Monday, February 1, 2016

Then and now

What is it about having a blog that makes me think I've got to catch you up on everything??

I know you're not dying for it but I feel obligated so just let me rattle on a bit and we can all be done with it, ok?

I'm going to assume anyone reading this interacts with me on Instagram or IRL and if that assumption is of the true variety then you all already know what I'm going to tell you.

(looking good, per usual)


^
Didn't we juuuuuuust do this?

Yes.

Weren't you posting mirror-like images of yourself this time last year??

Yes.

Yes to all the ?'s.

Except to the "Were you trying??" one. No. NO NAH NAH NO NO NO.

(I think I made some dumb joke about being bad at NFP a few months back. Harr harr harr, universe.)

But you've missed a whole bunch bc if you remember correctly, my typical first trimester m.o. is to crawl into a hole and die a little bit. But now I'm passed that and I'm not about to leave you hanging.

So, here is the then part of this post.

For our entire 10.5 years of married life, my version of NFP has gone something like this... UHHHH, I think I'm ovulating. (abstain for a few days). K, I think it's probably fine now. (stop abstaining.)

I know, I know, super profesh. BUT, in defense of my haphazard methodology, we've never once gotten pregnant while "practicing" this style! So, after Joe was born (like 5 minutes ago, I think) I went ahead and pulled out the big guns by buying ovulation strips. I'm pretty sure I already bored you with that. I knew there was a risk in just using ovulation strips because it doesn't count for all the babies you might priming for conception before you ovulate (because science says sperm can live for up to 5 days in the right conditions or something). But again, since I had never, ever gotten pregnant by using the worst method of NFP ever, I figured I would be juuuuuust fine by using ovulation strips. And then some day soon I would pony up and buy a monitor and etc, etc, etc.

So, the first time I got a positive ovulation test was in early November and I was like BOOM, look at my body go! I pulled out the red "thou shall not touch me" card and we set off on our first round of NFPing post-baby Joe. The day after my positive test, I took the kids to the Natural History Museum and I cramped on my right side the entire drive downtown. I was so excited that the test was, like, accurate. I was totally ovulating, and little did I know, totally conceiving!! (Again, if you don't know how this is possible, look it up or ask your mother).

We faithfully abstained for the 72 hour window after I stopped getting positive tests but I was already pregnant. I conceived our baby that day in the Natural History Museum while my husband was 30 miles away at his desk. I cannot wait to awkwardly tell this baby that story some day. Maybe during an alcohol-fueled conversation at Thanksgiving dinner.

9 days after I was supposed to get my next period I was texting Queen G (who's BACK btw) and I casually mentioned that I was, you know, 9 days late. And she casually mentioned that mayyyyybbe I might be pregnant and I was like LOL NO, GRACE, WE ARE HARDCORE PRACTICING NFP WITH OVULATION STRIPS AND EVERYTHING. And she was like okkkkeeeeeey.

But it did get me thinking... a little. And then a lot.

So, I decided to check just in case. Even though I totally wasn't pregnant.

The only test the local drugstore had were digitals which I've never, ever used. If you haven't ever, ever used them then you should know that the test blinks for a minute or so but you aren't supposed to "read" it until the blinking has stopped. So, I immediately get a PREGNANT PREGNANT PREGNANT blink, blink, blinking at my face but I have no idea if I'm meant to trust that blinking PREGNANT OR NOT.

That minute was a long minute.

But the blinking stopped and the PREGNANT stayed.

Pregnant.

And I was so upset. I burst into pitiful tears.

Those words are hard to write. Any baby is a gift, of course. I am grateful for a body that is able to conceive and carry children, of course. I do trust God, of course. But, man, I really thought that what I **needed** was a big, fat, looooonnnng break. And I really wanted God to give me that.

I think it's important to be ok with all of those crappy feelings. In a way, I think it's a really important part of being pro-life. Because it is not an easy life. I feel like I need to say that again with maybe some shouting... IT IS NOT AN EASY LIFE. It's filled with sacrifice and heartache and denying yourself and it is hard to accept all of those things. But the important part is the yes. Even if it's a weak, wounded yes, through an ocean of tears while you're locked inside your tiny half-bathroom.

I am ok with admitting I really, really did not think it was the right decision in that moment.

I am also ok with trusting that it had to be the right decision, even if I didn't want it to be.

The frustrations came crashing down. There goes my post-partum body-in-progress, there goes my sleep, my energy, there goes feeling like a normal human being. And maybe the hardest, hardest part... there goes my milk supply. I had never had supply issues while pregnant but instantly my milk disappeared. I found myself buying my first cans of formula and looking down at 5 month old Joe and wondering how in the world this was what was "best" for our family.

And while I hid away in my first trimester hole of death, I waited. I waited for God to smooth things out for me in my heart and in my mind. And guess what?
He did.

Duh. He is so good at that.

I realized how much I had to be grateful for. Grateful that we decided to send the girls to school before I got pregnant, so the decision didn't have to feel desperate and forced. Grateful that Kirby's instinct was to laugh when mine was to cry. Grateful that so much about the way I've always done things has changed in this past year. I feel like God has graciously be priming me to be flexible and to roll with the tides of life. I am grateful for the humility that came with admitting to people I was pregnant... again. Grateful for the humility that came with formula-feeding my baby in a culture full of aggressive opinions on the matter. Grateful for learning how to be gracious with myself for not being able to breastfeed my baby. Grateful for the opportunity to practice what I preach and say yes to God's call for our family. Grateful that there really was so much to laugh about. Conceived while wandering through the Natural History Museum. Conceived during our first month ever of really, really trying not to get pregnant. We have to buy a new car... again. We have to figure out where in our small home to fit another baby... again.

And we will. And it'll be fine.

And the now? Now, I am excited. I find out this week if the baby is a boy or girl and I can't wait. This little stink is here on purpose and I can't wait to discover why.



Friday, December 11, 2015

5 days of giveaways: Minted

Hoommmmmeee stretch!

A month or two ago, when Joe sleeping in a bassinet/swing/my bed started to wear out it's welcome, I decided to carve out a little "apartment" for him. Ok well, that's not quite honest. The big move was actually because Peter climbed out of his mini-crib for the first time, requiring me to set up the regular-sized crib for him, requiring me to find a place for the mini-crib. Hence, Joe's apartment. Being that our home is (small), what he ended up with was a corner in our bedroom. And he seems quite happy there, thank you for asking.



His lodgings are comprised of mini-crib and small basket containing diapers and a sound machine. It's very chic and minimal.

But every baby needs a lil' something something to make a space special so I turned to my favorite art retailer and ordered this super cute framed photo to hang above his crib. It's so bright and serene and funny. I didn't realize when I ordered the photo, but the man in red has his back to the Louvre and is holding a camcorder up to his face in the direction of the photographer. It feels like what is happening between the two of them is even more special than the backdrop. I just love it.



And that brings me toooo Minted.

I was lucky enough to win a giveaway for Minted once and I got a few framed photos and a few prints and I love them for so many reasons.

Not only is their selection incredible (SUCH beautiful photography and art), not only do they give you the option to have your art framed (HALLELUJAH), but each piece comes with a little bio on the artist including who they are and where they are from and why they are doing it. And I adore that. It feels super special to be able to buy from real working artists and to know their names and where they are from. I think it's rare to get to have a direct, personal shopping experience with art and Minted does an awesome job getting us close to that.



And soooo... wanna win a hundred bucks to Minted?
Why is this even a question?

Thank you for this, Minted!

And thank you to all my other friends in on this giveaway week! Copper Pearl, Hatch Prints, Whole Parenting Goods, and Ashley with Young Living. You were are so thoughtful and generous and we love what you do.

Make sure you get in on all the giveaways after you enter this one...
here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 10, 2015

5 days of giveaways: Young Living Essential Oils

JUST STOP.

Do not start with the YL vs DoTerra vs whatever. All I know is a sweet e-friend named Ashley reached out to me and sent me some oils and I love them.


(How cute is Ashley?)

Thieves got us through the barf plague of Spring 2015 and the kids and I instantly feel relief anytime I open the bottle around here. And after I had Joe I experienced some weird, hormonal post-partum symptoms like hot-flashes and fevers and Ashley to the rescue, again! She suggested Valor II and SclarEssence and they really made a difference. Really.

And, I mean, who doesn't like smelling like a hippy all the time? That alone is enough to make me feel at least a little better.

Anyway, back to awesome Ashley. She's put together a little bag of goodies just for you. She chose a combo of a Stress-Away roll on, a double-sided lip gloss with a winter oil blend on one side and gloss on the other (that sounds so nice...) AND Thieves hand-purifier. Isn't that such a good mix?? It's kinda the perfect "things to keep in my purse at all times" kit. Genius!



check ^ it ^ out ^ (I don't know how to make graphics so this is all you're getting).

Come and get it, my people! And THANK YOU, Ashley!! xoxo

ps make sure to check out her website for awesome info and incentives!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

5 days of giveaways: Whole Parenting Goods

Day 3!

Ok, so you know Katrina, you know Copper Pearl, and I know you know Nell.

Sweet, honest, inspiring Nell.


Just another incredible mother mothering, musing, writing, creating, and making.

Like it ain't no thang.

Joe has a pair of her leggings and they are thee most best. Clemmy has a pair of her leggings and she wears them at least thrice weekly. Nell obviously rules all.

And she's about to rule your baby's legs, too... with a pair of ultra cute leggings.

Observe.


So perfectly, wintery cute!!

These leggings are size 0-6 months and are ready for your baby's baby legs. Or your godbaby's baby legs. Or your neighbor-baby's baby legs. So many leg options, really.

I'm dying over these and just might need to secretly enter this giveaway myself. Jaaaayyykay.

Also! Make sure to use the code FREESHIPPING for (free shipping, duh) at Whole Parenting Goods through December 18. Nell's shop is filled with the best stuff! I may or may not be secretly pining away for a baby blanket but that's neither here nor there.

Thank you for this, Nell!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

5 days of giveaways: Hatch Prints

You all know my friend Katrina, right?


And her adorable, inspiring, hand-painted prints, right?


Thought so.

As if if she wasn't sweet enough, she wants to offer one of you FIFTY BUCKS to spend at her shop.

Let's talk a little walk through a few of the many options...

   

   

   

   

I KNOW. SO HARD TO CHOOSE!!

I just kinda want to be like I'll take one of everything, sir.

This girl is amazingly talented and I'm so grateful she has decided that share that with all of us.

Because she is a dreamboat she's also offered a discount code for 15% off at Hatch Prints between now and January 8.  Just use the code THEFIKELIFEROCKS at checkout (lol blame Katrina!)

And enter the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 7, 2015

5 days of giveaways: Copper Pearl

Ok, so we ALL KNOW tis this season for cute stuff, right?

Right.

This week, I'm throwing out 5 awesome brands who want to give things to you, one a day. Since that's more blogging than I've done in one week, ever, let's get after it.

COPPER PEARL

So, I had a baby last June. And if you're anything like me... so did you (or it was last May, or July, or August, etc.)

If it wasn't you having the baby it was probably your sister or your friend so everyone counts here.

My babies always tend to lean on the ghetto side of wardrobe unless someone gifts them something extra cute and let me say this. is. cute. Copper Pearl makes super cute, thick, absorbent, softy-soft cotton bandana-style baby bibs. With snaps. And patterns. And cute! I was so impressed with the quality and craftsmanship. They are totally perfect for a baby-shower gift for someone or for a little, silent baby-shower you are throwing yourself (I always do that). Or for Christmas because, ya know, that's coming up.

The other great thing about Copper Pearl is that they are really just two good friends who decided to put their creativity and skill to work to start their own line of modern baby bibs (Hi Kristin, Hi Stephanie!!). I love that.

Don't you see it??  Pearl! Copper!


As you can see, their selections are super cute.



As you can see, so are Joe and his v large, cute ear.

Don't you want to win a set for yourself?? Or for your baby's self?

I thought so.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 20, 2015

Not a ____ mom

You know, this year has been big changey-changey for me. And I'll probably really value it forever because it's helped me to realize that some things can just change. And that it's ok and even good. Because it's easy to cling to the definable traits like religion. I am a homebirthing mom, I am a homeschooling mom. I am a Catholic, homebirthing, homeschooling mom. I am a Catholic homeschooling mom.

Until I wasn't most of those things anymore.

Some things are a part of my unchangeable identity. Wife, mom, Catholic, friend. These are who I am, they aren't what I do. Those other things are what I did but they weren't who I was. It's easy to twist that up though, isn't it?

And it's easy to think that when you discontinue a certain habit you kill a little bit of your authentic self. Maybe that's why we are so hesitant to make a big change. I was, too. I still kind of am. And I know many of you are. I had the same flood of comments on my post about sending our kids to school as I did about getting an epidural. I really want to... I think I really do... I am in the same boat as you... I am thinking the same thoughts... 

All this says to me is that we are changeable humans. And that we need it. We need to accept new ways and allow them. And even be happy about them. We need to be brave and do it differently if we must. And still be able to have a glass of wine with our feet up at the end of the day and be alright with ourselves.

When I chose homebirth for our kids it was because it was right for us, then. But each new baby brought along a new me, and a totally new family dynamic I had to consider. By the time I was pregnant with Peter, I often found myself in a tangle of anxiety about how his birth would go. I so desperately wanted it to be easy and quick and renew my love for the birth experience. And then it ended up being really, really hard. When I found myself pregnant with Joe I would lay in bed so afraid of his birth, like a storm looming months down the road. I was worried and emotional and nervous and that affected who I was as a mother and as a wife. And then I remembered I could just decide to do it differently that time. This wasn't a moral decision, this was just freedom. Freedom to chose one way or another, and freedom to determine what was the best way, then.

The moment I swallowed my pride enough to firmly decide on a medicated birth, I wasn't afraid anymore. And I went on to experience a very stress free pregnancy which was good for myself and good for the people around me, all dependent on my love and my sanity.

School has turned out to be a similar thing. I loved homeschool, I still do. But what once was sweet has turned sour. And I agonize and agonize about "going back" on what I said I'd do until I realize this is not a crime. It's not bad. In fact, it's good. If you're even a little like me, maybe we are used to being so hell bent on the "way it has to be" that it's really hard to see when change is the necessary course for us.

I do think it's easy to look at these cells of  ____  types of moms like unbreakable clans that we can neither penetrate or leave. Once you're a  ____ mom, you're in for life. If you abandon the cause you're a deserter, if you've deserted then you never truly were.

But I'm learning through my own experience how unfair that mentality is. I was that and I'm now this and it's fine.

Don't get me wrong. This isn't another mommy wars post. We all know enough to be nice and loving and to accept each other for who we are. My point is it's too damn easy to treat ourselves this way. To convince ourselves we are doing something wrong because we are choosing a new way. Even if it's a better way for us, or our husbands, or our kids. Even if God is telling us yes. Even if it's just because we are freaking out and we can't do it that way anymore. Even if it's just because we don't want to do it that way anymore. Even if a million other mothers can. All because we are too proud to erase a title from our name.

But I'm right here with you. And I think we will all be stronger and better for it. For allowing deletions and additions to our repertoire to come and go, knowing that who we are is woman, wife, friend, sister, mother, daughter of an Almighty God; and whichever names of those we share, they are the ones that matter.


PS Unbeknownst to me, earlier today Mary took this picture of a picture of me dancing at our wedding. I hadn't seen it before I wrote this but how appropriate, huh?