Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy Clucking Easter!!

Dear Diary,

The Easter holiday is upon us! I know not everyone celebrates Easter and I have complete respect for that! If you don't celebrate it, keep reading. I love to hear about different traditions and different religions (or non-religions) and I hope you do too. I would love it if you would leave a comment and tell me about some of the traditions (whether religiously affiliated or not) that you celebrate with your family and why they mean so much to you!) I got to thinking earlier this week about a few things pertaining to Easter and had a good talk with Daddy last night about some of them. Then I saw a friend post a status on FB this morning similar to what I had been thinking and decided a blog post was in order. 

When I was growing up, Easter was this amazing Sunday where we woke up early and ran downstairs to see if the Easter Bunny came to hide eggs and leave candy in our baskets. Mr. Dependable never let us down, rain or shine! We always had plenty of jelly beans, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (in the shape of eggs of course), bite-sized snickers, and malted milk balls (which some years he would trick us and leave gum instead. They looked the same so I always had fun trying to guess which one it was before taking a bite). It was the BEST to come running down those stairs and see our baskets sitting so prominently on the kitchen table, filled to the brim with candy and a few little books, toys, or stuffed animals. Then we would empty out one of the baskets and my brother and I would run around the house trying to see who could collect the most Easter eggs. Now, I'm 9 years older than him, so obviously I dumbed it down a bit. The Easter Bunny was so nice to have two different levels of egg-hunting difficulty so that we both could enjoy the hunt. My brother's were always super easy and I would conveniently overlook the hot pink egg lying right in the center of the beige carpet. Silly me. ;-) But Mr. Rabbit sure knew how to hide some hard ones too! Even beyond the age when I "figured out" that the Easter Bunny was really my parents playing some sort of odd game of trickery, I enjoyed the holiday because of the traditions, the joy on my brother's face, and the sport of egg-hunting. (P.S. We still do egg-hunts with my family to this day. Every year we hide about 30 of the hardest-to-find, clear, camouflage, and neutral colored eggs known to man. It's a blast! Only the adults participate- well I suppose the kids "help"- and we take turns who is on the hiding team and who is on the finding team. At the end, whoever has found the most eggs gets to keep The Trophy; a big rubber chicken!)

Now that I am a parent myself, I've really had to sort through all of the traditions I had as a child and figure out which ones I like, which ones I could really live without, and how to incorporate Daddy's traditions into my own (and vice versa). This is really the first year that the kids are old enough to carry on their memories from Easter. We asked them the other day what they remembered about Easter last year and neither one of the older two had any recollection of this holiday whatsoever. Then it dawned on us that this is our last chance to decide how we want to play the whole Easter thing.

To be honest, I never really got "into" the Easter Bunny very much. Certainly not like I did Santa. I knew from a pretty young age that the Easter Bunny was really my parents. (Probably because every year as I was running down the stairs to go hunt for eggs, my mom would yell out "Don't forget to look by the _____"...... smooth mom, really smooth. Either she thought I was an idiot or she thought she was the sneakiest mother fucker ever.... I'm going for option B. lol)

So needless to say, the Easter Bunny was never really this amazing, mythical creature who broke into our house on Easter Eve in order to hide his little goodies and eggs. He was just a regular, old cottontail my parents made up to somehow enhance the celebration of Easter. I just never felt it was necessary. As I said, I loved Easter because of our traditions. Because it was the one day a year it was socially acceptable to eat candy for breakfast, drag my parents out of bed to find hidden food from the fridge, and to put on my fancy dress and go to church.

That brings me to my next point.... the whole Jesus thing. I grew up a Roman Catholic and still claim that religion today. And truthfully, if I had to pick just one religion to associate myself with, it would still be the Roman Catholic one. I love the history, the traditions, and the reverence of all things holy. I went to many Catholic retreats during middle school and high school, and honestly they are some of my fondest memories. Overall, I don't agree with everything the Catholic Church teaches, but I think that's true of anything. No one really likes EVERYTHING that a political candidate stands for, but we vote for them anyway. And no one likes everything about their spouse, or their best friend, or their kids, but they still choose to have a relationship with them. That's how I view my relationship with my religion.

Anyway, back to Jesus. Ok, so lest we forget that this special day of Easter is actually about Jesus and his miraculous resurrection, Daddy and I are trying to figure out how to incorporate all of our secular traditions into our religious ones. Despite the fact that my family went to church every Easter, my parents were no Bible-thumpers. They attended church 2-3 times per year.... you know, like an oil change... gotta keep things runnin'. (p.s. it's actually crazy that I do have such a strong faith because it was definitely not something we ever spoke about or practiced when I was young. For some reason, the Church caught my attention and I attended almost every week from middle school on up because I asked my neighbor if I could catch a ride with her. I'm really thankful that the Lord spoke to me and got my butt into church. He has changed my life in so many amazing ways!) Anyway, for some reason they really enjoyed going to church on Easter and I really enjoyed sharing it with them. It always felt like going to church with them made the day that much more special.

So.... within the next few days, we need to figure out how to incorporate our own traditions with the religious purpose behind this holiday. I'm not so sure I want to go the whole Easter Bunny route. To me the star of this holiday is Jesus. His resurrection is MUCH more miraculous to me than the fact that a giant rabbit breaks into houses to hide eggs and drop candy. So I think we're going to let Nana regale us with her stories of The Easter Bunny, and in our house we will focus more on the Resurrection. We will, however, still do Easter baskets, laden with candy and goodies, and hide eggs for the kids to find. But instead of pretending that the Easter Bunny came to surprise them, I want to teach our kids something else. Because we love them so much, as Jesus does, we want to shower them with wonderful gifts and joyous traditions, much like Jesus did when he ascended into Heaven and gave us everlasting life. We can use the scripture to show our children how blessed we are that Jesus gave us such a wonderful gift. And we can tell them that we celebrate this amazing miracle by enjoying, candy, goodies, and joyous festivities with the ones we love. I can't imagine a better way to spend this holiday than teaching my children about Christ's love for them and by splurging in all of the delicious treats that bring us so much joy. I love this holiday!!

How does your family celebrate Easter? Are there any new traditions you created or any old ones that you let go of? I'd love to hear about it!

Love and Blessings,
The Clucky Housewife 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Cooky Clucky Housewife

Dear Diary,

Yesterday turned out to be a fabulous day! It literally couldn't have gone better. Do you ever randomly just hit a string of good luck? Well, we don't. We are always the ones who people apologize to and say "This has never happened before". But yesterday was freaking awesome! I would re-live yesterday over and over again if I could.

As I laid in bed last night thinking about how unexpectedly awesome the day turned out to be, it got me thinking about our expectations and how the real thing typically measures up....

I woke up this morning thinking today was going to be decent. Not overly good, but not necessarily bad either. I had a few things on the agenda today that I was looking forward to, (buying Easter goodies, catching up on Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis and Million Dollar Listing New York episodes on the DVR, and even a lunch date with Daddy) and several cleaning type things I wasn't. . Our second vehicle, my Grandma's old car that she can no longer drive, is LONG overdue for an oil change and Daddy suggested I meet him at the car place and have lunch while we waited for it to be ready. The problem is that he is only supposed to have 30 minutes for lunch. He can sometimes take a little longer without it being a problem, but he also doesn't want to push the envelope, especially when his boss is around for the day.

We met at the restaurant (which had changed names. It's now a wing place), sat down for lunch, and were content to enjoy our nice, albeit short, time together. Surprisingly, Daddy spots The Boss and one of his coworkers walk through the door of the restaurant. They lock eyes and I had this moment of panic, like we were back in high school and just got caught skipping class. We held our breath as we waited for The Boss's reaction. A smile. :-) A smile and a wave. #Relief Before I knew it, The Boss and his co-worker were headed our way and asked if they could join us. "Of course!" we insisted. I had a moment of disappointment at the loss of our romantic lunch date before settling on excitement at the prospect of getting to "win over" The Boss. I've only met him once, fleetingly, and I didn't get the feeling he cared much for me, or about me. #sadface So here was my opportunity to put on the charm and get this guy on my team!

You could tell it was kind of awkward at first. Aussie, the co-worker, is hilarious and I'm always excited to chat with her. I was banking on the fact that she would help move things along and she didn't let me down. She prattled on about some crazy work drama and The Boss even cracked a few jokes himself. There was my opening.

Somehow I subtly worked my way into the conversation and before long I could see The Boss loosening up. Halfway through our meal we were that riotous bunch that other diners hate. We were loud, obnoxious, and I was LOVING it! The Boss had totally let his guard down and we were all cracking jokes left and right. We ended up sitting there talking for over an hour and a half. An hour and a half! Three times as long as a normal lunch is supposed to last. But we were with The Boss so anything goes.

I'm still reeling from the way the afternoon turned out. It really goes to show that when we don't get bogged down in making our lives match our expectations, we are able to be open to bigger and better opportunities. Given the option of 30 minutes alone with my husband and feeling rushed, versus 90 minutes spent with a jolly group of (now) friends, I will always choose more time, a more relaxed environment, and more fun!!

I'm so glad I was able to set aside my expectations of how this day was supposed to go. It's 2:30 and I have yet to get a single thing on my To-Do list done, but who cares! I just won-over The Boss, spent 90 minutes with my sweetheart, and am in such a perfect mood for the rest of the day. That's all that really matters. I mean what's the point of getting out of bed every morning if it's only ever going to be about following a list? I may not have been responsible or productive today but I sure had fun. And every once in a while we need a day like today to remind us what life is all about. Today, I am calling myself The Cooky Housewife because boy, did we have a hoot!  :-)

                                                     Father's Day 2011

Have you ever run into your boss in an unexpected place? Ever been caught playing hooky? Spill it! 

Love and Blessings,
The Cooky Clucky Housewife

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Clucky is Born

Dear Diary,

Somewhere I have saved the long, written-out story of Lovie's birth. But since we just moved, and a little bit because my idea of organization would make even the most cluttered person cringe, I will probably never find it and instead will re-create it here.

Before I start, I want to share with you a little back story. Rather than me writing it all out, I put together a video montage a few years ago that discusses my first two deliveries via c-section and how they have impacted me. You can watch that video here: Little Miss and Junior's Birth Stories

It was a beautiful, fast, accidentally unassisted homebirth. I was 42 weeks 2 days pregnant (that's 16 days past my due date) when I gave birth. I woke up at 4 am and attempted to roll my giant belly out of bed, looking more like a poor, pathetic beached whale than a glowing, expectant mother. After a series of groans, I finally made it vertical and began my stumble down the hallway toward the bathroom. Despite my groggy stupor, I somehow became acutely aware that each step (ok, fine, tromp) elicited a little gush of fluid. That woke me up pretty quickly! I ran waddled the rest of the way to the bathroom and squealed with glee at the discovery that I was, in fact, leaking amniotic fluid (and not just pee like last time)! After my happy dance in the bathroom I tiptoed (ha!) back to our bedroom and tried to wake Daddy up. He mumbled some half-coherent gibberish and I let him drift back to sleep- I mean, he might as well get rest now because his ass is gonna be "IN IT with me until this baby comes". I sat there, smiling to myself, for several minutes before the first contraction hit. Right off the bat those suckers were strong! The contractions were pretty regular and coming about every 7-8 minutes. By 4:30 I decided it was the real deal, woke Daddy up, and called the midwives. They told me to wait until I was "good and active" to call back because "I still had a while to go".... ha! I can see how after my 2 c-section deliveries of Little Miss and Junior (24 and 13 hours respectively) they assumed it was going to take me a while to get Lovie out. But.... they should have taken into consideration that I was 16 days overdue, that this was my 3rd delivery, and that I was much more calm and relaxed in the peace of my own home than I ever was in the stuffy hospital. Also, I had been seeing a chiropractor during Lovie's pregnancy, which helped TREMENDOUSLY to get her in a good position.

 Wow this is getting long already. I'll skip some of the details that probably no one really cares about except me.

So, the contractions were getting more and more intense and closer together. After only an hour and a half they were 2-3 minutes apart and lasting a full minute. At that point I decided I couldn't handle them on my own anymore and decided that I needed my aquadural.... that's right bitches, I said it.... Aquadural: noun, the pain relief experienced from submersion of a laboring, pregnant woman's belly into a tub of warm water. (not bad for a made-up definition, right?). So I got into the giant birth tub around 5:30am and finally got a little relief. The contractions slowed to about 7-8 minute intervals and the intensity let up quite a bit. However, Lovie had decided 296 days inside me was enough and she wanted OUT.... N O W! After a short respite, the contractions picked up again, back to 2-3 minute intervals and intensity level: shocking. This is when the moaning started. And not in the good way. It physically felt better to moan and to fiercely rub my palms on my hamstrings as I squatted through the contractions. Before long, the moans turned to grunts. And then to growls. And eventually to full on screams! Daddy had tried calling the midwives several times over the course of those few hours, but either didn't get ahold of them, or when he did, they said they would be there shortly. And all the while they were still in denial that I could be progressing that quickly. By 9am, transition was in full-swing. The contractions were one on top of another and I could hardly catch my breath. I was lightheaded from all the grunting, growling (and cursing), and was starting to get pissed that I didn't have my midwives there to tell me what the hell kind of tricks they had up their sleeves for making this easier. Daddy kept calling them (to no avail) and I kept screaming "where the FUCK are they??" At some point during this, Daddy also texted our birth photographer and told her to come in an hour.

So it's 9:30am, I'm experiencing one long contraction with no breaks in between, and I start to feel Lovie's head moving down. WHOA what a feeling! I was both scared and excited at the same time! Both of my previous labors had ended in c-section so this was thrilling to KNOW that this time my baby was coming out of the right hole. Plus it meant this shit would be over soon! At the same time, I knew this was going to effing hurt.

My body started involuntarily pushing. I realized this when the end of my grunts turned into poop-making push noises. Very weird. I didn't know whether to try to hold back or to go with it and full-on push. I held back for one or two of those and decided there was no way in hell to stop Lovie the freight train from getting out of dodge. It was happening! I looked at Daddy (now kneeling behind me in the birth tub applying counter pressure) and said "They're not going to make it in time. We're going to have to do this ourselves." He had that deer in headlights look in his eyes for half a second, and then smiled and said "ok. We can do this." God I love that man!! Seeing his reaction gave me the confidence I needed to get through the rest of this.

I continued pushing (and screaming bloody effing murder) and with my hand I could feel her head as she inched further and further out. It was the most intense, mind-numbing feeling, and all of a sudden she was out. There was no thinking. There was no contrived plan to reach down and lift her up. I just did. Without losing a beat I reached down, scooped up my sweet, purple baby, and brought her to my chest. I was in complete shock and just stared at her for a second. Then it occurred to me that we should suction out her nose and mouth. I looked up to tell Daddy to grab the bulb syringe but he was already out of the tub and grabbing it. This turned out to be an unnecessary step because he didn't get anything out and she was already breathing on her own anyway. No crying yet, just calmly nuzzling her soft head into my neck. She let out a few cries, which really helped her color, and then went back to nuzzling.

                                               Photo courtesy of Crystal Turner

At that time (just about 3 minutes after her 9:42am arrival) Daddy and I heard the front door of the house open and heard one of the birth assistants, Gretchen, and our birth photographer, Crystal, call out "hello?". Daddy's voice spoke out next to me in a quiet confidence and said, "we have a baby". (#heartmeltingalloveragain) They dropped their bags and quickly ran into our bedroom where they found the three of us floating in the birth tub in our first family snuggle. Crystal got to snapping photos immediately while Gretchen began taking Lovie's pulse and counting respirations. She called the midwives on the phone (and got them right away, surprisingly...) and announced that we had delivered Lovie on our own. They couldn't believe it. I heard the midwife on the other end of the phone ask "Is it a boy or a girl?". Gretchen looked at me in question, and I looked at Daddy. "We don't know". We hadn't even thought to look yet- we were just SO in-the-moment. I lifted Lovie's top leg and sobbed "it's a girl!" Daddy wrapped his arms around me and we both tearfully celebrated the birth of our sweet baby girl! (which happened in 5 hours and 42 minutes start to finish. WOW!)

The rest of this story is mild in comparison and is best experienced through seeing the BEAUTIFUL photos that our birth photographer Crystal put together in a video montage. The Video can be seen here:  Lovie's Home Waterbirth Story.  And you can contact Crystal through her website HERE or through her Facebook page HERE.

                                              Photo courtesy of Crystal Turner

What do you think of our birth story? Have you had a homebirth, VBAC, waterbirth, or unassisted birth? I'd love to hear about it!

Love and Blessings,
The Clucky Housewife 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

To Cluck or not to Cluck

Dear Diary (that's what I call all of you),

My name is Darling. Not really, but for privacy purposes I'm changing our names and Darling reminds me of  a nice 50s Housewife. I have a handsome husband, we'll call him Daddy, and together we have three beautiful children. Little Miss (a 4 year old girl), Junior (a 2 year old boy), and Lovie (an 11 month old girl).

About a year ago, Daddy and I decided to take a leap of faith and no longer use any form of birth control. We have always felt that children are a blessing and that if a "whoopsie" happened we would be fine with it. But back then we still used condoms and/or I was tracking ovulation, and it almost felt more stressful. We tried planning when the best time to have our next baby would be and how to best avoid morning sickness during our vacation, delivery during the busy time at work, etc. And it was STRESS! After Lovie was born we decided we would never be sad or upset to learn we were pregnant and it would be liberating to let go of that control we had over the exact timing. For the last 11 months we have focused on being husband and wife in its purest sense.

On the one hand, I'm completely ready to have another baby. I'd be thrilled to find out tomorrow that I'm expecting again, making my 4th pregnancy in 4 years. On the other hand, I am really loving our life right now. Lovie is finally old enough that we can leave the house for longer periods of time without me desperately looking for the nearest exit and Junior and Little Miss are beginning to mellow out more and more with each passing day. I'm starting to actually enjoy trips to the playground and spontaneous visits to the Zoo. These visits would not have happened even just a few months ago. Or if they had, I would've left in tears, vowing to dig my own backyard grave the second we got home. This new normal is easy. It's comfortable. It almost has me convinced to schedule the big snip-snip for Daddy. ........

But then someone announces they're pregnant on Facebook or I see a sweet little newborn baby at the grocery store, head smelling like bottled Heroin, and I feel that little twinge in my ovaries.

...and then I'm fucked... Literally.

How do you decide when your baby-maker has seen it's final day? What is your motivation behind the decision? Please share your thoughts. 

Love and Blessings,
The Clucky Housewife