Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Library Inspires Something Really Special!

Yup, it's true. Our public library is completely inspirational to my two youngest children. 
Do they aspire to being great authors? 
Maybe. But, at 2.5 years old and 4 months old, I highly doubt they have given that career route serious consideration.

No, the inspiration to which I am referring falls into a much more "natural" category. And, with all the thoughts that the word "nature" conjures up: earthy, relaxed, comfortable, smelly, somewhat embarrassing for Mom.


Two weeks ago, the three of us took a quick walk (5 blocks) over to our library. It was a gorgeous, warm Spring afternoon and we had just enough time to make a quick trip there to read one story, pick out some books to take home, and then walk back home so I could pick up my oldest child from high school. Since I didn't want to lug out our heavy and ancient twin stroller, I clipped the baby's car seat into her single stroller and let my son happily hop along beside me. Mistake #1.

We had a fine walk there, and made it up to the little kids' reading room which was uncharacteristically empty. The baby was sleeping very soundly in her car seat (still attached to the stroller) and my son and I sat in one of their comfy reading chairs to read a quick story. After that, I let my son choose his books to check out while I perused the children's CD collection.

Sounds picturesque, right? I thought so, too, and I was feeling very pat-myself-on-the-back-ish about the whole thing. Well, pride goeth before the fall, as they say.

I realized that we had to hurry to the check-out and walk home quickly in order to be able to pick up my eldest, so I called to my 2 yr old, "OK, buddy, lets take those books home now! Quick, like a bunny!" (see? still being nice at this point!). That's when I noticed two very important things simultaneously:
1) The reading room smelled just like diarrhea, and...
2) My son was walking over to me with a very wide-legged stance.

Bye, Patient and Prideful Mommy! Hello, Irritated and Humiliated Mommy!

Here are some random thoughts that ran through my head at that moment:

I hope the women's bathroom is empty.
I am fairly certain I have his size diapers in my bag.
I am also fairly certain I still have a change of pants for him.
I know I have a full package of wipes with me.
I hope the baby stays asleep.

Mistakes #2, #3, #4. 

Of those five thoughts, only numbers 1 and 5 came true. So, what I was left with was a very messy, half-naked toddler and a sleeping baby in an empty bathroom, which also had no paper towels. What to do?

Well, here's the plan -- worthy of the A-team and MacGyver -- I came up with:

1) Try not to get angry at the toddler who most obviously has the stomach flu.
2) Use 3 dry wipes very judiciously to clean up the lower half of his body (yes, the entire   lower half).
3) Ditch the pants.
4) Tie my brand-new nursing cover around his waist, apron-style.
5) Have him straddle his sister's car seat and tuck a blanket around him.
6) Pray that he doesn't have another disgusting bout of the green-apple-splatters while he is sitting on top of the car seat.

"So, Mommy, can we check out my books now?"

We did. I was trying to re-gain some of my Good Mommy Points.

And, we high-tailed it the 5 blocks home. The entire way my son was holding onto the handle of the car seat yelling, "Giddy-up, Pony! Yee-haaaaa!". 
The. Entire. Way. 

That day, I swore I'd never return to the library again. Can you imagine what the Children's Librarian was thinking when she smelled us leave???

But, lo and behold, I took the five youngest kids back to the library yesterday. Lightening doesn't strike twice, right? WRONG!

The baby had a massive blowout. 

Lucky for the librarian, I was prepared!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Holy Week

I love Holy Week. I really do. I have always loved it, even as a small child. 

I love the reading of The Passion at Mass on Palm Sunday. (Secretly, I think it's because it calls for the whole congregation's participation and that pleases the actor in me!)

I love the "prep work" of getting the house clean and shiny, and dying Easter eggs during the first half of the week. 

I love Mass on Holy Thursday, celebrating the Last Supper and re-creating the Washing of the Feet. Hearing the Lord's Passion from a different gospel writer's perspective. After Mass, I really love visiting other parishes and seeing how they handle Adoration; I tell my own children it's like visiting Jesus when he was jailed after Judas' betrayal.

Good Friday is a highly emotionally-charged day for me because it focuses so intently on Christ's Passion and Death on the Cross. I find the Stations of the Cross are a wonderful way to "walk with Jesus" through his last few, painful days. But, I find the Liturgy Service with The Veneration of the Cross to be a very meaningful experience for me, personally. I love that a true-to-life sized Cross is carried into the church by the priest, who stops at various intervals to sing, "Behold, the wood of The Cross, on which hung the Savior of the World.". I love that we pray for specific groups and things (i.e. People Who Do Not Believe in Christ and World Peace), in great detail and reverence. My two favorite things are receiving Communion and walking up to the front of the church to place a kiss on the huge cross.

I love the Easter Basket Blessing that happens in the church on Holy Saturday, where the priest has a specific blessing for candy, wine, meat, bread, eggs, and flowers for the Easter Baskets that people bring filled with these traditional items. And, I am sure the priests love that people come to the rectory to drop off a sampling of these delicious goodies after the blessing!

Easter is particularly sublime, as it is the Catholic Church's biggest feast day. The church (which has also had a Spring Cleaning!) is shining with light and decorated with heavenly-smelling Easter Lilies and other spring flowers. The music is joyful, to the point of effusiveness. And, all the people look so beautiful in their new Easter clothes (especially, the children!).

For a moment, let me back up a bit and talk about this year's Good Friday. This particular year, Good Friday also happens to be our daughter's 4th Heavenly Birthday. What do I mean? Four years ago, on April 2 (her due date), our beautiful baby girl was born into our family, into the Church, and into Heaven. She is a saint. It is her feast day. Our Lord's death on the cross definitely trumps that feast day. While we cannot have a Mass said in her honor on that day (no masses are to be celebrated after the Mass on Holy Thursday until Mass is said on the Easter Vigil on Saturday night), we will still be in church and receive Communion at the Liturgy Service. (We also will have a Mass said in her honor later next week.) 
However, being that Good Friday is a very emotional day for me normally, this year will probably be even more difficult for me. Our Lady's sorrow and grief at her Son's Passion and at the foot of His Cross has been very real to me ever since our daughter passed away. Not that the two events can be even remotely equated, but the feelings are very similar. 

I believe that was also in God's plan. I believe that in His Blessed Mother, He gave us a holy example of how we (especially mothers) are to handle our own personal grief and sorrows. While, Our Lady's heart "was pierced" by the awful treatment and horrific death of her Son, she knew that He was God, and it was necessary for Him to suffer and die in order to save the whole world. She cried and suffered, but with dignity and without questioning God's Plan for all of us. She knew that God's Plan trumped any personal sorrow she would suffer, and that, even greater than this, she could unite her own suffering to her Son's.  She showed us that she could make her suffering "count" by offering it to God as a sacrifice for sinners. (For those of you who have not already seen it, I highly recommend watching The Passion of the Christ (Full Screen Edition) this week; it shows Mary's "human-ness" coupled with her saintliness in a way that is very easy to relate to in modern day.)

I, too, will cry and re-live my sorrow this Good Friday. I am sure that the Liturgy Service with the Veneration of the Cross will be very difficult for me. The Church's Service is designed to affect us in a profound way, and this year it will ring even truer for me. But, I will also use the example of Our Blessed Mother, and not let my suffering be in vain. I will unite my pain to Our Dear Lord's pain, and offer it up for sinners. For, if Our Lady could offer up her pain and suffering at her Son's Death realizing her pain was just a small part of God's Bigger Plan, than I can certainly do the same regarding my own child's death.

And, in the midst of your own Good Friday offerings, reflections, and prayers this April 2nd, if you could manage a quick, "St. Fiona, Pray for Us!", my family and I would be very appreciative.

"St. Fiona, Pray for Us!"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Baby Soothing 101

I wish I could say I was teaching a class called Baby Soothing 101, but I cannot. You would think that after six babies, I would be an expert on the subject. Oh, how I wish I were an expert!

What I have learned is that each baby has his/her own very distinct personality (even when they are biological siblings!) and each personality calls for it's own kind of care. Like they say in The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding: Seventh Revised Edition (La Leche League International Book), all babies are inherently "good", some are just "easier to live with"! Now, on this I am an expert!

While I absolutely love learning my new baby's personality, the lessons I am taught are not always easy. All of my babies have had their fussy days, but most have been of generally happy dispositions. However, two babies have given me a particularly rough time while I waited for their nervous systems to mature (their identities will be kept anonymous, but suffice to say I may be referring to my latest newborn and her 2nd oldest brother!).

Even between these two harder-to-live-with babies, there are distinct differences, though. 
My son was colicky all night long, every night for the first six months (not even a slight exaggeration), hated car rides, but was a happy camper during daylight hours, and loved to go shopping.
My daughter sleeps quite peacefully during the night, is happy in the morning, loves car rides, but howls like a banshee from noon until 8 or 9 at night and cannot stand to be in a store for more than 3 minutes.

There are pros and cons to both types of these high-needs babies, but, for some unknown reason, I have not been able to choose which kind of colicky baby I receive!

There are some tricks which have worked for both types, and while they are nothing that has not been published in baby books everywhere, I felt that they were worth repeating here. So, what has worked for our family during these difficult months?

1)  The oven vent and box fans.  White noise drowns out most of the noise that a baby's immature and sensitive nervous system cannot process. They are so successful for our babies, that even my 14 year old cannot sleep soundly without some sort of white noise in his room.

2)  Moby Wrap Original 100% Cotton Solid Baby Carrier, Chocolate While I haven't used this particular carrier/sling until this most recent baby, it is the best one I have ever used. Hands down. I've tried all of them (the bjorns, the snuglis, the mayawraps, etc), and not one of them ( has proven to be as effective at calming a screaming baby as this one has. It also has the added bonus of fitting any body size and type, which is great when Dad wants to take a turn soothing the Little Dear. (The word "chocolate" is not up there by accident, either, as it helps to munch on some while you are pacing the floor!)

3) ANY homeopathic colic remedy. One of my favorites has always beenHyland's Colic Tablets, 125 tablets (Pack of 3), but over the last few years it has become more difficult to find at my local  drugstore, so I have taken to purchasing the colic remedy my local herbal store offers. Either way, these homeopathic remedies tend to work in less than a minute (no kidding!) and are safe to use frequently, so you don't have the worry of over-medicating your child.

4) Swaddling, swaddling, swaddling. I know, I know. (Wow, that was a LOT of repetition!) You are going to tell me how your baby hates being swaddled, and that may be true. But, what I have learned is that most babies fight against the swaddling for the first minute or two, and then they magically quiet down and fall asleep. It's worth giving it a try for a few minutes, anyway. (Daddies are usually the best at swaddling, for some reason!)

5) GO OUTSIDE!!! Barring sub-zero temperatures, wrapping up a colicky baby and stepping out into the elements can bring on a much-needed break for everyone. Maybe it's the temperature change, or air, or the feel of being in a really big space, but it usually works! And, anyone who is still inside gets a chance to take the cotton out of their ears and enjoy a moment of silence.

6) Get a blog! This does not soothe your baby a bit, but it does provide a distraction for you! There is nothing like venting about a colicky baby to help bring levity to your situation.

So, in a swaddled nutshell, there are my colic "cures". Good luck, God Bless, and "this too shall pass"!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Happy St. Joseph's Day!

"Glorious St. Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in the spirit of penance in expiation of my many sins;
to work conscientiously by placing love of duty above my inclinations;
to gratefully and joyously deem it an honor to employ and to develop by labor the gifts I have received from God,
to work methodically, peacefully, and in moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from it through weariness or difficulty to work;
above all, with purity of intention and unselfishness, having unceasingly before my eyes death and the account I have to render of time lost, talents unused, good not done, and vain complacency in success, so baneful to the work of God.
All for Jesus, all for Mary, all to imitate thee, O patriarch St. Joseph! This shall be my motto for life and eternity."
- Pope Pius IX

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lá Fhéile Pádraig!

From Saint Patrick's Breastplate

Christ be with me
Christ before me
Christ behind me
Christ in me
Christ beneath me
Christ above me
Christ on my right
Christ on my left
Christ where I lie
Christ where I sit
Christ where I arise
Christ in the heart of every man
who thinks of me
Christ in the mouth of every man
who speaks of me
Christ in every eye that sees me
Christ in every ear that hears me
Salvation is of the Lord.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Thanks, Honey!

The story of Maria Esperanza Medrano de Biachini is quite fascinating and I highly recommend everyone, Catholic or not, read it.

In short, it is the true story of a modern-day woman from Venezuela who seems to be a mystic in the truest sense of the word. The movement for her canonization began this January, and I will be very interested in seeing what happens. She was a wife, mother, and grandmother who lived to spread God's love throughout the world. In the course of her life, many amazing things happened to her, including having apparitions of the Blessed Virgin and St. Padre Pio, and during one of these her face transfigured into the face of Padre Pio while her husband watched!

My husband and I were discussing her life and marveling at how God seemed to use her for His purpose by granting her very special and powerful gifts. I commented on how amazing her family must be and how wonderful it would be to say she was your grandmother, wife, etc. Then, referring to the episode when her face transfigured into the face of Padre Pio, I said, "Can you imagine witnessing that? Being her husband, and watching your wife's face do that? Can you imagine being married to someone so holy?"

My husband simply replied, "No.".

Monday, March 1, 2010

March Yuckies

Icy Mud.

Coughs. Runny Noses. Sore throats. Stomach flu. Pent-up energy. Bouncing off walls. Cabin Fever.

Tempers flaring.
Voices yelling.
Children fighting.

Obviously, Mother has lost her marbles.