A handmaid of the Lord

Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word. These are the thoughts and experiences of my journey toward being a handmaid with Mary as my example.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Very Happy Birthday!

Felicity had a very happy birthday! The party is tomorrow (technically today, as it is 2 am), so pictures will follow in another post!

Off to sleep...the alarm goes off at 6! eep

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Scar

Two years ago today I went to visit my OB/GYN, as it was the day before my due date for Felicity to be born. This day completed a long journey for me that had started 9 months earlier when I suddanly realized that, based on my NFP charts, I should take a pregnancy test. I was 20 years old, and married for less than a month. I was in college. We lived in a city where I knew literally nobody. Charlie had just started a job that paid a salary so far under the government's poverty line, it wasn't even funny. Needless to say, when I looked at that little stick - and there were two little pink lines - I lost it. To say that I cried, would be a gross understatement. To be more accurate, first I threw up (too soon for morning sickness...out of sheer emotion)and then I sobbed - for probably about 3 weeks. And then on a pretty regular basis after that. I felt like I had been ripped off. I felt like Charlie had just married me and then, I was going to be this huge, disgusting creature and he would be embarassed of me. I felt like all the dreams that I had for my life had been wadded up, stomped on, spit on, and flushed. I was so angry and hurt and taken completely by surprise.
Slowly, God worked.
Although it was a hard 9 months with financial, emotional, and spiritual disaster, looking back I see all of God's perfect plan. The church where Charlie worked was 2 hours away, so I would go with him every single day because I had quit school and didn't have a job. That community embraced us with such love, and there were so many times that their random acts of kindness that year absolutly saved us. I met a woman, who to this day is someone that I absolutly adore and look up to, who was a mother of teenagers at the parish. She and her family were there for us the whole time, and one of the greatest things that she did was tell me what I needed to hear in an objective and loving way.
As the pregnancy went on, I got better about my feelings. But my heart was hardened and selfish. I can not honestly say that the entire time I was pregnant I was ever excited. Isn't that sad? It breaks my heart now to think about it.
Then, two years ago today, my doctor said I would be induced the next day. After a c-section, out came this tiny perfect child. The moment I heard her cry, 9 months of selfishness, anger, and self-pity literally melted away. Not a moment has passed since Felicity's birth that I have ever felt those same feelings. She came into this world and taught me such a lesson about God's plan. God's plan brings joy - HE knows what what our hearts truly desire. I would not trade what I *thought* I wanted for the first years of marriage for what we have now. When I hold that child, when she comes up and kisses me, when she giggles or sings "Old McDonald" to herself, when I watch her sleep and watch her play - my heart swells with a love that I never knew existed in me, until that day.

I have dealt with those issues of the past. I went to confession to confess my terrible selfishness. It hurts my heart that I felt that way, but I no longer deal with it. However, what happened at her birth is still an issue for me. At the bottom of my post is a picture of my scar. Don't scroll all the way down if you don't want to see it.
Felicity was born on her due date to a mother who was totally uninformed on birth issues. My doctor induced me that day with a pitocin drip starting at about 8 am. Now, I have 4 little sisters who are 8,6,3, and 10 months. My mom was induced with all of them and so I assumed that was sort of normal and no problem. I was so very wrong. By 6:00 that evening, I had not dialtaed fully so my doctor sauntered in and informed me that I would be having a c-section because my body was "incapable" of doing what it needs to do to have a baby and that "maybe" my bone structure was wrong to deliever a baby in the way that God intended. With that, he screwed up my entire child bearing future. For the world, it was a totally uncomplicated "birth." Dr. Giannotti was home in time for dinner, I'm sure.
The recovery was hard. I couldn't really move, Charlie had to help me get in and out of the shower and help me dress myself. Nursing was more difficult than necessary due to my pain and the fact that I was so pumped full of drugs that my milk didn't come in for FIVE days, and then there was so much that Felicity couldn't latch on. She was hugry, I was frusturated and in pain. I ended up pumping and bottle feeding her for about 2 weeks, and then we resumed nursing with no problem. (That was a blessing...) As time went on, I started to feel as if I had been brutally violated. Have you ever watched a c-section on Disovery Health or anything? It's violent. They slice you open, yank your skin back, use the weight of their bodies to push the baby through and then rip the child away from its mother. There's so much blood and violence. She wasn't ready to be born that day. They tore her away from me and then I didn't see her for four hours. I was so out of it that I don't even remember that event, I just know because Charlie told me. My scar healed slowly, and hurt all the time. It still hurts sometimes. It's ugly, but I've come to appreciate it with a sort of love/hate relationship.
When I found myself pregnant with Gabrielle, I asumed that I would have a repeat c/s. I went back to the same doctor who told me we could schedule a date for the c/s, and that it would be about 2 weeks before the due date. I did some research and found how dangerous it is to have so many repeat cesareans, as I knew this baby wouldn't be my last as the world would like it to be. I decided to VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), which OB's really don't like. They run from people like me who want to try this "risky" manuver because of the risk of uterine rupture. We're talking about a risk that's less than 0.01%. Major surgery over a spot that's already been opened 18 months before sounds a LOT riskier to me. I prayed a lot, and by the grace of God I found a female OB who would "allow" me to VBAC. I did it with Gabrielle, my 9lb baby, and that was one of - if not THE - greatest personal accomplishment of my life... It took a lot of mental preparation, lots of research, and lots of prayers. So much for bone structure problems and a body that won't work, huh Dr. Giannotti???
My scar is the way that my sweet child came into the world and I appreciate it as such. But it is also my sorrow - a violation, a painful struggle. I hate it. I also love it, as it taught me all about Christ's suffering. It was my small, personal Passion.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Preparing to Celebrate Felicity

This Friday is Felicity's 2nd birthday and we are having a party for her. Originally, it was going to be at a near by park, but the temperatures in Houston have already become so high that I just think it would be unbearable. SO, we switched it to be at our house, which is a lot more work for me, but work that I am SO excited to do. We're going to still have it mostly outside, but the kids can play in the water and come inside as well if it's too hot for anyone. I ordered this on Amazon last week, it's something I wanted to get anyway, so I'm excited to get it in time for the party. I think that Felicity and the rest will enjoy it. I got most of the shopping done last night, but for the fresh stuff I'll have to go Friday. We really enjoy entertaining and having our friends and family over (my family is coming too! yaya! In fact, my sisters make up 1/3 of the children who will be attending haha). It's funny because as an engaged couple, we invisioned our entertaining in the near future to be something totally different than 2 year-old birthday parties. I think this is more fun.

As her birthday approaches, many feelings come up within me both about my pregnancy and birth of Felicity. I might talk about them later...but I want to deal with them now before her actual birthday on Friday, because I want that day to be a day of joy and celebration. She was the greatest lesson God ever taught me. God knows what gives us JOY.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Take me out to the Ball Game

Today was such a nice day, it was wonderful to all have our health and be able to GET OUT OF THIS HOUSE. lol

We went to the Astros game. It was so fun! Felicity almost got smacked with a foul ball, but the guy RIGHT in front of us caught it in his hat! I nearly passed out. ::sigh:: But other than that, we had such a great time!

All is Well!

We're all better now. That was not a fun bug. But by the time we went to bed last night we all felt better! Yay!

Friday, April 21, 2006

I spoke too Soon...

I got what Felicity had.

Moms can not get sick.

Friday's are Charlie's day off (since he works Sundays), but by my sheer luck (note the sarcasm) he had to work today. I nearly cried when he left. I feel so weak that picking Gabrielle up nearly knocks me over.

I must rely on Christ's strength today.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

"...For your voice is sweet, and you are lovely." Song of Songs 2:14

Thankfully, today continued without any sign of sickness! Interesting, because last night's topic of prayer in the Novena was little children...

As a young girl, from about junior high until I was pregnant with Felicity, the way that I chose to dress was less than chaste. It seemed like my dad was always telling me that I was going to be a "near occasion of sin for young men!" Which is something I totally didn't even understand until very recently. I mean VERY recently.
I was of the mentality that I just wanted to look cute. I didn't understand the affect that it had on boys. In fact, I was just apologizing to Charlie the other day for all those years that he had to look at me in short shorts, skimpy bathing suits, too tight tops, skin tight jeans... That must have been hard for him. I was oblivious for the most part. I say the most part because I knew that I was found attractive, but I didn't understand the struggle that it caused. I had good self esteem, I expected to be treated well, and I did have a sense of personal dignity based on the fact that I was a creation of God - but I didn't understand how to communicate that through my clothing.
Now, of course, I understand that I can dress modestly and still look pretty. No denim jumpers for me, I am sooo not into that. But the complaint that there are no options out there is crazy. There may not be many, but there are enough. I want to make sure that I teach my girls that they can be beautiful, they can dress in a feminine way, and they can do that without exposing so much (as I did) - and really reflect the beauty of God in that feminine modesty. I got this link in a prolife newsletter that was emailed to me the other day, and I think this is a beautiful idea: pure fashon show

My favorite thing is the list of "Modesty Guidelines," it won't let me link it or copy/paste it, but it's under "About Pure Fashion." Maybe I'll type it out later, I want to print it anyway.

I identify so heavily with the feminine elements of my being, and for me, beauty and appreciation for what is beautiful (like the gorgeous antiqe-like colored flowers on my desk right now) is one of the greatest gifts of femininity - as God is the greatest beauty of all.

The Aftermath

I think Felicity is better today. I went last night and got her some pedialyte and some childrens pepto. She slept great last night and has been witout incident today (so far). I'm still feeling a little obsessive about getting things sanitized. It's all clean, but I'm a bit paranoid. lol

She's been resting a lot today, she definatly doesn't have her usual energy, but her personality is still there! lol Just now she yanked a book out of the baby's hands and said, "THANKS baby Gabby!" Little punk. lol

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Why I love Lysol

On Monday we had dinner with Charlie's mom and my sweet friend Angie came over as well with her family (they are also our neighbors and have kids similar ages, plus a 3 year old). Yesterday when I was chatting with her on AIM, she says oh Andrea, my kids are throwing up everywhere. I say oh Angie, I feel for you - I hate that you are having to deal with that, I haven't really had to do that yet, but I know it will happen eventually.

Today is eventually.


I knew things were going to be rough with Gabrielle, as she has allergies and it is definatly allergy season in Houston. But Felicity....oh sweet Felicity. She woke up and threw up on Charlie. It was just a little bit, so I thought it was over. She didn't eat at lunch. We go to the store, no problems. On the way home she falls asleep about an hour and a half before her normal nap time and stays asleep for nearly 4 hours (about double normal naptime). I smell something. Something not good. I walk in her room and she is sleeping in the worst, most disgusting diaper I have seen - ever. And it's everywhere. On her sheets, pillows, blankets, beloved puppy, in her hair, all over her clothes and skin. Since she was still asleep I prepared for her to wake up by getting a disposable changing pad on the hard floor along with plenty of wipes. Got the bath tub filled and ready. Put out plastic bags to hold trash. Prepared the washer for a fresh load of really dirty laundry. When I got her up she looked so pathetic and sounded so sad. I cleaned her up (glad I prepped) and she hated getting her hair washed as usual. She was all clean and warm in some pjs and watching Jack's Big Music Show. She asked to have a drink and a snack, so I gave her water, yogurt, and toast. Not 20 minutes pass after the first mess was cleaned before the next began. She threw up about 4 times. All over her little winnie the pooh couch, and then mostly on the hard wood floor. Meanwhile, the baby's screaming.

I couldn't help but take a step back and giggle a bit. I'm so glad that God blessed me with a sense of humor at a time that my tendancy to freek out may have taken over. I called Charlie to see what time he would be home tonight and if he could pick up some stuff for Felicity to feel better. Funnily, the one who usually has such a sense of humor freeked out. He doesn't like sick babies, it stresses him out. lol

Well, I thought I might document this day - the day of "eventually." I'm sure that in the future when I have a ton of kids this will be semi-routine, but for now I'm just learning. Wish me luck as I whisk myself off to the world of really smelly diapers and lysol!

Prayer Corner

Here is the picture that I promised. Charlie created this for us.

My girlies are sick. Gabrielle has bad allergies and a cough, Felicity has a tummy ache. It's going to be a long day, but they are asleep for now. I suppose I should go get in that prayer corner and pray for my girls...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Singing Old McDonald

So I've been watching this mini series called "God or the Girl" on A&E. It's about 4 guys who are discerning the priesthood; all of my Catholic friends are talking about it so I TiVo'ed it and watched some today. I was really impressed with it - I felt like these guys could be my friends, as they are what my dad fondly calls the JPII generation like Charlie, me, and our peers/friends. It's exciting to see the Church get good press and to see this on secular TV.

Speaking of TV, I am a total American Idol addict, which I can't help based on my past. lol Tonight's show was so fun, my prediction is that Kellie will be leaving tomorrow. They did standards, my very favorite. It gets me all riled up inside, I miss those days of music. The other day I was chatting with a guy that I went to high school with and sang with in choir. He's a music major and just got a full ride for grad school; just hearing him talk about it made my heart hurt. I have this desperate longing for that realm of life, and I'm afraid that I will never find it again. I always joke with Charlie that I was classically trained with Mozart, Handel, Vivaldi, Rachmaninoff, Victoria, etc., just to spend my days singing Old McDonald. It's something I can't think about too often because of the pain it invokes. That passion gave me such purpose. My single greatest regret in my life so far is that I got burnt out in high school and walked away from it all - I should have been a music major.

Moving on....don't want to cry...

We have been praying the Divine Mercy Novena since Friday, it was fun because we did it with Court and Chels on Friday and Saturday. When we got home we got to use our little space that Charlie created for us to pray for the first time. I thought it was kind of weird at first when he wanted to put it there, but I really like it now. Maybe I'll post a pic later. We rent an old farm house and the couple who built it never finished the standing shower in the master bath (there's an old claw foot tub in there), so we used the little corner to put a crucifix, an icon, a candle, and two little kneelers.

Last night we prayed for those who don't believe in God (that was the topic of the day for the novena). There is someone who was in my life a long time ago that I prayed for specifically. I think that maybe that person was in my life just so that I could spend all these years praying for them (we are no longer in contact), as I resolved way back then (about 9 years ago) to pray for this person to seek, accept, and truly fall in love with God. My humble prayers are certainly not enough to change someone's heart, however God can do all things and I hope that someday this person will join Him in heaven.

My darling Charlie will be home soon from a super long day at work, so I should go prepare for his arrival!

Happy Easter!

We had a lovely Easter! We went to the Mechler's on Friday and just came home yesterday afternoon (the church office was closed for Easter Monday, so Charlie didn't have to work! it was great!). We swam and ate and prayed and it was just so much fun. We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends who we can celebrate with!

I really enjoyed having the time to spend with Charlie. We bought the audiobook of Wild at Heart on iTunes and we've been listening to it over the last week or so, I finished it yesterday. Even though it isn't written for me, it was so eye opening to me as a wife, friend, and lover to Charlie, as well as potentially being a mother to boys in the future. I can see how it's message has affected Charlie in such positive ways already.

I have a lot to do today after being gone all weekend. Charlie is working late, so I have plenty of time to get everything done. But I really need to go to the store, because I'm pretty sure that all Felicity and I have eaten today is easter candy. That's got to stop. lol

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Holy Week

Confession is at 5:30 today. I found a great examination of conscience.

I can't wait for Easter - we are going to spend it with the Mechler's. It has become somewhat of a tradition, as this will be our 3rd Easter with them in our 3 years of marriage. That first year Charlie still worked at St. Paul's and since it was 2 hours from where we lived (a 2 hour commute EVERY DAY, it was crazy), Cindy and Gary invited us to join them. I was pregnant with Felicity, about to give birth any time. Last year was Felicity's first Easter, and since Charlie had to work once again - but this time at St. Elizabeth's, we went over there for Easter since we had no family in town. It was such a wonderful weekend, Easter was on a cold March day! This year, the Mech's have moved to College Station which is closer than ever to us and we will be joining them once again and I can't wait. Charlie's parents have moved to Houston since last year, but this is tradition now and the Mechler's are truly our 3rd family. We love them so very much.

I need to look at the holy week schedules and see what we will be attending in the next few days.

I think this year I will do the Divine Mercy Novena as well, which starts on Good Friday. Here is some Info.

Last, in tribute to our dear friends, here are my girls with their godparents! (Cindy and Gary are Felicity's, and Courtney and Chelsea are Gabrielle's)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Why I buy Organic

I don't care if the cows and chickens are happy. Makes no difference to me. However, I have made the switch to organic milk, eggs, meats, and some veggies. The reason I'm thinking about it is that with my mom visiting over the weekend I bought "regular" milk and eggs because I know she's a little freeked out about organic (something I understand, because I was too until I did some research). My number one reason for buying organic is that it is far superior in nutritional content to the "regular" product. Here's a great book about heart health that explains it all if you're interested: The Doctor's Heart Cure HOWEVER, I didn't realize how the taste was different until this weekend. TRY IT! Organic milk and eggs taste soooooooooo much better (the meat is too - Charlie made a KILLER vegetarian fed tritip once that was the best!). It's more expensive, but in my opinion worth it for both the short term and long term benefits.

Anyhow, Lent is almost over. I am looking forward to putting my makeup back on, but I will miss the general prayerfulness that lent entails. I'm going to make it to confession one last time on Wednesday night. It's required for Catholics to make a good confession during Lent, and if we are going to teach obiedence to our children, we must be obedient ourselves. So, off I go. I think my last confession was the Saturday before Lent.

Felicity is taking a nap so I must take advantage of the time to collect her treasures and put them in their appropriate places. Plus I need some lunch!!!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Love all around

My mom, aunt, and 4 sisters (ages 8, 5, 3, and 10 months) came to visit from Fort Worth this weekend. We had a good time. It was my sister Marissa's birthday on Friday, she turned 8. I made her an oreo cookie cake. It was so awesome. I'll have to post a pic of it. It seems like just yesterday my brother and I were sitting in the hospital waiting room for hours and hours and hours wating for that little girl to get here....

Charlie was gone all weekend, so it was perfect for them to come. He had the Confirmation retreat, something that he has been stressed about for several weeks. I was praying for him all weekend, it seems like things went well. One of the things that I most admire about Charlie is that he is not afraid to speak truth, and he speaks it straigtforwardly (is that a word???) and simultaniously, lovingly.

When he got home last night I was so excited! We are so blessed to be so madly in love.

He's off today, which is wonderful. We had lunch out and now we're just hanging around. I think we might go out later so that I can actually buy some herbs to plant.

I bought flowers on Friday before my mom got here. They are so beautiful - it's like a love letter from God.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Saving some time in the Morning

For lent I gave up makeup.

This has been a huge struggle for me, especially since we continue to have social engagements that I feel naked attending with my blank face. The wearing of makeup has been part of my life for at least the last 10 years, so to face the world sans mascara and blush (my "essentials") for 40 whole days is not only scary but strange for me. In all the years that I've "given up" something for Lent, nothing has affected me like this because nothing was ever good enough to constantly remind me. I am constantly reminded of Christ's sacrifice, His sweet life that He gave for our sins, just by my reflection in the mirror. The interesting thing about this is that I think that this reminder will continue to happen long after Easter when I bust out my Bourjouis and Stella and Clinique. Every time I see myself I am reminded of Him, and isn't that something I should do anyway? Shouldn't I look for Christ reflected in my family and my friends, in strangers, in myself?

As an added benefit, I have come to find my face beautiful. Don't tell Charlie I said that, because he's awfully used to me saying bad things about myself. BUT, I haven't seen myself without makeup for *years* and with the exaggeration of what was beautiful to start with, the removal of my makeup at the end of the day was almost painful to see. I am beautiful because I am made in the image and likeness of God. What a wonderful lesson to learn!

I don't think that I will stop wearing makeup, because I really do like it. I like how I feel when I have it on, I like making myself look nice for my husband, and I enjoy the few moments of primping I have to myself. But after this lent, I don't think I'll be afraid to make myself so vulnerable and I think I'll be more aware of the beauty Christ is in us.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Random Musings

After my post yesterday, I was sooooo blessed because both of the girls went down for a nap at the same time (so rare). I think they were wiped out from the weekend as much as I was, so I took a nap too. It's amazing how much easier it is to be a good mama when I'm not exhausted.

We really had a great weekend. On Friday, Charlie's grandparents were in town from Reno, so we spent the day at his parents' house and enjoyed their company. We had Cheesecake Factory for lunch which was *AMAZING,* I had this incredible seared tuna salad. Mmmmmmm....so good. I really enjoy Charlie's grandmother, she is such a nice person - it seems like she's just a young woman in an old lady's body. Felicity really took a liking to her as well.

THEN on Saturday it was Courtney and Chelsea's birthday. We hadn't seen the Mech clan since JANUARY. Horrible. We were so excited to see them, I was having Felicity practice saying, "Happy Birthday, Chelsea!" (To her, "Chelsea" is both of them, though she does get "Courtney" better now) But, she was saying, "Happy DAY Chelesa!" It was so cute.
Anyway, when we got to their house, nobody was home because we didn't know the girls had a 1:00 lacrosse game. So Charlie called Cindy and she told us how to get in. Their pool is all done and it is so beautiful! We swam a little with Felicity until the girls got home, and then they got in with us and we had a fun time. Later on Cindy and Gary got home and we all went to dinner (with some of their family and boyfriends, etc.). Good times. I think we ended up staying up until 4ish. lol

Today I have to start getting my house ready for my mom, aunt, and sisters to visit. I haven't been upstairs since my mom was here when the baby was born, so that's pushing 5 months. ::sigh:: Lots of dusting and vacuuming to do. The water pressure on our well pump is finaky (sp?), and I have to go outside and fix it at least once a day, but I'll probably have to go out there several times today since I have at least 4 loads of laundry to do. Charlie said he should be home by 6:30, but I can't really count on that I don't think....it seems like he's staying later and later these days. I probably won't see him much this week at all since they have a Confirmation retreat this weekend and there's lots of prep to do, plus all the normal stuff- meetings, XLT, etc. At least I won't be home alone this weekend, I'm glad my family will be here. It's going to be Marissa's birthday on Friday, she's going to be 8. I can't believe it.

Well, now I'm rambling and procrastinating so I should go and get to my "mount washmore" as FlyLady calls it. The baby's asleep, and I think Felicity is about ready for a nap too. Oh sweet naptime...

Sunday, April 02, 2006

One of those Days

Today is one of those days where I wish I could disappear into thin air. One of those days that I'll be home alone with two children under two until midnight. One of those days where both of my girls decide that they're going to cry all day long. I've been home for an hour and a half from an awesome weekend from College Station and already I'm ready to pull my hair out. I have so much to do around here and the girls demand so much of my attention that I just don't think I can do it all. I try so hard to serve my family with joy, but when I reach the end of my rope like this I get scared and freek out and I just want to cry. Charlie (and others) tell me, oh, someday it will be better. But I find no consolation in someday, because I am living in right now and right now I want to leave. Someday is a looooooooooooooooooooong way away for me, that doesn't make me feel better at all. I know that God has a plan for my life, but sometimes I wonder if I made good decisions because I really don't feel ready for all this. I am too young to feel this old. Well, away I go to deal with the two screaming children...