Sunday, March 29, 2009

I'm an easily impressed down-stater

This picture was taken at a bridal shower I went to recently in Chicago's south suburbs. It was fancier than my wedding. There were 60+ women seated at round tables, a huge table for presents (still wasn't big enough) and then the head table where the bridal party sat. It was incredible.

I am very excited about this wedding; Nick and Mia are tying the knot and I am so thrilled for them. But I'm also nervous. The only other suburb wedding I've been to was so extravagant I felt like I was in a bridal magazine photo shoot. This one will be very similar, only this time I'm a bridesmaid. I know Mia will not care one lick, but I just keep thinking about how the bridesmaid dress is not going to fit my 26 week pregnant body that well. With all the money she's going to be spending on pictures I'd really like to look good in them for her! eek. I would at least feel better if they offered maternity versions of their dresses. I had to buy a dress 3 sizes bigger than what I was fitted for, which is a great way to make a woman feel gorgeous.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Happy Birthday to my wonderful, handsome, funny, kind, forgiving, loving, intelligent, hard-working, talented, top notch husband. I love, love, love you!

You are the best hubby and daddy this little family could ask for.

God bless you!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Updates on my babies

Lydia is almost 11 months old. She is currently cutting a new tooth. She has won the hearts of all the daily Mass attendees and priests at Sacred Heart. She is now on formula and soy and only nurses once a day. Every day she learns to do something new - it's so amazing.

As of today I am 17 weeks pregnant. I know I haven't really spent as much time reporting on this pregnancy, but that's mostly because I'm so busy with Lydia all I notice is my growing belly and aching back. However, I have heard the heartbeat (always amazing) and I've felt #3 move several times, which is so cool. A home birth is still in the plans for this kiddo, hopefully it'll happen.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I made this box (with help from Crafty Katie) for a friend who is getting married in June. Inside are bunches of letters all grouped together by theme: vocation, motherhood, love, etc. They include quotes from Scripture, a handful of books and my own thoughts, plus some blank ones for her to record her own favorite quotes and memories. She liked it when she opened it, I hope she continues to like it as she reads through them.

I also made her a couple of CDs with songs like "Real Love" by Regina Spektor and "Question" by The Old 97's.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Yesterday my cousin Brad got married. Yay Brad! Congrats to the Newlyweds!

The reception was fun and laid back. Something they did, which I had never seen before and loved, was a table with bowls of various types of popcorn and bags to fill. We all snacked on popcorn and drank beer or soda while we waited for the bride and groom to arrive.

After we had our fill, Lydia then showed up stylish ways to reuse the popcorn bags. :)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lincoln Museum

Last month Mom, Lydia and I headed to Springfield for a visit to the Lincoln Museum. It was well worth the $10. If you live in the state and want a day trip - GO! The exhibits were well done and the shows were great (kids will love the shows.)

This is in "Mrs. Todd's Attic" where there are dress-up clothes and toys from the Civil War era. It was great, especially for kids a little older than Miss Lydia. :)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pope in Africa

Not surprisingly, the the media today misrepresented the Pope's comments on condoms. I know that most people are not going to like what he really said and meant, but I still think it needs to be said.

Fr. Longenecker wrote about it yesterday, and there's no need in me trying to reword it all.

The other 'big picture' non-Catholics miss is the big picture of the whole of Catholic moral teaching. They have this idea that somehow Catholics simply think condoms are nasty and immoral. They don't understand why we think condoms are evil. They don't understand that Catholics are not just against condoms. We're also against any form of sexual activity outside of marriage, and we're against it (and every other form of human evil) not because we're spoil sports, but because we are against anything that ruins human life, abuses the human person, destroys human potential for full and complete joy and ultimate sanctification...

The Catholic Church not only calls people to marriage and abstinence from sex outside marriage; we call the world to an understanding of purity and purpose within the sacramental marriage bond.

There is a priest from rural Kenya who is studying in my diocese. He is here to earn a masters in counseling so he may return to his home diocese and better serve those who have been afflicted by HIV/AIDS. I interviewed him for an article and he said, "When this terrible disease surfaced more than two decades ago, the Church's first response was to assist these people with medicine, food, clothing and schooling for the children. This coupled with spiritual care seemed enough at the time, but our experience over the years has shown that such an intervention is not just adequate." He spoke about his work and the people he serves with great passion and love.

I think it's important to note that this priest, a man in the midst of the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa, stands by Pope Benedict and the Church in all things, even condoms.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How to support a miscarrying mother

A friend wrote recently asking for advice for how to best support a relative through a miscarriage. This is the list I gave her, all of which are things I would have appreciated while I was losing and grieving our first child. I've added a few more things and I would love to hear from others who have more suggestions. Everyone grieves differently, so everyone needs something different, but I do believe that our society does not know what to do with a miscarrying family.

1 - Say, "This really sucks," or "I have no idea how hard this must be for you," in a strong, convicted way. After awhile I got tired of the "I'm sorry"s and the "Are you okay"s. I didn't necessarily need everyone to understand, I just wanted them to affirm my grief.

2 - Offer to help them find someone they can talk to who has miscarried. Because I knew of no one else, I found strangers via the internet. Having someone understand who was willing to listen was wonderful. Please feel free to share the link to my blog where I talk about my first child, or my email address which can be found on my profile.

3 - If the parents named their baby then call the baby by that name. It frustrates me when people who know Peter's name don't use it. I feel like yelling, "Hello! He exists!!! His name is Peter Mark!" Further, if they say they have 3 kids (but only 2 are living) then you should always say they have 3 kids, too. I think people don't refer to Peter because they don't want to bring something painful up, or they feel awkward about it. But any time someone acknowledges my first child I feel like they are respecting his life, our love for him and our pain.

4 - Go see them, and don't ask, tell them you're coming and make sure the time will be a good time. Bring some meals or restaurant gift certificates and be ready to do a household chore or sit and talk or just drop everything off. If a born child had died people would come to support the family at the funeral, etc. Their church, coworkers and friends would organize meals and bring groceries, but when a family loses an unborn baby the world says "sorry" and then keeps going. That's not enough though, and we all need to do a much better job at recognizing the dignity of every life and treating every death as one to be grieved.

5 - If you can't visit then send flowers or a card. Offices will pass around a sympathy card when a coworker's relative dies but usually not when someone miscarries. I deeply appreciated the concern that came via the phone and internet but the one sympathy card that came meant more than almost everything else. That person didn't expect me to share my feelings and I didn't feel obligated to return her message, but she took the time to buy a card, write a heartfelt note, look up my address and mail it to me. It makes me cry just to think about the way she gave dignity to my grief in that gesture.

6 - There is a small book called The Christmas Box about a woman who mourns the loss of her child at the grave, which is marked by an angel statue. The book helped me cry out a lot of my emotions. Also, grieving parents have erected many of those statue around the nation (search Angel of Hope or Christmas Box statue). My cousins, who have lost 3 children, are huge supporters of the book and visiting the statue. Giving the book as a gift with the nearest statue location may also be a nice gesture.

7 - Send the parents the link to the National Shrine of the Holy Innocents. They can enter their child's name in the Book of Life. A candle always burns in the memory of the babies who have died before birth and a Mass is offered for them and their families once a month.

8 - Send them the link to Share, which offers pregnancy and infant loss support. The information there may help them feel more normal in their grief, and it would probably also help you to understand what they're experiencing.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Babies are expensive

This past week Lydia has had serious diaper rash, which was aggravated by diarrhea. We ended up going to the doctor, who prescribed some yeast infection medication and had me make PICU cream to use instead of Desetin and Butt Paste. But the doctor and trip to the drug store are not the expenses I'm referring to.

Because she's been going through diapers soooo quickly we've been using disposable diapers for the past week. On sale, the cheap brand is still around $11.

We also have been giving Lydia soy milk because as I progress in my pregnancy my milk supply continues to decrease. However, since she's not yet 12 months, and she's not getting enough breast milk, we had to get some formula. Holy cow - talk about highway robbery! With powder formula (has to be soy for her) it costs about $1.30 for each 8oz bottle.

This week has made me really appreciate how much money we've saved by using cloth diapers and nursing Lydia for so long. Wow. Wow. Wow.

Family Size

I recently had a conversation with a Catholic, NFPing mom. She and her husband are former NFP teachers and have 6 sons, so she had a wealth of knowledge to share with me.

I asked her to speak with me because while Travis and I understand how to implement the science side of NFP, the spiritual side has been more of a challenge, at least for me.

Throughout our conversation she shared what discernment looked like for her and her husband along with several chunks of wisdom. The statement that resonated the loudest and longest with me was that deciding to have another child is much bigger than if Travis and I want another one. We have to consider the child we could conceive and his heritage. So then to conceive or not to conceive grows from being a decision for one point in time for two people, to a decision for eternity and generations. Instead of putting more weight on my shoulders, this comment made me recognize the honor and importance of creating new life.

I'm so glad she was willing to share with me. While I still have a lot of study, prayer and growth that I need to do in this area, I feel like I now have a much more realistic understanding of what God and Church expect from me. And to that I say, "whew..."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

If you live in Illinois

This came as an email from Students for Life of Illinois:

"Yesterday, despite our efforts, the Illinois FOCA passed through committee with a vote of 5-2, now it will go before the entire house.

Now is the time to TAKE ACTION. If this bill goes through, it could mark the beginning of the end of the Pro-Life Movement in Illinois!
- Visit your representative's District Office: We should have LINES OUT THE DOOR! Put real pressure on your state rep to oppose HB 2354. They are usually in their district offices on Fridays and Mondays. Rally your colleagues/friends/family to pay a personal visit to your state rep and express your disgust over HB 2354.
- Call your state representative AGAIN: Don't know your Rep? Look him/her up here.
- Tell everyone you know: Ask your pastor to talk about the horrors of HB 2354 from the pulpit, and encourage the congregation to call and visit their state representatives! Stand outside the doors are your place of worship and hand out sheets of paper with info on how to contact state reps.

It is UP TO YOU to make a difference. HB 2354 could be voted on as early as Tuesday. There is NO TIME TO WASTE.

Here is a sample of what to say when you call:-------------House Bill 2354 seeks to: Make abortion a fundamental right, preventing any common-sense regulation such as parental notification; expand public funding of abortion through Medicaid and possibly state health insurance plans; undermine the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act protecting health care professionals and employers; and, mandate comprehensive sex education for all public schools.

The bill is extreme and a radical change from current law. Please vote NO."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wedding season begins for the Engstrom family a week from Saturday. We then have a wedding in May, June, July and September. As much as I am looking forward to attending these holy days to celebrate the marriages of friends and family, I am not looking forward to trying to look pretty as I get bigger and Bigger and BIGGER. Right now, at 15 weeks, I look as big as when I was 26 weeks pregnant with Lydia. Of course the reason for this is not twins but fat. How lovely. Really, when you're embarrassed about the shape your body is in (in my case very round) it just feels like a joke to put on a dress and make-up.

I know that I have gained very little weight in the pregnancy so far, which is an improvement from last time, I just hope that continues for the next 25 weeks. Here we go.

Oh - and this is not a cheap attempt at compliments, so don't feel like you have to leave one. It's just a bit of a glimpse into my attitude.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Recently, a young woman we know was given an ultimatum by her mother; neither choice was appealing to this young woman but because she felt she had to, the girl agreed to do what her mom wanted. Yesterday the mother and daughter were scheduled to visit an abortion clinic and while we don't know, at this point, if the abortion happened, we would surely appreciate your prayers for the young mother and father who wanted to keep the baby, the grandmother who felt like she was doing what was best, and the baby. We would also appreciate prayers for Travis and I so that we can discern how to best help this young woman.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Da Da

Lydia is babbling away saying, "A-boo," "da," "da da" and every once in awhile "mwa."

She is also standing for long periods of time and walking. She usually takes 5-8 steps, though she's taken as many as 12. She's still cruising and crawling a lot, though, so she's not a walker quite yet.

Does anyone else think it's pretty lame that news shows such as The Early Show and The Today Show keep using TMZ as a news source?

Seriously, it's TMZ! They're one small step up from a tabloid and a step down from People!