Sunday, December 30, 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

To all those still waiting...

For those of you who are still experiencing your season of waiting...

As I sat at Mass this past weekend and at Christmas Eve and Christmas Day masses, I couldn't help but think of the years I spent continuing to wait for my prayers to be answered. Prayers for a husband, and then for a child. I have not forgotten that pain, nor at times the confusion of wondering what I wasn't doing in order for those prayers to be answered. But I also thought of the ways that God made me a better person for the waiting.... more patient, more compassionate, more grateful for the blessings I do have. It wasn't easy. There were times I was tempted to give up. But God is faithful. He does answer prayers, according to his timing and in that process, he works to make us more like Him.

Blessings to you all still waiting.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Please pray for my Grandma

Prayer buddy - and everyone else! - please pray especially for my Grandma. She is 86... came down with pneumonia and is in the hospital as of this afternoon. She's pretty dehydrated, and her doctors are giving her antibiotics by IV - they won't discharge her until she's had a few days of them, so at the earliest, she'll come home Christmas day. We have always celebrated Christmas Day evening at her house with my mom's side of the family. Needless to say, we'll be moving that celebration... if she's up to it, to maybe next weekend. I don't know that anyone is super concerned - but she is 86 and pneumonia is not fun (I had it twice as a kid and I can remember being completely miserable).

Thank you!!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Welcome Home Wednesdays: Coupon Organization

I stole this idea from the Honey We're Home blog. I don't use a ton of coupons... and sometimes, although I have them, I forget to take them with me or I forget to use them at the register. I'm hoping this new method will help! (At least it helped when I was doing some Christmas shopping over the past week!)

My old way of storing coupons. I had them grouped in 2 envelopes that I lined with pretty paper and labeled. I have a large purse, but they're big to carry around. 

Close up of the inside - as you can see - a jumbled mess!

New coupon organizer! A smaller size - love that part already! It's about the same size as my wallet.

I organized each tab by the stores I visit most often - BBB (Bed, Bath & Beyond), BBBaby (Buy, Buy, Baby), Target, BJ's... and so on. Some of the coupons I have a ton of - like Bed Bath & Beyond. Since they take expired coupons, I put a few in this one and put the extras in my old envelopes.

Do you use coupons? Do you remember to use them when you're actually in the store? :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Help! Natural teething remedies??

C has been really fussy the last few days right before his naps and I think it's because his gums are driving him crazy. No teeth yet. He chews on anything he can get in his mouth although he seems to like the frozen gel teethers the best. Any of you moms know of some natural remedies? I really don't want to give him painkillers. He eventually falls asleep, but it's been with lots of crying which is unlike him.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

HWFD? Daube Proven├žale (French Beef Stew with Red Wine)

Marinate meat in a bottle of red wine overnight? Uh... ok...

Garlic mashed potatoes? Yeah, twist my arm. 

Pinterest is becoming my new favorite place to find recipes!! This one I made this afternoon.... it simmered away while I taught a few evening lessons and was ready to serve once I was done. 


I marinated the meat (just the meat, although the recipe says to include almost everything) overnight in a bottle of wine - I used Cote du Rhone as recommended. I also used an orange, not a grapefruit. I sliced it and cut away the white rind on the inside as much as possible. One of the orange sections may have ended up in my tummy... not the pot....

I did not use the olives... just cause I'm not really a fan of them.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Day 30

I'm so thankful for YOU!!!

I never would have imagined myself blogging a few years ago, but today I am so grateful for the friendships that have resulted. A few of you I've been blessed to meet IRL... and others, well, I hope someday that we can meet as well!

Your comments and prayers have uplifted and supported me during the painful days of IF and surgeries, and have accompanied me as well during the wait for and joyful arrival of baby C.
Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever finds one finds a treasure.
Faithful friends are beyond price, no amount can balance their worth.
Sirach 6:14-15

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Day 29

Today I'm super thankful that my littlest sis, R, is a DPT. C has been seeing a PT in our area (little sis lives back home otherwise I'd pick her in a heartbeat!) for a few months for torticollis. His PT here suggested I take him to an OT/Cranial technology clinic nearby to check his head shape. So, today's diagnosis is plagiocephaly.

Curious... does anyone have any experience with this? Apparently the incidence of it has risen from 1 in 300 infants to 1 in 10 infants. (Back is best for sleeping... but apparently not for a baby's head shape!!) C is slightly outside the most opportune time for treatment, but still within a good limit.

It looks like he will be getting and wearing a DOC band.

I am SO thankful for my sister who told me a while ago that babies themselves aren't bothered by the bands (there are a few kinds). It's the parents who are. And that was my immediate first reaction - "what?!?" I really do not like the idea of strangers coming up and saying "what is wrong with his head?"

After thinking about it...

Other than this, C is so healthy. He's happy. He's growing and thriving. So what if he has to wear a band for a few months.

Then... I started looking at options.

How can I decorate it? The DOC Band website has instructions for painting, etc!

I laughed when I saw a picture of one decorated like a watermelon with the words "just fixing my melon" on it!

Spider Man? A cool Penguins or Steelers design?

The words "you should see the other guy"?

Fortunately, this treatment really works. My sis has seen great results with one of her clients.

And, of the few locations of Cranial Technologies, one is super close to me. And interestingly enough... it is right next door to the lab where I went so often to get blood drawn for IF. I never thought I'd be there with a baby!

God has a sense of humor.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Catching up... Days 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28

Oops! I am so behind on my days of thanks! Visiting family, while fun, usually leaves me exhausted with the distance (I know some of you have to fly to visit family, so I can't complain about being within driving distance), but it still always wears on me. That combined with staying up late to spend time with everyone and little sleep... well, I'm still catching up! :) C is a great traveler, but he doesn't sleep very well when he's not in his own bed. We did a lot more co-sleeping on this trip - he couldn't seem to stay asleep in the pack-n-play, plus he was going to bed a bit later than normal most nights.

Nevertheless it was a great week away!

And to catch up!

Day 22 - A MIL who takes the time to buy GF options for me. I rarely eat bread at home, but I enjoyed GF english muffins while we were visiting DH's family and of course what is Thanksgiving without stuffing? :) Thanksgiving was a wonderful day... and we even attempted a family Christmas photo! After about 100 shots - first with all of us, then just with C, I ended up deciding to use one of just C. He smiles the most for me - at least me behind a camera that is. He's used to me pointing it at him, I guess! He didn't seem to know what to do when others tried taking pictures of him!

 Happy Turkey Day! :)

Day 23 - Leftovers. I had pumpkin pie at breakfast. Yum.

Day 24 - A shower for my awesome BIL and his wife. As I mentioned last week, they've had 3 miscarriages. We are so grateful that this baby is healthy - and extremely active. He or she kicked at me.. and at C once too! LOL. :)

Day 25 - A safe trip home... DH took a nice afternoon nap and we left after dinner. Made it home in 4 hours!! That never happens on Thanksgiving weekend!

Day 26 - Laundry done. I lost count on how many loads, but it's all done! :)

Day 27 - Decorating for Christmas! I'll post some photos soon. I got out the decorations and put 2 candles in the windows. That's as far as I got today, haha. :)

Day 28 - Advent Prayer Buddies!! Can't wait!

This wasn't the one we chose, but I love his eyes in this one.
And 3 fingers in the mouth? All. the. time. :)

Whew! Caught up!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day 20/21: New cousins

So thankful that C will soon have 2 cousins to play with!

We are especially grateful because DH's brother & SIL have had 3 miscarriages and this baby is healthy and doing well!! They are due at the beginning of January, so please pray that everything continues to go well!

My sister V & her DH are expecting in March - a baby girl!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Days 18 & 19

I'm a little late...

Day 18 - Thankful for a fun evening performing with friends at the St. Cecilia Festival (if I get the video from a friend I'll upload it). 

Such a good boy during the performances! 

Day 19: A fun week with family coming up!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Day 17: The Kindness of Strangers

Well - not complete strangers. These people see me at mass each day, although I don't know their names.

This morning... after C was done with his bottle (almost done - he was pretty much pushing it away), I set it beside me, where he kicked it... and it shattered on the floor. During the consecration. Sheesh. I looked at it in horror, and a woman across the aisle jumped up, told me not to move, and went and got towels and a box to clean up the mess. After mass was over, one of the gentlemen who helps set up for mass got a broom to sweep up the slivers and a mop to catch anything else left over. All I had to do was continue to take care of baby C. Aside from that incident, we were able to stay in the church for the entire mass without him exploring vocal prayer. :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Day 16

Grateful today for an unclogged kitchen drain. We finally had to call in professional help (ugh!) but I will never put another peel down there again!!

It's amazing how much you take something for granted until you can't use it!

I'm off to run the dishwasher now...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Day 15: My Sister, S

It's my sister S's birthday today. She and I shared a room growing up which means there was ample opportunity to share secrets, make plans, unite against our parents (haha!), and of course bicker and fight. Even if we weren't getting along, I knew she had my back and I had hers. She was my maid of honor... I couldn't picture anyone else in that role. She's the funniest person I know. When I had my surgeries, she had me laughing to the point where I quite literally thought I was going to pop open my stitches! I admire her tremendously for leaving a career she didn't like, to go back to school and start something new. She's now a post-partum nurse, and is the sister that really lead me to consider adopting. She even "picked" our agency as it was AFTH that I first looked at... even before DH and really began talking about it. She LOVES baby C. She is an awesome aunt!! While on the drive down after we got "the call", she gave me tons of advice. Well, at least for the first 3 days. That's when they send their babies home at the hospital. After 3 days, she said I was on my own. :) And yup, she's the one who gave me the best advice for baby C.... aim down. :) Isn't she beautiful? I LOVE her!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Day 14: Lots of GF options

Yes, yes, I know. A GF cupcake is not paleo. It's not even remotely close. That didn't stop me from devouring the lemon meringue one I purchased at a local GF bakery this afternoon. I thought I could eat half for lunch and save half for dinner. Not even close. I may have licked the wrapper. Don't judge. You would have too.

The only question remaining is... can the salted caramel one last til dinner?

To be determined...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Day 13: My Godmother

Today is my aunt's --- my Godmother's -- birthday. She is such a wonderful woman. She's always been a second mom to me. A favorite Christmas tradition with her was when she made peanut butter balls. She would invite my sisters and me over to help her dip them... it took a few hours, but we'd order pizza, have snacks, and enjoy dipping those little morsels of delight and usually a hockey game, or a Christmas movie would round out the night. She's a big hockey fan, just like me, and I always loved hearing her stories of the old-time players! She's also been a great example in the faith. I pray I can be as good of an aunt to my nieces or nephews that come along as she is to me!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Day 12: Pumpkin :)

I love fall.... it gives me many options for this wonderful little guy:

Pumpkin pie.
Pumpkin roll.
Pumpkin cheesecake (LOVE this!)
Pumpkin spice latte.
Pumpkin soup.
Pumpkin cookies.
Pumpkin pancakes.
Pumpkin scones...

I love them all. :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day 11: The military

Happy Veteran's Day! I'm thankful today for those who are serving and who have served our country so faithfully, especially my DH and my Grandpap! God Bless America!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Day 10: My sisters

"Oh, your poor Dad!" is something I've often heard when I mention that I have 4 sisters. I mentioned in the previous post that I'm a Daddy's girl. We all are. I am so blessed my parents were open to life. I cannot imagine life without each one of my sisters in it. It's hard that we don't live in the same city and I miss them tremendously, but text messages and phone calls keep us close. They are all different, but so special to me. They were all so understanding and supportive when DH & I were dealing with infertility. They were beyond excited when C came into our family. We have SO much fun together. The inside jokes... the memories... I wouldn't trade them for the world. I love my sisters!!!

My sister V's wedding this summer

Friday, November 9, 2012

Days 8 & 9: My Mom & Dad

I couldn't figure out who to put first for days 8 and 9, so here's the combination. My parents. 

My mom is a SAHM. She was always available when I came home from school and had a bad day. She drove me to piano lessons and recitals and band and choir rehearsals and Tae Kwon Do classes. Never missed a concert. Attended as many football games as she could. She was a "band parent." She was there for my black belt test. She was there when I was sick - for doctors appointments and all 5 of my surgeries. I don't know what I'd do without her. She's the most generous and amazing woman I know.

Father-Daughter Dance

I've always been a Daddy's girl. I knew the only time I would cry at my wedding was the dance with my Dad. I was right... Growing up, I remember waiting excitedly at the window when my Dad would come home from work. My sister S and I would jump on the bay window seat in the living room or in the kitchen. (I think he preferred the kitchen... we left a few marks on the window seat. :)) When I was little, my Dad built a swing set in the backyard for my sister S and me. We have our handprints in the cement. When my 3 youngest sisters were older (M, V & R), my Dad put up a basketball hoop for them... their handprints are in it. He taught me how to drive... backwards first actually. He told me if I got stuck somewhere, I'd be able to drive backwards home! He's funny... goofy a lot of the time and he has a great sense of humor. He loves to tell jokes. He can talk to anyone and everyone. He frequently calls to check in and I love it. I'm the oldest and I'm his "#1".

The only thing better than having them as my parents is C having them for his grandparents.

I am blessed!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Day 7: My Life

11 years ago today I had surgery to remove my colon. While I've had other surgeries since then as a result; today.... I'm grateful to be alive and healthy!

On another note... even Caleb was rather crabby this morning (unusual for him)... obviously he was as upset as me about the results last night. This is a great article, which I will quote:
 Man can create a law to make something “legal” or “illegal.” But only God makes things “right” or “wrong.” The law is external, the Spirit is internal. God is more concerned about the heart.
The Psalm today at Mass was exactly what I needed to hear this morning. And I've also been remembering #733 in The Way by St. Josemaria:

Trust always in your God. He does not lose battles.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 6: My Faith

"And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
Matthew 16:18

I love being a Catholic.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 5: Doing what I love

I'm grateful today for a new sweet and enthusiastic piano student! I am SO blessed to be able to do what I love and get paid for doing it!

The aim and final end of all music should be none other 
than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. 
~J. S. Bach

Don't only practice your art,
but force your way into its secrets,
for it and knowledge can
raise men to the Divine.
~Ludwig van Beethoven

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day 4: My Best Friend

6 years ago this month (on the 22nd), the most amazing man I know asked me to marry him.

He is an amazing husband and now, father. He was my rock when we went through infertility. He was there for all my doctors appointments and surgeries. He was the best nurse when I was recovering. He works so hard to provide for us. He makes me laugh. He is appreciative of everything I do to make our house a home. He shares and strengthens my faith. He prays with me. He's my best friend.

I'm the luckiest girl in the world!!! :)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Day 3

Today I am so grateful for the priests who serve as military chaplains. DH was fortunate for a while to work on a military base and got to know the priest who said mass there. He is a wonderful man and retired from active duty this past August. We're going to his Silver Jubilee Anniversary Mass this afternoon. God Bless these wonderful men - especially our friend and the ones who took care of DH during his tours of duty!

Friday, November 2, 2012

November: Gratitude - Day 2

Today was my monthly grocery shopping trip and I am so grateful that we have a very nice budget toward groceries.

I can buy fresh, organic produce and grass fed beef. We are also fortunate to have a number of farmers markets in the area to choose from.

I can occasionally buy little treats - such as the pumpkin kefir I came home with today! :) (I got DH a container of mint-chocolate coconut milk - I hope it's as good as the pumpkin kefir!)

We don't have to worry where our next meal is coming from.

We've never had to do without.

We are blessed!!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November: Gratitude - Day 1

This month is National Adoption Month so first, I am so grateful to the wonderful birthmothers who choose life for their children!!!

May God bless them - those women who have so richly blessed others!!

C would probably like to add that he is grateful for sweet potatoes. :)

Happy Feast of All Saints!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

"I'm pro-life, except..."

Oh, boy, sometimes I get myself in trouble. I'm probably going to lose a FB friend over this, but a recent post sparked a debate.

The post was about the recent comments made by Richard Mourdock, Indiana senate candidate. In a recent debate, Mourdock declared, "I came to realize is that life is a gift from God. I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.

I seriously wonder how any person could construe his comment to mean that rape was intended by God - yet clearly this is how many, including my friend, took it.

In complete honesty, in high school I wrote a paper on abortion for a history class. It was in defense of life. I can remember talking to a woman at church though about the paper and saying I was pro-life... except... yes.... in the instances of rape, incest and the life of the mother. It truly pains me to admit that I once thought this way.

What a slippery slope it is!!!

In college, one of the first verses I memorized in my bible was Jeremiah 1:5 "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you."

So the question is, how is a child conceived in rape or incest any less of a child in the eyes of God?

Have any of you heard of Rebecca Kiessling? What a beautiful woman... she was adopted nearly from birth and learned at age 18 that she had been conceived out of a brutal rape. Her birthmother planned twice to abort her, but because of the back-alley conditions and because it was illegal, she chose not to abort her daughter. Yes, because abortion was illegal.

She says this on her website:
The fact that I’m alive today has to do with choices that were made by our society at large, people who fought to ensure abortion was illegal in Michigan at the time -- even in cases of rape, people who argued to protect my life, and people who voted pro-life.  I wasn’t lucky.  I was protected.  And would you really rationalize that our brothers and sisters who are being aborted every day are just somehow "unlucky"?!!
One of the greatest things I’ve learned is that the rapist is NOT my creator, as some people would have me believe.  My value and identity are not established as a “product of rape,” but as a child of God.
If you really want to know what your value is, all you have to do is look to the Cross --because that’s the price that was paid for your life!
Other statistics she quotes in one of the interviews:
Most people would assume that children conceived in rape are aborted 90-95% of the time. Actually, those victims chose abortion 15-25% of the time, which is less than the 50% rate for unplanned pregnancies. The majority of those women who chose life, raise their child. 25% of those women choose adoption.

Yes, rape is an atrocity, and it's a horrible, horrible thing for any woman to have to endure. But again, the quote from Jeremiah is pretty clear. God is the one who creates life. And I believe what Mourdock and those who are pro-life with no exceptions are trying to say is that evil can be drowned with an abundance of good.

6 months ago today...

We met and brought this little man home!!!! C, Daddy and I love you so much!!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Homemade Baby Formula

I've been making C's formula for about two months now so this is long overdue! It's going really well! Let me back up a bit though...

C began with Enfamil Newborn formula in the hospital - the 2 ounce bottles. We stuck with that since we didn't want to change right away. When you consider that they come in a 6-pack, at around $9 per pack, you realize quickly that this will start to add up! He usually ate every 2 hours or so... which meant we were spending a TON on formula. After about 2 months, since we couldn't buy the Newborn formula in quarts, we ended up switching to Similac. He switched with no noticeable trouble, other than his poo changed. It didn't seem to bother him. We continued using only liquid formula because I never wanted to use powdered formula due to concerns that my lactation consultant shared with me on the safety.

And since I don't know that I ever really elaborated on inducing lactation... a side note...

My milk came in about 2 weeks after beginning the drug protocol and 1-2 weeks later the pumping. I was able to pump anywhere from 5-8 times a day (it was supposed to be 8), but C never really latched on well. I HATED forcing him. I really needed someone else with me to coordinate everything and while DH was completely supportive, he had to be at work during the day! C more often than not, when I used the SNS, ended up with a finger feeding. Either he'd pull the tubes off me (I must have a very short torso because the bottle was practically in his face - either that or choking me so that I had it out of his face. It was just extremely inconvenient. Since we didn't start trying to breastfeed until he was about 2 weeks old, he would latch on and fall off, latch on and fall off and scream in frustration and hunger. It was so NOT what I envisioned for bonding with my son! I initially just tried by using the SNS and the drugs to induce, but it wasn't enough - I knew I'd never get a supply in that way. I ended up starting to pump. My sister (the nurse) encouraged me to give him whatever I could get, even if it was just a few drops. And again, since I wasn't that consistent with trying to get him to use the SNS, or the pumping as much (remember those 3 weddings out of town when he was not even 2 months? Yeah, that interfered slightly!), I finally decided enough was enough - I just didn't have the energy to keep pumping when there was really no bonding. More often than not, since he usually slept in the Ergo carrier at that point, I would end up pumping while feeding him with him propped up on my knees. Yes, he was able to look at me, but it was just weird. It was not the sweet snuggling I wanted while he was feeding. So while I was really happy I was able to produce milk, the timing just stunk. 18 hours to prepare to be a mom, and the timing of everything going on during that time (teaching, a recital and year-end adjudication for my students, my sister's bridal shower and wedding, 2 other weddings and trips out of town), it just became very stressful. I might consider doing it again - if we had more advanced notice (I could stimulate lactation before the baby was born) and if I could start with breastfeeding in the hospital before the baby was fed with a bottle.

Around month 3, still considering the cost of commercial formula, knowing I didn't have the energy to keep pumping without being able to actually breastfeed, and getting concerned with feeding my baby not only a product that had a significant shelf-life but also that contained soy, I began looking into alternate options. I read several blogs - Lauren and CallMeMama and these ladies inspired me to consider making my own formula.

Being the type-A that I am, I called the Weston A Price foundation to ask a few questions. I read through the testimonials as well as the directions on making the formula on their site. I watched this video as well. It didn't look as challenging as I thought it would be.

I order all the ingredients through Radiant Life Catalog. The kit is was the easiest way. (If you are going to do this, go all out and order a few months supply. I wish I had done that because it significantly saves on cost).

In my state, I can't buy raw milk unless I actually own the cow... hence, DH & I now own a cow share. :) We call our cow Petunia in case anyone wants to know. I don't know her real name... we could be getting milk from a number of cows. So anyway, our share in Petunia allows us one gallon of milk per week, delivered to a local drop-off point (the farm we order from is outside Richmond).

The video I mentioned really is the best, but here are some photos of how I do it:

I store all the dry ingredients in this container. It makes getting all of them out of the pantry easy.

I labeled all the ingredient containers with the quantity I need. It helped tremendously at first, 
but now I've got them memorized. 

I use a 1 tsp. measuring spoon for all these oils - the fish oil is 1/2 tsp. so I fill it half up.

I put the 2 tsp. of coconut oil in the remaining half of distilled water. (The other half is heated in the pan with the gelatin and lactose.) Once the lactose & gelatin are dissolved, I add the hot water back to the measuring cup. It's not boiling, but it melts the coconut oil which is still slightly solid at room temperature.

These are the refrigerated products. I was able to find liquid whey from grass-fed cows at 
a local health store. Apparently you can buy it for cats, no questions asked. Meow. 
I add all these products to the blender when I am about ready to blend it.

After I'd been doing the standard recipe for a month, I added in the egg yolk that is recommended as well (C was 5 months at this point). I cook it until it's slightly past soft-boiled (4 minutes on my stove)- enough so I can remove the egg white. C hasn't had any problem with the egg yolk thankfully. I haven't yet added the raw liver flakes (you grate them from frozen. I'm thinking about adding that soon, since he'll hopefully be starting solids later this week.)

We have a Vitamix blender that I use to blend the formula. I blend it slightly longer than the video recommends because I found that the powdered ingredients weren't mixing in well. I blend it about 10 seconds.

C LOVES this formula! And it really is super easy now - all it takes it getting into a new routine. :)

Please feel free to ask any questions! :)
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