18 December 2014

I never, ever learn.

I got sucked into a debate on Facebook, against my better judgment, about the issue of "holiday" cards.

Why, why, WHY do I never learn?

It started because someone with whom I am barely more than acquainted -- we knew each other somewhat in high school -- commented that she doesn't understand why people send out holiday cards without personalized messages, and likening doing so to sending out a Hallmark card and writing nothing inside.

And here's the grand hint that I should just have stayed out of it: She prefaced this judgment of people's cards by stating that she doesn't send cards and so "who am I to judge?"


I resisted the urge to comment all day, while literally dozens of comments piled up underneath the original status. Most of them were in agreement with the original sentiment, full of sarcasm and cynicism, or else self-congratulatory that they were not guilty of such a holiday card faux pas.

The original poster also added at some point that she should -- "hahahaha" -- send a "Happy Hanukkah" card to everyone who sent her a "Merry Christmas" card this year.

I reached the point in my evening where my biorhythms are apparently at a low ebb because I commented. My comment was thus:

I've been back and forth on jumping in here all day... My two cents is this: I think long and hard about which card I choose, so that it already contains the message I want to send. Then I personalize what can be personalized (which, on our card this year, was one measly line, not counting the part where I put our names). I could have added backside printing, but it's actually ridiculously expensive to do so. Also, even with my saving some time by printing address labels and printing return address labels, addressing, stamping and closing the envelopes took me the best part of a whole afternoon to do. Adding hand-written notes would have put it out of the realm of possibility as time commitments go. The project cost me probably $200 (maybe more, as I had leftover holiday stamps from last year which kept the cost down artificially) and, as I said, a whole afternoon. Trust me, anyone who got a Christmas card from us got a whole lot of my time and attention, even if they didn't get any sort of individually personalized note. Our card is unapologetically Christmas -- even religious-Christmas -- themed because that's what's important to me, and I would not mind one bit getting a Happy Hanukkah card from any of my Jewish friends.

So basically: I do think of everyone to whom I'm mailing a card, it's cost-and-time prohibitive but I think it's worth it even without a hand-written personal note, and go ahead and send me a Hanukkah card if you're Jewish and celebrating Hanukkah. I had no intention of flaming anyone, and I sincerely think I hit the right note. At least I don't think I hit any wrong, jarring note. 

Oh, ho ho. That's adorable. Colleen, you're an idiot.

Her response came back thus:
That's fine and you and everyone else is entitled to do what they want. But I disagree with just about everything you've said. Should you care about my opinion? Absolutely not. I would find it perhaps a little sad to get a Christmas card, especially a religious one, from a close friend. It's important to you, but the message would be that you don't care about what's important to me. We can agree to disagree because this opens up a much bigger discussion. The point is we all make choices about the holidays. Some people put a lot of thought into their cards, and it sounds like you do. Others do it for the sake of jumping on the bandwagon, and it's disingenuous. I don't send cards, but you can be sure that I show my friends and family my affection in other ways. And why anything I've said here was taken personally, especially by people who never even sent me any cards is beyond me.
I have to admit: it makes me sad that someone would be made sad by receiving my religious Christmas card. I know that everyone is not religious; my sending you a card that includes Isaiah's prophecy is not an attempt to shame you and it is certainly not because I'm trying to show you that I think what I care about is more important than what you care about. But the point is that I'm not going to take the Christ out of Christmas for anyone -- especially since I'm ordering custom photo cards in bulk, and thus can obviously only choose one design.

Besides, if someone is your good friend and they send you a religious card, shouldn't you know them well enough to know that they're not trying to subtly jab you?

But really what left me feeling like I was trying to reason with a crazy person was the last line. "I've made a blanket, judgmental statement in a semi-public forum that applies to a lot of people who might be reading this. But you didn't even have the good manners to send me a card, person I barely know, so why should you think this has anything to do with you?"

You know what, it doesn't. I was trying to stand up for some of the people who had commented on the thread who weren't doing an eloquent job of doing it for themselves. And the tone of her response is so out of line that I think I probably did hit a chord with her. And maybe she'll think twice next time before she blurts potential ugliness all over Facebook.

But I'm never going to know because I followed my own Facebook rule (which is: if your posts make me anxious and/or cause me to question your intelligence and/or cause me to question your sanity, there's a three-strike rule before I stop reading what you write) and unfollowed her immediately! Isn't it wonderful that you can do such a thing and no one ever has to know?

09 December 2014

Infertility, and some further information

I just wanted to share this article on chastity.com, which is a great overview on the infertility struggles that many couples face, and which Catholic couples in particular face in view of the Church's total prohibition on assisted-reproductive technologies (ART).

Two things the article fails to mention, from my perspective as a Catholic who struggled with infertility and finally achieved pregnancy (and then a second!):

  1. The Creighton Method (NaPRO Technology) was a godsend. My husband and I took private lessons with a pro-life doctor who specializes in reproductive issues, and it took weeks to learn how to properly chart using this method, but it was worth it. The article specifies the Creighton Method as useful for Catholic couples, but what the article never mentions is that this type of charting can reveal issues such as the wife being anovulatory, meaning she doesn't ovulate (or, in my case, didn't ovulate regularly). In this case, it is entirely permissible for a faithful Catholic to use drugs which induce ovulation, such as Clomid. 
  2. The other thing is that the article discusses the necessity of masturbation as the only means of obtaining sperm for technologies such as intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization. This isn't strictly true (which still does not make these procedures permissible). Catholic ethicists have okayed the use of non-lubricated, non-spermicided, punctured condoms for use in diagnosing male fertility issues. Such a condom can assist in the collection of a sample for testing purposes by collecting a high-quality sample during an act of marital love without acting as a barrier to conception due to the puncture and lack of spermicide. 
If you're struggling with infertility, know that millions of women feel your pain. Our daughter's nightly prayers include a line just for you (and everyone knows that baby prayers count triple!), and I hope you find peace. 

God bless.

Baby update

So after one doctor last week acting as if I could have this baby any second, today's doctor seemed unsure whether the baby would come early at all. Now, to me that seems like an under-reaction because I'm 37 weeks 1 day, and already 4 cm dilated and 80% effaced. There ain't no darn way I have almost three weeks left in me. But I'm going to take it a little less easy. Maybe have a glass of wine later this week.

Meanwhile, I told the doctor I was worried I wouldn't be sure I was in labor because I was induced with my first, but when I got to the hospital and they hooked me up to monitors they told me I was contracting regularly on my own. I hadn't noticed and they really didn't get truly painful until hours after they started pitocin and they broke my water. Having suffered endometriosis since I was 12, early labor wasn't painful enough to even register on my pain meter.

And this is why I love my doctor: He told me to ask the Blessed Virgin for help, and pointed to the Miraculous Medal around my neck and said, "That's not jewelry you're wearing."

What an amazing reminder!

What a blessing.

Now, kid: I would like you to come out with your hands up, sooner rather than later. Preferably on Saturday so you can have an awesome trick birthday like your sister.

06 December 2014


So it turns out that what I needed most to get some stuff done for the imminent arrival of my new little bundle was talking about how underprepared I was. Since I vented two days ago about my list, I have:

  • Washed some newborn clothes
  • Found the almost-nonexistent unisex newborn clothes left over from Keira's infancy. She must have trashed everything because I found one tan onesie, one tan sleep'n'play, one pair of black pants, one pair of brown pants and one pair of navy pants. (Plus one pair of Santa jammies and a white bunting for going outside.) Turns out that it's a good thing I ignored my logical instincts and bought stuff for the new baby even though I "already had stuff." Because as it turns out, I ain't got stuff.
  • Cleaned up the guest room, which mostly meant unearthing the bed. It has become my dumping ground for everything that didn't have a logical home, which in a home as small as this was a lot of stuff. A bunch of stuff is in plastic bins which will be stored, largely unsorted, in our garage until we move again, at which time I will likely just throw it all out. Sigh. 
  • Got our wills notarized, so they're actually official in case anything should happen to us. Shamefully, our daughter's first two+ years were lived without any official provisions having been made for her care. Thank God nothing happened to us.
I swear I am usually an organized person. I'm just not up to the challenge of organizing this tiny little abode, which is about to have two kids in it even though there's really only room for one, when I have just spent the last nine months too sick to do anything useful.

So we just need a packed hospital bag -- although honestly I'm an expert at packing in like two minutes so I might push that to the bottom of my list -- and to figure out where this kid is going to sleep. We got one of these so that the baby can sleep in bed with us while still having his own space, because there is no room in our bedroom for a Pack'n'Play, but it remains to be seen if we can sleep with it between us, even in a king-sized bed. 

I need to move. To Texas. Where there is lots of space. Because Virginia is cramped, y'all.

04 December 2014


Last published in August... Oof.

Sorry, lone reader who might wander by!

Four months later, it's December and I'm in the home stretch of this pregnancy. By which I mean that I'm on modified bedrest to buy some time because I'm 36 weeks and three days and as of two days ago I'm already 3cm dilated.

Normally my doctor's office has an appointment at 34 weeks, one at 35 weeks where they do the Group B strep test, and then not another until 37 weeks, at which point they start cervical checks and go to weekly appointments, but I asked to go weekly AND start cervical checks a week early because a) my daughter was born at 38 weeks and b) this kid is beating the heck out of the doorway out. So when the doctor checked me on Tuesday she said, "Yup. Baby's head is really low and you're 3 cm so... Take it, like, really easy and maybe we can get another week or two out of this thing. I hope we see you here in the office next week." And then a minute later, "You're still working?!"


I am not ready to have a baby before next week. I wasn't counting on being given a full 40 weeks to prepare but I thought I'd get at least 37-and-a-half or so. I got permission to continue working since I work from home, so I'm banging out everything that will be on deadline while I'm out and hoping for the best -- although my daughter's birth snuck up on me too and I left a lot undone and nothing burned to the ground so I'm not all that concerned, honestly. It's just a job.

I'm more concerned about the fact that I have not packed a hospital bag... Or figured out where this child is going to sleep... Or washed any newborn clothes... Or even found his sister's newborn clothes that are unisex in color... Or cleaned the house for the inevitable guests...

Yup. So that's how THAT'S going.

15 August 2014

HPV Vaccine is REQUIRED for school attendance in the District of Columbia.

Holy frijoles.

I live in Northern Virginia, so my TV channels are out of D.C. I just saw a commercial that was not only touting the HPV vaccine, but stated that it is required by schools in the District for all teenagers.

This is horrifying.

Forget about the fact that there is documented proof that the HPV vaccine has serious risks. How about the fact that parents should have the right to determine whether their child gets a vaccine that they do not need?

I am not an anti-vaxxer. My child is vaccinated. My children will be vaccinated for anything they can catch from airborne transmission and casual contact with other people. HPV, on the other hand, is transmitted through sexual contact. My duty as a parent is to teach my children about the morality of sex, the risks and dangers of sex, and the joy that is sex -- within a marriage.

I traversed my teens and twenties during the meteoric rise of the incidence of HPV. I have friends who have HPV. I probably have more friends with HPV than who know they have HPV.

I, on the other hand, was abstinent until I was married. I not only do not have HPV, but I've never in my life had to worry about whether I had HPV. Or chlamydia. Or an crisis pregnancy. And it's not because my mom shot me up with a vaccine -- which was available -- but instead it's because my parents taught me to respect myself.

My children will never attend schools in the District of Columbia. And if this requirement should make its way to the locality where we reside, it's looking more and more sure that they will not be attending any school other than the one I establish in my home.

04 August 2014

Sunnier days.

My world is back in balance. Yesterday, Facebook brought me gray cloudy feelings. Today, I came across an article that I wanted a particular friend to see. It deals with a sensitive subject in her life, but I knew it would do her some good, so I posted the link on Facebook in the hopes that she'd see it. I didn't think I'd ever know if she read it, but about an hour ago she shared my link.

Facebook can bring so much ugliness, but today it served as an instrument of God.

On nursing and failing to nurse.

I just finished reading about Haley's recent experience with downshifting her nursing schedule with her 14-month old, and it made me think about my breastfeeding experience with my now-21-month old and what I'm hoping for with #2, due in December.

I had a serious problem with low supply with #1. I have various hormonal issues which caused me to be infertile for years, and so I was dismayed but I wasn't very surprised when, four days after giving birth, my milk still hadn't come in. I was more surprised by the lack of support from the pro-breastfeeding community, some of which insists (with a stunning lack of compassion) that there is no such thing as an inadequate supply of breast milk. "Don't supplement," they insist, "Because if you do, you'll cause nipple confusion and tell your body it doesn't need to make milk."

Okay, well, four days into her life, my daughter was bright yellow. Bright. Yellow. Her bilirubin levels were rising and rising and it was all because she wasn't pooping. She wasn't pooping because she wasn't eating. She wasn't eating because I had no milk and the very unhelpful lactation consultant insisted that I not feed her formula.

Her pediatrician, who had initially encouraged me to "just keep at it" and not supplement, changed his tune. "She's going to have to go back into the hospital if we can't get these numbers down. Give her some formula."

If I hadn't been a brand-new, clueless, impressionable mom, whose own mom lives a couple of hundred miles away, I would have done that already. If it happens again with #2, everyone can give whatever advice they want and I am going to feed my child.

My poor baby sucked down two ounces of formula in about three seconds flat. She was so hungry, you guys. They told me to only give her 10 ccs at a time but it was empty, all 60-ish ccs, before I could stop her. I'm glad I didn't stop her because she was SO HUNGRY. She fell asleep within seconds, after four days of crying all the time, and an hour later pooped out so much meconium it overwhelmed her little newborn diaper. She pinked right up.

I continued to nurse her. I spent all my time doing something to do with nursing. I would nurse her, then give her a bottle since she hadn't gotten much from me, then when she fell asleep, finally satisfied, I would pump with the hospital-grade torture machine I had rented, collecting about a half-ounce total, and then I would wash the pump supplies, and then sit down for what felt like four seconds, and then she'd wake up hungry again and we'd start over. Meanwhile I was drinking gallons of water, plus that absolutely foul concoction called Mother's Milk tea, and eating oatmeal and doing every other folk remedy to increase milk supply that anyone's ever heard of.

The machine of my nightmares.

It was beyond miserable. Eventually I got to a place where I was able to satisfy her with exclusively breast milk during the day, and only had to give her a bottle of formula at night because I didn't have enough to get any length of sleep out of her by the end of the day. From the time she was a month old until I had to go back to work when she was three months, she was in this way (almost) exclusively breastfed. I never felt letdown once. I have a vague idea what that means, and I know it never happened to me. I never got engorged with milk.

When I went back to work and she went to daycare, despite my best efforts I had hardly any frozen milk for her. This is when my amazing sister-in-law came to my rescue. She had a baby five weeks and one day after my daughter was born and while I was bemoaning my undersupply, she was dealing with the opposite. She had so much milk that she couldn't nurse without pumping first because her daughter would gag and choke on her letdown. She had so much frozen milk they couldn't fit anything else in their freezer. So every time I went to Pennsylvania to visit, I would come home with a cooler stuffed with frozen breast milk, and so my daughter was able to go to daycare every day with breast milk instead of formula. At first it felt a little weird, feeding my daughter someone else's breast milk, but I was so grateful -- my sister-in-law eats a healthy diet and lives a healthy lifestyle, and I don't care whose breast milk it is, it's got to be better for a baby than formula. (And I'm not knocking formula; that stuff saved our lives. But you know what I mean.)

While Keira was at daycare, I was pumping four-to-five times a day, and getting diddly-squat for my efforts. I could and did pump for twenty minutes a side and collect less than an ounce. Total. When she came home and nursed, she seemed to get something, but pumping just didn't work for me. I propped a picture of her in front of me, hoping for some oxytocin stimulation from the sight of her, and nothing worked. I would nurse her in the morning before I took her to daycare, in the early evening when she got home, and during any night wakings.

I held her off of solid foods for as long as I could, even though she was so interested in watching Mommy and Daddy eat. My mom told me she hadn't given any of her seven children a single bite until they were at least nine months old because they didn't need it. I, again, was young and impressionable and stupid and tried to hold off for that long too but only made it to seven months, at which time she took to eating like an old pro and refused nothing (except mashed peas, which begs the question: can you blame her?). At this time, she self-weaned. She had given up the evening nursing in favor of food, and I basically dried up immediately.

Please ignore my voice in the background. "Num nummers," indeed. Good grief.

So, obviously, what I'm hoping and praying for with #2 is: none of the above. I pray I have enough milk to feed him or her but not so much that it's squirting from my eyeballs like my poor sister-in-law. I pray I have an aggressive eater with a strong latch and enough patience to wait it out. I pray I have enough confidence to do what's best for my baby without listening to medical professionals who haven't been listening to me. I pray I have the humility to ask God for the wisdom to know what's best for my baby and not make any rash decisions borne of frustration (I'm asking Him now, but I'm going to have to remember to ask Him then, too).

St. Giles, patron saint of breast feeding, ora pro nobis.

27 July 2014

Answer Me This: "The Fox," Grapes and Grandparents

Happy Sunday! I'm going to skip any mention of my weekend because I don't want to say anything unattractively, uncharitably unChristian. It was... Interesting. So for now: Answer Me This, as always hosted by Kendra.

1. What’s your favorite thing on YouTube?
I am not a big YouTuber. I know some people use it for everything, because there is a YouTube video for just about everything, but I never really think to check it. I would say that since I have "The Fox" by Ylvis bookmarked for my awesome toddler who loves awesomeness, I'm going to have to go with that.

2. Who taught you to drive?
My parents, mostly, but I did take lessons from a driving instructor. My mom was the worst to learn from because she was always grabbing at the "oh crap" handles and slamming her foot into the floorboards as if she had access to a brake. 

I'm a better driver than she is. 

3. What’s your favorite thing to cook?
Mashed potatoes! I make SUCH good mashed potatoes. My favorite other thing is cooking a whole chicken in the Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker, because you can go from raw chicken to cooked, juicy chicken in like half an hour in the microwave. 

4. Are you a hugger or a non-hugger? Why?
I'm happy to hug you but I'll rarely initiate. I guess that makes me a hugger who doesn't assume you're a hugger. :)

5. Where do you pray best?
During the quiet times at Mass. That seems like a narrow window, but that's when I pray without thinking too hard about it, which is, for me, the best praying.

Saying prayers with my daughter at bedtime has gotten hilarious. We wait at the end of most lines of the prayers we say (the "Our Father," a "Hail Mary," "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep," "O Angel of God," and the prayer to St. Michael) so she can fill in the last word. It's only been a couple of months and she already knows the final word to almost every line, and she probably knows more but if we wait for her to offer them we'd be there all night. So last night:

Mommy: Hail --
Keira: Maly,
Mommy: Full of --
Keira: Grapes!

"Mary" has always come out "Maly" because she has a very active tongue when she speaks, but "Hail Mary, full of grapes" is new and cracked me up. You could see where it makes sense to her as the end of the line concludes with mention of fruit.

6. When is the last time you saw/spoke to your grandparents?
I had all my grandparents until April of 2012. Since then, both my mom's parents and my dad's father have passed away. So I spoke to my maternal grandmother last in March-or-so of 2012, my dad's father about the same time (he had been in care in a nursing home with dementia borne of nigh-30 years of Parkinson's disease and hasn't remembered any of his grandchildren in years [and I realize that sounds like a poor excuse, but I lived several states away and he couldn't do phone calls, so...]), and my mom's father around Christmas 2013. My dad's mother is the only one still standing, and it's been about a month since I saw her at my cousin's wedding.

20 July 2014

"Answer Me This": Shakespeare, Bare Feet and Spike Lee.

Happy National NFP Awareness Week! I bet 90%+ of y'all reading this are more than aware of NFP already, so spread your awareness around!

I find myself unexpectedly with a block of time because my husband took our daughter to early Mass and then down to his parents' so he could finish a project for them that he started yesterday, so I'm going to join up with Answer Me This for the first time in weeks. Check it out over at Kendra's!


1. What’s something you've won and how did you win it?
I was an award-winning actress in high school, which makes me laugh whenever I think of it. I played Viola/"Cesario" in Twelfth Night when I was a junior in high school and I got an award from the PA Drama teacher's whatever-whatever. I forget what the award was actually called. It came with precisely $0 in scholarship money, and meant largely nothing.

I also won "Funniest Girl"  (from my peers) in my class of graduating Chemical Engineers (University of Delaware, 2005, yuk it up!) AND was a part of the team that won the best senior project award (from my professors). That was a good night.

Aside from that, I've never won so much as $10 in the lottery. 

2. Do you save old greeting cards and letters, or throw them all away? Why?
I tend to save everything for a time and then I go on a tear and throw mostly everything away. I keep the stuff that is really personal and sweet: notes from my husband, cards that people bothered to actually personalize, etc. 

3. When you’re at home, do you wear shoes, socks, slippers, or go barefoot?
I'm almost always at home because I work from here, so I live a barefoot life. Always. I wear socks as infrequently as possible, and my "shoes" are 99% of the time really flip flops. As a result, I always keep up with my pedicures.

4. Who’s the most famous person you have ever met? 
I never meet anyone famous, which is funny because unlike most people, I can totally play it cool. A few years ago my in-laws took us to a resort for my father-in-law's birthday and Spike Lee was there. We ran into him and my brother-in-law shocked me silly by being completely unable to stop gawking. So I guess I met Spike Lee that one time?

5. What has been your best work of art?
Without a doubt, it's this little piece of beauty. Soon there will be another little work of art messing up our lives in a big, wonderful way. (This picture is seven months old or so, but her beautiful face is the same. Now her hair is a complete mop.)

6.  What’s your strongest sense?
I'm pregnant, so it's obviously my sense of smell. I can smell everything, to the chagrin of my husband. Sometimes he walks into the house and I can tell him what he had for lunch because I can smell it on his breath from across the room. It is NOT GOOD.

19 July 2014

In which I ask for prayers for others.

Oh, so silent for so long. I've been treading water, trying to get through this pregnancy without swearing off another.

For now, I've come to ask for some prayers. Friends of mine are going through a hard time, and they could use some intercession, and certainly some divine intervention.

St. John Paul II, St. Joseph, St. Monica, St. Priscilla, St. Rita of Cascia, St. Thomas More, St. Valentine: Ora pro nobis.

01 July 2014

Help me, fellow mommies!

 The last couple of days have been a complete nightmare. Keira was sick over the weekend and as a result watched way too much TV. We know better because too much TV always has behavioral consequences, but when she's sick and just wants to watch Little Einsteins and we can't take her outside or anything, what else are we gonna do? Thanks to the fever on Sunday and state law that says she can't go back to daycare until she's without a fever for 24 hours, we had to scramble to make arrangements on Monday, because our family vacation starts on Thursday of this week and I have an epic amount of work to do before then.

My sister-in-law, who's recently sold her business and isn't yet working, graciously offered to come babysit. Unfortunately, Keira was a total beast to her and Michael had to come home from work at lunchtime, because I couldn't get away from my work. She was able to go back to daycare today and apparently she behaved fine while she was there, but from the moment she came home tonight it was wall-to-wall meltdowns.

She melted down about sitting down to dinner.

She melted down when Daddy asked her to put her toys away after her bath.

She melted down when Mommy took away her Sofia book in response to some unspecified other meltdown.

She melted down about nothing at all.

She smacked Mommy in the face and then sat in time-out, refusing to say "sorry," for fifty minutes. FIFTY. She kept trying to charm me into letting her out without her actually having said the word, because she's the most stubborn child who ever lived.

She had the mother of all meltdowns because Mommy said she had to say her prayers.

We had a couple of days of this a couple of months ago. We cut off the TV altogether and started saying her prayers before bed and her behavior turned around on a dime. But she hasn't had any TV since the fever died down, and we never, ever skip prayers. So now I'm out of solutions. We're big on follow-through so it's not that she doesn't know we're serious. But I -- and my pregnancy hormones, let's not forget that -- cannot take another day of this behavior.

So chime in. Let's hear your no-fail, can't-miss solution for absolutely miserable toddler behavior. Pleeeeeeeease?

29 June 2014

"Answer Me This," Week ??

Phew. Little Munchkin has been battling a fever for three days -- low-grade until today -- but she'd been happy as a clam so we decided to take a risk and bring her down to my husband's aunt's farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains as planned, fever and all. 


In my defense, I did vote against it. She had seemed a little more crabby this morning, but she woke up happy after a morning nap and so I gave in and agreed. She spent the first hour there happy as normal. Her Bella and Poppy brought her the little inflatable pool they keep at their house and some umbrellas to protect her from the sun and she splashed away happily. The second hour brought some serious sleepiness and attendant crabbiness because:

a) We left her pack'n'play at my parents' shore house, where we will be next week on vacation, to minimize our load in the car on the way down and because we didn't think we'd need it this week; and

b) I spent a lot of time training her to sleep in her crib. And only in her crib. Aside from her crib, she will sleep in her car seat, sometimes. Which turns out to have bitten me square on the rear end because sometimes you need a kid to put her head down and sleep, even if she's not in her crib.

So we left before dinner. She slept in the car in two half-hour bursts. By the time we got home, her fever had spiked to almost 104, when it had been hovering around 100 for two days. We gave her some Advil and a bath, then she took another half-hour catnap, and then she was ready to par-tay until a good hour past her normal bedtime. 

Commence demon-child meltdown during prayers. What the what? Daddy pulled out the calming skills he didn't know he possessed and she eventually went to sleep. Daddy is already asleep himself, about ten minutes later. I am not far behind, but first: Answer Me This! (There will be no graphic or pictures in this post because I'm exhausted. Sah-rry.)


1. How often do you take public transportation?
Next-to-never, anymore. Back in my single, livin' alone days, I took an Alexandria city bus to work on the daily. Since my first apartment, I haven't lived anywhere that's particularly public-transportation-friendly. Also I started working from home alllll the way back in 2007 so I don't really have anywhere to go.

2. How many cousins do you have?

Uhhhhh.... I think the total is 33. That works out to 28 on my Mom's side and 5 on my Dad's side. My Mom is one of eight kids, she had seven, and two of her sisters have six apiece. Most have at least four. My Dad is one of three kids, and his two sisters had three and two, respectively. 

My daughter has five cousins, all on my side, plus something like four in heaven on her Daddy's side. 

3. Have you ever fired a gun?

Yes! If you haven't, you should -- it's way more fun than you think. Actually, it's been a while since I've been to the range, not since before Keira was born. Which is notable because I heard once that moms have the best aim (according to some military range instructor or other), and I'm interested to know if my aim has improved since my little one was born. I was supposed to go a couple of weeks ago with a girlfriend but I was sick and had to cancel, and we haven't rescheduled because she's CRAZY busy and I'm el barfo. 

4. Do you ride roller coasters?

Not if I can help it. I've been consistently motion-sick since way back. Also I'm not terribly fond of heights. Put them together and you get: No.

5. What's your favorite flower?

I'm between the stargazer lily and the peony. One is spear-y and elegant, and the other is fluffy and cheerful, so I guess it depends on my mood.

6. Are you allergic to anything?

Tree pollen. This spring has been brutal. Bah-rutal.

15 June 2014

"Answer Me This" Linkup, Week 10!

Happy Father's Day, especially to my husband and to my father. Also to all the grandfathers and the godfathers.

Kendra at Catholic All Year is hosting a weekly linkup. She provides the questions, you provide the answers, and then you link up with everyone back on her page. It's a great way to get to know a little about your fellow bloggy travelers, as well as a chance to consider some things about yourself that you hadn't before. Join us! 

Kendra's answers, next week's questions and the linkup can be found here.

1. What’s something you intended to do today, but didn't?
I was supposed to hang out with my friend from high school. She lives about three miles away, and has for a year, and we've hung out about six times. She has no kids yet and you know how it is with your non-kid-having friends: you put all your energy into getting through each day, and while you could totally spare the energy for your friends you don't necessarily think of it. Meanwhile, she thinks having even one kid is totally overwhelming, so she doesn't ever suggest hanging out either. 

Every time it occurs to me to suggest that we go out for a drink after Keira's bedtime -- or, currently, for her to have a drink while I watch, pregnant and momentarily sad about it -- she's about to go out of town. Always.

So this morning, her husband was doing a Tough Mudder and my husband was supposed to take our daughter down to his parents' house, so we were both going to be just sitting around. We had big plans to get together. And then Michael was sick, so he didn't go anywhere, and I never heard from her either so we just didn't. Oops. 

2. What's your favorite grilling recipe?

Grill bread. You brush the outside of a big loaf of crusty bread with olive oil and then sprinkle on herbs and spices, whatever you want. Then, once the crud has been burned off the grill and you turn it off (or waaaaay down), you put the bread in and turn it a couple of times until it's grill-marked and warm. It's a total mess to eat but soooooo gooooood.

Alternatively, you can halve the loaf and load up the inside, then grill-mark the inside and the outside. Either way is awesome. I was trying to find a picture on the internet, but it turns out, upon consultation with my dad, that it was invented by my parents' neighbor and thus I'm revealing it to the wider world for the first time. You're welcome, wider world.

3. What movie did you see most recently?

Ummmmmmmmmm. That is an excellent question. The last movie I saw in theaters was Lone Survivor, I think. It was extremely upsetting but I think everyone should watch it anyway. I couldn't tell you what I last watched on TV or Netflix, because I watch more shows than movies.

4. Would you say your tendency is to over or under react to medical situations?

Under. Definitely under. It drives my husband crazy that I usually just try to wait things out. Early in this pregnancy, my allergies took me down like a wounded antelope and my throat was so sore I thought I might die (of dehydration, because I couldn't bring myself to swallow any water, not of drama). I got right on top of it and went to the doctor -- on a Saturday, even! -- to have a strep test because the last thing I wanted was to pass strep to him and to our daughter. My husband was amazed that I went to the doctor at all. Because usually I don't.

5. Do you squeeze the toothpaste tube or roll it?

Both. I start off squeezing and switch to rolling when rolling becomes necessary. 

6. What are you doing for Father's Day?

That is still up in the air. Since Michael's been sick and still is, and his father is also sick, we're playing it by ear. We'll see how everyone feels in the morning. 

11 June 2014

What am I even talking about?

Feedly is down and I had to take a break from work because my belly is (as always) in revolt. I should go get something to eat but I hate food, so... Blogging! Total randomness, comin' atcha.

This pregnancy is limping along, y'all. I am 11 weeks and 1 day, and it has already felt like an eternity. I can't keep my vitamins down and my diet is a disaster, but I'm not that worried because the same things were true with my first pregnancy too and let me tell you: she cooked up perfectly. The ob/gyn asked me during the lengthy "so, you're pregnant, tell us everything about everything" questionnaire if I remembered her APGAR scores, and I told him she got a 9 and a 10, and he was very impressed because apparently they don't give out a lot of 9s and 10s at our hospital.

Yeah, that's right: my baby got an A on her very first test.

Last night my husband brought me home a Caesar salad from Costco -- which is enormous, with chicken, and only costs $4! I'm not sure I could make it myself for $4 even if I were up to the (admittedly pretty small unless you can't walk into the kitchen without barfing) challenge -- and I shared my chicken with Keira. She had leftover macaroni and cheese to eat, but she preferred my chicken and the grape tomatoes off my salad. Or, as she refers to them: bobillies.

"Mmmm, chicken. Mmmmmm, bobillies! More bobillies? Peeeeeeease?"

I was trying to figure out why she was calling them that, and I thought maybe she thought they were blueberries? But she doesn't like blueberries. Maybe she's just weird, which would be delightful. When my goddaughter was a toddler she made up words for everyday things in her life. Her belly button was a "dongegonk" and her favorite socks were her "hula-hulas." It. Was. Wonderful.

Aaaanyway I have to get moving. I have to eat lunch whether I want to or not, which means I'm going to have to get in the car and go buy lunch because our cupboards are bare, and I only have an hour before I have to call into a work meeting.

Wish me luck finding something my belly will accept for lunch! It's touch-and-go around here.

09 June 2014

"Answer Me This" Linkup, Week 9!

Here I am again, late to the linkup party! We had a great weekend -- Saturday was my cousin's wedding in Delaware. Family weddings where it's not one of my own siblings getting married are rare, so it was big fun to be at a wedding with my entire family where a bunch of us didn't have all the responsibilities. We took a bunch of ridiculous pictures in the photo booth and never did get a picture of the whole fam -- less the kiddos -- dressed to the nines because we started to try and then cocktail hour ended. Oops.

Kendra at Catholic All Year is hosting a weekly linkup. She provides the questions, you provide the answers, and then you link up with everyone back on her page. It's a great way to get to know a little about your fellow bloggy travelers, as well as a chance to consider some things about yourself that you hadn't before. Join us! 

Kendra's answers, next week's questions and the linkup can be found here.

1. Do you have a land line?
We do. It was actually cheaper to have the landline than not with our cable and internet bundle, and it makes me feel like an adult. Also, I still have a Philadelphia area code on my cell phone since I got my number when I lived there still and trying to get everyone to get your new number right is a pain in the rear end. So it's really nice to be able to give a local number to the pediatrician and delivery men, etc., even though it's super-rare for us to actually get a call on the land line.

2. What is your least favorite food?
I guess eggplant? Maybe kale? Come on, people. They're both nice to look at in the garden but they're not really meant to be eaten!

3. What's on your summer reading list?
I don't really have one. I tend to pick things up randomly and/or reread stuff that's already on my bookshelf. Once in a while I get a really good recommendation from someone who knows my tastes, but that is increasingly rare as more and more kids enter our lives and we run out of time for reading.

4. Is there something that people consistently ask for your advice on? What is it?
I usually get asked for "what's the right thing to do" advice. I don't always do the right thing, by a long shot, but that's not because I don't know what the right thing is. 

5. What's the most physically demanding thing you've ever done?
Other than giving birth, I guess it was my Irish dance lessons in high school. That noise is a lot harder than it looks! Do you know how difficult it is to hold your hands perfectly still at your sides? And to stay up on your toes while you reel around? I guess you do if you've either Irish danced or danced pointe, but I didn't until I did it. By the end of that year, I could pick out individual muscles in my calves. It was pretty cool.

6. How do you feel about massages?
I feel very, very warmly about massages. I would love to have one right now, in fact. Does anyone have $100 or so they weren't planning to use? I'll take care of the tip. :)

05 June 2014

"Rape Culture" or a culture of denial?

A reasonably good friend of mine, with whom I disagree almost always when it comes to politics, shared this on Facebook this morning.

And when the mother of a friend of ours from high school commented:

"I agree BUT, when a girl or woman is wearing shorts so short that everyone can see her butt cheeks and shirts so low you can almost see her nipples, I think she should expect to be objectified."

My friend replied, simply, "No." (Which... Dude. Rude!)

Now, I never wade into these debates on Facebook. I have a million things to say and anyone who knows me knows that I have very little fear about saying them, but just I don't do that stuff on Facebook. People get ugly, immediately, and presume the worst about each other, and I'm not on Facebook to get flamed by strangers who happen to know someone I know.

I'm tempted to break my rules and get into it this time. This is a departure from reality, and like all departures from reality just really bothers me.

Of course a fifteen year old girl, dressed provocatively, is going to be sexualized by the men and boys who see her. That's why she dresses provocatively. What other reason is there? Seriously: name one reason to wear short-shorts that dig into your crotch if not so that people will look at your legs?

This message from a teenager who doesn't understand her own power, her own worth, and the danger she's potentially putting herself in is almost understandable. She's fifteen. She may not have been raised by parents who taught her self-respect. She has a lot of growing up to do. She has a lot more to see of the world and the ugliness that's out there before she can hope to realize that covering herself modestly is best for everyone. She's been steeped in a radical feminist worldview that talks constantly about "rape culture" and yet ignores that the atmosphere of cheap, supposedly consequence-free sex is a major contributor to the fact of rape.

Ever-younger girls are parading around dressed like the Pussycat Dolls. Have you tried to shop for a modest bathing suit for a nine year-old recently? Best of luck to you, because clothing manufacturers seem to think that pre-pubescent girls need padded bra tops and string bikinis. Such things are available for toddlers.


Why is that even being manufactured in a size 3T? Is it really necessary for my daughter to be running around the beach in a bikini with her diaper sticking out? (Yes, my one-and-a-half year old is wearing size 3T bathing suits. She's a tall, solid, healthy kid.)

Look, there's nothing healthy about deciding to pretend that wearing sexy clothes to school should be a right for teenagers. My friend who shared the picture has two sons, and he and his wife have taken steps to ensure no more babies (which just makes me sad), and thus he will never know what it's like to parent a daughter. He's never been a woman. He's never experienced being leered at while wearing a maxi dress with no exposed cleavage, let alone while wearing a bikini, and he never will.

It's easy for male "feminists" to share these sentiments and even to think they mean them. But parents of daughters know better. Grown women know better.

It's not rape culture, it's reality.

03 June 2014

I have a million-dollar idea.

There should be a setting on my television remote called "Pregnant and barfing."

Or maybe just "Barfing," so as to accommodate those barfing for reasons other than pregnancy.


This button would filter food commercials from the broadcast. I just almost lost it during a Popeye's commercial.

If I hadn't breathed through it, it would have made... Four instances of barfing today. Fun times up in here!

01 June 2014

"Answer Me This" Linkup, Week 8!

OH MY GOSH, you guys. The formatting on this post just refuses to cooperate so it looks funky. I apologize. I have tried to fix it and I just can't. This is making me crazy. I CAN'T EVEN UN-CENTER THIS PARAGRAPH. WHAT IS HAPPENING.

Kendra at Catholic All Year is hosting a weekly linkup. She provides the questions, you provide the answers, and then you link up with everyone back on her page. It's a great way to get to know a little about your fellow bloggy travelers, as well as a chance to consider some things about yourself that you hadn't before. Join us! 

Kendra's answers, next week's questions and the linkup can be found here.

1. Do you have a smart phone?
I do! I love my iPhone, almost unreservedly -- the battery sometimes drains unexpectedly so I'm holding back from true love. I'm one of those people who thinks of or is asked something she doesn't know... and then has to know right NOW. I grew up as the family dictionary and encyclopedia (I kid you not, my youngest sister once asked me "How many rocks are there in Vermont?" and got seriously miffed that I couldn't tell her. I was in college and so she was about... six or seven?). The advent of the internet in my life -- answers at the other end of that horrible modem noise -- was a wonder and the smart phone was an absolute revelation. 

2. Which is your favorite meal of the day?
Like Kendra, I am a fan of breakfast, but we apparently do not like the same breakfast. I love eggs and potatoes. As a native Philadelphian, I should call them "dippy eggs," but nope: in my house, they were called eyeballs. I am over 30 years old and when I spend the night at my parents' and they ask what kind of eggs I want, I answer "Eyeballs, please!" 

Eyeballs, or dippy eggs, for the uninitiated, are sunny-side up eggs (although I prefer them over-easy), and they were called eyeballs because a) my dad is super weird and b) they look like googly-eyes on your plate. 

...Now I'm hungry.

I could go full-on weird and tell you that the highest breakfast praise in our home was that the eggs you were presented were "a picture of eyeball reflection," but no one needs to hear about that. 

3. Shower or bath?
I love a bath for relaxation but I have to follow it up with a shower, because I tend to feel like I've just been sitting in a soup of my own filth (I mean, I'm not a farmer or anything so I'm never really that filthy, but still). Which is why I don't take baths very often -- it's a dreadful waste of water to do both. I really do not enjoy a shower, which I get is weird. And it's all horrid when I'm pregnant: baths make me more nauseated than I already am and showers... You know that moment when you have to tilt your head all the way back to rinse the shampoo from the front of your head? Yeah. So normally that ain't no thang, obviously, but when I'm on the edge of a vom already the tightening of the skin on my throat is.... You know what, I can't talk about this anymore.

4. Think of a person you love. How many days have you been in love with that person? (Don't worry, this site will do the math for you. And, hey, now you can order this card!)
Michael and I had our first date on October 11, 2006 (we were married two years to the day later, because we're gross like that). I'm estimating that it took me two months to know it was love. So according to Kendra's handy site, that comes to something like 2,725 days. Wow.

5. What's the best church you've ever been inside?
I've never been to most of the fanciest European cathedrals, but I loved Westminster Cathedral, the Catholic counterpart of Westminster Abbey, in London. I went to a very, very early Mass there when I was a senior in high school and on a band trip to London. There had to be more than eight Catholics on that trip, but only eight of us got up to go to Sunday Mass -- high school students, amirite? -- and the place was cavernously empty-seeming with only about two hundred people at Mass. It is beautiful, but I don't have any pictures because we were there for Mass, not on a sightseeing tour, and so I hadn't thought to bring my camera.

6. Happy Feast of the Visitation! Has anyone ever come to help YOU?
When my daughter was born, my mom stayed for two or three days. I had no milk and my poor baby just cried and cried because she was so hungry. I was sore and tired and hormonal and not calm enough myself to calm her but my mom walked her and soothed her and I got a little bit of sleep. Everyone was telling me that if I supplemented with formula, I would never have enough breast milk and to just keep at it, but she was so hungry! And then when the jaundice began to set in the pediatrician changed his tune. I began to give her some formula and she pinked up but still -- your first baby is a tough proposition! 

You can't really see my momma back there, but there they are: my mom and my daughter.

When my mom left, I cried. For, like, hours. She was supposed to come back the next weekend -- a three-to-four hour drive is no small thing, but she was going to do it for me -- and then Hurricane Sandy intervened. In the end, her inability to come the second weekend was probably a blessing because I kind of got trial-by-fire motherhood training, even though I still had no milk. 

I hope this next one gets some milk!

30 May 2014

One Hot Mess

Oh you guys.

Earlier this evening I was flat on my back on the couch, because that'sa-how we do it after dinner these days. Keira-Lou was running back and forth between the guest bedroom where Daddy was hanging some clothes and me on the couch. At one point, I had my head turned away from her so she slapped her little paw on my cheek, turned my head, and then slammed her head, full force, into my nose.

OW ow ow ow ow ow ow OWW.

You know how much that hurts, right?

I burst into instantaneous, unbidden tears. She was just trying to play, and I obviously didn't want to scare her but I couldn't help it. It hurt so bad I let out a wail and tears started pouring down my face. She, terrified, hightailed it back to Daddy, who had already started out to find out why I was sobbing on the couch.


She was just trying to play, and she's only a year and a half old. Her head is hard as a rock, and in the 95th percentile so also big and heavy.

Michael got me some ice in a plastic baggie so hold over it, and I just kind of laid there, trying to calm down, and meanwhile she was still terrified and I couldn't calm her. For the remainder of the evening, she was completely out of sorts.

I didn't hear anything crack when it happened, so I don't think my nose is broken. It's even odds that I'll wake up in the morning with two black eyes. Fingers crossed, eh?

*Linking up with Blythe at The Fike Life for her One Hot Mess linkup!

29 May 2014


Sometimes you go to Panera Bread alone for lunch, and they somehow lose your order between the register and the monitor three feet away where they put together the orders.

You stand there, pregnant and hungry and ready to vomit because you're pregnant and hungry, and you realize that the ladies who ordered right before you are long gone with their food and the people getting their food now weren't even in the parking lot when you first started waiting here for your lunch.

So you speak up, and sometimes the dude behind the counter is obviously inclined to believe that you're trying to scam him. Luckily, you resisted your urge to throw away your (usually useless) receipt, and so you have some proof. He realizes that he hasn't delivered to anyone your cup of broccoli cheddar soup and half of a turkey avocado BLT, sans bacon, and of course he remembers that because you're the only person in the world who asks to have the bacon taken off a BLT. (I hate bacon; I know, I'm a space alien.)

He throws together your meal slightly haphazardly, but for heaven's sake who cares, you're starving, remember? But you make a quiet promise to yourself not to come back. This is really inexcusable.

And then sometimes they give you an extra hunk of still-warm French baguette and a free cookie for your wait.

And all is forgiven. See you soon, probably, Panera Bread.

28 May 2014

"Answer Me This" Linkup, Week 7!

Kendra at Catholic All Year is hosting a weekly linkup. She provides the questions, you provide the answers, and then you link up with everyone back on her page. It's a great way to get to know a little about your fellow bloggy travelers, as well as a chance to consider some things about yourself that you hadn't before. Join us! 

But! Kendra was in France with her family, the lucky ducky, and so this week's AMT was being hosted by Haley over at Carrots for Michaelmas.

Kendra's answers, next week's questions and the linkup can be found here.

I'm getting this in juuuust under the wire because we were out of town and I didn't make much time for blogging. But I'm glad I waited because I just got my hands on the pictures this morning and they're worth squeaking in just under deadline.

1. Beach or Mountains? Where would you rather be?
Beeeeach. I haven't been to the mountains since I was little, whereas my parents sacrificed like crazy so they could buy a second home in a shore town in New Jersey. In fact, we just got back yesterday from five glorious days with most of the crew -- we didn't get enough sleep and I'm pretty well burnt to a crisp, and I can't wait to go back. The grandkids love to play together and the adults experiment with new cocktails (not me this year, as I'm preggers). Look how much fun these kids are having:

Ring-around-the-rosie during the nightly cousins dance party on the back deck.

You guys. This dress.

Billy is just such a cool kid.

Kelsey was not crazy about the sand. She sat in this chair and ate almost that whole baggie of Veggie Straws. My kid was running headlong into the freezing ocean at this time, so I'm a little jealous of this sweet 'fraidy cat in her safe perch. 

Gotta keep hydrated during the dance party!

Sweet, shy Kelsey.

Do the can-can-can!

So sweet!

Hi, Logan! You'll be boogying with the big kids in no time.

We'll just enjoy the moment where Kelsey borrowed her cousin's shoe and skip the little cat fight that followed. 

"Hi, Uncle Billy!"

P.S. My brother is a professional photographer, which is why these photos are so ridiculously awesome. You can find out more about him at his website, and if you're anywhere near Philadelphia you should hire him. He is so, so good.
2. Which is more fun: Christmas Eve, or Christmas morning?
This is a toughie... I love it all. I think I'm going to have to come down on the side of Christmas morning, though, just by a nose.
3. What’s the most embarrassing childhood outfit you remember wearing?
I started using my babysitting money to supply my own wardrobe at the tender age of 12, because part of my parents' sacrificing to buy a shore house included our clothes. The rule was that you wore what Mom brought home or you bought your own. It's reasonable and I intend to do the same with my children, but I might make a bit more of an effort to bring home style (sorry, Mom). 

The worst specific thing I can think of was the dress I was forced to wear to my aunt's wedding. It was this horrible peach brocade dress with an enormous square collar and just no shape to it whatsoever. I loathed it. I loathed it so much that even with the benefit of time, I still resent it a little bit that Mom made me wear it. (Yes, that's unreasonable. Completely. She worked hard to outfit the seven of us. But seriously, you guys, it was SO UGLY.)
4. Your house is quiet, you don’t have to do work (housework included). What do you do?
Currently, at nine weeks pregnant, the answer is always sleep. At no point do I have no work/housework to do, and yet I still work in the nap because it's needed. Under non-pregnant circumstances, I'd probably fire up the Netflix or read, because I'm not, actually, much of a napper.
5. What movie do you want to watch when you’re feeling under the weather?
Harry Potter and [fill in the blank, because I'll watch any of them a gazillion times]. 
6. Did you have an American Girl doll when you were little? If so, which one? 
I did not. I feel like I was maybe the wrong age? I know I wasn't aware of them until I was well out of my doll stage. We were Barbie kids, as I discussed previously in the inaugural AMT