Sunday, March 29, 2009

Is It Really Worth It?

Over the last few weeks I have really been considering if I should keep posting to this blog. The desire to free myself from distractions and grow closer to the Lord keeps tugging on my heart. Some times I wonder if all this technology is even worth the effort it takes to maintain it.

And then there's the issue of privacy. Am I putting my family's life at risk by posting stories and pictures online for the whole world to see? (Although, according to my sitemeter data, very little of the world is actually bothering to look at this blog - probably because I post so sporadically.)

The jury is still out on this one. I think I just need to discipline my daily routine and then determine if there is an open time to blog. Discipline continues to be a central theme in my life.

With Easter and Holy Week approaching, I am especially feeling the call to focus myself on what matters most. Does blogging stack up next to the rest of my priorities? Can I find a time to blog that isn't at 2am when my husband is on hall duty?

When I have the answers, I'll let you know.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Michael Ryan Sleeps Soundly While Mommy Reads Into the Wee Hours of the Night

Pausing Life for a Good Read

Do you ever get sucked into a book? Have you experienced a day when all other tasks go to the wayside while you devour the text in front of you? Have you stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, bleary-eyed and immune to time, because you have to know what happens next?

Then you know what I am talking about.

Every once in awhile I go on binge readings. This is nothing new. I can remember nights during my childhood when I would hide under the covers with a flashlight to feed my reading habit, praying that my parents wouldn't notice the light seeping out from the crack under my door.

The past two days I've spent reading State of Fear by Michael Crichton. It certainly is a page turner. And turned the pages I have. My only awareness of time passing came from Michael's demands to nurse. On occasion I thought, man, this kid wants to eat every five minutes, to realize that two hours had passed since I last looked at the clock.

The final page has been turned.

And I have some new ideas to mull over. The whole story centers around the "global warming" hype and the repercussions of ideologue environmentalists. I found it a particularly interesting read in light of all the political developments on the topic these days. Has the State of Fear reached beyond the pages of Crichton's book into today's American society? I am beginning to wonder...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Daddy's Hand

Concidence? Ryan Thinks Not.

Ryan was on hall duty tonight. Since I can't seem to find my way to bed while he is still awake, I spent the evening watching movies & clicking around the internet. I stumbled onto this blog, which, coincidentally, speaks of issues I am currently battling: gluttony, sloth, & weight loss.


I am convicted. I have to make "induced exercise" a priority. I must learn patience (because it sounds like my exercise won't become an enjoyable habit for at least a year). I'm gonna have to get off my duff and surrender my lazy ways.

More on this topic later.

My Favorite Moment

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Thank Goodness, I Am Not Alone

As I sit here dealing with my own sore chest, it's nice to know that I am not alone in my breastfeeding challenges. I am referring to Jennifer F.'s #3 Quick Takes Friday post on her apprehension to begin nursing a new baby.

When I followed the link to her original breastfeeding post I was shocked to read all the testimonials about nursing challenges - and straight up pain. Until now, all I've been told is the rather aggravating mantra "breastfeeding shouldn't hurt."

Well, it does hurt. And I'm sick of feeling like something is wrong with me because I feel pain while nursing! I've found examples of other women suffering initial breastfeeding pain that only abates with time's passage. Maybe I'm not crazy or disfunctional for feeling pain!

It was also great to get more perspectives on breast yeast infections. I've already gone through one round of prescription meds to eradicate one such infection. But I think it might be back again. I was under the impression that my baby had to have very obvious thrush symptoms to qualify for a yeast infection. Not so, according to Breastfeeding Essentials. Apparently everything can look normal and still be infected.

I found suggestions for treatment options too. Not to mention a clearer understanding of the possible causes for a yeast infection. During Michael's first six weeks I was given at least 4 doses of antibiotics (GBS positive, c-section surgery, c-section post-op, c-section postpardum). Michael also had a dose or two during his NICU stage. Did I eat yogurt to help replenish the good bacteria? Nope - didn't have a clue it was helpful.

After seeing all the comments on Jennifer F.'s blog I see that breastfeeding challenges (and pain) are typical. It's really unfortunate that nursing can be so difficult. And yet, I find comfort in the realization I am not alone.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wordless (Ash) Wednesday

Blogging Birthday

I just realized - this blog is officially one year old! Check out my very first post from February 20, 2008. Wow. What a change my path has taken since that first post. God is good. All the time.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras vs. Lenten Sacrifice

I am currently waffling between two possible Lenten sacrifices. They are both a huge distraction in my life, especially as I've been tied to my home taking care of a new baby.

#1 - SUGAR and all sugary products, including cookies, cakes, brownies, chocolates, ice cream, syrup, jam, donuts, hot chocolate, soda, and anything else yet unlisted.

#2 - online TV shows. Many hours have been wasted waiting for the show to queue and getting sucked in to just one more episode (it never really is just one).

As I've been reflecting on how best to sacrifice for the next 40 days (not including Sundays, of course) I keep getting a little nagging thought in the back of my mind. Maybe I should go big and forgo both options. Perhaps I could even use my undistracted free time in prayer or spiritual reading. Heck, I might even make these sacrifices a habit and continue through the Easter season - and beyond!

The fact is that I feel the glut of too much sugar & TV. I am ready for a change. I am yearning for a change. I seriously need a change. Lent sprung up on me this year, but it couldn't have come at a better time. I am so ready to purge myself of distraction, to feel the burn of exercising my willpower against vices (and on the treadmill too). I have great expectations for the next six weeks. And now that I've made my pledge a public affair, I can count on you to keep me accountable.

Here's to a wonderful and fruitful Lent 2009!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Fourth Time's a Charm

Today was one of those days. The kind where I realize that I have to reconstruct my old ways of thinking to include a baby. It's the little things - you know, like getting anywhere on time. Especially getting to Mass on time.

Ryan and I had big plans to make it to the 12:15pm Mass this afternoon. Then he was up until 3am on hall duty last night (for his residence life job), an hour later than anticipated. I need at least 2 hours to get up and out the door on time for mass with baby Michael. I woke up too late. We notice it's snowing like crazy. We decide to attend a later Mass.

So we plan on going to the 5:30pm instead. And then a friend who lives in NY wants to drop by because she is only in town until tomorrow evening. By the time we usher her out the door and dig out the car, it's 5:22pm and we're late. Plus Ryan has work to do and would prefer to go to the 8:00pm Mass here on campus.

I leave to attend a social event and plan to return to campus no later than 7:45pm. Of course, as I'm walking out the door of the event at 7:40pm Michael is beginning to fuss. And it's still snowing. By the time I nurse Michael, change his diaper, and gingerly navigate my way to the car to avoid a total wipeout, I'm late again.

Our fourth and final option is to attend a dorm Mass with my sister on the ND campus. It starts at 10:00pm. I can't believe I'm actually attending a Mass that barely meets the Sunday requirement. But this time I'm ready. We are out the door by 9:35pm and in the chapel before most of the students stumble through the door. I am finally at Mass early.

Then I proceed to spend the next hour jiggling and swaying and making faces at Michael. I may be there physically, but I'm having a real difficult time keeping myself there mentally.

It's just one of those days.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Awe & Amazement

There are times when I stare at the face of my child in awe & amazement. How in the world is there a little person, who is half of me, living & breathing in my arms?

Where did he come from? How did he get here? Why have I been blessed with this wonderful gift?

I don't think it will ever cease to marvel at the miracle that is Michael Ryan.

Ain't It Crazy?

Why am I awake at 12:49am?

No, it's not because the baby is awake and demanding a diaper change or nursing session.

No, it's not because I just returned home from a wonderful, romantic date with my husband (while my son was cared for by a loving Grandmother who rocked him into a blissful 6 hour sleep).

Why then?

Because my husband is awake. And I am a perpetual night owl. And he has another all-night project to work on, due tomorrow morning. And I'm too tired to get myself out of this chair, wash my face, and actually go to sleep in my own bed.

Because I am living the life of a pseudo graduate student.

Because my little man is asleep and if I try to remove him from his carseat he will awaken and demand to be nursed back to sleep. And the only time I get to type on my computer is when he sleeps.

So. Here I am. Type, type, typing away...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Six Weeks Older (& Wiser)

Michael Ryan is six weeks old today. It feels like he was just born yesterday, and somehow, like I've never been without him. We are starting to get used to each other, but I don't yet feel competent in my role as mother.

For example: I'm still wearing pajamas (as in, just rolled out of bed, unshowered, messy hair, the works) and it's officially the afternoon.

Last week I was quite inspired by Michael's entry into the Church and decided to make attending daily mass a priority. All I have to do is walk across the campus parking lot, and there Christ is, ready for me in the Eucharist each day at 12:05 or 12:25pm. The little guy and I made it to daily mass three times last week and twice this week.

I've noticed a marked difference in how well I am able to handle my vocation in the past two weeks, especially on the days I make it to mass. I have a center to my day, I get up and moving, and my inability to be a perfect housewife & mother doesn't bother me so much. Actually, I am more likely to finish those chores & projects that constantly hang over my head when I go to mass!

It never ceases to amaze me how my inadequate efforts to pray and center my day around mass reap such an abundance of peace in my life. My hope is to make mass a habit in my daily life, the action that anchors my routine. And I think it will get easier as time goes on, as I learn how to better care for Michael and as he settles into his own routines.

I'll keep you posted on my progress!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Baptism Day (or, Michael Ryan's De-Paganization)

Michael is officially a month old today. And today is the first day I've really felt pulled together since he was born. That doesn't mean I've finished all the tasks I've hoped to do. But mentally, spiritually, and emotionally I feel like I am on a better track this week. Good thing it's Monday (and not Friday!). At this moment I've got the little angel face tucked in a sling and he's making all sorts of cute little noises, like he's singing along to the music playing.

Yesterday, January 18th, Ryan & I gathered with family and friends to celebrate Michael's introduction into the Catholic church via the waters of baptism. It was a wonderful day. We had over 30 people who were able to witness our joyous event. I had sent out a mass email last week letting everyone know about the baptism and inviting anyone who was interested to stop by and join us at the church at 1:30pm. How exciting to see my grandparents, ladies from my CRHP group, and all our Steubie friends in attendance! Seriously, Michael is one popular little man.

Ryan and I chose to baptize Michael Ryan by full immersion in the water. It required a delicate dance to get him in and out of his diaper, soft fluffy white towel, and baptismal gown - but with the helpful hands of his godmama, Suzy, we were able to avoid any "accidents" during the baptism.

He looked like a new person after the baptism, he really did. The white gown revealed the difference in his soul in such a tangible way for me. Yesterday I fully appreciated and understood the reason for having sacramentals like a baptismal gown. He looked so pure and fresh in his new outfit! He even smells holy - all spicy and wonderful from his chrism. I love the fact that Michael is now a little saint, without the stain of sin on his baby soul. I hope he always stays this way! He has been smiling a lot today, another factor I contribute to his baptism. It seems like he is happier.

So, now the burden of Michael's pure little soul is really on my shoulders. I think that's why I felt compelled to get up and to mass this morning (well, noon, to be more specific). I want to give him every opportunity to grow in holiness - which requires me to pull my own act together. I think daily mass is a good way to center my days. So that will be my goal. If I do nothing else each day, I want to make sure Michael and I attend mass. Pray for me and my stamina!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Nap Time

All is quiet round the house (eh, apartment, if you wanna be specific). I've discovered that I can relieve my lap of Michael's cozy little self if I put him in the bouncer and then bounce it with my foot. He just loves to be in someone's arms, that feeling of comfort and movement. And I just love to snuggle him - only it makes typing on my laptop very difficult.

So I have come to a compromise. I am able to see his little face and gauge his needs when he's in the bouncer. I can also do a little work on my computer because my hands are actually free.

Here's the funny thing: I am finally all settled, with Michael nestled down in his chair, and my eyelids are beginning to droop. It's mid-afternoon. The sun is beginning to fade away from the windows. Nap time. I guess all that computer work will have to wait...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Little Man Who Could (and Does)

Taking care of a brand new little person is a lot more difficult than I ever anticipated. Just when I think his tummy is full & he's clean all over - something inevitably spews out of his little body. The last day or so has been a rash of spitting up (and one projectile vomiting incident. Seriously, it looked like a fountain coming out of his mouth). The few days before that, peeing out the back of his little newborn diapers. Four outfit changes in less than an hour. Our laundry schedule is on serious overload.

[As I sit here now, with the little man on my lap while I type away, more spit-up arrives on the scene.]

But then an even weirder phenomenon occurs. I start to look into his little eyes, to watch the myriad of expressions that cross his face in the course of 30 seconds, and I fall in love all over again. This effect is strengthened when his little eyes stare back into mine, or when his tiny baby fingers grasp my own adult-sized finger.

Yes, Michael Ryan, I will continue to care for you, change your diapers, wipe the spit-up off your face, change those urine soaked little outfits & bedsheets - even when my OCD cleanliness factor can't stand it anymore (it's a genetic thing - just ask my mother, or grandmothers). I'll wash a load or 2 of laundry every day, even though it takes 3 days for the same load of clean clothes to make it back into the drawers. And, most especially, I promise to keep covering your face in mommy kisses and to always snuggle with you and hold you and rock you and comfort you. Because you are a gift. A very precious gift.