Friday, April 30, 2010

Hi Lo: April 30th


1) We had lots of family visitors last week.
Phil's brother, his wife, and their 5 kids (aged 7 and under) stayed with us from Sunday to Thursday and then Phil's sister, her hubby, and their baby boy came on Friday and stayed until Sunday afternoon.
They all live down in MD/PA area, so we don't get to see them much. Of course, my kids had a GREAT time playing with their cousins during their week off school, and the weather couldn't have been nicer. We went to the zoo twice, playgrounds, parks, a party, and the beach - fun!

(Watch out...they just might!)

2) Meeting my newest nephew Tommy (the baby boy I talked about above) for the first time! He was such a good baby, as long as Mom was nearby - that kid loves to eat :)
(John-Paul, Tommy, Andrew)

3) Getting pedicures with my sister-in-law. It was her first time out without the baby since she became a mother in January. Well deserved, indeed!

4) Happy Birthday to my brother Brian, who turned the big 4-0. We had a party for him with all my immediate family in attendance (which is 14 adults and 19 children) and the family from Phil's side that were visiting.


1) It's the last day of April already! Where did the month go? Come back April!

2) OK, I ate WAY too much over vacation week. And couldn't exercise as often as I normally do. Phil and I did manage to squeeze in two 7.5 mile runs together, which was nice. The scale is up about 3 pounds :(

3) The wood chips that were supposed to be delivered last week never showed up, so we ordered them from a different company and hope they come in next week.

4) Why do PMS symptoms and pregnancy symptoms start out the same way? I never know how the month is going to turn out....

What were your ups and downs of the week?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Full Moon Effect

On Tuesday night, the Catholic high school my husband teaches at had a fund raiser dinner at a local restaurant. He was working until 5:30 pm, so we decided I would bring the kids to the restaurant and get a table until he showed up.

Usually when we go to a restaurant with all the little ones, they are very well-behaved because: A) It's a rare treat

2) They get to eat junk/fried food and

C) We remind them over and over again that we are out in public, and they need to behave accordingly.

Well, they were awful from the moment we walked in the restaurant.
Maggie ran off in the opposite direction and the boys started fighting over seats. Mind you, I was by myself with the kids, and a TON of faculty & students from the high school were there to contribute to the fund raiser.
Once we were all seated, the boys started to make the light fixture swing and used their silverware like drumsticks on the table. Maggie literally started climbing the walls and whining about how hungry she was. I was so frazzled by their behavior and also REALLY embarrassed because we knew so many people around. Phil got there 10 minutes later (but it felt like hours) and was also shocked by their actions. We scolded, threatened and punished. And things calmed down a bit, but we told them we wouldn't be taking them out to eat any time soon.

When we got them home, showered, and to bed, we turned on the news and discovered that it was a full moon. Welp, that explains it. My kids are werewolves.

But seriously, my friend (and preschool teacher) has told me in the past that the preschool kids get extra rambunctious during the full moon. I thought she was a little nuts for thinking that way, but since then, I have seen her infinite wisdom.

What is it about the full moon and the crazy it brings out in kids? Have any of you noticed this phenomena? Or maybe I'm just trying to find an excuse for their otherwise inexcusable behavior. Help!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Collarbones & Armpits

Ever since I was a little girl, I envied women with collarbones that stuck out. Not in a sickly-I'm-starving-myself way, but in a beautiful-I-look-thin-and-elegant sort of way:I never had well-defined collarbones. And I was a thin kid! But I tend to carry my weight in the top half of my body. Yup, I'm an apple shape who's dreamed of being a pear shape.

So anyway, after this past year of exercise, eating healthier, and training for the half-marathon...I sort of have collarbones! Sometimes I have to hunch up my shoulders a bit to see them, but they are there. It's very exciting, and leads me to my next body image goal - concave armpits. Armpits that aren't flat but actually curve in. I think you need skinny arms to get these:

Weird goal, right? I know, but it's something that my younger sister and I would talk about wanting. Geez, we were weird kids...most little girls would dream of long hair and curvy figures, but nope, we wanted collarbones and armpits. Ha!

What are some of your body goals (both strange and normal!)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Never Discuss Religion or Politics - whoops!

Religion is a tricky thing.

For me, religion has always been about faith. And faith is about believing in what you can't see, touch, feel, smell, etc. Any time there is something about my faith I can not fully grasp (like the Trinity, or annulments) I always just agree to live by the Church's teaching on the matter and will ask God for a clear answer if/when I get to Heaven. I guess I sort of have the faith of a child.

My husband, however is a truth seeker. He has a very strong faith and has always questioned why things are the way they are. He searches out the reasons behind the beliefs and researches and discusses topics until he gets a satisfactory answer. He loves theology and philosophy, and that is what makes him such a great religion teacher. He has already studied the proofs for God's existence, and questioned the morality of human nature, so that when his students ask him something - he is ready with a logical response.

I think both approaches to faith are fine, as long as they are all based on truth.

What makes both of us crazy is when people accept ALL religious beliefs as truth. That can not be possible. If I said the sky is blue, and you say the sky is green, only one of us is stating the truth. And we can't both be right. The same theory holds true to religion. If I say there is a God, and you say there isn't a God - one of us is correct and one is not. We can't both be correct in saying the complete opposite of each other.

I think this is one of the reasons that society is so "messed up". Everybody feels that whatever anybody thinks about religion is just fine, they are all acceptable, they are all true.

But what happens when that philosophy starts to spill over into other areas, such as sin. We don't want to be "judgemental" when someone is sinning, so we ignore it and begin to accept it. And while we should ALWAYS love the person who sins, we should NEVER love the sin. But we are so accustomed to stay out of it for fear of being labeled as hateful or judgemental that what we are really doing is helping to perpetuate it.
Ten years ago, people would never have believed that we would be legalizing same-sex marriage, yet here we are. In just the past couple of years, the women who commit adultery with celebrities have made a business for themselves...making money off their sinful ways. And the celebrities become cool by checking into sex rehab, instead of being blacklisted.
We have slowly gotten ourselves to ignore truth and traditional values. "To each his own" we say, "Live and let live" - but what a disservice we are doing by accepting these evils as normal, okay, or even good. It's a very slippery slope, and we seem to be sledding down on the fastest toboggan ever.

Yes, we are human beings with free will, and God has given us the right to choose what we want to believe. But just because we can choose it doesn't mean we always make the right choice. There is absolute truth and fallacy, there is good and evil, and there are facts and opinions. Let's not get them confused.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Perhaps it's just because we have our nieces and nephews visiting and they have grown up much too fast since we last saw them. Or maybe it's because John-Paul now comes up to my chest when he hugs me. Or it could be that I packed up bags of baby clothes to pass along to my sister's little girl.
But whatever it is, I am realizing that these days of small children are too precious to let pass by without thanking God every single day for the gift of family. I hope the one thing people will say about me when I'm long gone was that I loved my kids and my role as wife and mother.

John-Paul at age 5.

And now at age 7, with his cousin, Maura, who is also 7.

Andrew at age 3.

Hanging around at age 5 (and a half!).

Eamon swings around 18 months.

And still enjoys swinging at 3 (and a half) with his cousin, Maeve, also 3.

And Maggie at 6 months - gosh this little girl just kills me!

And growing up way too fast at age 2, with her cousin, Tommy, age 3.

Hug your kids, praise them, show them you love them through discipline and rewards. Because in this life, nothing else matters more.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Good thing she's cute

I walked into the family room the other day to check on Maggie because she was being awfully quiet ~ which usually means she's up to no good. She was very nicely sitting on the couch looking at her Curious George book.

Me: Maggie, What are you doing?

Maggie: I reading.

Me: Where are your pants?

Maggie: I took them off.

Me: Why did you take your pants off?

Maggie: Because I was shaking my butt!


P.S. We are not allowed to say "butt" in the Martin house, so I corrected her through my giggles, which was very impactful, I'm sure ;)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Breastfeeding and Me

I don't know why I have been thinking about nursing a baby lately, but I have. Mostly I have been trying to figure out why I have such conflicted feelings about it. I do want to start out by saying that I firmly believe that "breast is best" for both the baby and the mother. There are plenty of studies backing this up, and you can't even buy a container of baby formula without a similar reminder.
When John-Paul was born, I was induced early and they took him away because he was premature and jaundiced, then I had my gallbladder out the next day (which was the reason I was induced). By the time I was able to nurse him, in between recovering and all the time he was under the lights at the hospital, I never got a great flow of milk. From the get go, he was a scrawny baby and it was recommended that we give him one bottle of formula a day. So we did, and I still nursed him for 8 months. Even when I pumped, I would only get about 4 oz. of milk total. I just never made enough with him.
When Andrew came along, we got a great start right away, and he nursed like a champ until he was 11 months old. He was colicky, but I cut out dairy from my diet until he was 4 months old and that did the trick. I still didn't make a ton of milk, but I nursed him so often that he was a chubby happy baby and I was glad to do it. Besides, he completely refused a bottle or pacifier, so I had no other choice (good thing I was a SAHM at that point).
Eamon was a different story. I started out nursing him, but he was even more colicky than Andrew. I removed dairy from my diet - no luck. I removed soy from my diet (at my doctor's recommendation) and that seemed to help a little. But do you know how hard it is to remove both dairy and soy from a diet and still eat enough to breastfeed? Answer: very difficult! I was hungry, frustrated, and HATING it. Phil and I decided I was actually a worse mom/person by nursing Eamon and so, at 3 months, we switched him to hypoallergenic formula.
God laughed, and when Eamon was 5 months old, I found out I was preggers with Maggie. I actually didn't mind breastfeeding Maggie - I didn't have to change my diet, and she was a good sleeper. But she was born right before tax season, and with my increased hours, high stress, and lack of privacy, pumping was really hard to fit in and eventually I wasn't making enough milk. So she went on formula at 4 months old.
If we are ever blessed with another baby, I will try to breastfeed again. My goal is 6 months, but life happens and I will do my best. I just don't want to be judged or made to feel even worse about whatever decisions we make in raising our children. For me, breastfeeding is a sacrifice....but one I am willing to make.
I will NEVER understand how some moms claim to love nursing their babies. What is there to love about breastfeeding in particular? Yes, I love holding my baby and giving him the nourishment he needs to grow, but you can hold a bottle and still do both of those things. I chose to breastfeed for practical reasons - it's God's perfect nourishment for babies, and it's free. Period, that's it. After having a baby and creating milk, I think it's the natural next step to give that milk to the baby. But is it wrong to give a bottle of formula? I definitely don't think so, however that's the feeling I get from some women who are really passionate about it.
The other thing I don't understand is why some mothers choose to do it for so long. Once the baby is eating a variety of solid foods, can walk and talk, they probably don't need breast milk anymore. Even baby cows stop nursing at some point - and I don't think the momma cows are sad about it. It's life - babies grow up and don't need us for certain things anymore. I wonder who really wants to extend the nursing period, the baby or the mom? Maybe I just don't have a deep enough maternal instinct when it comes to nursing babies, but I'll pray for it if/before #5 comes along.
What are your thoughts?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hi Lo: April 16th


1) It's April 16th - tax season is over!!! Actually, for many residents of MA tax season has been extended until May 11th due to all the flooding. But, since I work on Cape Cod and the Cape residents have not been extended, MY tax season is over!

2) Haircuts all around. Maggie got her first trim, I cut about 4 inches off mine, and I buzzed the boys hair on Wednesday.Phil is the last one to get spring cleaned :)

3) Woodchips are being delivered today for our swingset area. The yard is looking better, but we have ways to go!

4) The kids April vacations officially starts at the end of school today!!! We will be having lots of family visiting, and the kids are SO excited.

5) Phil was asked to be the Confirmation sponsor for one of the students at his high school. Her name is Haley, and she's a doll! She comes to Sunday Mass with us and volunteers at my kid's school helping them with homework and chasing them around the playground. She will be able to drive soon and we are looking forward to making her our regular babysitter. She was just confirmed on Tuesday night, and chose the name Felicity. I had to read about St Felicity, if you don't know about her, she's AMAZING - she had 7 sons and they were all martyred. While they were killing off her sons one by one, she had to watch and they gave her a chance to denounce her faith after each one, but she never did, and then she was killed at the end. What a strong woman!

Here's Phil and Haley at the Confirmation:


1) Got to start eating a bit better - the stress of extra work has been making me crave sweets and naughty stuff. And I haven't been running as long anymore now that the race is over. It's almost beach weather - yikes!

2) Poor Phil, he's been so busy trying to get the yard ready for the swingset (we had a ton of ivy he had to dig up), take care of the kids while I've been working, and getting all his grad work completed in time. He's my hero!

3) We have been keeping the pediatrician busy lately - Eamon had a double ear infection and Maggie had strep throat. Here she is probably infecting her friend, Robby (Sorry Robby!):

What were your highs and lows this week?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Top Ten Thursday: Food Questions I Frequently Ask Myself

1) Why do they have to ruin trail mix by putting raisins in? Nuts and chocolate chips just dandy on their own, thank you!
2) Why does freshly shredded cheese from a block taste so.much.better than packaged shredded cheese?
3) Why do we add vanilla to chocolate recipes?
4) Squeezable yogurt in a tube + freezer = edible ice pack! Why haven't I thought of this before?
5) Why is it a moments on the lips ~ forever on the hips, but I can run for an hour and only burn off one meal?
6) How come my children won't eat spicy food in a meal, but if given the opportunity, will chow down on super-spicy Chili Doritos?
7) Did you know a 2 year old can survive on chicken, yogurt, fruit, chocolate and cereal? Seriously, her name is Maggie.
8) Fruit? Yummy. Ice Cream? Yummy. Fruit ice cream flavors? Disgusting!
9) How did I ever eat and enjoy red meat? The thought of it now makes me sick! Bring on the ground turkey, chicken and beans :)
10) Who invented dark chocolate covered peanut M&M's? My love handles are ready to wage war!
P.S. Tax season is over!!! Woot-woot!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Gratituesday: Kid-Speak (updated)

John-Paul: Mommy - you know those 'things' you have that feed babies? Well, Maggie is starting to grow some so that she can feed babies when she gets to be a lady.

(Phil and I try not to laugh, but the thought of our 2 year old daughter having "bosoms" is too much to handle right now!)

Maggie walks over and requests to watch "Oven and the Chicky Munts"

(Alvin and the Chipmunks).

In the morning on the way to school, the kids and I say our morning prayers and then they each get to pray for something, and be thankful for something.

It makes my heart melt when Andrew says he is thankful for "Jesus dying on the Cross" and Eamon is thankful for "Baby Layla being in Heaven". And Maggie always says the same thing every day: I want to pray for Baby Jesus, Baby Mary, our family!

Just this morning - Eamon was so excited to go to school to see the "Monster Ants".
Then the older boys informed me he was talking about one of 6 Monstrances blessed by the Pope that are traveling around the US! Very cool!

One more funny from Eamon
(he is our resident 3 year old clown at the moment):
I was picking out his clothes last night (to wear today) and he asked to wear his white sweater vest. I said no because today is gym day and that was too fancy. He complained that his friend Shawn wears them all the time to school. And I said, Eamon, you wore that vest for Easter, it's for special holidays. And he came right back with "But it's still the Easter season!" He's 100% right, and I'm 100% grateful for sending him to a great Catholic school :) But still, no sweater vests on gym day!

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Delivery Truck Came...

...and the men set this up. So that when the kids got home from school - they were completely surprised!! A discussion ensued amongst the kids:

"WHOA, our very own swing set?"

"Where did that come from?"

"Who gave us that?"

"The neighbors must have built it"

"Mommy prayed for a swing set!"


We are so excited to finally have one in our backyard. Thanks to the IRS for the first-time-homebuyer-credit that allowed us to buy it ;)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Organic NFP

Remember that post I wrote a while back about using NFP to be truly organic?
Well, the talented Katie at Kitchen Stewardship has taken my little idea and written a wonderful article over at Simple Organic which I will post below:

NFP: Natural Parenting Can Start Before Conception
Katie Kimball on April 7, 2010
health & nutrition

Some might label my parenting style as “green” or “crunchy,” but all labels aside, I simply seek to be a good steward of the earth’s resources and keep my kids safe from toxins and as healthy as possible.

What I do, I want to do naturally.

For those who are proponents of unmedicated childbirth, breastfeeding, babywearing, and wooden toys, it only makes sense that natural parenting would begin before conception.

There are plenty of opportunities for considering parenting before the first pink plus sign.
• Many women choose pre-conception diets to detoxify and prepare the body for a healthy pregnancy.
• Engaged couples are often encouraged to discuss what they think their parenting will look like when the time comes.

Wouldn’t you want your reproductive system to receive the same natural care you give your nutrition and your children’s health?

Oral contraception is the only drug approved to treat a healthy condition as a disease and rewire a normally working system so that it malfunctions. The Pill’s effectiveness lies in ultimately stopping your reproductive system from performing properly, thus preventing pregnancy.

For those who want to be natural parents, who don’t give their children over-the-counter medications or antibiotics when we can avoid them, it is a natural extension of our parenting philosophy to keep our children’s first home – the womb – chemical free.

It’s organic parenting at its finest.

To Conceive or Not to Conceive, Naturally
Everyone knows that sex can result in pregnancy, and each couple must make their own decision about whether they want to achieve or avoid pregnancy at a given time. If children just aren’t in your short-term plan, you have some options to prevent or avoid pregnancy, and each impacts the earth and your health in various ways.

(The following is in chart form over at the original article)
Impact on Earth
Impact on Body

Oral Contraceptives
Increased estrogen in water supply (that cannot be filtered out), plastic waste from packaging,
“feminized” and sterile fish – possible serious animal kingdom impact
Irritability, decreased sex drive, increased risk of many diseases, especially breast cancer, infertility/trouble getting pregnant later, losing already fertilized eggs

Condoms, other barrier methods
Plastic waste never breaks down, spermicidal pollution
Invasive chemicals and materials – what might be leaching from these items?

Injected Hormonal Contraceptive
Increased hormones in water supply, hazardous medical waste
Similar to oral

Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness
Zero negative impact; see positives below

When my husband and I got married, there was never any question about our choice of birth control. I was “green” enough to know that I never wanted to put drugs in my body when I didn’t need them, and my husband didn’t want to ask me to deal with all the possible side effects of oral contraception.

Our parenting began when we used to pray for our possible future children as we took evening walks as freshmen in college. Long before we even thought about registering for a baby sling, our parenting was “natural” as we made the choice each month whether to seek or avoid a pregnancy and act accordingly, without the help of drugs or products. I had never purchased organic spinach, but I was keeping my uninhabited womb as organic as possible with natural family planning.

What is Natural Family Planning?
Natural Family Planning, or Fertility Awareness, is the process of observing a woman’s naturally occurring physical cues to fertility, including basal body temperature, cervical mucus, and other symptoms. Fertilization can only occur during a 24-hour stage each cycle, and fertility is easy to determine for a few days on either side of that window.
Charts help a couple keep track of the woman’s fertile and infertile stages, and they can decide whether or not to be intimate based on their desire for a child (or not) at the time. Natural Family Planning is not the rhythm or calendar method.

Benefits of Natural Family Planning
Beyond simply avoiding the harmful physical side effects of artificial contraception, the advantages of Natural Family Planning are many:

For the Woman:
Her body is respected and preserved from chemicals, and she can become aware of health issues related to her fertility, including stress-induced illnesses and more. The decision to avoid pregnancy is completely and immediately reversible. Financial cost = $0.

For the Environment:
There are no chemicals, no packaging waste, and no trips to the doctor for injections or prescriptions. Breastfeeding infertility, often encouraged in natural family planning, even results in fewer feminine products entering the landfills and sewage systems. Contrast this with oral contraceptives, which have caused an increase in estrogen in our water supply that is very troubling. Estrogen (and other synthetic hormones) cannot be filtered out of drinking water, so children and adults alike who drink city water are getting greater exposure to these female hormones.
100 million women worldwide using oral contraceptives, this risk is no small potatoes.

For the Marriage:
Longevity is the major benefit:
less than 5% of NFP users divorce, compared to 50% in the rest of the (American) population. This is likely a result of NFP’s other marital benefits:
increased communication (discussing “child or no child” every month)
deep respect for one another and each one’s life-giving abilities
cycles of “courtship” and “honeymoon” keep the intimacy fresh, as couples abstain during the fertile period (Yes, when choosing to avoid, it’s like a honeymoon when the fertile phase is over!)
the self-discipline practiced through intermittent abstinence increases both spouses’ self-control in other aspects of life
decreased fear of unwanted pregnancy – you know immediately if you are taking a “risk” or not, unlike the failure rate of oral contraceptives

Information on Natural Family Planning
I cannot say enough good things about NFP. If you truly want an organic, natural home, consider learning about how your body can tell you when you are fertile and when you are not. There are a few different methods, all 99% or more effective at achieving the desired result:
Sympto-Thermal Method (see the
Couple to Couple League for classes in your area)
NaPro Technology/Billings Ovulation Method (see the
Creighton Model FertilityCare System for more information)
Ovulation Method (see a 27-minute video
here to get a grip on the basics)

How is NFP different than contraception?
Find a doctor who will be able to work with you as you strive to have organic fertility.
This may be a touchy subject for comments. I do encourage discussion and assume everyone will be respectful with their opinions. I welcome any questions for me as an NFP user.

I am indebted to Colleen Martin of Martin Family Moments for her connection between NFP and “going organic”.
Thanks Katie!! I hope our articles can help to spread the awareness of the many benefits of using NFP for our bodies and souls!!