Friday, August 20, 2010


About NFP: Why I Use It

I don't really mean to get up on my soapbox, but I was asked about the form of birth planning I use, and I thought I would do this right and explain my reasons first, and then get into he specifics on how Natural Family Planning works in a later post. If you're uninterested, no offense taken. Otherwise, bear with me because I want to explain NFP properly.

More info on the Couple-to-Couple League's form of the Sympto-Thermal Method can be found here.

Natural Family Planning is the concept of using the woman's body's signals to space children without the interference of artificial birth control methods such as the birth control pill, IUDs, depo-provera (the shot), condoms, sponges, et cetera. The method I use is called the Sympto-thermal method and takes into account the body's rhythm, mucus discharge, temperature, and cervix positioning. I am using the Couple-to-couple league's workbook and aid. The cost for the workbook, supplies, and the included year's membership (with free consultation) is $120. D and I decided to order the home study course and intend to attend the classes in person as soon as possible (included in the membership cost).

Our decision to switch to Natural Family Planning was made after we learned more about the hormonal birth control pill we were using as a form of family planning. We learned that hormonal birth control, nearly across the board, works by doing one of two things: first, it sends a signal to your body telling it that you are already pregnant, to which your body responds by not ovulating. Second, it weakens the endometrium, or uterine lining, resulting in any 'breakthrough' eggs to be flushed rather than to attach to the uterine wall. In other words, the initial function is to keep your egg from dropping, but in the case that your egg does drop and fertilization (conception) does occur, the fertilized embryo is then prevented from attaching to the uterine lining. It is starved and flushed from the uterus.

My personal reaction to this news was complex. I felt ignorant, guilty, sorrowful, and humbled. In my arrogance, I had believed that I could make a decision which directly countered a basic principle of my faith (Roman Catholic) based on very minimal research or understanding of the actual functions of birth control. In doing so, I had altered my body chemistry and quite possibly caused the miscarriage I had experienced a year prior.

While its reckless approach to life was the biggest reason for my turn from hormonal birth control (HBC), understanding the functions of HBC helped me to realize unadvertised negative side effects. When your body releases an egg from its follicle, the empty follicle (called corpus leteum), then begins to produce progesterone. Progesterone causes the pituitary gland to suppress ovulation. Psychiatric effects of progesterone include depression, mood swings, emotional instability, aggression, abnormal crying, insomnia, forgetfulness, sleep disorders. Sound familiar? Progesterone is basically the PMS hormone. Not surprisingly, progesterone levels remain high pretty much throughout pregnancy.

HBC works by combining varying levels of estrogen and progestin (a synthetic form of progesterone). Essentially, HBC constantly increases the amount of progesterone in your system, telling your body that you are pregnant 3 weeks out of each month. The week of "pink [placebo] pills" is included to allow withdrawal bleeding (basically, it flushes your system). So in other words, on HBC, you're either constantly PMS-ing (hormonally speaking) or else you are on your period.

Although these alone are substantial arguments in favor of NFP, there are a number of other benefits to using a more natural approach to birth spacing.

It is well-known that nearly half of all marriages in the US end in divorce. According to enrichment journal on the divorce rate in America:
The divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%
The divorce rate in America for second marriage is 60%
The divorce rate in America for third marriage is 73%

So it's incredibly heartening to look at the divorce rates for NFP-practicing couples. According to a study by the Family of the Americas Foundation, divorce rates in NFP-practicing couples is only 0.2%! "Jottings" by John Kipley of the Couple-to-couple league, cites multiple informal studies placing the divorce rates of NFP-practicing couples between 1 and 5 %.

Natural Family Planning works by educating a couple about how fertility works. What signs indicate increased fertility, when to expect ovulation, and when to expect menstruation. Without artificially controlling these things. This can be a boon not only in understanding one's body, but also in the future should the couple ever desire to conceive again.

One of my concerns when approaching the Natural Family Planning debate was effectiveness. However, this chart describes the effectiveness rate of different pregnancy prevention methods.

No birth control method 20%
Calendar Rythm (Ognio-Knaus) 87%
Withdrawl 91%
Ovulation (or Billings) method 96%
Diaphragm with spermicide 97%
Foam 97%
LAM (Breastfeeding) (first 6 months) 98%
Condom 99%
IUD 99%
Pill 99.7%
Sympto-Thermal Method 99.8%
Tubal Ligation 99.6%
Vasectomy 99.85%
Castration, removal of ovaries, abstinenct: 100%

This data was reported by the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and various respected medical journals.

Artificial forms of birth control intentionally separate the act of sex from the act of creation. Therefore, when a couple practicing artificial forms of birth control gets pregnant as a result of "protected" sex, the resultant life is seen as burdensome, rather than as a blessing. The child is a surprise, and it is easy to see that life as an unwelcomed surprise. Practicing NFP, however, serves to constantly remind the couple that the act of sex is, in fact, a life-giving act. As such, an unexpected pregnancy can still be a welcomed surprise, because after all, sex causes babies.

Thursday, August 05, 2010


Dear Aunt N,

Your nephews are asleep. Your brother-in-law is asleep. Your sister should be asleep. However, this fuzzy purple blanket you forgot in my sofa bed is so invitingly comfortable, and it combines with the quiet to give such a sense of peace. Even in the midst of chaos, I'm joyful :)

 We prayed for you tonight, and I should have been focusing on your discernment, but my mind wandered to your fuzzy purple blanket. I have written a letter in which I offer to send it wherever directed, and I will happily do so, but I will confess that a small part of me hopes you don't want it.

A greedy part.

I love you, my dear little sis.

You and your blanket.

Monday, August 02, 2010


Adventures in Potty Training

Weeeelll, life got away from us. And when N started waking up & entertaining himself for a while before calling to us to get him out of his room, he also started wetting his diaper in the morning. Previously, I'd been bringing him to the toilet first thing when he woke up. Now, it's been months since he used the potty last and we're struggling about getting him to use it again. No matter how often I put him on the toilet, he just waits until he has a diaper on (or else waits until he can no longer hold it).

Honestly, I'd be willing to accept slowly working through this if not for one thing: N hates soiled diapers so much that he will pull off his pants and take off his diapers if they are even just wet. It's incredibly irritating at the least to find a stray dirty diaper. Far worse to find a little boy covered in his own mess...and then to have to track down the stray diaper (after dealing with said messy boy, of course).

So I'm not doing it anymore. I have drawn my line in the sand. He will be potty training.

Today begins our marathon. We started the day in the bathroom, but since it's small, it wasn't going to work for both babies and me. So now the potty is in the living room (on a bathroom mat) and I have an eagle eye on my little guy. He really doesn't like it. He is insistent that he needs to wear a diaper. I'm not buying your shtick, buddy.

Sunday, August 01, 2010


Crawling Talking & Opinionated!

As promised, an update on the boys!

T started crawling! At first, it was rocking on his hands & knees and then catapulting himself onto his face. He would seriously use this as a method of transportation (silly guy!). It was pretty adorable. But now he crawls all around the house. He likes to get himself standing supported on things but then seems to get stuck a lot. It's nice to have him a bit more independent though!

I've noticed that he is going through more of a "stranger anxiety" period than N did at this age. He seems much more clingy to D and I than he had been, and his routine is all-important. This sometimes gets frustrating (like when I have to go into work, or when D and I want/need a date night) but we're working through it. It helps to have a baby carrier and his big bro around.

N's vocabulary is growing all the time. He's still on 2-word sentences like "No nap", "Go walk". "Hi Dad" and "Love you", but he is constantly using new nouns. This morning, he kept pointing to his closet saying, "bike" which had me completely confused until I saw that he was pointing directly at a shirt that had a bike on it. He also uses, "Off" and "On", "open" and "closed", and "yes" and "no" more accurately now. We're getting ready for his second birthday on the 18th! :)

Friday, July 30, 2010


Hello, World!

Yikes, life has been busy busy busy!

Not that it excuses me for completely failing to update.

D's birthday has come & gone. 7/5. We had a BBQ at the park on the fourth and that served as a 4th of July/birthday party. We got cheesecake because he's not a big cake person. I got him little toys: a car mp3 player and some other miscellaneous stuff. He really wanted a book reader, and I was planning on getting him one, but his brother, PS, gave him an itouch which is now his favorite toy ever and his book reader.

D and I celebrated our 4 year wedding anniversary 7/22. I got him a useless electronic toy (a tablet mouse, because I knew he wanted one but couldn't justify its purchase). He got me a few things: a beautiful charm bracelet with charms for our patron saints and our sons' patron saints, a lovely kinetic watch, and a new ruby for my wedding band.

I'm not a big fan of diamonds (too bland, overpriced, and bought off the exploitation of so many people), so my wedding band has always been a ruby (red is my favorite color & his birthstone), but when we were first married, we didn't have the money for anything more than a tiny little stone. It's beautiful, but we're upgrading a little. The original stone will be going in a pendant necklace that we've had (waiting for it) for about a year. (I'll update with photos when I have the ring with the new stone in it).

We've also starting the formal homestudy course for Couple-to-Couple league Sympto-thermal Natural Family Planning. It actually isn't as confusing as I'd expected... except for one thing: being postpartum means I haven't had a menstrual cycle yet, so everything is a bit up-in-the-air still. I have to be incredibly diligent and cautious about my notations. So far, so good. And they have us set up with a personal guidance counselor of sorts for the program, so that helps, and I get the feeling it will help a LOT over time. I'm really really feeling positive about it, actually.

I think that catches you up on us... Another post on the babies to come!

Thursday, July 01, 2010


Another Late Wednesday Wish List

1. To my son, N, I know you find my bouquets fascinating and beautiful. Pulling them apart and bringing them to me is not the best way to indicate this. Nor is tearing the petals from the flowers. Please don't make me put them all out of reach. I like my little end table bouquets.

2. Wishing for a nap. Wishing ardently for a nap.

3. Monday is the hub's birthday. Please let all go well.

4. Belly be gone! This baby belly is just hanging on. I don't care so much about numbers. My weight is actually at a healthy number. It's the fact that it's all fat and none muscle right now that's bothering me. Trying to get some abdominal workouts in. Please, I'd really like to see some changes!


Fresh Fruit!

mmmmmMMMMMmmmmm.... I love when fruit starts to come ripe, and this summer, the hubs and I brought the boys down to visit Grandma E & pick some strawberries & cherries! Yummers!

We now have 3 gallons of strawberries (went through about 3/4 gal already). We ate the cherries and have our own strawberry, blueberry (not ripe yet), and raspberry plants producing! Yummy yummy!

I have noticed one slight problem though...

Some of the strawberries are planted on the side yard, which is at the end of our row in our complex. Meaning, other renters walk by there frequently, and we've noticed that they've been picking the strawberries. Since we have gallons of strawberries, we haven't been worrying too much about it, but we also have 3 tomato plants, basil, and a blueberry bush over there. The family that we know is picking (it's a very small complex w/only 3 other apartments) doesn't really speak English, and we don't want to be rude... We'd be fine with them picking if they'd asked, or if they were helping to maintain (ie, water and weed), but they're just grabbing berries when they go by. How does one politely indicate that this is an issue? I don't mind sharing, really, but I'm worried we won't get any of the blueberries... There are very few because it's a baby bush... :-/

Advice? Am I just being stingy?

Monday, June 28, 2010


Ingrid Michaelson

I had a weird moment this afternoon and switched on the television.

Ingrid Michaelson, one of the artists who I have really felt myself drawn into loving, is on live at the artists den on PBS. Well, she's nearly finished now.

I've spent the last hour picking up house to the sounds of a really talented woman in concert :) ... a lot of music I wouldn't have been able to hear otherwise, too!

Silly little thing to bring so much joy, but things have really been moving much better than I'd expected and I think the music has lifted N's spirits, too.

I guess it's an old episode...

Doesn't change my good mood, though.

Just thought I'd share XP

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Fantastic Fathers!!!... and a little love for Mom, too XD

I can hardly thank one without thanking the other, considering that they're the two strongest male influences in my life.

I owe so much to my own father, DDN, who made sure that I was fed, cared for, and on a good life track as I grew. My siblings and I never had reason to question whether or not he loved us, as my dad always made it his heart open to us. I still think about him every time I pass a snack cart at a little league game, go to the movies, or see a large family with an evidently strong and involved father. Or when called "M.R." or "Mr." :) Thank you so much for putting us first! I love you, Dad!

And to my husband, DAH, who has been a source of support since... well, since I was 14, but most especially in the last 5 years. You make my every day a better one. You inspire, affirm, and anchor me and our boys. It seems like it's been forever since the days I would drag along anyone I could convince to the swimming pool just so I could stand at the top of the slide, but I pray that it is, in fact, a moment in comparison with the time we are given together. The way you adore our boys is a constant source of joy for me. Thank you for being our rock! I love you!

And to all the men who devote their lives to the priesthood. A special thank you to Fr. Richard, Fr. Buettner, Fr. Antony, and Fr. Vincent. Thank you for your sacrifices and I pray for your continued presence as reminders of our perfect Heavenly Father.

As I began this post, I thought about the hectic chaos that was Mother's Day (in the hospital...remember? ... & here's the short version ... anyway, it occurred to me that I hadn't actually posted a thank you to the woman who showed me what a wife and mother should be!

To my mom, MCN (those initials are so familiar :), I am so grateful to have someone to call for all those little things that leave me going, "Wait, huh? Uh-oh!" I know that I can depend on you for grounded and faithful advice on, well, everything. You taught me how good it can be to sacrifice, how important it is to be supportive of those you love, and how to "know them by their fruit."  I am only ever more amazed by the sacrifices you made, and as each becomes more apparent to me, I become increasingly floored. Thank you for all of your lessons, but especially for always reaffirming that God provides. I love you, Mom!

Lord, You are our Eternal Father. You are Love, and Your goodness is unending. Grant wisdom, love and guidance to all fathers on this day especially. Today we heard Saint Peter recognize Your Son, and we likewise recognize You as our Father. Remind, the fathers in our lives to look to you as the example of love and fatherhood. 

We make this prayer in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Saturday, June 19, 2010


Set the Scene

As silly as it is, whenever I find myself getting impatient and short-tempered with others, I think about a scene from the children's PBS show, Arthur. In this scene, Arthur's little sister is whining at him to please help her, and he considers the reactions he could have and the consequences of his reactions. It's this scene that speaks volumes to me about how my choices affect those around me.

As a mother, I am increasingly aware of the fact that I have the power to set the entire tone of the household. If I snap at D when he gets home, it is likely to change his attitude for the rest of the evening. If I have dinner ready at the same time every day, D and N both react well to the consistency. If I clean, D and N tend to keep in motion. If I show patience, I find that patience is shown to me.

So I try to keep flowers in the house, the floors picked up, and dinner ready on time. I'm not always great about it, especially when our lives are off-kilter for some reason, but I try. And I see the rewards when I do succeed.

How do you work to set the tone in your household? What are some of the nice touches you find helpful? Or, conversely, what do you find sets your family off?


Book of the Week

It's a standard, and most mommies I know are VERY familiar with it, but I couldn't not pay a little tribute to Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.

We love mooing at the cow that jumps over the moon, meowing with the kittens, squeaking with the mice, roaring with the bears in chairs, and "hush"ing with the little old lady.

N is very diligent about waving goodnight at each page, too. :)

Friday, June 18, 2010


Wednesday (Friday) Wish List

Yeah, I'm late... Whoopsie!

This week's wish list...

1. For the sun to stay! Please, oh, please, I am so worn-down by this rainy weather!

2. For those lovely big green strawberries, blueberries & raspberries in our yard to ripen! I am waiting ever-so-patiently for the bliss that is fresh fruits!

3. An "outing with the family" day. Considering that Sunday is Father's Day (!), I think I can accomplish that ;)

Baptism Photo Shoot!

Knowing our (very active) little boy, D and I scheduled a pre-baptism photo shoot for the boys.

They started out uncooperative...

But then Daddy gave N his glasses to play with...

And Mommy used a blanket to play "pee boo"...

And finally, they got to shed the uncomfortable clothing...

And my little guys were once again as happy as clams. :)

And D & I got some pretty adorable photos out of the deal, too!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Cooing Sweetness

I can hear T babbling to N, while N does tricks in front of him.

I love the noises of a content baby. The cooing, the exploration of his voice, the bursts of unexpected giggles... it brings so much joy into the house!

For all the headaches they give me at times, my boys certainly do keep me grounded and happy!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Slipping into Self-Righteousness

Do you ever find yourself, like me, slipping into feelings of self-righteousness and increased self-worth?

Lately, I have been more observant of these bad habits, and I have been trying to combat them. It's very difficult work, and I'm barely chipping at the surface of my pride and arrogance. :-/

To accept that someone else could be right, and I could be wrong, particularly in regards to something about which I feel strongly, is a huge struggle for me. To put such a gouge in my pride as to admit that I'm simply not taking actions that glorify God is... well, frustrating. And yet I know that what I consider a gouge is simply a dent... oddly, it gives me strength. I suppose it's because I am such a stubborn and tenacious person.

Even small actions I take clearly show my self-righteousness, my arrogance, my pride...

Driving home, I find myself aggravated by the speed of traffic, drivers making decisions with which I don't agree, etc. I find myself elevating my opinion of 'proper' driving, making myself a sort of small 'god' of the road.

Of course, my parents could tell you that I've always been their 'little Hitler,' an effect of my personality combined with being the eldest. But didn't you know? My way is clearly best.

What a ridiculous notion, that my way is the best way!

When my soul knows the Truth that His way is The Way. That any way that isn't His is certain to fail me in the end.

So now I am trying to pause when I find my emotions beginning to run high. I am trying to think through my biases. I am trying to channel God's love when dealing with those around me.

How do you struggle with pride? In what ways do you overcome your struggles?

Lord, thank You for my many blessings. Thank You for opening my heart to Your Word. Thank You for touching my life with two wonderful children. Teach me to walk in Your path. Help me to submit my whole self to Your will. Give me the courage and wisdom to follow You, especially when I struggle to understand the directions You follow. Remind me always that I am redeemed through Your Son and not through my own actions. Give me the strength and humility to ask Your mercy and forgiveness. Continue to remind me that I am never righteous in and of myself, and help me to lean on You so hard that Your absence might cause me to fall. Help me also to instill in my children a love of You and trust in Your promises.

I pray this in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


A Day Out

We went out on Monday with family friend, RS. Walked around, ate, looked at books, went back home, put kids to bed, and sat around a fire for a couple hours.

N loves *LOVES* going for walks in the stroller.

When we got home, N promptly got his clothes all messy... So he spent some time harassing Daddy in just a diaper.

Then he made up to D.

Meanwhile, T spent some time with Aunt N.

And then some time on his tummy.

Wish I'd thought to pull out my camera and take some pics by the fire.

Oh well.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


After the slack...

Things that have kept me from my blogging routine (although it does seem as though every time I post lately it's an apology for being gone so long!)...
.Aunt N has been in town (staying with us) for about 2 weeks, and things get crazy with visitors.
.D's older brother and sis-in-law (Uncle D and Aunt R) came into town for about a week, and there were many family BBQs and such.
.D's younger sister (Aunt Miche) graduated from Cornell and then came into town for about a week.
.D's younger brother (Uncle P) graduated from high school.
.T was baptised! Yay!
.I've been working at a comedy club as a waitress. It's interesting and fun and part-time, which is good.
.D is in school now, 30 hours a week.

Many more descriptive posts to come, but for now, suffice it to say, we've had busy but good visits with people, T's baptism went very well, and D is enjoying schooling. In the flurry of life, things are good.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


A Little Bedtime Trouble

Sooooo, T is growing fast, and D and I are concerned about how much longer he has in his bassinet. He's just starting to look a little crowded in there, really.

We've had N's toddler bed set up ever since we got it, but N shows little interest in it unless we're talking about it. And he's very very clingy to his routine, and doesn't like to change things up at all.

But lately, D and I have started to try putting N in the toddler bed instead of the crib.

He doesn't appreciate it.

From the moment he lays down, it's a tear-fest. I don't mind putting him back in bed constantly but the crying just eats at me. I mean, it's not the normal "I'm not getting my way" tears. It's "something is very wrong!!!" tears.

So, here I am, coming to you.

Does anyone have any advice for how to make this transition easier? I've been told to bring him with us shopping for bedding, and we can work on that. I've been given advice about not backing down, and I'm tenacious once I get it in my head. But this isn't a punishment for him, and I'd like the transition to be as painless as possible. Does anyone have any ideas? Experience?

Friday, May 21, 2010


Book of the Week

Red is Best, by Kathy Stinson, is the story of Kelly, a young girl who knows exactly what she wants.

And it isn't the blue jacket, or the brown mittens, or the yellow pajamas.

I grew up with this book, and when we got pregnant, I was insistent that we make it a part of our children's book collection.

Now N loves this book. He calls it "Reb" and we love reading it together.

But I'm pretty convinced my mom still doesn't understand about Red.


Where is?

Today, N put together 2 words to ask a question. It wasn't a full sentence, but it was the basic concept of one. :)

Yesterday, I pulled out a couple of toys that had been hidden for a while (we just have soooo many toys!) and this morning he was looking for one of the wooden shape peg things for a  shaped peg puzzle. He pointed to the board, complete but for the one, and asked D very clearly, "Where is?"

D found the peg and gave it to N.

Then right before he left for work, D got him to say, "Yes, please" but to be fair, that was coached.

What you must understand, however, is that I have had the darndest time getting 2 syllables out of him together (with the exception, that is, of "pee boo"). Twice in one day, and with repeats, I should add, is quite the feat!