Friday, May 30, 2014

7QT (Vol. 81):17 Months and Nursing

Anne has broken Peter's record. He was five days away from being 17 months old when my period came back; she turned 17 months on Tuesday. Hooray, Anne! Keep it up!

Like her brother at this age, she nurses around the clock. She always wants to nurse when she wakes in the morning and as part of naps and bed time. She nurses every time she wakes at night, usually one to three feedings between 11pm and 7am. During the day, she stops in to reconnect when she's tired, scared, overwhelmed, or bored. Some days that might be once the whole day, other days it might be ten or more times.

The only time I can count on her nursing more than a minute, though, is settling to sleep - whether naps, bedtime, or at night. Other times, she's just checking in for a few seconds. :-)

She's also learned to multitask. Kids and their cell phones these days...

While she always nurses to go to bed, there is a major difference between her and Peter at this age. She doesn't nurse to sleep. With very few exceptions, she nurses on both sides, then sits up and wants to be put on her bed. I lay her down, say, "Goodnight, have a good sleep," and walk out of the room. Every time this happens, I'm happily surprised.

You might think I'd get used to it, but given that Peter still doesn't go down that easily, it's a source of continued wonderment. I live in fear of unwittingly upsetting her schedule and ruining this idyllic bedtime. :-) She's just happy to go to bed!

Every now and then, she does still nurse to sleep. And that - holding my sweet girl in my arms while she sleeps - is pretty wonderful, too.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

In Gratitude

Today I am thankful that all my friends and family who have gone into combat have returned safely.

I offer my condolences to the many who cannot say the same.

I am also grateful to all those who sacrifice comfort, safety, and sometimes even their lives to improve the quality of life for others: social workers, military, counselors, police, firefighters, ministers, EMTs and more. Thank you.

America, America, God mend thine every flaw
Confirm thy soul in self-control
Thy liberty in law

Saturday, May 24, 2014

7QT (Vol. 80): Slurping, Overprotected Kids, Facebook and more

All of us have a minor cold this week, so I haven't taken the kids to Mass the past couple of days. It makes the mornings seem longer. To compensate, Peter has been playing with his Mass kit (compiled from a variety of garage sales and thrift stores). My favorite part might be hearing Anne make slurping noises when he offers her the chalice.

We've been having a lot of smoothies recently. I'm not sure why we haven't done this all along. I somewhat frequently get smoothie cravings; in the past, I would go buy one. Now that I'm eating minimal dairy, though, that's harder to do. We have the blender, so it is super easy to do at home. AND we get healthy fruit pops out of it!

I went to a mom's night through our local Catholic homeschool association last night. They were very friendly and welcoming, even though their kids are quite a bit older than mine. I almost don't know myself - who is this lady who goes to strangers' houses and mingles?! ;-)

My in-laws took Peter to see Thomas the Tank Engine. He was very surprised to see Thomas chugging down the tracks! He loved the whole experience: the train, the certificate from Sir Topham Hatt, McDonald's, and having Grandma and Grandpa to himself. :-) He was absolutely exhausted when he got home. 

Speaking of my sweet boy, he recently was being very affectionate and announced he would give me four kisses. After doing so, he said in a very loving voice, "I gave you four kisses, Mommy, because I love you FOUR percent."

I read a very interesting article in The Atlantic recently about how "kids today" are over-protected, with the theory that being shielded from all danger inhibits our ability to master fear. You can read it here.

Jeremy deleted his Facebook account this week. He has always had a love-hate relationship with it and was frustrated to learn that they now use facial recognition to automatically tag photos. I'm not exactly thrilled about having my own account (as much because of poor self-control as because of Facebook's policies) but am not quite willing to make the jump right now. Do you have an account? 

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cookie Master

Naps are a wonderful thing. I'm so productive during them!

Giving his cookies a hug

Monday, May 19, 2014

Becoming a Saint

A friend recently suggested I, out of a roomful of Catholics, was on my way to sainthood. She seemed sincere rather than teasing, so I said thank you and let it go. I must admit I was puzzled, though. I mean, I am striving for holiness, but I wasn't sure what she saw that set me apart. After giving it more thought, I have an idea about what prompted her comment: we're spiritual opposites.

I enjoy solitude, meditative prayer, and dense theological books. I tend to have a cognitive approach to my faith. I'm fairly reserved in social settings (because I feel uncomfortable), so I rarely say things impulsively. She notices in me what she aspires to in herself (I'd guess) and thinks I'm further along the path to sainthood.

She is outgoing, warmly welcoming the stranger and reaching out to the tired and lonely. She creates faith-filled community, building up the Body of Christ. She is open, feeling the hurts of those around her; a burden shared is a burden halved. She is honest, offering encouragement by sharing her own struggles. She enthusiastically enters into the joy of those around her. "The greatest of these is love" - which she has in abundance. I see in her what I hope to cultivate in myself.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; 
there are different forms of service but the same Lord; 
there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6

Friday, May 16, 2014

7QT (Vol. 79): Sea Change in our Diet

Guest post by my husband, who also lovingly took full responsibility for our over-tired but hyper children tonight so I could pray and socialize with some of my "mom friends".

For a number of reasons that could be their own blog post, I’d been starting to try to eat a better diet. A friend had recommended I read The China Study, a book by a well-regarded nutritional researcher at Cornell made famous in part by the documentary Forks Over Knives and by President Bill Clinton’s drastic dietary changes. The book points to a mountain of scientific evidence suggesting that eating a vegan diet and avoiding processed foods can help prevent everything from cancer to cataracts.

The book was certainly compelling enough to convince me that there was something to it, but had a few points that bothered me - one particularly glaring example being that he spent the whole book bashing multivitamins and other supplements before recommending that vegans take B12 supplements. I did some more research and ended up with a dietary plan that was still largely plant and whole food based, but also included some animal products - primarily small amounts of fish and dairy. (As frequently happens when I get started on these research projects, Liana just kind of lets me make me the call for the family, which is why I’m writing this one and not her.)

A big early challenge was finding recipes that matched our guidelines. It’s tough to find recipes that feature meat where the meat is a compliment rather than the bulk of the meal. Most vegetarian recipes that were readily available were heavier in cheese and/or egg than I was comfortable with, while far too many vegan recipes were based on processed soy (which doesn’t seem to be significantly healthier than meat, and neither of us really like it). I was browsing through cookbooks at the library, and saw a copy of Mediterranean Diet For Dummies (which includes recipes). I thought that sounded pretty close to what I’d settled on. After reading the book, I’ve realized that it’s exactly what we were trying to do.

The Mediterranean Diet (which would be more accurately described as the Greek/Southern Italian Diet) is primarily plant and whole food based. A typical day includes 7-10 servings of fruit and vegetables and lots of olive oil, nuts, beans and/or whole grains. Additionally, there’s 1 serving of fish or seafood, 1 serving of dairy, and possibly an egg. Many people on this diet have about 3 ounces of red meat per month, and similarly little refined sugar (desserts are often fruit-based).

There’s lots that I like about this diet. For one thing, it’s not a fad - it’s based on what real people actually eat (or ate - ironically, the diet seems to be in decline in its native region as it’s gaining traction elsewhere). Further, unlike any other diet I’ve looked at, there don’t seem to be any nutritionally based downsides. The only criticisms I’ve found is that certain food allergies might make it difficult or impossible to follow and that it’s easy to overeat - compare that to the health problems you face if you do vegan or low-carb incorrectly. Having a label for what we want to eat also makes it easier not just to find things, but to discuss with others - the best I’d come up with was “lacto pescatarian”, which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

Besides health, another great benefit of this is environmental responsibility. As a carnivore, I’ve carried a small amount of guilt for years with the knowledge that the amount of cow I was eating meant I was using more than my share of the planet’s resources. There were many reasons I was slow to change, most of them selfish, but they also included nutrition and flavor - I was concerned about my protein intake, and hadn’t found many plants that could compare to a burger, let alone a good steak. My reading has led me to the conclusion that there’s nothing health-wise I gain from either red or white meat that I don’t get at least as well from a combination of fish and cheese, even in small amounts. And as far as taste goes, I think I just wasn’t trying hard enough; just for one example, we had Beans with Pesto Bulgur for dinner earlier this week and it might just be the tastiest thing I’ve ever cooked.

Lest I come off like a zealot, we’re not completely forsaking our previous eating habits. We’re not changing the kids’ diet beyond shared meals; we actually weren’t too far off from this diet to begin with, so it’d mostly be having them give up chicken, and I don’t think that’s really worth fighting a battle over. We’re also not going to change anything when we visit people or go out; this very evening Liana and I had dinner at Five Guys, in fact. Even at home we’re not going militant about it, as the chocolate chip and M&M cookies with both sugar and egg sitting in our kitchen attest. One of the most interesting things I learned in the book about the Mediterranean “Diet” is that one of the pillars is community. They even put it at the bottom of the “food” pyramid. Our health is important, but an occasional bit of unhealthy food is much better than alienating someone.

Besides, then we'd miss moments like these.

Jeremy is very sad to have just been informed that we’re out of cornmeal, which means a delay on his first home-baked loaf of bread.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My Little Blessings

"Dance party. You can park on the street, but cars can't come in."

Monday, May 12, 2014

Cookie Week

We are so settled into our new house that I really have no more excuses for my homeschooling laziness. We are back to official theme weeks with memory verses and pre-planned activities and such! This week is cookie week - not very hard to get Peter enthusiastic about this one.

OK, he doesn't look excited, but he is. Trust me. :-)

Our big project will be making cutout cookies on Friday - forecast to be 30 degrees cooler than today, so a good day for baking. We will be using this recipe, which uses honey instead of refined sugar. Getting ready for the big day affords lots of learning opportunities!

Memory verse: Pleasing words are a honeycomb, sweet to the taste and invigorating to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

Reading: If You Give A Mouse A Cookie (Felicia Bond) and I Eat My Peas With Honey (Ogden Nash). We'll also read the recipe together.

Writing/Art: Copy the recipe from the website onto a recipe card. We'll write and decorate cards to give when we share with our cookies with neighbors.

Math: Baking measurements. It's a good way to use fractions! He has a box of dried beans for scooping and dumping; he usually uses the 1/4, 1/2 and 1 cup measures for that. We'll do those during the week to prep for the big day.

Science: Honeybees and how baking changes food.

Social Studies: Discuss the symbols in our collection of cookie cutters.

Life Skills: Baking, grocery shopping, connecting with our (very) local community.

Theology: Learning how pleasant words and good manners make people as happy as cookies do. This is something that needs reinforcement at our house right now.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

7 Great Things About Today

1. It got up to 87 degrees!
Photo from the last warm day
2. I was able to give our mail carrier a refrigerated bottle of water.
3. The kids ate homemade frozen fruit pops and got none on the floor.
4. Peter filled up Anne's water sprayer for her. What a good brother!
5. Sundresses make for easy diaper changes.
6. The kids ate watermelon and got juice all over themselves and the deck.
7. Once the house was quiet, I lay on the floor in our 3-season room and listened to rain on a metal roof.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Pictures of The New House

We're coming up on two months in The New House. Peter still calls it that. "And then after gymnastics, you go to youth group, and then we will all go home to The New House." :-) Here is a quick look at where we're living now! I'll do the play room and the other bedrooms in another post.

This is the other side of the kitchen

Dining room turned school room. That frame is going to be a desk. Some day.

Ginormous 4th bedroom. Easily big enough for four kids. Some day?

Big back yard - we'd like it fully fenced. Some day.

Finished basement / Jeremy's lair. It will be all organized and cool. Some day.

Friday, May 2, 2014

7QT (Vol. 78): If it makes you happy

We have been a one-car family for more than two years and still have no regrets. Every now and then, it would be more convenient to have two cars, but not nearly often enough to justify the cost. Besides, I like the extra time for conversation with my husband the days we drop him off and pick him up from work.

This past week, in fact, it has been no hardship at all. I've had the car all day, every day. It seems having one's appendix removed makes one uncomfortable sitting. Hooray for being able to work remotely! We took advantage of our car time to attend a May crowning yesterday.

Even went to Target during the day!

Anyway, we have a car that comfortably seats our current family of four and allows us to carry five if I'm willing to scrunch in the back seat. Much to the amazement of some, we plan on keeping this car whenever we become a family of five (God willing). Many people think we should "upgrade" even as a family of four - definitely if we are blessed with another child.

We've been told that while a small car might work most of the time, we'll need a bigger car for camping. Absolutely true. Given the amount of camping stuff we take with us (we tent camp, but don't exactly "rough it"), I think it would be impossible to fit all of us and all our gear in the car.

We've also been told we'll need a bigger car for long trips. I'm not as convinced on this one. A bigger car would make things easier, but it's not a necessity. We could travel without a pack-n-play during a baby's first year, for example. It's nice to have, but history has shown that babies frequently end up sleeping next to me, anyway. :-)

When we've been admonished about needing a bigger car, the conversation has gone something like this:
"The few times a year we would want one, we can always rent a bigger car."
"But renting is expensive!"
"Not more expensive than what we would be losing in fuel economy the rest of the year."
"But it's so inconvenient!"
"Not really. There are rental agencies all over the place."
"Well, I just think it would be easier to own a bigger car."

And that's the heart of the matter. One small car works for us. One car, especially if it was small, in other homes would result in a lot of unhappiness. There are pros and cons for both. We just think it's easier to own a smaller car.

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