Wednesday, March 30, 2011

music to get you through hump day

I've been sitting on this one for a little while. love it! Pete Yorn's album musicforthemorningafter was part of the soundtrack of my college years. That's just a small reason why I like this song so much. I hope you enjoy it! PS - James' surgery is scheduled for 2:30pm today. Please offer up a Hail Mary and whisper his name to Jesus for me. Thanks!

Monday, March 28, 2011

I hate the g tube

James' g tube site has not healed like they hoped it would - own its own.  He has been leaking his feedings, the g tube site is raw and bright red (poor little guy!), and he hasn't been sleeping well - we assume because of his discomfort. 

All this means that Wednesday James will have inpatient surgery at OSF to close the tunnel that runs from his stomach to his skin.  I'm not sure of the time that he'll go in, but I would appreciate it if you would pray for the following:

- that James does not get an infection at the site - before or after the surgery.
- that the surgery goes well and the doctors and nurses have hands that are guided and minds that are clear and focused.
- that James will begin to sleep well again and his long crying times will be shortened.

Thanks everyone!  We'll keep you posted on his progress!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

my idea that I'm super excited about

Today while rocking James to sleep I had a great idea.  I mean, I love this idea.  I am so excited about this idea.  Like I came downstairs and made Travis pause his movie so I could immediately tell him this idea.

Idea:  Use our Baptismal candles in our Easter decorations since every Easter we renew our Baptismal promises.

Travis was a little dismayed that I made him pause his movie for that, but come on, it's a good idea.

What else does one do with their Baptismal candles except keep them in the little box they came in and wonder what to do with it? 

Oh except for this other great idea I have which is to celebrate my kids' Baptism days with a nice dinner with their godparents, cake, and the relighting of their Baptismal candle.  Of course I haven't actually done that yet, but I have every intention of actually getting around to it some day.

So I'd love to know, how do you and your family use your Baptismal candles?  Also, do you celebrate the anniversary of your family members' Baptisms?  And do you have any special Easter decorations in mind?

Friday, March 25, 2011

7 quick takes

The above song is dedicated to the lovely Amanda S, whom I look up to as a Catholic sahm role model. Please whisper her name to Jesus.

James' g tube site isn't healing very well. There's lots of redness and leaking and whatnot. Our hope is that by Monday it'll be 100% sealed, though, or close enough that there's nothing to be concerned about. Otherwise he'll go in for surgery.

The kids and I were at St. Mary's Catholic School in Kickapoo yesterday sharing James' story. A friend teaches jr. high literature and had her students pray the Archbishop Sheen intercessory prayer for James every day. She invited us to come in so her students could get a better feel for the Body of Christ, miracles, and our awesome God's generosity. It was a lot of fun to be there and I was so touched by one tender-hearted girl who had the most beautiful look of awe on her face the whole time.

Tomorrow is Travis' 29th birthday. We're both going to be treated to a night without kids and a trip to the movies to watch The Adjustment Bureau. I can't wait to celebrate my man! (It felt silly typing that.) :)

Have you read Betty Beguiles' post The Value of Image? It was inspired by the Mormons' new promotional (?) videos. (The ? is because I'm not sure what to call them!) The videos are really neat, and Betty's thoughts really struck a chord with me. I think it's really important to share the struggles of motherhood. I think it's also important to be honest about my attempts at living a life that glorifies God. But this post reminded me how very important it is to also share the joys of my vocation and the peace in my life.

Bennet was given a haircut by his daddy a few days ago. Unfortunately, 3/4 of the way through the clippers died and the haircut has not been finished. Therefore, my adorable little boy has been walking around with a mini mullet for about a week.

Come on - that's funny!

Cloth diaper question: Our older diapers are pretty smelly. Does anyone out there know a good way to get the smell of old urine out of them? I usually wash them with a vinegar rinse but that hasn't worked for awhile. Should I give them a good soak in vinegar or something else?

Have a beautiful weekend, friends, and enjoy this feast of the Annunciation! God bless you!

7 quick takes

Monday, March 21, 2011

staying home

**This is part II of the post, my thoughts on this good day.

For the most part, I spent the majority of my high school and college years telling people my end goal was to be a stay at home mom. I wanted to have a college education so I could always have the option of working if I needed or wanted, but I also felt that my vocation was to stay home with my kids. "My mission field will be my kitchen," I would tell people.

I still feel like that is true, but I never suspected how very hard mothering would be for me. And I had no idea that God would give me three children in two and a half years. With my three little kids every day gives me the opportunity to be overwhelmed by something. Many days I don't feel prepared for the life I'm living and that feeling can send me spiraling.

There is the expression "God doesn't call the equiped, He equips the called." But I tell Travis, "God did not equip me for this! He has left me unprepared and I am failing at this. I'm drowning!"

So, in order to feel like I'm keeping my head above water, I fill my days. Play groups, errands, visiting great grandparents, spending long days at my mom's house. I will take the long way home, I will drive a piece of paper somewhere when I should have just mailed it, I will find excuses (however good or bad) to load the kids in the car and drive them around. I want to feel busy and important and I want to interact with other adults. I also want to feel like I'm in control and that feeling is so much easier to come by when my children are strapped into carseats, quietly sucking down bottles or munching on pretzels.

Yet something I'm noticing is that my kids seem to do much better when we are home. It's just like the experts say - kids like routine - and I am able to consistantly structure their days when we are home. The mornings we awake, eat, dress, play. Maybe we run a simple errand or go to a playgroup, but then we come home for lunch, naps and quiet time, an afternoon of playing, dinner, books, bed. Oh doesn't that sound nice? It is.

I think my kids need less of the "more" I was forcing upon them so I could fill my days, and more of me. More time playing on the floor, baking, reading, snuggling, talking with me.

I'm not sure what to do with the feelings of being overwhelmed. In a good moment I offer them up for the Body of Christ. In one of the many bad moments I curse and yell and expect too much out of my daughter. But I'm pretty sure I can't keep trying to run away from these feelings. Especially in a mini van.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Something In The Water

Small confession:

I used to be a lot more hip when it came to the music I listened to. It was a bit of a status thing - I was the smart, Catholic girl with long hair and good taste in music.

In college I read Rolling Stone and would check out the musicians the critics wrote about. I read liner notes in albums to find out what musicians the artist collaborated with or was inspired by; I then looked into those guys. I also tried out the music my younger brother and friend LB listened to. They were (still are) good at knowing underground - read "cool" - musicians.

However, I have always loved pop music and so I was never really hip enough to be actually hip... but enough that I could be on the fringe of hipster circles. Or, you know, Karl and LB liked me. *shrug*

Anymore I don't have time to sit around reading magazines or liner notes or talk about bands at bars. So I use Pandora and the recommendations of a few friends with good taste in music to keep fresh music coming my way.

Every time I post a youtube song for you I have the following ridiculous conversation with myself in my head:

Oh this song is so good! I hope people love it as much as I do!

- Maybe no one has heard of it and it'll make their day - finding out about a new song or artist! Or maybe it'll make me seem cool because I know about good music.

Or maybe everyone already knows this song and they're all gonna think I'm the last lame person on the bandwagon because I just found out about it.

- Only mean people will think that. And if they already know it then they'll just be happy for another chance to hear it, or they'll be excited that I finally found about it. And seriously, you are lame - you used the word "bandwagon."

And this blog isn't about being cool, Bonnie. It's about being honest and sharing your faith and vocation.

- Well maybe I shouldn't post it because it's not Christian. What if someone is scandalized? That would be bad.

Just do it, it's not a scandalous song. It's a good song. A toe tapper. A dance in the kitchen, sing along in the shower, roll down your windows and crank it song.

- Just post the dumb thing and get over yourself!

So here ya go. Brooke Fraser's Something in the Water. I hope you like it. :

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Today James is 6 months old

To celebrate his amazing little life I am sharing the summary I wrote for the Diocese's file on Sheen.  Please note, if anything is quoted it is taken from the medical records provided by OSF unless otherwise stated.  Oh and just so everyone's updated, the button has been removed, he did really well with his current thickness and was approved for spoon feeding at the cookie swallow, and the developmental therapist who saw him this morning thought he looked great and evaluated him at 5 months.  Not bad for someone who turned 6 months today!

James was my 4th pregnancy in 3 years. His conception was improbable and so Travis and I felt certain that God wanted this baby for a reason. My pregnancy was healthy with only moderate gestational diabetes which I kept under control through diet and exercise. He was a planned home birth, as my other two children had both been born at home and baby and I both were healthy. My labor with James was a relatively easy 8 hours and he had a strong, healthy heartbeat the entire time. However, fetal heart monitoring stopped while I was pushing, and it was probably during that time the true knot in his umbilical cord tightened. He was delivered at 1:48am on September 16, 2010 a stillborn.

Having no pulse, chest compressions and mouth to mouth were given while we waited for EMT's. He was baptised by his father and we named him James Fulton (for St. James the Greater and Archbishop Sheen). During transport to the hospital EMT's noted minimal electrical activity of the brain. An attempt to insert a line to the marrow of his shin and deliver epinephrine (in the hopes of restarting his heart) failed and left his right leg with a severe chemical burn. James arrived at the Emergency Department "pulseless, apneic, unresponsive." He was blue, "in PEA (pulseless electrical activity) on the monitor", and was "in cardiac arrest." At 2:46am, he was still "pulseless with a heart rate of 48 on the monitor".

After going 56 minutes without significant oxygen flow, per the recommendation of the on-call neonatalogist, the ED team tried for five more minutes to restart James' heart. At five minutes, just when they went to call time of death, his heart began to beat on its own.

Because of his "severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy" and the multiple organ failure that was expected to result, James was cooled for three days in the NICU. It was expected that once James was warmed up he would only eat via feeding tube, breathe via ventilator, be blind, not be able to support, move, or control his own body, not be able to communicate or emote. Some thought his right leg would have to be partially or completely amputated because of the chemical burn. Many believed he would be a so-called vegetable for the rest of his life. Some did not even expect him to live to be a week old, which is why he was confirmed Linus by Msgr. Bliss on his birthday, once he was in the NICU.

Once he was rewarmed, EEGs and MRIs were done. The EEG (9/28/10) results: "suppression of the electrocerebral activity is an indication that there is a significant brain dysfunction." The MRI (9/24/10) results: "subtle signal changes... may represent ischemic change." James' brain was injured because of the lack of oxygen flow - he'd been practically dead for over an hour!

However, a second EEG (10/19/10) showed improvement and "risk of low threshold of seizures". During a follow up visit with the nurologist, we were told that James' further improvement since hospital discharge was "very impressive" and he will probably never have another seizure in his life. A follow up MRI (12/14/10) showed: "No encephalomalacic change is seen in the area of previous signal abnormality in the frontal parietal regions. No acute intracranial abnormality." James' brain had healed.

James is now 6 months old. He has rolled over, done mini push-ups during tummy time, grabs at toys and brings them to his mouth, and supports his own weight when held in a standing position. He laughs and smiles at people, especially his siblings, grandparents, and Travis and I. He talks and coos to us. He gets excited when he sees his bottle. His physical therapist assessed him (when he was 3.5 months old) and found that his average developmental age was about one month behind. This is not worrisome since all babies develop at different rates and James was not given a normal start, being mostly confined to the NICU crib for 7 weeks.

Of course, during James' entire life we have been asking a lot of saints for their prayers, and James was prayed over by many, many people. However, my family asked for the intercession of Archbishop Sheen in a very special way. When he was two days old a Holy Hour and Mass was held at the Cathedral; another Holy Hour was held at St. Mary's in Metamora; St. Luke's healing Masses always included James - and all of these holy times specifically called for Archbishop Sheen's prayers. Sheen's holy card was distributed and the intercessory prayer with James' special intentions were printed up and posted on Facebook, blogs and in emails. People were literally praying all over the world for James, all asking for Archbishop Sheen's intercession. (Germany, Ireland, Canada, Mexico, Peru, not to mention Texas to Alaska, California to New York City.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

for Pete's sake

In honor of my first child, Peter Mark, who we lost to miscarriage, I would love to pray for your intentions that are related to infertility or the loss of a child.

Please leave your prayer intention - for yourself or someone you know - in the comment box. Commenters may leave their name or be anonymous. You may share as little or as much as you like. With great respect, dignity, and affection I would like to pray for you, your pain, your grief, and your hope.

I, of course, invite all those who comment or read the comments to join me in praying for one another.

Thank you for this privilege.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Behold Conference 2011

Over a week ago 60+ women volunteers from throughout central Illinois, ranging in age from 25-60, worked together to honor and celebrate the dignity and vocations of the 400 women who attended the second annual Behold Catholic Women's Conference.

It was beautiful.
It was fun.
It was inspiring.
It was delicious.
It was truly Christ centered and Spirit led.

Here's a few highlight pics:

One of several centerpieces.  They were all so gorgeous!

Our food crew putting the last touches on our completely home made breakfast.  (And when I say "home made" I mean from scratch!)  The men are from St. Mary's Knights of Columbus council - they cheerfully and silently served during breakfast while St. Joseph Newman Center's Knights worked lunch.

The vendor tables!  We were thrilled to have, among others, Lagron-Miller Catholic bookstore, the Sisters of St. John, Rose of Sharon Media, Catholic Charities, and our speakers and musician.

The lovely, wonderful, beautiful, joyful Sisters of Life!

Some of our 400 guests enjoying their breakfast.

Many new Marie Miller fans were created at the Behold Conference - she was wonderful!

Filling our seats in the Auditorium.

Sr. Fiat Marie, Sr. Michela, Behold's executive director Rose, Jennifer Fulwiler, me, Sr. Bethany.

Thank you to everyone who came to the Behold Conference!  Thank you for being part of such a special day!  I hope you left feeling cared for, appreciated, and loved. 

Blessed be God!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

big days for James

1.  Today was James' first day of no phenobarbital!  wa-hooo!

2.  Tomorrow we visit the surgeon about having his gi button removed.  We are really hoping for this as we think that the button has created a lot of discomfort for our son.  Travis is coming with me because I'm all out of fighting and I'm anticipating having to fight a little bit.

3.  Tuesday James has his next cookie swallow.  We hope he will be able to move to a thinner liquid which will allow us to use my stored breast milk and also hopefully make James less -ahem- backed up.

4.  Thursday we see the physical therapist again.  Hopefully she'll note some more improvement in James, though I'm wondering when he'll do better with his push ups.

Friday, March 11, 2011

comments and fraternal correction

Simcha Fisher and Hallie Lord are two bloggers I really enjoy reading.  Simcha is funny, insightful, and intelligent.  She also doesn't take herself too seriouslyHallie has good taste in fashion and I find her posts to be honest, refreshing, and thought-provoking.  I especially like this recent one

So what do they have to do with  the title of this blog post?  Well, they both get ripped to shreds in their comment boxes from time to time.  And have you ever read the comments at Faith and Family Live?  It's enough to make you want to cry sometimes.  I shake my fist in the air or roll my eyes or tsk - or a combination of all three - when I read comments where "nice Catholic women" tear other women down because the former dislikes with the later's opinion or sense of humor.  And I don't mean opinion on whether women should be priests.  (which they shouldn't!)  I'm talking about a blogger sharing her thoughts on a cute sleeveless dress and then being told she's not modest and should smacked in the face for ever thinking she was.

Well maybe the comenter doesn't say the blogger deserves a slap on the face, but the tone and words of the comment communicate that.

An insightful post on fraternal correction written by a seminarian can be found here.

7 quick takes

Yesterday morning Travis left the above song, Hold On by Toby Mac, on the computer with a note that said, "Listen to this song and imagine that I'm singing it to you."
My husband is so great and I am so grateful.

A lot of friends have been having babies lately and I'm so happy for Cynthia, Kaitlin, Jen, Kristen, and Grete! (did I forget anyone?!) But I'm super excited for Karen and Jeremy! Less than a month ago they had an adoption fall through but yesterday received a phone call from their case worker that went a little like this: Karen, you can come pick up your daughter at 4:30. Little Anna Clare is a week and a half old and she is completely theirs! I am so happy for you guys!

Lydia's imagination has really taken off. Going to my mom's house earlier this week she told me, "Mom there's a giant outside my window and he wants to get me!" I told her to tell the giant to leave her alone and go away. So she starts saying, rather firmly, "No, Giant! No! Get back! Go away!" He briefly listened to her, but when we got to Mom's he clearly showed up again. Lydia got out of the van and walked down the driveway, holding her hand out in front of her and carrying a teddy bear saying, "You get over there, Giant! Go away! Get over there!"

I am planning a post on the Behold Conference where I talk about how awesome it was - truly blessed by God and led by the Spirit - but I thought I'd share a couple things here now. First, Jennifer Fulwiler is really, really pretty. Any picture I have seen of her online does not truly convey how striking she is.

The second thought I want to share came from my mom. Mom grew up being taught my nuns, many of whom - I think - were a lot like the stereotypical stories you hear about teaching nuns in the fifties and sixties. So when the Sisters of Life spoke so beautifully and joyfully and poignantly about Gods' love she was really taken in. They told jokes, sang songs, and told humorous stories. Sr. Bethany told the story of shopping at a JC Penny on Thanksgiving weekend for a Baptismal dress for one of the moms who live with them. Sr. held the mother's baby while both women "rifled through the dress racks." Mom was really touched to see these young nuns, and it makes me wonder how many of the other women in their 50's and 60's also were impacted by the sisters' joyful witness.

My children got an old school spinning top for Christmas. They love it.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite passages from Scripture:
In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Please vote!

Hi gang!
My good friends have entered a video contest for Children's Advil.  Would you mind voting for them?

Below is a little note from my friends explaining the video and what they hope to do with the prize money.

Yes, we’re finalists in another video contest! This time, it’s for Children’s Advil, and our video is called “Superhero Sisters Defeat the Fever.” Lucy and Bridget sing and dance in cute costumes, and use their super powers to chase all the yucky germs away. It’s our best video yet!

To view our video and vote, go here.  (Under the video, you’ll see a blue box labeled “Vote Now for this Video.”)

You can vote once per day, from March 8th through March 20th. We’re one of fifteen finalists, and the grand prize is $15,000! (If we win, we’ll use the money to reduce our debt, which will help enable us to send our daughters to Catholic schools.)

Thanks again for viewing our videos, voting for us, and spreading the word – we truly appreciate it!

- Ryan, Veronica, Lucy, Bridget, and Anne

a story to kick off Lent

This came from my friend Mandy's facebook status:

So we met this man on the airplane, you could tell he was rich by the clothes he wore. He talked to my husand aout how hard it must be to have five kids, and after a long conversation he asked that we meet him at McCormik place on Tuesday. Today that man walked out with about 75 kids books, paint kits, hats, watches, cups, and puzzels. He looked at my husband and said, "Now it's your turn to pay it forward."

He gave us hundreds of dollars worth of stuff. Plus he wanted to do it because he knew how hard keeping up with five kids is.

He actually wanted to sit by us on the airplane, others were giving us dirty looks because we were bringing five kids on the plane.. It's really great to know Great people still exist.

What a beautiful story!  Maybe it will inspire you, like it did me, as we prepare our Lenten adventure.

God bless!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mardi Gras plans

The feast before the fast.... ahhhh... Mardi Gras.

I will drink soda.  I will eat sweets.  Dinner will be home made pizza with extra cheese, a pound of sausage, and pepperoni.  There will be no salad but instead I will make chicken buffalo dip and chocolate chip cookies.

Then Wednesday will begin Lent.  I'm really looking forward to it, actually.  I've been wanting to do meatless Fridays throughout the year but have been really bad about it.  I'm hoping Lent will give me a good running start.  I'm excited about the other things I'm planning on doing, the things the Holy Spirit has laid before me.  Of course, it's not so much that I feel excited to sacrifice, but my experience with James taught me a lot of things, one of them being the fruitfulness of suffering.  I consider it a joy to be united with my God and His redemptive mission. 

That may not be my first reaction every time to suffering, but by God's grace I'm coming closer.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In celebration of James

I heard this song several times on the radio while driving back and forth from the NICU. I've always liked this Beatles tune but now I have a strong connection to it, especially the lines, "we're on our way home / we're going home" and "you and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead."

Today is three months of not using James button / g tube for anything. No medicine, no formula - nothing. That's something to be excited about!