Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Tot Talk – Discussing How Babies Are Made

 I burst into tears in front of the kids today. Oops.  Kristiana said, “Guys, mommy is crying.  Mommy why are you crying?” I didn’t know if I could tell them.

“Why are you crying?” said Alex.

Then Kristiana said, “Well, here you just need a big hug.”  She gave me a big hug.

They were all very concerned.  So I told them, “I’m just still very sad about the baby we lost.  I’m sad because we did not get to hold him.”

“Oh.” They all said quietly. 
Remember this Annie snuggle from 4 years ago?


“Don’t worry, mommy.  You can take a pregnant contest some other time!” Kristiana keeps telling me.  She means pregnancy test.

“Okay, Kristiana.”

“When? When can you take the test?” she asked.

“I don’t know.  It takes time to make a baby.  Daddy and I have to make a baby before we can take the test.”

“How? How do you make a baby?”

“Um.”

Annie says, “You can just eat a tiny baby and the baby will go down into your body and grow.”

“No, you don’t eat a tiny baby.  That’s not how babies are made.”

“I know!” Alex chimes in.

“Okay, how?”

“The mommy and daddy kiss a long time and the daddy cells go into the moms body and join with her cells and make a baby inside her.”

“Well that’s close, but it doesn’t happen through kissing.”

“Oh, then how?”

“Well it happens with a special touch that only mommies and daddies can do in private.  And yes, then the daddy cells go into the mommy’s body and join with her cells and make one flesh—make a baby.”

“Do you do it in your closet?” Kristiana exclaimed.

“No.”

“How will I know how to do it when I’m married?” Asked Alex.

“Don’t worry you will know how by the time you are an adult.”

“How?”

“Well, Daddy will explain it to you when you are old enough.”

Kristiana pipes up. “I know how babies are made! (pause) God makes babies, and then puts them inside mommies.”

Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

Mno Hiya Lyta!



Monday, January 26, 2015

Ladybug Picnic

The day was perfectly, warm and sunny.  Accordingly, the kids, the neighbor boy and I had an impromptu trip to the park today.

The boys just sat in a sand pit building great mounds and getting very dirty.  I did not go visit them, because I did not want to cringe at how dirty I knew they were getting.  I just wanted them to have a peaceful, fun time in the sun.

The girls ran everywhere in the park.  Annie was especially attuned to new discovery today.

Annie found a fleet of Ladybugs feasting on aphids in this patch of clover.  There, we found at least 20 -30 ladybugs.


This is definitely a favorite picture of Annie


I just liked the contrast of the red against the green.  
Annie was trying to get the ladybug to crawl on her finger.




After finding ladybugs, they ran after a yellow butterfly.


Lucy and Annie played together a lot


Here they are playing frog hopping


Here is a tender moment between sisters.  Annie is sharing her boots with her little sister.  A couple months ago these two were so jealous of each other they could hardly go a minute with out hitting or yelling.  But we all worked on it and lately they have been best friends.  Annie has really taken the initiative to look after Lucy and share with her.  Lucy is sweet, but she will make sure she gets hers. I guess Annie being nicer made Lucy feel less competitive.


A couple of weeks ago Kristiana asked me why I wanted to home school her.  In a simplified way, I told her that I wanted her to learn and live her faith, which is something she could not do all day at school. Also I wanted to her and her siblings to be close, each others' friends.  She responded,
          "Well Mommy, that's my problem.  That's why I can't get my school work done, because I AM friends with my siblings and I just want to play with them."


Mission accomplished. Mno Hiya Lyta!



Saturday, January 24, 2015

Pinewood Derrrrrbeeeey!

We had a fun day at the Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby.  That is we were all having fun until my son realized he was not going to make the top three and then there were tears.  He is very competitive.

We cheered him up promising to play Settlers of Catan Cities and Knights with him in the evening.  He really cheered up when he won the best paint job award.

We decided next year we would let him have a blast designing and painting it and we would make sure to center the weights better and get better wheels.  He designed his car this year, but mommy helped a lot with sanding and painting.  We found out that's not a big deal.

All in all, Alex got 6th place.






Friday, January 23, 2015

Jealousy

From the beginning of this miscarriage, I just wanted it to be over and past me.  I can handle anything if I can just move on.  I kept trying to push it past me.  Everyday I woke up and said, this is the end; today I’m going to put it behind me.  But everyday, my body would say, no, not today.  It took a full month before my body was quiet and there were no more signs of miscarriage.  So I said, this is behind me and I felt better.  I think all the pushing it away maybe has caught up with me.

A few weeks later, I began my period and the experience sent me into worry and flashbacks of the trauma of my loss.  I also sent in all my insurance claims.  It was a hard week mentally.

The week after that, friends were continuing to announce new pregnancies.  It was upsetting, but these were Facebook posts, so they were distant.  I could lovingly “hide” those posts.

Recently, a close friend announced her pregnancy via email.  I felt a new weight set upon me.  She was one of the first friends I told about my loss.  My heart was angry.  I was angry because I knew the JOY her family was experiencing over this pregnancy.  We had lost that joy. 

We had lost 1,000 laughs and kisses, 1,000 sleepless nights, 1,000 hugs. That was/is my grief.  We lost a person who would bring us joy and unimaginable blessings.  I get it, Mom.  I get why you mourn 30 years later.  I didn’t before, but I do now.

I was going to see my friend the next day after reading her email, but I was planning to respond to her email and congratulate her and explain I could not say it to her in person just yet.  But, I was still upset and angry, so I decided to sleep on it and text her in the morning. 

My sleep was a tempest.  I had nightmares all night about my friend.  Over and over, I dreamt congratulating her and every scenario ended up a mess.  I woke up and affirmed in my mind that I was going to be a big girl and overcome my pettiness.  I was going to look her in the eye and congratulate her.  I could be happy for others.   

As I drove to our meeting, with a car full of kids, I became overcome with grief.  I almost pulled the car over.  But, told myself to stay alert and keep driving.  I was going to suck it up.  Then I saw her and did not make eye contact.  I thought to myself to calm down.  Then a quiet opportunity arose to say the words I so desperately wanted to say.  I wanted to rejoice with her.  Instead I felt the ground drop out from under me and my vision go white.  “Oh! Am I passing out?!”  I took a deep breath.  “Not today, I would not congratulate her today,” more breathing deeply.  Then it was just a struggle all the rest of the morning to keep from crying.

I cried at home.  I wrote the email explaining that I had wanted to be congratulatory; and genuinely, I am happy for their family.  But I was a mess the rest of the day.  It’s no one’s fault but my own.

I cried and cried and cried and tried to push it down.  It seemed there was something evil about it.  I felt I should be able to stop it.  I told myself I could choose to stop it.  I would stop it.  Many times I stopped it, only to have it return.  It was just so painful.  It was probably the most painful day yet.  Every thought hurt. 

I had a little vent session with my husband.  He listened patiently and I felt calmer. 

Later I prepared the presentation for my daughter’s Little Flowers Club and the answer came to me in the reading for the club.  There was a snippet about jealousy.  It was about how jealousy interferes with friendship and the health of one’s soul.  It seemed to hardly fit the piece at all, but it came as the perfect message, sign from God, and answer to my problem of how to make the pain stop. 

I was jealous.  I was insanely jealous of someone else being full of life.  I said that should be me.  I was sinfully jealous.  I did not mean to be jealous, but I wanted what my friend had.  All day long I had tried to find the root of my problem.  I hated myself all day for feeling that way and for not just being able to be happy—anger—why me?  I just wanted to fix myself.  When I read the excerpt on jealousy, I could see myself in it.

So I decided to look up more information on jealousy and more information on grief.  After reading further, everything I was experiencing sounded more like grief than jealousy.  But, I decided maybe grief and jealousy are not so far apart.  While experiencing grief there is deep longing for that someone/something one can never have again, and as a result one experiences a deep sadness.  One desires to have something that is forever lost.  Jealousy is similar in many ways.

It was in identifying the roots of my problem—it was grief wrapped in jealous feelings that someone has what I lost—then I began to feel better.  When I knew what it was that I was experiencing, I was able to address it.  It was this moment of self-understanding that made all the emotions go quiet again. 

As one Little Flower told me today, “If you ever feel jealous of others, you should look at what you have a see the good things that you have.”  Yes, I see the good things I have.  I certainly do not take them for granted.  There’s just one little, good thing that I am longing to hold.   

Maybe this is not the end of grief, but this is the end of jealousy.  I cleared away jealousy, and I cleared away anger.  I’m truly happy for my friends.  I might even be able to say it to them now.  I hope they cherish the joy of their new little lives.  Now, when I feel sad about our loss, I know its just grief.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Music Class and More

I brought the kids a little musical instrument from Australia.  I would have brought a full sized didgeridoo if I had thought I could have fit it in my luggage.  I was not going to try to carry it back.  This was our first lesson.  Perhaps, after some time and practice they can all learn how to play the didgeridoo for real.  It's pretty hard.

The kids insisted holding the camera for each other.


Mommy tried it out.  I can make the right sounds.  I do not know how to do circular breathing to keeping the sound going.  I would like to learn.  As I learned, this is one of the oldest wind instruments.


Art Class

I had to post this picture. This is the one and only time I have set two little ones to paint and they did not make a huge disastrous, mess toward the end.  Actually, I am mostly referring to Annie. 

They did not make the rainbow of color into a brown mess.  They did not demand more paint, or for me to draw them something to paint.  They just sat quietly and reflectively, and painted beautiful, baby masterpieces.  It was glorious--absolute heaven to in plain view.  


The little girls have been pretty good of late.  They've been playing with each other and taking care of each other and not fighting too often. They have been reading books and playing with puzzles, play dough and dolls.  They might get to paint more often too, if I can trust them not to paint nicely.

(Lucy has my reading scowl - Deep in thought)



If only I could get Kristiana to focus.  Yesterday I let her have headphones and music while she was finally able to finish a handwriting assignment she has been working on for a week.  She would do one letter and then she would get distracted and walk away.  I think she is one of those people who has to have her ears, eyes and hands all engaged in order to focus and learn.  I met a few of those types in college. 

Mno Hiya Lyta!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Alex Recites the Station of the Cross

I learned the fourteen Stations of the Cross in first grade.  My first grade teacher, Sister Madonna, gave us a handout of prayers and tenets she wanted us to learn by the end of first grade.  If a student was to stand before the class and recite what they had learned, she would give a prize.  The prizes were mini statues of Mary, Jesus, rosaries, books about saints, a new box of crayons, or the rare candy.  She lived a vow of poverty and yet bought these small prizes with money she saved from recycling aluminum cans she found on her daily rosary walk.

The first thing she asked us to memorize was the "Our Father."  For that everyone received a plastic crucifix.  I still have the one I received.  It was a magnificent moment for me earning that crucifix.

I was the only student in the class that year to memorize the Stations of the Cross. I did it, because I wanted her admiration.  For this first grade feat, I received a book about the miracles of Fatima and a rainbow candy cane.  I was filled with pride.  Further, the gift of the book about Fatima inspired in me a childlike faith I can hold on to for all my life.

This week I challenged Alex to learn the fourteen stations.  And he groaned at the assignment.  But, I taught him a few tricks to remember the stations and his fear disappeared.  Today, the second day of the challenge, he rattled them off with ease.  With pride and joy, I asked him to film it.  Of course, when we began filming he was nervous! Not to mention, the girls were chattering away and the dog was barking.

Here are some of the tricks I told Alex to help him remember:

The first three are easy to remember, anyone can remember three things.  1.) Jesus is condemned to death. 2.) Jesus takes up His cross.  3.) Jesus falls the first time.

The second three Jesus meets three people: His mother, Simon and Veronica 4.) Jesus meets His mother, Mary. 5.) Simon the Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross. 6.) Veronica wipes Jesus' face with her veil.

Then 7.) Jesus falls a second time. 8.) Jesus comforts holy women.

How do you remember number 9.) 3 times 3 equals 9, Jesus falls the third time. (It rhymes and the 3rd time He falls times 3 is nine the same number as the station.)

The last are visually vivid, and make chronological sense, so no tricks are needed.

10.) Jesus is stripped of His garments. 11.) Jesus is nailed to the cross. 12.) Jesus dies on the cross. 13.) Jesus is taken down from the cross. 14.) Jesus is laid in the tomb.

I asked Alex how he remembers number eight.  He said, "I just think of you, Mom. You are a holy woman."

Melt my heart! Always stay sweet and innocent, my son.


Mno Hiya Lyta!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Good Things

So proud of this little girl.  She's potty training herself.  She has not had many accidents.  She wears underwear to bed. However, she had not mastered #2 in the potty until tonight.  I went to my room to put something away and when I came out she called to me.  "Mommy, I pooped."  Yay! It was in the toilet. Phew!


I've been feeling like a domestic goddess for the last couple weeks.  I've been baking something every  morning for breakfast.  I have graduated to planning three meals a day instead of one main meal and just having cereal and general lunchbox type supplies.  I am kind of proud of myself.  I think it is encouraging my kids to eat a little bit better.  

I wake up early, pray, bake, feed and dress the kids, then off to the gym; 
and back home again to start school.  The kids have to finish their school by 2:30 p.m. because we are picking up the neighbor boy from school.  I think it's a routine that's working.  


While in Australia I spent a little time giving myself a gym clothes makeover.  
Now I view my gym clothes as my most essential clothing.  
I feel I need some more durable clothes I feel good wearing.
What you can't see are the awesome new sports bras I bought. 
They are easily my new favorite thing. 






Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ten for Annie

I'm pretty happy for Annie.  She made ten play dough balls and counted them. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Visiting Family in Australia

I had a nice time visiting with my family in Australia.  My one regret is that it was raining at the beginning of my trip and the end (6 days altogether).  I missed out on some sun and beach time because of it.  So there must be a next time to make up for it. 


Some highlights were getting to bike around Brisbane with my Dad (We rode to the Brisbane Botanical Gardens and Protection of the Mother of Our God Ukrainian Catholic Church.);

Holy Protection of the Mother of Our God had just renovated.  Their icons are really modern, cubist style and did not follow conventional icon coloration




going to Fraser Island with family; 




Lake McKenzie



The only way to get around on a sand island


Crazy, sand road through dense forest


Lake Wabi


Hosts



visiting with my cousin, Kate, and her family in Toowoomba;



Table Top Hike



shopping with my cousins; 



climbing a ropes course on the Gold Coast (I don't have any pictures of the ropes course, but I do have pictures of the animals I saw there); 

My daughter asked why I had plastic on me.  It was raining ;-)


Wild Lorakeet feeding time


Jast a nap with the 'roos



The infamous Tasmanian devil




and I had a wonderful time chatting away with everyone.  





Cheers to Australia! Mno Hya Lita!



Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Little Assistant Iconographers

Here are my assistants preparing my icon boards.  They were so good.  They did not do a good job by iconography standards.  But I was able to smooth it over at the end.  It was a good quiet reflective activity for these little girls.  They were both quite happy during.  I am happy I was able to share this with them.

It's that time of year again when I plan some icons to write.  In the summer we travel, in the fall it's all about finding a rhythm to home school, and reconnecting with friends.  The spring has become icon time.  Which is fitting because Great Lent is also during this time and it is a good excuse to pray and meditate on such mysteries.

I know what my small icons will be.  I am writing namesake icons for my children.

However, I am also writing an icon for my sister's upcoming wedding in [gulp] six weeks and I do not know what to write for them.  I would like to do the Wedding at Cana, but, I do not feel I have enough time to do that properly.  Although, no one said the gift had to arrive at the time of the wedding, so I may still do this icon.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sneaky Grief

This week, I have begun to wonder if I need a grief counselor to help me with the loss of this last pregnancy. 

A lot of people have announced pregnancy due dates recently, and every time they do, I feel quite sad and jealous.  I do not think this is a healthy reaction.  I am both happy for my friends and angry I am not in that number.  Many of them are first time moms or second pregnancies.  There's no reason to be jealous, when I have enjoyed four successful pregnancies and four healthy children.  I just longed to hold yet another beautiful new life and stare into his eyes and know this is the fruit of my labors.

There are a lot of little things like other women experiencing healthy pregnancies, that feel like small daggers in my heart.  I reminded myself I needed to make a followup appointment with the midwife and then felt sick and burst into tears. I don't think I will make that appointment.  It only goes on from there--the little things that sneak up on me almost everyday.

However, when I think about going to a grief counselor, I talk myself out of it for the pure fact that this situation just sucks and it takes time.  Part of me feels like I will feel this way until I pass the due date.  But then what? Will I be sad to see children who would be the same age?  Will I still mourn this 30 years from now like my mother.  Or will it pass on like the grief I felt at my brother's death, which took many months, a full year, to feel sound again.

Part of me feels like another pregnancy would heal emotional wounds.  A large family is a blessing.  I have seen it be a blessing.  The children have asked for more siblings.  I would cherish the preciousness of another infant in the house.

On the other hand, there are many reasons why that is not a good idea.  Firstly, by no means do I think one life replaces another.  Thusly, it would not necessarily make things "better." Secondly, it cost me as much to lose this baby as it did to birth a baby.  We need to recover financially.  I also feel like I need time to recover physically.  My body is so depleted after this.  Not to mention, I know I will have to deal with varicose veins again.

Maybe that is why this loss is hard for me to accept and move on, because there are many reasons why pregnancy is not a good idea despite the fact that I would like to expand our family.

I have a lot of life in my own home to focus on.  One child takes a lot of effort.  Four children take even more effort.  They all need some sort of special attention. 

So I bide, hoping that one day the grief will pass like the memory of labor pains.  I remember laboring and what happened, but I can't remember the pain.  Something tells me emotional pain is never really gone.  It can be called up from one's mental depths by triggers.  It's for me to manage and put it where its appropriate.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

My Miscarriage Story

 The things people do not tell you could kill you.  The things they do tell you could heal you.

The Natural Disaster

I feel like my doctor’s office should have sent me home with some reading material on what a miscarriage should and should not be like.   I was left to the internet, which was very vague.  Everywhere websites said it would be like a heavy period, which might last one to two weeks.  This is how I had prepared myself.  It seemed to be going that way. 

The third day, to put it politely, I started bleeding a lot.  I thought, “I don’t know maybe this is what it’s like.”  Maybe this is the big event that happens.  I had very strong, labor-like, cramping, and a lot of bleeding.  It ran down my pants and seemed to be getting stronger.  Finally, I called on a friend who is a nurse practitioner.  I was calling more because I wanted more knowledge about what was going to happen.  I asked her how much bleeding was too much.  But by then it was getting scary.  She informed me I needed to get to an ER quickly.

My mom was visiting so she drove me to the ER and a friend took my children.  The ER was able to help me quickly enough.  I received IV fluids and went home.  I was wiped out for the next few days.  I still tire easily.  But, if I had not had a friend with medical training and whom I felt comfortable calling, things could have gone very badly.  I feel totally abandoned by those who were supposed to care for my health.  My doctor’s office is difficult to even get on the phone.  If only there had been a pamphlet for me to take home to help me know what’s normal, what’s not and explain my options.

So my takeaway for other women facing miscarriage is to ask for reading material, because you probably will not know what questions to even ask.  Then read it right away and call your doctor with any questions you might have.  Do not be afraid to be a bother?  Do not be afraid to ask dumb questions?

The Miscarriage Sisterhood 

In the past when I have met women who experienced miscarriages I have given my condolences, but I never linger on the topic.  I know it is painful and I wish not to trouble them.  For me it was the same.  I told my friends and immediately told them I did not want to talk about it.  It just made me feel too raw to talk about it.

But a funny thing happened this week.  Women started sharing with me about their own miscarriages.  For some reason while talking to these women I did not feel so terrible.  Likewise, they did not seem to struggle with it either.  Another friend shared that every time she shares with a woman facing miscarriage she feels a small sense of healing in herself.  I felt as strong as ever talking to these women.  It was very comforting and healing to see life and strength after loss.

I think it is healing to share with someone you know has gone through it.  Every story is different, with the same end--loss and grief.  Sharing the miscarriage stories is a little bit like sharing birth stories.  I think women feel solace in sharing birth stories as well.  It is something deeply connected to who we are and our womanhood.  Unfortunately, now I am a part of a new sisterhood.

 Looking for Sense in the Senseless 

Lately, I am the saddest (distraught and pained beyond measure), when I try to make sense of it.  I keep asking God why this happened.  I keep searching for signs why He would not want us to have a child now.  I’m always looking for signs from God.  My own answers make no sense.  There is no sense in this.  It all just feels like happenstance--like there is no hand of God.  That is why this is all so troubling. 

I pray a prayer every morning that says, “In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by You.”  There are no accidents; God makes no mistakes.  Then I remember that God is good.  So what awful thing did He protect us from in this event?  I keep searching to find God’s hand and I only become sadder, because I neither see Him nor want God to have brought this upon us.

Perhaps this event was bound to happen in this fallen world, yet He cared for me through my loss in ways that cannot be quantified.  I look at the timing of our loss.  I see how fortunate it was that it happened last week and not in the coming week when I would be traveling.  I see how fortunate I am in my friends and family, in the love and care they have given to us.  I see a lot of silver linings. 

I have to stop asking why.  I have to stop searching for meaning, because miscarriage is senseless.  I can only move forward and live.