Friday, March 28, 2014

Seven Quick Takes (18): Baby Talk and Brotherly Affection

1 Today Keith left pretty early and Gregory woke up late and somehow that combination made me feel like it was an "up and at 'em" type day. So I thought we'd try an outing. Maybe to Babies'r'Us because I needed to buy a shower gift, and because I can really only go places that have carts with all three children. Michael was pretty excited about driving in the car. I'm glad, because that's all we ended up doing. I made a wrong turn somewhere, and while I wasn't exactly lost, all my guesses ended up being wrong ones, and we came back to the highway exactly one block where we'd left it. One great big squiggly circle! It was fun though. :)

The best part was that right before we got back to familiar  territory we passed a church with a sign that said, "Do you know where you're going?"

Apparently not!

2 Michael's been looking for ways to interact with his brothers. He occasionally likes to join them for tummy time, and a few times he's tried to pick them up. (One hand on the head, another grabbing a foot ... not very effective.) The funniest thing is he will look at them, stretch out a hand (and pat a head if he's close enough) and shout, "MIN!" (Or "men" or "mahn," depending.) I have no idea where he got this. I think he made it up on his own.

3 Unfortunately--predictably--affection sometimes turns violent. Getting up from tummy time=stumbling=sitting on a baby. "Showing" them a toy=hitting them on the head with it. Today he made Dominic cry by ... I'm not quite sure what it was, because I only saw it out of the corner of my eye. And after very sadly saying he was sorry he tried to make up for it by hitting his brother in the head with a camera. Sigh.

4 Anyway. I haven't been blogging much because I have no time. This week has been somewhat awful because "bedtime" has been more of an abstract concept than a concrete reality. Michael's had a fever/runny nose that keeps him waking up, Dominic's been gassy and won't sleep for more than half an hour unless he's in bed with me, and Gregory is always hard to put down. (Also I've taken up swearing after 8pm for Lent ... :-P Even little things seem SO HORRIBLE at night.) But last night Michael didn't wake up and we finally got Dominic to sleep on his belly so we actually had from 10pm-1am without any crying. Yay!

5 I think Gregory suffers from reflux. I'm not positive and may change my theory in a day or two, but right now I believe that's what bothers him so much. Does anyone know of any natural remedies to help him out, especially when it comes to sleeping?

6 And while I'm asking for tips, we're thinking of starting the twins on a few ounces of formula at bedtime. Partly so they'll sleep longer; partly to give me the option of a break; and partly so they'll  take a bottle and I can go places without them. (And no, I'm not pumping. I've tried with very little output ... and frankly I just don't have it in me to try again.) But they are pretty resistant, particularly Dominic. I'm not sure if it's the bottle itself or just the taste of formula. Any advice about getting them to take it would be appreciated! (My husband offers it to them, we warm it up, and have tried two different brands.)

7 Blah blah blah. Sorry, I don't even have any pictures to include with this post. I'd make a horrible mommy blogger. I guess I kind of am half mommy blogger so I suppose that makes me horrible. ;)

Go and read many posts of much more interest at Jen's place!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Birds and Beads

Linking up with Ginny's yarn along, a day late because I had no chance to take a picture yesterday! I was too busy baking bread and making stew for St. Joseph's feast day. (Leftovers for dinner tonight ... yum!)

Because I'm knitting so slowly of late I've been working on Keith's scarf for what feels like ages. (Since December, right? Four months is ages, for me at least!) And I'm not even 3/4 through yet. So ... faced with a bit of time and the desire to knit, I cast on a sweater. Tarian! I'm pretty excited to make this.

I knit three swatches, which was a big act of patience for me. I really want this sweater to turn out nicely! However after trying three different needles my gauge was the same every time. I thought switching from wood to metal might make a difference, but my aluminum needles are otherwise occupied ... so ... I've cast on and will checking things as they go. If it seems like my sweater is going to  turn out more like a dress then I'll just have to resign myself to frogging and starting over on size 4 needles. 

This book ... so, so good. It is really beautiful reading about the experiences of these catechists and seeing how children can know and love God at so young an age--reading this book is such a wonderful reminder of God's goodness

I also just finished The Amazing Thing About the Way it Goes by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. Very different from her previous books. Less knitting centered, and more personal. But as always very funny. 

And finally, Birds is the book Michael and I have been reading three or four times a day this week. (Fact #1 of living with a toddler: don't pick up any book you aren't willing to read at least 3-4 times in a row! This goes for singing songs, too.) We checked it out from the library and he is hooked. I actually don't mind reading it so repetitively. The illustrations are rich without being complicated, a perfect match for the imaginative text. It embodies the sort of creative wondering I hope my own children cultivate.

Speaking of birds, we visited the National Aviary today. It was the first time I'd been there. I think it was all a bit much for Michael to take in, but he loved having the birds at his level to look at, especially the penguins. And also he loved just running around. Always. :) (Fact #2 about life with a toddler!)

(Fact #3: Mardi Gras beads are awesome, even during Lent.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Little things for Lent.

Every Tuesday a Fat Tuesday.

The phrase wryly crossed my mind as I made pancakes for breakfast this morning. For "second breakfast," actually. I had already had my oatmeal, Keith whatever he'd eaten, and Michael his fruit and cereal. It was quite indulgent.

But the day had gotten off to a pretty bad start. I couldn't undo that, but I hoped perhaps to do something about it, to take control through an offering of something sweet and filling (because if pancakes don't bring happiness, then what food can?) and point my day in a better direction.

I felt the need to refocus; I ate pancakes. See? Fat Tuesday. (Okay, it's not that clever. I'm just telling you what was in my head.)

Although I'm still figuring out a few details about my Lent, I've never been this at peace about it as I am this year. I think largely because I can't change much about my life right now. I knew from the beginning that I couldn't give up the little material things that get me through the day--coffee (NOT black, thankyouverymuch), a secret stash of chocolate, reading fiction (which I thought of giving up but then ... it just isn't possible). The thought of it discouraged me in my very bones. Nor could I really take on very much in terms of extra prayer or other commitments. I am chronically sleep-deprived (think one three-hour stretch of unbroken sleep on the best of nights) and even though I'm sure I could squeeze in, say, a decade of the rosary every, the brain cells ... they just aren't functioning at that level.

In fact I may have had a few moments where I thought wryly in God's direction, "My LIFE is Lent right now!" And you know, that could be true--in the best way possible. My vocation right now lies precisely in living out these days in such a way that they point towards Christ. Tiredness and impatience (mostly with myself) are going to be a part of my days no matter what; but they can go beyond a mere exercise in frustration and be part of a path to holiness.

So for Lent I've tried to choose a few things to make that path a little straighter--easier to see, easier to follow.

1. Abstaining from the internet until Michael's naptime. After that I may use it at will. I have to laugh because Keith got me a new tablet literally two days before Lent started thus making internet usage that much easier/more tempting ... but I've found that starting the day without it does so much in making the rest of the time smoother. We--the boys and I--are all in a more peaceful place. And I find myself enjoying my children much more! This definitely feels like a fast, but I don't feel frustrated or isolated because it still leaves me plenty of time to do what I "need" to do online. (Although it is a large part of why I haven't been posting here or commenting on other people's blogs ...)

2. Making the bed every day. This usually doesn't get done til after 11. But it is a bit of order that wasn't there before.

3. Reading this book.

Pretty simple. No bright halos around here. But a little more peace, and a little more attentiveness.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

What They Said (1)

Well THAT was a poor attempt at seven posts in seven days. Ah well, so goes life. I am at least posting in time to join in Rosie's What They Said link-up! Michael is a pretty loquacious almost-two-year-old and says quite a lot of things, but here are a few of the more amusing!

After Keith gave him a sip of green tea: Ees good! Ees very good!

As Keith walked into the kitchen to put his cup in the sink: (wailing) Geen tea! Geen tea! Geen teeeea!

During breakfast, while staring down at Dominic in the bouncy chair: Hit on da head.

Me: No. No hitting babies on the head.

Michael: Hit on da noggin. (Pretty sure he learned this word from his Grandpa.)

Me: No hitting babies.

Michael: Hit Papa noggin!

Me: Michael, we don't hit anybody. It hurts.

Michael: Hurting! Hurting! Hurt! (pause) Pat on da head!

Me: Yes, we can pat babies gently.

Michael: (making a stroking gesture with both hands) Pat, pat.

Keith (while Michael is crawling around on all fours): Michael, are you a tiger? What do you eat when you're a tiger?

Michael: Eat da kitchen! (licks kitchen floor)

This should probably up my housekeeping standards but I'm afraid it really hasn't. 

Standing in front of Gregory, who's crying in the swing: Hiya! Hiya! Hiya! (waves head and arms back and forth with a big grin)

And ... it worked! The baby stopped crying! Much more effective than his usual tactic of grinning at the baby for two seconds before smacking him in the forehead. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Family Altar

I've been thinking about a family altar since we moved into this house, and Lent seems a good time to set one up. Then Auntie Leila posted about her forthcoming book (which I've pre-ordered, and  you should too!) and my friend Christine wrote about setting up a home altar. But I've been having trouble finding a spot that met my three criteria:

1. a place that's prominent rather than an out-of-the-way corner of the room,

2. a place that's easily accessible to gather around and pray, and

3. a place that's unlikely to be collided into by rambunctious little boys.

Thinking about it was getting me nowhere so taking advantage of a rare opportunity when all three children were sleeping, I did some experimentation with two ideas.

Number one:

A beloved statue of Our Lady, St. Therese, our boys' patron saints

This little table served primarily as a family altar in our old apartment, and it has a little drawer that could be used for rosaries, holy cards, and such. I think it makes a very pretty altar. The only problem is where it's located in our dining room. 

Yep, that table's not likely to get bumped by a little boy, unless it's when we try to squeeze in front of the altar during family prayer. There really is no room between the altar and the dining room table. Plus it's really only noticeable from one direction (I stood in the kitchen doorway to take this picture).

So, option number two:

On the mantle, so very prominent, nothing likely to get bumped or broken, and quite easy to gather around. But I just feel it lacks a certain something ... 

Why yes, there are two babies asleep in those swings!

I think part of the problem is that the mantle is so BIG. We're going to eventually build shelves on either side of the mantle so perhaps that will create more of a "space" but for now it just seems like the altar is more "stuff."

I've also thought about setting it up where the computer is--right now the computer is the first thing you see on walking in our front door, and how neat would it be to have the altar there instead? But I don't think we'll be rearranging our furniture any time soon. I'm thinking the dining room is our best bet for now, simply because it's the space that most feels like an altar.

What do you think?

(Posted as part of the seven posts in seven days challenge ... even though I missed day two.)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Pre-Lenten Pondering

Oh geez. I committed myself to Jen's seven posts in seven days challenge. On a week where I'm finishing up an editorial session (which I'm badly behind on), celebrating a family birthday, and visiting more people than average. (Seriously, some weeks I'm home alone the whole time, but somehow this week I'm going out or have someone over almost ever day!) I had this idea it would help me prepare for Lent somehow ...? Something about discipline.

Anyway, this is my largely unedited stream of thought. Not very disciplined, but there you go.

So, Lent. Keith has asked that we give up dessert as a family, so we'll be doing that. But I am still figuring out what I ought to do for myself.

Last Lent I put a lot of effort into organizing my homemaking. I planned meals and kept a close budget while shopping, and stuck to a loose routine in my housekeeping chores. And it was great. (And then I got pregnant and tired and it all sort of fell apart again. :-P) I feel like I need something similar this year--NOT the meal-planning, chore-organizing sort of thing, because I am just not there yet. But something that helps me figure out where my focus needs to be as a wife, mother, and homemaker. That helps my life feel purposeful and a little less scattered and frantic.

I don't mean the busyness that comes naturally from having littles, because that is part of where I'm at; but how to live where I'm at in a way that opens the door to grace and growth in holiness and love of God. I feel that Lent is the ideal time to "make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed." So how can I make living my vocation at this stage in life easier and more fruitful?

I have a couple ideas, but one that's giving me some puzzlement is the idea of harnessing my time in the morning. The reality is that for most of the day I have little control over my day's structure. I try to keep mealtimes and bedtimes in order, but all it takes is one screaming child to throw things off! I have long felt that getting up before my offspring would help me so much, in practical and psychological ways--having that time to pray, read, or just sit with a cup of coffee before the day makes its demands. But there are two problems. First, I wake up every morning in the middle of a baby sandwich. When I move and take my body heat away with me, it's only a matter of time before the babies wake up. Second (and more important?), sleep is still a very precious commodity around here. I truly don't feel lazy in wanting to grab every moment of it I can!

So ... do I just tough it out and get up a half hour or fifteen minutes earlier anyways? Or commit to something lighter like saying a morning offering in bed with a baby sleeping on either side? Anyone have any other ideas...?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Seven Quick Takes, aka Survival Mode Blogging (17)

1. Something about today struck me as a "mental health" sort of day and so I ended up eating an obscene amount of cookies. To make myself feel a little less guilty I gave part of every cookie to Michael. Go ahead and judge me. My kid thinks I'm awesome. :-P

2. I also watched too much Lark Rise to Candleford, until the speakers stopped working in the middle of an episode. Grrr.

3. My mom stopped by and treated us all to pizza which was fantastic. And Michael also ate grapes with lunch. So see, I'm not an entirely awful mother today.

4. While Michael napped the babies took turns falling asleep/staring at me mournfully from the bouncy chair until finally, finally, when Michael was stirring in his crib but not ready to really get up yet, Dominic was fast asleep and I figured Gregory and I could just cuddle on the couch for a sorely needed time-out. And then Dominic stirred, and started to fuss. And Gregory was pretty soundly asleep so I thought I could leave him on his own for a few minutes and ... well, I'm sure you can guess how that went. Don't get me wrong ... this is pretty much par for the course (one baby falls asleep, the other pops awake) and most days I can deal with it because (as I keep reminding myself) it is temporary. (I totally believe in sleep training.) But for some reason today it was just a bit much. Both boys started crying and I just couldn't. So I had to step away from them for a bit, and went to hide with Michael in his room for a few minutes.

5. Anyway, things have gotten a bit better in the hour since. And now Gregory is waking up, just as Dominic shows signs of drowsing off.

6. The upshot of all this is that Keith is bringing home thai food for dinner and I really hope he isn't late. Hopefully he will have left work precisely one minute ago. Not that I'm counting or anything.

7. Oh yeah. I'm also doing Jen's 7 posts in 7 days thing again. Or trying to. I don't plan for them to be posts like this. We'll see what happens!

In the meantime, linking up with her for these quick takes!