a WONDERFUL tradition, and it's so, SO extra special on Christmas morning when your child comes to see what Santa left them. I cannot wait for Hank to see his gifts this year.

Speaking of young Hank, his birthday is tomorrow, and I can hardly believe that it's been 5 whole years since I carried and delivered him. My precious baby! I posted extensively, and appropriately, last year about Hanks entrance into the world, and I also realized when conducting my search that this blog has been around longer than I remembered! There is also a short post from two years ago. How we have all grown together!

Thank you for reading. :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Loving our pregnant selves and carrying our cross...

Happy day everybody. :) I'm in a very good mood today, despite having a somewhat long evening ahead of me. All parish catechists in my diocese have to attend a seminar entitled "Protecting God's Children," dealing with the prevention of sexual abuse. Pleasant? No. But I'm enjoying my foray into catechesis, and this is a necessary component. It'll be even tougher since I have a difficult time staying awake past 8:30 pm these days, and this shindig runs 6-9:30, but I'll make it. It's at a parish right near my house, so I don't have to drive far at all. And I'll be glad that I did it once it's over.

Anyway, I was dwelling on my pregnancy body image post from yesterday. I hope I didn't sound like a whiner. This blog is very important to me, and I feel that it's essential for me to blog about everyday things that I experience and believe. These are the types of writings that I find most helpful and cherished to me, and I always hope that my experiences provide some kind of help and camaraderie to others. I tend to be very honest about my feelings, and this is how I honestly feel.

I will grant, I'm thinking mostly of that dreaded 3rd trimester, those last 3 months or so. You know. You haven't seen the tops of your thighs in months. Forget about trying to, you know. I'll just say it: shave. Your belly button has been pressed beyond recognition, and your cankles making putting shoes on pretty unpleasant. Having a defined waistline is so far in the past you wonder if that time was even real, or some fantasy world in which you floated effervescently through the air. Walking and even talking don't come without you getting out of breath due to the pressure on your diaphragm and lungs. Sleeping through the night without having to up to pee? A thing of the past, baby. Turning over in bed or getting up off the couch require the intervention of a third party, or perhaps a crane. Pants with panels are your constant companion, and by this point, you begin to fear that you will outgrow even them. You are retaining so much fluid that you begin to wonder if water will spout out like a geyser should you nick yourself.

That's not an easy time, you know? Is it worth it? No question about it. But it's a cross to bear.

Relevantly enough, my Living Faith entry for yesterday, the feast of St. Martin de Porres centered on carrying our crosses:

"Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:27

A friend of mine was pregnant with her fourth child and in the process of building a new home when her husband's army reserve unit was called up for duty in Iraq. The anxiety and strain of their separation showed on her face as the months wore on, and I asked how she was holding up. Her reply was one I'll never forget: 'I just want to carry this cross well.'

Our response to the crosses in life - our trials and sufferings - makes such a difference! Some may choose to dodge a cross, give up on a commitment or escape through disordered coping mechanisms. Some will take a cross and parcel it out to others through blame or complaints. But some will embrace the cross with the knowledge that Christ has already borne every burden and gives us the grace to be strengthened, rather than crushed, under its weight.

Today Lord, for love of you, I want to bear my cross well."

This really resonated with me. I have nothing to complain about. I am so blessed to have this precious baby to carry, and I love him or her so much already. Eventually I will have my body back, and I can get back into shape. But that's all temporal. Most importantly, I will have this new soul with me for all eternity.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Wow, yeah, your face really *does* get fuller during pregnancy!"

So, this is the pregnancy body image post. :) Pretty aptly timed, since my own body is just starting to change.

When I'm pregnant (and maybe this is the case for you and others as well) it's this odd conundrum. You're anxious for the first trimester to pass by since, well, it's not all that pleasant, physically speaking. Plus, you're all anxious about first trimester miscarriage, and it's a relief to safely get to the second trimester. And plus, once the first trimester is nearly over, you can tell people that you're expecting with great abandon, and you kind of look forward to actually *looking* pregnant. Cute little bump, check. Adorable new maternity clothes, check. And then. You realize that 4-5 months have gone by, and you can barely remember your old body. You keep getting bigger and bigger, and people keep feeling freer and freer to analyze your body shape and publicly comment on it.

"Wow. Are you sure you aren't having twins?

"You seem to be carrying a lot in the back." (this was was actually said to my face, and I'm pretty sure it means that my ass had gotten bigger).

"Huh. You're carrying kind of small in the front. Is the doctor sure that the baby is ok?" (also said to my face, and it freaked me out).

"Oh wow, women retain so much water during pregnancy, huh? That must be uncomfortable." Now that you mention it...

I know that these are harmless comments, and people are fascinated by pregnant women, and that's why you're lavished with this adoring attention. :) But for me, I find it hard to listen to. I'm a self-conscious person, and I'm an insecure person in many ways. It hurts my feelings to have people comment on how large different areas of my body are getting, even if I am pregnant.

This time, I have to admit, I'm in a bit of a state of denial about actually getting bigger. I'm over 11 weeks, and my regular clothes are still loose on me, since I lost a little weight right before I conceived. Maternity clothes: wherefore art thou? In the basement. And I pray that I don't have to bring them up until after Christmas. If I can minimize the number of months that I have to wear them, will I feel less orca-like this pregnancy? Doubtful, in fact, that's pretty much completely delusional. But a girl can try.

And don't worry. I eat plenty. I've never been a woman that has eschewed food, because I love food. But I admit, pregnancy is hard for me psychologically. I couldn't be more thrilled to be pregnant, and to be carrying this precious baby. I'm so grateful. But I'm just doing my best to still love my body through May. I know that my old body will come back afterwards, but in the mean time, it's still hard.

Am I a freak, or is anybody else with me? :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Your budding parish catechist...

Yesterday was my first foray into Children's Liturgy of the Word on solo duty, and I was quite nervous. Especially when I arrived and then remembered that our regular priest is away visiting his mother, so we had a visiting priest that I had to fill in on calling the children up prior to the first reading. As well, the table that we usually would employ was in use elsewhere holding some relics for All Saints Day, and I had to scramble during set-up. But it all worked out.

When it was time to go back, Hank and I walked forward, and I was a bit worried for a minute that Hank would be the only child that I'd have to bring back :) Luckily, a few other kids came up, followed by several stragglers, so I ended up with about 7 in total. We started with our opening prayer, and the first reading, and quickly headed into the pslam and then the gospel. The kids were very good and quiet, but it was difficult to hold the attention of the younger ones. Miraculously, l managed to get us into a good working conversation about Zacchaeus up in the tree watching Jesus, Jesus asking to go to his house to eat, and then Zacchaeus changing his life and finding salvation in Jesus. It was difficult, being as it was peppered by lots of tiny hands going up into the air:

"Yes, Honey?"

"Um, um, um. Do you want to know what I had for breakfast this morning?"

"Well, I'm sure it was very good. Oh. Yes, Honey?"

"I got lost at school on Friday. And then do you want to know what happened?"

"Oh! This is a great point. Jesus tells us that he comes for the lost. He will find us when we are lost, as long as we seek him out, like Zaccheus did. Yes, Honey?"

"The teacher found me before the parade, so I still got to march in that."

It was challenging, to say the least :) But overall, I thought it went well. I was worried about knowing what was going on out in the main sanctuary, and making sure that I picked up the proper cues as to where the rest of the congregation was in the liturgy, so that I would know when to finish up with the kids. That was actually very easy, given that this particular Mass uses the contemporary choir, so it's nice and loud when they start up the collection hymn, my cue to finish up.

There were a few things that I wanted to do and forgot, but that's to be expected. I had written down the reflection questions I wanted to ask the kids in a little cheat sheet, and that worked out really well. The kids were very sweet, and they seemed to like me :) My next time up on deck is November 21st, feast of Christ the King and the last Sunday prior to Advent. I'm very excited.