Friday, February 28, 2014

On your baptism day...

Our precious Katherine Maria Grace,

Today you received the great gift of Christ and the Church, the sacrament of Baptism at nine days old. We had a small but beautiful ceremony at Annunciation Church in Houston. Every part of this rite is so meaningful. 

We started at the entrance of the church under the huge crucifix, presenting you by name and asking the church for baptism. We accepted responsibility for raising you in the faith and the godparents committed to help us in this duty. We each traced a cross on your forehead to claim you for Christ our Savior. 

We all moved towards the sanctuary and Father read the Gospel reading, which was from Mark 10, "Let the little children come unto me."  Father gave a nice homily, encouraging us as Christian parents as we live out our faith. We prayed intercessory prayers for you to live out your Christian call, and we invoked the holy saints to pray for us. 

You were anointed with oil on your chest and then we moved to the baptismal font where the water was blessed, as we were reminded of the waters of creation, the great flood, the parting of the Red Sea, and the waters of the Jordan where Christ was baptized. Such beautiful symbolism! Then we all professed our faith and baptismal promises. You were then baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit as you screamed and cried!

We moved to the altar area where you were anointed with chrism as priest, prophet, and king. Then you were given your baptismal candle, lit from the Easter candle as a reminder to always walk as a child of the light. Your ears and mouth were blessed that you might hear God's word and proclaim his faith. Then we all prayed the Lord's Prayer and we as your mother and father received a special blessing before the rite ended.  

I look forward to sharing the photos we took once we can load them from the camera. Father Paul Felix was the celebrant, your Godfather Enrique was there, and our friend Jackie stood in as proxy for your Godmother Veronica. Patrick assisted Father as an altar server, and Mary Clare took most of the photos. Both sets of grandparents attended, along with the O. family, and my childhood friend Elizabeth and her son came as well. You wore my grandfather's baptismal gown which your sisters also wore at their baptism. It is around 110 years old and was altered after some accidental damage was done to it several years ago. You looked like a little angel!

We went to our traditional Skeeter's restaurant afterwards and were joined by more aunts, cousins, and friends for dinner and cake. Aunt Mary, Aunt Paige and their kids, cousin Mark and his girlfriend, and my good friend Michele and her family all stopped in to meet you and visit for awhile, along with daddy's parents and the O. family who came from the ceremony. You slept the entire time we were there, but we all enjoyed passing you around and visiting together. We got a beautiful cake from RJ Goodies, and the girls had helped my parents make a centerpiece with candy favors for everyone. It was a glorious afternoon and I know we all felt blessed and loved to be able to celebrate this sacrament so quickly after your arrival and to share it with friends and family. 

May you always walk as a child of the light,
May you keep the flame of faith alive in your heart,
When The Lord comes, may you go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

{pretty, happy, funny, real} 7x7: New Baby Edition!

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life. 

Hosted by Like Mother, Like Daughter
(Still iPhone blogging...)

The girls dressed her up in this little ballerina number from her godmother to take some one week photos yesterday. Her special pink puppy is next to her. Tommy has a matching blue one. 

Steven Joseph is always so busy that he misses out on baby holding time. He always asks when she's eating or sleeping or something. So he's especially proud when he gets a turn!

A Daddy shot of Katie in the burping position!

My real hero. Dr. Rawson has made me feel so safe and well taken care of during this pregnancy and 5th c-section. He is confident and cautious, and when someone in the OR asked if this would be my last baby, he responded, "Of course not! I still have weddings to pay for!"

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

7x7: C-Section Number 5 Recovery

I barely got in a post last night before I drifted off to sleep. So today in my medicated haze I'll attempt to share a bit more about this phase I'm in right now. C-section recovery.

Katie at one week old

One week ago I had my fifth c-section. I hope to share the birth story as soon as I have some time on a real keyboard!  At one week postpartum I'm doing really well. I am glad I was able to spend three nights in the hospital. The first night, I was still tied to the bed, with loud "inflating compression devices" on my legs, an IV in my arm, and a catheter. I was also itching like crazy due to the effects of the morphine in my spinal. I was pretty uncomfortable! And so hungry!

But the next morning at 6am they were able to remove everything except my IV. This allowed me to get out of bed, use the restroom, and move around. From this point on I was pretty much independent with caring for myself and the baby. They finally let me eat breakfast Thursday morning; I hadn't eaten since about 8pm Tuesday night! Later that afternoon they took out the IV too, so I was finally freed from all the connections and could really move around the room and also walk down to the snack room for my pellet ice, apple juice, and graham crackers!

I've been taking Motrin and Oxycodone since then and am slowly spreading it out more and decreasing the dosage. After my first c-section I didn't even use pain killers once I left the hospital! But after each subsequent surgery I've realized I need to stay ahead of the pain and usually take it for 1-2 weeks.  If I've missed a dose of medicine by several hours, I start to feel the effects, with physical pain as well as emotional waves. I'm trying to rest in bed as much as I can and am very grateful for the help from my parents and food that friends and family have brought. 

Baby's first outing to my doctor's office yesterday for my staple removal (This usually happens in the hospital, but there was some confusion with the doctor's orders). She's so tiny!

I've had two instances where I've been standing for a long time and have started to feel a lot of pain and stinging at my incision. One of the times I was doing dishes and it started bleeding. When I told my OB about this, he gave me the evil eye and took a deep breath of disappointment. So I know I need to take it easy and let some things go. It also helps if I wear the belly binder I got at the hospital. It gives me support and protects the incision too. 

One of the hardest parts about my recovery this time is my inability to take a bath! That has become my main means of stress relief and relaxation, especially at the end of an emotional day (and we know that I've been a bit emotional the last few days)!  But there is a risk for infection with submerging my incision in the water, and so I'll have to wait a few weeks for that. 

The baby is really easy. All my newborns have been like this. They've taken to nursing really well. I generally have some pain and scabs that go away after a few days. But honestly the baby just sleeps, wakes for a bit, fusses, I nurse her, change her, and she sleeps again. She's mostly in bed with me and I'm able to nurse on my side, so I definitely get enough sleep with just a couple wake ups for diaper changes. I usually get one or two naps during the day too. I can't complain. We have been using the Fisher Price Rock and Play by the bed, so it's nice to have that for her when we need a safe place to put her down. 

We have our rental cabin for one more week, but we haven't decided if we'll go back home before then, nor how we will get my car home before I'm allowed to drive. But it's a busy and stressful time for Steven at work as they're moving to a new office. In fact, he took the boys with him to stay and work for two nights while the girls and I are here. We miss them, but it has sure been nice and quiet today! Katie's baptism is scheduled for Friday afternoon, so I'll be resting up to handle that drive across town for the ceremony and dinner outing afterwards. 

Me and my little snugglebug!

So overall this has been another smooth c-section recovery. My labors and deliveries tend to be the difficult parts of my childbirth experiences, so I'm grateful that once I get through those I have these relatively easy recoveries with time to just rest and love on the new baby!

7x7: What started the melancholy

How did my boys just go and grow up on me? This haircut on Thomas is just too much. He looks like a little muscle man! 

I'm pretty sure that Steven hesitated and shared about how his wife liked the bowl cut.  Maybe he even shared about how I'd just had a baby. And woman to woman, Miss Sports Clips, if the mom isn't there, then a nice trim into a little boy's cut would be appreciated. You still get the same amount of money, and you know you'll be helping out an emotional postpartum mom. Next time, okay?

Because this is a lot of hair. This is too much hair to remove from my toddler's head. You should have sent a Dum Dum lollipop for me, as I try to adjust to my 3yr old looking like he's 10. But I forgive you, Miss Sports Clips, and I forgive my husband, too. 

Speaking of my husband, his melancholy is related to this:

And this:

Now that we've spent two years in south Texas, Steven has less and less patience for the Houston traffic. I usually get one or more calls a day with complaints about it, wondering why ANYONE (his wife) would want to live in this city. I will admit, the traffic in this area is horrible right now. They're building the new ExxonMobil campus and doing all kinds of highway construction.

I am spoiled though, because no matter where we live, I don't have to drive across town every day. I just enjoy my little suburban life and don't have to worry about leaving the house very much. I have gotten caught in it a few times over the past year, and it really is frustrating. I can understand his melancholy. But I can also encourage him to try the tollway. And to pray that this traffic situation is better by the time we move back!

Monday, February 24, 2014

7 Posts in 7 Days: And just like that...

Last Sunday:

This Sunday:

I'm going to attempt the "7 Posts in 7 Days" challenge with Jen at Conversion Diary ( And my hope is that I can do some more real writing and not just sharing photos and recounting our days' activities. We'll see if I can also do this with the extra challenges of recovering from major surgery, taking care of a newborn, and preparing for a baptism followed by a move back to our home!

Just like that. We went from four kids to five kids. One Sunday afternoon we spent out to eat with our friends, and the next Sunday afternoon our friends were here with us gazing at our newest blessing. Maybe I'll share my birth story later this week, but the gist is that it was an uneventful and slow overnight labor that allowed Steven to drive here, me to go to the doctor office the next morning, and then for us to schedule a c-section for later that day. 

Now I'm five days postpartum and in a kind of grieving time. Even though I've had a few traumatic deliveries, followed by two smooth deliveries, I hold an emotional attachment to each of them. I hold on to those memories. I grieve the long days and nights at the hospital. I long for the nurses to care for me, the hospital to feed me, the friends to visit me, the church volunteers to bring me Holy Communion, and the way I feel safe in that place where my life changes in such a drastic way. 

Because now we have to prepare to go back to normal living again. Now I can't be consumed with thoughts and preparations for the baby on the way. She is here. We are safe and healthy. Life will go on. We will leave our temporary rental home and move back to our real home soon. I will leave my family and friends and go back to a city that still feels foreign to me. I will take my baby there and try my hardest to be a good mom and be at peace in our home there for however much longer we call it home. 

This afternoon Steven took the boys for haircuts. We'd agreed that Thomas would lose the bowl cut when the new baby came. But when my "old" baby walked in with that buzz cut, my heart started to break and the tears started to flow. He's now a big brother. Life will go on. Just like that. He will grow up. Every day Katherine will get farther from being a newborn. And I will move from my role as pregnant, and now postpartum, to just a regular mom of five. 

But an emotional postpartum mom of five is sure how I feel right now! Don't get me wrong, I am so incredibly grateful that the pregnancy and delivery went smoothly considering all of my risk-factors. I am so thankful for my doctor, for our ability to make this temporary move for the baby's arrival, and for our family and friends who have been here to help and support us. I look at this miniature human right next to me, her tiny fingers, her soft hair, her little nose, and I'm brought to tears by the miracle of it all. She went from being just a little sac on an ultrasound to a growing baby inside to being here with us outside. Just like that. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

These first precious days

Two days old

The girls picked out her ballerina outfit

Three days old and her godmother and little Miriam came to visit! 

Getting her dressed to come home

"I don't like this car seat or these loud siblings!"

Back at the rental cabin

Now they get really long turns with the baby!

"I made this card for Kaffrin."

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Katherine Maria Grace

We are all in love. I am basking in these quiet days at the hospital. We are both doing well, praise God.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Welcome to the world,
Katherine Maria Grace!
2/19/14  3:27pm
7lbs 1oz, 19 1/4in

Mama and baby are feeling great. 
And it was my smoothest surgery so far!
Thank you for praying!

Monday, February 17, 2014

What's in a name?

I started writing this post a few days ago and finished it while here in the hospital recovering from Katherine's birth. I was excited to read that Kathryn is hosting a link-up for baby name stories over at Team Whitaker! So here goes...

I think all parents will agree that baby naming is one of the hardest, but most fun, parts of pregnancy. I always loved choosing baby names and still have a name book that I got in late elementary or middle school, because I had so much fun learning about different names and dreaming about having children one day!

As preteens, my best friends and I created books with magazine photos called "My Future Family" in which my children were named things like Crista, Chloe, Caitlyn and Cory. In college I started to like names that were more traditional like Madeline, Isabella, and Emma. Now those have become some of the most common names of my children's age and I've become a fan of names that are a bit more classic. 

Steven may be more picky about names than I am! He definitely prefers traditional names, he has a lot of names that bring up negative connotations, and he doesn't like girl names that end in -a. So we have ended up reusing a lot of family names because they're classic, traditional, Catholic saint names that we can agree on. I think we're both happy with the classic names we have chosen so far for our kids. 

Mary Clare
Elizabeth Ann Marie
Steven Joseph, Jr. 
Thomas William
Katherine Maria Grace

For a long time we knew we wanted our first daughter to be named Mary. We just had a hard time deciding on her second name, and we both now regret not giving her a third name as well. But we figured she might want to go by "Mary" one day and so we just gave that as her first, and Clare as her middle name. She's named after the Blessed Mother Mary. Her other patron is St. Clare of Assisi, who was an Italian noblewoman who became a follower of St. Francis and founded an order of nuns now called the Poor Clares. We visited Assisi on our honeymoon and the Basilica of St. Clare, which has special memories for us. Steven also liked how it rhymes with my name, Blair, and our little family of three became Steven, Blair, and Mary Clare. Mary means "bitter" and Clare means "light" so her name could be said to mean "bitter light" which I think is a good description for our oldest daughter!

Ellie's patron is St. Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton who was the first native born American to be canonized. She was a Catholic convert, a mother of six, a widow, a teacher, opened the first Catholic school in America, and was also the foundress of a religious order, the Sisters of Charity. St. Ann is the mother of Mary and the grandmother of Jesus, and Ann is also a family name. We added Marie to her name in honor of the Blessed Mother. Her first two names mean "My God is my oath has favored me" and Marie is "bitter sea." Elizabeth is also my own middle name and patron saint, so I'd always hoped to use it as the name of a second daughter. Elizabeth Ann Marie is a mouthful, so she has always been "Ellie," although I like to call her by the full name too. 

Many of you may remember that Steven Joseph's name was Peter during most of my pregnancy. We couldn't decide on a middle name and so a few days before his birth we started toying with the idea of changing his name and naming him after his daddy. It was quite a surprise to many people when he was born and we did name him Steven Joseph, Jr!  His patron is St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, whose stoning was documented in the Acts of the Apostles. Joseph is for the humble St Joseph, head of the Holy Family. Steven Sr. was born on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker before it was moved, so that's why he was given that middle name. As a baby and toddler, SJ (no we never call him by those initials, nor MC, they're just easier to write) used to be called Stevie, Joey, or JoeJoe, but as he got older he began to state his preference to be called Steven like his daddy! Often I call him by both names so it doesn't get so confusing! His names mean "crowned one, God will increase."

Thomas William was our first baby where we didn't find out the gender ahead of time. And we had learned our lesson with Steven about not sharing the name way in advance in case we changed our minds again! We had a boy and girl name picked out ahead of time but didn't share them with many people. Thomas William is named after Steven's dad Thomas and my dad William, and his uncle (Steven's brother) is also named Thomas.  William is also popular as a middle name in our extended family.  Thomas has long been my favorite boy's name. I'm not sure we really talked about his patron, but there are several wonderful St. Thomases for him to choose as he gets older. There's Thomas the Apostle, who needed to touch Christ's wounds to believe. There was St. Thomas Aquinas, priest and Doctor of the Church, one of the greatest theologians of all time. And St. Thomas More is another favorite. He was an English lawyer, philosopher, and statesman who opposed the Protestant reformation and was beheaded for treason because he wouldn't accept King Henry as the head of the Church of England. There are also quite a few St. Williams that Tommy will be able to learn about. I do use Tommy and Tom, but we all call him Thomas most of the time. The names Thomas and William mean "twin and resolute protector."

Our brand new baby is Katherine Maria Grace. Katherine was one of the few classic girl saint names we could agree on! It is also a family name on Steven's side. He has a sister and an aunt Katie. We wanted to add a form of Mary and decided to use Maria since we've used Mary and Marie for her sisters. Grace is also in honor of Mary, Our Lady of Grace, and is one of my favorite girl names. It's also the given name of my dear friend who is now a Dominican Sister. Steven wants to call her only "Katie" but I love all the options of her full name, Katie, Kate, or Katie Grace. We chose the K spelling of Katherine so that her initials wouldn't change with the nicknames. There are many wonderful St. Catherines, particularly the popular Catherines of Alexandria and Siena, as well as Catherine Laboure. But I was most inspired by St Katharine Drexel who is an American saint from Philadelphia who grew up in a wealthy family but became a religious sister and foundress who was devoted to the education and service of Native Americans and African Americans. The names Katherine Maria Grace mean "Pure, wished-for child of grace," and that is most certainly what our baby girl is!

I hope you've enjoyed these (long!) stories of our children's names, and hopefully they can look back and read this one day, too. Visit the link-up at Team Whitaker ( for some more fun name stories!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

What I Wore Sunday, 37 weeks!

Well, it looks like Thomas (#4) has won the contest for earliest baby so far! He was born at exactly 37 weeks along, which is where I'm at today and there's no sign of baby girl coming now! My contractions picked up as the week went by, but I'm still feeling like I have some time. I'm hoping for the end of this week, but at the latest we'll probably be meeting her a week from Friday (around the 28th). 

You can see that my belly is still growing, as are my feet, hands, and chin! I just have a good photographer daughter who was able to climb up higher than me for a better angle ;-) This is of course an old faithful outfit which has probably been worn monthly since Easter! Pretty soon it will be put away for awhile, since I don't think it will be nursing-friendly. 

We had a great 3rd week here in town. We attended two Valentine parties, and the one on the actual holiday was held at a park and we had gorgeous weather! It was so nice to see all our dear friends. Everyone is so supportive and offering every means of help, from middle of the night babysitting to chasing my toddler down at the park. I can't explain how much that means to me right now, being in such a vulnerable time. Just knowing that I have family and friends ready to help at a moment's notice gives me a lot of peace. 

Yesterday we finally celebrated Mary Clare's 11th birthday with a skating party and a few good friends. The girls have continued their ballet classes at our old studio here, which is a nice evening distraction. Steven arrived on Thursday night bearing Valentine flowers and worked just a half day on Friday. Friday evening we had a family date night at Outback, and today we went to Mass downtown, followed by a long lunch/dinner at a favorite Mexican restaurant with our good friends and all the kids. 

I've got my doctor appointment tomorrow and a few little playdates planned. We'll see what else this week has in store!

Some iPhone pics from the past few days...

Valentine date night

Belly on Valentines

MC with her cake

Tommy, the 3yr old roller skating star!

MC and her godsister

Getting to spin the birthday wheel, and she won a t-shirt!

Singing (more photos on my camera I'll share later)

And saying goodbye to friends after our lunch this afternoon. 

Thanks to Fine Linen and Purple for hosting the link up!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cabin Fever?

When people hear that I'm staying in a little cabin, with four kids, at 36 weeks pregnant, with my husband working in another city...they look at me like I've got two heads! And if I'm out for an activity like a Valentine party or a ballet class, they really think I'm nutso! But honestly, by God's grace, things are going very smoothly. 

Sure, the kids are really trying my patience. But it's the same at home. Sure, taking everyone to the ballet studio in 40 degree rainy weather with only one iPhone for entertainment can be a bit tricky.  But it would be the same at home too. Sure, having no help for bedtime, bathtime, cooking, or chores most of the week is a bit of a challenge that I probably wouldn't have most nights at home. The weather is giving most everyone in this country cabin fever, us included! And for us it's a real life cabin!

Getting out for a few activities during the week helps me cope. I'm definitely an extrovert, and I need some kind of social interaction to regain my energy after a long day. So although I tend to lose my patience while trying to get schoolwork done and make it out of the cabin for an event, I also find it necessary for my emotional well-being. Other current coping strategies include: multiple bubble baths each day, chewing on pellet ice, eating Double Stuff Oreos, climbing back into bed, and zoning out on Facebook. 

But overall I'm just trying to breathe in these special days with the kids. It's a different dynamic being away from home, kind of like a little vacation. Having a television gives me a bit of a break, and they're having fun watching the Olympics, cooking shows, Full House, and America's Funniest Home Videos. We have Legos and Duplos, they had Valentines to work on and now to look at, the boys have army men in the bath, and they enjoy exploring outside. Of course there's always schoolwork to catch up on, and I'm trying not to get too worked up about that. 

Our family life will be changing very soon, and we can't wait to meet our newest member. Speaking of our littlest one, I had my 36 week appointment on Monday, and everything looks good. She could arrive any day, but my guess and hope is that we have about another week or a little more. My contractions are pretty mild, although I do have days when I overdo it and end up quite crampy. I'm really trying to gear myself up for the surgery. I've been reading some c-section birth stories and I talked with my OB about some of my concerns. I'm not overly uncomfortable at this point although I do have a sore muscle in my upper back that makes if difficult to lift Thomas the Tank! My indigestion has gotten pretty bad, but last night I tried some essential oils around 1:00am (Lemon in water and DigestZen on my throat), and it didn't bother me the rest of the night! I'm swelling a bit and my weight is creeping up to a number I don't want to pass...but I'm looking forward to exercising again after I recover. 

Most of all I'm just feeling blessed to be carrying this new life, to have made it to 36.5 weeks, to be back in my hometown and comfort zone, to have a doctor and hospital I'm confident with, and to have our cute little cabin in which to spend these special days. All thanks be to God who provides for all of our needs. May His loving care be upon us in the coming days, for a safe delivery and recovery and a smooth transition to a family of seven!

Thank you for praying for us!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

What I Wore Sunday

36 weeks! Woohoo! Hopefully now whenever our little princess arrives she will require little, if any, NICU time. We are back in our rental cabin and I'll be seeing my OB tomorrow and maybe even getting my last progesterone injection!

It was a lovely mass downtown today. I think I got 3 baby blessings from the pastor and assurance of his continued prayers for us. He shared that his own mother had 6 c-sections! I've been crampy on and off today, but hopefully the injection tomorrow will stave them off for another week or two. Steven also pulled out his back again yesterday, so we were quite a waddling sight today!

(Making a quick HEB run this evening! I visit every public restroom these days!)

We enjoyed three nights with our friends on the lake. The girls got to attend a Candlemas tea and they loved playing all day with their friends. One night they watched Cinderella and another they watched The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  The boys were always busy with swords, blocks, crafts and trampoline time. The girls made movies with dolls and did crafting, puzzles, and reading. The Valentines party was postponed until Monday because of the cold weather, so hopefully we will make that tomorrow. 

I'd better get some leftovers heated up for the kids as they watch the Olympics tonight. Another fun part of staying in the rental cabin is having a TV to watch the Olympics!

Find more Sunday duds over at
Fine Linen and Purple:

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Birthday Blessings

My birthday was on Tuesday, and we spent a nice quiet day at my parents' house. The kids did some schoolwork, we got takeout Mexican food, and they sang to me with candles on a cheesecake!  My parents got me some cute colorful measuring cups, Steven and the kids had picked out a nice new gold crucifix for my necklace, Steven's side of the family gave me cash for a housekeeper after baby arrives, and I also got this special delivery from my hubby...

And I finally got to open this set for baby and me...

We took Mary Clare to ballet in the evening, and the kids all went to sleep at a decent hour (not 1am for Thomas like the night before!). 

The next day we woke up and packed up to head to meet some friends for a fun afternoon and then to move to the lake house for a few more nights. One kind friend had us over for lunch and I was showered with gifts from my goddaughter and even a little cake!  Now that I think about it, I was sung to four different times...after the Superbowl with Steven's family, with my parents, with the K family, and then with girlfriends later that day. A definite shower of birthday love!

I'd planned a park playdate but the weather was so cold and windy that we ended up at another friend's house. She made a poundcake and I brought an RJ Goodies cake, plus another friend brought some tasty snacks. I think we stayed there until around 7pm before retiring back to the N family's house last night. 

Veronica and I with a Visitation moment!

Today was spent resting and at ballet all evening, and we're gearing up for a possible Valentines party tomorrow if the weather cooperates, and a Candlemas tea party here at the N house in the afternoon. Daddy should arrive in the evening and hopefully we'll be settling back into our cabin on Saturday. I've been getting lots of good rest and sleep this week, a bit relieved to be staying with people and not as worried about going into labor alone with all the kids at the cabin. It's been fun celebrating my birthday with all our loved ones. Thanks to everyone whose sweet birthday messages and prayers made my day!

A little bonus pic of Tommy with bed head playing with the toy kitchen this morning :)

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