Friday, January 27, 2012

7 Quick Takes Vol. 22

LinkIt has been like 58 years since I've done a QT post. So much has happened lately that I will never catch up, so I'll do a condensed-ish version of it all. Be sure to visit the lovely Jen for more Quick Takes!

It was a three day affair for my aunt Joy's funeral. Her wake was Tuesday night and funeral was Wednesday in Joplin. Her burial was all the way back up in my hometown, about 5 hours away on Thursday. It was three days of laughter, tears, memories, good food and lots of beer. My brother wrote an excellent post capturing the atmosphere of the week. You can read it here.

We took Joe with us for the whole thing. There was lots and lots of driving, tons of people and new places and his schedule went down the pooper. But he did very well!

I want to thank you all for your prayers and kind words for my family. I could definitely feel a sense of warmth and peace around us.

2. You may recall a couple months ago I had to send Joe to occupational therapy for his swallowing food problems. I never really updated y'all on how that went.

His first appointment was at the end of November and we spent an hour and a half watching him eat different things. The therapist gave us different pointers and some little chewy tubes for him to get used to having stuff in the back of his mouth. At his follow up appointment in the middle of December he had pretty much gotten over his gagging and troubles swallowing but now he was pocketing food. I would give him some lunch meat and he'd just store it in his cheeks and finally after about a half hour he would have swallowed it. I was wondering since his one year molars were all coming in at the same time that maybe it hurt him to chew so that's why he was pocketing. The therapist didn't seem to think so and gave me some more instructions on how to stop the pocketing.

At Christmas we went to my mom's house and he became addicted to poppy seed bread. He was constantly snacking on it. It was then I noticed he wasn't holding his food in, so I just started giving him all sorts of food and he did great!

Since then he hasn't gagged or pocketed his food. Now I have the normal challenge of a typical picky toddler. It's so fun to give him food he does like because everything he puts it in his mouth he goes, "Mmmm!!!" It's adorable.

We were supposed to go for another OT session in January but after I called the therapist and explained the situation she said there was no need for him to come back in! I figured this was something he would have to outgrow, but I am thankful we did take him in to the occupational therapist because she did help us out a lot!

3. If you are a Facebook friend of mine you already know that Joe has become quite the little terror. Pretty much everyday I have to run and stop him from scaling the cabinets or take a flying leap off the top of the stairs. Many days I have to say "Shh!" when he is screaming at the top of his lungs and pretty much twice a week I have to stop him from eating paper (after I realize he already ate half the page.) I am really having to start disciplining him. I think he's not quite old enough for the time-out so it's a lot of redirecting. I still get down on his level and explain to him why I am taking his toy away or why he has to go into the other room. I know he doesn't quite understand that, but it's really for my own practice. It doesn't help matters any when he starts laughing at me and acting all cute when I am trying to be serious.

Sometimes I semi-freak out knowing that these tantrums, these disobedient outbursts- well, they are pretty much going to last forever. But the good times and the blooper moments outweigh all those, right? RIGHT?!?!

4. I decided it's finally time to stop nursing. Joe is a nightly marathon nurser. I was waking up 4 of 5 times a night to nurse him. But it wasn't peaceful co-sleeping nursing. We put him to sleep in his play pen and then when I get up to nurse him the first time I usually expect him to just continue sleeping with me. Joe always has other plans. He wants to jump off the bed or play with the shelf hanging above our bed. It has been more than once that the pictures of the Sacred Heart of Mary and Jesus have fallen on my head.

When he nurses he nurses about 2 minutes on one side and 2 minutes on the other side over and over and over again for about 10-15 minutes. I have to sleep on my back which is super annoying.

I didn't want to give up night nursing quite yet despite these challenges. We had a deep bond. I remember one time laying with him nursing him and and I was humming him a lullaby. He looks up with his big blue eyes and reaches up to my face. I thought he was going to stroke my cheek but he just stuck his finger up my nose. It was these funny moments I would miss.

However, in the last month, nursing has become a huge burden for me. There will be times he has nursed for 30 minutes then stop and start to drift off to sleep. I flip over to lay on my stomach and he gets straight up pissed off. He sits up and starts pulling my shirt and pushing me to turn over. I say, "No, no. It's time to sleep" and he slaps me on my face repeatedly. You have no idea how much that infuriates me. His screaming gets louder and louder and he gets more violent. I put him back in his play pen and he screams even louder. So all I can really do is just give in. I decided last week that I was just going to nurse him before I put him to bed and that was it. I also decided to remove myself from the entire situation and sleep in the guest bed. I was going to have my husband take on the sole responsibility of comforting him if he cried for too long. I admit I was very nervous and uneasy about being away from Joe. The first two nights went very well. He only woke up a few times but didn't cry very long.

I thought that I would really dread giving up nursing. I knew I was going to do it sooner rather than later due to this pregnancy, but I just never thought of the reality. However, I am somewhat relieved that our nursing relationship is coming to a close. I wish it would have been him choosing to end the relationship, because I feel like a horrible mother for initiating the end. But I think it will be good in the long run for both of us, especially now if I get more sleep I won't be so grumpy as a mother.

5. I said the first two nights of night weaning went well, but that all changed this past Saturday. I noticed in the morning when I went into his room he was attempting to climb the walls of his play pen. I never thought he would be able to get out. He tried a few times and did not succeed. I took him out and we started our morning. During his morning quiet time I put him in his play pen with books and toys like I always do. I turned on the video baby monitor and started browsing the internet. I looked at the monitor just in time to see him half way up the play pen wall. I jumped up and ran to the door and heard THUD! The little bugger had crawled out! Unfortunately he did not know what to do whenever he crossed over the bar and he ended up falling. By the time I got in there and around the play pen he was sitting up on the floor. He cried for about 20 seconds and my heart stopped beating for about 25 seconds.

Our next challenge was trying to figure out where he was going to sleep. We have a very nice crib but he only slept in it when he was a couple months old before he started despising it. He never ever ever ever would sleep in there so that's why we started using the play pen. We tried every once in a while to get him to sleep in his crib but it was an epic fail. So here we were, two nights into night weaning and now we'd have to put him in his arch enemy. We pulled out the crib and removed all the dirty laundry from it and tested it during his nap. He slept perfectly in it. No screaming- nothing. He slept awesome in it that night as well. I have no clue what made him change his mind.

Buuuuuuut, then my aunt passed away and we had to go out of town and bring the play pen. Which meant we had to do back to the all night co-sleeping and nursing. But last night was our first night back at home and I started right back into the crib and night weaning. So far so good! And it was adorable when I went to wake him up this morning and his little legs were sticking out of the crib rails. I'm praying we're on a road to sleeping through the night!

6. Joe loves Sesame Street which is kind of funny because both my husband and I HATED it when we were growing up. But since Joe's growing fondness of Sesame Street started I have become increasingly fascinated with the puppeteering and history of the show. (Yes, I am a huge nerd and will freely admit to that!) I've found out so many neat little facts. Did you know that the voice of Yoda in Star Wars is the same as the original Cookie Monster? Did you know that Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird are the same voice, and Oscar was originally orange instead of green?

My sister in law gave Ryan, Joe and me the DVD Sesame Street: 40 Years of Sunny Days. The first DVD contains segments from the 1970's and 80's, and the second DVD is the 1990's and 2000's. Both Ryan and I enjoy the first DVD. There is some really funny stuff in there. But the DVD from the years I remember watching it as a child- ugh, they are HORRIBLE! It's weird and cheesy and not good at all. The only thing that makes watching that DVD bearable is making fun of the 90's clothes and seeing the Goo Goo Dolls and the Spin Doctors sing with Elmo. There is also a lot of interesting behind-the-scenes stuff.

I just recently found out there is a 304 page book that goes along with the DVD's! I got an Amazon gift card from doing an NFP research study and plan on purchasing the book (along with a book about vaccines and a book about VBAC's. That's quite the interesting combo.) Again, I know I am a dork.

7. I made a little announcement awhile back about our little bun in the oven. I haven't really had a chance to write about my feelings toward this pregnancy, but I will be doing that soon. I am 14 weeks today and feel tired out of my freakin' mind. I also look like I'm 8 months pregnant which makes me feel super awesome. Aaaaaaand I got a fresh batch of pregnancy hormones that have automatically made me pissy, so if you want to write a nice/funny comment in the combox to cheer me up I won't stop you. :-)

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rest in Peace, Aunt Joy

Aunt Joy passed away peacefully at 11:40 last night. She was removed from her breathing machine around 2:30 earlier that afternoon. Joy continued to prove that she is a fighter and continued to hold on. They gave her minimal oxygen and morphine so she wouldn't go into distress. She took her last breath with her husband by her side.

It has been a long week of waiting and praying. Waiting to see if the therapeutic hypothermia would work. Waiting to see if she would wake up. Waiting for her to be released from this world.

My heart is heavy. All of my family is deep in mourning. Gosh, I wish you all could have met her. My hope is that you have someone like Joy in your life. Although, there is no one quite like her.

Joy was an avid pig collector. Their house was stuffed full of books, religious artwork, and pigs. To Joy's delight, very few pigs were harmed or blown away during the Joplin tornado.

Joy loved to read and enjoyed her time working part time in a book store before she retired.

Joy loved Jesus and she deeply embraced her Catholic faith. She was a good, faithful Catholic long before the rest of us in the McAdams family got our spiritual butt kicking/wake up call. I remember being shocked beyond anything when I found out she was a convert to the faith. Joy's identity was Catholic. I couldn't imagine it being anything other than that.

I remember being so in awe of Joy's devotion. She was always burnin' up the rosary beads. She had a separate rosary for each family member and you can guarantee she would pray for you. She wasn't the type of person that said she would pray for you just to say the words. You could rest assured that she was praying for you and whatever was troubling you.

There is a part in our Mass where the priest says to the congregation, "Lift up your hearts," and we reply, "We lift them up to the Lord." Well, Joy's heart was beyond no doubt lifted up to the Lord during Mass. She wasn't ostentatious or flashy. It was just very visible that she truly believed that Mass is where heaven and earth meet. Her whole face was transformed. Every word she said, every action she did, it was with love for her Savior.

She always wore a large crucifix necklace. She was proud of her Catholic faith. Because of this, I chose her to be my confirmation sponsor. It was nice to know that as I was receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit I had a very holy woman standing behind me, praying that I made good use of these graces. (It took awhile, but I got there!) She also distributed the Body of Christ at my wedding. It was truly an honor for us that she was there to do that.

Joy was very holy. She did not waver in her orthodox beliefs of the Catholic Church. But what was so amazing about her was that she was not the "holier than thou" type. She did everything in the light of Christian charity. She did not condemn. She did not judge. She did not poke fun. She loved as Christ did. She had a happy faith. It wasn't all doom and gloom and hell fire for her. She saw the beauty of God's grace and the tremendous gifts he left us in the Church.

Her faith was child-like. And he said, "I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3) Joy accepted everything from God with faith. She looked to God with wonderment and awe. She truly saw him as a caring and loving Father who never abandons his children.

She was a kid at heart in everything she did. She was goofy. She was always smiling and laughing. She enjoyed Harry Potter and even went to the midnight release of the book Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. She had a little bit of fun-loving hippie funk in her. She definitely wasn't boring. She was truly full of life. Her name fit her perfectly because she just exuded joy.

Her first and foremost vocation in life was to be a faithful daughter of God. But right behind that was her vocation as wife and mother. She loved all her children fiercely. She made sure all their needs were met, even as they entered adulthood. She was truly caring.

But her marriage to her beloved Alan was truly something amazing. Talk about self-sacrificial love, well this couple has it. They put their love into action. Even though her health was starting to take a downward turn, she devoted herself to taking care of Alan when he was going through treatments for his lung cancer. She put his needs before her own. When Joy's health began to fail Alan in turn took care of his wife. When her mobility started to deteriorate, Alan was always there to help her around. Their love is a true example of what love really is. It is a choice. A choice to put your beloved before yourself. They both made sure the other one was happy before they met their own needs. Their marriage is a solid example of how God designed matrimony.

Their marriage was happy and fun. My Uncle Alan is known to be a bit of a goof ball. (OK, a huge goof ball) and Joy was a faithful wife who always laughed along. There was no eye rolling from her- just glee and a sparkle as Alan made the rest of us laugh. She and Alan always joked that no one knew Alan's name- they only knew Joy. Alan is simply known as "That guy with Joy." He even jokes that he will have that on his tombstone.

I know I mentioned this in a previous post, but Joy suffered a great deal these past two years. Arthritis had taken over her body. She first started out with a cane (which she named Horatio Caine after a favored CSI character. See, I told you she was funny!), then had to use a walker, and for the past year she has been in a wheelchair. I can't imagine the intense physical pain that she has gone through. But she never once complained. What hurt my Uncle Alan the most during this whole ordeal is how much suffering she has gone through when all she has ever done is love and serve others. The priest who came to anoint her before she died told my Uncle that the reason she suffers so much is because she CHOOSES to suffer with the crucified Savior. She has carried her cross in love to be united with Jesus. She chose this path. Someday when her children, grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews go to heaven they will see how much suffering they were spared in their life because Aunt Joy prayed so fervently for them and took on their suffering. She took on our suffering because she loves us so much. Joy is truly a saint.

I wonder if there was a deep spiritual battle going on while Joy was passing away. I can imagine the devil really wanted his greasy evil hands on her soul. But oh, my... I know there were multitudes of angels and saints just kicking the crap out of Satan and his minions. And Joy was right there, flaming sword and all, proclaiming her love of God.

Joy is happy now. She is so holy that I'm sure her toes just skimmed the fires of Purgatory and she is in eternal happiness. I mean, she is beyond words, so incredibly blissful. She is not suffering at all. She gets to walk and talk with family members that have gone before us. She gets to see colors that our eyes can't even comprehend. Her world is so beautiful and perfect. Absolutely perfect. All those countless hours she has run her hands across her rosary beads, well now she gets to hold her hand in our Blessed Mother's hand. She gets to embrace her living Savior. We have the Eucharist, which is pretty awesome, but she gets to see Christ in ALL his glory. So many times on this earth she has spoken, "Lord, Lord." but now she gets to hear from the lips of God, "Joy, welcome."

It is us, here on earth, the family and friends of Joy, who are the sad ones. We have a hole in our hearts. Life will not be the same without her smile and warmth. I sure hope I live a good life so I can someday get to heaven and be with Joy again.

But one thing is for sure.... I think some wonderful and amazing things will be happening in our lives because Joy is now in heaven praying for us. We are so blessed to have had her in our lives, but now even more blessed that we have our own saint in heaven looking down on us!

Thank you, Aunt Joy, for all you have done. You will be greatly missed. We love you so much.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

More News on Joy

Joy at the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in 2003.

It has been a long waiting game, and it continues to get longer.

It took a lot longer than they thought for her to reach her normal temperature. When she finally did they dialed back the sedation and how much the breathing tube was breathing for her. To our delight she moved her jaw and toe and was able to breathe with the breathing tube turned down lower.

However the results of the EEG they performed did not look promising. I think the minimal reading they wanted in hopes of her waking up was a 13 and her reading was only 4. They did a cat scan of her brain last night. She is definitely not able to breathe without the help of the breathing machine.

We were under the impression that my Uncle Alan would have to make the decision in the next day or two to continue to have Joy on the breathing machine. That isn't quite the case. The doctors are going to wait 7-10 days to make absolutely sure that no brain function will be regained before Alan is to make any final decisions. At first Alan was going to have all his kids come to their mother's side immediately, but after this news they are going to wait a few days before coming.

Things are still seriously critical. She is still making small movements, but they aren't sure if they are voluntary or just reflexes. There is still hope that she could wake up, so please, please, please continue your prayers! It is going to be a long week for our family.

Thank you!!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Joe isn't looking forward to July...

As you can see, Joe is not too happy about the news that he is going to welcome a baby brother or baby sister at the end of July!

Update on Joy

Joy was my confirmation sponsor and also distributed the Precious Body at our wedding

The doctors started the process to warm Joy's blood back to regular temperature at 9:00 last night. They thought her temp would be stabilized around 6:00-ish this morning so they could slowly remove the sedation and breathing tubes. However, as of 10:45 this morning her temperature still has not reached where it needs to be. The doctors are not alarmed- she is older and her metabolism is slower, thus making this whole process a little slower than normal. They expect her to reach the temperature goal sometime this afternoon or evening.

I know my Uncle Alan seems pretty bummed out. He is anxious to see if this all has worked. Please continue to pray.

Joy and her daughter who gave her CPR until the paramedics arrived. This was taken at our family reunion almost two years ago.

Hopefully we will be updated soon. I do have another post that I was planning on publishing today that is unrelated to this. I should be getting that up later today.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Crazy, crazy, crazy weekend

Wow. What a crazy weekend.

Yesterday morning my mom called to tell me that my Aunt Joy had suffered a heart attack and was in critical condition. She and my Uncle Alan live in Carthage, MO. (They lost their home last spring in the Joplin tornado. On Joy's birthday, no less!) Thank God her daughter Barb was there because she gave Joy CPR and kept her alive until the paramedics got there. If it weren't for her, who knows what would have happened. All we really knew at that point was that she was life flighted to a hospital in Springfield and it didn't look good.

My mom knew she was eventually going to make the 5 hour drive south so she could be there to comfort her brother. She was waiting around to hear from Alan. I knew that I wanted to go to support my uncle and also my mom, but was worried how Joe would deal with being waaaay out of his element. Thankfully my husband was generous and kind enough to tag along so he could help with Joe and be there to support us all.

We had about 2 hours before mom would be there to pick us up. In that time Joe decided to do something to take my mind off what was happening to my Aunt Joy.

We were letting Joe run around to blow off some steam before we left. He went over to the changing table. Then I heard Ryan yell, "NO! NO!" This wasn't the normal "No, no" that we usually yell. This was more serious. I ran over just in time to see Joe take yet another swig of baby oil. A couple days ago I had to use it to get some stubborn sticky poo off Joe's bum. I rarely ever use it and was in a hurry to get Joe diapered since he is so wriggly when I change his diaper, so I didn't put the lid on all the way.

I grabbed the bottle and Joe practically skipped away in glee with glistening baby oil all over his mouth. Of course the bottle said "DO NOT DRINK." Even though Joe seemed just fine, I wanted to call poison control just to be on the safe side. The nurse who answered was extremely nice. She first asked if Joe had choked or coughed when he first drank the baby oil. He didn't- he actually seemed to enjoy it! She said that was good because the biggest risk with drinking baby oil was choking and aspirating. She said the next problem, which wasn't a concern, was that baby oil is a laxative, so be prepared for some loose stools. She said to keep an eye on him for an hour and give him some bread and small amounts of milk. As I was talking to her on the phone he was running amok with a hat that was too small for his head on and blabbering and carrying on, so i wasn't too worried. She called back in an hour and since he was still being a crazy man and hadn't vomited she gave him an all clear.

I knew the day would come when I had to call poison control. Hopefully it will be the last! I felt so completely awful that it was my fault he gulped down the baby oil. Thank God he was just fine. Motherhood: you're always learning!

My mom picked us up later that afternoon. We got more news on Joy. The doctors were putting her through a process called therapeutic hypothermia. They very slowly cool her blood down. Once her blood temp got to 33.0 Celsius then she stays in that state for 24 hours. This is to reduce swelling in the brain due to the trauma of her heart attack. This is essentially to protect her body from damage from the heart attack. After 24 hours of being at 33.0 degrees they would slowly bring her temperature up, bring her out of sedation and unhook her from all the machines. There is a 50% chance she will never wake up.

When we finally got to Springfield we could tell that my Uncle Alan was so happy to see us. We sat in the waiting room with him and Barb while Joe entertained the whole crowd waiting in there. Later on that evening their son Todd and his wife came.

We finally got to see Joy during the very strict visiting hours. It was a very difficult sight to see. She was put in a paralyzing sedation, so she had to be on a breathing machine. She had numerous other tubes and IV's hooked up to her. She's always been so full of life. Always with a smile. It was very hard to see her in that state.

We left the hospital around 8:30 and went to our hotel. We all sat around and talked. It was so hard to see Alan so heartbroken and worried. It killed me to see the tears welling up in his eyes. I wish I could have taken the pain away from him.

Today we went to Mass and then back to the hospital. At around 9:00 last night she finally reached the 33.0 degrees. So tonight at 9:00 (in about 10 minutes from when I am writing this) they will start raising her temp. Sometime this coming morning we should know if this relatively new procedure will work. We don't know the answers to those looming questions of what if she doesn't wake up or what will she be like if she does?

It's a nervous waiting game and of course my family would appreciate any prayers you can send up to the heavens.

Joy has suffered so much these past two years. Her health has declined rapidly. She was actually supposed to have surgery last Wednesday to remove a benign tumor on her spine, but it was postponed due to a lack of equipment. If her heart was in this bad of shape who knows what could have happened during surgery. What hurts my Uncle Alan the most is how much suffering she has gone through when all she has ever done is love and serve others. The priest who came to annoint her told my Uncle that the reason she suffers so much is because she CHOOSES to suffer with the crucified Savior. She chooses this path. Someday when her children, grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews go to heaven they will see how much suffering they were spared in their life because Aunt Joy prayed so fervently for them and took on their suffering. How amazing is that?

I am so thankful for my family. I am so blessed with such a loving and close family that will come together in times of happiness and sadness. I am so thankful for medical technology. This therapy could save her neurological function. It could save her life. And then we can have many more years of joy with our dear Aunt Joy.

Thank you for the prayers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Put on your big girl panties...

*No Way Back When post today. This post has been on my mind and in draft form since last Friday. It's hard to get my words across, so please bare with me and any grotesque spelling and grammar rules I butcher!*

A couple of months ago I read a book called Unplanned. It is the story of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director. She worked tirelessly to help women in need and believed women had the right to choose what was best for them. Even though she was uneasy with the financial pushing for abortions by Planned Parenthood, she stayed on to ensure that women in crisis were helped in any way possible.

That all changed one day when she was asked to hold the ultrasound wand and witness first hand a 13 week baby being aborted through the ultrasound screen. From that day on her heart was changed and she began to realize she had to leave Planned Parenthood. She found refuge in a group that had been praying at the fence of the clinic since her first day as a volunteer. This group was called Coalition for Life.

The book was amazing and inspirational. I wasn't expecting anything less. Abby's story is so full of courage and strength. But what really got me thinking was the group Coalition for Life. Abby's book is full of stories of those people praying at the fence and calling out to women with love to tell them there are other choices. She talks about the 40 Days for Life event that started right there at the fence of her clinic.

I am pro-life. All the way. I'm not "kind of" pro-life thinking it's OK for a woman to get an abortion if she was raped or if the baby will have Down Syndrome or some other life-altering condition or if the woman's life is in danger. I'm also fully against the death penalty and torture. But would you know that by looking at my Facebook page or even my blog which is a little more "protected" against people who would disagree with me?


I think I have mentioned this in a post before, but the reason I don't go all pro-life is because I know there are women who could read what I am writing or posting and become upset because they have had abortions. Cowardly of me? Yes. But these women may be hurting and I don't want to add to that hurt. But another reason I don't post pro-life stuff is because I know there are many people out there that are pro-abortion and will challenge me on my beliefs. Cowardly? Yes, times a million.

But part of me wonders if I would even have the courage to pray at an abortion clinic. No sign, no t-shirt- just stand and pray. I think I would even be too afraid to do that. I've heard of too many stories where the clinic workers, patients, and family members of patients hassle the people praying. It's not that I would be embarrassed to be seen there. I just wouldn't want to deal with someone challenging me.

Last Friday my dad unexpectedly came to visit. Joe was napping so there wasn't a lot of distraction. Without distraction my dad likes to veer the conversation into his two favorite topics- politics and religion. He is way out in left field on both topics.

Politics I can deal with. I despise politics, hate talking about them, hate election years, but that is because of the massive disrespect, arrogance and discord it causes among our nation. But I am neither conservative or liberal, so you can bash whoever because I pretty much think that politicians are like butt holes- we need them, but they are full of poop. So I pretty much zoned out when he was talking about how evil conservatives are and how they are ruining the United States.

But then he drifted on the subject of religion. There is no way I could zone out when my dad is going off on an array of topics such as: God is a loving God... he wouldn't create hell, so there is no hell; The Bible is not true; Jesus never said you had to believe in him to go to heaven; How he (my dad) doesn't believe in the Resurrection or miracles; How he was fed "bullshit" by his parents in regards to religion (his father, my grandfather, was a Protestant preacher and one of my most amazing men I have never known. Joe was named after him.); sexuality isn't connected to religion and how he is an agnostic and how there was no such thing as subjective truth. There were many other things that he ranted about, but one that bothered me was the fact that he doesn't like it when religious people "push" their beliefs on others, especially in regards to same-sex couples getting married and a woman's right to choose.

He's gone off on these tangents before. I did interject a few times on the hell subject, but that was about it. I just nodded my head and gritted my teeth. Conversations like these make me want to drink copious amounts of alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol. They physically and emotionally drain me. But I have a toddler to distract me and it was a Friday, so Ryan and I got to relax and watch a movie later that evening. I got my mind off of the crapbag of a conversation I had with my father.

However, at around 3:00 in the morning Joe woke up and I nursed him. He quickly fell back asleep but I was wide freakin' awake. The words my dad had spoke just ran through me. All I could think about was how I didn't speak up. I was a theology major and I didn't know how to respond. It was as if all those classes, papers, exams, book reading- it had all melted out of my brain. My dad's bogus arguments didn't bother me, it was the fact that I didn't say anything at all.

I laid there in bed for about two hours just thinking about why I don't speak up on anything. I very rarely call anyone out for being rude and disrespectful. I don't defend my beliefs. I don't even share them, really. I finally came up with three major reasons I keep quiet.

1. I don't want to offend people and I have this unhealthy desire for people to like me.

I know I am easily offended when people post that parents who immunize their children are poisoning them. I get offended when people write that people against same-sex marriage are homophobes. I get offended when people write that conservatives are a bunch of right-wing religious nut jobs. So I don't write anything that might offend someone. People carry deep wounds. We don't always know what is going on in their lives. I never want to cause people to hurt. I don't want to come across as arrogant.

I am sure there are old friends of mine that think I am kind of nutso for embracing my Catholic faith because I was NOTHING like that when I was younger. I cringe at the thought of my hometown acquaintances laughing and talking behind my back because I don't use birth control and how I think that sex should be reserved for marriage. That goes for my family as well. I want people to like me. Isn't that pathetic? But Jesus didn't say if you follow him everything would be hunky dory. You will make enemies. You will lose friends.

It is really hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that you CAN be friends with someone who has the complete opposite beliefs and views as you. My old college roommate is a die-hard Republican. Her statuses often reflect that. There is one woman who always either semi-makes fun of my former roomie for her beliefs or straight out starts to debate. One time I came to my friend's defense. I was so mad at this other chick for being so rude. I privately messaged my roommate and she responded with an "LOL." The girl who made these comments was a good friend of hers. She was just a die-hard Democrat and they didn't agree on anything politically or morally for that matter, but they still hung out and had fun together. I have heard lots of people where their best friend is on the complete opposite side in regards to politics and religion. But then I see examples like my father who basically will have nothing to do with his own brother because he is "too conservative." Some people can overcome their differences. Sometimes those differences can destroy relationships. It's a slippery slope.

I really admire those people who have a brave attitude and don't care about what others think. There are people who state their beliefs in a respectful way. If I don't agree I just read it and move on. I have lots of friends who post pro-life stuff and religious statuses and they never have anyone heckle them. Either all their friends think the same way they do, or they word their statuses in a way that doesn't invite hatred.

2. I am a coward and I don't want to look stupid.

I don't post stuff because I am a coward. Plain and simple. I don't want to invite debate because I don't want to debate at all. I'm afraid I won't be able to explain my position clearly. I can't find the right words sometimes. And let's face it- explaining religious beliefs isn't easy. It can be very complex especially if you are talking to someone who doesn't believe in certain things such as subjective truth or the Bible. I've seen people's status updates get 50+ comments from someone who just keeps arguing and throwing out random facts. It gets dizzying-ly complicated.

I am a part of a Mommy Group on Facebook and a girl I went to high school with asked for some birth control advice. She got plenty of suggestions. I thought about suggesting Natural Family Planning or Fertility Awareness Method. I didn't even have to go into the religious aspects of it, I could have just talked about how detrimental contraceptives are to a woman's health and well being, because there is medical proof in that. But did I? Of course not. I didn't want to look like a kook. I didn't want to start a debate. I am a bonafied scaredy cat.

I am truly a coward because my hands start sweating and my heart beats really fast when I am faced with a possible debate. In the instinctive fight or flight response I flee. I run as fast as I can. Miles and miles away. Then I hide myself.

If I do write a comment on someone else's Facebook status and stand up for myself or defend something I believe in (even something as stupid as Twilight) I won't read what other people say after me. I'm afraid of what they will have written about my comment.

Another reason I don't like to debate is because I am afraid I will get some fact wrong. Or that the person I am discussing a topic with will twist my words or twist the whole argument in a new direction. When it comes to philosophical arguments I am clueless. I wish I could be like this guy and really know how to debate with logic and calmness.

This is a long video but very interesting.

3. My emotions get in the way.

During the few times I did speak up to my dad I felt like it wasn't me talking. It was like someone took out my tongue and I was possessed with the mental capacity of a rock.

When people disagree with me and are even the slightest bit disrespectful I get MAD. Like Incredible Hulk mad. I cannot control my emotions and they show through since I am such a sensitive person. When I feel like I am being personally attacked I get VERY VERY defensive and start to get irrational. When I get mad then the inevitable happens- I cry. Then I get even more mad that I am crying. So then it's game over, epic fail for apologetics and evangelization.

Sometimes it is hard to talk politics and religion because some people are so so stubborn that they won't listen to any opposing side. They accuse others of being "close minded" but they are guilty of that themselves. Sometimes they bring out such outlandish comments that it seems like a huge waste of time. So when someone is stubborn and won't listen I get frustrated. It turns into a "Why won't you just listen to me?!" sort of argument, an argument that is need of being "won" and that is never a good tactic.

I can't take criticism. I take things too personally. I wish I could be like Simcha Fisher, the Archbold brothers at CMR and Bad Catholic and be able to take on troll-like comments. But I suppose it is different when you don't know those people who make mean and hurtful comments. It's probably easier to shrug off.

I wish I could be like my friends who post their anti-vax posts and Occupy protest articles. Because even though I vehemently disagree with them at least they have the courage to post it and take any criticism that comes their way.


I know there is a right way and a wrong way to express my beliefs. We must do all things in love. Sometimes the things we might post about religion may not seem like they were written with charity. It might appear as though we are trying to look holier than thou and condemn others. But I think most of my friends who do write this stuff, this stuff being the same stuff I believe in, are doing it out of love. Of course we should always be mindful of how we word things. That goes for everything in Internetlandia.

The way I try to express my beliefs is to practice what I preach. I am against birth control, so I use NFP. I think it is extremely important to go to Church so I participate in the Mass every Sunday. I show my beliefs by practicing them and if someone were to come up to me and ask, "So WHY don't you use birth control, you weirdo?" I would be more comfortable in answering them.

I have written before that nothing good in this life is easy. Parenthood and marriage aren't easy. It isn't easy to be Christian. It sometimes isn't easy to stand up for what you believe in. If it were easy they would call it, "Sitting down for your beliefs." (OK, I know that was stupid.) But the good things in life really are worth the effort and courage it takes to take part in them.

G.K. Chesterton once said, "A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it."

I want to be that living thing. I want to be that light of love to others. I want to bring truth. I want to please God. But it sure is hard when I am such a coward.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Way Back When Vol. 1: The Baby-Sitters Club

I have another depressing, melancholic post coming up. However, I thought I would break up the regular boring posts of toddler adventures and my Mrs. Poopie Pants feelings and do something fun.

I'm going to start another series. My last series of Wondering Wednesdays hasn't gone quite how I wanted it, considering the last time I wrote a Wondering Wednesday post was nearly a year ago. This new series isn't quite as serious or thought provoking. It's going to be fun.

Every other week (or each week if I'm feeling up to it) I'm going to write a Way Back When post. I might even make it Way Back When Wednesday's, but I'm not going to get too ambitious. (I just now realized it is Thursday. D'OH!) In these posts I'm going to pick something from my childhood or teen years that is a special memory. Some of these you might remember. Some of these only people from my hometown or my family will understand. (Look for a post on 10th Street restaurant.)

But I thought it would be fun to write about something that doesn't emotionally drain me. It may bore you, my lovely readers, but maybe not. Maybe it will inspire you to think back on those happy days way back then.

My first Way Back When post will be about one of my favorite book series growing up: The Baby-Sitters Club

I was probably around nine years old when I started reading this series. My mom bought me the first few books and I was instantly hooked. Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne and Stacy were like the big sisters I never had. Their stories were so interesting. Each character was so different.

My favorite character was probably the quiet and shy Mary Anne. She wasn't as crazy and obnoxious as the other characters. I did however go through a very strange Claudia stage. Claudia Kishi was very artistic, wore funky clothes and made her own jewelry. I specifically remember designing my own outfit. It was jean shorts with knee length biker shorts underneath and some old Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt that was too big so I used a scrunchie to bunch up the extra material to make a sort of tail thingy on my hip. I also made my own necklace with some weird beads made out of paper. That was a totally awesome look, let me tell ya. The worst part of it... I wore it to a family reunion... so there is photographic evidence of my totally awesome look. Oh well, something to laugh about now!

Of course reading all these books about babysitting made me want to start my very own baby-sitters club. When I was about 11 years old, I got my cousin and best friend to join with me in this new exciting business endeavor! I was to be president (I was such a Kristy...) and we called it Kids Inc. The most exciting part- we had FLYERS. Not flyers we made ourselves, no, no, these were made on a COMPUTER! I think my mom used some old ancient print program with the wicked cool graphics and she printed it on the paper where you had to tear off the sides (is it called dot matrix paper?) Oh my goodness... it was top notch! We were going to be gazillionaires! But, according to my diary, my best friend's dad wouldn't let her be in the club unless she took a baby-sitting class first, which wasn't offered anywhere near our hometown. I'm not sure why I didn't continue my grand idea with my cousin. We were probably in a fight. We were like sisters and fought all the time. Alas, my dreams of changing the course of babysitting in my hometown were dashed. I did eventually get over it.

Then of course there were the BSC VHS tapes I had of the TV series and I just HAD to go see the movie in theaters in 1995! I remember at the back of each BSC book there was a tear-out order form to be a part of the fan club. I think you got a pink watch and some other cool stuff. There was also an order form for the dolls. I always wanted to send these order forms out, but never did. I did have some of the special merchandise- the Secret Santa BSC book, the Guide to Babysitting book and the Post Card BSC book. But my most treasured item of all? The autographed picture of the author of The Baby-Sitters Club, Ann M. Martin. I had written her a letter and to my delight she wrote me back. My eleven-year-old self was over the moon!

I think the real reason I loved this series so much was because the girls of the books were stepping into their teen years, and I was just a few years from that milestone. I couldn't wait to become a teenager. I couldn't wait for lockers and dances and notes from your crush passed in the hallway. I was excited for the days of getting more responsibility and more freedom. Eleven years old is a strange time. I was still very much a child, but wanted so badly to be an adult. I don't think the term "tween" was around back then. The girls of The Baby-Sitters Club gave me something to look forward to, something to yearn for.

I still have some of my copies of the BSC. Sadly, I never read them all. I outgrew them before I had a chance to finish the series. I think the last one I remember reading was #100 Kristy's Worst Idea. I see the last one was #131 The Fire at Mary Anne's House (uh, WHAT?!!)

To end this post I present you a clip from The Baby-Sitters Club TV show episode of Dawn Saves the Trees. And yes, that is Zach Braff from Scrubs. Excellent!

What were some of your favorite book series growing up?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

But it is all worth it...

LinkYesterday I wrote, somewhat in a panic, of my concerns and frustrations of my toddler son gone wild.

His sleeping/screaming in his crib has gotten better, which means I am getting more sleep, which means I am less "AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!"

I wrote on a Facebook group that I am a part of about my woes of Joe turning into a toddler crack head. A friend of mine joked that I was knocking time off purgatory. Another girl joked that getting out of purgatory early would be worth it. That got me thinking: I don't ever ask myself "Is motherhood worth it?"

I don't ever think that because I always know that yes, motherhood is worth all the tears, frustrations and bodily fluids that somehow always end up on me. There is no doubt.

Joe destroys. He kicks and bites. He climbs on everything (see above.) He screams at decibels that I think only dogs can hear. And he looooooooooves to pull hair, as you can see in the photo below.

This photo cracks me up every. time. I love the look on Joe's face!

Sometimes it seems that the naughty moments Joe has outweighs the fun, happy and hilarious moments.

But I know that isn't true. Dealing with Joe's temper and stubbornness takes a lot more effort out of me than when he's his happy-go-lucky self.

Last night as I was nursing Joe, I was about to drift off to sleep when Joe stopped nursing. I looked down to see if he had fallen asleep, but in the dim light I could see he was looking up at me. He gently put his hand on my cheek and moved my face closer to his. He leaned in. He always leans towards me when he wants me to give him a kiss. I gently kissed his nose and he smiled and turned away to go back to sleep. That is what makes all the chaos worth it. Love.

Loving isn't easy. Nothing great and wonderful in this life is easy. Marriage isn't easy. Family life isn't easy. Pregnancy and childbirth aren't easy. Being a child of God definitely isn't easy. But the amazing things in life are worth working for. The things in life that are easy? Well, they just aren't as fun. They just aren't as great.

Even though Joe knows exactly how to push my buttons, I am grateful that he is becoming his own little person. I am thankful he still randomly comes up to me to hug me and give me a kiss, because someday he will shudder in horror at the thought of hugging and kissing his mother. He is changing so much and so quickly.

Motherhood is hard. I will never have it all figured out. But I love my vocation (maybe not every single screaming second of it) but it is all worth it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Welcome to Toddlerdom

This child moves so fast you can't catch him on film.

My 16 month old son has become a terror overnight.

I'd like to blame it on the craziness of the holiday season. I'd also like to blame it on Ryan's genes.

Let me back up to Christmas Eve. If you remember I asked for advice if I should take Joe to Midnight Mass. I got lots of encouragement to take him or to just wait and see how he is when we woke him. One girl on Facebook said I was crazy for taking Joe out of his nice warm bed and taking him out into the cold into a bright church.

What I was most worried about was how Joe would react to seeing me in the choir loft. He is pretty attached to me and sometimes he only wants me- daddy or Grandma won't do. We went ahead and brought him. I warned the organist that I might have to leave, but would be back to sing the communion hymn with the rest of the choir. Well, that is exactly what I had to do. I looked down on the congregation and saw that Joe was getting fussy. I looked and saw that the youngest kid there besides Joe was 10 years old. There were no babies, no toddlers, so Joe kind of stuck out like a sore thumb.

After the few songs we sang before Mass Joe spotted me and it was game over. I had to leave and join my husband in the pew. I was sad to leave the choir because I've been singing with them for 12 years. I've said since I got married that "this will be my last year singing" but I always get roped back in. I'm like the Brett Favre of choral singers.

Mass went smoothly as soon as I went down there. When I left for communion and sang with the choir Joe was distracted by my mom's sparkly red bracelet. Overall I was happy with the experience, but just the fact that I was stressed made me realize that Joe is changing.

Last Wednesday Joe got very sick. He threw up multiple times in the evening. First time that has ever happened. It was like a scene from the Exorcist. We bought him some Pedialyte but he would not drink it at all. He took a few sips of water and thankfully he nursed because I wanted to make sure he got enough fluids.

The next day I tried everything to get him to drink something. For the past few weeks he just hasn't been drinking like he normally does, but since I still nurse him and he still has plenty of wet diapers I wasn't too concerned. Well after he threw up so much I was desparate for him to drink. I tried different cups. I tried tricking him. I sometimes had to force some down his throat. Thankfully, through the beauty of facebook advice I diluted some Pedialyte (even though it said right on the bottle not to) and Joe drank it up no problem. He drank and drank and drank. I felt like a scientist that had just solved a problem or a detective that just cracked a case.

Joe slept fine that night he was sick. The next day when he was drinking his Pedialyte he was back to his old self. He took a short nap that afternoon in his crib.

All hell broke loose that night.

For some reason Joe did NOT want to go in his crib. When I placed him in there he clung to me. He hasn't done that since he was about 7 months old. He screamed bloody murder for what seemed like forever. We finally let him stay up and watch a movie with us and he dozed off. But when I put him back in his crib he was up and BAM... more screaming. I finally just had to call it a night at 9:00 and go to bed and take Joe with me. He slept fine with me.

At 6:50 he was -ZING!- wide awake. Usually I can put him back in his crib with some books and he can entertain himself or he will fall back asleep and I can sleep in until 8:00. Not this time. He did not want to go back in his crib and wanted to go play. I had to use every ounce of strength to get myself out of bed. (I know some of you mama's out there do get up that early or earlier every day. Please don't judge me! Joe had me spoiled by letting me sleep in!)

So all day long I was in a zombie state while Joe refused to go down for his morning quiet time or his nap. And boy, was he a pistol all day long. That night was pure hell. He didn't cry- he screamed. He jumped up and down screaming. He rattled the sides of his crib. All this for 2 and a half hours. I went in two times to try and comfort him so he wouldn't feel totally abandoned. Finally he fell asleep.

The next morning he was up again at the butt-crack of dawn and I laid there in tears. I was so extremely tired. For the first time since Joe was a newborn and I had no clue what I was doing I felt like motherhood was a cruel joke. Thankfully my husband took Joe and let me sleep in.

I decided to go on a shopping quest. Joe doesn't really have a night light. He has a sound machine that projects light on the wall but it only lasts for 10 minutes. I wondered if perhaps he was starting to get scared of the dark (which I kind of doubted since he was the same during the day as he was a night.) I bought him a turtle that projects stars on the ceiling and lasts for 45 minutes. I bought a calming lullaby CD. Maybe some light and some calm music would help him.

We tried it that night and to my surprise it kind of worked! He still screamed for about 30 minutes, but he finally fell asleep. Maybe it was the lights and music or maybe it was because he was so tired. But he was asleep and I was happy.

His new thing is getting up super early. My husband has been awesome and let me sleep in this weekend. He is still fighting his naps and bedtime.

He is getting more and more stubborn and frustrating. He is getting more and more picky with his food. He is getting more and more demanding. He used to be so easy-going and laid back. Sure, I'd have to get up with him 3 or 4 times a night to nurse him, but he'd always go to bed easily and sleep in. He used to never be fussy unless he was teething. No new teeth to report nowadays.

Today Joe was quite the crazy kid. Throwing food and throwing a fit at the restaurant. First time playing in the toilet water. Getting into the curio cabinet full of my mom's nice breakable knick knacks. Throwing a full-out tantrum at the grocery store. He looks at me right before he does something naughty. He is learning to push his boundaries.

I had a usual Maggie-Meltdown and my mom witnessed it. Motherhood is so hard. SO HARD. I sometimes feel I don't have enough self-sacrifical love to be a good mom. I have always read and heard other mommy stories about how difficult their toddler behaved and I guess I've just always been naive or in denial because I never thought Joe would be difficult. Both my mom and Ryan's mom have made the comment that Joe is getting into the Terrible Two's early. But I keep going into panic mode thinking that things are just going to get more and more difficult. Soon he'll really be talking and talking back to me. Soon he'll be even more independent. Then he'll be a teenager and I think I really might lose it then. Yes, I know, I know, there will be far more good/happy times then frustrating ones, but right now I'm feeling pretty down.

Now is the time to really start thinking about how I will discipline him. How I will handle his picky eating habits. How I will handle his tantrums. Before I kind of felt like the ultimate play-mate to Joe. I played with him and made sure he was safe, happy and healthy. Now I have to shape this very independent and stubborn attitude. I have such a huge responsibility and that scares the crap out of me. Of course I have my husband by my side to figure things out with and family and friends to lean on for support and advice. But I am really afraid that I am going to screw up.

I don't regret becoming a mother. It is my vocation, after all. But damn, is it hard. I knew it wouldn't be all lollipop's and rainbows, but, wow...

*Please excuse any typos or horrible grammatical errors. I think I should have asked for a new brain for Christmas.


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