Friday, October 14, 2022

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly: Fall 2022

"There was an old lady who swallowed a fly. I don't know why she swallowed a fly"

I have a theory as to why the old lady swallowed a fly. 

Perhaps: She had been busily cooking a dish of fried cabbage, pork, and noodles in tonkatsu sauce, and it was finished. She was hungry, tired, and hot from working in the kitchen. She plunked the food on the table, and one of her children immediately began asking for food, over and over again, while another child was trying to dive her hands into the skillet to help herself. And in all of this clamor, as she scooped up noodles from the pan, she saw it: a black fleck. Must just be a bit of food that got charred in the cast iron, she thought. But then, she noticed tiny legs and little wings, and a limp, unmoving body. IT'S A FLY! 

And as one child continued to loudly ask for food, and another child tried to dive into the hot noodles, the lady tried to extricate this fly (while keeping her eye on the child who was about to burn herself on the cast iron pan), but the noodles were hot and slippery and she was distracted and all of a sudden, the fly was gone. There was no fly on the table, and no fly sitting on the surface of the noodles that she had worked so hard to make. So, the lady and her family ate, their eyes watchful for that little fly, but they could not find it, leaving her to conclude that someone (maybe herself?) must have eaten it. Perhaps, it got crushed and blended into the sauce. The lady thought back to a recent day, when she walked in on two houseflies who were mating in the doorway to her kitchen. Flies in the house are awful, she concluded as she feasted on her noodles that evening. 

That is why the old lady swallowed a fly. At least, it's my current theory. 

As you can see, it's been quite an adventurous falltime over here ;) 

Baby Girl is two months old, and the past several weeks have been wonderful, peaceful, and full of adventure. I am a big-time believer in "taking it easy" after having a baby, and I have thankfully been able to ease into "normal life" very slowly. The first few weeks of newborn life were very restful, but surprisingly full. 

Soaking up snuggles with the 
two-week old baby!

In the first week of newborn life, the baby and I attended a couple days of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd formation, and then she and I attended part of a death penalty abolition event. The next week, I stayed in my pajamas all day long, did not really go anywhere, and the baby and I just slept and relaxed and soaked up time with my husband and other kids. We celebrated our baby's Baptism when she was two weeks old, and had a great time connecting with family and friends who were able to come. Then, I had a dental appointment, followed by a really fun family outing, a Children's Adoration hour, and a party at a friend's house! We also celebrated the birthdays of some of my other kids, went to the library, attended daily Mass a few times, and in the mix of all that, the baby and I enjoyed a lot of shows and books. 

We found a dessert place that served these sundaes
the size of a dinner plate. It was delicious,
and very fun for our whole family to dig into 
this massive dessert together :) 

In the next few weeks, we started to settle into a "new normal" a bit more, on top of more health appointments for the baby and myself. We fit in a couple more library trips and spontaneous visits to the park. We went to a game night at our church, and I jumped back into serving in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program with the Level 1 atrium (serving kids ages 3-6). We've continued our very slow approach to homeschooling/unschooling, and it's been neat to see what the kids have learned through their own curiosity and exploration (as well as the occasional history or math lesson, when we get around to that!). My oldest child peppers me with questions all day long as he tests my knowledge of reptiles and amphibians and planets and Pok√©mon (and then shares the answers when he sees how little I know about those topics). 

We finally got to try out a splash pad that some friends
had told us about-it's pirate themed and has two legit waterslides!
In a free public park/splash pad! It was really fun to visit. 

We've had meetings about church-related topics, time with neighbors and friends, and leisurely afternoons or mornings spent drifting from the house to the yard and back to the house again. There have been some stressful and overwhelming moments, but the days have mostly been peaceful. It's been a gentle time, and I am grateful for it. 

I learned that chicken feet are very good for bone broth, so I decided to give it a try. 
Picking up these feet and chopping off the nails was a bit weird at first, though. 

People frequently ask how the transition to having four children is going, and overall, it's been really smooth. The baby is very chill and easy (even with bouts of age-appropriate fussiness); the bigger challenge is dealing with the difficult phases that the other children rotate through. It can get exhausting sometimes. I was ecstatic when the summertime heat began its exit and ushered in slightly cooler days; the messy house, rambunctious children, and needy baby are all so much easier to handle when we can have all the windows open all day long and breathe in the fresh air. 


The past couple months have been a time of deep prayer and self-reflection; I've trodden the path to the confessional more often than usual, and my husband and I have continued to grow in our communication and love as we find ways to work together and help each other in the challenging moments of newborn life. There's something about the challenges of pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum that beg for a deeper honesty and awareness about my own strengths, weaknesses, shortcomings, and aspirations. I'm grateful for the moments when I can find the words to express the workings of my mind, even if those thoughts never enter into the public sphere. 


If there's one word I can use to summarize these past two months, it is slow. Yes, the weeks have flown by more quickly than I care for, but we've been easing into "normal" life much slower than in the past. We haven't had as many park outings with friends as I'd thought we'd fit in, because I really don't want us to become overscheduled. While I'm making time to write, getting into normal routines is a much slower process than previously. Stepping into regular exercise again is also a slow process. 

 

I'm grateful for the slow pace and low expectations that I've given myself; at the same time, part of me feels that American sense of urgency. We visited a monastery recently, and it was a beautiful reminder to me that we do not have to push ourselves through the chaotic pace of American culture. I'm not the only one trying find my way in a quieter, slower life--monks have been doing this for hundreds of years. 

I made European Sponge Cake for the first time, and
it was really easy and very delicious. I want to make more
and try out different flavor combinations!

Prior to the birth of our baby, my husband and I made some specific plans for this postpartum time, and some of them have come to fruition. In other cases, completely unpredictable things have happened. We've said "no" to some things that sounded wonderful and "yes" to other things that unexpectedly popped up. 


We went to a local farm to buy eggs, and got to see donkeys!
This one is named Puzzle, in homage to C. S. Lewis' book The Last Battle.

I've noticed that I have experienced a lot more peace about saying "no" to different things. Historically, I loathe changing my plans once I've made them, but I think I'm starting to get a teensy bit better at accepting unexpected changes. Of course, now that I say this, something completely unwelcome and unexpected will probably happen haha!

A Marian grotto in the woods at the monastery. 

The other day, I was thinking about how on one hand, not much has changed in our life--we still follow the same structure of our days, we still participate in the activities we did prior to baby's birth, and she happily tags along as we go on adventures. Yet, although not much has changed in some respects, everything has changed: We have a beautiful, sweet little girl whose siblings, parents, and other relatives fawn over and cherish. We have a precious baby who brings so much joy to neighbors, fellow parishioners, and that random high school boy who works in the grocery store. Although we have plans marked on our calendar for the coming weeks, I know plenty of unexpected events will come our way...and that's okay. All in all, it's been a lovely fall time, and I'm grateful for it, though I would be perfectly fine with the houseflies leaving our house alone--at least when I'm cooking dinner!

4 comments:

  1. You look great, I think taking it easy postpartum definitely works for you! But those chicken feet creeped me out and will probably haunt my dreams tonight.

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    1. Thanks! The chicken feet were pretty funny; they creeped me out a little bit, too. Most recipes said the toenails need to be clipped off, and I thought kitchen scissors would do the trick, but they didn't work that well-so I was standing at my sink, trying desperately to chop off toenails with scissors. While I was doing all this, my six-year-old came over and said: "I hate this, but I have to watch" It was pretty funny!

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  2. Love updater posts like these! What beautiful pics of you with bebe.. and that European Sponge Cake looks amazing! It is hard to say no during the postpartum time, but sounds like you have found a good balance and are adjusting very well.

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    1. I'm so glad you liked this, Elisabeth! I have a tendency to overthink things (including whether or not to say "yes" or "no" to activities) so I'm trying to get better at making a decision and rolling with it. I'm working on it! And I LOVED making the European sponge! It honestly was very easy (half the time I was making it, I was holding a raging newborn haha) but looks really neat with all the layers-and it's not overly sweet, which I appreciate :) Definitely a recipe that I want to repeat!

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