Sunday, October 6, 2013

Simple Prayer

As someone who was born and raised Catholic, worked at a Catholic high school, and attended Catholic schools my entire childhood, it feels uncomfortable to struggle with my faith.  There is so much about the Catholic Church, especially on the east side of Indianapolis, that I value.  In overarching ways...the tradition, the formality, the consistency, and in more local ways...the community, the friendship, shared morals.

I love the way in which I was raised and the Catholic Church had a lot to do with that upbringing.  The fact that I recently played in a kickball tournament with 14 other women that were in my 8th grade class (a class of around 30 total) is just one testament to the strong ties instilled in us by Catholic institutions. I have become an adult I have realized that there are things about the church that I don't agree with.  This is not the forum to list and discuss these in detail; however, I will say that it has made me pause.  It is uncomfortable to view a religion that I grew up seeing as so inclusive, so warm, so welcoming, now seem selective, exclusive, and judgmental.

I should say here that I am not trying to start a debate or pass judgment on Catholic Church teachings.  I am truly just trying to put into words MY current feelings.  Religion is so personal, and I hope that everyone can find a faith in which they feel hope, solace, guidance, and inspiration.  If Catholicism is that for you, then I say "fantastic."  For me, I am just hoping that someday I can say with confidence, "I'm Catholic," without feeling the urge to follow that with a "but..."

Before we know it, the time will have come for Ramona to begin schooling, and so we have begun the process of trying to figure out what school will be the best fit for our family.  And as a part of this process, I have started singing in the Folk Group at Lourdes again.  I love this group of people!  It is always fun to be around extremely talented makes you up your game.  This opportunity also means that I am attending Mass once a month, which is, sadly, an increase for me.

I am trying to use this time to rekindle a connection.  To listen to the words, to think about the message, to concentrate on the prayer, and confirm that, even with my hang ups, this is still the community where I want my family to grow.

Today we sang a song that has been sticking with me since I learned it two weeks ago.  The message is simple, and if feels like the words I have been trying to find for awhile.

"Lord increase my faith.  With all our hearts, may we always follow you.  Teach us to pray, always."

As we all go about our days, making decisions, raising our children, finding our place in this world this is what I hope for each of us.  The strength that comes with faith, and the peace that comes with prayer.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Carpe Diem

Today is my 32nd birthday, and tonight I will be attending a showing for a young man who just had his 20th.  A young man, who I did not know well, but well enough to know that the world would be a sweeter, wiser, and more considerate one if he were still in it.

This loss has made me pause.  Made me think about how my life has evolved from age 20 to 32.  So much change, so many experiences, an exorbitant amount of love.

As I enter into my 32nd year, I want to remind myself of adages that may be seen as cliches, but I think, deserve to be acknowledged.  I want to remember to "seize the day," "cherish and utilize my blessings," "give thanks," "savor the moment," and "live like today is my last."

I am thankful for my 32 years, and hopeful that I will get to spend many more with my husband, my children, my family, and my friends.  However, I don't want to wait to celebrate.  Today I will celebrate that I got to sing in the car, that I got to spend an afternoon with my kiddos, my aunt, and my darling baby cousin, that my husband left me a love note on the kitchen table, that my family will gather for dinner, and that I get to go celebrate a young man who impacted many in a short time.

And tomorrow, I will try to remember to celebrate again.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I Eat At Mom's

I haven't written in awhile.  There are a couple of reasons for being that raising two humans is no joke, another that on top of our parental duties, we have had several months with a lot of work, and lastly, all of the things I want to write about feel like they are the same things I have already written about.

I don't want this space to be an area to rant, so I am trying to censor some of my more repetitive thoughts, and focus on the blog's purpose...a realistic telling of parenthood for my kiddos to read down the road. I will write about my experience with breastfeeding.  Please do not feel obligated to read about me nursing my children, it will not hurt my feelings, just stop reading now.

Okay, with that out of the way...

My mom nursed my sisters and I and it was always my plan to do the same with my kiddos.  I didn't really even think about it.  It wasn't for any specific reason (i.e. nutritional/health value, child/mama bonding, ease/cost effectiveness), but I will say that I have really enjoyed the perks of all of the above.

I have found that there are things that we don't say to new nursing moms.  We don't talk about how it is going to hurt for awhile.  In fact, you will often hear people say, "if it hurts you are doing it wrong."  If this were the truth I would have quit on day two.  You see, your nipples have to get used to this new role...I would compare it to learning how to play the guitar.  Your fingers are going to hurt for a few days, and then they don't anymore.  At least this is how it was for me.

In that first week, every time my little one latched I would have an initial "wowza" moment, and then it was okay.  They tell you to use lanolin lotion, make sure the baby is latched correctly, position the baby just so...I don't buy it.  I think it just hurts for a couple of days.  My advice is, you can do it.  You just birthed this kid for crying out loud.  What's a few days with sore nipples?

The other thing that is not explicitly explained is that even though our bodies were created to be able to do this, our minds still don't know how.  And even with the internal instinct our babies have to nurse, it is still probably going to be awkward for awhile.

I took a class before Ramona was born.  The lactation consultant showed a room full of us first time mamas how to make a "c" with your hand cupping your breast, and we practiced with boppy pillows and baby dolls.  I left thinking, check that off the to do list, now I know how to nurse.  Well, it's a bit different when you have been in labor for 24 hours, just given birth, have a nurse standing behind you moving your arms like she is teaching you to play golf, and there is a living being crying to be fed.  In addition, the hospital was anxious about Ramona's breathing, so the first time we got to try and nurse was a good seven hours after she was born, since she and Andy had spent the day in the NICU.  Then the sassy little thing wouldn't pee.

There is a checklist of things that the hospital would like to happen to make sure all is well with this new human.  Peeing is one of them.  So, when she had pooped out the lovely black tar newborns start off with, but there was no urine, they wanted me to nurse with formula.  Which meant that my already awkward start was more awkward and nerve racking with a thin tube taped to my nipple (this never actually worked, by the way).  To make a long story short.  We were much relieved to get home, and find that on our own time line, nursing was going to work for us.

Ramona was the chunkiest baby at the breastfeeding support group we went to, really more for an escape from our house than support.  I produced enough milk that I could have fed an additional child, and she continued to nurse until she was 13 months old, even with me getting pregnant again when she was 9 months.  I wouldn't say that I am an exhibitionist when it comes to nursing in public, but I have been known to nurse, with a blanket, at the table in a restaurant, when absolutely necessary.

With Miles it started very different.  He was born, laid on my stomach, and wiggled his way up to nurse within minutes.  I don't seem to have nearly the amount of milk this time around, but I suspect that is because he eats it all!

And lastly, we don't tell moms that if they decide to nurse exclusively, that the only minutes away from this little person for at least the first three months of their lives will be when you are in the bathroom...and even then it's questionable whether you will be able to get away.  Ramona never really took a bottle, and Miles has had only a handful in his 9 months.  So...that means I am never far from their side.  I greatly admire women who work and pump.  I hate pumping, and therefore, my kiddos nurse.

So...why write this in my blog?  Well, I want Ramona, as a mom, and Miles, as a dad, to know that nursing your babies can be hard, especially at the beginning.  I want them to know that it is different for every mom and different for every baby.  I want them to know what my experience has been, and that I am grateful everyday that this is how it worked out for us.  I want them to know that my ability to nurse is not directly correlated with how much I love them.  If I hadn't been able to nurse, or had decided not to breastfeed, I would not have been a worse mother.

I also want them to know how cool I think it is.  My body was designed to give nourishment to my babies.  I grew them as fetuses, and I fed them as infants.  They know that when they cry in the night, I will be the one to come and comfort them.  I want them to know that, by nursing them, I learned what it means to be a mom.  The sacrifice along with the reward.  The 3am feedings with the milk drunk smiles.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Who Is That Woman?

I am sure that many of you have seen the above picture.  It made it's round on Facebook, and I was one of, I'm sure, thousands of people to repost it.  It was over a month ago when I added it to my timeline, but I think about it everyday.  We need to be nicer to, more understanding and accepting of one another.  I find myself judging people so quickly, and I am only doing myself a disservice...there is still PLENTY I could be learning.

And it's not just about parenting.  We put so many pressures on ourselves and others to live up to arbitrary standards of how we should live, work, eat, look, be.  As much as I try to enjoy life, to appreciate what I have, and to relish in the moment...I do this to myself all the time!  Today a friend of mine posted a link to a blog about the reality of parenting young children on my Facebook page.  I read it smiling, nodding, tearing up a bit, and thinking "man, this guy nailed it."  And then at the bottom of the blog entry, there was a P.S...

"P.S. If you liked this post, you have to read my wife's earlier post, about her own journey with body image after having twins.  You can read it here."

So, I clicked and read this woman's words, while sobbing so hard I almost couldn't see the screen. To quote Lauren Hill's Killing Me Softly, this woman was, 
Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly... with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly... with his song

WHaaaoooooo aoooooo whoaoaoao 
lalalalalalaLALALALALALA ohohoh laaaaaa 

Since high school, I have not had the "perfect" body; so it will probably come as no surprise that taking a not so little stomach and using it to grow two humans in the span of two years will not result in six pack abs.  In fact, I would go as far to say that it did not help my physique in the slightest.  :)

I am now the heaviest weight I have ever been, with curves in places where you don't necessarily want curves.  And I can write this jokingly, but it is a struggle everyday for me.  I look in the mirror and think, "that can't be how I look."  I try to wear clothes that help me feel cute, hip, put together, but without fail if a photo is taken I end up wondering, "what was I thinking...I look gross."  

Now this is where the judging begins...some would say, "Do something about it.  Nothing is going to change unless you change."  And to those people I would like to say, "I KNOW!  But I struggle with motivation.  If my children are napping, I want to nap.  It's too hard.  I can't.  I want it to be easier."

And some people would say, "You are beautiful the way you are.  Women shouldn't feel like they have to be a size two.  Embrace that squishy stomach as a memento of carrying your babies."  And to those people I would like to say, "I KNOW!  But I can't help feeling like a blob, wanting to be cropped out of every picture of my family, wanting to wear things that I cannot wear.  It's too hard.  I can't.  I want it to be easier."

I wish that I could feel that the changes to my body are a small sacrifice in comparison to the amazing gifts my kiddos are, and/or that I could say with confidence that I will workout daily and not want a milkshake from Steak n' Shake every night.  But I'm not there yet.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is...maybe it's okay to be sad sometimes, to doubt, to wallow in self pity. I hope I won't be here forever.  I hope that I can still teach my kids to love themselves as they are, while also encouraging them to be the best that they can be, but for now I will make due with knowing that my husband thinks I am just as cute as the day we met, and my kids don't mind snuggling up with a soft, squishy mama.  Today, I will try and be nicer to myself.

Friday, March 8, 2013

We Got Trouble With a Capital T

So, I just got home from watching this year's Scecina play, The Music Man.  Andy stayed at home with the kiddos and I went by myself to the show.  I would definitely recommend it...Bo Leszcynski is a stupendous  Harold Hill and Kayla Wagoner's voice shines!  If you have a few bucks in your pocket, go see it this Sunday at 3pm.

I really enjoyed myself, so why when I came in the door, did my husband say "what's wrong?"  Because it made me really sad too.  I have directed/choreographed/costumed/set designed the Scecina musical for the past nine years.  I was in the show from 1995-1999, then away for the my four years at IU, and then directed from 2004-2012.  This was the first show that I had to watch from a seat in the audience and not standing tapping my toes and doing the dance moves in the back of the gym with Margaret Zeh.

I love those kids!  I can say that with total honesty, and I have felt that way since the beginning.  I always felt like I got way more out of the experience than any of the actors did.  And I am so thankful that they kept letting me come back and do it again year after year.

When we decided that last year was the end, it made total sense.  Margaret is engaged, I have two children and a husband, our lives are not as uncomplicated as they were in the beginning.  Spending hours on end for three months just isn't an option like it used to be.  But sitting there tonight was hard.

I miss the creativity, the challenge, the dancing, the laughing, the high school gossip. :)  And I have to admit that it definitely was a hit to my ego that the show is so good without me.  You know when you leave a job and you are they going to carry on without me?  Well they did, and it was good.

Maybe someday I will get to do it again.  But until then...I guess the show must go on...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Blowin It Up

So Miles just had a blow out.  These are not uncommon, but since starting food they are definitely more frequent.  He should be napping, but instead he was sitting on my lap while I try to do a couple minutes of work.  I noticed the silence, realized the lack of movement, then heard the gush.  It immediately went up the back of the diaper and I could see it had soaked through his onesie.  So upstairs we go, where I put on his second outfit of the day.  I just got back downstairs and I realized that I felt some wetness on my sleeve...all the sudden realizing that the leakage had also made its way onto my sweater.  My first thought, "oh, once it dries you won't be able to need to change."  My second thought, "oh man...what have I become."  

*Above picture is from another blow out moment when we were not at home, I did not have an extra outfit, and he had to make the trip back to the house sans pants.

Monday, February 11, 2013

My Kiddos - February 11, 2013

So I thought I would do a, maybe monthly, highlight list of what my kids are doing that I find awesome, funny, frightening, etc.

-Miles is 5 months old and weighs 22 pounds...4 less than his nearly two year old sister

-He is sitting on his own and eating anything that is offered to him
-Ramona went from hating boots to demanding to wear rubber Abby Cadabby rain boots with every ensemble.

-she is currently obsessed with Minnie Mouse...a character she was introduced to by my mom and sisters when they babysat her...each individually not knowing that it was taking over her mind
-we now have to listen to the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Hot Dog song every time we get into the car...enjoy this ear-worm.  :)

-the other day we were Face Timing with Andy and Ramona clearly said "I love you, Dada."
-the other night my two babes were down to diapers...awaiting bath time, and Miles and I were sitting on the floor of the nursery.  Ramona would run out of the room...her little waddle, arms swinging, belly out run, and I would yell after her "come back!"  She would turn and run back into the room and cackle with laughter.  Miles would laugh so hard he was shaking, and I was cracking up too listening to the two of them.  This...this is definitely one of the moments I want to remember.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dining Like Kings and Queens

Last night we went out to dinner.  Andy called it a family date.  We went to Maxine's Chicken & Waffles for their 2 for $30 Devour Downtown.  Maxine's in one of my favorite meals...I think that I could sustain myself on their peach butter alone for at least a week; however, we have only eaten there once in the two years since Ramona was born.

Why?  Well, there are a couple of reasons.  First off, I am not working, therefore not bringing in a regular income, therefore going out to eat is not a very financially responsible option for us.  And secondly, it is downright hard to eat out with little children.

Now I feel like I should give some background on our restaurant/meal experience...every Thursday Andy's parents treat us to dinner at Papa Roux.  (If you have not eaten there before, stop reading and go is yummy).   But this meal is different.  The restaurant is noisy, we have four adults dealing with the two kids, Ramona is so used to going there that she knows the deal, it's fast...we get in and out in under an hour, and they know and (hopefully) like us there.

As for meals at home, we eat as a family.  We sit at the table, including Miles and have dinner as a family.  I completely understand why this seems crazy for people who have dealt with little kids, but somehow when we are at home it works for us.  I attribute this to Andy's grace in the kitchen.  His timing and ability to make well rounded delicious meals make it possible.  And again, Ramona and Miles know the routine...we sit, we eat, Ramona gets down to go play, Andy and I finish eating.

Now back to Maxine's.  We went with Ryan and Amy Costello...a lovely newly-wed couple without children, and probably solidified Ryan's feeling that adopting kids in their teens would be his preference when becoming a father.  Ramona stood in her highchair, whined, crawled on Andy, crawled on me, climbed on a nearby chair, fell off said chair, spilled water, cried about spilling said water, ate her food, ate Andy's food, ate my food...Miles, who just started eating solids this past week, pounded the table and demanded that I feed him mashed cornbread off my fingers for the duration of our two hour meal.

I inhaled my waffle and three chicken wings while passing portions of it to Ramona and mashing cornbread for Miles.  When we had re-bundled them up and carried them to the car (oh, Ramona demanded to be put down because "me walk snow"), Andy and I just looked at each other and shook our heads.  "We made a huge mistake" I thought.  My children appeared undisciplined and chaotic, and we did not even get to enjoy the food that we have both been coveting for months.

But there is also a part of me that thinks..."man, look at my husband over there.  He is bouncing our daughter on one knee and carrying on a conversation about HBO GO at the same time.  We are warriors!!!  We are doing it!!! We can have it all!!!"

...but we may leave them with a babysitter next time.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Great Expectations

Day 13
Prompt from Think Kit by SmallBox: Listening - when was the last time you listened to someone, where, why?

Okay, I am a little behind.  It is January 17th and I am only on day 13 of the December Think Kit challenge.  I was stressing about it for awhile.  Until Andy reminded me that this blog is something that I want to do and not an assignment that I am procrastinating in finishing.  So, while I did not blog everyday in the December, I may still use the Think Kit days on occasion to get me, for example, the one listed above...

Ramona's vocabulary is growing by the minute.  And while Andy and I joke that we might be the only ones who speak the dialect at the moment, she is really amazing in how much she can communicate.  It has made me think about how much has changed in four and a half months time.

Before Miles was born at the end of August, all my energy was focused on Ramona.  Every activity I selected was custom fit to what she would want to do, and the two of us did everything from naps to outings as a unit.  And then she became a big sister and I became a mother of two.

Ramona came to the hospital with my mom and dad to meet Miles just a couple hours after he was born.  Andy went to the waiting room and got her, and she was the first person to meet our little guy.  Our thought was that our little family of four would have a moment alone before grandparents, aunts, great grandparents, friends, etc. got in on the fun.

When Ramona walked in, I couldn't believe how big she looked and how heavy she felt when I picked her up.  I had just been with her a couple hours earlier, but it seemed like she had transformed from a baby to a kid overnight.  She was not very interested with me, Andy, or Miles..we had bought her her first baby doll with a stroller and gave it to her on that first visit.  My parents and Andy's parents later confirmed that all she did the three days we were at the hospital was take her "baby" for walks.

At home, Ramona became much more interested in her new brother.  She also decided that her "dada" was her parent of choice.  She wanted Andy to change her diapers, give her a bath, read her bedtime story.  She had very little time for me.  It felt like Miles was my kiddo and Ramona was Andy's.

She wasn't the only one who changed though.  From our first day home, I found myself saying things like "Ramona, you need to be patient," "Ramona, are you listening?," "Ramona, you need to obey Mama."  Patience, listen, obey...concepts that we never discussed prior to Miles that for some reason I thought she should just be able to master overnight.

Okay, maybe I am being too hard on myself...not that I thought she "should be able to master overnight" but concepts that I "needed her to master...and soon."

She, as the independent spirit she is, has responded to this in amazing ways.  She has become more independent...wanting to put on her own shoes, pick out her own outfits, walk without holding my hand.  She has welcomed Miles into her routines...allowing him to bathe with her, helping change his diapers, reading books on my lap while I nurse him.  And she is communicating and sharing her wants, needs, and personality with us through her new found love of words.  Sure she sometimes whines or throws little fits, but for the most part she has accepted the challenge that we don't have as much time to guess what is going on with her and she figures out how to get our attention and make herself clear.

She now tells us to "watch" when she jumps into the foam pit at gymnastics open gym, requests "ma (milk) no (not) wa (water)," tells us of her love for all things "Elmo," "Abby Dabby (Cadabby)," and "Minnie....Mouse."

She is talking, and I am listening.

Friday, January 4, 2013

We Were Young Once

Dear Future Grown Up Children,
Your parents have not always been the slow moving, gray haired, grouchy old people you know and love today...(I am assuming this will be how our kids will see Andy and I in their teen years)...we were young once.  And I can prove it.

Starting in 2006, I have planned several New Year's Eve shindigs at The Elbow Room, a downtown Indy restaurant and bar.  It always surprises me that they keep letting me do it! Things get broken, people get punched, there are tears...and vomit, but what do you expect will happen when 20 something's pay $50 to drink their fill for 5 hours?

Well, I am not a 20 something anymore, and while the group this year was made up of more of my sisters' friends then my own...I had a really good time! I even took more shots than Andy (which means I took two and he took one...I know...we are crazy, right?)

Andy documented Ryan C. And I's tradition of doing tequila shots (the bar's cheapest in quality and cheapest in price tequila mind you). I would have to say that this one was slightly better then the one we had at the Claddagh.

Now, I am a firm believer that you don't have to alcohol to have a good time, but it was really fun to be tipsy with my husband after not having the opportunity in a long time! We laughed, we ate food at a ridiculous hour, we rode in a "needed" cab. It felt like our pre-babies and pre-mortgage days. It was nice! It reminded me of why I picked this silly guy in the first place! And yes there was tequila involved in that story too...

Happy New Years, friends!