Friday, January 29, 2010

alea iacta est: the dice has been thrown

Well, it seems I will need a C section. This morning I had a visit to the 'high risk' Obgyn practice that now takes over the remainder of my care during this pregnancy. With the baby being firmly breech and, due to his weight, unlikely to turn anymore, a C section is apparently the safest option for both mommy and baby. I really had hoped for a completely natural delivery this time. I had made arrangements with the doctor and the hospital to be allowed to labor in water and was about to order my little birthing pool when something inside me told me to wait for the ultrasound.

I have mixed feelings. I am grateful of course that there is this option, that we know in advance and can make arrangements and that this time I will have lots of help after the birth for almost a month. And yet I feel also dissapointed, and as if somehow I have failed to provide this baby with the best possible start. I do not know how I could have done more though. According to the doctor I controlled my gestational diabetes extremely well, my numbers were excellent throughout pregnancy and in my mind I KNOW I did everything I could. Emotionally though, something inside me is still nagging that I must have done something wrong.
I am trying to get past that feeling and to focus on the arrival of the new baby and the gratitude that he and I will be safe and well taken care of.

Thank God for doctors.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pink Roses II: Life, with children...

Two days ago, I made a post about the difference a vase of flowers made in my housekeeping. The beautiful pink roses are still standing next to me and making me smile. However, I vowed several times that in this blog I would be honest about the realities of homemaking and motherhood.
Quite often in the past I've visited wonderful homemaking blogs and come out feeling inspired but also hopelessly inadequate and doomed to failure, because I never would be able to get it all together and do all these wonderful projects like those women did. Their children never seemed to throw tantrums, their house never seemed a mess, and there always was a crockpot with something delicious on, so they never... ever... stood frazzled before the freezer and decided that they could get away with pizza this evening. And if they did, it would be homemade, wholesome, whole wheat pizza dough of course, with toppings layed out in a shape that portrayed the liturgical season or their current bible reading or homeschool project.

In the few years that I have been a wife and mother I have learned that life simply does not work that way. These women DO all these wonderful projects and I commend them for it, but often they are of the opinion that when things go wrong... you do not announce it to the world. I can respect that opinion, especially in this tell all generations where people seem to find it necessary to share every little detail about their lives, even the ones we REALLY did not want to know.
For some of us first generation homemakers however, this works discouraging. We have no other rolemodels to look at for full time homemakers than either old television shows (which we at least KNOW to be unrealistic) and the women we get to know through the internet who go before us.

So I made the commitment that while I want to share my inspirations and triumphs and joys, I will also share the ah... less pretty side.
On sunday... my house looked beautiful, the roses beamed at me in approval and I felt satisfied with the world. Three days, two doctors appointments, a husband with a busy time at work and a son with a cold later... these are the changes:

- Miscelanious objects have managed to congregate on my desk. I do not know how or why, because I certainly did not invite me, but from where I sit right here I can see a homeschooling book, a stick of deodorant, two childrens books, an empty box of tissues, a box of dried prunes, a necklace, a box of crayons that should be in the desk not on it, a mug, a can with an energy drink, a pretty tea cup, a childrens cup and a half worked scribbled drawing that my son made while talking with his grandmother on skype, as well as some junk mail. It's a big desk.

- The crystal bowl with the pretty red apples had to be removed because my son kept helping himself. That would not be so bad, after all, fruit is good for you, if he would actually eat one apple, and then go to the next one. Instead he selected one, bit in it. Took it along... left it somewhere and when whim stroke stretched his hand out for the next one. We went through three apples before I caught on and intervened. Two of the apples are now on Joseph's own plastic table to hopefully be finished off by tonight.

- There is one basket of duplo's upended on the carpet, and Joseph's shoes are laying next to them where I put them after I took them off to put him down for his nap. For some reason, my husband's tie is also laying on the carpet.

- The pretty white table cloth is unfortunately no longer pretty and white. Two days ago my son wanted to play with the coin box and help pick up the coins from the table and put them back in the jar. We 'counted' money for literally an hour and a half. Dirty coins leave residue on a white table cloth.

- To finish off the table cloth, came our daily practice of independance and self reliance: the idea that we should allow a child to do things for itsself so that he can become more independant and a greater help to mommy and daddy and he learns to do an effort. It's a great thing to stimulate at the age of two and a half where children actually LOVE to do things by themselves. It's also a sticky thing to stimulate, literally. Because while Joseph is learning how to spread cream cheese or choco spread on his own crackers or bread, the once white table cloth suffers in the two seconds there are between mommy realizing the impending disaster and the moment where she can hand a whipe to her son after having hauled her pregnant body from the chair in an unseemly display of haste, rushed off to the kitchen, found the whipe and offered it while exclaiming "NO Joseph, you're being a good boy... keep your hands up... no... keep it... oh..."

Now after I have finished up this post, I WILL actually put that tablecloth in the washing machine... I will clean up the clutter on my desk and it will probably only take ten minutes. But some days, I am too tired and by now just need a nap. Or some soothing time to knit, and some days it grows from this little bit of disorder to more extravagant proportions. Then I need a bouquet of pretty pink roses or another reminder that even in this season, even with limited time, I can create some order and pretty - ness amidst the choco smears. At least for a few hours.

Baby news

My due date is on the fifteenth... but it looks like I am not going to make it there. And that I am not going to have the uncomplicated natural birth I had hoped for after Joseph's more complicated birth story...

A recent ultrasound revealed that not only is the baby firmly breech despite all my efforts to coax him in the right position, but he also is already weighing about 9 pounds and 3 ounces, with three weeks still to go.

I had my doctor's appointment this morning. As expected the doctor said that the ultrasound indicated a likely need for a cesarian. She was relieved I think that they had sort of prepared me for that option at the ultrasound office because she knows I had my heart set on a natural birth. However, the most important thing is that the baby and I are healthy.
Since I have had my prenatal care at a family practice however they are not OBGyn specialists and need to transfer the care of the specialized delivery to a different, but affiliated practice. This is the practice that also does the ultrasounds for them, and I have had nothing but good experiences with them in the past, so that is reassuring.
The one annoying thing about this is that of course I need to have an appointment made... which means I am waiting by the phone again to hear if I can possible have the appointment this friday. (Please God!) so that I will be able to get organized and get everything in order before baby Michael will make a scheduled appearance. If not, I will have to wait till monday.

If at all possible and if I have a say in it, I will put the date for the cesarian on the fifth, this would give the baby some additional time to turn on his own if he wants to (and might make natural birth possible??? Another thing I will need to find out at this appointment). It would also allow my mother in law time to organize a visit here, so she could help with Joseph while I am in the hospital and after I come home, until my mother arrives on the 13th. Plus... I would get hopefully enough time to recover before the baptism on the 21sth.

The appointment took pretty long, so when I came home, my husband had to dash under the shower and run out to be in time for his dentist appointment. Friday is also the day that someone comes to look at our roof that we found out was leaking. Joseph and I will be going outside for a bit an a few minutes to run around and climb on the play equipment (he running and climbing, not I. *LOL*). Aside from that, I need to keep nice and calm and deal with Braxton Hicks. I really would not want to set labour in early if I need a cesarian. *LOL* I want to do some laundry. Maybe cut Michaels matrass foam to size, and tidy his room a bit. Aside from that, I will just do some cross stitch on a towel that I am making for a gift and try to relax.

If you have a prayer to spare, could you pray that I get a phone call soon and that I will have an appointment this friday where I can find out definitively what should be happening?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

It all started with some pink roses

There is a vase with pink roses standing next to me on the desk. They are making me smile every single time I look at them.
My husband is the most wonderful, romantic man, but these roses were not a gift from him. Being busy at work and coming home to help me with our busy boy rarely leaves time for a stop for flowers. I love flowers though, and they add a little touch of something extra feminine to the interior. At the grocery store I found out that my careful budgeting and planning had payed off and my grocery bill came out considerably less than what I had to spend. So I treated myself to some pink roses for about four dollars and still came out under budget.

Putting them here, next to my computer makes me smile, makes me feel feminine, happy and spoiled. And it inspires me to clean up my desk.
Adding a little indulgence here and there somehow makes me wish to do the more mundane tasks as well. Elegance is... somehow infectuous, and strongly related to neatness and order.
Which is why... the rest of the living room needed to be tidied as well to match the desk. So I just went around, picking things up and found a few of Joseph's clothes laying around. This led to me put a load of laundry in. And that made me realize that, since my wonderful husband was playing with Joseph, I had the time to also put away some of the clean laundry that was hanging on the rack and put it actually into the closet. Which of course led to me seeing there was laundry waiting in the bedroom to be picked up, and put in a second load. Organizing the laundry meant that I came across some things that were clean but not yet put in place, and now.... not only is there a vase of roses on my desk, but that desk has been emptied of all unnessecary stuff as well. The kitchen table also has a white table cloth, and a crystal bowl has been dusted off, taken from the fridge and filled with pretty red apples as a practical and pretty centerpiece. There are pretty, clean tea towels hanging in the kitchen and I am feeling tired but good. Considering I only came home from the grocery store at 6.15 pm.... it is now 10.15 pm, and I have in the mean time spend time playing with Joseph, sat behind the computer scanning pictures and files, had some soup for dinner, knitted a few stitches and relaxed a bit by browsing some of my favorite blogs... it didn't take that long at all to add that little layer of femininity to my house. With a small side dish of organization along the way.

And it all started with some pink roses....

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Be soft of voice..

The signature line I use on message boards or other ways to communicate on the internet is always the same: "Be soft of voice and gentle of bearing.."
Somehow that sentence seems to radiate with people because I often get questions about it. Where does it come from? It's the beginning line of the following poem, which to me, describes what I want to be as a woman:

Be soft of voice
and gentle of bearing
be kind of heart
and tender of hands

be bright as the morn
and still as the evening
within you they'll find
God's love reborn.

It's a reminder to myself of what I should be. Of course I fall short more often than I would like to. But over the years that little poem has had a profound influence on me. I remember as a teenager priding myself in a razorsharp wit that could cut people to the quick if they were being 'stupid'. And in truth, if I do not keep a strong hand on the reigns of my tongue, sometimes a sharp analyses of someones actions, understanding, or opinions would fall out. I am working towards ridding not just my tongue from these unkind words, but over time I hope my heart as well will simply banish such thoughts as unworthy. That doesn't mean becoming blind to other peoples faults, but simply not feeling the need to dwell upon them, not feeling the desire to point them out unless in the greatest love and in a way that for them is not humiliating but helpful.
We all know some people who delight in "telling it like it is" "calling a spade a spade" and "I say this with great love, but what you are doing is ..." and so on. Calling a spade a spade is great for gardening tools, but people are somewhat different.

There are countless quotes in the bible that show God's desire for us to speak kindly, with foretought and without malice or even anger. Just to give you a few, here are some examples:

Psalm 34:13
Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.

Proverbs 22:11
He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.

Ephesians 4:29;31
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers... Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

Psalm 19:14
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Phillipians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

I am not there yet, but I have made progress. My students, when I taught highschool a few years ago commented on the fact that I was "always in a good mood" and had "such patience". I was glad they could not look into my heart every single day, because I often felt impatient. My words however and the way I spoke them seemed at least to show them the reflection of something more beautiful. And that 'something' I believe is the Lord at work within me.

Of course, the Lord asks for my cooperation with this great work he is doing within me, and some days it feels like a lot of hard work. But recently... I have been getting some more unexpected rewards through a little mirror. It actually brings to mind yet another quote:

Proverbs 23:15-16
My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad; my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right

At twenty seven months, Joseph is in many things a little mirror. He likes to help us, he likes to mimic what we are doing, and above all when he speaks, my husband and I can find our own phrases and words sounding back to us. This goes from little phrases like "Yay, it fits" when we are doing puzzles, to even the intonation of the "muhuh" that I sometimes use as a murmur of assent if I am trying to agree with something but have my mouth full of food or do not want to interrupt my husband while he is speaking. When I dropped a cup of orange juice and let out a cry of dismay followed by a "Oh, silly mommy!" I found Joseph gleefully repeating "silly, silly mommy" and I had to smile. Because I realized that "silly mommy" is probably the worst word he can pick up here in this house. That and "stupid computer", which is only aimed at the machine in front of me in utter frustration when it refuses to work. Still... I'ld like to get that one out of my vocabulary too. There is no need for Joseph to start labeling things as 'stupid', just because I am impatient when the computer locks up.
It is wonderful however to hear our little word mirror say things like "How are you, sweetie?" when dadda comes home, and while we chuckle and tell him to say "how are you, dadda?" to realize that what he picks up in this house are terms of endearment. That the songs he hears are alphabet songs and allelujah's, Berlioz and songs that actually have a melody and can be repeated before anyone without us blushing.

I find a reward now, that I never would have thought to have in seeing my son pick up our words and mimic our behaviour towards others. He is two, and a rough and tumble, high energy boy, but there is often such tenderness in some of his gestures that I can only praise God for what he is working in me, and fulfilling in my son.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I bought a sewing machine when I was pregnant with Joseph, in the hope of making some clothes for my little boy. I didn't count on life with my little boy being so hectic that the sewing machine barely could come out, let alone leave me time to actally learn how to sew clothes. However, I used that machine to make the little favor bags for sugar beans (a Belgian tradition at the birth/ baptism of a child) for Joseph's baptism.
Since then I have not sewn much, but lately the machine is placed somewhere where it is easier accessible, not in the way and I have looked at it in longing, especially since there still is this abominable lack of nice boys clothing in the stores. Still... I am less ambitious now and have started with some small projects. The first thing that actually went out, was a hand embroidered bookmark to which I stitched a nice backing. It came out rather nice, but unfortunately I forgot to take pictures.
Today though I sat down and managed to finish some of the sugar bean favor bags for Michael, and I am pretty happy as well with how they are turning out.

We could not decide on which of the fabrics we liked most, so we chose both of them. The yellow one with the little bees is more cute, the blue one with golden stars more elegant. I was actually hoping for either a cream, brown, or green fabric to go with the color scheme of Michael's nursery, but there were none that I liked as much as these two.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Getting through pregnancy gracefully (part two)

Somewhere in June, I wrote this post about my desire of going through this second pregnancy with some elegance and grace.
Months have passed and now in the last month of this pregnancy, I think it is time to give myself a report card. How did I do? In all honesty, not that bad, for most of the pregnancy.

September, Joseph's birthday and one of my first maternity outfits

I was rather lucky that the designers of maternity wear in summer had a love for the maxi dress, which could be combined with tops, light cardigans, or just by themselves, and I made some rather nice finds in the outlet shops. Shoes remain a bit of a problem from the perspective of elegance, but I was able to find some mary jane style shoes in the childrens section that were wide enough. Not immediately the elegantly strapped sandal I was hoping for, but better than the previous pregnancy where I ended up with crocks for several months, because I simply could not find a pair of shoes that fit my wider feet.

My hair has actually been less of a challenge than I feared, because I actually found a shampoo that works very well for me: L'Oreal Ultra pure, sulfate free. It's a tad more expensive than what I would normally spend, but after several months of trying routines of no shampoo, conditioning only, baby shampoo or anything that would keep my hair nice and clean without going flat and greasy on day two... "I'm worth it!". I think this shampoo has been developed for coloured hair, but while my hair is not coloured, it does the trick and that is what matters, right?

I wish I had more pictures to show you, but the fact is that I usually am the one behind the camera, which is why most pictures of me are studio photographed glamour shots, like this one on the official shoot for Joseph's second birthday.

In late november, you can see these pictures, taken imprompty after church. The dress is normally worn with a little jacket because I am not that big a fan of shoulderstraps, but I needed a bit more freedom of movement while on the playground.

This one most definitely is NOT a glamour shot. On december fourth after several hours of baking St. Nicholas cookies, I proudly displayed my floury apron and big belly for my husband.

But here we are back to that picture every pregnant woman wants, even though it came about rather unplanned. You see, I had found a very pretty maternity dress on clearance for christmas this year: skimming past the knee, black and with sparkles. Unfortunately you will not see it in any pictures because a few weeks before christmas I made a rather unfortunate fall and my legs looked like I had been attacked by a wild bear or something. So we quickly went back to the summery dress, added a pretty shawl (I so love scarves and shawls) and the picture came out so much better than I had dared to hope.

I think, the trick that I have found during this pregnancy, and basically for my daily life is to just stay true to my style and not to buy things that I do not REALLY love. If they are not in your closet, you simply can't get in those yoga pants, sweats or jeans that have been washed one too many times.

While I said at the beginning that my report card for this pregnancy has been pretty good, it has not been excellent, and that is mostly due to the insane weather of these last weeks. My pregnancy wardrobe has been mostly purchased in summer, and normally with a few added touches of a jacket, cloak or top would have been more than sufficient. However cold had descended over South Carolina, and while the maxi dress was in this summer, aparently in winter we all should be wearing shorter dresses. This makes no sense at all even for non pregnant women of course. But especially if you are eight months pregnant, the idea of having to wrangle yourself into maternity panty hose to wear one of those more elegant knee skimming dresses seems ludicrous.
Unfortunately I feel it is a bit late to order myself one of the pretty long maternity skirts I have seen over at New Creations. But I know now that they are there and I feel covetous thoughts rise into me each time I slip into the one pair of pregnancy jeans that I have to keep warm.

We are now in the last month, and I am ready for a new challenge: how to be an elegant, sleep deprived nursing mother. Hmmmmm.... I wonder if even glamour shots will work on that one!

Fair warning...

I have always thought an abundance of fantasy was a good thing. I loved playing pretend games as a child. Of course there was the traditional playing family game... and playing school, but my friends and I pretended a lot more. I developed a game called Nigel and Marleen around the age of ten or eleven, based on the scary books by John Flanders, we made up television commercials and a lot more. Sometimes I didn't even need actual children or props to play these games, I could just play out entire scenario's in my head, the way one would watch a movie.
It's been a joy over the last few weeks to see Joseph start to discover his imagination. Playing pretend with the boy doll that I have given him and driving him around in the choochoo train. Pretending to be a doggy, pretending the lock ont he window is a froggy or pretending to read a book. It's cute and adorable to see him pretend to cook and pretend to eat or feed things to mommy.

Naturally his imagination feeds mine, so when he picked up a christmas catalog that was lingering around our house of the "Land of Nod" shop (special toys and furniture for children) and asked me to read it, I was up for the challenge, inventing stories with the pictures. The Land of Nod, where children always clean up their toys, where there are flowers growing out of some of the beds... with musical instruments that play and boys jumping up and down... with ladybugs crawling over the sheets and children going to sleep and dream of toy cars, building blocks and balls to throw....

I made up quite a pretty story, if I say so myself and delivered it with dramatic gusto. Too pretty and too much gusto, because all of a sudden, this catalog became Joseph's favorite book. While before we have had some days of five times reading the very hungry caterpillar or Curious George.. all of a sudden we just had 'finished' the catalog when it sounded "mama read again. Read again." Over the last five hours, my husband and I have had to invent and reinvent the story of the Land of Nod several times over. I believe each of us has had to make up at least three versions... Enough to contemplate whether this catalog shouldn't accidentily dissapear into the recycling bin.

So... think before you make something that isn't really a toy into a toy..(like the plungers that now keep dissapearing from the bathroom and show up all over the house)... something that isn't a kids drink into a kids drink.... (because my two year old now doesn't just want juice but wants tea. In a cup.) or something that isn't really a book into a book... because before you know it, you are making up stories on pink furniture and doll pillows and seeing a little brain weave all of it together in a bigger story than even I can ever imagine.

Addendum: this morning before church Joseph went to his bookbasket and dragged out one of the monkey books. Slightly relieved we offered to read it. But our little boy quickly shook his head and started demanding "land of Nod" "read land of Nod". He was very insistent, so mommy dragged the catalog out from it's hiding place again and each of us has reread the catalog at least once this morning.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year's goals..

After a horrible headcold that lasted more than six weeks, I am somewhat back to blogging. Almost eight months pregnant now, but for some reason I am not yet feeling impatient. Maybe because this cold has kept me so behind on everything. The holidays here were really simple and relaxed by necessity, but we still had a wonderful time. Plans kept changing every few days, also out of necessity, because my wonderful in laws were experiencing some trouble that kept them from traveling. Hopefully though that will all be behind us soon and then we will see them in a few weeks. I can't wait. Am I not blessed, ladies, to not only have a wonderful mother, a wonderful husband but also wonderful in laws?

I've been trying to keep up with blogs somewhat, but have not been able to check daily as I usually do. That's why this little new year's gem from the delighted life, only came to my attention now. I think it a wonderfully balanced post of daily life and good intentions. Last year, I blogged about the new year and my intentions as well, here. I even wrote an article for our Ladies' group about the value of good intentions. Rereading that short editorial for our newspaper makes me think it might fit this blog, so plagiarizing my own work, I give you last year's reflections:

A new year always feels like a brand new slate. I used to love to watch the movies about Anne of Green Gables, and especially the quote. “Every day is a new beginning. With no mistakes in it. Yet.” A lot of people become jaded over the years and stop making good intentions at new years because they 'do not stick'. It's sad though, because if we only attempted things that would surely work out, we could better give up on this whole Christianity thing anyhow. Each day we strive to become more like Our Lord. To be a woman like His Blessed Mother. And, while I keep trying, I am pretty sure that at the end of my life, I will still be falling short. That does not mean that my attempts do not count, or that they do not help me improve myself. I may not have the spirit of sacrifice of Our Lord, but I might offer my husband that I will go to the store alone and let him stay in and watch TV. I may not have the meekness of Mother Mary, but I may learn to bite my tongue before a sharp word falls from it more than once. Of course I will fail now and again, and will go back to more selfish behavior, but then it is time to aim my eyes right back on the cross, look to My Best Example, and return to work.
So, let us try to make more time for prayer, be more healthy, keep a cleaner house, be kinder, be more organized, and get more done. When we do not reach the goal, we will probably be closer to it than before we started trying. And as sisters in Christ, we will be there to support each other, and always, always point to the One who is there, as the only One who has reached perfection.