Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Name Day for John Paul

Today is the Feast of Pope St. John Paul II. Very cool day and very cool saint. But what makes it so significant in our house is that it is the name day for the baby we lost last year at 9 weeks gestation. And since October is baby loss awareness month, I would like to make a tribute to our little one.

He stopped growing around 6 weeks. But it was not until Divine Mercy Sunday (2014) and the day that Pope St. John Paul II was canonized that my bleeding began. It took a few more days for him to fully pass.
We had already been thinking about naming the baby John Paul, and the canonization date so close to the day the baby passed from inside me made it so much more significant. I still think about our little lost baby a lot. And I do pray to him, especially for his little brother.

These days I feel surrounded by the saints, especially the newly canonized St. Zelie Martin. This is what she said about her children who died in infancy:

"When I closed the eyes of my dear little children and when I buried them, I felt great pain, but it was always with resignation. I didn't regret the sorrows and the problems I had endured for them. Several people said to me, "It would be better to never have had them." I can't bear that kind of talk. I don't think the sorrows and problems could be weighed against the eternal happiness of my children. So they weren't lost forever. Life is short and full of misery. We'll see them again in Heaven.
Above all, it was on the death of my first child that I felt more deeply the happiness of having a child in Heaven, for God showed me in a noticeable way that He accepted my sacrifice. Through the intercession of my little angel, I received a very extraordinary grace."
And today is our little (can I still call him little?) John Paul's name day. And like all name days around here, we made chocolate cake.

Pope St. John Paul II, pray for us! And little baby John Paul, we love you, and entrust you always to the mercy of God!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Teething and Overflowing Grace

Why, oh why, does the devotion I write always happen on the right date? What I mean is that it has to be providential or something. I wrote about needing grace so desperately and even losing myself to grace, especially in overcoming my own weaknesses, and this week I have felt more stripped than ever due to feeling helpless as to how to help my teething baby sleep at night.

T is the sweetest teething baby there ever was. During the day I can't even tell they are bothering him, unless I pay attention and notice that he is cheerfully stuffing everything into his mouth. Cheerfully, I tell you.

Then we put him to bed and he goes down easily. Then he wakes up, nurses back to sleep, but won't let us lay him down. He is sound asleep, and we lay him down, and immediately he fusses. So, this is what teething looks like for him: he wants to be held to stay asleep at night.

So, I need the overflowing grace; you know, grace that hits me like a projectile-spitting up baby at 4 in the morning. That kind.
I am much more eloquent over at Blessed is She writing on the daily Mass readings...

Monday, October 12, 2015

When the Professor went to Boston in the Fall...

I don't know how some moms do it all the time: parent for days without their husband or even make it through the night with an infant without their husband home and available for backup.
Some cute kid in Boston in the Summer of 2010.
The Professor went to a conference last weekend, and his wonderful mother cheerfully agreed to fly out from Michigan and help me while he was gone. The great thing about my MIL being here is that she makes not just bedtime and mealtime easier without M, but she makes all day long easier. The kids are happy to play with her, she is happy to give them all of her attention, but she also helps keep them disciplined. She even held baby T more than he normally gets held.

When I picked M up from the airport (30 minutes after dropping off his mother for her return flight), he said, "You know, it sounds like you actually had a good weekend." And he was right, I think that I did. But I did because I put myself into survival mode, and anything beyond the minimum was a bonus. And we got beyond the minimum after the first day.

My biggest worries when M is gone revolve around sleeping. I worried the whole week leading up to his conference whether I would be able to handle the baby at night without him. I have said this before, but this baby is not the best at nursing right back down at night and often requires means beyond nursing to get to sleep. So, I was imagining being up ALL NIGHT, EVERY NIGHT and not being able to get the baby to sleep. (Keep in mind he has had teething bumps in his mouth getting bigger daily.)

But this was not the case Thursday night. Thursday night, I had no trouble getting T to go back to sleep when he woke up. The trouble was that he woke up every hour. I was such a zombie when he woke, that I did not think: maybe he is waking up because his diaper is full since he has nurse like 6 times already since 7pm or I am cold and maybe I should turn the furnace on and the baby might sleep better.

So, Friday it was the minimum, well even less than the minimum. The minimum required the morning at our twice a month co-op. I left F(normally I fight her to stay in the nursery classroom) at home with Grandma, and spent all of the co-op holding the baby and drinking coffee in the mom's hangout/discussion part of co-op. In the afternoon I took a nap, and ordered pizza for dinner. I had planned a dinner that takes about 15 minutes to put together, but I could not even do that. That would mean explaining it to my MIL and I had no ability to do so. So, we ordered pizza. That was good.

I started asking people for prayers that T would let me get some sleep that night, and took a few precautionary measures for Friday night. I turned the furnace on so the baby would not get cold, and made a plan to not nurse him if he woke every hour but try walking and bouncing him instead. But he only woke every 2 hours, only requiring nursing, which was great in my book. And I got him back down every time!

Saturday went well. My goals for me were: grocery shopping, running, and showering. And we got them all done around playing with the girls, getting T to nap, and the afternoon quiet times. We went out to our favorite family restaurant for dinner and T slept the whole time there.

Saturday night: I had been reading Bl. Zelie Martin's letters. In one she talked about how she had her daughter pray to the baby brother who had died in infancy to intercede for the healing of a two week long awful ear infection. The ear was better the next day. So, I thought, why not pray to our little one, JP, and ask for him to intercede for T to sleep comfortably, because I have been attributing bad sleep to teething. Well, we had three longer stretches, including a 3.5 hour one.

Then, Sunday Mass: WE ALL STAYED IN THE PEW! There may have been a lot of whispering from the younger girls, but for the most part, everyone behaved well. Hooray!

In the afternoon, we picked up the Professor, and as we were circling through the passenger pick up, waiting for M to be let off his plane, the girls reflected on how it is "just not the same with Daddy gone."

And now my survival mode is over; we made it! This morning (thanks to academic schedules M was home most of today), we sat and drank our coffee chatting for about a half an hour before I had to start school. It was so pleasant to have a normal day begin, and I feel about 10x less stressed this week than I did last week, like I might be able to do something beyond home schooling this week.

I realized that the impending conference had been weighing on me, but I also realized that I can do the baby care alone at night if I need to. But it is still really nice at 5:30am when the baby won't quite settle to be laying in bed, knowing that he will be put back to sleep by his father. What is even nicer is that M has such a good touch with this baby that he resettled him at nap (while I was running) and extended the baby's nap by two hours. Baby is awake and kicking now, but and awake baby is much easier to blog next to than anyone else around here...

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Applicious: Canning Weekend!!

We canned all weekend, which is kind of tiring when your baby is waking up from 4ish-6ish every morning and you have to wake up by 6 to get to Mass on time. I love the 7:30 Low Mass on Sunday, but you do need to drink coffee all day when you get up at 4am. 
We started with three times this. 1/2 bushel of Cortland and 1 bushel of Regent.
On the plus side, things might be looking up, because baby slept 8:20pm-2:30am last night. Nursed. Would not go back to sleep. So we stuck him swaddled and awake in his bassinet and dozed ourselves. I peeked at him an hour later and he was asleep. I am not getting my hopes up, because he had shots yesterday and probably is sleepier because of them, but, but, maybe?
Speaking of shots. I have been reading the letters of Bl. Zelie Martin (A Call to a Deeper Love), and her life was full of heartbreak and worry over her children's illnesses. I am so thankful for vaccines and antibiotics that keep me from worrying about my babies dying with every illness. They had two babies die 18 months apart from infections.

It is heartbreaking to read her tell about it to her sister-in-law. But she also took it all so gracefully with such faith in God. She is truly an inspiration to me in my struggles with homeschooling and house keeping and baby sleep.
You have to stir continuously or the applesauce will burn. My arms are still sore. M's are not apparently.
Back to canning. We washed, cut, blanched and strained our apples to make sauce on Saturday. I used some of the peelings boiled in water to make apple juice for jelly.
Stirring three canner loads of applesauce for hours is hard work!
And on Sunday, we brought the applesauce to a boil and canned it. And we made the jelly with sugar and pectin.
Totals: 16 quarts of sauce canned (including 4 pints), 6 half and 1 pint of jelly.
This combination of apples is less exciting in flavor than last years', but it makes a pleasant mild sauce.
And the jelly is soooo applely. I am going to give some jelly and sauce to the St. Agnes Fall Festival in a few weeks, so head on over there for your chance to buy some!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Seven Quick Takes, Friday Oct, 2--Baby (not)Sleep(ing) Edition

1. In honor of seven years of the seven quick takes link up, I am spending naptime writing them. Kelly, the current quick take host, is asking a question each week in October to be answered each week. I like this a lot, because it is like a free quick take that I do not have to think up, and thinking has not been my strength this week because I have not really been sleeping much.

This week's question: When did you post your first Seven Quick Takes?

Answer: Friday, August 24, 2012. But I did not link up that first link up was October 26.

2. So, I have been thinking about blogs and blogging and the wide variety of blogs that there are and stating the obvious. But I realized something important for me about my blog. I love to read blogs that give 7 helpful tips or ways to do such and such in your life, especially from other Catholic bloggers, but my blog is more for me. I am happy to share ideas, but my primary reason for writing is to do something I enjoy. So, welcome to my blog where I talk about things in my life... I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

3. I wanted to post it on Facebook when it happened,
but I figured if I did all the kids would wake up. So, will post it now:

Hear ye, hear ye! Let it be known that I, Susanna Spencer, put ALL FOUR KIDS to bed BY MYSELF not one night but TWO NIGHTS in a row.

First night, we did a movie night and stayed up for the Super Blood Moon, and I got T to bed by 8:15pm, F to bed by 8:45, T resettled by 9:15, and then L, G, and I looked at the moon and I put them to bed.

Second night, all the bigger kids to bed by 7:45pm, T to bed by 8:30 (meaning I left the room then).

4. On top of that T has been pushing for an earlier bedtime for a few weeks now. Wednesday night he got really cranky at 6:30 pm. And we were like, really, you want to go to bed already? I was hesitant to do it so early. So, instead I put him in the stroller and let his sister push him around the backyard part of the driveway. And by 7, he was sound asleep. And we were like, um, let's just put him in the room and see what happens. So, he slept until 7:45pm, at which time, I went in, put him in an overnight diaper, and spent 50 minutes getting him back to sleep. But he stayed asleep until midnightish at which time we got him back to sleep, soooo... Thursday he was ready to go to sleep by 7pm, and I got him down by 7:40pm, but he had to be resettled 10 minutes later by M after which he slept 4 hours straight... It was really strange to have NO KIDS AWAKE from 8pm on...

5. I think I am going to name this "baby sleep edition"
, because, that is all I am talking about. T is my first baby who will not nurse right back to sleep everytime. In fact, a lot of the times he wakes, I am not convinced that he actually wants to nurse. Let me backtrack a minute. Until last week, most nights he would sleep nice long stretches of 4-5 hours and wake up once, nurse back down immediately. But on nights he does not sleep 4-5 hour stretches, like, wakes every 1-2 hours, he won't nurse back down. So, it turns into M rocking and bouncing and soothing him back to sleep.

The last week of nights has been the more frequent wake ups. I blame stomach upsetting antibiotics, two teeth still not coming in, and a lingering cold with congestion. This means we are getting even less sleep than usual. So, now that he is almost 4 months, seems inclined to an earlier bedtime, I am going to sleep train. I am so ready for this. Pray for us. Sleep training here is along the lines of the No Cry Sleep Solution and if that does not work we'll step it up.

6. Are we the only parents who measure how settled a baby is in Hail Marys?
When M resettles T we speak in terms of decades of the rosary. "How many decades did you bounce him for?" "I bounced him a whole decade, and then laid him down and patted him a whole decade. He was still the whole time." Or yesterday I told my mom, "I patted him for three Hail Marys and he stayed stopped fussing and went right back to sleep." It is not just a time measure, it is a patience builder, and a prayer that the baby will stay asleep.

7. Finally, check out this carrot we grew. It was supposed to be all white, but half of it grew above ground level and ended up green:
She would not get in the photo below due to a tantrum...

Linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum.

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