Friday, February 24, 2012

It's all fun and games until someone puts a leash on the baby

It's been a bit of a rough week or two for all of us but we are alive and back in action... mostly...

Madeleine is back to her usual precocious self and Juliette is... well... Juliette. Insane mostly.

Yesterday Madeleine stood up on her little step stool and proudly told me that she was, "Big and tall like giraffes." I asked her is I was big and tall like giraffes too and she told me, "No. You big and tall like princesses." Which won her major points in my book.

Today she was a little sassier. She told me that it was her birthday and that she wanted to go to Grandmom's house for "choc cream". I asked her if we could have some here instead and she said no, she only wanted it at Grandmom's house. I reminded her it was not actually her birthday to which she narrowed her eyes and responded, "No it's Madeleine's birthday."

Then later I found her playing with headphones and pretending to listen to music. It was all well and good until she tried to put the headphones around her sister's neck and use the chord as a leash. I stopped that game very quickly. Juliette just looked pleased as punch though to be included in her sister's game.

It's been a slow couple of weeks but we are recovering. Finally. Now if only my house would magically recover from all the cleaning I was not able to do while the girls were sick... But for now, bed.

Monday, February 13, 2012

This love is ours

To Kyle,

I love you. Thank you for loving me more than I could have ever imagined anyone could love me. You reveal God to me in your love. Thank you for taking the time to get to know me, for looking past the fronts I put up, for listening to what I say and to what I don't. Thank you for being there for me no matter what and for always being so strong and steadfast in the face of adversity.

I was listening to my ITunes tonight as I made the brownies, dancing and singing like an idiot as usual, and Taylor Swift's "Ours" came on... and it pretty much summed up how I feel right now. Sometimes I feel like we are so misunderstood. Sometimes the world is a sad and discouraging place.

Then I remember that I have you.

No matter what people throw at us your love for me will give me the strength to persevere. I know that you are with me, 100 percent, all the time. Through you God turns my sorrow into joy.

I know Valentine's Day is a little bit cheesy (and I know a proclamation of love on my blog is a bit embarrassing) but with all you do for me if it's one more day to tell you just how much I love you and how you have made me happier than I ever imagined I could be then I will take it. I love you so, so much.

And because I want to up the ante on the cheese factor, I am copy pasting lyrics.

Happy Valentine's Day babe!



"Seems like there's always someone who disapproves
They'll judge it like they know about me and you
And the verdict comes from those with nothing else to do
The jury's out, but my choice is you

So don't you worry your pretty little mind
People throw rocks at things that shine
And life makes love look hard
The stakes are high, the water's rough, but this love is ours"

Speaking words of wisdom, "Let it be."

Yesterday, before the girls got sick, I finished putting the dishes away and ventured out to the playroom where I could see my daughters playing kitchen and tearing everything possible off the shelves. Usually my entrance is greeted with much fanfare on the part of my little ones. Cries of, "YAY mommy! Come play with Madeleine and Baby."

However, I walked out there and I was told, "No. No mommy go back."

I observed them carefully from the kitchen. There was no foul play, nothing naughty that I would disapprove of, they just wanted to play with each other. They just wanted their sister time.

Every morning the first sister to wake up goes immediately in search of the other. During Madeleine's nap Juliette hovers around the door to her room waiting for me to tell her it is time to go get her sister. When I finally do she leads the charge in and pokes her arms through the crib bars to wake up her big sister.

There is something so precious about their little feminie hearts. Madeleine likes to constantly reassure her sister that she is "beautiful" and "so pretty". She seeks to take care of her, comfort her when she is crying, alert me when her diaper needs to be changed, rub her head while she nurses, and hold her hand when she is sad. Juliette in turn shares everything she has with her sister and admires her, tries to imitate her and please her. As Madeleine grows in her faith this relationship will be crucial to Juliette growing in her own.

I love watching them walk around the house, holding hands and laughing together. It reminds me of my own sisters. When I was young my mom says that my sister and I were much the same way. Even when I was older and went away for sleepovers I would call my sister to chat and check on her.

Last night when Madeleine was sick I asked her if anything would make her feel better. She looked at her sister, smiled, and replied, "A new baby."

Today both of my little girls are sick with a fever and cough and have spent much of the morning snuggled up under their blankets and watching Barney together, the poor things.

In college I would think about the virtues of Mary and always got stuck on "angelic sweetness". Seeing my daughters now, I think I understand at least a very tiny bit.

When you bite into a piece of chocolate, or at least when I do, my body just kind of relaxes and enjoys how sweet it is and I think to myself, "I love chocolate."

When I see my sweet daughters together, even when I am so stressed out, I relax and say, "Oh that's why I'm doing all this. I love them."

There is something so pure and wonderful about Mary, the way she loves so intensely, that makes me relax the same way. When I think about the Blessed Virgin when I am feeling tense or upset or depressed my body relaxes in the realization that she loves me and will carry me to Jesus and I think, "Oh everything is going to be okay. I love her." She is my heavenly mother after all.

I actually have no idea what that virtue entails, but my response to sweetness is that it allows me to let go of all of my troubles and love. I have the feeling that that is what Jesus intended on the cross when He told John, "Behold your mother." and gave her to all of humanity as our Mother from then on. There is a lot of bad stuff that goes on in the world and sometimes we need to be able to just let go and love.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Heart on the line

I'm assuming most people with larger families have gotten comments about how many children they have. Being a NFP practicing Catholic I have been prepared for that. It only amazed me that the comments started when I was pregnant with my second.

As I begin to wean Juliette the topic of a third child has come up more than once. And of course it would. We do not use contraceptives to artificially control the size of our family so every, single cycle we have to come together as a couple and decided whether or not we want to add another little blessing to our brood. It's isn't a hassle, not even close to what I imagine comes with remembering to take a pill every day, and in fact it strengthens our marriage and allows us and GOD to be in control of our fertility, not us and our gynocologist.

So I, a woman and a Catholic American, choose to forgo contraceptives and be open to life in my marriage. So why in the world is that so darn offensive to others?

I have found that because I do not take a pill every day (or every month in some cases) that I am looked at by other people as simple, oppressed, neglectful, and to some extremists, downright dangerous.

I adore my children. Adore them. Sometimes it makes me cry to realize that other people, perfect strangers, look at them (probably moreso at my future children since I've had my ecologically and economically responsible two already) and see dollar signs.

I am not walking up to people on the pill and telling them the risks involved, both physically and morally, not to mention the statistics of increased rates of divorce for couples practicing contraception, and getting involved in their family planning.

And yes, there is a difference between that and those of us fighting to protect the unborn children. We are fighting for life, to save those with no voices from death. The people pushing pills on me are fighting to prevent life.

I am a relatively healthy 26 year old woman. I have rough pregnancies, I gain weight, I lose muscle. I give birth, I lose weight, I work out. I am in no danger of death or even significant health issues from being pregnant, although it's entirely likely that I may be confined to a couch towards the end. Somehow though, I think that when my kids look back they won't remember the couple of weeks mommy couldn't chase them at the park but they will have a beautiful sibling who is giving them a lifetime of love instead.

A few weeks, or even months, for a life time of love and friendship? I think it's worth it.

I understand that non-Catholic culture is different. I understand that people worry about my finances and my health. I accept and even appreciate those concerns. My husband and I are adults. We are responsible enough to weigh the pros and cons ourselves and come to our own conclusions.

What if Kyle looses his job? What if the new baby is particularly challenging? What if Juliette does not adapt well? What if, what if, what if....

What if I have another ectopic pregnancy and lose my ability to have children? What if my progesterone continues to get lower with age and I have trouble maintaining pregnancies? Those are the what-ifs I am concerned about.

I grew up in a family with four children. My sisters did more to make me a good person, an intelligent person, a well rounded person, a selfless person, a hard working, and a charitable person than any other areas of my upbringing save my parents and my faith. They are essential parts to who I am today and they are the reasons I want to have a large family.

When I think of raising my children with "all the right advantages for the future" that's what I am thinking about. I'm thinking about Lauren and Hannah and Carly. I can only teach my children so much. They will be able to be witnesses to each other. And to my fellow catechetics majors, "Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than he does to teachers." (Cite that quote for 1 million fake moneys)

I won't even get into the health risks of the pill in this post, I'm not going to cite Church doctrine, I'm not going to link to articles about how NFP strengthens the family unit. Honestly, I could but I'm not because defending my beliefs isn't the point of this post. I'm trying to defend my right to believe them. It makes sense that my Domestic Church (my family) would feel attacked by our decision to not use contraceptives at the same time the Holy Mother Church is being attacked for her decision that She cannot and will not provide contraceptives in her religious institutions.

Mother Church, I feel very united with you. Your strength gives me the strength to stand firm in my beliefs and to pray through my struggles with how the world perceives me.

My heart was very troubled tonight and I was feeling both sad and anxious. I had been feeling very open to life and lately people have been causing me to doubt, not the wisdom of the Church but my own discernment of my child spacing. I had to stay home with the kids but I kept picturing myself doing what I would have done back at Franciscan. I would have run down to the chapel and just laid at the feet of the altar with my rosary beads and asked Him to take it all. It came time to pray the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary with my darling husband before he went to bed and, I kid you not, this was the passage for the day.

When a certain anxious person, who often times wavered between hope and fear, once overcome with sadness, threw himself upon the ground in prayer, before one of the altars in the Church and thinking these things in his mind, said "Oh, if I only knew how to persevere," that very instant he heard within him, this heavenly answer: "And if thou didst know this, what would thou do? Do now what you would do, and thou shall be perfectly secure." And immediately being consoled, and comforted, he committed himself to the Divine Will, and his anxious thoughts ceased. He no longer wished for curious things; searching to find out what would happen to him, but studied rather to learn what was the acceptable and perfect will of God for the beginning and the perfection of every good work.
Imitation of Christ, by Thomas รก Kempis: Book 1, Chapter 25
On the Fervent Amendment of our Whole Life

I could spend my life wondering what would happen to me if I have another baby or I could be open to life and seek to surrender myself entirely to the perfect will of God. I am secure in entrusting myself and my family to God. It's the only thing that makes sense to me.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Babies got back

Well it's been a while since I wrote anything... probably because when the kids are asleep I have started cleaning instead of just staring blankly at the TV or computer. Yay clean house!

It's amazing to me how much kids can change from one week until the next. In just the past week Madeleine's language has exploded yet again, and even more fun songs have been downloaded into that pretty little head of hers (which we sing over and over and OVER every day) and she has shot up from a 3T to a 4T seemingly overnight. Remember the days when getting too big for our pants was a good thing?

And Juliette is on her way to a boob free existence. I have her completely weaned during the day (although she is still not pleased) and I am already feeling healthier and more awake.

Nothing at all important happened this past Sunday and I refuse to admit that entire day even happened. Certainly nothing in the world of sports...

And politics are irritating...

Today I left the playroom to grab myself a coffee and could hear the girls giggling together in their Princess Tent. It made me smile.

It made me smile until I went back into the room and looked in the tent to find Madeleine coloring her sister's back with pen, not that Juliette objected in the least. She loves attention from the big sister.

I had to first leave the room to laugh hysterically and get it out of my system before I went back in to take Madeleine to time out. Oh the sentences I never thought I would utter before becoming a mom.

"No we do not color on our sister."
"No Saint Joseph does not want to wear any makeup."
"No we will not be riding our sister like a horse."
"No we do not tell guests about our poop."

And so on and so forth...

I'll be getting a short break from the baby Behr's tomorrow when Kyle and I head into Boston for our friend Kenny's birthday. The idea of being around adults, having conversations that do not revolve around animal noises, and not having to cut anyone's food into choke-free bites makes me a little bit giddy.

I've been learned recently that I cannot give myself wholly to my family if I do not have myself. This means that I cannot feel guilty about enjoying the crud out of bed time, making sure I get to the gym, or even just going out alone for groceries. It's been freeing and allows me to enjoy my girls even more.

Of course, the best parts of my day involve snuggles and dancing and "eating" whatever Madeleine prepares me in her little kitchen.

I've also found a wonderful rythym in my prayer life that I haven't gotten to experience yet as a mother. I often found myself doing too much alone or too much with the kids. Now I've learned how to balance my prayer life with my babies, with my husband, and the time that is just for me and God alone. My children seem to benefit and grow when my prayer life is in order. I can tell that Madeleine enjoys praying more and is more earnest to communicate with Jesus when I am making Him a priority. It may seem obvious but sometimes the most obvious things are the ones you miss. I had often focused so much on her relationship with God that I forgot about my own.

God is good! I'll hopefully be taking some fun pictures of the girls soon that I can share. I don't think anyone enjoys looking at them quite as much as their daddy and I do, but they are ridiculously cute and as their mommy, I just have to show them off.