heat survival guide for the gestating / five faves

For being 25-weeks pregnant and lacking any air conditioning in my house, I'm really dealing with the summer heat quite well.

Know that saying of "Don't make an ugly face; it just might stick"? Yeah. Also, I'm pretty sure that if my hair has to be in a top knot or off-the-neck braid for one more week, I'll never be able to coax it back down.

I'm no stranger to heat. I lived--nay, flourished--through 25 summers in California's Sacramento Valley, when hot means not just a few days over 100, but 30. But every building there has AC. Now, I'm in Eastern Washington, that duplicitous region. Not only does winter bring the stinging cold and dirty exhaust-coated ice that clings to the road from November through March... but summer comes with the audacity of 90 and 100-degree 10-day heat waves. It's a "both/and" kind of place--glacial winters and boiling summers.

But hey, there's no state income tax. So, yeah.

Two weeks ago we scurried to fill our van like Steinbeck characters fleeing the dust bowl and drove out to my in-laws' air conditioned house to escape the rising temps. This week, I'm resolved to stay put. My game plan:

1. Cook nothing--NOTHING--indoors
With the advent of a gas grill onto our patio, I've declared my stove and oven to be out-of-order until September. This coincides nicely with Sean getting his whole "I'm a man and I like to grill" thing going. I might even get him an apron. After all, I might need to bolster his spirits as he braves the propane, flames and smoke, while I stay inside chopping lettuce and sticking my face in the freezer.

2. The 8-hour iced coffee

One of these things is not like the other...

I make a point making my drive-thru coffee place the very last stop on my daily errands. When I get my iced vanilla americano back home, it goes straight into the fridge--with first a little top-off of lactose-free milk, just to replenish what I sipped on the way home. Then, at each of the 400 times through the rest of the day that I open the refridge to fetch, refill or put away sippy cups, I take a sip. And my blood pressure recedes a few points.

3. Costco Camping

That membership fee pays for itself after your third slow stroll around the refrigerated dairy/produce cases.

Today the boys watched for 20 minutes as the Vitamix guy made them a smoothie. I stood by the cart and nodded at him periodically, thinking to myself with a grin, "There's no sweat running down my back. It's 11 a.m. and my feet aren't swollen yet."

I think the guy took my smile as a sign I wanted his $500 blender. We walked away instead of telling him that at $500, it better cool my house AND puree bananas.

Another Costco amusement: Watching 40 chickens receive their new plastic homes. Also: dinner.

4. Retreat underground

Our half-finished basement is not a thing of beauty, but it stays a good 15 degrees cooler than upstairs.

So while it's not fun hauling 12 blankies and 29 pillows down there (and that's just the stuff I need to get comfortable), it beats showering in your my own sweat each night.

5. Suck it up

I listened to The World Over while doing my dishes over a steamy sink last night. Want a sure-fire way to be grateful for living in a brick-oven-of-a-house? Listen to the plight of Christians not living in the promised land of Eastern Washington. Read about the children at the border, Ebola in Africa, or the homeless that whether this kind of weather sans shelter. I didn't need to go far to find people who's lives are about a million times harder than mine. That doesn't make my house less hot, but it makes my little burden much more an inconvenience than a burden.

That's my spin for this week. Linking up with Heather of unbelievably-bad-airport-experience fame.


follow the absorbent cotton trail

In the 1995 remake of Sabrina, the chauffeur delays telling his daughter (away for the year in Paris) that her beloved crush, David, is engaged to another woman. Rosa, the chatty maid, offers him a simple way to phrase his heartbreaking news:

"You say, Darling Sabrina: Your life is a dream, and now it is over."

WELL. Going to Edel was a dream for me, and now, it's over. Since the wee hours of Monday morning we've been living and walking on towels, sheets and any other washable cotton surface in the hopes of keeping the products of the stomach flu off the upholstery.

I've only been mildly successful.

But! Things could be worse, a lot worse. I'm choosing to be grateful for the things I have: a house, running water, a washing machine, a full bottle of Resolve, and the Costco pack of Lysol wipes. I think I also have the DVD of Sabrina stashed somewhere in my basement. Nothing says "balm to the Edel-forfeitted soul" like Greg Kinnear in a tux.

 To all the ladies I was hoping to finally meet in person: I'll catch ya next year.


To my incredible friends who are still attending: Girls, drink an O'Doul's for me. And from 2,000 miles away, I'll say: Cheers.

{Linking up with Cari for Theme Thursday.}


when Joseph holds the camera

Ever seen the Curious George episode about the "hamster cam"? Same concept, just 30 inches off the ground, instead of three. 

He's available for weekend weddings and baby belly photo shoots. Rates upon request.


what I won't be wearing to Edel (and five things I will) / five faves

When my sister gave the matron-of-honor toast at my wedding, one of her bits about me described my hunter-like clearance-rack shopping habits--by which I not only got great deals, but found quite fabulous clothes and shoes. I often had so many clothes, in fact, I'd pass them along to my her or my mother.

"Mary doesn't give hand-me-downs," she said. "She gives hand-me-ups."

Fast forward five years. From the driver's seat of my used minivan, I now make longing glances to Nordstrom Rack when passing it on the freeway. I can't remember last time I bought a new pair of heels. My local consignment store (perfect for finding discounted, brand-name transitional wardrobe clothes) hasn't seen me in months, since they don't carry maternity sizes.

I don't write this with self pity. A single girl lives mostly for herself, spends her money on what makes her happy, and makes looking good a priority. I did those things. Found a terrific man, got married. Breeeeeeeezed through my first pregnancy with all-new or mostly-new maternity clothes. Sweet.

Fast-forward to today. Now, I'm on:
1) baby #3
2) a budget
3) a collision-course with humility.

In two weeks I'm attending that Edel thingy. Judging by the excitement surrounding what to wear and when by the other attendees, I'm pretty sure that many ladies are bringing their a-game to Austin.

At this stage of my life and gestational status, my "a-game" consists of thrift-store Motherhood cotton shift dresses (size large pleeeease) and the least-stained Liz Lange t-shirt I can find. Seriously, what is it about a protruding belly that attracts stains? It doesn't matter whether I'm cooking, eating or cleaning. Each event draws balsamic vinaigrette to my bump with a blinding magnetic force.

Weirdly, I'm un-panicked about this. I've read about attendees having enthusiastic conversations on Facebook discussing their options for footwear. Some have posted pictures of their dresses. Some have rejoiced over finding awesome shoes.

Not me. I'll be 24 weeks pregnant in 100 degree Texas heat. I'll be lucky if I can actually see my feet and stop sweating long enough to put on fresh clothes. That will have to be good enough.

I'm not saying it's impossible to look utterly fabulous as a pregnant lady--picking up a People Magazine will easily prove otherwise. All it takes is an abundance of either money, time, or effort.

I'm short on all three.

But I will be bringing a few things from my Tried-and-True Arsenal of Good-Looking Things.

Maternity bathing suit (which, for this pregnant summertime momcation, I consider somewhat
more important than a good lounge dress). Check.

That beachy sea-salt hair spray thing that Heather loves (me too Heather ME TOO!!). Check.

My favorite perfume, which is getting a little low (birthday hint for my beloved, cough cough). Check.

A little See's in my carryon to share with my roomie. Check, oh yes check.

Most important, and most cheesy: A smile. A happy mom-taking-a-break smile. Check? Check.

So you'll see me in Austin. I may not be dressed to the nines, but hey, I'll most likely smell good, have a tan... and have dark chocolate smeared on my belly.

Linking up with the similarly good-smelling (and always fabulous) Mama H.


week's best clicks / 06

1 /
Sex is Complicated. (I agree.) Or in Christy's words, why she never writes about NFP. But she should. She's really good at it.

2 /
Maite Roche books (published by Magnificat) are a treasure. We love to give 'em and get 'em.

3 / 
FINALLY: Obama has been nominated for his first Emmy. (He's already won two Grammys; don't forget that Nobel Peace Prize.) "...This can only end with Obama winning the Presidential Medal of Freedom and presenting it to himself."

4 / 
Judging my by my most recent picks, I could really use this list of un-put-down-able books.

5 / 
Speaking of books: Willa Cather was my honors English thesis novelist in high school. If you haven't already read My Antonia and Death Comes for the Archbishop, well, get on that.

6 /
A man with Down Syndrome owns a restaurant. Hugs ensue. (And now I'm craving pancakes.)

7 / 
Fr. Dwight Longenecker asks: Is a church is a "preaching hall" or a temple? Or is it both?

Linking up to Conversion Diary's 7 quick takes.


signs it's time to give up

Linking up to Jessica's What We're Reading Wednesday, but I could call this post "what we're not reading Wednesday."

When your library copy of Middlemarch is being used as a footrest under the dining table, it's probably time to give up and send it back.

When you've read the first 15 pages of Jeeves and the Tie That Binds three times and still don't feel all that compelled to keep going, it's time to give up.

Oh well. I gave it a go. Being that these books are classics, I know that for this breakup, it's me, not them, having an issue. Something about the density of Elliot's prose in Middlemarch (and the fact that I'd read it post-lunch, reclined on the couch, in the 80 degree heat of my sweltering living room) made me doze off.

Reviews of Jeeves (the last or close-to-last book in the Bertie and Jeeves series for P.G. Wodehouse) said that the previous novels were more charming. And who starts a series with the last installment, anyway? See, it's me, not the book. My library didn't have any of the earlier books available, though, so that's why I took it home. I promise to revisit Wodehouse at a later date because I know how popular (and entertaining) other erudite folks find the books.

My next attempts:

John Steinbeck's East of Eden and Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta.

I can nearly promise that Mother Teresa will definitely not end up as a footrest.


Catholic sex: the good, the bad, and the very, very fertile

Gestating in the summer makes me reflect on three things:
39 weeks with Joseph. Or me this time around, 21 weeks, after dinner.

1) the person growing inside me
2) how it got there
3) why is it so blazing hot in my house.

Seriously, I did my dishes with the lights off tonight, just to eliminate any further sources of heat. I'll check my work in the morning.

I've been mulling over two great articles I read this week on Catholics and sex, though they couldn't have come from more disparate situations.

Hallie (who I get to meet at the Edel Gathering this month, wooho! and who admits to being known now as "that Catholic woman who published a book about great sex," ha) would like to hear more from the Church about the "lively celebration" in the bedrooms of us married folk:
Jokes abound about "Catholic prudery" and they cause us to throw back our heads and laugh; have people not seen the size of our families, or the ages of our children? Yes, concerned folks at the grocery store, we do know how that happened. And happened. And happened.
 But the misconception—the disconnect between the reality of joyful Catholic sex and the prude stereotypes—shouldn't shock us that much. We just don't sing the praises of sex nearly enough. I say this not to criticize, but rather to encourage us all to consider this issue and think about ways that we might enact positive change. Rome needs to think about it, too. 
In a less celebratory tone, Calah of Barefoot and Pregnant is fed up with the conflict of Church instruction--which beautifully, rightfully, thankfully says no to artificial contraception--and some lay Church members, who have berated, glared and asked her (and her brood) to sit in cry rooms during Mass (emphasis mine):
The reality is that obedience costs a young couple something — sometimes it feels like it costs us everything. But it seems to cost the larger Church nothing. So little valued is our obedience and the sacrifice it entails that most Catholics don’t even know what the Church teaches on contraception. They’ve never heard it from the pulpit. If they do hear it, they jeer and mock, because the prospect of life without contraception seems so impossible that it’s frankly ludicrous. 
Equally ludicrous are those who embrace it, willingly or no. We are targets of scorn and derision, while the Church stands silently by and watches us suffer to uphold her teaching. Sometimes she even joins in the fray, building “cry rooms” to put us undesirable, multiplying masses out of sight and out of mind; providing nurseries so our children can in fact NOT come to Christ, but be put aside so the grown-ups can come to Christ in peace and quiet; interrupting homilies to ask mothers to leave the Mass with their babies, since the babies are disturbing the rest of the parishioners; in short, treating us as second-class citizens for the crime of actually obeying her teachings.

With Hallie's piece on the joy sex, I get it. Just as it'd be beneficial to shake up the language of NFP to the more clinical-sounding, less-stigmatized "fertility awareness methods," a similar shake up around the language we use to talk about sex within Catholic marriages would mean fireworks. We'd refute the lie (and it indeed is a lie) that monogamous sex, sex that is open to life, free from condoms, pills, rings, trap doors and whathaveyou--is boring. Or that it can't be spontaneous, satisfying, and, yes, really, totally sexy.

I just wouldn't want someone who's on the fence about using NFP in their marriage to think that all Catholic women have nothing but a rosy glow in their bedroom. I'd feel like I sold them a bill of goods. Because great sex in a Catholic marriage must come with what Calah is seeking--obedience. And that obedience is greatly rewarded, yes, with the blessings of a mutually respectful marital relationship and, God-willing, children.

But it's tough. Oh so tough.

It's tough to sing the praises of your contraception-free sex life to a Catholic wife and mother (someone in a situation much like Calah's), who has welcomed a bunch beautiful babies rather closely together, who has tried at least three NFP methods and not found any of them to work well for her body. Or a mother who is desperate to try and delay her next blessing for just a few more months. Or a wife who charts that damned fertile-type mucus from day five to day... 25.

Does she need (or want) to hear other Catholic women raving about how great Catholic sex is? Sure she does. The message we need to share (that the Church wants married couples to have the fulfilling sex they deserve) is an urgent one. But would it be greeted with an eye roll from couples and mothers in the situations described above?

If I were to follow Hallie's brave lead and "share the good news that is married sex," I would begin by saying that good sex, even great sex, in a Catholic marriage has seasons.

First trimester of pregnancy? Bad season.

Second trimester? Hooray!

Baby's first months? Tough times.

Baby starts sleeping through the night? "Lively celebration!"

All signs point to fertile, all the time? A complicated, frustrating season.

Signs become clearer, or a couple finds a way to deal? A better season.

I'm not saying that I think it's as simple as a snap of the fingers for a woman to better understand her fertility signs, or that it's easy for a couple to "just deal" with seemingly-hyper fertility. No. It's a cross for sure, and one that stick around for many moons.

But I do know that with crosses, the only thing you can do is pick them up, and carry them. In time, the weight of some crosses gets lighter; some get heavier and even more back-breaking to carry. But even there, the crosses have seasons, too.

If I've learned one thing by living with Sean's fibromyalgia and degenerative disk disease, it's that he has good days, bad days, awful days, and just days. His cross is still upon us. But I am thankful, so thankful for the seasons when it is lighter. And I beg for mercy and special help from our Lord when it's heavy.

So for physical suffering, or child rearing, or family-size discernment or yes, even great married sex, it's about celebrating the good seasons--and praying through the not-as-fantastic ones.

I know I've only been in this marriage gig for five years now, and I'm sure I'll laugh at my thoughts on sex one day. Right now, this is what I know. It's my good news, from the darkness of my hot house.