Sunday, 31 March 2013

Baby 5: Week 33

How Far Along: 33 Weeks (7 weeks to go!)

How I'm Feeling: I`m finding myself tired, but also restless. It`s hard to sleep with baby boy kicking me. Since I can`t sleep I`ve been trying to make my way through all the housework that has piled up (which, by the way, keeps piling back up. What`s that all about?). I'm finding it tough to walk up and down the stairs a lot without getting winded as baby boy has either his head or his feet directly in between my lungs. I'm also getting some discomfort from the ligaments stretching in my lower back and pelvis. I also am retaining a bit of fluid (I check with my Doc and she says I'm well within the normal range for how far along I am!) so my wedding rings are getting tight. My engagement ring is already on a necklace and I suspect that my actual wedding band will follow soon.

What I'm Thinking: I can't help but get excited these days. The kids are talking up a storm about their new baby brother, even baby girl, who likes to kiss my belly and talk about her baby brother. So cute! He's also big enough now that when he's rolling around we're seeing elbows and knees especially pushing against my stomach. It's fun to watch my stomach ripple as he rolls around.

What I've Done This Week: I have finally started to accomplish actual baby things this week. I found a lot of our newborn and 3-6 months baby boy clothes (yes, I'd misplaced a lot of it in our big move) and washed them all. I even picked out his outfit to come home from the hospital in. I also washed my hospital bag and filled it up with most of my wants for labour (and probably the week or so after from home as I will not have the presence of mind to find anything). We're also very slowly working on our plan to clear out the nursery in preparation for baby boy's arrival. I don't think it's a bad as we had thought, so I have hope.

What I Hope To Do Next Week: We don't have much time left, so we're going to use the few free days my husband has to clear out as much of the baby's room as possible so we can do the final prep to lay down the new flooring. I doubt it'll take long, it's just a matter of doing it! Other than that, I'm going to continue scouring all the random boxes in our house for more baby boy clothes as I know we're still a few outfits short.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Day in the Life

When you are pregnant and have four kids ages 5 and under, your days are hectic. That`s the polite word for it anyway. Some days are pure, unmitigated awesome. Everyone`s happy, sharing, hugging, and helpful. They`re so exhausted from being so awesome that they ASK to nap and then actually lay down and sleep for 2 hours. They wake up refreshed and go about playing together, and even clean up the toys they`ve scattered on the floor on the first request. These beautiful little gifts, who are clean, have no tangles in their hair, and haven`t spilled even a drop of water on their well-fitting clothes coo at your belly, and say how much they love their baby brother. They eat whatever you made for supper and say it`s the `best supper ever` without even requesting ketchup. When they`re done eating they ask to leave the table (please) and then put their own dishes neatly on the counter. They read stories together, play a little more, then ask for bed time because clearly there`s no more energy left after a day filled with fun. After taking themselves to go potty one more time and getting in their pjs (the oldest two anyway) they saunter off to their room, giving big hugs and kisses to Mom and Dad and each other, close their doors, and go to sleep on their own.

I`ve had a few of those days. Well, maybe one. Maybe that`s mostly the odds and ends of good moments cobbled together. Either way, there are days when I see them off to bed that the smile on my face is not from exhausted delight that for five seconds I may have quiet time. This is not one of those days. And it`s only noon.

It all started last night. The kids went to bed at their usual hour (upon their request), but instead of playing in their rooms or even going to bed (ha!). There was clearly a full moon because literally every 2 minutes both sets of kids were opening their doors asking for something. Or complaining. Or having to pee. I know your bladder is tiny little man, but there ain`t no way you need to pee every five minutes. They were testing my patience for sure. I was on the phone so I couldn`t exactly exercise my full parenting authority, so instead I ran up the stairs (yes, ran. Even at almost 33 weeks Mama`s still got some cheetah speed), gave them the darkest, scariest look I could, and closed their doors. I took toys away. I put a gate in front of the boys` room. I pulled out some of my hair. Good times. Finally, at 10pm I went in, tucked them all into bed one last time, and had a chat with the  boys about the consequences of getting out of bed that they would not soon forget. I am mean Mama. Fear me.

 So they finally slept and importantly let baby girl sleep. I was pretty wound up but I fell asleep after another hour or two (or three). All was well with the world. Until I was awoken by the shrill cry of the oldest boy. He had wet the bed again. It was just a little, but it was the third day in a row (routine change clearly in order). And he woke up 5 minutes before the alarm went off for the start of my husband`s day. There was changing, soothing, throwing a towel on the bed, then the dream of temporary peace. Smarty pants boy waited until 10 minutes after his Daddy left to start his usual routine of coming out into the hallway 100 times until he had successfully woken up the entire clan at least an hour sooner than they`d normally get up by themselves. Thanks kiddo.

So we got up. Had some breakfast. Put a smile on. The first few hours of the day went remarkably well all things considered. They was cuddling, quiet playing, and some laughter all around. Thinking I`d take advantage of the communal good mood, I set up to give the boys their haircuts for Easter. They were starting to look pretty shaggy around the ears and the clock was ticking, so I went for it. For the first few minutes big boy was pleased. It tickled even. Then, for less than a millisecond the clippers slowed down on a thick patch of hair. Drama. Screaming. Kicking. Tears. Unfortunately we`d reached the point that if I didn`t continue he`d look ridiculous, so I had to sit down behind him and lock my legs around him while I did my best to finish quickly. Big girl wanted her bangs cut next. Quick. Easy. Perfect. Baby girl wanted a hair cut too, which not only did she not need, but might have been a disaster. Cue baby drama from her. Moving on. Little boy gets his hair cut. Again he thinks it`s fun to start, but for no particular reason melts down within a few minutes. He`s smaller so a little tougher to hold still but I somehow manage to get it done. Getting kicked is not my favourite. But I got it done. Victory.

After all was said and done the boys were giddy. They love the results if not the method. While admiring my handiwork I noticed all four of them had claws like baby wolverines. Normally I`d just let it go, but with all the hitting the average toddler racks up, I knew they`d be slicing each other to shreds in their mini battle royales. I don`t know how things work in your house, but my kids seem to be convinced that fingernail clippers are tools of torture and that I am using them solely for the purpose of gleefully causing their slow, painful demise. It took far longer than it should have, but I managed to cut the nails on 40 fingers and 40 toes.

I`m sure my neighbours and any passersby are convinced I am a serial child abuser based solely on the volume level of my house this morning. And that was just the morning. Praying the day turns around a little, but in the end I can`t help but smile at my life. Sure, there are days when I feel like I`m never going to win a single parenting battle with them, but that`s not so bad. I get to spend every day loving them in their littleness, and helping them grow into the men and women I`ll always be proud of. I just hope I can continue to grow with them and be someone they`re always proud to call Mom (or even Mommy. I`d be okay with that). I`ll keep clutching to that while they`re clutching to me.

Baby 5: Hospital Bag

I figured it was finally time to pack my hospital back. Not so fascinating piece of trivia: I bought the bag I've used for every hospital trip for my pilgrimage to Rome in 2000 for World Youth Day. Right after getting home from giving birth to baby girl, the shoulder strap broke, but I love the capacity of the bag enough that I'm willing to carry it by the handles. So, here's what I packed! At the end is a list of everything, including what's either not pictured (no of my underpants!) or not packed yet!
Toiletries: Deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, facial moisturizer, bar soap, hand cream, disposable nursing pads, razor (don't judge! I'm going to be able to actually see my legs for the first time in months!), shampoo and conditioner (travel size, not pictured) and my favourite lip chap. I find all the hospital very dry, so I made sure to include everything I need to stay moisturized and happy! I also have a zip up clear bag I throw my toiletries in.

New this time around, reusable cloth nursing pads with a waterproof zip-up bag for used nursing pads. Brand: Charlie Banana, bought at Fluffy Bottom Babies

These are new this time around too! Based on my own personal hatred of scratchy disposable pads and the recommendation of a friend who used them after delivery her second child, I decided to give reusable nursing pads a try. I have 12 of the postpartum style. Brand: Tree Hugger Cloth Pads, bought at Fluffy Bottom Babies

Two full pairs of pyjamas plus an extra top! I plan on living in these! I got them off the sale rack at Joe Fresh for about $7 for each set.

The ever essential nursing cover! Peekaboob brand, purchased at the Royal Diaperer last pregnancy. A real favourite for me!

Adorable and very large Lulujo swaddling blankets with cute little owls on it, bought at Fluffy Bottom Babies! While this may not seem essential, we got one of these for baby girl and it's still a favourite. Plus, the owls, they're so stinkin' cute! 

This was a big ticket item for us last pregnancy: A delivery gown from Dressed to Deliver! This buttons down for easy nursing, is comfortable enough that I wore it pretty much the entire last month of my pregnancy last go around, and has hidden buttons all along the front and the back for easy access for fetal monitoring and (if I had wanted one) an epidural. The jersey fabric is really comfortable and breathes well, and I couldn't get over the fact that despite my messy delivery, the dressed pulled easily out of the way and washed beautifully. Seriously, one of my best delivery purchases!

A little hat I knitted for the little man after we found out he was a boy. I suspect it will be too big, and additionally that it will be too warm in May for this hat, but I made it, so it's coming.

This is a part of my packing I've refined a lot since our first baby. I used to pack a week's worth of clothes, but I've whittled it down to two pairs of yoga pants and three nursing friendly tops.

Adorable Bummis newborn sized diapers! 24 prefolds and three covers (Yes, only three covers instead of four. I somehow lost one. My eye is still twitching). I love these because they dip down to make room for the umbilical stump. They're also very easy to use and so cheap! I bought one pack for baby girl and loved them, so this time we got another pack the weekend we found out we were pregnant at Fluffy Bottom Babies!
I'm pretty minimalistic when it comes to baby clothes. I suspect he'll spend a lot of his time in just a diaper at the hospital so we can be skin to skin as much as possible. That being said, I got out two newborn sleepers we've had since we were pregnant with our first. They were shower gifts for sure and very cute!

After a little thinking, we also picked out a little outfit to bring the man home in! A pair of shorts (he'll have his legs covered with a blanket!), the "I'm the Little Brother" shirt my husband bought the day our oldest son was born from the hospital gift shop, and a sweet little knitted sweater, which was a hand-me-down from one of our families. It could be from my Mom, but it seems statistically likely (since she gave us so many from when my husband and his brother were babies) that this is from my husband's family. It's so tiny and cute!

The aforementioned bag. It looks pretty full, but there's actually quite a bit of room left in it!
My biggest tip for any Mom's packing a hospital bag is to bring whatever you think you'll really need, but know you can always send someone home for extras. Also, there's lots of stuff you can't pack more than a month in advance (like your phone charger, your camera, etc) so make sure you put a list of everything you need to add to your bag on top of everything inside your bag. When you're in labour, you'll be too scattered to try and remember what you're missing. Making this list will also soothe your nesting instinct nicely! I also recommend if you have older kids to have a note for whoever will be watching your kids with any information about their routine and eating habits that'll make things easier. That when they show up you won't feel obligated to explain at length that your kids love ketchup on everything and don't want any of their food touching each other (or whatever maddening eccentricities you feel that it's only fair to disclose).
So, for the sake of clarity, here's my packing list:
Nursing bras (2-3. Mine are all from Nummies and I love them! I have one that's a jersey fabric that's perfect for labour)
Nursing pads (both disposable and reusable)
Postpartum menstrual pads (yes, first time Moms, pads. Bring lots!)
Delivery Dress
Yoga Pants (2)
Shirts (3)
Pyjamas (2 pants, three tops)
Socks (the fluffier the better!)
Underpants (of the ugly and huge granny variety, you've got to hook those mega pads to something)
Nursing cover
Diapers (24 prefolds + 3 covers)
Fancy receiving blanket (which I slept with in the bed for 2 weeks to get it smelling like Mama. Poor kid)
Toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, hand lotion, face cream, razor, lip chap)
Baby clothes (two sleepers and an outfit to go home in)
Now here's the stuff I haven't packed yet:
Camera (with a huge pack of extra batteries)
Slippers (hard soled so I can wear them like shoes postpartum)
Granola bars (two packs for energy for my husband and myself!)
Nursing pillow (this will be carried separately as it's kind of huge)
Zippable wet bag (I like the Fabulous Wet Bag from Bummis, great for my clothes after labour and baby's diapers)
Gum (because it's dry in the hospital and it's distracting)
Tall water bottle (I hate Styrofoam cups. One contraction and I've crushed it and spilled water everywhere. Ugh!!!!!!!!)
Both phones and both chargers
Pre-loaded iPod with neat speaker system dock (Mama needs music, I`m going to sing this baby out!)
Small statue of Our Lady of Guadeloupe (my focus object)
Rosary (his and hers)
Water from Our Lady of Lourdes
Oil of St. Joseph from the St. Joseph`s Oratory in Montreal (anointing babies, it`s happening)

Monday, 25 March 2013

Scandalous Gift of Gratitude

On the mornings that we have our Parents & Tots group at our parish, a few of the Moms (myself included) try to go to daily Mass with our kids. It's one of the little ways we're working at growing in faith together. We're lucky enough that our Pastor never pulls any punches for the weekday crowd, and consistently delivers thought provoking homilies that give us lots of material for our discussions in our group after Mass.
Today, the Gospel reading was the all too familiar story of the woman pouring out the expensive oil on Jesus' feet and then wiping it with her hair. I've heard that story thousands of times and always find it beautiful. Ever since our reconciliation service a few weeks ago, I've tried to follow our Pastor's advice to listen to those familiar stories with fresh ears. The kids were surprisingly quiet (thanks to a few extra adults there to help out!), so I found myself hearing details of the story I'd never heard before.
First of all, the woman was Mary, the sister of Lazarus. John the Evangelist makes a point of saying that this meeting was after the resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus had joined she and her sister Martha in weeping at the tomb of their brother, and then raised him from the dead. Her brother who she clearly loved, was given back to her in this life. The cycle of death was broken before her eyes. Faced with a gift of that magnitude, how would you respond? According to my Pastor's research, the nard Mary spilled poured out on Jesus' feet would be worth $25,000 by today's valuation. The people who witnessed this extravagance on Mary's part were scandalized (some might say rightly so) at what they considered a waste. But to Mary, that gift was an expression of her worship. She could not deny Jesus was God after seeing her brother come back from the dead. Jesus had conquered death, what was a mere $25k worth of ointment? How could earthly goods compare to that gift?
After Mary had given her small token of love to Christ, we hear Judas complaining that the money would have been better spent on the poor. Here again I heard a line I had never noticed before at John 12:6:
 This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it.
Rather than being a man concerned for the poor and exasperated at the wastefulness, I saw for the first time another side of Judas. He, who had seen Jesus perform so many miracles, used the gift of this woman to attempt to stir up scandal. Surely the others in the room were already thinking the same thing, but I wonder at the image of one of the apostles openly criticising her. Mary's gift was an expression of her faith in Christ's divinity, but Judas' words show how closed his heart truly was to what was before him in the person of Jesus. Judas is shown to be a thief, riding on Jesus' coattails to make money off the backs of those generous enough to give money to the apostles for the service of the poor and weak. It's easy to see why he would have been upset over the loss of the 300 denarii when not too many days later he was willing to sell Jesus out for a mere 30 coins. Here he was, calling out Mary for his own gain, when he not only wouldn't give a penny of his own money for the poor, but was even taking from money given for their care.
How often is the Church criticized for its beautiful buildings and art, saying that all of it should be sold off to serve the poor? (If we can ignore the fact for the just a moment that they only people who could afford the art being preserved in the Vatican Museum (just for a small example) would be the super rich who would  be acquiring that art as material possessions rather than for the service of the poor... And if we could also ignore that selling off all the earthly goods of the Church would only be a temporary fix and wouldn't actually solve the real problem of poverty...) People continue to be scandalized by the beauty of the Church, and the way we adorn her. Part of that comes from the fact that, like Judas, they don't recognize the divinity of Christ and the miraculous beauty of the Church He established. If the Church is just a social club or maybe a charitable society, having a golden Chalice and marble statues is excessive. On the other hand, if the Church is the Bride of Christ, the site of a daily wedding banquet to celebrate the Bridegroom who gave His life for His Bride, how can we not adorn it? Yes, we have a duty and obligation to give service to the poor. This is part of the daily mission of the Church. At the end of the day we should seek to ease the suffering of the poor as much as we can, and attempt to feed the deep spiritual hunger of the poor in spirit as well. That does not mean we should deny Christ honour and glory in what earthly ways we can. Our Church is a house for the Eucharist, the true presence of Christ. We lay Him in safety in our Tabernacle. If Christ is truly in our Church, should we not like Mary adorn what is at His feet in a way befitting our belief of His Presence and Divinity?
We are left knowing that we must keep a delicate balance of praising God and serving the needs of those around us. It of course burns a little to hear the constant criticism of people in the First World who would happily see the Church stripped of all its finery, but wouldn't give up their earthly goods to serve the poor man they meet on their own street. Just like Judas, they'd use whatever means necessary to criticize those who love Christ. They are more than happy to use the poor as pawns to  try and scandalize the sensibilities of those who are not yet convinced of the divinity of Christ. The Devil always finds his way to quietly whisper something that sounds like truth but then to twist it to tarnish our vision. Yes, serving the poor is an essential part of being Christian. Yet, what makes us Christian is not our service, but our faith in the divinity of Christ. We are called to remember and celebrate the gift of Life given to us through Christ's sacrifice on the Cross. Like Mary, sometimes words don't seem a great enough gesture for that gift of Life. Sometimes we want to spill precious oils at the foot of the Lord, regardless of what those around us may think.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Baby 5: Week 32

How Far Along: 32 Weeks (8 weeks to go!)

How I'm Feeling: I am clearly in my third trimester. I'm finally well enough that I'm not hacking up a lung or going through at least two box of Kleenex every day. But because I'm in my third trimester, I am tired ALL THE TIME! And maybe a little cranky. And slightly round in the belly. A rather insensitive family member happened to comment on my size (he may have repeatedly said I was HUGE, despite warnings that I was more than little offended). Lucky for him I was too tired to let my crankiness win over.

What I'm Thinking: I am full of ideas and plans for the next 8 weeks to get things done around the house. I have a lot of daily chores I need to catch up on, but I'm also plotting my course of action to get things done for the baby's room. Nesting instinct has taken over completely, and I can't think of our sweet baby boy without wanting to rip the house apart and put it back together in slightly more sensible order.

What I've Done This Week: We did it. We got baby girl's toddler bed all set up and she's been sleeping in it about a week. The first few nights were a little hairy, but now both girls are loving the added freedom. In the process of getting the toddler bed out of the nursery's closet, we managed to shift a few boxes. So we're a step closer to cleaning the nursery out. We have a lot of stuff to give away that's taking up an unnecessary amount of space too.

What I Hope To Do Next Week: No options left but to start making some trips to the good will with all the extra bags of toys and clothes cluttering up that room. Other large furniture will either get a listing on Kijiji or find a home in the garbage. I feel like we're finally on the verge of making some progress! It'll only take a few trips to really free up that room for the real work of doing the floor over.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Changing Spaces

We have big plans this week. We are starting to talk about getting rid of a bunch of bulky furniture to make room for less cluttered, cleaner living. We've already started down that road by taking dressers out of the kids rooms in favour of using our hall linen closet for their clothes. The baby's room seems to be a magnet for furniture, so we're going to tackle that room next. Just to give you a sense of what's in there:

1. A double mattress
2. A dresser
3. A couch (that folds out into a bed)
4. A coffee table (which has a glass top and has huge sentimental value)
5. 2 side tables (made in Italy and also huge sentimental value)
6. Glider rocker with pop up footrest
7. 2 Cribs (was a crib and a toddler bed, but baby girl is in her toddler bed now!)
8. Closet full of boxes (clothes, papers, toys)
9. Bag upon bag of clothes, toys, etc for donation
10. Newborn/infant baby gear (carseat, bumbo chair, rocking chair, you name it, we got it)

This is the smallest room in the house. How did we manage this? Everything is just piled in there willy nilly. Not so welcoming for baby boy. We've finally decided we've hit that point that we need to just clear everything we can out. What'll be staying: one crib, the glider rocker and one of the little side tables (Mama needs water while she feeds!). The coffee table and second side table will be finding a better home somewhere else in the house, but everything else will be finding a new home at the good will (except the mattress, we'll just give that away on Kijiji).

All this baby room clearing out has inspired us to check out the state of our livingroom. After seeing how well Lent has gone without TV, we want to take the TV out of our livingroom entirely. We'll probably set it up in the baby's room (which will become a TV room for the kids once baby boy moves into the boys room) and have a DVD player with it. Don't worry, I won't be putting on movies for baby boy at night or whatever, but it would reinforce that watching a movie is something special that we have to go to a different room to watch one. I refuse to use the TV as much as I have in the past when I have a newborn. I've been sick and exhausted for most of Lent, and yet I haven't had to turn to TV more than once. I realize with a newborn I'm going to be way more put out, but I've noticed of late that my kids actually prefer a dance party to zoning out in front of the TV (are these really my kids? haha). With that in mind we'll also be disassembling our somewhat massive TV stand that my lovely husband made for me a few years ago, and in its place setting up a proper play area. they already have a little table a friend made, so all we'll need is a proper bin for their toys (which, SHOCK, we already have upstairs taking up space).

The great thing is that we won't have to buy anything new to make this happen. To have a space we're happier to live in, all we'll have to do is rearrange a few essential pieces, and clear stuff out. Thank God for our van, because we'll be able to get pretty much all the extra stuff in just a few trips. Once all the extra stuff is gone, we'll be able to take a break in the middle to lay down some new flooring to ditch the nasty, stinky, puke-green shag carpet that is inhabiting that room. Anything else that we're not %100 sure we'll need again we're going to pack into watertight boxes and store in the attic because I am TIRED of all our closets being the dumping ground of stuff we can't get rid of but don't need for every day. I'm hoping that very little will need to be packed that way. I know some papers from University will make it up there, but I plan on being ruthless with as much as possible.

Wish us luck!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Baby 5: Week 31

How Far Along: 31 Weeks (9 weeks to go! Single digits left, what what????)

How I'm Feeling: Excluding the lingering congestion which is pretty normal for me while pregnant anyway, I'm feeling pretty great. I'm still getting winded easily, but between my girth and the congestion that's normal. I'm feeling huge these days. I can't even wear baby girl in the ergo anymore because I can't find a way to get her and the straps comfortably over my belly. Ninja baby is working hard trying to make his home in whatever position would result in the least comfort for me at all times, all the while kicking me. He's big enough now I can actually feel elbows, ankles and feet digging in. This is wonderful because I've been able to share all the movement with my husband too.

What I'm Thinking: This little man is growing fast and strong. I'm in a little bit of shock that we're into single digits for weeks left until the due date. A little idea of what he might look like is growing in my mind. I have the sense he's going to look like his oldest brother, who, by and large, is the stand out in the family as he looks the least like his other siblings. His two sisters and one brother are all cut from the same cloth looks wise, but our oldest boy really has his own look. He looks the most like his Daddy of all the kids. I don't know why, but I have this idea that our newest son will look like his oldest brother with his big expressive eyes (and eyebrows, Heavens those eyebrows which can raise so high!), his sweet mouth and his strong little body.

What I've Done This Week: We stocked up on a few Mama essentials this week for when baby comes (believe it or not even more pjs, because you can never have enough). After some discussion we also decided baby girl is ready for a toddler bed as she can now crawl up and down off higher surfaces, and seems to hate being constrained in her crib. With that in mind, I spent Friday cleaning up the girls room, taking out all the smaller toys, and just generally decluttering the hundreds of toys big girl had accumulated in her room. All that's left in their room now is a large wooden dollhouse with toddler safe figure and furniture, a desk for big girl's school time, their dresser and their beds. I feel so strongly that it's essential to give this a try before the baby comes because I don't want to deal with big bed drama with a new baby to worry about. 9 weeks isn't a lot of time, but I think it's enough.

What I Hope To Do Next Week: Still no work done on the baby's room, but it really won't be much (ha!). We're so busy with life in general these days that the big thing, the flooring, keeps getting pushed back. The closer we get, the more simplistic my desires for the baby's room are. There's some bags of toys to donate in there as well as a couch, and then we can start slapping down some flooring and assemble his crib. I'm sure once we get started it'll all go very quickly, it's just finding the time to clear out the room!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Baby 5: Week 30

How Far Along: 30 Weeks and 1 day (9 weeks and 6 days to go!)

How I'm Feeling: The Mom cold of doom has more or less subsided. I'm still congested, but I'm not in possession of a leaky faucet for a nose, so I feel like I'm winning. Unfortunately I'm still short of breath when moving more than an inch at a time (you should see me trying to go up and down the stairs), but with the stuffy nose, the baby pushing on my lungs, and all the extra baby-ness on my front, this shouldn't be surprising. This week I've also seen the resurgence of my favourite symptom, nausea, paired with some delightful acid reflux. The only thing that helps my nausea is eating but eating anything causes reflux. Time to stock up on the antacids. And so it goes. Oh well, I'm just so glad to not be miserably sick with a cold or flu that it's all good here.

What I'm Thinking: I've been having problems sleeping this week, and when I am asleep I'm spending a lot of that time dreaming about labour, getting ready, and life with a newborn. I actually dreamt I was packing my overnight bag the other day. I am such a dork. I should probably do that. Otherwise I'm starting to feel emotionally ready. With only 10 weeks until my due date, there's a good chance we might not be "perfectly" ready with all the little details for his room cleared away, but so long as he has some diapers and a place to rest his wee head we'll be good. I know these next 10-12 weeks are going to fly by, and I look forward to cuddling with my tiny ninja.

What I've Done This Week: I've been focusing on getting my laundry done, but I did manage to get out and buy some new pajamas, which I consider new baby essentials. I also finally wrote up my list of what's necessary before baby boy actually comes. Crib mattress, diapers, baby leggings, that sort of silly stuff.

What I Hope To Do Next Week: As always, baby boy's room is taunting me. We will probably go to our favourite baby boutique to pick up some baby essentials to put in my hospital bag (some Mama essentials) and once I have the new diapers, I'm going to prep and pack them. This week for sure. (ha!)

Friday, 8 March 2013


I wrote a post a few days ago about Confession. I basically explained that I haven't gone in a long time, and was struggling with it. That same night, I left my sweet babies at home in the gentle care of their Daddy, and made the walk down to the Church. When I decided to go several hours before it was a beautiful clear day, not a cloud in the sky. At 6:15pm when I hit the road for what should have been a 10 or 15 minute walk (or shall I say waddle?), there was a less than delightful rain/snow mix hailing down from the sky just slow enough that the faster I walked, the wetter I got. And cold. And whiny. Before I was even down the hill from my house, I considered turning back for the warmth and comfort of home. I honestly wasn't feeling the idea of going to Confession anyway, so the bad weather seemed a fine excuse to turn back. Just as I was about to turn around a song came on my iPod that paused my whining thoughts in my tracks. It was Audrey Assad's Breaking You (I've included the YouTube link at the bottom). It felt like Jesus was singing in my ear, singing of the pain in my heart. The line "Right now you don't know who you are, but I won't give up on you" really hit me hard. Jesus wasn't giving up on me. He was inviting me to come to Him and get the help waiting just a few more minutes away. Sure, the weather was ugly, but no less ugly than the sin in my heart that needed to be washed away. I just needed to show up and God would take care of the rest.

By the time I arrived at the Church I was worn out, uncomfortable, and nervous. I did my best to make some small talk with people as I cleaned myself off a little in the entry-way of our Church. I could feel that lump in my throat, the fear I was already feeling. I could intellectualize all I wanted about how easy it would be, how good it would feel, and how important it was, but my sin was whispering doubt and fear and judgement in my ears. I sat down in an empty part of the Church (near the front, if you're Catholic you'll get this. We are back pew dwellers by and large), but quickly small groups of people I knew sat around me. I wondered if they could feel my anxiety. They probably chalked it up to how ponderously pregnant I looked and felt. I find the hard wooden pews very uncomfortable when I'm pregnant, so I'm entirely sure I made a spectacle trying to sit and stand with a modicum of grace. The service was nice, although I can say easily the highlight was the Gospel reading. As it common in these settings, it was the parable of the Prodigal Son. I was fully ready to go into auto-pilot when our Pastor asked us to listen to the words as though we were hearing it for the first time. What an invitation! How often do we hear the Gospel and think "I've heard it all before!" then go on making our assumptions for what we will hear. That invitation to listen with fresh ears opened me up in a way I couldn't imagine to the beautiful imagery of a loving and merciful Father. If I can leave you with one thought, it would be to go and read the parable of the Prodigal Son like it was the first time you'd ever read it. I defy you not to cry as the Father runs to his son, saying he was dead but now alive again. That reading set the tone for the rest of my experience.

When all the prepared service was done everyone there (a good number in fact) wandered off into little lines to wait to have their confession heard by one of the many priests who had come to serve us patiently. I decided I'd go see my Pastor, who I've known since I was 15 or 16 years old (100 years ago now, right?). I knew I could give him the Coles notes version without feeling the need to over-explain. God knows my sin, but the point is that saying it out loud is so important. It gives me freedom but also accountability. So there I was in line, waiting, waiting waiting. I started to get jittery and considered simply leaving. I was in fact moments away from doing just that when I saw something that changed my heart. There was a young girl in front of me with her Mom. I found out later she was in grade 4, just a few years older than my oldest child. She looked a little anxious too, but when her turn came she went right up and received the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I was pleased to see this young girl out on a school night, choosing to go up and do something I, a grown woman, was so nervous about. When she was done, she came running back to her Mom (who was next in line) and gave her a big hug, tears streaming down her face. She was the picture of the joy and was clearly overwhelmed by her experience. I was so incredibly moved by her simple display of faith, by how deeply she felt the forgiveness she had been so anxious for. While I stood in line I leaned over and let her know that her joy made me want to go up too, that I was really nervous as I hadn't been to Confession in a long time, but that I wanted to feel the way she felt when I came down. She was shy and smiled so sweetly. A little Saint in the making I think.

With that in mind, I waited a little longer and then my turn came. I thought my heart was going to explode, or fall out, or simply melt away I was so nervous. Sounds so silly, I know. I am so out of the habit of seeking out the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I could barely think as I walked over and sat in the chair across from my Pastor. Thankfully, I managed to blurt out right away how I was feeling, that it had been so many years, and that I couldn't even remember what I was supposed to do. The picture of a gentle Father, he prayed with me, invited me to share what I needed to share, and listened with patience as I rambled for a few moments. No admonishments. No judgements. No taunting or teasing. Simply joy that I had come back seeking mercy. For my penance, he asked me to go home and read Luke 15, the parable of the Lost Sheep. At the end he smiled and I realized that I hadn't really been breathing for the majority of my time there. I was waiting for him to tell me what a bad person I was maybe? I don't know. Instead he laid his hand on my head to bless me, and with that the last of my fears washed away, along with my jealously protected sins. In their place flooded in a feeling of peace. This was what I had been running away from, pretty much my whole life. The Sacrament of mercy, forgiveness of peace. How can I cling to my sin so firmly knowing that this is what I could exchange it for? No more excuses. Time to trade my fear for security.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

I Have a Confession...

I am kind of ashamed as I write this, but I can't remember the last time I went to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. My husband, bless his beautiful God-loving heart, tries to go as often as he can. He even has a Spiritual Director who hears his confession by appointment. My dear husband makes time for Confession because he knows how important it is to him, and leaves feeling his heavy burdens have been lifted. Every time he comes back home after being washed clean, he is a different man, a happier man, a man filled with grace. I want to hold him closer and try to get some of that grace by osmosis.

And then there's me. I'm sure I've gone since, but the last time I know for sure I went for confession was when I was in Rome for a month. That was in November 2004. I'm sure I went once or twice in 2005-2006 (which was when I was in the Franciscans and then when I got married). I've also attended general absolution. Before that trip I had a close friend who was a priest who would hear my confession, with whom I felt so comfortable sharing all the darkness in me. He took me seriously, talked things out, and gave me penance that challenged me and helped me grow stronger against my sins. Then he moved away. I'd had some good experiences with other confessors, but nothing really clicked. I was relying too much on their ability (or lack thereof) to talk things out, and not enough on the fact that through them Christ was reaching out His hand to take away my sins and relieve my burdens.

I grew up in the days when private reconciliation was very uncommon. My parish ran frequent third rite Reconciliation services where we'd all be communally cleansed. My father was never big on Confession from what I could tell (or if he was, he didn't share it with me) and my mother was a recent convert and hadn't been able to make the leap about this Sacrament. The year of catechism that was supposed to have First Reconciliation, my parents didn't send me. I had my First Reconciliation in High School after I'd had my conversion, and was overwhelmed and puzzled by the experience. Since then I've always struggled to force myself to seek it out. I was so lucky to meet a priest who was able to gently teach me the value of the Sacrament, and also to walk me through the process. He helped me realize that this was a Sacrament, something I needed, something given to me as a gift to heal my heart, cleanse my spirit, and help me grow in strength of resolve. Whether or not it's delivered the way "I like it" (whatever that means), the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a conduit of grace and mercy.

Even knowing that Reconciliation itself is a grace and not a burden, I've still managed not to seek it out for far too many years. It's not like I haven't needed it. I try always to be a really positive person and to live my faith inside and out, I am by no means perfect. I am not a perfect friend, wife, mother, daughter, or Christian. Sometimes I'm downright bad at all of those things. For far too long I've been using motherhood as an excuse not to force myself out the door. I'm still plagued by nervousness and fear of Confession. God knows my sin, and yet I am afraid I'm going to go into the Confessional and God will shake His head at me. Sounds silly. I know.

So this Lent, I'm forcing myself out the door. I'm going to answer the dulled whisper of my heart calling me to reconcile myself to God. I want to say I'm sorry to Jesus for the the scourge of my sins, the nails of my faults, and run back into God's arms crying mercy. On Easter, I will be able to remember that the Cross is the happy fault that redeems me, not an endless sacrifice I won't accept. Pour on the mercy, Lord. Fill me with Your Grace. Help me through the Sacrament of Reconciliation to draw closer to Your Cross and to go forth and sin no more.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Baby 5: Week 29

How Far Along: 29 Weeks (11 weeks to go! Uh... what????)

How I'm Feeling: I clearly spoke too soon. I manage after one day of feeling okay to catch the very brutal Mom cold. I can't help but think that those Man Cold ads (ugh, sexist, but anyway...) were based off of my experience of being pregnant with a cold. I would like nothing better than to take a long, hot bath, have the maximum dosage of some cough/cold medicine, and sleep on my belly for as many hours as I can. Well, I shouldn't say I'd like nothing better, because what I like best is this beautiful baby boy, and the knowledge that my sickness isn't bugging him (pretty clearly as he continues to practice for some career in either mixed martial arts or soccer). But at least 2nd to him would be medicating myself back to sanity. Oh well! You win some you lose some. I feel bad for the kiddos having such a whiny, layabout, cranky Mama! They've been real sweethearts about how lousy I've been feeling, and haven't made any complaints about my less than stellar parenting.

What I'm Thinking: I know I shouldn't be because I've been counting down since the early days, but I'm totally shocked that we're only one week away from 30 weeks. I'm excited we've reached safe birth age (although of course having a preemie is by no means my desire, stick in the full 42 weeks like your sisters if you need to little man!), but I'm abundantly aware that despite my weekly reminders in the form of this blog we are still by and large unprepared. In all reality his room doesn't NEED to be ready for birth as we'll be co-sleeping more than likely, but my nesting instinct is wreaking havoc on my sanity. I had a dream the other night that we brought him home and made his bed in a drawer (which was a story told to me by a medical professional of her own parenting choices when we were pregnant with our first that stuck to me) I layed on the floor next to our bed. Not exactly a nightmare, but clearly the voice of my conscience is accusing me for not being more on top of clearing out his room before now.

What I've Done This Week: Baby-related, the only thing I did was switch over to the looser maternity pants (this boy is hanging out on my hips!), have lots of parties and fun times for our oldest boy who turned 4, and felt generally miserable with my cold. I barely showered this week or wore non-pyjamas. Not a banner week, folks.

What I Hope To Do Next Week: I have lots of laundry to do, so I hope to finally prep those teeny tiny newborn diapers and wash my hospital bag (it's been in limbo since the first baby, perpetually half packed. It needs a good freshening up). If I can check just one non-survival thing off my list this week, I'll feel like I've done something. High hopes here.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

"I Will Give you Shepherds"

When I was discerning, one of the documents I came across was a post-synodal exhortation (try saying that three times fast!) called "Pastores Dabo Vobis" which translates to "I will give you shepherds" and is a reference to Jeremiah 3:15. The hopefulness of that quote is that God will never leave us without a shepherd to wander through the desert without end. A shepherd is someone charged with the loving care of his flock. Jesus used the image of the shepherd to tell beautiful parables about His abiding care for each individual child of God. Before He ascended to Heaven there to remain until His second coming, He gave us Pastors, or Shepherds to continue to guide His fledgling Church through the desert of this world. How grateful I am that God hasn't left it all up to me to find my way to Heaven, but has given me earthly guides to inspired and lead me along the little way of Christ.

As Catholics, our Shepherds are the priests, Bishops and most of all the Pope. The Pope, through constant prayer, consultation with scholars and Bishops, and the study of the Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition, guides us as our chief earthly Shepherd and works to preserve the rich depths of our faith as it has been handed down. He is charged with praying for all of us, but also to remind us always to hold strong to our faith. Our most recent Pope, Benedict XVI, used his papacy as an opportunity to guide us like a good Shepherd, point us always to Christ. One of his greatest contributions to Christian thought was his series called Jesus of Nazareth. He never pointed to himself, except to point out his own frailty, and used all his strength to point always us to Christ who redeems us. John Paul II used his papacy as well to point us to the love of Christ, reminding us always "Do not be afraid!" as we sought to come into closer relationship with Jesus. These men, so seemingly against the culture and irrelevant according to modern media, have been doing the only thing necessary to win our love: Fearlessly preaching the Gospel, with authenticity and truth. Neither of these two great men bent under the weight of increasing societal pressure to modify, tweak, or change the essential doctrine whose sole purpose is to keep us in right relationship with God and draw us up into relationship with Jesus. Both of them saw that the whims of culture change like shifting sand racked by a windstorm of popular opinion. The Church of Christ was built on a rock, not on the sand.

So as we live through this time where we have no earthly shepherd, we turn to God in patience and anxiety to see who will be our new earthly shepherd, our new Peter. When John Paul II passed away, it felt so easy and smooth as then Cardinal Ratzinger took the tiller on the barque and guided us all through the early days of Sede vacante. When they announced "Habemus Papam!" and his kind face came out to wave in disbelief at his flock, I felt reassured. The Holy Spirit was with us, taking care of us, giving us a shepherd after God's own heart. Right now, there are many good men who could take up the tiller and steady the boat, but no one man stands out to me the clear choice. I'm sure the Cardinals are lying in bed right now pondering the same question, but with a greater weight than I. Our new Pope is more than likely among them. Is he lying in his bed with the fear and doubt of Peter, but also the faith to say that he will take up the duty of feeding Christ's flock when he faces the Cross of the papacy soon to be presented to him? As all Catholics cling together on our boat, rocked by the wild storms on all sides, I'm sure even the man who will be our Peter is wondering if the Lord is asleep in the boat. But truly the Lord is not asleep. In these days He lets us steer the boat, but entrusts us with a man to take the tiller and keep our course between the rocks steady and secure, following the route the Lord charted for us nearly 2000 years ago. I trust that the Holy Spirit is guiding the Cardinals to see and elect the man God has chosen, a man who will turn from his own desires and his fear, to take up the staff and get to the work of strengthening and feeding Christ's weary flock. God will give us a new shepherd, a shepherd after His own heart.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Your Song

When I was a kid, my Mom had a song for all three of her kids. Each was a old folk ballad she'd sing to get through the long nights with babies. I remember one family trip in the car when she sang my oldest brother's song while we drove through the long night. He was 16 years old, but that familiar old lullaby put him right to sleep.

Now I've got my own kids. I tried my hand at the lullabies I grew up on, lots of them local folk ballads and they just didn't feel right. Gradually over the past few years my husband and I have found songs for our children, songs that they love and that we love to sing with and for them. Songs that comfort them in sickness, sleepiness, or just need of us. Much to our delight, four unique songs became their favourites.

Biggest girl, our Princess par excellence, took an immediate liking to this song. Cinderella is her favourite princess, so of course she'd love this song. She likes to sing it to us now, which is a real heart breaker:

Biggest boy gravitated immediately to one of his Daddy's favourites, Beautiful Boy by John Lennon. Although we do love John Lennon's original, the boy prefers the cover from the Amnesty International album Instant Karma, sung by Ben Harper (that's my boy!). Every night, he begs us to sing this at least once, but especially when he's feel low. He's even got little hand gestures for certain parts to illustrate it.

Our almost three year old boy also loves to hear Beautiful Boy, but his favourite song has become the short but sweet "Love you Forever" from the Robert Munsch book (one of his favourite books too). He calls it the dragon song (which he tells us he is) because the first time we heard it sung was on a very old TV special that they have on Netflix. What could be better than being told that you'll be loved forever, liked for always, and my baby as long as I live? So sweet.

Baby girl's song was chosen for her. Maybe as she gets older she'll change her mind, but somehow I doubt it. When I was still pregnant with her there was one song that always made her dance in my womb. Once she was born, that song carried both of us through the early sleepless nights of breastfeeding. Now that she's a year and a half, it's the song I sing to her as we dance our way through the days. It's Bob Dylan's "If Not for You", although the version I'm in love with is the cover by Derek Webb and his wife Sandra McCracken.

And finally we have a song that my husband and I love to listen to over and over again. It's kind of our theme song for this stage of our life as a family. Every time it comes on I want to gather up all my little blessings and give them lots of hugs and kisses.