2o2o was a year for the history books! I last blogged on 12/15/19, so I'll summarize my 2020 with 10 things I learned. These are in order that they came to mind, so don't read into the numbers :)
1. How to load my dishwasher
Anyway, check your dishwasher manual for how to load your dishwasher. If you can't find it, try searching for your model online so you can stop cleaning your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher!
2. Anything can be controversial
When assigned a research paper pertaining to my desired field as a high school senior, I thought, "What could possibly be controversial about teaching?"
ha ha ha...
As a teacher, everything about teaching seemed controversial: what I taught, how I taught it, how I graded it, and even how to differentiate between tardy and present!
I'm not sure why I was surprised that masking turned into the divisive lifestyle choice of 2020; but honestly, I was baffled. I appreciate the people in my life who calmly and lovingly shared their masking concerns so I could act with greater love and understanding toward those who see the world differently than I.
I would like to publicly apologize to anyone who I unintentionally acted uncharitably toward in the early days of masking because I could not understand why wearing a mask was a big deal.
3. Most people see science as static
Although scientific laws are constant, science constantly works to discover how scientific laws and theories interact. Let's take the melting point of water as an example. Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (zero degrees Celsius), correct? Well yes, but only pure water and at 1 atmosphere (776 mm Hg) of pressure. Additives will lower the melting point, causing water to freeze at a lower temperature. This allows us to use salt to melt ice. In college, we studied really fun graphs that looked like bunny ears to determine the melting point of two liquids when mixed.
Isn't this chart fun? Oh, you don't think it's fun. That's ok, we can still be friends.
Additionally, higher pressure allows substances to freeze at a higher temperature. Let's pretend you go up a mountain where the air pressure is lower. You will need a colder temperature for the liquid to freeze (assuming a large enough pressure difference). But not always. Water is an exception! Because water expands when it freezes (which is chemically rare), your water will freeze faster at a lower pressure than a higher pressure! So there are rules, with exceptions to the rules, with more exceptions to the rules :D
This is why I don't get excited when it appears as though two masking studies contradict each other. Sure, one study could conclude that masks are effective while another study "proves" their inefficacy. Given the different circumstances and parameters, both studies can be true for the methods of that study. My take-away usually lies somewhere in the middle, hidden between the two polarizing "outcomes."
4. Cloth diapering rocks during a pandemic!
We use cloth diapers in an effort to save money and hopefully decrease landfill usage, but I'm not passionate about them. I do it because a friend sold us her used ones for pretty cheap. Apparently, the environmental friendliness is controversial, so that's whatever. Honestly, I get really confused when other people who use cloth diapers get so excited to find out that I also use cloth diapers. I'm like, "yeah, I do..."
Now that you know exactly how little I care about what covers my baby's butt, I will express my gratitude toward cloth diapers. I could throw my child's diapers in the wash while everyone else ran around like crazy people trying to find something to fit their child.
We also make homemade wipes, which is super easy! I do them because it is so easy to wash cloth wipes with cloth diapers. If you don't want to wash your wipes, you can use paper towels. This probably wouldn't solve anything during a pandemic, but now that paper towels are back on the shelves you can totally try it. I use cut up old t-shirts, 1 TBSP Aloe Vera, 1 TBSP Witch Hazel, 1 tsp castile soap and 1 and 3/4 cup boiling water.
5. FertilityCare works!!!
Sometimes, I stand in awe at how such a simple system works so well and tells us so much about our bodies. During the height of the pandemic, when ovulation test strips were difficult to come by and we couldn't meet in person, my clients could continue charting as usual. We switched to all-virtual meetings and had four weddings, zero unexpected pregnancies and four beautifully planned conceptions from my 20 active clients.
I know that no method is perfect, but after 3 years, 33 clients, zero unexpected pregnancies, seven planned conceptions, including three infertility pregnancies, I've seen first-hand the beauty and benefits of FertilityCare in many different situations!
In 2020, I welcomed 9 new clients from 12 Introductory Sessions, and had 65 regular follow up sessions, 13 infertility follow up sessions, and 4 pregnancy evaluations. I find great joy in walking with women (and their boyfriends/fiancés/husbands) through all stages of life!
6. I miss toddler naps, but quiet time saves my sanity
Alexis used to nap for 2-3 hours. During that time I would check e-mails, Youth Group plan, blog, and still have time for whatever else I felt like doing that day. Now I have one hour of "quiet time," which means I need to prioritize more. This hour of sitting on the computer recharges me so that I can give my focus back to my children when they wake up. Sometimes they play quietly or sit on my lap while I finish my project. These projects help pull me out of the repetitive nature of childcare and housework. I can daydream about Youth Group planning, website/brochure building or blog writing, then put those dreams into action during quiet time.
7. It's ok to take a break
My motto for the year was "make the most loving choice for this moment." I fell in love with podcasts and audiobooks, then become agitated when I couldn't hear because my children wanted me. So I limited myself to one a day. Now it's maybe once a month I'll listen while folding laundry, but I make a conscious effort to pause and give my children my full attention. This makes our time together more enjoyable for all of us.
Blogging is a fun, creative-outlet for me. Because Alexis gave up napping and I volunteered to make tcmef.org's website, blogging was more stressful than fun, so I let it go. Now I'm back, maybe once a month-ish, but we'll see what my time and creativity allows.
8. Physical Therapy only works if you keep doing it!
Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy was a huge blessing in my life in 2019. I stopped in 2020 and learned that if you don't use it, you lose it. My back hurt so badly, flushing the toilet caused immense pain. What does your back have to do with your pelvic floor? If you don't brace your pelvis, your back compensates. The back muscles shouldn't lift, push, or pull, so they hurt from the strain.
Stay tuned for an entire blog dedicated to Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy--it is so vitally important for women's health! You can read more about my therapist on her website. I also recently joined a pelvic floor exercise/accountability group called Buff Muff Challenge. I'm half way through the 28 day program. So far I think it's a great investment!
9. Recognizing my limitations
The first draft of tcmef.org was so ugly. I made it myself and could not figure out how to put what the Board wanted in a beautiful, cohesive website. Thankfully, Today's Catholic offers branding services with their advertising packages. Their graphic designer is AMAZING and gave a detailed "branding guide" that inspired a beautiful and practical website. It still took many hours for my amateur self to figure out how to get everything to function properly. I am excited to share the end result with all of you!
10. Balancing working from home life
With my husband working from home, I find incredible freedom in going to the store by myself! Even though our go-to store doesn't offer grocery pick-up, I really hope the larger stores continue free grocery pick up. Grocery pick-up removes most of the stress that comes from shopping with kids, even though the store sometimes makes questionable and laughable substitutions.
For Austin, the hardest part of staying home was seeing how crazy the house gets during the day. He now accepts the mess and appreciates the art projects/crazy games/etc. Thankfully, we have an office that he can work in and close the doors during meetings. His coworkers still hear loud, off-key renditions of Frozen songs, but they kindly embrace the noises of life with small children.
The hardest part of Austin working from home for me was him not understanding the sanctity of quiet time. Quiet time occurs when his day slows down, and he begins mentally checking out. Then he likes to check in with me to chit-chat before he finishes his afternoon. The meaningless conversations gave me anxiety because I have one hour tops to do everything I want to do on the computer that day. Through many deep conversations about respecting each other's time (mine of his as well as his of mine), we now enjoy a beautiful rhythm to our day and I truly delight in him working at home.
Bonus: Baby-Led Weaning works!
I'll probably need to dedicate an entire blog to Baby-Led Weaning. Long story short, my oldest ate like a champ. My youngest only liked baked beans and applesauce for his first 6 months of eating food. About ready to give up on Baby Led Weaning, I read the book. We started following the book instead of what we heard about Baby-Led Weaning. It took a lot of trust, but at 23 months, Joshua now eats nearly everything we put in front of him! He'll prefer one food or another (Baby Led Weaning says a baby desires what they need), but he now tries nearly all foods! We thought we would need to fight him to try anything new, but he decided to try new foods on his own. Baby-Led weaning removes the stress of forcing the pickiness out of him with incredible results. I highly recommend it!
Bonus 2: I wish I could vacation during a pandemic every year.
At 50% capacity, we sat in about any beach chair we desired, easily made dinner and excursion reservations and enjoyed seeing the same new-found friends during the various activities. We failed at movie trivia, viewed ship wrecks through a glass-bottom boat with only one other couple, climbed Dunns River Falls, learned Pickle Ball and enjoyed the excellent evening shows. Our friends, who vacationed there a few years prior, said they enjoyed the resort just as much. With more people, the resort offers more activities and both restaurants that require reservations open nightly instead of alternating evenings. Hopefully we will return someday to see if we enjoy the resort just as much without COVID restrictions!
Stephanie started her Creighton Model journey in early 2014 and entered the program to instruct others in 2017. She enjoys equally adventuring in the great outdoors with family and friends and reading a good book with a cup of tea. For more details, visit her About Me page.