I live in a split level home with stairs everywhere. There's even a little step leading from the kitchen to the living room which is weird and deadly but something we've learned to live with. To be honest with you, I've come to embrace all of our stairs for the simple fact that in the midst of bustling large family homeschooling life, they are my Stairmaster.
By the end of the day, I'm usually tanked. Nothin' left. At almost 8 months pregnant, I have entered into the it's-time-to-have-the-baby-now phase. The final lap. A loooong lap.
Be that as it may, I am well aware of the need for some kind of exercise and no, even heavy housework doesn't seem to be enough. I am talking about exercise that deliberately prepares the muscles to handle increased baby weight, softening joints, and the significantly athletic event of labor. Housework is not worthless but more often than not, it is the vehicle by which I am made aware that my level of fitness is abysmal. It is the painful reminder that my back needs abdominal muscles in order to remain in the correct position. It is the visible assessment of my pitiful endurance level. I had a load of clean load of laundry to carry upstairs yesterday and I just stood in the basement and stared at it miserably. Then, like an angel of mercy, the Chief appeared at the foot of the stairs. Oh happy, happy moment! My knight in shining armor! PLEASE darling... carry this basket up for me?
When I was the mother of two, I thought it would be fun to become a certified prenatal fitness instructor. I grew a rather impressive collection of prenatal workout videos over the years. Where are they now? The VHS tapes are useless and donated. The DVD's swapped or sold. As the mother of 6 born children... well, I am just trying not to throw my back out doing the dishes, know what I'm saying?
Every once in a while I pick up some hand weights. And now that the weather is nice I have been forcing myself to walk. With my last pregnancy, the Chief and I were walking 4 to 5 (miserable) miles a day for the last 3 months and this time I'm barely able to eek out three. I was also able to maintain a little muscle while coaching volleyball during the last trimester. This time... well... I tried to rub out a muscle cramp the other night and I realized I had no muscle to rub. I couldn't figure out where the pain was originating. It's very sad.
Labor and delivery with my last baby was only about an hour and left us 8 minutes to spare for delivery after getting to the hospital. It was crazy fast and I would prefer a little more time (for the red lights) but I have to think that all those miles and miles of steps helped with labor efficiency. As much as I would not like to relive the last stressful experience of labor, I have to admit that there are some advantages to being quick.
My thoughts also tend keep jumping ahead to the future and how I'm going to turn things around after I have the baby. That's fine. I can do that. But it simply isn't true that a pregnant woman cannot increase her level of fitness. I have done it. It isn't pretty and it isn't dramatic but it's possible. At this point, anything I do will be an increase... and a blessing to my family. They deserve to have me at my best, not weak and injured and utterly tapped out at the smallest efforts due to my own negligence of bodily health. Not to mention the fact that I'll have a baby to carry around pretty soon.
Weights and walking. That's my prescription. A little at a time. Sometimes a very little. For the greater glory of God... in service to His children.
Ways to Combat Pregnancy Back Pain
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
It's been a very long time since we've listed anything on Etsy but we're back on with a brand new shop. It was a birthday gift to Cookie last year and the plan is to teach her the ins and outs of creating, selling, and shipping over time so that she is proficient by the time she leaves home. Cookie and I have so many projects on our to-do list and a lovely stock of items from this year's craft show. It all comes down to TIME. It takes time to list and we keep putting it off. But I am very pleased to introduce our collaborative effort... Rose & Willow.
The shop's shelves are a bit sparse but we decided to just begin rather than waiting to be perfect all at once. :) I have been on Etsy with various shops for over 5 years and have done well enough. However, most of my business has been via local repeat customers from shows and some consignment. But I do love being a part of Etsy because it allows us to reach like-minded customers all over the world.
I sold this little guy on Etsy (dry needle felted) to a customer in New Zealand a couple of Easters ago.
Our first listings in the new shop are for handmade laundry soap. We have been using this (and selling it locally) for over a year and I no longer get terrible headaches and congestion when I do laundry. I used to use All Free and Clear but I still suffered. Our handmade laundry soap is tough enough for all of our family laundry with no airborne chemical fumes or skin irritants. The only softener I use is vinegar. I add it to the rinse, the clothes are soft, and it eliminates the need for dryer sheets. Details about ingredients and detailed directions for use can be found in the listings.
I strongly encourage my readers to explore healthy detergent options. I encourage you to try making your own (there are about a billion different recipes out there... check Pinterest!) But if you are not a do-it-yourselfer or just want to try it out to see if it's worth your time... we'll be happy to sell you some. :)
We were motivated to finally open our doors after a repeat local customer purchased 11 pounds of lavender laundry soap from us. I thought: What are we waiting for? We know it's good stuff. Let's get out the camera and start listing! So here we are.
Questions about the product or purchasing in larger quantities? Feel free to contact me through Etsy or email.
"Wrapped Up in a Good Book"
This Minky blankie set (sold on Etsy) now lives in Alaska in a book-loving household.
Monday, May 20, 2013
For those of you who haven't done this yet, I'll detail our most recent potty trip for you (to give a real life view of the thing) and then provide a convenient list of helpful potty training tips. I am not an expert. I just have an abundance of experience in the ups and downs of it all....
About 15 minutes ago, Little Cub came running up the stairs in nothing but his new underpants. Where are you going? I asked...
To the bafroom.
Did you already pee in your pants?
Okay. Go sit on the potty and I'll be right there to help you.
*Child does a suma wrestler walk up the stairs, trying not to let his legs touch his wet unders*
As I followed him up, I stepped into a wet area of the carpet where he had been standing and sighed, making a mental note to come back to that.
Once in the bathroom, I noted a little puddle on the floor in front of his little potty and his soiled pair of pants (#1 and a bit of #2) next to that. He had been watching a Veggietale video with his sisters and apparently missed his body cues. I calmly sat down on the edge of the bathtub and smiled encouragingly as he concentrated while still trying to pretend that I wasn't paying too much attention to him.
I'm done! he shouted. And he lifted up the little bowl filled with his accomplishments. I smiled and told him what a great big boy he was becoming and we flushed together.
I then put a diaper on him. It's getting late in the day, you know. Enough is enough. We can scrub up and cheer on more tomorrow.
I sent him on his way back to his sisters and proceeded to wash the carpet, the bathroom floor, the little potty bowl, and do the proper thing with the underpants (if you must know, I threw them into the bathtub until I can get them into the wash later tonight).
That's reality and it's okay. I trust that he will be trained by high school. For those of you new to this (or just needing a little multi-child boost), I offer you a list of helpful hints based on my experience...
1. If you have carpets and plan on potty training more than one child, replace the carpets with hard flooring asap if possible. I know carpeting is comfy, but it will only take a couple accidents before you know the value of my advice.
2. Embrace the messy. It happens. Sometimes all over the place. Don't freak out. Say a prayer and just clean it up. If you freak out, you'll just make it harder on yourself and the kid.
3. Don't yell at the kid for an oops. Just don't. It never helps and just freaks them out about the whole experience. Express your frustration audibly one too many times and you will be rewarded by a fearful child who suddenly figures out how to hide urine-soaked underpants, probably under your couch.
4. Don't throw a party every time they go. Enthusiasm is warranted but try not to give the thing more than it deserves. Just act like it's the most natural thing in the world. Give smiles and hugs liberally but not disproportionate to your normal encouraging behavior. Remember that there will probably be momentary lapses... and if your general approach is even and not overboard, the child won't feel like a horrific failure during the oops times. Instead of "OH NO! WHAT DID YOU DO???!!!" try "Oops... oh well, it happens. Try to get it into the potty next time okay? Don't forget to come get mommy if you need me to fly you there super fast. Shall we get you another pair of underpants? Uh oh... they're all dirty. That's okay. I have an extra diaper."
Communicate and love well. Refrain from excessive drama and your child will take your cue and transition more calmly
5. Encourage a healthy relationship with the "big potty" as soon as possible. If the child is overly attached to the little plastic trainer, peeing at Grandma's and in public restrooms is going to be challenging. This is physically challenging for tiny people but not impossible. You know how they can move the chair, climb onto the counter and find the candy you've hidden on top of the fridge? Yeah... they can handle the potty with a little practice.
6. Refrain from buying an expensive neon singing training potty. See #4. I like our plain white Baby Bjorn (pictured at the top of this post) because it is so normal looking. No frills. Get on, get off, move along.
7. Bring sanitizer wipes, plastic bags, a towel, and DIAPERS in the car and keep them there while training. No need to be a hero. Prepare well. This is a process.
8. Try to schedule the first days with underpants during warm weather. This will make it a whole lot easier to manage laundry since there will be fewer clothes to soil. There is also more time spent outside in the grass instead of on your living room carpet.
9. Every child is different. Honor that if you're working on kiddo #2 or beyond and be flexible with expectations.
10. Some children will do well during the day and not so great at night. Some kids are naturally very deep sleepers. We have had two of these (a smoke detector sounding in the same room would not wake them so wet sheets certainly made no impact). Don't panic. Don't freak out. If you are losing sleep and changing sheets DAILY, just buy pull-ups and gently work on it. You need your sleep. Don't talk about it in front of others and don't put undue importance on the matter. Just love them through it and make sure you find the wet pull-ups if they try to hide them under the bed.
11. Ask them frequently if they have to go and learn the signs of "holding it." Seriously, this is a big part of the process. They need to learn how to pay attention to and evaluate their body signals and it is not as easy as we imagine it should be. Even if they say "no".... just use your mommy sense and take them when it seems like it should be time.
12. If your boys are too short to reach, do not attempt to teach them the standing up method yet. In fact, even if they are not too short, don't teach them that yet. You will regret it. Everything is a target. Just sayin'.
13. Don't be afraid to wait for readiness. I know there are mamas out there who claim to be able to train babies. I admire that but have no experience with it. My own experience is with toddlers and that the process goes a lot more smoothly when maturity (mental, emotional, and physical) is in line with your goals.
14. Practice firm, loving discipline in all areas of life. Don't freak out. Communicate well.
I'm sure there are more. Add them in the comments if you'd like. Here are a few possible obstacles (there are countless) to potty training to be aware of:
1. Child is afraid of falling in the toilet and getting flushed.
2. Child is afraid of a little black thing on the floor that looks like a spider.
3. Child is afraid of his own stool. I'm not joking.
4. Child is afraid of being in the bathroom by himself.
5. Child is afraid of turning on the light by himself (or is unable to reach it).
6. Child does not wish to interrupt playtime in order to go and would rather sit in it.
7. Child has an extremely laid back temperament and simply isn't interested.
8. Child is accustomed to being allowed to throw terrible fits when anything doesn't go his way and refuses to cooperate (this is a much larger discipline problem that will certainly affect potty training).
9. Primary caregiver (that's most likely you, mama) has issues with drama/temper and has undermined the child's confidence.
10. Child doesn't like the color of his underpants. Please see #8
The answer to all of these obstacles is patient, calm, firm, and attentive caregiving. Just like everything else in parenting. There will be many times as they grow that you wish parenting was as easy as potty training. This moment is a blessing and, by the way, makes hilarious memories.
Stay cool, mama... and love well.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Like new thrifted Rare Editions Dress $2... sweet frugal victory!
Yes, yes, dear. Of course, you are right. But it's the thrill of the thing... a gal aught to have a little bit of thrill once in a while. (You can see here that I am really rather easy to please... he aught to be very grateful.)
So today, I took the kids in search of garage sales and we had a great time and SAVED a bunch of money. If my husband wants to focus on how much we SPENT... well, I guess he can just be that glass-is-half-empty kind of guy if that makes him happy.
The biggest find was a "new" bike for Crash. The kid has been without wheels for many weeks. First, his hand-me-down rollerblades broke and then his bike bit the dust. An 11-year old boy without wheels is like a fish without water.
I've been looking for bike deals for a while and have passed on rusty, worn jobs that are regularly featured in yards. But today, I found the the perfect sized bike with working breaks and tires that still have the treads. They were asking $40, we got it for $25. The boy is happy, happy, happy. And I saved at least $15.
I can't wait to tell the Chief that I saved him hundreds today. I saved $200 on one dress alone. It's true! Someone, somewhere spent way too much money on a handmade boutique dress and gave it to a child who never wore it. Then they gave it to the Salvation Army who sold it to the woman I bought it from. I paid $2 for a little girl's dress that still has the original price tag of $200.
The kids found some Christmas presents today as well. One is a lovely used item and the other is still in it's packaging. The total for two Christmas gifts = $1.50. Even my penniless kids can handle that (by December anyway).
They do like to haggle. One of my youngsters today set a personal goal for his trip: "I would like to find something for 50 cents and only pay 40." He was successful. He thought he saved 10 cents but I was quick to inform him (on behalf of the Chief) that he has simply spent 40.
In spite of the fact that I never buy anything I don't need at garage sales *ahem*, my kids are terrible at this. Truly terrible. It is a great blessing, in fact, that they have so little spending money. They would buy the junkiest, most useless stuff ever. Actually, they manage to do that anyway but not in tremendous quantities. I could put a stop to the insanity every time but at some point, a mom's got to let a kid learn those hard lessons. You don't have enough money for the new fill-in-the-blank you want to buy? Ah. Well, I guess you shouldn't have spent all your cash on:
a used racquetball.
a broken ipod.
a mug with the handle on the inside (it's a "Polish" mug, folks)
And no, I'm not joking. My kids actually bought those things and I actually didn't stop them.
I, on the other hand, found another adorable dress for Jellybean. Gymboree in perfect condition with little embroidered giraffes and cute things... $1
Yes, yes, dear... it adds up. But it would add up significantly faster if I actually shopped at Gymboree.
Authentic Gymboree playing in the woods modeled by authentic little girl.
Shoes are always a great thrifting victory. While the idea of wearing other people's old shoes does not appeal to the Chief (something about foot fungus scares him off) I think that kids' shoes are not usually as gross; first, because they grow out of them so quickly; and second, because kids don't have foot fungus nearly as often as adults.
My successes today:
Suede boots for next Winter for Jellybean. $1
Mass shoes for Little Cub when he's a bit bigger. $1
Little Cub trying on his new shoes a couple years too soon.
Free Stuff. Because my kids are so well-behaved when we go to yard sales, they inevitably score free stuff from people who would rather give stuff to us than have to pack it up again. I can't say that most of the free items have been nice. Most of it hits the trash within 24-hours. But it certainly makes the trip more entertaining for the littles. Today was no exception.
I should have said no. I don't know why I didn't. I don't even like new Barbie dolls and have never purchased any... and now, my daughters are in possession of 3 ratty, creepy looking fashion dolls in outfits right out of an Abercrombie catalog. When the woman offered the dolls, Button looked at me with her best puppy dog eyes and I (hungry, tired, and confused) said yes.
Once we got in the car, I got hold of myself and told them to enjoy the moment because they were not keeping them, nor were those things entering my house. They played with them for an hour on the driveway and now... the dolls are mine *evil laugh*.
No offense to those of you who allow Barbies in your house. I simply can't tolerate them.
Some people mistakenly think I'm a nice mother. But they have no idea that I throw out Barbie dolls. :)
Joining Jen at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday
Thursday, May 16, 2013
I was disappointed when I read Mark Shea's post attacking Lila Rose and Live Action. I read with an open mind but also an increasing frustration and renewed awareness that yes, we are often our own worst enemies in the pro-life movement. Debate and accountability are a wonderful and healthy thing for Christian people. I do not object to Mark Shea issuing a concern. But even if Shea were right in his conclusion (I am not of this opinion), his timing and methods are questionable.
The Church Militant does not need sensational headlines and clever quips mired in shallow theological blah blah jamming up our comboxes. What we need is a holy boldness that follows the firm direction of the Church. Does that ever involve theological debate over the essential details? Absolutely. Does it justify a public attack against an ally in the midst of a critical battle? I'm not convinced.
I once had a conversation with a leading member of a national pro-life organization. She told me that she doesn't believe the pro-aborts have done half as much damage to the pro-life cause as pro-lifers themselves. She remarked that the biggest and most absurd divisions always seem to come at the most critical times.
Exhibit A: Mark Shea's recent criticism of Live Action.
Shea recently used a public forum to accuse Live Action of using sinful tactics to expose Planned Parenthood. That's a huge charge to make against fellow Christians, particularly one doing more good than most people on the pro-life front. His timing (just when the pro-life momentum is making incredible strides) and choice of venue strike me as being careless. His theology is also a bit careless and that is really where his entire argument breaks down.
First let me say this: I am not a moral theologian... but my husband is. I had my own thoughts on why Shea was wrong and presented the article to the Chief to get his impression. He was immediately able to identify the problems with Shea's argument. I'm hoping he'll write the academic version of this article since he is most qualified. In the meantime, I think the thing just needs to be said: Shea's argument is flawed.
Is lying ever permitted?
Shea's primary objection to the undercover work of Live Action is that the end doesn't justify the means. Lying is always a sin. Therefore he contends that undercover work, for whatever reason, is not morally justifiable.
There is no question in Catholic teaching that lying is objectively wrong. There is not even room in there for a "little white lie." But there is a also a body of thought within Church tradition (including Fathers and saints) that discusses and weighs the degrees of gravity and culpability (Shea acknowledges this) and also, the idea that it can be morally permissible to withhold the truth in certain circumstances from those who do not have a right to it.
If what Shea is saying is absolutely true -- that Live Action's undercover work is deceptive to the degree that it cannot be justified -- then the following must also be true:
~ Police operations that rely on undercover work in order to stop evil are never justifiable.
~ Undercover military operations designed to stop the spread of evil are never justifiable.
~ Turning evil away from killing or defiling can never be done by withholding the truth.
It is not my intention to overthrow the Commandments of God but rather to issue a question mark to Shea's conclusion in this circumstance. I leave the nitty gritty to the theologians. If Shea allows for the above three examples but denies the same concession to Live Action's work, then he grossly misunderstands the horror and evil of abortion. On the other hand, if he concedes that all undercover operations of police and military are immoral, then he will certainly find himself on the opposite side of a great many faithful theologians and saints.
Worthwhile article on lying here: Is Lying Ever Right?
Is Live Action "tempting somebody to commit a mortal sin"?
This is the primary objection that Shea has to Live Action's undercover work. The lying bothers him but the purpose of the lie bothers him more. He suggests that the presence of a potential customer will tempt the abortionist to have murderous intentions and draw them into mortal sin. He opines that it is possible that the abortionist is on the cusp of conversion and that Live Action may have ruined the moment.
Personally, I think this is the weaker of Shea's arguments. First of all, the doors of the abortion mills are open to the public and they welcome all who can pay. They do not need to be convinced or coerced to schedule a regular appointment. They engage in mortal sin simply by accepting appointments and walking through that door. They advertise and do what business owners will do to get business. Second, abortion is legal, so the undercover work is not designed to "trap" anyone but to find out what goes on in an actual legal consultation. Additionally, Live Action's undercover work is also legal and has not violated any particular rights of the clinic workers. Live Action has only opened doors through which they were invited as potential customers.
To suggest that an undercover operative is disrupting the work of personal conversion is as bizarre as suggesting that it is better to allow a child sex ring leader to convert on his own good time because we wouldn't want to interfere with the work of the Holy Spirit on the man's heart.
A sound argument can certainly be made, however, that the forcible stopping of evil action is good for the soul of an evildoer... that the work of stopping evil can do more for converting a bad man than permitting him to continue in it. We can always do our best to love people peacefully to conversion. In the meantime, we must do what we can to stop their evil actions from claiming the lives and souls of innocent people.
The "lie" of Live Action is that their undercover women pretend to be pregnant and to be seeking an abortion in order to see and hear directly from the abortionists and staff what cannot generally be heard in any other way. Clearly this falls under dishonesty, but again, there are volumes of Catholic debate between good and holy people that discuss whether this type of action in defense of life is ever permissible. And there are a fair number of theologians and saints who would not agree with Mark Shea.
In order to catch evil in the act for the purpose of securing public safety, covert operations are often indispensable. It is not a matter of "trickery" or of causing a person to do what they otherwise would not do. It is a matter of exposing evil actions already being committed to the light of day. In America, abortion is legal and consequently, fighting this battle is complex. This is not simply a matter of catching a criminal... but of exposing the reality of abortion so that Americans will be moved to stop it through democratic process.
What this really comes down to is that Shea has determined to speak definitively for the Church where she has not chosen to speak. Lying is objectively wrong. No question. But there do appear to be some very narrow areas within that teaching which have been debated by good people (including saints) for centuries. Shea is certainly free to join that discussion, but his attack and divide method leaves a wounded, confused, and weak body, and ammo for the enemy. I have no doubt that he intends well. But I also feel compelled to speak to his error.
A final note...
Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life fully supports the person and actions of Lila Rose and the Live Action organization. I spoke with a representative on the phone today and he was very familiar with Mark Shea's criticisms since Shea has been writing in this vein for quite a while. Apparently, Father Pavone is also aware of Shea's position and yet continues, in spite of that, to enthusiastically support Live Action and link to their work on the Priests for Life website. This does not prove my position, but it does demonstrate that there remains room for healthy debate between faithful Catholics on this matter.
I am not perfect. I am not a theologian. My confidence is not in myself but in Christ Jesus and His Church. I submit this post with humility and subject myself completely to God's grace and mercy. If any unpleasantness comes of it, I offer it for the sake of the unborn children who are scheduled to be murdered in abortion mills. And for their mothers and fathers. If I discover that I have spoken in error, I commit myself to correcting it promptly.