Friday, March 30, 2012

Weekly Capture VII

                                                        
Dom enjoying his chocolate dino from Grandpa.

A Sweet Moment

I've been attempting to teach Dominic about privacy and how it's a treat for Mama to get it. Today he stood outside the bathroom door until he heard the sink turn on, and then he burst into the room asking, "Did you like your treat?"

Quote
Be careful to leave your sons well instructed rather than rich, for the hopes of the instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant.  ~Epictetus

Watching
Late night episodes of Castle.

Reading
At the encouragement of my little brother (who's not so little anymore), I have begun reading the Harry Potter series. Presently on book 2 and enjoying them thus far.


Links
30 of My Favorite Children's Books :: Motherhood Your Way   (Some more fun reads!)
Why I Hated Breastfeeding (and How That Changed) Part I :: Carrots for Michaelmas (also read Part 2!)
What We Don't Buy at the Grocery Store :: The Little Green Homemaker



Looking Forward To

Holy Week.

8 Things I'm Thankful For
  • Blackcurrant Tea
  • 2 easy peasy traveling fellows
  • Friends dropping by
  • a lovely performance of Coppelia
  • seeing ALL my siblings
  • sleeping baby Moby-ed up
  • the crock pot
  • my boy getting to the stage where he yearns to learn more


Sleeping tiny one at the Museum of Play in his Pirate hat.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

25 Fun Books to Read with Your Toddler

The day I could finally check out real books at the library for Dom, knowing he'd sit through them and be entertained, was one of the best days. Fabulous board books are few and far between, so I felt our life expanded so much when we started reading actual books. It has been so fun to share with him our love of reading - both David + I are avid readers and own hundreds of books.


My 3 rules of thumb when checking out a new book to read are:

1. - It must be an entertaining and well written story.
2. - The art must be beautiful.
3. - I cannot mind reading it over and over and over and well, you get the point.


We also love books that are about sweet characters, books that are humorous, books that inspire learning, and books that feed the imagination.

So, here are 25 of our favorite books at present, in no particular order:

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead + Erin Stead
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss 
From Head to Toe by Eric Carle 
This Little Pirate by Philemon Sturges 
Farmyard Beat by Lindsey Craig + Marc Brown 
Cha-Cha Chimps by Julia Durango 
All the Things I Love About You by LeUyen Pham
Otis by Loren Long 
Chicken Cheeks by Michael Ian Black + Kevin Hawkes
Peanut Butter And Jellyfishes by Brian P. Cleary + Betsy E. Snyder
Stone Soup by Marcia Brown 
Way Up High in a Tall Green Tree by Jan Peck
One Tractor by Alexandra Siy + Jacqueline Rogers
Along a Long Road by Frank Viva
The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola
Wink: The Ninja Who Wanted to be Noticed by J. C. Phillipps
To Market, to Market by Nikki McClure

Ste-e-e-e-eamboat a-Comin'! by Jill Esbaum
Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer 
Go, Dog. Go! by P. D. Eastman
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Jan Brett
If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff + Felicia Bond
Pigs Love Potatoes by Anika Denise + Christopher Denise
Every Friday by Dan Yaccarino
Grandpa Green by Lane Smith

We're always looking to expand our collection and read new adventures.
Any books out there that you'd add to this list? What are your favorites to read to your toddler?


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This post 25 Fun Books to Read with Your Toddler first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 28 March 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Project Simplify :: Week 4 - Choose Your Own Adventure


Last week's Project Simplify challenge did not happen. I attempted a cleaning of my desk several times, and every time I did, something else came up. I think after this week is up, I might attack that area of the house again, but last week it was becoming too stressful. And sometimes I think it's better to drop things than get more stressed out over something that is supposed to be good.

It mostly didn't happen because...

We went southwards this past weekend, mostly to see the above (sorry the photo is dark... it was crazy dark inside) and three of my other siblings perform in the ballet production of 'Coppelia.' It was so much fun to watch my younger siblings continue to excel in their dreams and dance alongside NYC Ballet dancers. The weekend sped by with very, very little sleep for all of us. Neither of our boys slept well during the night, so both David + I were also greatly lacking in rest. Below you'll see Dom finally sleeping... on the way home.


And now for this week's challenge: Choose Your Own Adventure. I think my adventure will be more than adventurous enough. I'm planning to attack my clothes/dresser area, and if I have time move on to my closet as well. The picture below shows just how scary it is at the moment, and why it makes the perfect "adventure" to finish off my 4 weeks of organizing with. Scary, right? I don't think I've done much with this ever growing pile since B was born... well, I did put away any maternity clothes that were out. But that's about it. I'm planning to get rid of anything I haven't worn in the past year or that I don't enjoy wearing. Because really, what's the point of keeping it?

Oh, and I hope to find the top of my dresser this week, too, in organizing my jewelry and other accessories.

Here's to cleaner rooms!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Weekly Capture VI

my little dudes.

A Sweet Moment
Even though it was during a moment of Dom feeling as if he didn't *need* a nap yesterday, he called me back when I was leaving the room, saying, "Mama, come back! Come back! I need you. I really need you to hug me." So, of course I came back.

Quote
"To a great extent, the level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood.When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her.The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women."                      Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Watching
Not much of anything. Oh Veggie Tales. Lots of Veggie Tales.

Links

Looking Forward To
A fabulous ballet this Sunday starring FOUR of my superbly talented siblings. 

8 Things I'm Thankful For
  • smiley boys
  • a super giggley Dom, and his newfound love for "weird" faces
  • sunshine
  • cloth diapers amazing ability to capture crazy blowouts (what can I say? Some things just make life nicer)
  • breezey evenings
  • workshops for business that are, best of all, free
  • phone calls with my sister
  • plans for some awesome things in the next few months... more will follow on that!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Long Awaited, Epic Story of B's Birth



At long last I sit down to type out the story of Blaise's birth. He was 2 months old this past Friday (crazy, but true!), and I have promised way too many people to share this day in writing. I apologize for not getting this out sooner. I had every intention of making this a priority, but in my life today there are many priorities, and having clean diapers and dinner on the table nightly seem to trump most others.

Blaise's birth was so unlike Dom's in many aspects. I think some of this had to do with the fact that I had done it once and so was better prepared for what was going to happen and signs and symptoms declaring labor to be on its way. As most of you know, I was unhappy with most of what happened at Dom's birth and when I realized I was pregnant the second time around, I started researching and looking for a new medical provider. I had heard rave reviews from several friends about a Midwifery group here in Rochester, and I decided they sounded like what I was interested in - natural approaches, mama's decision trumps all, and less invasion/messing with things is best.

I never wrote down Dom's story, mostly because it was not at all what I had been hoping for, and I was so flustered and stressed by it all, I didn't really want to remember it. In short, I was in early labor for 2 days, headed into the hospital twice (at the advice of doctors I'd never met over phone calls) and having to deal with a horrible, horribly resident - a male doctor who "knew exactly what I felt like," only to be sent home both times. Finally my water break broke in full while visiting my doctor; he sent me into the hospital, where I was told I had no choice and that pictocin was being started. At this point I hadn't slept in over 28 hours, and 2 hours in, I asked for Nubaine, a pain killer, and then requested the Epidural later because I didn't have the energy to breathe anymore. Dom was born with 30 minutes of pushing within the hour and a half of getting the Epidural.

Blaise decided to be late. Very late. The midwives allowed up to a 2 week late window before highly suggesting induction for health reasons and the safety of the baby. At 1 week late, I went in for an ultrasound and a non-stress test to make sure the little man was still doing ok.  He was, but my blood pressure spiked a few times that day, and then went down. A routine NST brought me back into the hospital Sunday at 2pm (10 days late), after which I questioned the nurse about leakage of amniotic fluids. With Dom it had been a gushing, so I wasn't really sure what a small leak would be like. She said she could test any fluid leaking and determine what it was. Sure enough, I was leaking, in teaspoon amounts, bits of amniotic fluid. This meant my water had broken, and baby needed to be born within a day or so to prevent infection. The midwife on call, Beth, came in to check on me, and at this point I was only 1-2 cm dilated, and 50% effaced. My BP had spiked again, and she told me if I could sit still, take deep breaths, and get it to come down, she'd send me home until real labor started.

BP came down, and by 3:30pm, home I went. I only live about 7-10 minutes from the hospital, depending on the time of day. The evening was spent eating dinner, snuggling + reading books with my little man, and a ridiculously frigid walk around the neighborhood. I was having light contractions on and off, but nothing serious. It was definitely was no reason to forego sleep. Sometime around 1 am, I awoke with more serious contractions that weren't letting up. They were repeating every 5 minutes or so, so I woke David up and told him perhaps we should time them. He helped time them (at this point around 2:45am), and we went ahead and phoned Beth. She suggested I start getting ready and head in. We'd already arranged for our sweet friend, Julie, to be ready for a middle-of-the-night phone call, so we phoned her. Contractions were remaining pretty steady, 30+ seconds long, 4-5 minutes apart, and gaining in intensity, all signs of labor happening. Julie arrived, bag was loaded into car, I wandered out into 8 degree weather in yoga pants and a lighter weight coat (yup, realized this much later), and off we went. Several potholes coincided with contractions, and I made David stop in the middle of the road.  Thankfully at 3:30 am, nobody's out, so nobody cared.

Hospital check-in was wonderful. We parked in the garage, and slowly made our way to the maternity ward, which was dead quiet. Being the middle of the night, we had to get there by going first through ED. Since the midwife had talked to me on the phone and was present in the hospital when I showed up, I was put directly into a room, skipping triage completely. The nurse came in, introduced herself, and let us be, with her only instructions to stay in the area and not wander out of the hospital.

At 7 am, the midwives switched, and Becky, who was my main midwife (I'd seen almost all the midwives in the practice, but I'd definitely seen Becky the most), came on shift. Contractions were continuing, but sometimes they'd be 2-3 minutes apart, and then it'd stretch out to 6 or more minutes for a couple. Unnerving, to say the least. My body was progressing at the rate of a snail for lack of continuity. Part of the midwife philosophy includes not constantly checking me to decrease risk of infection, so this progress was mostly based on the fact that the contractions weren't getting tons stronger or equally closer together.

The whole morning continued as such. I still was having good, strong contractions, just nowhere near each other. I felt myself though and was positive, taking the time to talk, joke, and laugh, as much as was possible, in between contractions. I tried the shower several times as well as the whirlpool tub once. I was allowed to have food, which I tried; my body decided no, I didn't need that. As I was going nowhere fast, I discussed my options with Becky. She made sure I understood that I had the decision to make, and I could wait as long as I wanted to make it. It was wonderful feeling I had the freedom of choice in how I wanted this labor and birth to go.

My nurses were in and out, making sure I was comfortable and didn't need anything, but mostly David and I were alone. By noon I was pretty certain I wanted to try Pitocin in attempts to bring my contractions closer together. To have Pit, you have to be monitored consistently for twenty minutes - both for the baby's heartbeat and for the mama's contractions and blood pressure. They had a heck of a time attempting this with me because the best way for me to breathe through each contraction was by first moving to all fours, which made me in way less pain, but made it impossible to keep the monitoring going. Needless to say, it was a ridiculous process.

Finally the time came. I'd been monitored and all was safe with me and baby, so Pit could be as safely as possible administered. At this point I was getting exhausted (long labors are pretty tiring, to say the least), and so I asked Becky about pain killer options. I knew an epidural was not on my 'want' list, but I was open to something that came via an IV. I was already getting the IV with the Pitocin, so I was offered Nubain, a pain killer given once through the IV that lasts 2-6 hours. Becky also mentioned "the midwife cocktail" (called that because only the midwives offer the combo), which included another drug with the Nubain that causes you to be drowsy (similar to the effect of Benedryl). I decided on the mixture since a cocktail always sounds good. Just kidding - more because I wanted something to help my body sleep some.

As being hooked up to the IV limits your movement, and being connected to all the monitors does even more so, I opted to take a shower before beginning. I had three excruciatingly painful contractions about 10 seconds apart from one another while in the bathroom, each lasting well over a minute and a half. And then another lapse of 6 minutes before another. I knew after that I definitely had made the right choice in opting for the Pitocin as my contractions were transition worthy, but were not close enough to be making positive progress. Becky checked me right before they hooked me up, and at this point it was about 3:30/3:45, and I was 6 - 6.5 cm dilated and completely effaced.

Then began an hour of me being completely out of it. I went from sound asleep to wide awake, breathing through a contraction, to sound asleep again. (David can attest to this!) Around 4:40, I felt like I had to pee. You can't blame me with the amount of water and juice I'd downed, but Becky had come in to check on me, and asked, "Are you sure you're not just ready to have this baby?" She recommended that she check me instead of me going to the bathroom. Sure enough - 10 cm! It was showtime!

Another great thing about this labor was the lack of people frequenting my room. Only once the whole day had I seen a doctor, and that was during the Pitocin phase. I'd knocked one of the monitors off when moving to get more comfortable, and apparently some doc came rushing in. I remember this not at all because I was so super drowsy. Otherwise it was just our nurse, Jo, and Becky checking in every once in awhile. And that's also how the actual pushing phase was, too - only four people other than me, and two were related to me.

Pushing was a completely different experience this time because with Dom, due to the epidural, I felt the need to push, but there wasn't any pain involved. Also with Dom, I was told to push even when I didn't feel it. This go round was so, so different. The pain was definitely present (I now understand it when women liken it to a 'ring of fire' - sorry, Johnny Cash fans if that forever ruins your associations with the song). I was encouraged to only push when I felt like it and to just breathe and rest if I felt that was what my body needed. Fifteen minutes and a few good, strong pushes, and out came a head. Another push got out the rest of the tiny body, well all 8 lb. and 12 oz. of it. Immediately, this new little person was placed right on me. And he was beautiful. Simply beautiful.

And there you go. The story of how my little Blaise entered the world.


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All rights reserved. ©Sarah G. Ortiz
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This post The Long Awaited, Epic Story of B's Birth first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 20 March 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

Project Simplify :: Week 3 - Closets, Countertops, + Drawers


Hots spots for this week's Project Simplify challenge are: Closets, Countertops, and Drawers; in other words: "all the places you can stow away crap."Oh dear. I know I have lots to do this week, and this time I only have 4 days to do it. I'll mostly be focussing on my desk, and business and craft area. The two pictures are of my visible mess... you don't even want to see inside the drawers.  

So, to do list for this week:
  • Clean up desk top and organize all business papers
  • Go through file box and clear out/archive older paper, and overall neaten
  • Reorganize shelves
  • Clear out desk/file cabinet so business can be in it
  • Reorganize my dresser with the hiding powers (it is a rescued dresser that I use to keep craft stuff in)


And go, week 3!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day


St. Patrick's Day. It's one of my favorite feast days to celebrate. Not only does it mean potatoes, beer, and green, it's also a key celebration for my favourite place on earth. I am sort of in love with Ireland, and by sort of, I mean severely. I think I am having withdrawal pangs since it's been ridiculously long since I last visited. I first went over at 17 with a pro-life team from the States to work with an awesome pro-life group in Ireland - Youth Defence, a group that has been successful at keeping Ireland abortion free for over 20 years. I miss Ireland like crazy and cannot wait for the day when I can drag (though I'm sure they'll go willingly) my boys to the beautiful country. For now, we celebrate St. Patrick's day to the fullest.

We started the day with some awesome green pancakes (my husband made most of this day possible... like the pancakes because I was still in bed). The Rochester St. Patrick's Day parade was next on our list, and after an hour of traffic to find parking (we live maybe 4 miles away...), we walked only a couple blocks to a shady spot for Dom's first parade experience. He was half a fan, half not. Firetrucks, Cherry Pickers, and dogs made his "awesome" list, but the bullhorns and other crazy loud noises scared him. About an hour into it, we decided we had been paraded out. Plus the sun was shining on us and making us all sweat. Poor Blaise was dressed up for typical March weather, which this was definitely not.


Before naptime, we added in a story about St. Patrick. The chosen pick was Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie DePaola, one of my favourite children's authors/artists wrote one, which I highly recommend. 


And lastly, we finished off our day with a dinner of Vegetarian Guinness Stew, Irish Soda Bread (minus the raisins + carroway), and a tasty Guinness chocolate cake to end it all. As I was putting the final touches on the pantry organizing, the husband actually made almost everything. Thankfully he's a wonderful cook, so it turned out fantastic. 

What a wonderful day to spend time with family, enjoy tasty treats, and all in all celebrate a Godly man, who risked everything to go back to a country that had previously enslaved him to bring them the Gospel. 

And to end, here's my favourite part of St. Patrick's Lorica

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.



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This post Celebrating St. Patrick's Day first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 18 March 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Project Simplify - Wk 2 Wrap Up


And success! Here's a look at what my pantry and kitchen counter storage looked like on Monday. I accomplished what I wanted to with cleaning it up and organizing, always a great feeling. There wasn't tons to do, but it was nice to go through every single thing in my pantry to take note of what we own, and have overstock of. I discovered ridiculous amounts of oregano and parsley, enough that now friends will be getting gifts of dried herbs. Not pictured is the other part of our pantry, which stores dishes, plastic storage, some canned goods, pans, wine glasses, and other randomness. I went through that as well, and ended up clearing out a bunch of our children's eating-ware. 

The mason jars, shown below, are only empty because we're out of the particular dried good we store there. Raw sugar and green lentils are missing below. But I did make use of every single jar we own. I still have a few organizing gestures I plan to make. I want to start recycling some glass jars from jarred sauces and salsas to reuse as further storage. Then I want to find some fun lighter colored washi tape to label each jar and my spice jars as well. 

Annnnnd, this week I am also uploading the photos in a timely matter, so I can actually enter the contest over at Project Simplify.


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