Sunday, January 28, 2007

Not As Bad As It Sounded

When they first told me that the oral diabetes medication was not working and that I was going to have to begin twice daily, self-administered insulin injections--in the pregnant belly, no less--I nearly passed out.

I am a needle-phobe who cannot even look when they draw blood for fear of hitting the floor. As a nurse's daughter, I always knew I would need to pursue a different career (and did)!

But, amazingly, it is not so bad. In fact, it hurts less than the finger pokes needed to check the blood sugar. Perhaps I have become one of those super human moms who can lift cars if needed to protect her child. Maybe if this were not for the baby I would be unable to do it at all. But whatever the reason, I AM doing it, and it's really, truly not that bad. Who would have guessed?

Now, let's just hope this works!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I Know Just How He Feels

Lesson learned from toddler: When it all becomes too much for you, just drop where you are and sleep it off.

Result: lowered stress, a well-rested body and a renewed spirit.

(Warning: Better in theory than practice for mothers.)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Happy Birthday Lindsey

OK, so I'm a few days late (it was a week ago now--how did that happen!), but I did not want to miss officially wishing Lindsey a happy 7th birthday.

23 girls, a spaghetti lunch, and a horse-themed party packed with activities made for a full afternoon, a happy birthday girl (and one tired mom).

Lindsey, who we often refer to as "the nicest person in our family, parents included" is growing up too fast. What happened to our baby who spent the first few days of her life uncharacteristically frowning? Who is this considerate, sensitive girl who can read, do math and is already flip flopping in gymnastics? And what happened to her two front teeth?!

We love you so much, precious Lindsey. Thank you for the light you bring to our family, the love you put in our hearts and for being exactly who you are.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Internet Angels

About a month ago, the National Catholic Register printed a letter to the editor about the danger and deception of online relationships. I did not read this letter myself, but followed the reactive threads on a few blogs I read regularly. Specifically, this letter claimed:

"Bloggers act as though they are buddies who really know each other, who have actual involvement in one another’s lives. I think this 'virtual community' is an illusion at best, dangerous at worst. The blogosphere isn’t a real community."

I didn't feel particularly compelled to write about this at the time, but in the last few weeks my opinion on this matter has become much stronger.

I enjoy my online community and the friendly relationships I feel I have developed with regular commenters on this blog, many of whom I have never met. I like reading their blogs (even though I myself am an admittedly infrequent commenter) and seeing their comments on mine. When I read of a trial that a fellow blogger is having, I stop and pray for them. Sometimes I even add their intentions to our family's evening prayers (prompting "who's that?" questions from the kids). This feels quite real to me and I am convinced of the power my prayers have for them, no matter where or who they are. Prayers are prayers.

In the past month, I have put up several posts about things going on in my life that have received incredible support from my online community. I have been so touched by the comments and promises of prayers from people who don't know me beyond this blog. I have received good advice, understanding, and encouragement from the blogosphere, and I most definitely believe it is a real community.

Today, for example, I learned that Father Augustine, a Benedictine monk from the U.K. who learned about my pregnancy complications from a reader, said mass for me yesterday. How is this not real? Is the reader who shared my concerns with him not a real friend, regardless of how anonymous she is to me personally?

I understand, of course, that not all online communities pure and good. Some are just the opposite. But this one, comprised of mostly Catholic moms intending nothing but to support and inspire each other, is a really, really good thing.

The letter to the NCR goes on to speak of the danger of abandoning one's real family in favor of nurturing online relationships, which I suppose could be a valid concern in a few, isolated situations. But if the little free time we moms have after our children are in bed can be spent encouraging each other in our vocation, how can this be bad?

Being a stay at home or homeschooling mother can be very isolating. Finding like-minded mothers, or even parenting literature to support you can be difficult. The Internet, blogging in particular, has opened a door for people all over the world with similar ideals to bond together. Just because its happening on a computer screen instead of in the living room doesn't make it any less real or valuable.

Thank you, to all of you who read and comment so encouragingly on this blog. I appreciate you very, very much!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Road Is Paved With Good Intentions

And you all know what road I'm talking about.

This morning I had the crazy, idyllic notion that I'd take my two older children (7 and 8) to see a matinee production of "My Fair Lady" at the local playhouse. As this is one of my favorite plays, I could not wait to share the story with Joey and Lindsey, and discuss afterward the important ideas brought forth in the play (using people as objects for personal gain, etc. etc.).

After mass I secured tickets from a woman in my choir who happens to be in the production and went on home, happy with the anticipation that I was going to have a nice afternoon with my children who are now getting old enough to do these sorts of things. Yeah, right.

It started off badly, because Joey did not want to go. He claimed he wanted to watch playoff football with dad (although he was suspiciously playing Lindsey's new horse-themed computer game at the time of protest). I convinced him that he would love it, and that it was really part of his homeschool curriculum, as he does not have the same opportunities to attend plays on field trips like Lindsey and Sam do at school. He begrudgingly accompanied me to the car and perked up as I began to tell the kids about the story. Joey likes any story that involves a cad.

The kids enjoyed the theater well enough, and we arrived early enough to get hot cocoa for them. They liked looking at the cast pictures and flipping through the program, and they especially enjoyed looking forward to intermission when they were to receive the chocolate chip cookies I had brought along. I relaxed and delighted in my maturing children. Big mistake.

Before the overture was even halfway over, the squirming began.

"I can't see."

"I want to trade seats."

"Can I take my shoes off?"

(Loudly) "Why does that guy in front of us have such weird hair?"

"Can I sit on your lap?" (What lap?!)

This, unfortunately, is a play that takes a few scenes to get going. By the time the story was underway, I had lost both kids, Joey to the point of no recovery. He was banging his head against the seat, causing the whole row to shake. Lindsey was half-standing in her seat to see better (at least she was somewhat interested!) to the detriment of the people behind her. Repeated, loudly whispered questions about the play and WHEN it was going to be over caused those around us to shoot dirty looks in our direction. I knew we were going to have to make a break for it at intermission.

As it happens, this was the longest first act I have ever sat through. Two torturous hours. To add to the fun, about halfway through I got my dreaded mid afternoon blood sugar dive and broke into shakes and a cold sweat. I now know about when this is going to occur, so I was prepared with my dietitian-approved snack, but as I retrieved it it caused so much commotion, rustling and protests from the kids that I was afraid the usher was going to come throw us out (that might have been a blessing).

"How come YOU can have that now and we can't have our cookies? That's not fair."

"Because mommy is going to pass out if she doesn't eat RIGHT NOW."

"I'm going to pass out too!" Right. Of course you are.

As soon as intermission came, we ran out of the theater in shame, Joey rejoicing yet still complaining, and Lindsey crying because she wanted to see the rest.

As we were pulling out of the parking lot, Joey summed it up for all of us:

"That sucked the life out of me."

Maybe they need a few more years.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Just for Fun

I enjoyed logging on to Danielle Bean's blog this morning to see that she referenced a comment I left on our unusual large-family transport vehicle. So, just for fun, I thought I'd post a picture for those who are interested.

Jay likes to watch those reality TV shows where they take someone's junker car (or house or whatever) and refurbish it, and he is ever hopeful that someone will "Pimp My Ride" (as it has plenty of not-so-charming cosmetic and mechanical issues). Could be fun. Could be scary. In the mean time, it's actually pretty nice to have just the way it is.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I can hardly believe a week has passed since my last post. All I can say about this is that I have been very self-absorbed this past week, totally focused on a most surprising yet ultimately inevitable betrayer: my own body.

I have always been blessed with good health. Even putting my body through closely spaced pregnancies hasn't phased it much, until now. But I guess it's had it. It's tired. It's saying enough. It is rebelling.

The last time I had gestational diabetes, all I had to do was slightly alter my eating schedule, knock out refined sugars and be sure I ate enough protein in combination with any carbs. It was almost effortless to keep my sugars within normal, healthy ranges for the duration of my pregnancy. Then, when I didn't even come down with this condition during my pregnancy with Tony, I thought I was in great shape. But, alas, it was only lying dormant, gathering strength for its next visit.

This time I cannot control my blood sugar with my diet. I have meticulously followed a ridiculously complicated diet, eaten at all hours of the day, measured everything that has gone in my mouth, taken my vitamins, choked down glass after glass of water, yet to no avail. Yesterday my doctor conceded failure on my behalf (after emphatically assuring me that this is not in any way my fault, which I appreciated very much) and prescribed glybuteride to stimulate my pancreas to make more insulin.

The good news is that it is working. My sugars are quite low today and everyone is happy that my body can respond to this kick start and not need insulin injections at this point. The bad news is that it is working too well and I am now fighting hypoglycemia. The nutritionist (who is great, by the way) warned me that this might happen as my body adjusts to new levels of insulin production, but I feel like a science experiment gone wrong. Now an hour after each meal, I find myself staving off a cold sweat and shaking fingers by pounding milk. Go figure! The doctors assure me this is far preferable to the high blood sugars which can harm the baby, but it all seems a little crazy to me. Ultimately, I trust the advice I am being given, which matches all the research I have been doing, but one can't help really, really praying that these people know what they are doing!

I have been signed up for twice weekly fetal monitoring and ultrasound, where they will watch this little one kick and follow her heartbeat for 30 minutes at a time to be sure all is well, and measure the growth to be sure she does not become to large for a safe vaginal delivery. I am thrilled with the responsiveness I have from Kaiser (this is my first Kaiser pregnancy) and the amount of attention they are giving this condition, although, of course, I wish none of it were necessary.

Thank you for bearing with this medical whoa-is-me post. Overnight I have become one of those elderly folks who can't think or talk about anything other than their own health problems! Aaaarrrggg! But I can relate to them now. One's health can be all-consuming, especially when the health of another is dependent on it.

Well, thank goodness I have a toddler, a destructive puppy and 4 other helpful, wonderful children to distract me--we all know I can't stay focused on myself for long!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Puppies are Good For Something After All

Since the arrival of Trooper the puppy, many things have been different in our house. Most of these are things I anticipated and dreaded: doggy potty training, constant puppy chewing, nighttime why-aren't-you-sleeping-in-my-crate-with-me whimpers (although, thankfully, these have been minimal), rowdy puppy play that knocks toddlers over, muddy paw prints on the slider and in the kitchen, etc., etc., etc.

However, as I look around my family room and kitchen, I am noticing that, truly, these rooms have never been as consistently uncluttered or cleanly swept. Why, you ask? Because Trooper picks up and eats or chews absolutely everything he can find. It took the kids about 15 minutes to learn to put their toys and shoes away if they didn't want them destroyed. Who knew it could be this simple? Over the course of a few days, it's as if Supernanny came and whipped everyone into shape. Shoes are all in the shoe basket. Toys are put away upstairs. And, as a bonus, crumbs are whisked away almost before they hit the floor.

This whole dog thing may have been a better idea than I originally thought.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Spelling = D+A+D

What a difference a fairly small change can make in one's life. In this case, I am talking about removing spelling as a distinct subject from my homeschooling day.

Obviously, Joey needs to learn spelling. But over the course of the first semester of our homeschooling adventure it has become more and more evident that I am not the best one to teach him this particular subject.

Without intending to congratulate myself too much (because I still experience plenty of bumps in the road and have many concerns about the details of my eldest son's overall learning), I have to say that we have come a long way so far this school year. I have grown as a teacher and he has settled nicely into being a homeschooled student. He is excelling in Math, Science and History, and is getting stronger and stronger with reading. I truly enjoy teaching him most of the time and he seems to enjoy me being his teacher. It is good time for us both, and he is most definitely a happier and more confident child than he was a year ago, maybe ever.

All this good comes to a complete halt, however, when spelling time arrives. I don't know what happened or where I went wrong, but our otherwise fairly pleasant day turns into a snarling mess that usually involves tears (which one of us depends on the day), raised voices and sometimes even a thrown book (again, which one of us depends on the day, I am ashamed to admit).

Jay, who now works mostly from home and is a witness to the ebbs and flows of the homeschool day, offered some friendly suggestions as to how these 20 minutes or so per day might be improved. Without recalling EXACTLY how this went, I can generalize that this frustrated and hormonal mom did not receive this constructive and well-intended criticism well, and before we both knew it, Joey had a new spelling teacher.

God bless my husband! He agreed to take on this single subject as his very own and can be seen at random times during the day clutching Joey's spelling list and drilling him while, for instance, preparing his lunch or accompanying the dog out for a potty training session. Joey, who absolutely adores his dad, complies more easily on this hated subject for Jay, and Jay has a fresh perspective and keeps it positive. In the meantime, my subjects have shuffled around in such a way that I am done at least half an hour earlier and both Joey and I are happy and calm through most of the day. Every subject has become easier for us because we are not dreading the inevitable spelling blow up.

For me, Jay's involvement signifies something even more important: his complete acceptance of the very idea of homeschoooling Joey. At first, he understandably questioned whether or not bringing him home was a good idea. He supported my decision, but it was ultimately my decision, not his. After seeing the good this has done for not just Joey but the entire family, he now believes it was the absolute right decision and is willing to contribute toward making it work. This pleases me immensely.

So, I have a new puppy I didn't want, and Jay is a spelling teacher when he'd prefer not to be. And you know what? We're somehow glad to make these sacrifices for eachother (though we reserve the right to complain about them occasionally). Now THAT's a happy marriage!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

On the Eleventh and Twelfth Days of Christmas... true love gave to me, twelve bags of garbage, eleven loads of laundry,

ten rowdy kindergartners, nine years of dog care, eight weeks 'til baby, seven hours of slothdom, six pounds of onions, five charming kids, four needle sticks, three game controllers, two duelling dog lover, and my health and some sanity.

Happy Epiphany (technically tomorrow on this year's calendar, but usually it's today)!

Twelve Bags of Garbage and Eleven Loads of Laundry

Yipee, I finally have some energy back (and granted, this is relative energy, but I'll take what I can get)! Naturally, I've spent the last two days trying to reclaim my disastrous house and have made a small dent. I have solidly kicked the laundry pile and found bags and bags of things to throw away, especially from the garage and car. This is so satisfying. Nothing makes me feel better than getting the house under control, and this is a battle I had been losing for weeks. May my energy hold out so I can fiercely nest for the next several weeks!

I have a healthy new respect for iron, as replacing mine seems to have really made a difference in how I've been feeling. Water, too. It's a good thing.

We now officially end the 12 days of Christmas and will be getting back to regular, random postings. Hope you enjoyed the detour.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Catholic Devotion Meme

I have been tagged by Nutmeg to complete this meme on Catholic Devotion. So, here goes...

1. Favorite devotion or prayer to Jesus?

The Litany of Humility. How much simpler my life would be if I could really attain even some of these seemingly unattainable petitions!

2. Favorite Marian devotion or prayer?

Hail, Holy Queen. My favorite part is how it refers to our life here on earth as our exile. This reminds me that life here is not supposed to be easy, that heaven is our reward for making it through all the tough stuff here.

3. Do you wear a scapular or medal?

No, I never have. As a convert, I haven't yet figured out what they all mean. I do wear a cross, though, which I rarely take off.

4. Do you have holy water in your home?

Yes. Recently, the kids put some up in by the door to their playroom and insist on dipping and crossing every time they enter. They even remind those of us who forget to do so to back up and try again. I haven't decided yet if this is sacrilegious since the playroom is probably the least holy room in the house, but it is so sweet to see them have any devotion, that I have let it continue.

5. Do you ‘offer up’ your sufferings?

When I remember! I usually offer maternity-related suffering (which accounts for most of my physical suffering) for my pregnant friends and their safe deliveries. Offering up contractions during labor, one at a time, literally gets me through it. I wish I remembered more often to offer up the non-physical trials of life, because suffering for another's intention really does help lessen your own burden.

6. Do you observe First Fridays and First Saturdays?


7. Do you go to Eucharistic Adoration?

Occasionally, and I am always glad and filled with peace when I do. I should go more often. Our church has a beautiful 24 hour chapel, so I really have no excuse for not getting there more.

8. Are you a Saturday evening Mass person or Sunday morning Mass person?

Sunday morning, always, because I sing in the choir. Even before I sang in the choir we always went Sunday morning.

9. Do you say prayers at mealtime?

Yes. Usually just grace before, but sometimes since we are all together at the table (on a good day!) we remember someone in particular that needs prayers or some special intention our family has.

10. Favorite Saint(s)?

Saint Anthony, Saint Josemaria Escriva, Saint Joseph, getting to know Saint Cecilia.

11. Can you recite the Apostles Creed by heart?


12. Do you usually say short prayers (aspirations) during the course of the day?

Yes, usually asking for help or giving thanks as the day plays out.

13. Where is your favorite place to pray?

In the car if the kids are quiet (or, more likely, absent) and in bed at night. I often fall asleep saying my prayers and I used to feel bad about this until a priest told me that angels finish unfinished prayers on your behalf in this situation. A lovely thought.

14. Bonus Question: When you pass by an automobile accident or other serious mishap, do you say a quick prayer for the folks involved?

Often. Sometimes I just gawk, but when it's really serious I always do and ask the kids to join me.

I always enjoy the memes. Thanks for the tag, Nutmeg! If anyone wants to put their own responses in the comments, I would love to read them.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Introducing the Newest Di Silvestri

I give you Trooper.

Cute, isn't he? Even I have to admit it. And he's really soft, too. But most important, Jay and Joey are totally delighted. I has to be worth it. Somehow.

On the Seventh, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Days of Christmas... true love gave to me, ten rowdy 5 year olds, nine years of dog care, eight weeks 'til baby, seven hours of slothdom,

six pounds of onions, five charming kids, four needle sticks, three game controllers, two duelling dog lovers, and my health and some sanity.

Ten Rowdy Five Year Olds

Remember the silver lining to the terrible, awful, horrible mass experience I had just before Christmas? It blossomed for me today, as one of the kind Kindergarten moms called and invited Sam to her son's (small) birthday party. This was a direct result of our meeting in the cry room, and both Sam and I had a very nice time. I sent the other kids with their grandmothers for the afternoon (thanks, grandmas!) so I could go with just Sam and focus on getting to know some of the other moms. It worked out great and I have now built some new bridges.

Nine Years of Dog Care

(At least!) Yes, you guessed it, the "boys" brought home their new dog last night. He is a very cute and sweet Mastiff puppy whom Joey has named Trooper. It is technically his dog, but we shall see how this actually turns out in the long run. So far Joey has been an eager dog dad, cleaning up after him, taking inappropriate items out of his mouth as fast as he can suck them in, and patiently taking him out to his potty area frequently. I forgot how much a puppy is like a toddler, but so far both Jay and Joey respect that I wanted nothing to do with this and are scrambling to make sure none of it is my problem. I assume that this, too, will wane with time, but I am grateful for their efforts nonetheless.

Eight Weeks 'Til Baby

32 weeks and counting. It is at this point in the pregnancy that I start counting again. I do it during the first nausea-laden weeks, praying to get to the magic 13 when I feel better, and I start again right about now, praying that this child will have the decency to come just a little bit early. Even a few days. Please?

Seven Hours of Slothdom

After a day or two of feeling better (see the "first day of Christmas"), I became quite ill again, and have spent much of the last week either sleeping or lazing around on various couches to the detriment of my family and home. I'm not sure if it is the same thing (it does appear to be the same cough, only more persistent) or some variation of the stomach flu (since that has been an unwelcome added element this week), but the doctor tells me that I am anemic and dehydrated as well as diabetic, so it's no wonder I don't want to get out of bed. Thank goodness the baby seems to be thriving, and that's all that really matters, but I have now been enrolled in the "special" OB program for the duration of my pregnancy, since I am not (thriving, that is). But, still, I hope to be back to my quasi-normal self soon. I've added iron pills and vitamins to my diet, and am forcing water down as much as my stomach can take it, so it shouldn't be long before I'm back in the saddle...I hope!

Monday, January 01, 2007

On the Fifth and Sixth Days of Christmas... true love gave to me, six pounds of onions, five charming children,

four needle sticks, three game controllers, two duelling dog lovers, and my health and some sanity.

Six Pounds of Onions

Happy New Year!

Last night we celebrated the new year with old friends from our former parish that we don't get to see very often. 16 adults and 16 kids (granted, most of them ours) made for quite a celebration.

I spent the afternoon serving as prep chef for my ambitious friend who was serving a multi-course sit down Prime Rib and shrimp dinner. I volunteered for any job that allowed me to sit, and that meant chopping. I sliced 6 pounds of onions, prepped 3 heads of cauliflower, peeled 24 potatoes and grated Gruyere cheese, among other things. This exhausted me so thoroughly that I promptly fell asleep on the couch when I sat down for "just 15 minutes". Pathetic, but true. It was really nice to just follow instructions rather than direct a meal of this magnitude and I enjoyed the afternoon chatting with friends while everyone prepared things.

Unbelievably, most of the children stayed awake for midnight and were plied with poppers that they gleefully set off at midnight. True to form, Sam and Julia fell asleep in the middle of it all and were oblivious to the noise. How do they do that?

Anyway, it felt great to be welcomed so warmly back into our former community. During mass yesterday morning, the priest even mentioned how happy he was to see the "Di Silvestris of the Desert" back for a visit. This warmed out hearts immeasurably. It took us nearly 45 minutes to leave church after mass so busy were we greeting people that we have missed. I am very grateful that we, especially our children, can maintain the friendships that made leaving Northern California so difficult for us. It's like having the best of both worlds, old and new.

I hope everyone had a happy New Year celebration and that 2007 brings nothing but health and happiness to the fine readers of this blog.

Five Charming Children

Need I say more?

Now, I'm not saying they're charming all the time, but overall I give them good marks. We are truly blessed.