Friday, March 3

Theo's Heart Update!

At 20 weeks, Theo was due for his third appointment with his pediatric cardiologist.  This checkup was routine and since we had been given good news at his checkup in December, I didn't feel too concerned that we would receive bad news.  In retrospect that may have been a little arrogant of me, but personally, I really can't dedicate too much of my brain power to worrying about that which is out of my control, either.

Since Theo's diagnosis of a VSD, he has been on a daily dose of Lasix to help rid the excess fluid from around his heart, so it didn't have to work extra-hard to pump blood.  This was supposed to help with potential inflammation.  In December, his heart was a bit swollen, but at his appointment last Monday, the swelling was gone and it measured perfectly for his age.  What wonderful news!  His EKG measured normal and his echo-cardiogram indicated the VSD hole is still closing.  It is shaped like a funnel, in the septum between his ventricles.  The tip of the septum is developing a flap of skin to close it off, so eventually it will not allow blood to pass through it anymore.  This may take a couple more years but as long as Theo is not having any symptoms (turning blue, weight loss, trouble nursing/eating) then he can just keep up a "normal" life! 

I think this is a great diagram that I pulled from that explains the heart anatomy and shows exactly where the hole is and how it's effects.  Imagine a funnel-shape of skin extending into the left ventricle- this is how Theo is healing!  There are some peripheral issues that could become problems that would warrant surgery, but at this point he doesn't seem to have any of those problems, praise God!

He's a robust almost-16 pound goober who is starting to chew on his toes and detest sleeping anywhere but Mommy's arms.  Sounds like a typical 5-month-old to me!

Wednesday, March 1

March is Most Welcome

Oh, February. 

The month when all homeschooling parents simultaneously let out a giant, collective sigh.

Short dreary days, restless children cooped up in the house, mud stains all over the floor.  Discarded gloves, hats, and coats by wet boots on the porch.  We're lethargic and sluggish, somewhat suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, and craving some sunlight on our skin.

Trudging through math lessons and flashcards, wondering if we'll see the light at the end of the tunnel soon.  Are we halfway through with the book yet?

We're craving something delightful, but even tea and poetry doesn't feel the same when it's raining outside.

Catalogs of new materials promising a better school year and happy students start arriving in the mail.  I can't look at these yet as we still have three solid months left of this school year.

Three. Solid. Months.

By the end of February, I'm feeling a little hopeful.  The sun is out more frequently now, and the coats are stuffed back into the closet.  While I'm dreading allergy season, it's a welcome relief to see eager leaf buds, azaleas in bloom, and tiny lettuces popping up through the dirt in my garden.  There are even some fragrant orange blossoms on the tree that lived through the freeze.

We've past the halfway mark of the math book.  We have only 12 history lessons left!

I find relief in a new mug filled with hot tea and a good book that promises peace in my heart by trusting in God's plan for our family.  The day stays busy and loud but we take time to pray and eat, gather and separate, work and play.

Lent is beginning only today, but is welcome because we must fast before we can feast.

February is the Lent of my school year.  It's the fast, the dark night when I'm blinded to the progress of my students.  We're naturally all a little more solemn, a little less celebratory.  Some days we trudge along to the routine, happy to have something to cling to when otherwise we might just stay in bed all day.  But we are learning; there is inner growth.

I've learned that February comes, but it also goes.  Knowing that certain phases in life are just that- a phase- can sometimes be the only consolation during those dark nights.  Sometimes there's no lesson other than just to be still and wait.

They're doing their lessons, practicing their piano, and reading their books.  They can't see the little bits of growth that happen every day, but I pray they will recognize it in May.  When they check 8 month's worth of progress pages of their handwriting books, or when they go back into their drawing notebooks and laugh at how they drew a knight last summer.  When they see a workbook filled with completed math tests, or a notebook with sketches and writings about their favorite saints.

Or when he can read an entire book outloud to me.

As much as I pray to enjoy the moments placed before me every day, in February I look ahead.  I practice patience and contentment and beg God to get me through.

Welcome, March 1.  You're so very welcomed in my home!

Wednesday, February 22

Tuesday, February 14

Valentine's Day 2017

Ryan went searching for last year's Valentine's Day post, and we realized I didn't write about it because it was just so horrible!  I think last year was on a Saturday, the restuarant was incredibly crowded, the kids were ill-behaved, and I was newly pregnant and not feeling great!  Ryan almost didn't want to go back this year... But he is a man of tradition, so we went. 

This was our 11th year of having a "family date" again!  We went to PF Changs for an early dinner, Barnes and Noble to let everyone pick out a book, and then the kids rode on the carousel. We brought all of our cards for each other to the restaurant so everyone had something to do before the food came (which is the worst part that these kids, who don't eat our frequently, don't understand- that the food is made to order and you have to wait!).  I asked the boys to make cards for their sisters, and everyone had something for Ryan, and he and I exchanged little gifts.  We also had some special cards from Grandparents and Great-Grandparents!

 The family photo turned out much better than last year's photo.  Ahem.

At Barnes and Noble, Beth picked out a fantasy thriller, Luke picked out a King Arthur chapter book, and Jack picked out a Wild Kratts Level 2 Reader.  I gave the boys freedom to pick out pretty much whatever they wanted, hoping to encourage some excitement about reading.  Though Jack did bring me a scary stories book that I refused to buy!

Next we went to the carousel. Beth wanted to stand by Beth and "help" Caeli, I think she may have felt she was too old to ride and enjoy it!  But in the end she did.  I think the boys remembered it going much faster; Luke kept trying to encourage the whole thing to get a move on!

We picked up the car from valet- another Valentine's Day only treat- and were all home around 7 pm!  It was an early night- which is why I have time to sit her and write a post about it on the same day.  Every year I am so glad we kept up with this tradition.  This day isn't particularly special or romantic for us, but bringing our family out and witnessing to the world what love is and what love does has become more meaningful to me than what any society-encouraged date night could do.

Sunday, January 29

Sleeping Boy

At almost four months old, Theo takes several naps a day still, usually about 45 minutes for each nap.  This is pretty much the same as how the other kids slept, so it's what I'm used to!  While his naps aren't long, he usually wakes up pretty happy so I can't complain. Usually I swaddle him tightly, give him his Nuk, and walk him around my room for a few minutes.  He passes out relatively quickly and I lay him in the same little rocker that Caeli had.  Sometimes I'll lay him down in our bed, depending on the time of day.  Theo may sleep a little longer in the afternoons, especially if I go lay down and join him for a nap!  Most days this doesn't happen but I try to make it happen if he hasn't had enough cuddle time with me or I feel like we both need to rest and reconnect.  Napping next to this sweet little boy is just one of the most pleasurable things I've ever had the privileget of doing!

For my records, we weighed him a couple of weeks ago and he was 13 lbs 13 oz.  He's outgrowing his size 6-month clothing (that I just bought for him a few weeks ago!).  I tried cloth diapers for a few days but realized I'm not up to it right now!  Maybe we will try again when he is a bit older.  He is starting to like his pacifier more but prefers to stick all of his fingers in his mouth instead!  He's so very slobbery right now, but just has the best gummy grin! 

Monday, January 16


I hear piano keys pressed firmly and assuredly.  He plays "Old MacDonald" and hits every note just perfectly.  "Mom, did you hear that?"  I yell out, "Yes!  It sounded perfect!" I reference my printed recipe, not really measuring out ingredients but instead using the recipe as more of a suggestion.  A couple of cloves of garlic squeezed through my press... Unscrew the top of the oregano jar and just dump some in... Sure that looks about enough...

Down on the floor in the kitchen, she's playing with three babies, a rocking chair, a book, a purse, and a bouncy ball. She is the Mommy and those are all her Babies.  The ball is her baby too.  She's talking to everything, lost in her make-believe.

He darts into the kitchen, sliding on his socks with holes in the heels, bats his compass over his shoulder, and turns the corner just barely making it without hitting the granite.  Out of breath, he throws his arms around my waist and says, "Mom I love you," quickly under his breath, looking down.  It's as if his whole body is moving too quickly, and he's just trying to keep up with himself.  Then he asks if he can paint.  I really don't want to get out art supplies before dinner, because if he paints they'll all want to paint, and if they all paint then there will be watercolor cakes, baby food jars filled with water, and torn sheets of half-used, not-cheap watercolor paper on the table right when I'm ready to serve our dinner.  Sigh. I say yes though because I'm trying to say "yes" with a cheerful heart when I don't want to.  And I realize after I say yes that I am actually cheerful about it.

As I send him to the pantry to gather supplies, I debate the merits of "fake it till you make it" and "obedience before understanding."  It's nice to be validated, to actually see the fruits of my attempts to bring joy to our household when so often it feels like everyone is just fussing at each other.  It's nice when things work out.

I don't get far in my thoughts because the biggest of the small ones is asking if she can help me.  I take a small sip from my glass (since it's Friday, it's my favorite bourbon) and ask her to put a cup of rice in the rice cooker.  "Brown rice or white rice?"  I tell her white and she skips off into the pantry to collect the machine, singing the same verse of the same song over and over and over again.  But her voice is developing nicely.  "Maybe singing the same verse over and over again is like reading the same board book to a toddler over and over again," I think, as I take another sip.

The brass-colored handle jiggles and gets stuck.  It hasn't been working well since Christmas, but he grips it a little harder from the outside and pushes his way into the house.  "Daddy's home!" They all stop and drop everything they're doing and run to him.  Paint on the table, rice on the floor.  His arms and legs full of excited babies, he makes his way over to the stovetop and kisses me hello.  He raises his eyebrows happily when he notices the bourbon on my breath and checks the pot for signs of dinner.  "It's Friday!"  And the weekend begins.

Sunday, January 15

Mid- January

Well, we are back into the swing of life around here.  We had an unplanned "soft start" to school last week but it was definitely for the best for everyone!  I wasn't entirely organized with my spring semester planning and we had a couple of kinks thrown into the plan (of course).  A giant storm a week or so ago killed my printer!  At first it wouldn't even come on, but after some encouragement, it turned on.  But it won't print wirelessly now, only if I plug it in.  So... not messed up enough to warrant a new purchase but just messed up to be incredibly annoying!  At least my new computer is lightweight and has holds enough battery power for me to haul it upstairs EVERY TIME I need to print something.  I know, poor me!

Once I finally got the printer to work, something else spazzed out, but I can't even remember what it was now.  I find many of my days are like that- if it's not one thing, it's something else.  I get really frustrated if I can't make it work out, but I've learned that in the moment I have to stop and recognize that I'm losing my temper at the lifeless printer (or whatever it is at that moment), and recognize that the feelings will pass.  It took  only10 years of preaching it to my kids for me to sort of pick up on it; maybe now I can actually begin embody the virtue of temperance!

We've spent our days reading along on our 31-Day Challenge, practicing piano (because Luke and Jack are playing now), doing our usual school work, enjoying the freezing cold weather one day and the spring-like weather the next (because Texas), and adoring baby Theo.  He's 3 months old now, smiling at everyone, trying to roll over, and cooing up a storm. He is adorable.

I was considering taking up my doula work again.  I thought God was calling me to it through a series of random occurrences, but I never felt completely at peace once I made the decision to accept a repeat client in March.  I would like to "work" again in some capacity though, and I am praying for clarity about that.  God has placed in me a great desire to serve, and it benefits me and my family so much when I can take the opportunity to serve outside of our home. Ironically, it helps me find balance within our home.  In the mean time, I've accepted some volunteer work at our parish and am hoping that I can serve God and others through my talents in that way.  I also would love the opportunity to mentor young moms somehow, but I'm not quite sure how that would play out. 

I am just really happy right now.
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