Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Good Read

I just finished Immaculee Ilibagiza's Left to Tell.  Not only is a compelling story of forgiveness, but it also gives a beautiful first-hand portrayal of the power of prayer.  I highly, highly recommend it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Motherhood Trends

I had a really thought-provoking conversation with my mom a few days ago about the changes in parenting trends.  She mentioned that mothers of her generation seemed to lean away from the more natural parenting practices of breastfeeding, cloth diapering, making baby food, staying home with the children.  Even though my mom did nurse both my brother and I for at least a few months, she found very little support in that, causing her to stop when it got difficult.  It was at that time that women were starting to become incredibly career-focused, leaving the children to daycare or private babysitters (though my mom did stay home with us until we were in school).  Buying both jarred baby food and disposable diapers was very much the norm.

Times are certainly changing.  While some of these parenting decisions are still more common than not, there seems to be a trend toward the more natural trends of nursing (for at least 12 months if possible), cloth diapering (until the child is potty trained), making baby food, and stay at home moms.  I happen to fall into all of these categories, and several of my mom friends do as well.  But in some ways, there's much more support for providing these things for one's children.  We visited an incredibly helpful lactation consultant when nursing was difficult with Thomas; some friends of mine raved about cloth diapering, and cloth diapers are now so much more than a prefold with pins.  No diaper service necessary (we wash ours right in our own washer and dryer)...I'll write a separate post about this sometime.  Making baby food just ended up being a less expensive option for our family, and we have the freezer space to do it.  Drake and I felt strongly about my staying home with our children, and we're attempting to make the sacrifices necessary for that to happen.  Another more natural approach to parenting is the use of non-artificial contraception (aka Natural Family Planning).

I think being a SAHM is perhaps one of the more counter-cultural points of this more conservative list, but I would argue that using Natural Family Planning (NFP) is by far the most rare of the bunch.  As practicing Catholics, this is the child spacing method that Drake and I use.  Not only do we save a great deal of money since we do not purchase contraceptives (nor would either of us undergo a surgery to render one of us infertile), but we also strengthen our marriage through improved communication about when and when not to attempt to achieve pregnancy.  (This is sounding like the makings of yet another blog post...I'll add it to the list).  Our trust in our Lord, needed knowledge of the female human body and its fertility signs, and living advocacy for the pro-life movement have all increased because of this parenting decision.  More to come on this topic...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Decision!

Over the course of the last 14-18 months, we've been doing some serious discernment about grad school options for Drake.  We feel strongly about my staying at home with our children full time and Drake being the primary source of income.  With his current degree and certification as a Board Certified Music Therapist, he's not eligible for promotion or pay raise in his current job...and our growing family is going to require that he has a different job, which ultimately means furthering his education before that.  So, we've been going through the daunting task of applying to schools and programs all over the state.  After travel for interviews, prayers, novenas, discernment, and endless conversation, we've decided that it's best for our family for Drake to pursue Doctoral studies, earning him a Psy.D (Doctorate of Psychology in Clinical Psychology).

By the grace of God, Drake has been accepted into several highly competitive programs in the Chicago area.  And while we haven't nailed down one particular school quite yet, we have prayerfully discerned that these programs are going to best suit the needs of our family.

I'm not going to bore you with the details of why or how we came to this conclusion or our reasoning for choosing this path over others.  But I will say that our Lord truly opened my heart, enabling us to come to this decision.

We're embarking on so many different things right now, all of which are exciting, nerve-wracking, and absolutely demand a deeper level of trust in God's divine plan.  Drake and I are both ecstatic and scared, typically simultaneously.  But it's time to take a leap of faith.  So here we go.

In these next few months, we'll be searching for a new place to live, determining Drake's school and new work schedule, finding a new OB and pediatrician, packing, finding a new car, finding a new parish, switching insurance plans, moving our family to our new home, settling in, preparing for our new baby's arrival.  (I think I forgot about one thousand other things that will be on our to-do list between now and our relocation).  But, despite the seemingly endless tasks, we're hopeful.  We're hopeful that God will guide our steps, our hearts, our minds, and continue to make His plan clear to us.

Toss up a prayer for us if you think of it! 

Friday, March 26, 2010


I'm having a heck of a time finding a format that I like for this blog...I'm sorry that the look of it changes by the day (and sometimes more often than that).  I honestly am not a fan of any of the blogspot templates, I don't want to mess around with finding a background and banner that match perfectly from a free template website, and I can't afford to have someone design something for me.

So, bear with me as I divulge my melancholic tendencies and change my mind with nearly every post.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Let the Children Come to Me

Lately I've been thinking more and more about how to incorporate prayer into my family's daily life, especially with regards to our children.  We try to attend daily Mass when we can.  We've recently been praying the Angelus at noon (or thereabouts), and part of our night time routine consists of singing a few Catholic hymns to Thomas before we lie him in his crib. 

I'm not sure if this is "enough."  I know that's vague, and that quantifying prayer is impossible (nor is it the goal), but I can't help but wonder what else we can be doing.  When Thomas wakes up in the morning, we go over to a crucifix and say "good morning" to Jesus, thanking Him for a restful sleep and new day to give Him glory.  And we say "good night" to Jesus as well.

What do you do with your children?  What does family prayer look like in your home?

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Growing a baby is exhausting.  Wow.  It's one of the single most beautiful blessings, but it sure wipes me out.  I am tired.  Plain and simple.  And the baby is only the size of a grape!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Happy Feast Day!

Our family had quite a lovely Feast of St. Joseph day...lots of small little things made for one big celebration of sorts.  Drake worked 9-5 today (instead of the more typical 11-8 or 10-7 shifts that he usually has), so that started things off well.  Thomas and I discovered a new park in town, though I'm doubtful we'll go back...not the most friendly for 13 month olds.  Thomas enjoyed grapes, graham cracker, and water when we returned home - I'm convinced this kid could out-eat me in a grape eating contest any day of the week.  It's pretty impressive actually.  The doctor called me with some excellent news about some testing I recently had this week, much to my relief!  Thomas then took a nearly 2 hour afternoon nap, and I prepared food and supplies for our family cookout at the park this evening...we grilled out and played at our second park of the day, followed by a trip to our favorite ice cream place in town.  Delish.

Whew.  I'm really wishing the weather was predicted to be warmer this weekend so that all of us could go outside and play.  But, we'll take what we can get until spring shows that it's here to stay. (Rhyming unintentional.  I swear.  I only noticed it as I was proofreading).

St. Joseph, Pray for Us! 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I am so humbled.  I just checked our mail, a job which I had neglected the last couple of days.  And amidst the bills and Census forms and other envelopes, I found an envelope addressed to Drake and I which had no return address.  Intrigued, I opened it in the car and found 2 $10 Target gift cards along with a post-it note which stated simply, "Use this money toward that bookshelf!"

It took me a second to decode the note...maybe a few seconds.  And then it all made sense.  In a previous blog post about some money struggles (namely that I do not earn a pay check despite giving my family the greatest gift of my time and attention), I had mentioned that extra money could be used toward things we need and things we want, such as a kid-friendly bookshelf that I had been eye-ing at Target.

I am utterly blown away at the generosity of this person.  And since I do not know who you are, I do know that you're a blog reader, so please consider this my personal thank you note to you.  I am completely in awe of your thoughtfulness and kindness on my behalf.  It reminds me that there are truly good people in this world, people who so freely give of themselves.  This inspires me.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you...not only for your generous anonymous gift but also for the reminder I so desperately needed.  May God bless you one thousand times over for being ever so kind.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Perseverance in commitment and suffering is rooted in a burning love for the indwelling Trinity. -Thomas Dubay, S.M.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lately I've Been Thinking About Suffering

This post is somewhat inspired by the article in my previous post about suffering and embracing our crosses; a secondary inspiration is my own thoughts about our current family situation and the stressors we find ourselves undertaking (not necessarily by choice but by necessity).

I've been noticing how easy it can be for me to compare my crosses to those of others.  It's easy to think that because someone doesn't have the sufferings that I do means that they couldn't possibly understand the anguish I might be facing.  I think that's true, but only to a point - it's true in the sense that I cannot fully relate to a person's suffering if I have not experienced it directly.  It does NOT mean, however, that it's not a true cross for them.  The best I can do is pray with them, for them, and open myself to being a support to them.  And besides, what's the point of comparing suffering anyway?  Personal suffering = personal path to holiness.  Let's leave it at that, eh?

So often lately, Drake has been a constant reminder to me that our suffering is temporary.  Some of our current crosses will be, we think, less burdensome about a month from now; some of our crosses may be lightened about 7 months from now...and even though we'll very likely find ourselves with a whole new set of crosses to bear when our current ones have passed, the point is that we're not made for this world.  We're made for Heaven, for union with our Creator - and our lives need to be lived to give glory to Him, particularly in the midst of difficulty and trial...when it's not easy, not pleasurable, maybe not even desirable.

I'm praying for the grace to accept (maybe even joyfully) the crosses God has laid before my family, trusting that the sufferings of today will bear fruit in eternal life. 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Reminders with Impeccable Timing

I came across this article the other day on one of my favorite Catholic mom blogs.  I don't think the timing of these reminders could have been more perfect for my family.

Thanks to Veronica for posting it and reminding me that I had been meaning to do the same!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A New Addition

As some of you may or may not know, we're pregnant again!  I'm not ready to plaster this all over Facebook, but I'm posting it here for one ask that you PRAY for us...okay?  Okay, great.  So here's the rundown:

We are 8 weeks along, giving us an estimated due date of October 19 (and after mornings like this one, that date seems SO far away!).  We had our first doctor appointment last week, complete with an ultrasound.  So far, everything looks great.  We got to see our sweet angel who is about 1/2 inch long and has a heartbeat that clocked in at a perfect 140.  I was so happy to share in that moment with Drake - we both exclaimed, "Awww!" as the ultrasound tech showed us the baby.  It's incredible that even though the baby is so tiny, we could still make out where the appendages are, and seeing the heartbeat was simply beautiful. 

As for potential complications, the doctors are keeping a closer eye on me this time around.  The troubles I ran into last time may or may not be a problem with #2.  Some good news is that the doctor can intervene much earlier now to (hopefully) prevent bed rest, which is clearly quite difficult with an active 1 year old.  But based on the ultrasound, the doctor has cleared me for exercising, which means that she's happy with what she sees.  Our next appointment is March 29.

We truly could not be more thrilled about this new Steed.  I'm feeling fine, though I'm exhausted nearly all the time and have been battling slight nausea as of late.  Drake's been a huge help in taking on more Thomas duties when he's home, cooking meals, etc., and that's been a tremendous blessing.

Again, I beg you to keep our family in your prayers - it's still early in the pregnancy, and my anxiety levels are somewhat high in the hopes that all goes well this time around.  But we're remaining hopeful that our Lord is keeping us close to Him in all the varied emotions that accompany pregnancy.  Thanks be to God for the gift of life!   

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sometimes I Wonder

Being a stay at home mom is absolutely the best thing I have ever done - and by "best" I mean most humbling and simultaneously most gratifying work I've ever undertaken.  I have to admit, though, that I still struggle with not bringing in an income.  I realize that I'm saving our family thousands of dollars by staying home with Thomas and giving him the gift of my time, energy, and (nearly) constant attention.  But not bringing in a pay check is difficult for me to swallow sometimes.


Well, who doesn't need/want more money?  I think we can all think of things we would spend an extra pay check on, whether it's things we need (in our case, a new car) or things we want (like that really cute shelving unit I've been eye-ing at Target).  It would give us a little more wiggle room in our budget, something we'd all enjoy. 

Within our family, Drake and I make nearly all financial decisions together, be they big or small.  He might not always be with me when I see the 70% off clearance racks of baby clothes, but we typically talk about our money spending together and make decisions as a couple.  And to be honest, I sometimes just feel (wrongly, I know) inadequate for not providing a source of income for our family.  This has led me to a few conclusions:

1. Humility is okay!  In fact, I "should" welcome it though that's more often than not quite far from the truth.

2. It really does call us to a deeper level of trust in our Lord's generosity...and that's certainly something I need to work on.

3. It gives me a golden opportunity to be more creative with what we have (and more thankful, too!) as well as more innovative in creating ways to make money here and there.  It's also a chance to be a better steward of the money we've been given, using it wisely and purposefully.

4.  And now I have just as good a motivator as ever to make that sewing machine come alive - nursing covers (and other baby gear), here we come! 

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Much-Needed Date

This past Friday, Drake and I went on a date...a real date!  It's hard to describe how much we needed this time out together to shift the focus from life decisions we're currently discerning to simply relishing in the gift of our marriage and relationship with one another.  Heck, we even got all dolled up for the occasion (sorry, I know this would be a good place for a photo - but sadly we didn't take any).

We started our evening by going to a local restaurant; The Bread Company was amazing.  For all of you Champaign-Urbana folks, I would highly recommend it.  We shared an appetizer, pasta dish, meat entree, salad, and dessert and realized that we haven't had a meal that nice in a restaurant since our honeymoon in Costa Rica.  After two hours of laughing, conversing, and savoring, we went a few store fronts down to The Canopy Club.  We had heard about a comedian who was going to be there and decided to check it out.  Unfortunately he didn't exactly live up to the hype, but the acoustic music beforehand was a nice surprise.  And we were surprised to find out that we were part of a Jewish celebration called Purim; people were continually shouting, "Happy Purim!"  For two devoted Catholics, this wasn't necessarily a celebration that we planned on commemorating, but we did have fun nonetheless.

A trip to Borders was our final outing for the evening - we had a few gift cards that we'd be itching to spend, so we decided on three books to add to our collection.  Thankfully I married a decisive man who was able to make decisions within the 15 minutes that we had before the store closed.  I'm currently reading Hail Holy Queen by Scott Hahn, and Drake has started a book on apologetics by Peter Kreeft.

One thing we've learned since becoming parents is that we have to be much more intentional about spending time as a couple.  With decisions and life events constantly vying for our attention, we're recognizing that our marriage needs just as much (if not more) time and energy devoted to it.  What a gift to relish in the gift of one another!