Friday, June 28, 2013

7QT (Vol. 46): Why We're Moving to Wisconsin

The past couple weeks of discernment have led us to believe that God approves of our venture to sell the house, find a job for Jeremy, and move. Since we got married, we've talked on and off about leaving New York State; now, all signs seem to point to go. All the rest of these reasons would be pointless if we didn't believe God was calling us away from NY.

We are burning out in New York. The cynicism and pessimism here are draining us, despite our best efforts to stay positive. We've been outright ridiculed for being positive in some situations. Anecdotal, personal, and scientific evidence suggests there are, indeed, happier places. Not that everyone in those places are happier, but that location does play a role in outlook on life. Are we guaranteed to be happier outside of NY? Of course not. But we think we have a better chance.

Wisconsin has awesome homeschooling laws. Basically, I'll fill out a form each school year agreeing to provide 875 hours of instruction, which will include but not be limited to science, social studies, mathematics, language arts, reading and health. I tell them how I'll teach it. That's it. There are no required tests or evaluations of any kind.

I have family around Milwaukee. With kids. We look forward to getting together occasionally and giving our kids the chance to play with "cousins". Knowing people out there will also make it easier to get the answers to important questions like which supermarkets and restaurants to choose. :-)

Milwaukee has a stronger German presence than Rochester. We might send the kids to German classes on Saturdays at the German immersion school. There are tons of resources in the public library system. Again, we realize that proximity to resources doesn't make one fluent, but it's a nice perk of the area.

There are a handful of vibrant Catholic young adult groups. One in particular meets throughout the week with both spiritual and social activities. They even play board games every Friday night, which is a huge draw for my husband! There are groups in Rochester that are trying to be vibrant, but haven't made it yet. By leaving, we know we're contributing to the problem, but staying is wearing us down.

It's worth mentioning again that our primary reason is God. We believe this will be better for our marriage and therefore for our children. That's not to say it will be easy. Telling our parents was among the most emotionally wrenching experiences we've had. We know moving across the country is a huge decision and realize that it will be very difficult. But our desire to follow God trumps everything else. Pray for us, will you?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Laundry Room Recovery

You may remember me mentioning my bloggy friend Dwija once or twice around here. That's because she's pretty much incredible. Even my husband likes her blog, which is saying a lot because he and I don't have much overlap in what we enjoy reading.

Anyway, Dwija is in the middle of a very difficult pregnancy. As in, her doom-and-gloom doctor suggested she just have an abortion. (She switched doctors.) On top of this, her laundry room is, um, less than functional.

So another bloggy friend, Cari from Clan Donaldson is hosting a fundraiser! It will last through this week. The goal is to raise enough money to overhaul the entire room, removing both emotional and physical stress from Dwija's life, which is plenty crazy enough already.

I realize there are a ton of great causes out there to which you can donate. But if this one grabs you, please head over to Cari's blog and find that little yellow donate button. Every dollar helps!

It's PayPal, so you can't send a fun money card like this.
But the thought is the same.

Friday, June 21, 2013

7QT (Vol. 45): Rubric for Finding Mr. Right

When I was in college, the women were encouraged as part of a Bible study to make a list describing our ideas of a perfect husband. I thought it was a bit odd, but made my list, including spiritual, personality, and physical traits. The second part of the activity was meant to show us how much more important the spiritual characteristics were compared to the personality traits and how the physical traits had virtually no value.

I'm not sure where my list is now, if I even still have it, but I am certain it wouldn't be an accurate description of my husband, other than in broadest terms (Christian, kind, etc.). The thing is, we don't really know who we want until we find them! Neither Jeremy or I would have picked the other from a dating profile, but God brought us together anyway, recognizing the ways in which we complement each other.

I can definitely sympathize with the desire to use a rubric to find God's will, though. If we can just quantify what we think we need, then surely we will know immediately when our goal has been met and not have to walk the uncertain path of discernment. I was just telling my mom today that I don't have a problem accepting God's will, I just want to know exactly what it is and when it will happen. Perhaps the virtue of patience needs more time to grow in me. Anyway, if you're looking for a list of green lights, a master plan to recognize Mr. Right, allow me to present the following as characteristics that are crucial for a successful relationship:

The right man will make two batches of fudge because he knows you'll be disappointed if he only makes one batch for the work party and it all gets eaten. More than that, he will make sure to buy dairy-free chocolate chips!

The right man will take your children shopping for the evening so you can take a nap and have a little sanity break. And part of that shopping trip will include a stop at Wegmans to buy dairy-free ice cream. (Chocolate, which I hope would go without saying.)

The right man will check the laundry for slugs if you forget to take it off the line until after dew fall. He won't even mock you for being totally grossed out by their slimy little bodies.

These are not examples of just the type of thing the right man will do. He must actually do these specific things. (My husband has done all three in the past two days!) Don't settle for less. True love waits. :-)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

In which Peter discovers Rain, initially against his will

"I don't think we should go out, Mommy. There is rain on my feet."

"Can we please stay in the rain some more?"

Monday, June 17, 2013

Peter Says

me: Hahaha.
Peter: Hehehe.
Jeremy: Hohoho.
me: Yuk yuk yuk.
Peter: Why did you say yuck?!
me: That's another way to laugh.
Peter: ... Clean clean clean!

"It's OK Mommy, you can kiss my hand when I'm on the toilet."

"Grandma, do you know any songs about gasoline?"
"No, do you?"
"Oh, will you sing it for me?"
Parody of an Easter song: "Gasoline is risen today, alleluia!"

On getting the back of his leg wet: "Mommy, my legpit is wet now."

And a video of Peter entertaining his sister:

Friday, June 14, 2013

7QT (Vol. 44): Free gift card! And quality kids' clothes.

Do you ever buy anything online? Are you familiar with Ebates? If the answer to the first was yes, the answer to the second should definitely be yes. They send you free money. For real. A $10 gift card for making your first purchase of $25 or more (which you know you'll do next time you buy from Amazon). Go sign up. It's easy and legitimate. I learned about this from the lovely Dwija, then went and tried it myself. Ta-da! Money came to me! Like magic!

In the interest of full disclosure, more money will magically come to me if you use that link to sign up. But I'm also telling you about it because it is awesome.

My "qualifying purchase" was a Land's End rain coat for Peter. Lots of people recommend buying quality clothes for the first child to use as hand-me-downs. In our family, we like quality because the same child can wear it for three summers in a row...

July 2011

June 2013

Yes. Those are the same clothes, two years apart. Size: 6-9 months. In related news, I think he'll be rear-facing until he hits puberty and still in a booster seat on his wedding day. :-)

In related news, my in-laws are fantastic. They bought Peter two pairs of jeans with adjustable elastic waists. Now that he is out of diapers except for sleeping (hooray!), most of his pants are comically over-sized. Finally some pants he can wear without a belt!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Kangaroo Care for Newborns

This is a guest post by Tammy Mahan. Enjoy!

The Benefits of Kangaroo Care/ Skin-to-Skin Contact for Newborns

There is a lasting effect of the relationship between a newborn baby and its mother. All other relationships will grow from this bond that starts forming at birth. The lifelong pattern for relating is set from the early mother/child connection that kangaroo care provides.

The child’s behavior in the future is programmed by the first moments following birth. There are hormones released in the mother’s body that create a strong bond between the two if they are left virtually uninterrupted from the contact during this time.

What is Kangaroo Care Skin-to-Skin Contact?

Immediately following birth the baby is placed on the mother’s bare chest either naked or wearing only a cap and diaper for warmth.

The baby will need the warmth, security and comfort that can only be provided by being close to their mother during the first few hours after birth. Experts agree that birth can be a stressful event for babies.
The sound of the mothers breathing and heartbeat is what the baby is familiar with. A sense of continuity between the new world that the baby is attempting to adjust to is being created. Babies begin to learn they can trust their mothers to care for them and meet all their needs during the skin-to-skin contact.

Separation immediately following birth that involves the baby undergoing various routine procedures and being swaddled before ever being handed to their mothers is the routine procedure in most hospitals. There can be harmful effects from this disruption of the early interactions between the mother and the baby.

The baby can become distressed when it is separated from its mother because it knows instinctively that it is dependent on its mother for survival. In addition, the hormones that trigger the instincts of mothering are not released.

Separated and sad.
Photo courtesy of David Beyerlein Photography
Benefits of Kangaroo Care/ Skin-to-Skin Contact

Respiratory distress is reduced
Body temperature and heart rate are stabilized
Nutrition is improved
Immunity is improved
Breastfeeding initiation
Pain response is reduced
Psychological and stress development

Benefits for Premature Babies

There are a number of benefits from skin-to-skin contact for premature babies. The regulation of body temperature, respiration and heart rate of the baby are increased with skin-to-skin contact.

When premature babies are put on their mother’s chest they have been found to sleep better and sounder, both development and growth are increased in a number of ways. Weight is gained more quickly by premature babies with the skin-to-skin contact and often times they can be discharged from the hospital sooner than if they had not had the ongoing contact.

Tammy Mahan is a seasoned medical and health writer. She frequently submits articles to on numerous topics.

Friday, June 7, 2013

7QT (Vol. 43): Today, motherhood is...

Washing the dishes, but not sweeping the kitchen floor yet because the toddler will be eating corn chips later.

Going outside after the rain and flicking all the little slugs off the steps because the toddler finds them a bit unnerving.

Having two full hours of free time while both children nap - making chili, spiritual reading, washing dishes, hanging laundry, shopping online - all with both hands and no audience.

Belatedly celebrating the feast of St. Boniface by baking a German apple pancake (dairy-free!) because my husband was sick on the actual feast.

Eating 3/4 of the pancake because no one else was as excited as I about how AMAZING it tasted.

Staying in a damp shirt and pants because most of the spit-up wiped off and it's almost bedtime anyway.

Enjoying my kids and loving them every moment.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Fairport Canal Days

What has him enthralled?

A local jazz band! (His father's son)

A late birthday present to me - Anne's hand print

Riding the Colonial Belle! (A tour boat on the Erie Canal)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Parental Guidance Suggested

On Friday, you all got to hear about how we got rid of half of our movie collection. CatholicMommy asked me to write about how I select video games that are appropriate for Peter. I'm the video gamer in the house, and Peter has been playing with me since he was about two and a half. To date, there are about 9 games that he enjoys.

Two of them are rated T, which is the video game equivalent of PG-13.

Here's the thing about rating systems: they're only foolproof if you are offended by exactly the same things as the rating board. (Which is no one.) As mentioned in Friday's post, one of the movies we got rid of was rated G (another was a Hays Code film), and several we kept are rated R, so the system obviously doesn't translate directly to our values. It's the same with video games.

So what are these games? One is Super Smash Bros. Brawl, a fighting game featuring Nintendo characters like Mario and Donkey Kong. The ESRB rates it T for "crude humor" and "cartoon violence". I won't dispute those. One character has a special move that's essentially flatulence. Some of the stages are a bit intense, and the more human looking characters have some moves that are a touch realistic; some fight with swords, and Snake from Metal Gear Solid (a spy thriller) even has a throw that looks alarmingly like snapping someone's neck.

Which is out of place, and especially odd when he's fighting this guy.

But we don't use any of those. Peter insists that he be Mario (or "Mari-uh", as he puts it) and I be Yoshi (a Mario supporting character), neither of which have any objectionable moves. We play on the Animal Crossing stage, so that presents will fall and we can "open" them. There are soccer balls, meant by the designers to be offensive weapons, which we kick back and forth. It's a pretty non-competitive affair.

Many parents let their kids play Smash Bros; in fact, that's one of the games that I think takes away quite a bit of credibility from the ratings board (it's got the same rating as Call of Duty 2, a realistic World War II first person shooter). The other game I let him play, I've gotten some dirty looks over, even from other gamers. That's Marvel vs. Capcom, a more "traditional" fighting game in a style that most Americans associate with Mortal Kombat. ESRB has a recent re-release as T for "violence" and "partial nudity". The latter is mostly due to one character who is woefully underdressed, and as for the former...well, it is a fighting game.

But, again, not the way we play it. MvC is a special treat sometimes when we go to the mall (there's an arcade machine in the used video game store for a quarter a play). He's always Spider-Man and I'm always Captain America. He mostly just likes playing with the joysticks (sometimes he'll grab mine and just move us both around), shoots webs, and asks me to play "catch" with Captain America's shield. There's no blood in the game, so to him, it's not really any different from when we wrestle at home.

Except I can't jump quite that high.

So some of it is that I don't entirely agree with the ratings, but a lot of it is that I'm right there with him controlling the content. Video games aren't like movies; you don't have to experience every single bit of it when you play, so it's relatively easy to guide them away from parts you don't want them to see, especially when they're younger. And you don't really have to play "by the rules"; besides what I described above, when we play Mario Kart, he likes to make a game of trying to hit every single snowman on one of the courses (which crashes your kart), or sometimes will drive into a lake repeatedly - and laugh every time. I'll tell him what the buttons do, but I'll usually let him decide what the goal is in the game.

I was reading something once about one of the parental controls on the Xbox 360, and how you can set it up so that specific accounts can only be logged in a certain number of hours per day. One comment was something along the lines of "I had the same thing growing up on my Atari was called my dad coming down and telling me to go outside because I'd been playing too long." Like so many other things, a lot of your children's reactions to video games will depend on how they're presented. Through my actions, I'm teaching Peter that video games are a social activity that's meant to be fun. And at the same time, I can keep him from experiencing things that I don't want him to see (and that he wouldn't want to see) until he's old enough to handle them.

If your kids want to play video games, I'd strongly encourage any of you to play with them, even if you don't like video games. One of my fondest video gaming memories from elementary school was when I finally convinced Mom to play a Mickey Mouse game with me. If you really don't want to, at least watch them play. For most games released in the last few years, the ERSB site has a very specific summary of the elements of the game that contributed to their rating, which is not the same as playing it yourself first, but a lot better than it used to be.

But, of course, no two kids are the same. What Peter can handle now, Anne may not be able to until she's older - or she might not like video games at all, or like different ones. As with most of these types of posts, I probably could've just written "know your kids" and gone to bed earlier. But then you all wouldn't have gotten that picture of Kirby in the Smash Bros. section. Isn't he adorable? Almost makes up for no pictures of Peter, huh?

Jeremy has spent way too much time playing fighting games, but is planning on making his own in the near future, so at least it wasn't a total waste. He's basically forsaken Twitter, in part as a result of this still-hypothetical-at-this-point project, but if you are into video games, you can catch more of his thoughts at, where he posts as VolcanoLotus (which is a Mario villain).