Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Monday, April 30, 2007

The Announcement

I hope all of you are sitting down; the shock won't do so much damage. It appears we've done it again. The next Pricelet should be visible to the unaided eye around Christmas. Technically, the due date is January 1, but I've never made it to a due date. Merry Christmas!
Of course, The Boy is pulling for a brother. I understand the theory, but we've prepared him for disappointment in that aspect. God knows better than we do what we need, and if it's another sister for him, that's what we'll get.
I went to the doc today and all is well. She wants me back next Thursday for a confirming ultrasound; I'm cool with that. We'll also get a Level 2 scan around 5 months since I'm 35 (anyone--what does Level 2 mean? is that one of the 4-D ones?).
This feels different than January for a host of reasons, one of which is there's been no spotting. And I'm always hungry. I've never gotten sick (just a little queasy in the mornings with Madeleine), but now I'm the other extreme. I'm like the plant in Little Shop of Horrors, except it's directed at actual food instead of cannibalism. And the girls are tender; that only happened with Madeleine before, I think because I was still nursing one when the next came along.

So that's the big announcement. Yeah, we're excited. As my in-laws said, now we really need to sell this house!

So, what's with this big "announcement" thingy?

People are getting curious.

Or is it just me?


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Anti-homeschool snark alert

I'm feeling sarcastic and irritable, and I figure it's probably better to take it out on some nameless victims for your amusement rather than my husband and kids (mostly).
Shelly had a post a while back about meeting some anti-homeschooling kids who made the usual ridiculous remarks about kids having friends.
Now, these are not the most Christian replies and I've had a couple days to stew them. And yeah, if I'd actually said these, I probably should confess.

"Don't you care whether your kids have friends?"
Gee, I'm so selfish I haven't thought about it. That and I'm too busy. I'm running all of them to church, the younger three to the weekly park day, the middle one to basketball, the second oldest to horseback riding lessons, the 14-year-old to fencing or to CLASSES AT THIS VERY INSTITUTION or keeping an eye on all of the kids hanging out on the trampoline in my back yard to worry about whether or not my sons have friends.

"High school was the best years of my life."
Wow. That's really sad. You're what, 20? Wow. You've probably got another 45 years or more of life left. And it's all down hill. I kind of thought of high school as some of the most confusing, misunderstood, misrepresented years of my life. Since high school, and in no particular order, I've gotten a college degree, spent a semester in Europe, traveled to Quebec City twice and New Orleans once (before Katrina), met and married the man of my dreams, gotten a job I'd been dreaming of for 13 years, had three wonderful kids, bought a home, been to a World Series game, and rediscovered my Catholic faith. High school is nothing compared to any of those. But if you really think the best years are over, maybe you should just cut short your suffering and spare the rest of us your insipid whining until you die.

Or, slightly more charitable (but no less sarcastic):
"High school was the best years of my life."
Wow, your high school years must have been fantastic. Since high school, and in no particular order, I've gotten a college degree, spent a semester in Europe, traveled to Quebec City twice and New Orleans once (before Katrina), met and married the man of my dreams, gotten a job I'd been dreaming of for 13 years, had three wonderful kids, bought a home, been to a World Series game, and rediscovered my Catholic faith. Your high school years must have involved intergalactic travel and the Nobel Prize to beat those. Have you thought about taking some time away from this trivial pursuit to write a book?

Now the sun is shining and I feel better. Coincidence?

Friday, April 27, 2007

How many tune out?

We've started first grade with Madeleine. Since we didn't take three months off for her to forget what she's learned, we rocketed through about the first quarter of reading and spelling. Phonics is easy and so we're into the second quarter of that, too. First grade math we started back in January, I think, and science was easy to catch up on.
We're doing stuff now, in almost-May of her "kindergarten" year, that if she were in school she'd be covering after Halloween, maybe Thanksgiving of first grade.
I'll admit, though, it's taken her upwards of 45 minutes to do her two-page math assignment some days. Not because it's difficult but because it doesn't hold her interest. It was too easy.
This isn't about how terrific and bright Madeleine is (even though I'll admit I believe that to be true). It's not about how bored academically I think she'd be in a regular school setting.

It's about tuning out. I think she'd do what a lot of kids do, what I think I may have done. I think she would tune out the teacher as she explained place value for the third day in a row, the same as she'd quit listening as the teacher drilled them on the sounds of D, L, F, or M for the fifth time.
I wonder how many other kids tune out the teacher and forget to tune back in, or decide subconsciously that they can get B's and C's paying attention a quarter of the time and it's not worth it to do more.
When I'm a foot and a half away, sitting at the same table, it's impossible to tune out completely or for very long. Not when the teacher is paying that close of attention, that is. Besides, she can adjust the curriculum to be a tad more challenging and thus interesting.
It just means that every day I find another reason that homeschooling was the right decision for us.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

I love days like today.

Nothing spectacular happened, except everything.

The weather was gorgeous--it hit 80 for the first time this year and nary a cloud in the sky.

Daddy and Dale went to the K of C sponsored Father-Son breakfast at a different parish, where he won a remote-control bulldozer. It IS pretty neat. They then went to Costco to stock us up on our usual loot from there.

The girls and I met Grandma at our usual mass, where Rachel only had one trip to the potty (during the opening hymn) so I was able to stay for mass. She was also content to dance in the pew instead of the aisle during the psalm and collection. Both were involved, but not distracting, with a three-year-old boy in the pew behind us.

Lunch was ham and cheese sandwiches; Rachel likes her ingredients separate, but Maddie and I kept them together. I knew my boys would be sampled-up from their shopping.

I went grocery shopping and, despite not having my driver's license (Rachel had taken it out of my wallet at church), they took my check. The manager made a quick phone call using the number printed on the check and got our machine ("You've almost reached the Prices...") I love that store.

I found the sunblock and nobody fought it. Daddy even put some on when he found his way outside.

Daddy grilled burgers for dinner, then he mowed the grass. [One of my strongest memories from childhood is the smell of fresh-cut grass. My dad had this big ol' John Deere tractor, no bagger, so it was always a project; cut this huge back yard and then rake into piles and hand-bag it. But the sound of that tractor and the smell of the grass meant "Daddy was home" and "weekend."]

So there we were this evening, having eaten a dinner I didn't have to clean up after, pushing my laughing children on the swings, with my husband bringing back happy memories of my youth.

I have some posts brewing, like one on Grandma License or Innocence versus immaturity, but those will have to wait. I just want to fade from the day gently.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

"That's the hot, Mom."

Once upon a time (fall 1992), I was living in Paris for my major. Toward the end of my stay, I was to meet a friend under the Arc de Triomphe to do some Christmas shopping. There was a tunnel under the traffic circle, I'd been told. I thought I'd walked all the way around the monument and not found it. It was getting dark; she'd already been waiting a while.
So I ran across something like 5 lanes of Parisian traffic. And survived. She thought I was nuts.

When I told my high school French teacher about it, she looked at me with awe. "God must have great things in mind for you," she said solemnly. "He'd have squashed anyone else like a bug."

That story came to mind at the most recent Moms' Night Out, where one told of her three-year-old pulling the electrical outlet from the wall. Not the child-safe plugs, but the whole outlet. When his mother got into the room fearing for his life, he said, "That's the hot, Mom."
I told Dale about it the next morning, and my thoughts. "God must have great things in mind for Daxx."
My husband chuckled. "That or a really interesting epitaph."


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

From the "Curse not the darkness, light a candle instead" department

My niece, Ruby Rose, was born at 11:15 PM yesterday. Seven pounds, twelve ounces and 21 inches long. My sister arrived at the hospital dilated to 6 and they didn't have time to administer an epidural.
Everyone is just fine; I suspect big brothers Gregory (8 next month) and Nash (5 in August) are thrilled.

Monday, April 16, 2007

I thought it was a bad idea before...

Just a quick one before I get to take three small children on a few errands.

Madeleine is five--kindergarten age. We just started the Catholic National Reader Book One, so I estimate she's got a first-grade reading level or so. I'm reading Wilder's On the Banks of Plum Creek to her.
Yesterday, just for fun, I asked her to read me a paragraph from the chapter we're in. She could choose it. So she read:
"Jack was waiting to meet them at the ford that night, and at supper they told Pa and Ma all about school. When they said they were using Teacher's slate, Pa shook his head. They must not be beholden for the loan of a slate."
The only word that gave her pause was "beholden."

My quick thoughts: Why are we dumbing these down again? Do we have zero expectations for our kids?
And: the longer we homeschool, the better decision I think it has been.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

I love to cook.

I know, it's one of those housewifey things I'm supposed to find drudgery, but I don't. I love the creative aspect, the watching for changes, the tasting, the warm full feeling of a well-prepared meal. Baking goodies is my favorite. Except cakes. They're a creative letdown.
I've developed a fondness for banana muffins. It's only Betty Crocker's recipe, nothing fancy. And it's something the kids can and really like to help with--peeling and mashing the bananas especially. But I add things. It started with chocolate chips (I use 1/2 cup), then butterscotch chips (preferred by my husband).
Today was the day to make them, since the grocery store closest to home has bananas for 29 cents a pound and if SOMEONE IS PAYING ATTENTION HE'LL BRING SOME HOME. We're deep in the throes of making them and I realized we're out of chips--no chocolate, no butterscotch. I found a bag of M&Ms, though. Why not?
I think the banana does something to the coloring in the candy shells because I saw the streaks of color as I spooned them into the cups, but they're still delicious.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"You're mine."

These were the words from my husband at a particularly poignant moment this past weekend. For some reason, my thoughts lately have turned to my past transgressions. I brought many things to our marriage (Corelle dishes for 12, same for Oneida flatware, a set of Revere Ware, a sense of humor) but my purity wasn't one of them.
I've been reluctant to share these thoughts with him because I know it hurts him to think about. He's the only one I can share these thoughts with, really, who will understand. He knows me so well he can tell my mood by how I'm turning pages in a magazine.
So, he figured out what I need to hear and, at a moment while he had my complete attention, said, "You're mine. Regardless of what you may have done in the past, you're mine now and for the rest of your life." I burst into tears.

But isn't that how it's supposed to be? Isn't that what Christ says to us at Baptism, which so many celebrated on Saturday night? In the second half of that Ephesians reading that gets all the feminists in a snit, doesn't it say something like, "Husbands, love your wife as Christ loved the Church." (He died for Her, you know.) As God the Father loves the people of Israel. No matter what she's done or how far astray she has wandered, if she is sincerely repentant, forgive her. Love her.
That's how Jesus feels about us, too. (In our case, the sins were committed before they were relevant to him, but the aftereffects have lingered.)

Since that moment, when those thoughts try to intrude, my husband's words come back to me. They drown out all of the "What ifs" and my regrets.
And that, my friend, was a wonderful thing to carry around in my head and heart at the Mass of the Lord's Resurrection, contemplating the Risen Christ.

"You're mine."

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Monday, April 09, 2007

I needed this today.

Okay, well, I've needed this for a while.
Elizabeth Foss' take on burnout. We were taking a week off math, anyway.

Via Danielle Bean.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

Just taking a minute to wish all and sundry a blessed Easter. Especially those of you who had to work today.

The turkey's stuffed and in the oven (why turkey? Because I don't like ham), the potatoes are waiting to go in, Rachel is asleep, Daddy's getting a break, the other two are playing quietly together. We already had our egg hunt and went to Mass. Palestrina and the monks are loaded in the CD player.
What more do I have to do? Break out the Regina Caeli card, I suppose.

God bless!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Here's a great idea!

It's a Catholic Dads' Blog!

I'm proud to say that Dale got in on it kind of early; it's still growing. So, you dads out there who blog, or moms who know dads who do, tell 'em about it.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

What can I tell her?

I've kept you updated on Rachel and the potty; for being as stubborn as she is, she's been the easiest of the three. She was even dry yesterday morning. She's very proud to be wearing training pants--just like her big sister!

Yes, you read that right. Madeleine still wets the bed--more appropriately, her training pants. We cheer when she's dry in the morning, which is maybe once a week or every two. Dale has woken up wet maybe once in the past year and we don't bother to cheer. Sometimes he points out, "I was dry, too," and we golf-clap. He rolls his eyes.
It's a non-issue for her. We've never made a big deal out of it so neither does she. When staying with her cousin around New Year's, I overheard her explaining that girls just wear training pants at night. It's kind of a relief that she isn't ashamed; still, a little discretion would be nice.

I'm not asking for advice about alarms or that stuff. I know about spare sheets and waterproof mattress pads and she doesn't get any drinks after supper. We're visiting her pediatrician in a couple weeks to make sure there's nothing medical about it; if it's just something she needs to outgrow, I'm fine with that. She's so wonderful in every other way, I'm not complaining. Besides, you don't get to choose what your kid needs therapy for.

The question is, what will we tell Madeleine if Rachel gets out of training pants at night before her big sister? The Boy has to go commando in his pajamas or he gets a rash, plus he's a boy. That made it easy to explain. I know all kids are different, but I think it would be more like letting Rachel drive before she gets her license.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

On surrender

That's what motherhood is all about. From the moment one is pregnant (especially if it's a surprise), one has signed over to forces outside anyone's control.
Leaving aside modern science, most of us don't choose the genetic makeup of our child. We can time things to encourage one sex over the other, but that's about it and it's not a given. Eye color, hair texture, full height--these traits are beyond our ken.
We cannot control how each pregnancy will treat us. Morning sickness, varicose veins and their location, stretch marks, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia--their occurrence and severity are unpredictable. We read labels of every medication in the cabinet to see if it's safe or, if we know in advance, cease taking it.
We cannot foretell how or when delivery will occur; I think even scheduled caesareans have some potential for surprise.
Then we watch our child develop, attentive to clues as to what kind of person they are. As my sister has said in a rare moment of wisdom, "You don't get to choose what your kid needs therapy for." We watch them smile, laugh, roll over. We try to get them to sleep through the night, we wait for them to crawl, get teeth, walk, talk. And we have no control over when.
We worry about these things like we could change them: "Johnny is eleven months old and doesn't have teeth yet?" We wonder what the child is being fed. "Bobby was walking at ten months old?" And we are impressed. Like these things are a barometer of the mother's expertise or devotion.
There is not a teacher on the planet who can tell which child rolled over first, or walked, slept through the night, teethed, or potty-trained. Not one.
[What can teachers tell? They can tell which child is read to at home. Which child watches way too much television. Which child is permitted too much junk food or misbehavior without consequences. These are things we can control, which is something of a relief.]
But back to surrender. We can't control so much about motherhood; it's rife with lessons in humility and letting go. Once one recognizes it's not all about you, and it's not all UP to you, the rest of the task becomes that much easier.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Well, THAT was easy.

Subtitled: The Potty-training Post.
How is it going? It seems to be... gone, really. Here's the timeline.

Monday--Still in diapers. Occasionally asking after #2 for a change, sometimes outright denying reality despite plant-wilting and eye-watering stink. I'm not worried but it does seem a long way off.

Tuesday--When asked about underwear while getting dressed, gave an enthusiastic "Yeah!" Lots of false alarms, some successes, but no accidents (except one #2, but I knew that would take time). Using the little potty.

Wednesday--One underwear-wetting, a couple of #2's, but mostly on the little potty. We're still working on it.

Thursday--Two accidents, both of which made her cry. The first we were out for a walk around the block, the other she was bullheaded (I wonder where she gets that?) and wanted to be alone in the bathroom. I heard her wailing through the door; when I went in, she choked out, "Mama, the peepee tome..." and trailed off to tears. "Aww, honey... Let's get you some clean underwear."
And this is the day she decided she liked the big potty better. Wonderful! One less thing for Mama to clean!

Friday--One accident; she cried, I consoled. Two requests for changes when nothing was there; I thought it must be soon. "Honey, do you want to make poop on the potty?" Enthusiasm. And success!

Saturday--Dry all day with a morning announcement of, "Poop!" And success again! I got some plastic pants as a precaution for church in the morning. Still some false alarms but no accidents.

Sunday--She was dry from before leaving for Mass until after we got home, and that includes running around at the bake sale afterward! [English accent] By Jove, I think she's got it! False alarms are much easier to clean up than accidents; I'm not going to worry about those.

I don't know what it is about teaching the toilet; it brings out the patience in me. Getting angry isn't going to solve anything and it's a big step. The child is going from complete indifference in diapers to complete control in underwear. That's a lot of responsibility for a toddler to take on. I have a hard time believing a little kid would mess themselves for spite, as well. At least, one of my little kids.
To those thinking about it--patience. Patience for waiting to start, patience for during as there will be accidents; patience for false alarms. They're trying.

Oh--one practical aspect. We toted around a seemingly-giant sized toilet seat for Madeleine for almost a year after she trained. I felt like we had a huge sign: "POTTY TRAINING IN PROGRESS!" [Thank you Shelly for teaching her to hold on to the seat to hold herself up!] The Boy never liked the seat; standing up was much better. This time around we have a much more discreet folding seat. All of about $10 from Meijer. It even has Dora on it.
Practical Aspect #2. It's time to pack away all of those adorable outfits with snaps beneath. Onesies, overalls, et al. are quite impractical when you're getting a little bottom on the potty with a stopwatch, not to mention impossible once the child starts going on their own. That's why kids' clothes have elastic waists.