Friday, September 12, 2014

7 Quick Takes (not just the bad stuff!)

Joining Jen for some quick takes, because my blog is my 5th child.

1) First and foremost, I must thank all of you wonderful, more experienced and fabulously encouraging blog buddies for your prayers and words of advice and wisdom after last week's post. I've been keeping a lot of the advice in mind, if we're not already trying it for baby Joe. We do gripe water and gas drops and while I haven't tried out infant massage or an infant chiropractor yet, I just may be desperate enough to try them here soon. Do you know what I am not ever ever going to be desperate enough to try? Giving up coffee. If coffee is causing the gasiness, the gasiness shall continue.

Case in point.

2) The thing is that Joseph isn't actually "colicky" in the strictest sense, I have heard of cases where the baby screams and screams for hours every day and he doesn't do that. He just screams more than Lucy did and it is throwing my chi off. But at this moment Lucy is actually screaming bloody murder from her crib boycotting her nap (if you are less than 2 you have no say about whether or not you nap in this house, screaming or not) so she is making up fer her angelic babyhood now.

3) You know what I am THISCLOSE to giving up one for good? "Rest time". Believe me, please believe me, I hold so firmly to the ideal that everyone in the house NEEDS the down time. Not even just me and my teetering sanity, but the children need it to! I am the biggest nazi I know about it and yet, it is almost killing me to try to enforce it every day. Bernadette throws the traditional fit, complete with kicking and floor rolling and screaming, and Lucy has begun the above aforementioned crib wailing most days, Naomi constantly exits her "quiet space" asking for food and those 3 things combined with Josephs gassy screeches and I am really not sure if it makes the 20 minutes of quiet time I actually get worth it. I am worried that if I just drop it then I will shoot myself in the foot but I am not a fan of Ana's angry voice whilst trying to force the issue. Tips? Tricks? Mid Day Cocktail Recipes? I am all e-ears.

On to not crazy things...

4) This tea :
Have you tried it? You should. It is so, so good. If it had caffeine I would replace my daily coffee with it, but it doesn't so I won't. But what is does have is natural sweetness that makes it so that I don't need to add any honey or sugar and I still get a nice does of sweet with my tea. I love it so. (Thank you Sarah for the rec!)

5) Last weekend was a fun filled time and is going to leave this weekend trying to live up to it and failing in major ways. I got to visit with these lovely ladies and their babies:

And it was so, so fun. Lucky for me Katrina and Alexandra live super close and like the idea of making evening wine and cheese sans kids a frequent thing so I will certainly be the hostess with the mostest for that. Grace, on the other hand was a special treat to hang out with. She is a basically a celeb and is the most down to earth nice person and it was so great to get to hang out with her again almost one year to the day (so weird!) since we did it last. We'll make it annual and I will come to Florida, ok Grace? Ok.

6) Our favorite park ever was closed all summer, or at least all the places to park around it were closed and made it impossible to get to, but is it is all open again!! Bernadette declared it her "Second home" today and you can be sure that we will be heading there every day that it is not raining or snowing until the dreaded South Bend winter rears it ugly head in like, 3 weeks.

^ bangs, backwards slide climbing and same shirt different day
Guess what? Both Lucy and Bernadette fell asleep and Joseph is actually semi-content in his swing while I finish this. Maybe it is actually worth it...

7) Last but never least... our babysitter is back from summer break!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (silent screaching!!!). I had the most calm outing with just Joseph this morning and can look forward to more where that came from in the coming weeks. Praise be!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Delicious, Nutritious Fruit Bars (and more sleep!)

A week or so before Joseph was born I discovered magic of granola bars in the morning. So desperate was I for extra sleep that I started keeping our bedroom door closed at night and instead of making the girls stay in their room until 7 a.m. with this clock , I said "to h-e-double-toothpicks with it" and let them exit their sleep space whenever they wanted as long as they left me alone. I put the granola bars within their reach to push off the begging-for-breakfast moment as long as possible and it worked! But our grocery bill soon started to suffer because good granola bars get pricy and the girls started to not finish them because they got a little tired of them, I didn't really blame them.

Enter baking something that they can grab easily in the morning sans motherly assistance and enter these:

I've made several different types of muffins for them and while the baked goods change, the purpose remains: MORE SLEEP! So far, this is my favorite baked good for the morning time and I personally have to not look at them or else I will eat all of them at once.

I adapted this recipe a bit, making my own fruit concoction instead of using preserves. Here it is for you:

-For the crust and top crumble:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold, unsalted butter, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons cold water

-For the fruit filling:
2 cups of fruit of your choosing, I used blueberries and was very pleased
1/4 (or less) cup sugar
splash of water

Worst ingredient pictoral ever, in case you need it:

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Combine the crust ingredients in food processor and pulse until a course dough forms. 
  • Grease an 8x11 pan. 
  • Pour 2 cups fruit into saucepan over medium-high heat on stove top, mix water and sugar with fruit and bring to a low boil until fruit is soft. 
  • Divide dough in half, put one half off to the side in a bowl and press the other half into greased pan. 
  • Pour your fruit mixture into food processor and pulse until there are no more fruit chunks. 
  • Pour fruit mixture over crust then crumble the rest over top. 
  • Bake @ 350 for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown on top. 
Side note: we are not a "whole 30" or gluten free or exclusively organic-eating family, however, if you are one of those families, I feel sure you could do this with some almond flour and coconut sugar and still get a great result. If you try it that way, let me know how it goes!

Let them cool completely before eating and store in refrigerator, on a shelf your kids can reach in the morning.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

The more things change...

I said it before and I will say it again: 4 kids is really, really kicking my butt.

After we had Lucy I was pretty sure it was only going to get easier to add kids to the fold because, well, she was a really good baby and the transition just wasn't that hard. However, instead of pinning the easy transition on her being an easy baby, I told myself it was because I didn't have anything new to learn and had this parenting thing down.  Ha!

Ha. Ha. Ha.

I scoffed at first-time-mom-Ana who freaked out over not sleeping at night and who got angry at a screaming infant Naomi because she wouldn't! stop! screaming! It was pretty easy to scoff at that Ana while I had an infant Lucy, because infant Lucy never screamed, in fact she barely cried at all unless she was hungry and she slept great her whole baby life. (So to my first-time-mom self- I am sorry for scoffing at you, just know that you are just as clueless now as you were then)
You would never know Lucy was our easiest one...

I sit here with my cup of black coffee, too tired to get some creamer and not wanting to move more muscles than my fingers for fear that I will disturb a slumbering Moby-wrapped Joseph and then have to bob around and walk him down from yet another screaming fit.

I am utterly shocked at how baby #4 has made me feel back at square one as a mother. Shouldn't I know what is wrong with him while he screams bloody murder? Shouldn't I have a better plan to get him to sleep through the night? Or shouldn't I just be so used to this sleep deprivation thing that it just doesn't phase me anymore?

No, no, and no.

I am learning slowly but surely that each baby is their own person from day one and does their own thing. Babies are not predictable, and each of my babies has had new, fun things to teach me about myself. I am starting to think that I am just scratching the surface of all there is too know about motherhood. Sure, I can change a diaper in 10 seconds flat and I have figured out some pretty creative ways to hold Joseph to sooth his incessant gassiness. But when it comes to patience and perseverance in the day to day and growth in virtue after virtue, I am feeling very much at square one, or pretty close to it.

It never gets old, this life-giving thing, and it always serves to bring me out of my selfish, lazy self and does some much needed rooting up the "old self", so to speak.

It's pretty hard to be super complacent or to get too comfortable with things while having newborns, just by virtue of how much they need. I get nice and comfortable as my babies turn into toddlers and fall into some sort of routine. I can be sure of various down times throughout the day- time to sit and write, to workout, to read and pray- and things start to feel doable and normal. Then the newborn comes and BOOM- no routine, no down time, no sitting, no free arms, no normal. There is just a constant call to service for this little person who cannot do even one thing for himself.

In the end having newborns around is the best thing for comfort seeking and loving Ana, who loves the normal, the predictable, the easy a little too much. The call is the same: holiness. The person is completely different: Naomi, Bernadette, Lucy, Joseph. All I can try to do is respond with generosity, and that is the tricky part and the part I am just begging for the grace to be able to do.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

5 Favoritos!

Joining late with Heather for a few favoritos this week. And let it be noted that the this post is being written while I stand at my desk with Joseph in the Moby (the only place acceptable unto him) while I bob UP and down UP and down. The only way anything happens anymore.


1) Homeschooling:

WHAAAA!?!?!?! Really, Ana? Fo realz people. After all my freaking out and putting it off, we've been at it now for a few weeks and I am really enjoying it. I love that it gives direction and purpose to the morning and I feel like a bad ass when we've finished. Never mind that it takes all of one hour to be "finished" with kindergarten work, never mind that- it is something! I am doing it and I don't hate it! Praise be!

2) Handmade by Meg K:

When my sister came for little J's baptism, she gifted her newly baptized godson with this awesome felt Saint Joseph doll from Meg's shop and I am not being paid to say this: they are so awesome! Git at em.

3) The guys:

Need I say more? I always do. Mike had his first day of teaching undergraduate foundations of theology at Notre Dame yesterday, which is what all 5th year PhD students do. Naturally we put Joseph's tie onesie on to get a picture. It just doesn't get any better than them.

4) This girl:

She fills the day with too much cute to really handle. I love her older sisters too, but man, bad behavior just gets less and less cute as kids get older and, lucky for Lucy, it is still pretty freaking cute even when she is naughty. So imagine how cute she is when she is good! Go ahead, imagine it. So. Cute.

5) Coping mechanisms:

Baking. Getting a hair cut. Online shopping. Delicious coffee. Wine. These are the names of my coping mechanisms because 4 kids is kicking my butt, people. While it would surely be helpful to add a some consistent workouts to the list, for now these will have to do.

Hit up Heather for more!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Joseph's Birth Story: Part 2

For Part 1, GO HERE.

So off we went to the hospital, since our amazing friends (John and Monica!) took over for what we were sure was going to be- at the most- a 2 hour ordeal for them to tell me I am still at 4 centimeters and not in real labor. We had done the false alarm thing with Lucy and since everything was feeling almost exactly the same as it did when I was in labor with her, I was sure this was not the real thing (and I was ok with that since I was still just 37 weeks).

We got tot he hospital, checked in, went with the nurse to triage in the wheelchair and from the time we left the house to the time we were in triage I had ONE contraction, that's like, one contraction an hour. I felt like the biggest idiot ever being wheeled along by a nurse when not in any notable labor, I'm sure she was chuckling internally at what looked like the first time mom in for false labor and about to be sent home- I know I would have been.

The nurse came into triage where I was not-laboring and did the 1000 questions thing and the monitor thing, which registered one whopping contraction the entire time I was hooked up. Then she checked the old cervix to see what was happening and let me know that I was now at...

5 centimeters!

This is where it gets exciting. The nurse had the resident check me and he confirmed her assessment then they called my doctor to see what she thought. Her recommendation was for me to either a) go home and wait for more contractions or b) stay and walk around for a couple of hours, see if contractions pick up and have them check me again and see if I was still progressing.

My initial decision was to go home, especially since walking around is when my contractions were stopping, so I got clothed and ready to go but then the nurse who had checked me expressed her desire for me to stay. She really didn't want me to give birth in the car and thought that I was probably, or at least maybe, actually in labor. She suggested we stay for an hour and re-check the situation. One hour didn't sound too bad and wasn't a problem with our babysitters so we stayed.

We walked around and around and around and since my cervix had just been checked not once but twice, things were plenty stirred up and contractions were coming fairly regularly, anywhere from every 5 to every 10 minutes.

(I really regret not taking a picture of our circle walking, please imagine one here)

The hour passed and we went back to triage for another cervical check and the nice nurse lady declared me a...


Naturally she needed to have this verified and so she had a different nurse check me again. That is 4 cervical checks in like, 2 hours! Mike just kept saying "cervix with a smile!", sometimes I laughed.

And so now my contractions were just crazy and the nurse was not ok with me going home at 6 centimeters so she called my doctor again to see what she thought. The consensus was? I was staying and could get an epidural any time I wanted.

Now, please?

They checked me into a room and got my IV started, which was incidentally the best IV experience I have ever had. Now that I was "officially" in labor, or deemed so by the hospital, I got a little nervous that my contractions would die down again. My worries were put to rest after another hour of them coming every 4 minutes or closer- it was the real deal now.

This epidural experience was a bit hairier than my last, which was nothing but glorious, and there was a good deal more "ouch! I can FEEL that and it hurts" while the anesthesiologist was putting it in. It was not my favorite part at all and maybe makes me want to try a natural birth again (God willing) in the future. I also had a lot more pain and weird shortness of breath afterwards, a little creepy, that's all.

The epidural was kicking by 5 p.m., the sun was shining through my window and I was able to rest. A day time delivery with minimal contractions, kids cared for by great friends-- I declared it my best labor thus far. My doctor came in around 5:45 and broke my water (she was able to make it to the birth since I went so early!) and around 6:15 Mike asked her if he could run to the cafeteria to grab some food. Since she didn't think I would be ready to push all too soon, she sent him off.

At 6:45, Mike was still eating downstairs and I started feeling like I needed to push. I could feel so much more with this epidural and I was a little terrified to actually push the baby out since I was pretty sure that I was not actually numb in the area where the head emerges. So at 6:45 I was feeling "pressure" and the doctor checked me and declared me "ready to go!"

But wait! No husband!

I frantically called Mike who scarfed down the remainder of his cheeseburger in record time and made it back in time for me to push around 7 p.m. Everyone suited up and it was time.

Apparently I only pushed for "3 minutes", according to one nurse. I know! I am so lucky! But let me just tell you that the area where the head emerges was indeed NOT NUMB AT ALL. It was straight up crazy to feel nothing.... nothing... nothing... a little bit of pressure... then.... EVERYTHING. ALL THE PAIN!!

But then he came out and it was all ok.

In fact it was amazing. I cried more than I have at any of the births so far and it was beautiful.

It was a really rough post-birth experience because I couldn't be with Joseph, I hadn't slept and was incredibly hormonal. (He had aspirated some amniotic fluid and had to go to the NICU for oxygen for a night, and was then held for other random things for 4 days- so lame)

Mike was so great though and in the end, everything was just fine.

So there you have it- the earlier-than-planned, rather confusing labor and birth of my first son It was really hard but ultimately, it was beautiful and I am so grateful for all of it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Joseph's Birth Story: Part 1

It seems fitting to post part one of little Joseph Pio's birth story today, his official "due date", which is now his 3-week-old birthday. It took at least a week for it to hit me that he was actually here, and the aftermath of his birth was super emotional for me (it was not that bad, I was just a sleepless ball of raging hormones), so I didn't really even want to think over the birth story. Now I have waited so long that His Royal Cuteness is no longer content to slumber anywhere other than in my arms or attached to me in some way, while I am standing and preferably moving, so posting the birth story in parts it is.

I am getting somewhat of a grip on the postpartum hormones (Mike might say otherwise), and will venture now to share the story, which is actually terribly uneventful, but still, it's a birth story.

So let's get to it.

But first, a some current Joseph pictures since part one of this story has almost no correlating pictures- sorry about that.

Pink blanket what? He's comfortable with is masculinity.


It all began the day of my 36 week doctor appointment (just like with Lucy!). I had been feeling like things were starting to get moving towards birthing, but the "Early labor" had not gotten too unbearable yet, just the typical terribly-uncomfortable-but-not-the-most-painful-they-could-be braxton hicks I had been having since I hit the 3rd trimester. I knew that the baby was very, very low because I had had an ultrasound at my 34 visit to make sure he wasn't breech and by my 36 week check I was feeling like I was probably fairly dilated, but I was 4 centimeters for 2 weeks with Lucy, so I knew better than to think anything of being "fairly dilated".

(Side note: with both Naomi and Lucy I went into labor at 38 weeks, 4 days. I went ahead and interrogated my mother while she was here helping me about when she birthed her 8 children, just to see if I could be genetically disposed to early labors. I found out that she went early with 7 out of her 8 kids and 2 out of those 7 were born at 36 weeks. So I maybe I am!)

Anyways, I went into the 36 week appointment feeling "laborish" and expecting to be at least a couple centimeters dilated, maybe even 3. Then the doctor checked me and I had the worst case of deja vu ever when, with super wide eyes and shocked voice she declared:

"Wow, you are really dilated. A good 4, and very effaced"

Pretty much the same exact thing she declared to me 2 years ago at my 36 week check with Lucy. So I geared up for a good 2 weeks of feeling like it could be "any minute" and a whole lot of discomfort. There was a bit of an issue with how progressed I was because my doctor was going out of town in just a few days and would not return until my due date. So she begged me to "stay pregnant" until she got back, which almost made me cry because: 4 centimeters for 4 weeks? Somebody shoot me please.  She did give me my records to give to her backup doctor while she was gone and in case I went into labor early:

Let the record show all of Ana's personal deats about her most personal parts. On paper. So weird. I cropped out my weight because I am that vain.

Up until the appointment the contractions were not that bad, but something really changed after the doctor checked my dilation- my contractions got really, really crazy. I stopped at the store after the appointment and was having to stop walking during some of them. I was later told by nurses in the hospital that cervical checks can really "stir things up". Ok, good to know and I might be avoiding those in the future.

So I went home that Monday, July 28th, 36 weeks and 5 days pregnant and things were very "stirred": crazy intense contractions, especially at night, keeping me from sleeping any longer than 20 minutes at a time. No fun at all.

Tuesday came, July 29th, 36 weeks 6 days, and I was exhausted from barely any sleep and lots of hard early labor contractions all night, not picking up enough to go to the hospital, but hard enough for them to keep me awake. I got through that day ok, made dinner, cried a lot to Mike about how I could not imagine doing this for 2 more weeks like I did with Lucy, but it was WAY to early to do any caster oiling or anything crazy, and went to bed to try to sleep.

1 a.m., July 30th, 37 weeks exactly and I woke up with capital C Crazy Contractions, every 10 minutes exactly, and about a minute long a piece. They never got closer together, but kept me awake the entire night. I tried to pray a lot and offer it up for this family who really needed it, but by 7 the next morning I felt like someone would need to check me into an asylum if they couldn't check me into the hospital and I begged Mike to stay around that morning to help me. I kept trying to nap during the morning, but every time I laid down to rest the contractions came back and were exactly 10 minutes apart, so no napping either. BUT, every time I got up and walked around? They stopped. Almost completely.

So... not real labor. Right? Maybe, I still have no idea.

After a brief bathroom break with some other "laborish symptoms" which I will not name because they make ME gag, I decided to just call the doctor and see what she thought.

She thought I should go to the hospital.

I was incredibly reluctant to follow her advice because I could still talk through some of the contractions AND they stopped when I was moving and doing things. I was sure it would be a false alarm for which I was not interested in getting a babysitter for the girls. I was really surprised that the doctor told me to go in because she is usually the you're-not-in-labor-unless-you're-ripping-someone's-head-off-during-contractions type. However, since she knew how progressed I was, I decided to listen.

The rest to come very soon!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

And now he's Catholic!

Today we celebrated the de-heathenization of little Joseph Pio, and it was such a beautiful day. We actually got to Mass on time, the girls were shockingly well behaved considering it was our first Mass with all four in tow (having 2 uncles, an aunt and a grandfather sitting with us helped, but still). Only one major screaming freak out was noted at the very end of Mass, I think it was during the announcements, and who cares about those anyways, amiright?

SO! He was baptized! And sweet, SWEET Katrina came with her awesome little family and offered to photograph it for us (best friend ever!). She did a stellar job.

Blissfully unaware of the coming sacramental events.

And then...

He be Catholic.
He was WIDE awake and super squirmy, more than any of this sisters were at their baptisms, and he followed up his entrance into the Church with a stinky evacuation of his system and some violent hiccups. He was just keeping things exciting.

We had no real plan of what to do with the girls during the baptism, which resulted in a lot of this:
Not too bad, just bored.
Then there was this:
Also not too bad, a baptism isn't complete without a Doc McStuffins appearance.
But then there was this:
Where? Why? Who the heck knows?

The point is, he got baptized, and there really isn't anything more important than that.
It was such a blessing to have a great priest friend and colleague of Mike's baptize Joseph and another huge blessing to have my sister Becca and her husband Phil, Joseph's godparents, make the drive in from Steubenville for the occasion. AND Mike's brother and dad made it in to meet Joseph and celebrate with us.
    ^ little Joe with his Uncle Joe                                     
Too much goodness, really.

And then we did some eating and drinking and making merry with all sorts of friends and family.

The eating and drinking would not have been possible without my amazing mom who provided us with all anyone could ever need for a great baptism party, thank you, mom!

Joseph could barely contain his excitement and partied real, real hard.

Thank you, Katrina for you great photography skills, I owe this blog post to you!!