Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Approaching anonymous fame

This morning I checked on some of Saint Benedict Press's products on Amazon (where we've had issues with inaccurate or missing information) and was pleasantly surprised to see that one of our new books' page has been updated with a description I wrote. If you check out Abandonment to Divine Providence, you'll read my words under "Product Description." They left out a dash after "happening" (probably a text conversion error), but it is otherwise the same as what we printed on the back cover. Way cool!

Now, if only Amazon would get our new Dark Night of the Soul up and running - it's my favorite of our three newest books.


Here's something fun about this stage of the pregnancy: I've starting thinking about myself in terms of "we". Now that I've seen baby Teresa's face and refer to her by name half the time, and now that I can feel her moving inside me almost every day (which is so much fun!), I'm far more aware of there being a little person with me all the time. So I approach tasks and pleasures as a "team" experience - now WE eat something, WE go somewhere, WE hear someone. I love it!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Teresa Marie

Unless the Holy Spirit inspires us differently in the next five months, we will give our little girl the name Teresa Marie. Here's why:

In naming her Teresa we invoke three very holy women as her special patron saints: St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Teresa of Avila, and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta (who is bound to be canonized soon). St. Therese's Story of a Soul is one of my favorite spiritual classics (and David is enjoying it, too, as he reads it for the first time). In her autobiography, this childlike Doctor of the Church shares her sweet and simple experience of faith, devotion, and selfless service. Although this champion of the "Little Way of Love" lived very briefly on Earth (only 23 years), she's spent her "time" in heaven showering those who seek her intercession with roses - figurative and literal!

St. Teresa of Avila also left us with some inspirational writings (we've written about Interior Castle before) but it's what she did that really impresses me. This Doctor of the Church labored for the reform of the Carmelite order alongside her friend St. John of the Cross. Impelled by ecstatic visions of Christ (she was truly a mystic), Teresa sought perfect obedience and self-discipline in adherence to the Carmelite Rule - first for herself, and then for others. She governed and nurtured her sisters as a prioress and founded several convents.

Mother Teresa needs little introduction, as she has been admired by modern people of every religion. Her life speaks volumes without words, but I've always loved the way Mother Teresa got to heart of the matter in her pithy quotes. One of my favorites: “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.”

We have chosen the Spanish/Italian spelling of Teresa because it is simpler. It also goes well with our last name. According to at least one dictionary, Teresa means "harvester." We hope our Teresa will participate in God's great harvesting of souls and faithfully answer Jesus' request: "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest." (Matt. 9:37-38)

Marie is a Stone family tradition. In honor of their mother (my paternal grandmother), my father and his siblings have all given their firstborn daughter the middle name Marie. Since I am the firstborn daughter of my family, my middle name is Marie. My sisters and I intend to continue the tradition - that is why my sister (who is now 26 weeks along) has chosen the name Arianna Marie for her baby girl. Of course, David and I are delighted to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary and place our daughter in her loving care.

It's a GIRL!

This morning's ultrasound went splendidly. Our little baby appears to be healthy and whole, thanks be to God. It was fun watching the ultrasound technician search for, capture, and tag all the parts they identify and measure. The baby's position made it challenging to confirm a heart with four chambers and a proper flow of blood, but we were able to see all that eventually. Best of all, we were able to see the telltale "three lines" and now know that God has blessed us with a little girl.

Our OB clinic automatically provides DVDs and record part of the ultrasound session for patients. They also use a special device to offer a 4D view of the baby, so we got to see her facial features (which will continue to develop and may look different later on). Way cool!

Her heartbeat: a very normal 143 bpm

A nice profile (don't worry about the darker spot - the ultrasound device couldn't get her whole head, but it's there)

She was opening and closing her mouth here...aww

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Works for Me: Refilling our Ink Cartridge

Printer ink cartridges are very expensive. Even the store brand look-alikes are expensive. Getting empty cartridges refilled at Walgreens and similar stores has become reasonable (they offer deals frequently to attract new customers and we've taken advantage of them to refill David's HP cartridge), but my printer happens to be a Canon, one of the brands that they don't refill.

So I looked into home refill kits online and compared prices. After much research, I decided to order a black ink only kit from The Printer Ink Warehouse. It's really simple (heat the end of a paperclip to poke a hole through the cartridge and use a syringe to squeeze new ink through that hole) and has worked splendidly for me for ten or more refills. I recently ordered a new bottle of ink to continue refilling my original cartridge. I haven't refilled my color ink cartridge yet (not sure it's a worthwhile investment), but I'm sure The Printer Ink Warehouse's kit for that works well, too.

If you haven't considered getting the supplies to refill your own ink cartridges, I highly recommend it!

For more insights into best practices for families, check out the weekly Works-For-Me Wednesday post at Rocks in my Dryer.

Friday, September 19, 2008

You know...

You know you're Catholic when you watch segments of an online video of Solemn High Mass (in the Extraordinary Form) during breaks from studying for a nursing exam. (David)

You know you're pregnant when you sing to yourself in the shower and the line "If you're happy and you know it, do your Kegels!" pops into your head. (Frances)

Monday, September 15, 2008

My plant babies

I like my houseplants. Because we don't have pets and David is fairly self-sufficient ;) they were the closest things I had to children before God sent us baby. My plants require minimal care, but they do depend on my watering for survival. I like that. And I'm proud of them when they do well (I add a few drops of Miracle Gro to the water almost every time - seems to work!). One vine plant in particular has grown almost 8 feet since I clipped a few leaves off of a friend's plant in 2004.

Sadly, our apartment only has three small windows, one in each bedroom and one in the main living space. The sunlight doesn't often reach the other side of the apartment, so I have trouble keeping plants alive unless they are by the window. When there is no danger of frost, I keep half of the plants out on our balcony, where they can get more sun. But during the winter they keep cramped quarters around the living room window.

With baby on the way, I'm concerned about the plants. Before the little one is mobile, I know they will be good to have in our home, cleansing the air. But when crawling begins, what will I do? I've heard some houseplants are actually toxic if ingested.

I'd appreciate anyone's advice/tips for keeping a safe space for children and houseplants. Thanks!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

For the love of Timmy

A few weeks ago David came across a video for "Shaun the Sheep," a claymation cartoon about some cute and clever farm animals. Created by the minds behind Wallace & Grommit, Shaun has been airing on TV in the UK for a few years and is now played by the Disney channel here in the US. Several episodes are available on DVD - for those in the UK. DVDs playable in the US are expected in November.

Why am I telling you all this? Because Shaun the Sheep and one of its characters in particular have become something of an obsession to David and I in the past week. We are head-over-hooves in love with little Timmy, the pacifier-sucking, teddy-toting baby of the flock. This particular video clip tugs at David's heartstrings just as much as it does mine:

In addition to watching this clip at least once a day, David and I have enjoyed doing impressions for one another. Yesterday he even distracted me with those big eyes and a plaintive bleat while I was having my blood drawn at the OB clinic. Awww!

How do people come up with this kind of stuff? Do they try several different versions of characters and mannerisms and submit them to a group for feedback? A panel of cute-ologists? If so, count me in!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Freepeats & Baby Clothes

God provides! This week He blessed us with a whole bunch of baby items for an even lower price than last time: FREE!

Freepeats recently opened a forum for Charlotte-area moms to swap "gently-used baby, kid, and maternity items like clothing, high chairs, bouncers, swings, bikes, and toys for free." This online community (with forums for more than 23 cities) provides an organized system for parents to give away their unneeded items and pick up other useful items. I've been looking forward to the opportunity to participate for over a year (ever since I first heard about Freepeats).

Less than two weeks after the Charlotte forum opened, someone in my neighborhood posted an offering of baby girl clothes, blankets, and products. I let her know I was interested and we made arrangements for me to pick them up. This morning, on our way to an OB appointment (all is well with baby!) we got what I gratefully refer to as "a gift." Here's a picture:

sweet lil girl clothes!

20 girl onesies and 4 gender neutral onesies (all sized 0-3 months) and baby wash and lotion on three beautiful girl blankets

While we have very little and are mostly in receiving mode right now, I hope to be able to share our blessings with someone else on Freepeats in the future.

PS If you're a Charlotte mom who hasn't yet joined Freepeats, I encourage you to do so now. Free membership until 9/16!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

First belly shot

Four months!

Cabarrus County Fair

After all the hype, tropical storm Hanna sent absolutely nothing our way this weekend. Both Saturday and Sunday were clear and hot! So I was very glad I had held fast to my plans to visit friends and go with them to the Cabarrus County Fair on Saturday. David would have liked to come, too, but he had to fulfill a nursing school requirement and complete a 10-hour shift with an ambulance crew (it went well).

Besides enjoying the company of my friends, I had a great experience at the fair. The highlights were pigs swimming (they actually jumped into the pool!), piglets being born, and a thrilling circus-type show.

Here are the newborn piglets, some already nursing (like pigs!) and two figuring out how to stand up and walk (the one farthest back was born while we watched and, within 15 minutes, successfully made its way over to nurse).

When we arrived at the pen and found out why there was a crowd around it, the sow had already delivered at least five piglets. The farmer predicted she would have around six more. Someone nearby told us that the sow was pushing one out every ten minutes or so, so we stayed for two rounds. Sadly, the second round contained both a live piglet and a stillborn.

They also had two cows set up for milking, which is something I've always wanted to try. But it wasn't worth $2 to me! So we pressed on, looking at the exhibits. When my friends saw a pretend cow ready for milking (rubber teats hooked up to a bucket of water) in the kiddie corral, they encouraged me to give it a try. Wee!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Be careful what you ask for...

I enjoy doing logic and crossword puzzles, quote falls and syllacrostics - really, almost any of the puzzles found in a variety puzzle book. My grandfather used to do his crossword puzzles in pen - I don't dare try. Pencils with erasers are my friends.

Sometimes, though, I don't discover I've made a mistake until the majority of a puzzle grid is filled in. That kind of redo calls for more erasing power than a little pencil-tipper. Alas, when I packed my carry-on bag for our latest trip, I discovered that my fat eraser had gone missing. I was not a terribly successful puzzle-doer on those flights. My book now has a page or two awaiting erasure.

So when my father-in-law started scouring the back-to-school sales for great deals (as he so LOVES to do!), I requested a big eraser. I didn't specify - I just assumed that "big eraser" meant "something like a Pink Pearl, about an inch long and somewhat rectangular."

This is what showed up in the mail today (along with lots of other goodies):

I don't think I'll be carrying it on any planes with me, but maybe I'll keep it just for the laugh value. If only we could just rub out our truly big mistakes...

PS Yes, I'm using a Christmas mug in September. It's the biggest one in our cupboards, so I grab it whenever it's clean.