Sunday, October 25, 2009

When Mom's not happy... nobodys' happy, But...

But when Mom is happy, everyone is happier!

In all honesty, our family has been struggling. I have had a very difficult nearly 3 years and have really struggled. And I know my struggling has been very difficult for Andy and for our two young boys who don't understand why Mom is often so tired and in such a bad mood. I had severe postpartum depression and anxiety after Isaac was born, and I don't think I had ever adequately recovered from that... but recently (the last month or so), I have finally been feeling like a "normal" person again (with the exception of 5-6 weeks of bronchitis and catching a cold a week ago on top of that, which completely drained me). But about 5 months ago I began to see a local doctor who works with hormones and fertility, as well as chronic fatigue and stress, by the way of research and treatment utilizing the Creighton method of NFP and working with our bodies' natural responses and needs. This is beginning to work wonders for me!

First, she put me on vitamins to give my body the nutrients it needs and to regulate my digestive system (apparently, you can't have a "happy" brain if you don't have a "happy" gut, and my gut was not happy). I did also start back on antidepressants to give my mood a little boost. But what has made the greatest difference has been getting on two things about 1 1/2 months ago: prescription progesterone (which I found I have to take as a suppository to avoid the side effects... but it's worth it) and a vitamin specifically to help my adrenal glands to function. Apparently, when people are stressed chronically, the adrenal glands become tired and don't do their job adequately. The adrenal glands, in addition to the ovaries, produce progesterone and use some of the progesterone to make cortisol (yes, the stomach fat hormone), which calms our bodies and relieves the stress response. Cortisol is also partially converted into cortisone, a natural anti-inflammatory (since starting on this stuff, I have also noticed less mid back pain and hip pain). Lack of progesterone production also contributes to worse-than-necessary PMS. And many people in our country are apparently estrogen-dominant, having often too little progesterone in comparison to the estrogen their bodies produce, likely due to diet and environmental factors, as well as stress. My progesterone was off-the-chart low by peak +5 (an NFP term), and I suspect I have had low progesterone my whole life, contributing to moodiness, especially during "that time" and depression, also contributing to my horrible postpartum anxiety and depression.

So what it comes down to is that I feel great! And except for being sick last week, I feel consistently good. And Andy and the boys all seem happier for having a happier mom. What a wonderful blessing! I am so grateful.

In other news, I have found a writers' group in the small town in which I live. I am hoping to be able to meet with them soon. The person who started this group gives writers' conferences at times also at local colleges and such. It has the potential for being a really good thing and getting me back into enjoying writing.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mazes

I had a moment of inspiration this morning and remembered how I used to make mazes for my two younger brothers when they were around 5 and 7 or so. I used to really like doing that. As a pre-teen, it was a challenge for me to create these mazes, and it was fun for the boys to find their way through them. I have a 4 year old who likes mazes and too few mazes around here for him... and the ones we do have are way too easy. So I took out some old computer paper - remember those ones with the holes on the sides that help to feed the paper through the printer - and created some mazes. He really liked the first one and did pretty well with it:



He asked me to make another maze. I suppose I made this one a bit harder, and he became a little impatient:



So I tried one more time, but he doesn't know it yet... I'll wait until tomorrow to show him. Hopefully this one will work well for him. Maybe I'll put together a book of them for him and Isaac. I'll put that on my list of projects...



I think I'll also make one or two really easy ones for my nearly 3 year old.

I can't wait to do other things with them. I remember how I used to make treasure hunts for my younger brothers. And they're nearly to the point of being able to play games in a semi-organized manner... I hope! We have some fun times coming!

Friday, October 16, 2009

5 Years

Yesterday, Andy and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. Well, celebrated is a relative term since I caught a cold and basically spent the evening lying around and blowing my nose.



But it was still a time to realize once again how blessed I am to be married to such a wonderful man. I am blessed to be married to a faithful Catholic man who loves God and loves me and the boys dearly. A man who is working hard in school so that he can someday soon provide for our family. A man who lives according to what he believes and knows to be right. Andy and I both agree that the last five years have been by far the best years of our lives, despite the struggles and arguments we have had at times. God brought him into my life, and me into his. And, as it should be in marriage, we realize we are gifts to each other and, often successfully, live accordingly.

Thank You, Lord, for bringing Andy into my life!

My Simple Prayer to Mary

"Blessed are you among women!"



Mary, you truly are blessed: you who have been called to be the mother of God! You who have been called to be the mother of all humanity! You who have been called to be my mother! You who have received countless graces and blessings from our Father in Heaven! Our Lord has truly looked upon you with love and generosity. He has called you to great things, and you have answered His call.

Mary, you are gentle and pure of heart. How beautiful you are! Please guide me to also be gentle and pure of heart, and please pray that our Father may also send His graces and blessings upon me that I may be more like you. Pray that I may be more loving toward my children and may gently guide them as you did with Jesus. Pray that I may give all of myself to my husband, and through him to God, and may be more pure of heart as you were in your marriage to Joseph. Pray that I may be attentive and may answer God's call for me as you answered His call.

Thank you for being present among us and for continuing to gently guide us. Thank you for being such a wonderful model as a woman, wife, and mother. Thank you for the love you have poured out for us.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pieces of Summer in Pictures

This summer, we were able to do some fun things with the boys.

I took a week off in late July and took the boys to their first baseball game, meeting my brother and sister-in-law there. We enjoyed our time, and the boys were excited for their first game in a "big big park."







We also went to a wedding and stayed over night in a hotel. They didn't enjoy the wedding reception as we thought they would. Maybe it's because we attempted to allow them to sleep together, and so they were very tired the next night. But they did enjoy lying in the same bed for a while... a little too much, until we moved one of them to our bed. Even then, they were too wound up to sleep until an hour after our bedtime. This picture is from early in the night when they were both relatively calm.



This summer they also became more accustomed to being in water. We went to several lakes, including at my parents' cottage. Eventually, they would both allow their shoulders to go under... sometimes. This took some time and gentle encouragement. But unfortunately, they are still afraid of hotel swimming pools and water parks, as we also found out this summer. Perhaps we'll tackle that this winter or next summer...



This fall, Blaise started pre-school. He seems to be blossoming in school. He has met new friends and is doing great with a bit of structure and with following directions. His first day, he was able to ride the bus from the "big school" where he has speech therapy to the "little school." On his first day, Andy, Isaac, and I waited for him to watch him get off the bus and go into the little school. He walked right in with Miss Ann, barely looking back. Normally, that would make me feel a bit sad, but I was proud, especially since Blaise is my hesitant little boy.





Blaise is in school Monday and Wednesday mornings, and, since I'm off on Wednesdays, this gives me time to spend with Isaac. It really is a gift to be able to give that time to him. I am discovering he likes letters, as well as puzzles. I found an alphabet puzzle in the basement in which each removable letter is on its own square and has a matching picture which is also removable. He really enjoyed putting his "ABCDEFG puzzle" together and singing the alphabet song. I am excited to work with him on those types of things.



I hope you all had a great summer too!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Countdown to Graduation

I started a countdown to the time Andy will be graduating a four months ago. The beginning of October unofficially marks 20 months until graduation. Likely, he will graduate the spring of 2011.

When there were two full years left, I figured out how long it would be in years (that was very easy), months (24), weeks (104), and days (710). Two years sounded like a long time. So did 104 weeks and 710 days. But for some reason, 24 months sounds do-able. So I count down in months. Now we're at 20.

I have to admit I am impatient. I struggle every day I have to work (4 days a week) with leaving the boys or dropping them off at the sitter. I hate the rush of the mornings and not being able to sit in the rocking chair with them to calm them down when they are whining or frustrated or just too wild. The older child, especially, craves this time and suffers when he doesn't get it. He also feels strongly the need to have some control over the situation rather than succumbing to the events of the day, which are different each day of the week. They both need cosistency and are really not getting it for that reason either. I struggle with that, and I struggle with how tired I am at the end of a long day, running from room to room, showing my patients/clients exercises, pushing on backs, stretching legs, pulling on necks. I am physically and mentally exhausted before I return home, often after 7 pm. I have no energy left for the boys. But Andy told me that I can stay home once he graduates and has a job. I long for that time, and so do the boys.

But I do realize I am greatly blessed by a caring and supportive husband and two wonderful children. I am blessed by the fact that Andy does to dishes, laundry, cleaning, bills, etc. I am blessed by the fact I do have a job and work for a very good company. I am blessed that I am able to make enough for our family working 30 hours a week. We have so many blessings; yet, I don't like to see the kids or I struggling so, or Andy for that matter.

I don't know yet whether I will quit working completely. Right now, I'm leaning toward talking with work after Andy lands a job and offering to work prn so that I can keep my hands in physical therapy and because it really is a good company I work for. But that may change. And for now I'm trying not to think about it too much as God may have other plans for us that I don't know about yet.

For now, I continue my countdown. Twenty months left.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Prayer goals

Following the retreat/girls' weekend, I made a list of 5 goals incorporating what I learned over the weekend and what I feel called to do as a response to the graces poured out upon Katie and I, and in hopes to grow spiritually and be a better wife and mother.

1) Read the Magnificat, Mary's prayer, daily. In this way, I hope to realize better that Mary not only said "yes" to God's invitation but rejoiced in it. She rejoiced in it despite the difficulties it would pose for her in being a young, unmarried pregnant woman who would traditionally be outcast and stoned.

2) Try my best to concentrate better when praying the Rosary.

3) Treat the boys, and Andy, as if they were Jesus Himself, and as Mary would have treated Jesus, her own Son, according to the Gospel from a couple weeks ago: "Then He took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in His arms, He said to them, 'Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes Me, and whoever welcomes Me welcomes not Me but the One who sent Me' (Mark 9:36-37).

4) After reading the book I'm currently reading (though I haven't picked it up in over 2 weeks), read The Secret of the Rosary by St Louis de Montfort, since we have that one at home, in order to begin studying for consecration to Mary.

5) Talk with Mary more often about my own struggles and joys, establishing a better relationship with her, and asking her for her motherly help, comfort, and guidance.

I have to admit, I have not been as good at following these goals as I would like. I have read the Magnificat once and meditated for a very short time on the first two verses. I have not concentrated well on the Rosary (though better than I usually do) and actually skipped the Rosary on Wed unintentionally. I have become impatient with the boys and with Andy. I have been talking with Mary more, though. But these are goals, and I will strive to work toward them. I share them here in an attempt to be more accountable to them.

So feel free to ask me about whether or not I am working on these goals!