Thursday, August 21, 2014

{phfr} Mermaids, Field Trips and the Return of the Duck

I'll kick this post off with a little prayer request for Sadie who, after having a fun day yesterday seems to have come down with some sort of flu virus now and is pretty sick...  I'm hoping this doesn't mean that flu season has arrived early this year... Now for {phfr}


My plans to launch a mermaid line has been delayed by Mae's plans to seriously seriously test the durability of my mermaid line... which is actually a good thing because I'm discovering where I need to reinforce seams and I'm also learning which stitches are far more Maggie proof than others.  It's still in the works though (as are little weighted fish like the one she's holding here):

Paul is still applying for jobs just about every day.  He has picked up a nighttime job but the hours are pretty limited so we're praying that a second job comes along ASAP (and prayers are still greatly appreciated).  In the meantime I've been trying to squeeze in all the family time that I can with lots of trips to parks and the museum and zoo before what will hopefully be a second job comes onto the scene!


Field trips are one of my favorite parts about our school year.

Something I have come to accept in the last year is that certain people (read everybody under the age of 30) in our house really thrive with a set schedule and get quite antsy when that schedule changes.  As a result we tend to do school year round.  In fact, even weeks off that I've planned often turn into school weeks because Mae still has therapy and I get tired of hearing "So... why does Maggie get to do school this week and I don't..." along with other questions of that nature.  So school it is.  Which is why we're on day sixty-something of the new school year instead of taking first day of school pictures at the moment.

Yesterday I snapped quite a few pictures of the science portion of our day.  It was lots of fun for the entire family:


Patch is Mr. Independent.  He's pretty sure that he's one going on six, tagging along trying to do everything his big sister does.

And I have to admit, he does quite a few things that I never could have imagined letting Sadie do, like insisting on swinging on the big kid swings before his third birthday (or his second).

And remembering how nervous I was the first time I put Sadie in one of those baby swings if probably why I find these pictures of Patch being Patch so amusing.


Things that are allowed at the park include... climbing:

Anything, however, that requires "the duck" to make an appearance in pictures results in a trip home.

Because we don't go skinny dipping in puddles at the park... even when we're the only ones there:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Great Skirt Debate and Why I Finally Started Wearing Pants Again

So I wanted to find a "before" picture from back in the day
that wouldn't be scandalously low cut or teeny tiny...
but I didn't really want to put that on my blog...
so the compromise is strapless, which I know
some people will have no problem with
and others will find totally immodest...
When I first converted to Catholicism I found myself struggling with modest dress.

Throughout high school and college I'd spent quite a bit of the money I'd earned working as lifeguard/barista/pet store clerk/ assistant in the training room on clothes, and most were pretty standard fair for what you find would find in any junior's department, or in any of the other stores that are generally aimed at the high school/ college set.  For the most part they were strapless or had teeny tiny straps, or were super low or super short... and across the board they were ultra tight.

And suddenly they just didn't feel right anymore.  If I wore something that was moving, in my mind, into the too short/tight/low category, I'd find myself tugging at it until I finally threw my hands up in the air and went to change.

Around the same time I began to read more about Catholicism, both in books and online, discovering first Catholic forums and then the Catholic blogosphere.  I read quite a few books with very traditional views on dress, marriage and femininity and quite a bit of what I read resounded as true, or at least bits and pieces of the chapters did.

And so, over the next months, I came up with rules for myself, to help myself navigate a complex world of clothing that I wasn't a natural at understanding as it was.  You see I've never been naturally inclined to understanding fashion.  When I went to high school I still loved horse t-shirts and jeans.  And when I tried to dress fashionably and fit in... well it just wasn't my thing.  But I knew that there were women who looked fabulous and modest and I was going to give it a try, even if my attempts didn't look quite so lovely.

In the beginning I did very closely follow those certain oft-quoted standards for modesty that I see floating around the Catholic blogosphere rather regularly and passed off as standards for the laity, although they were actually advice for nuns and sisters that were laid out decades ago.  I embraced those standards as completely as I could with the clothing pieces that I found and could afford here and there on sale racks and at yard sales.

Around that time I started blogging, and would often stumble through posts on my attempts at dressing more modestly, trying to explain what I was feeling.  I met both women who could relate to the steady feeling that I found rising in my chest that something needed to change and I found an equal measure of criticism from people who seemed only too enthusiastic to call names, tell me that they're husbands were so, so thankful that they weren't married to someone like me and let me know that I looked like a freak (these insults usually included disparaging remarks about other religions as well, that I'd rather not bring back up specifically, since they were so ugly, but that showed a general hostility to any form of dress that didn't conform to typical American standards).  Most readers probably didn't really care one way or another, but the comments that came through were usually from the people on one end of the spectrum or the other, as so often happens.

After about a year of thinking about modesty, I made the move over to wearing all dresses and skirts.  I never said that I thought that pants were immodest, and honestly, I didn't find them immodest for other women, but in embracing my vocation as a wife and new mother I suddenly felt that dresses better expressed the role I found myself embracing and exploring.  It was almost a uniform of sorts.

It didn't take long for dresses to feel more comfortable than pants and I really found the arguments that most people made about dresses to not be true in my case.  I didn't live someplace particularly windy and I was constantly down on the floor with my toddler, but with many of the flouncy fun skirts I found movement just wasn't a challenge.  And with layers I could stay toasty warm when it was in the teens outside.

I had readers ask how I stayed warm and I even wrote a post about how it wasn't a problem at all and could be easily done.  Looking back pride was certainly already beginning to creep in (or maybe had already arrived in a torrent and I was totally submerged) but as so often is the case I couldn't see it, because dressing modestly these days was at the same time rather humiliating, especially with the fairly frequent mean comments I received fairly regularly on my blog back in those days.

When the ice storm hit this last year I didn't have a single pair of pants sitting on the shelf in my closet... after all, it had been years since I'd worn pants. The temperature with wind chill was regularly below zero and we were trying to go back to the house during the day to see if we could move back during those eight days without power, and finally I broke down and dragged everyone across town to Target and bought a pair of jeans.

And then I found myself not wanting to wear them... at all.  I turned that problem over in my head over and over again.  They weren't too tight.  If I saw those pants on someone else I would think were perfectly fine.  So what was the problem?

I tried to ignore it, but it was sitting there, facing me while Paul was going into stores trying to find firewood where none existed.

I didn't want to put on those pants because then I couldn't say "I haven't worn pants in more than three years."  It was as simple as that.  And it was pride pure and simple.

There are lots of reasons that women wear dresses all the time that have nothing to do with pride.  They're the reasons that I first discovered when I began thinking about wearing dresses.  But over time the reason had changed.  In the beginning I absolutely had needed to change the way I'd dressed, and I think that for a time over correction was beneficial as my heart healed and my view of how I dressed and my body and modesty in general, apart from dress, began to form, but I also believe that over time the reasons for making those changes had begun to slip away and had hardened into a sort of pride for lasting that long while doing something that many saw as radically different.

So I put on those perfectly practical pants and wore them when it was -15 degrees outside and broke that gloriously prideful going-on-four-year streak.  And when I went out to shovel snow I wasn't wrapped in a wet heavy skirt afterwards.

And then I started to fret.  I remembered how I basically got slaughtered (or felt like I did) when I asked if it was okay to wear sleeveless shirts when I was out walking, pushing a stroller, when I was pregnant and sweltering in south west Florida's super humidity (oh how I hate that that is still one of my most popular posts of all time).  And I also knew that a lot of women had related to my journey towards wearing skirts... would I suddenly lose all the friends I'd made across the blogosphere if I admitted to... wearing pants?

Although now we're reaching the point where
very few things... from dresses to skirts
to pants... fit all that well...
Logically I knew that that wouldn't happen.  Logically I knew that 99% of the bloggers who I love to read wear pants and shorts and look amazing and modest.  And logically I also knew that very few of you would really think I was horrible for wearing pants again, or even care at all one way or another.

Still, it took me months to sit down and write this post.  And honestly, it has probably affected my writing in general as it always does when I have something that my brain apparently wants to write about that I keep trying to hush and push to the back burner to simmer for a little bit longer.  I was sure I wouldn't be able to find the right words.  Maybe I still haven't.  And yet I felt compelled to write about this roller coaster of a journey, which in part has involved that aspect of modesty that involves dress and that probably bores 99% of the people reading it (who are at this moment, if they've read this far thinking: Did you really think anyone would care?!?!?!).

In the end, these days I do wear dresses most of the time.  It's what's in my closet and I do find them pretty comfortable after years of wearing nothing else.  But pants are in the mix now too, especially when it's practical, but also on some days, just because the corduroy maternity pants that have been tucked away in a box for the past six years that I discovered on my trip back to California are quite possibly the most comfortable piece of clothing in existence... and I'm finally starting to accept that I don't need an excuse to wear them!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sadie's Best. Day. Ever!

Her third birthday... when she
repeatedly requested a nun party...
And her own habit, based on the
"Holy Baby" habit.
Yesterday was pretty much a dream come true for Sadie.  After Mass she sat in the car practically bouncing up and down in her seats.  Her long legs couldn't hold still and she kept clapping her hands and giggling.

"So," I asked her.  "Do you still want to be a Carmelite when you grow up?"

"No!"  She half shouted in her enthusiasm.  "I want to be a Dominican!  But how did you know?  How did you know to ask me that?"

"Oh, it was just a thought that I had."  And Paul and I laughed at the pure joy that was radiating from the back of the car.

"I don't think she was this excited for Disney World." He said as she continued to giggle nearly an hour later.  And I had to agree.

It had all started when she and I slipped into Mass.  For the last two weeks, Paul, who is truly my hero, has taken Patch and Maggie and stayed in the narthex, because with my back these days baby wrangling can just about flatten me and baby carriers are finally out.  So Sadie and I went in together, ready for a quiet Mass that would be so different from the majority of the Masses spent with Maggie and Patch over the last few years.

I noticed the white and black habits soon after we entered the church and in a tiny voice whispered to Sadie "the nuns are here."  Her face lit up.  She scanned the church.  Finally she spotted the group of Dominicans who have come to teach at the parish school.  Excitement radiated from her.  She sat up straighter.  When everyone got up from kneeling she remained there for a few minutes longer, apparently lost in thought.

When Mass ended and we were outside in the narthex I told her that she didn't have to if she didn't want to, but that if she wanted to we could wait and talk to the Dominicans before we left.  She glowed as she nodded.  We waited in the narthex for a few minutes, and then I realized that they were surrounded with excited well wishers and that it might be a while and told Sadie that she could go over and wait her turn to introduce herself.  She bounded up to them and then waited, bouncing up and down in place.

I made my way over because, because after having been present when she met Mulan at Disney World (her favorite princess when she was four) I had an idea that this might be one of those rare instances when she was so incredibly excited that she wasn't her normal self, bubbling with a million words and questions a minute.

When she finally met one of the nuns, Sister Mary Rita, she was suddenly shy.  She introduced herself, and answered her questions and said a few words, but was mostly just in awe of talking to a sister for the very first time, after basically telling me that she's ready to move out of the house to join a convent for the past three years.

We said goodbye and filed quietly out of the church to find Paul loading the babies into the van.  And then the bubbling stream of words began again.  "Daddy, do you want to know what just happened?  Daddy I just talked to a nun!"

"Do you know what kind of nuns they are?" I asked.

"Dominicans of course!" She said as she continued on with a constant stream of chatter and questions.

And now I can't help but wonder if she'll be requesting a Saint Catherine of Sienna habit for All Saint's Day this year.  I have a feeling that it'll be the first year in a while that she isn't lobbying for me to buy fabric in Carmelite brown.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Paul's Birthday in Pictures

Yesterday we celebrated Paul's birthday and after lunch when asked what he wanted to do for the day, he said walk around the old part of campus.  This conversation followed:

Sadie:  "I think we should go to a park where the kids can run around.  And climb.  And go down slides!" (we've been going to a lot of parks lately)
Me: "Remember how on your birthday we did every single thing you wanted to do?  Well today is Daddy's birthday.  So let's do what Daddy wants to do!"

As we were walking around campus Paul and I couldn't help but chuckling as Sadie began to bring up the botanical gardens (which is one of her favorite school field trips).  By the end of the day we'd walked through them and she was exhausted and was being carried by Daddy back to the car and couldn't help but add this to the conversation:
"But Daddy hard work is what you really wanted to do on your birthday, right?" (referring to carrying her across campus).  "And going to the botanical gardens.  Going to the botanical gardens is what you really wanted to do on your birthday, isn't it?"

Yes, it turns out that it was.  Here are a few pictures from the day... I didn't get very many of the babies (who were in the stroller) until we got home and got down to the very serious business of eating birthday cake:

Friday, August 15, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday: Mermaid Edition

First things first!  It's the Feast of the Assumption, which means that it's a Holy Day of Obligation but it also means that I need to start out by saying:

Today is also the day we celebrate the short time we knew Christian Athanasius, since he shares a birthday with his Daddy.  It's a little odd thinking about where we were three years ago today (it also happened to be Paul's first day of law school).  And so I thought I'd share this quote, which I happen to love and which for us is appropriate for this day for our family:

I also posted a couple more chaplets on the chaplet page last night!  Slowly but steadily the new shop is starting to take form:

In the past couple weeks an idea was formulating in my head.  Now in OT here Mae's had lots of opportunities to use body socks and knowing Mae and knowing how much she loves that sort of pressure I was always surprised that she just wouldn't try one out to see how she liked it.  She won't set a toe in a body sock.  I had a feeling that if I could make one that appealed to her as a mermaid tail, we might have a chance.  And so I started sewing. It's not quite the same as a normal body sock.  It can't go over her head.  But she loved it all the same and instantly was in it and spent the day flexing her little legs against the fabric and giggling.  And it keeps her from W sitting on the ground (and if she had her way she would be in 24 hours a day... she actually slept in it last night).  I definitely feel like it's a success:

Now Maggie wasn't the only one who wanted to be a mermaid in our house.  In fact, someone else tried pretty hard to hide it, but she was pretty upset when only one mermaid tail appeared yesterday morning.  And so yesterday afternoon I got to sewing.  I had her try it on before bedtime, even though it wasn't finished, and she was thrilled:

So was her sister.

Last night I put on the finishing touches and in a few minutes I'll be presenting a tail to our newest mermaid:

As I was writing the first five Quick Takes Sadie was downstairs certain that she couldn't survive another minute without her mermaid tail.  I finally handed it over to her and their was rejoicing throughout the playroom.  Mae is actually just as excited about her sister being a mermaid as she was about her own mermaid tail.

I've had a number of people ask me if these are going to be available in my shop and while my initial thought was "not right now" after making two and really getting the pattern down for making them, I'm planning on posting them for sale in the shop as custom orders in the next couple of days.  I'm going to make a couple more as examples and there will be three different types of tails (a tail like Mae's, a tail like Sadie's and one that just goes to the waist) and there will be some add on options too!  So that's what's going to be coming up as soon as I get the chance to sit down and work out the details!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Happy Feast of Saint Maximilian Kolbe

Lately I've been playing with the photo editor and making little saint quote pictures using my pictures and Pic Monkey.  It's gotten me thinking more about feast days in advance and since I made this one yesterday while Sadie was working on her copy work for the morning, lead to a great conversation both about what this quote meant (she was very interested after seeing the picture, although slightly disappointed that I wouldn't make the writing hot pink...) and who Saint Maximilian Kolbe was (which led to about a half dozen more questions and explanations).  And so here's the latest from my photo tinkering time:  

And on a totally random note, in case you're interested but don't follow the blog on facebook or twitter, I've added a chaplet page (it can also be found in the tabs at the top of the blog) and will be adding chaplets as I get them made/ photographed (many are already made and have just been sitting around waiting to be photographed!)!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

For the Month of August!

Does anyone have a novena that they particularly love for job hunts?  At the moment Paul is applying just about everywhere, from restaurants to stores to law firms to car dealerships to government jobs, but the wait (and the looming rent payment on the horizon) has me more than a little jumpy at the moment.  In the past few years you'd think I'd begun to learn to start trusting that things have had a way of working out, but at the moment I'm spending way too much energy fretting and searching job listings and sending him about two dozen emails a day with job listings I've found on every single website I can think of. 

So... in the interest of doing something to keep from going crazy, I'm hosting a sale in my shops.  For headcovering savings just enter in the coupon code: AugustSave10 at checkout in my shop A Snood for All Seasons and you'll save 10%!

For my Quilt Shop use the code AugustSave20 to save 20% off of my baby quilts, blankets and anything else in Mae Bae's!

So if you're in the market for blankets or headcoverings now is a great time to shop!

And if you feel like sharing this sale I would greatly appreciate it!  Thank you!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Getting the Big Kids Ready for a Baby: My Strategy

A First Time Big Sister!
Over the past five years, since we first introduced Sadie to Maggie, I've given quite a bit of thought to the subject of adding new siblings to the family.  The first thing that I found when I was pregnant with Sadie was how utterly ridiculous many of the articles I ran across (usually in parenting magazines) were.  There was no way I was going to be reassuring my older child that I "would still love them" when the new baby gets here.  Of course I would still love them and they're shown love every single day... but reassuring them and telling them not to worry that they would still be loved seemed to put an idea into a busy little mind that wasn't already there. 

In a way it reminds me of an article that I read recently about an Italian politician who made the mistake of saying that he is not an authoritarian dictator, and how that statement instantly set in the minds of the people that he is just that.  The article compared it to Nixon saying "I am not a crook" and how saying those specific words, instead of saying something positive (like maybe "I'm an honorable man") instantly put it into the minds of the American people that a crook was exactly what he was.

In my mind, "Don't worry Sweetie, when the new baby get's here we'll still love you just as much" falls directly into the category of things to never, ever say... and that's the problem that I have with many of the "new sibling" books that are out there. 

Our new baby welcoming strategy is a little different.  We talk about babies.  All of our kids, from Sadie to Maggie to Patch have loved looking at the pictures of babies in utero in the pregnancy books that I have.  Most of my books are now taped together and worn.  Pages fall out constantly and I keep taping them back in. 

When Sadie was tiny she was fascinated with a picture of a baby with an "icky belly button," always kissed the picture of a little swaddle baby near the front of one of my books and quickly turned the page and refused to look at the picture of the baby nursing, which lead me to worry (since she'd only been weaned a few month before) that she'd be jealous of the baby nursing when the baby arrived (although that didn't turn out to be the case). 

A fun little tradition we've also come up with is taking the kids out after we find out the baby's gender and allowing them (and us too) to each pick out a small gift to give the baby in the hospital.  It's exciting for them to go into the store and pick out something for a new little brother or sister.  And it's always interesting to see what they pick out.  For our latest baby the presents turned out looking like this:

Sadie's choice

Maggie's choice...
covered in kisses before we left the store

Patch's choice.
He had some help from Daddy.

Daddy's choice.
Mommy's choice.
The most amusing part of the trip was Sadie's insistence from the time we got to the store that she knew what the baby needed.  She would be picking out something to swaddle the baby and that was that.  When we were in California she also convinced Nani to take her to buy a pacifier for the baby.  So you can see what she thinks babies need: to be swaddled and "binked" (as she would say). 

The other half of our little tradition is that I make (or buy depending on my level of preparation and budget) little presents for each of the kids that the baby will give them when they come to the hospital to meet him for the first time. 

Mostly these days though, I have it easy when it comes to introductions.  Sadie is over the moon about the new baby.  She talks about him all the time.  Maggie seems to love every single baby that she sees.  Patch is clearly "her baby" and now her partner in crime, but she lights up just about every time she sees a little one and heads in their direction, so I imagine her reaction will be the same as the last time which alternated between ignoring the baby entirely and dancing in front of him to entertain him and wishing she could scoop him up and hold him. 

Patch is the loose canon.  He is very much "the baby" who has been spoiled in the extreme... by his big sisters.  When he wants something he gets it... usually from other little hands that rejoice in seeing him smile.  Yet he's nicknamed the baby "Bubble" on his own and talks about having a "brubber" with excitement so I think that his big sister's impatience to meet the newest addition to the family is spreading. 

I guess that is the key that we've found to easing the transition each time a new addition arrives has been fairly simple (so far) for us: excitement.  Everyone is excited to meet the new baby and the day is looked forward to with anticipation.  There's a lot of talk about how big the bigger siblings are and how blessed the baby is to have such wonderful big sisters (and now a big brother too) and how fortunate we are to have been blessed with another baby to love.

So far the strategy has felt completely natural and has worked really well for us. 

Do you have ideas/traditions/strategies for welcoming a new baby?  I know I have at least one reader who would love to hear them (and if you have any book suggestions you've loved feel free to throw that in too!)!