Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Lydia in her "I love my Mummy" sleeper on her first Halloween morning.
Letting everyone at EC know that it's her 1st Halloween.
Posing at the lake in her costume. She's the cutest lion ever! Today we went to several offices at EC, showing off her cuteness and trick or treating for Unicef. Here's Lydia playing with our Trick or Treat for Unicef container.
Roar!

Wowzers

I read this letter about saving and living on a budget. I am so impressed! I think the best advice it gave me (as far as a good starting point) is to pray, especially at the store. The woman said she prays before, during and after she spends money. What a good way to stay focused on God, from whom all good things come, smart spending, needs vs. wants, and the people I'm shopping for.

You should check it out - you will be impressed.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ahhh... the money crisis

Travis told me I'm not allowed to pay the bills any more because of how they, along with Suze Orman on Oprah and the financial experts on the Today Show, are freakin' me out.

I just read the post a Conversion Diary about money and living beyond our means and I guess that needs to be added to the list of things freakin' me out. But I'm going to make a guess that many of my friends are in a pretty similar boat as Travis and I - living paycheck to paycheck and currently putting nothing into savings. The savings thing is what really scares me. But THANK GOD we have MVV living with us. With his awesome rent (and I mean, seriously - $200 a month for your own place and the best landlords ever!) and 1/3 of the utilities we are spending less than 50% of our monthly income on fixed expenses. This is good.

So now, instead of freaking out, I'm going to make a list of all the VERY GOOD things we are doing to be financially smart.

- cutting up extra credit cards and paying off all balances
- spending no more than $65 a week on groceries unless it is a stock up week.
- begin using only cash or debit cards
- finding more recipes for tuna
- making my own bread products (this includes wheat bread and tortillas)
- buying store brands
- using coupons

Along with those things we are also
- trying to be generous with what we do have
- working on increasing our tithing to a full 10%
- making a point to thank God every morning for everything we have: our home, insurance, our cars, our health, Travis' job and job security, my job, MVV, our friends and family. This last bit is the most important, I believe.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Crying it out, Bedtime and Breastfeeding

So, here's the thing. Pretty much the only way that Lydia can get to sleep is if I nurse her to sleep. This is a alright for the most part, except for the fact that it means I pretty much have to be around every night. It can also be hard because, truth be told, I don't really like breastfeeding.

Okay, breastfeeding - it's super easy, it's super quick, it's super good for mom and baby. It creates a bond, it soothes, studies show it makes kids healthier and smarter. Breastfeeding is pretty much an absolute GOOD. But it makes for a LOT of personal contact and often, by the end of the day, I am ready to not hold my daughter any more. It's not that I don't love her, or think she's absolutely wonderful and adorable, it's just that I want to not have to touch anyone.

So that's my little secret. As much of a breastfeeding activist that I am, I don't love doing it.

Because of all that, Travis and I recently decided to try getting Lydia to sleep by being rocked or just held. But the new bedtime routine of dinner (cereal), bath, book and cuddle hasn't been working very well and in the end, after much fussing, I just end up nursing her anyways.

Last night, though, we decided to try "Crying it out." It was clear that she was tired when we put her in the crib but after 50 minutes she was still crying and I felt like a JERK. (We did the method where you go back and soothe without picking up after certain periods of time.) But in the end I picked her up, apologized for leaving her alone, asked for her forgiveness, let her snuggle into my chest and eventually nursed her to sleep.

I'm not quite sure if we're succeeding as parents in this area or failing, but I think it just depends on which camp you ask. I do know this, it will be awhile before we try "crying it out" again, if we ever do.

Any words of encouragement or advice?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

EC Homecoming

This weekend, 4 years after I graduated from college I went to my first Homecoming football game ever at Eureka College. It was GREAT seeing old friends and classmates, a lot of whom I still think of very fondly but haven't seen since graduation. A couple of things were odd - hanging out on the TKE lawn again, but this time I was holding a baby (though everyone else was holding beer); seeing SO many of my former classmates pushing strollers or holding babies; seeing people whose faces I remembered but whose names I could not recall. It was a lot of fun, and I'm very glad I went.

Today, I got out my photo albums from college. Here's two pictures in honor of two of the people I was most excited to see.

This one was taken in my dorm room at my "I'm going to San Francisco for the Summer" party.

This one was taken at the Senior Boat Party. I swear, even though it looks like he's touching me, he never did. Jacob is a perfect gentleman, which you maybe couldn't tell by his red boxers and his hat that reads, "Wisconsin: Land of Cowshit and Beer Farts."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

If I had a million dollars

Lately I've been singing that BNL song in my head a lot, which has then got me daydreaming about what I would do if I did have a million dollars. And this is what I would do, in no particular order:

- pay the taxes on it
- tithe to the St. Francis Newman Center
- pay off my college debts, Travis' college debts, and the mortgage.
- buy a hybrid car
- buy a Chevelle for Travis (since he sold his for the down payment on the house)
- buy a new vacuum cleaner (ours is a hand-me-down and doesn't work very well)
- buy an ipod
- buy some Wellies
- buy a cute trench coat
- buy all the bumGenius 3.0 diapers I could ever want (which is really like 10 more)
- buy a new digital camera
- buy a KitchenAid mixer
- buy a tv (ours needs a converter box and isn't even ours - it's my brother's)
- buy a Wii
- pay someone to finish the house
- buy a new computer because Travis really wants a new one, even though I don't think it's necessary

Now, if my estimations are correct, we would still have more money left over than Travis makes in a year. That would go in the bank.

What about you, what would you do if you had a $1,000,000?

About the feeding:

1) Ton, I think she did so well because I gave her a spoon to play with (and by that I mean put in her mouth) a couple of weeks ago so it wasn't a new, curious thing. Also, her father and I have demonstrated many times the proper way to use a spoon. :)
2) She did not sleep through the night so it did not work. Dang it.
3) She has not done so well eating the cereal since that first time. Perhaps the novelty wore off.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

yummy yummy yummy yummy yummy

Tonight we introduced solids! By doing this I did not fulfill my original goal of exclusive breastfeeding through the 6th month, but I'm hoping it will help me reach my new goal of Lydia sleeping through the night again. What can I say, I'm a better mom when I have a good night's sleep.
Look at her smile as her Daddy feeds her! She was actually laughing at the noises he was making.
By the end she was a little sloppy and had somehow lost a sock in the process. Also, when the bowl was basically empty we let her finally hold it and, of course, it went right to her mouth.
Side note: Many thanks to MVV for unknowingly letting us use his plastic bowl, of which we have none.
Side note #2: Please remember to ask me before you feed Lydia anything!
We took video. I'm sorry that I say the word "yummy" so many times that it becomes incredibly annoying. Now I know not to do that. You'll notice a couple of things while you watch the videos, like that I'm more concerned with neatness and Travis is more concerned with fun. Consider this a good example of pretty much every aspect of our lives. :)

Ramblings on today

Today has been such a good day - all thanks to the one and only, Miss Lydia Anne.

We ran all kinds of errands -exchanging some recent gifts for things that fit better, getting new shoes for Karl and Maureen's November wedding, renewing my license plate sticker, and picking up the family pic proofs. I did have to hold Lydia most of the time, which did make things kinda complicated, but her fussing was to a minimum. Seriously, we were out and about for about 4 hours and she never had a screaming fit - it was GREAT!

Also, the family pics we took were wonderful. If you are in the area, I highly recommend Sarah Hedman. She's a friend from high school and her work is natural, sweet and lovely. Unfortunately for me, though, she cannot make me look 30lbs lighter.

And on that note, my friend LB made the suggestion that they should do a Biggest Loser for moderately fat people. LB, I think we should write to them with this very suggestion and that you and I should be the pink team. What do you say?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Not to seem really greedy...

but I put a little Christmas list for Lydia on the side of the blog. Grandparents read this blog and that list is for you!

Just to fill in some details:
- Wooden blocks would be great, along with other wooden toys.
- bumGenius has some new colors in their pocket diapers and we're big fans of them. They can be ordered online from a lot of places, however, there's a store in B/N called Pinstripes & Polkadots. You can go there, call or order online. Even if you just buy ONE you'll be helping us out so much!
- Baby Legs are adorable leg warmers. They make diaper changing much, much easier and are what we use in place of tights since baby tights don't fit over cloth diapers and Travis hates them.
- Children's books: The Hungry Caterpillar, Where the Wild Things Are, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (and it's sister books), From Head to Toe, We're Going on a Bear Hunt... these are all good. :) Board books are good but not necessary. We also LOVE Sandra Boynton.
- Clothes: warm clothes to get her through the winter and spring would be lovely.

Quick Thoughts

1 - Lydia is super close to crawling. Right now she gets on all four, rocks, moves in circles and scootches backwards.

2 - We turned on the heat. It was just too cold for the baby (though I'm not complaining!). First, though, Trav had to hook up a few more vents. Last winter we had just 2 vents: one in the bedroom and one in the dining room. We were cold, but our bills were low.

3 - WIU had its Homecoming this past weekend. We headed back to Macomb but we didn't go to the game. We did tailgating with the Newman Center and then came home. It was really good to see old friends, though. And Lydia was a hit. ;)

4- I completely forgot about my friend's daughter's first birthday party. Dang it.

5 - My daughter no longer sleeps through the night and it drives me crazy!!!!!!!!!

6 - This week is Eureka's Homecoming and for the first time ever I plan on going to the parade and football game.

7 - Lydia has a tiger costume and we'll be trick or treating for Unicef this year. We have 3 reasons for doing this: a- show off our cute daughter, b - raise money for a good cause, c - hopefully score some candy for ourselves.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A matter of the heart


My very good friend, Margaret, was born with a cardiac disorder. She has undergone multiple surgeries, takes a variety of medications and every day accepts the challenge of living with her scars and the problems that arise from the condition.


She wrote about it here. If you know anyone with a heart issue who maybe needs to know they're not alone, I encourage you to forward them this link.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Katie's good idea

I'm going to feature some good ideas from my friend, Katie. This is the first one.

The centerpiece of her kitchen table is a bowl filled with Scrabble pieces. She bought an incomplete game at a second hand store. Clearly, she uses it to decorate for the season, but she also uses it as a conversation starter. It is inevitable that when you sit at her table you will begin to spell out words and string together phrases, almost unconsciously. It's fun to see what everyone doodles out.
I love this idea but won't be doing it until we get to a point where Scrabble pieces are not the same things as choking hazards.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Natural Family Planning

Maiasura asked the following question on the Poll post:


I know this is a catholic thing and that I don't need to understand. It's probably none of my business, but I'm really confused by this. If the church advocates this NFP system, why do you feel guilty about having a "contraceptive mindset"? Doesn't the name of the system imply that you are meant to use it to plan your family? I don't understand why the system is in place at all if you aren't supposed to have a "contraceptive mindset." Why not just ignore all your biological signs, go about your business, and have babies as they come? If the church says NFP is okay, why do you feel conflicted about planning your family? Feel free to ignore this inquiry. Again, I know I don't need to grasp this. I guess I'm just curious.

It's a good question and deserving of an answer. I'm going to borrow very heavily from Christopher West, a Catholic theologian who basically takes John Paul the Great's Theology of the Body and writes the "For Dummies" version. He states:


Pope Paul VI stated clearly that those are considered “to exercise responsible parenthood who prudently and generously decide to have a large family, or who, for serious reasons and with due respect to the moral law, choose to have no more children for the time being or even for an indeterminate period” (HV 10). Notice that large families should result from prudent reflection, not “chance.” Notice too that couples must have “serious reasons” to avoid pregnancy and must respect the moral law.


...The Church has always recognized that the only method of “birth control” that respects the language of divine love is “self-control.”


...Contraception, by definition, is the choice to engage in an act of intercourse, but then do something else to render it sterile...


Couples who use natural family planning (NFP) when they have a just reason to avoid pregnancy never render their sexual acts sterile; they never contracept...


To some people this seems like splitting hairs. “What’s the big difference,” they ask, “between rendering the union sterile yourself and just waiting until it’s naturally infertile? The end result is the same: both couples avoid children.” To which I respond, what’s the big difference between killing Grandma and just waiting until she dies naturally? End result’s the same thing: dead Grandma. Yes, but one is a serious sin called murder, and the other is an act of God.


So hopefully that will explain the Catholic perspective of NFP a little better.




And now to the "contraceptive mentality" bit. Some people have a very good reason to not get pregnant and to use NFP to not do so. For example, after I miscarried I was told to wait a few cycles before we tried again. We wanted to get pregnant but we also knew that for my health and for the health of the next baby we should wait. So we were "open to life" and would have rejoiced at a pregnancy, but we felt like it was very important to wait. You can also have good reasons involving money, housing, schooling, health, depression, etc. In these circumstances you are not wanting the act to be sterile - you are not trying to change sex.


But - and this is where my struggle comes in - to engage in the marital act and to not be open to life, to not want there to be any chance of a baby, this is having a "contraceptive mentality." This is the line I have to discern every time Travis and I consummate our marriage.

Maybe I've just muddied the water even more. You can read the entire Christopher West article here. Also, if my fellow Catholics feel I got it wrong, please correct me! I would love to be shown the Truth!

Autumn Pictures

I love the Fall, and so to celebrate my favorite season I thought I'd put up some pictures of what Lydia and I have been doing to mark autumn.
Lydia and I went for a good walk at Lake Eureka park the other day. She had fun.

At Tanner's Orchard.


Halloween Tree = story. I was a bridesmaid in my friend, Margaret's wedding. After the rehearsal dinner I crashed at her parents' house and could not keep my eyes off this tree. Everyone would be chatting about the wedding and honeymoon and in a moment of silence I would say something like, "How much do you think it weighs?" as I'd reach down and pick it up. Margaret's mom teased me about stealing it, and the next day, after the wedding I did hide it behind the sofa.

When I got married 2 months later, Margaret's parents gave it to me. I should now point out that Margaret's mom had waited 2 years to buy this tree, loved it and then gave it away! I was floored!

This ghost with jack-o-lantern was a bunco gift that my mom won years and years ago. I have always loved it and the way it marked the beginning of fall throughout my childhood. Last time I was at my parents' house I told my mom that a) I wanted it when she died and b) if some day she came home and it was missing, she would know where it was. And then she gave it to me!


And this is just a really super cute picture of my 5 month old baby girl.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Poll

So, I've been thinking a lot about NFP (Natural Family Planning) lately and I've realized that I do this thing where I assume everyone who is Catholic and under the age of 30 practices NFP. It can be a struggle for me to not have a contraceptive mentality at times, and so I'm wondering if I'm alone or not. I put a little poll on the side of this blog and I would appreciate it if you would take a minute to answer.

Please select all that apply when you're voting.

Thanks.

Getting to know you

I've gotten a couple of emails of this already and I thought I'd cheat and post it to the blog. That way when I get it in the future I can just reply with the link. Here goes!


1. What is your occupation right now? Stay at home mom, very part time content writer for the Newman Center.

2. What color are your socks right now? I'm barefoot.

3. What are you listening to right now? hum of the fan.

4. What was the last thing that you ate? beany wrap stuffing

5. Can you drive a stick shift? no.

6. Last person you spoke to on the phone? My mom.

7. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Stephani

8. How old are you today? 27

9. What is your favorite sport to watch on TV? I generally hate watching sports on TV, the only exception is the Olympics.

10. What is your favorite drink? rum & coke, Dr. Pepper, water

11. Have you ever dyed your hair? once, in 6th grade - it was red highlights

12. Favorite food? Can you really have a favorite? Maybe green apples and PB, or homemade bread and honey, or my monster cookies, or my pizza, or my mom's round steak with mushroom gravy.

13. What is the last movie you watched? Shane. "Shane! Come back!"

14. Favorite day of the year? Christmas.

15. How do you vent anger? I have recently taken to beating the crap out of my sofa or bed. I also let people have it... in my head.

16. What was your favorite toy as a child? Barbies

17. What is your favorite season? Yuletide, with Halloween a close second.

18. Cherries or Blueberries? Fresh - cherries, in baked goods - blueberries

19. Living arrangements? 2 story fixer-upper with my husband and daughter and MVV who rents the upstairs.

20. When was the last time you cried? Friday night with Katie.

21. What is on the floor of your closet? a pack-n-play

22. Who is the friend you have had the longest? Hedda - we've been friends since kindergarten.

23. What did you do last night? Baked chocolate chip cookies, packed my husbands lunch and watched Heroes and Life.

24. What are you most afraid of? Travis' death, followed by Lydia's death, followed by my Mom's.

25. How many states have you lived in? 3ish - one summer in California, half a summer in Wisconsin and the rest of it in good ole Illinois.

26. What is your favorite kind of flower? Tulips, I think.

Hallelujah!

Last night she slept in her crib and only woke at 3:30 and 5!

It was WONDERFUL!

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Good: I've started to loose some inches - my clothes are fitting better and I even got into my pre-pregnancy jeans (even though there was a good bit of muffin top).

The Bad: I think Lydia is teething and she is a fussy, fussy baby.

The Ugly: She's been waking up every 2 hours to nurse. Crying. Fussing. Nursing for comfort every two hours. I'm so tired.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Scone Recipe

I just tried a new recipe for scones. I've tried a lot of scone recipes and this one is, hands down, the best. I copied it from a cookbook though I don't remember whose because Lydia was screaming and I was writing as fast as I could so we could high-tail it out of there. I love it because it has simple ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen, no buttermilk or cream. But here it is:

Real Welsh Scones

2 & 1/4 C flour
1/3 C sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick butter, cut into 12 sections
1 egg
1/2 C milk

Mix the dry ingredients, then cut in butter until mixture is mealy.
Beat egg and milk together in seperate dish.
Toss the wet and dry together.
Gently knead 4 times.
Make 2 6" discs on parchment paper.
Using a floured knife cut half way through the discs making 8 sections.
Bake 12-15 mins at 450.

I added some craisins to one of mine and sprinkled them with some sugar to make them a bit prettier.
Delicious!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Love it!

I actually don't like Macs that much. But I love this because it makes very little sense.

The unwanted family bed

The past two nights Lydia has done something downright annoying: she goes to sleep just fine but then wakes up a few hours later crying. After I nurse her she falls back asleep but then reawakens every time she's put down in her crib. It's as if she just wants to be held. So she comes to bed with us. Our queen size bed is a little too small for the three of us to be super comfortable, but I'd rather sleep on my side than not sleep at all.

Have any of you encountered this before? Why is it happening and how long did it last? We know she's not wet, hungry, hurt or cold.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Big Thing that I can't let go of.

There is a Big Thing in my life, mostly because I keep it here. It didn't originate in my life, no, I came from Travis'

The Big Thing that I can't let go of.

There is a Big Thing in my life, mostly because I keep it here. It didn't originate in my life, it came from Travis'. And while he is done with it completely, I hang on to it. Tightly. White knuckled. Believe me, it takes a lot of energy to hold on to the Big Thing so well.


Travis doesn't really think about the Big Thing any more. He feels like it served its purpose and got him to where he was supposed to be: Catholic and happily married to me. In fact, he tells me the only times he does think about the Big Thing is when I bring it up.


And I do bring it up, in one way or another, at least once a week. But honestly, I think about it every day. At least once. every. single. day.


And when I hear the Big Thing referenced by others I wonder what Travis would be like if he hadn't let go of it. From a distance I can look at the Big Thing and see that we make his life very different. I wonder, is Travis really happier? He says yes.


But, and especially with all my struggles adjusting to motherhood, I don't always trust that. I am jealous of how long he had the Big Thing and how much he loved it while it was his.

To him it's a pretty Little Thing. I am the one who makes it Big by thinking of it so often. Yet, it's bigness is why I think of it so much. To me it is a large reference point in our lives. It makes me feel like I am not quite right or enough. In fact, the Big Thing is part of the cause of my struggles in adjusting to motherhood. Travis doesn't really care for the Big Thing too much any more, perhaps more so because of how I feel about it.

If you see us, Travis' arms are wide open; mine are clinging the very thing I hate the most.

It's so inconsistent

Yesterday was a GREAT day.
- I cleaned the floors.
- I dusted the living room.
- I packed away clothing Lydia has outgrown.
- I went to the bank.
- I went to the Lake and walked the trails, running into an old co-worker on her lunch break.
- I made manicotti for the first time and it turned out really well.
- I baked a galette, using up apples and pears.
- I wrapped some presents.
- I paid the bills.
- I wrote the last of the Thank You's.

Lydia played by herself or sat with me. She was great on the walk and in the car. We had a super day. And I knew all day long that it wouldn't last, that today would be horrible.

And it hasn't been horrible, but it hasn't been great. First, Lydia didn't really sleep much last night. She eventually just came to bed with Travis and I because if we weren't holding her she was crying. Then all morning she fussed and fussed. She's finally down for a nap, so maybe things will turn around now for me.

I think life has never been consistent, but it's much more pronounced now that I'm a mom.