Skip the Drama, Stay with Momma

"But I shall show you a still more excellent way" 1Cor12

7 Quick Takes Friday #9

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-1-

There were two deaths in my circle of the world last week.   Two sets of parents each lost their young son.  The family for whom I asked prayers in my last post lost their 20 year old son to illness Sunday at 3am. My cousins lost their 17 year old son Monday at 3pm, who was shot in the neck by a drug dealer. I will write a little about them in my last two Takes, but first, let’s have a little humor, shall we?  Laughter is good.

-2-

My husband and I were enabled by my mom to get to confession Saturday morning.  She came over to watch the oldest two so that we could go. Hurray! Walking out of the confessional is literally like stepping out, cloaked in sunshine, daisies and butterflies encircling my head, with an internal big, fat, yellow smilie face (because, forgive my vanity and over-awareness of cultural norms, but, I imagine that I’d look plain stupid waltzing out of the booth with a childish grin on my face, even though I have every reason to!).  Basically, it’s like this:

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To double the intense feelings of having been forgiven and saved by God’s mercy and grace, I walked into the church to say my penance, and there’s Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.  

Silence & peace.  There were about 20 others (mostly blue haired ladies, because we young people like to put off “gettin saved” until we’ve had our jollies of youth) scattered throughout the pews, kneeling in silent prayer.  
For once I was allowed to fully feel the weight of my sins lifted from my shoulders without worrying about a get-away juice cup or the I-Have-To-Peepee dance of my oldest son, the grace and mercy of God washing my soul and embracing me for who I am.  So silent it was that you could hear a pin drop.  It was more silent than silent.  One could probably hear a cotton ball land on the carpet,  …or the overly punctuated, and long, drawn-out PFFFFTTFTFT! OF MY BABY FARTING!

Ahh.  Brought back to earth by my senses.  Yes, I brought Collin because his breakfast is attached to me.  I was not embarrassed because in light of the room filled with elderly ladies and gentlemen (who didn’t budge at the sound), I thought, “Hey! it just as easily could have been any one of all y’all!” …and I sensed they knew it, too.

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So I’ve obviously been extra emotional due to these deaths of children: Joseph was 20 and Justin was 17. But it doesn’t follow that I’ve been extra patient with my babies.  In fact, I’ve felt a little more frustrated by them.  And by “a little more” I mean,  A LOT MORE. They sense that I’m experience emotional strain and they reciprocate it.

 That’s all there is to it. Grocery shopping Sunday evening, I was wearing Collin on my hip in a sling, while attempting to push my ever growing heavy shopping cart.  My neck started hurting as I was throwing my weight into steering the cart around the corner to the next aisle, where I needed to buy 5 lbs of pasta. “great, 5 more lbs to haul…” I was thinking as I heard giggling on the other side of the aisle, approaching my direction. 
I rounded the corner to a near collision with an adult woman, my age, breathless and laughing.  Face full of joy, cheeks pink with exhilaration, hair swinging in her face as she halted just short of my heavy cart.   There was a child on her back! 

"OH! I’m so sorry!" she apologized.  I realized she was rapidly gaining control of her countenance and being made to feel foolish by my shocked and probably condescending gaze, "I’m just playing …a…a game… with my kids.." and she moved around me, with one kid piggy backing and two or three skipping behind her. 
I managed to squeak out, “No, it’s okay!” but I don’t think she heard me.  

Too late, I realized that this woman was beautiful. She was incidentally pretty, taller than me (and that’s saying something!), but the beauty I beheld was magnified because she wasn’t angrily, hurriedly shopping like the mad woman I was, trying to de-shelf half the store and haul it home before someone on my hip wanted to nurse. Granted, she didn’t even have a shopping kart with her so I have no idea what she was doing, but it was refreshing to see her, in a place associated with tantrums and impatient children and parents, playing with joy. I wished I could have stopped her and introduced myself. 

-4-

Monday morning, I walked into the living room to behold the couch and carpet strewn with what looked like a complete Poptart in the form of crumbs. I stood there, eyeballs bulging, and I ate my own words as I heard my son speak them for me, “What a mess!  Do you think Momma wants to clean that up?  No, she doesn’t!”  I was ashamed that I have spoken semi-sarcastic words like this and they’ve stuck to my son’s mind.

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Monday night, after hearing the news of my cousin, Justin being shot and dying in the hospital, I was completely in angst and frustration over the matter.  So of course, my oldest two were hyper, as if I’d fed them nothing but cookies and undiluted fruit juice all day, bouncing and running and and jumping and tumbling all over the living room.  My middle child, who has turned into a finicky eater, would not eat his macaroni and cheese I’d served for dinner (SERIOUSLY WHAT TODDLER DOESN’T LIKE MACARONI AND CHEESE?!), so I was attempting to administer a cup of yogurt before bed time, as he ran from one end of the living room to the other in between bites.  

I was trying to get him to sit down and let me scoop away, getting the feeding over with asap, but it wasn’t working.  He just kept jetting away…
In frustration, I absentmindedly shoveled one more spoonful of yogurt— INTO MY INFANT’S MOUTH?!!? I blinked my eyes and realized the baby in my arms was enjoying the vanilla yogurt I’d just given him.  

"WHAT AM I DOING?!?!?!" I cried in bewilderment.  I don’t plan on introducing solids until he’s 6 months old and can sit up, unassisted.  And that was it for this momma.  After everyone in the house took turns crying over tooth brushings, gathering lovies and ceremonious fallings upon the floor due to "slippery carpet syndrome" and subsequent "slippery bed syndrome" ("The bed’s too slippery, I can’t get in it!!!!!”), my husband and I bade goodnight to our snuggled cherubs. 

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 Joseph Langenkamp, 20 years old, passed Sunday morning around 3am.  It’s hard to write his name. This family, the Langenkamps, is a family I grew up watching in the pew next to my family at St. Francis de Sales. I remember watching them, dressed head to toe in hat and suit attire, complete with handkerchief, each Sunday.

 I watched them as a family of three children, blossom to the family of nine, each baby with the signature Langenkamp baby blues and shock of white blonde hair.  They shame a family with a wildly behaving only child, while their 5 youngest, sit peacefully in the laps of the four oldest.  

They are the family that exclaims to the world “IT CAN BE DONE!” without ever having to open their mouths.  The Langenkamp’s children are 7 boys and 2 girls (I have hope yet for a baby girl!).  Joseph, the second oldest, contracted Ecoli at a very young age and has been fighting illness since then.  For him, a simple runny nose could turn into hospitalizing pneumonia.  This past weekend, that is basically what happened, to save the details.  His heart stopped three times.  

My husband and I look to Joseph’s parents as mentors, as a living testament to the fact that children are a beautiful and physical sign of God’s love to us as a gift, and that having more than two children is, in fact, the opposite of the burden that our culture cries. Knowing this family, I am comforted knowing that Joseph was fully spiritually equipped to confidently face death and enter into God’s Kingdom.  I pray that my husband and I will do that for our children.  It is the most important thing parents can do for their children.  I am devastated for Mark and Sue, and their remaining children. Please pray for them to feel and know God’s peace. I also ask for the intercession of St. Jane Francis de Chantal, patron of parents separated from children. (!!)

-7- 

My mother’s family is large.  She is the youngest of 8 children. So, I have many cousins, and many, many more second cousins. Many of my first cousins are old enough for me to consider them an aunt or uncle.  My cousins Mike and Joann are the fist of the many Aunt & Uncle-type cousins.  It is their son who was shot, trying to purchase marijuana with counterfeit money. Tossing my frustrations aside over the circumstances of Justin’s death- and knowing that my frustrations must be fractional to his parent’s complete shock, I focus on the beauty of familial love here on earth. During the funeral Mass (if you’ve never been to a Catholic funeral, you are missing out.. it is the most beautiful type of funeral I’ve ever known, and been given the most fulfilling kind of closure), father gave a beautiful homily saying something very simple: “Do not ask WHY our beloved has been taken from us, you will drive yourself mad.  Ask HOW.  How can we prepare ourselves to meet our beloved in the end?” 

Contrary to the homily, I spoke with my dear, dear Aunt at the reception afterward, who looked at me with the most troubled eyes I’ve ever seen. “….why…?” she shook her head. And me, with my most inept ability to speak with compassion or feeling emotion, barked out in a Fr. Corapi-an voice, "Get in front of the Eucharist." 
She looked taken aback by my lack of compassionately-worded support, yet she closed her eyes and nodded, silently, signaling to me that she understood.  
Only in Christ can we be given answers.  

That is what I meant to say.
But I am not a speaker. 

I walked away, going, “WHAT DID I JUST SAY?!” This was to my aunt, the grandmother of Justin! I can only attest that The Holy Spirit took the reigns at that moment because I am not that bold a speaker. 

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I’m posting this on a Monday.  I’ve had ten minute writing intervals here and there, throughout the weekend, and no more.  I’ve been terribly occupied with my family, which is a good thing, because when I find myself desperate to write, I have to deny the luxury, combat my frustration and remember I’m trying to lessen myself. Even my one “escape” I’ve got to be willing to give up.  I missed the link-up deadline with Conversion Diary, but go check the other Quick Takes out anyway! —-correction, I just made it! yayyyeee!

Simplicity, Sanity, & Supermoms. Part I

 I want to talk abut "BARE MINIMUM MODE".  (Yes, it’s Jennifer Fulwiler who, to my knowledge, first penned the term. I can’t help that I’m always referring to her blog- it’s so genuine!)

Right now, I am in the thick of Bare Minimum Mode.
And I am relieved and rejuvenated to know there’s a name to it! YES!  A Cathsorority friend of mine posted this article on Facebook last week (I can’t promise I don’t rake through Conversiondiary some days, but this was a coincidental find).  I read it, and with a sigh of relief, realized I’m not (that) lazy.  Ever since I became pregnant with our first child, I’ve been in the dumps, feeling like I’m “being lazy” because the house is a shambles, while trying a variety of things to help myself out of it (vitamins, drinking more water, half-heartedly eating less gluten, reading inspirational motivational stuffs, making checklists, setting alarms, LOTS OF COFFEE…), while every now and then, dazedly blurting out “WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?!”.  

The above article helped me to realize that while I definitely have tired, lazy, selfish tendencies, each mother and her family has a different temperament, and that this phase of my life is, again  …just a phase. (cue Incubus song).  …but not only is this a simply a phase, it is an extremely difficult one!  I am trying to fit into the shoes of a veteran mother and wife.  Something I certainly am not, yet.  

I basically expected to give birth to our first son and BAM, also be instilled with the keys and secrets to being an awesome, efficient, multitasking robot of a mother and wife. Oh, how naïve

Something about becoming a mother that I didn’t realize I was being hurled into is the depth of self sacrificing to which I would need to surrender.  

Right, right, right, having the ol’ unplanned pregnancy and baby thing is the obvious sacrifice. I’ve done that one.
But that sacrifice is, quite honestly, an easy sacrifice (I say that lightly- I don’t mean to belittle the sacrifice of giving life.), once a mother gets down to the nitty gritty of actually BEING the mother: the tiny, pinpricking sacrifices mothers make daily.  Constant pinpricking needles which are the tiniest of sacrifices, build up, and can make mothers feel suffocated.  A mother can find herself saying “can I not even have one moment -ONE MINUTE- to myself …to BREATHE!?”  

Part of my thinking, as a new mom, in my earliest of days was similar to this:

"Okay, so I’ve gotten the baby washed/fed/sleeping," or, "I’ve gotten the kitchen cleaned/laundry done/bills paid, SO…"
 ”… now I deserve some time for myself.”

But nearly every time, my “Me Time” gets interrupted.  By the mailman, by a phone call, by a waking child, by whatever under the sun could go wrong, my me time was always interrupted or short-lived.  I’m not exaggerating. Any mom knows this.  Simply peeing without someone laying at my feet, rolling Hot Wheels around the *extremely sanitized* toilet is considered “me time” nowadays.

 It really translates like this: my time = my will. <that’s how I’ve been looking at my free time.  Anything I really want to do, is part of MY TIME.  IT’S MINE FOR GOODNESS SAKES! Let me at least have that!

So, after nearly 4 years of continually, frustratingly fighting for my deserved “me time”, I’ve some to a conclusion:

I don’t want my time, Lord.  You take it.  My time is yours.


"Thy will be done." (Matthew 6:10)

If there’s something I really want to do, I now pray a quick prayer, "Lord, if it is Your will that I do this, help my baby to nap/behave/be occupied long enough so I can either get it done, or get some part of it done.”

One of my fave Catholic writers discusses the battle we wage when we battle for MY TIME.  Peter Kreeft hits the nail on the head (as usual) by calling it what it is, pride.  ”UGH, really? This is what it is? Pride?” said I, upon reading his excerpt:

“Pride does not mean an exaggerated opinion of your own worth; that is vanity. Pride means playing God, demanding to be God. ‘Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven,’ says Satan, justifying his rebellion, in Milton’s Paradise Lost. That is the formula for pride. Pride is the total ‘my will be done.’  Humility is “thy will be done.” Humility is focused on God, not self. Humility is not an exaggeratedly low opinion of yourself. Humility is self-forgetfulness. A humble man never tells you how bad he is. He’s too busy thinking about you to talk about himself.”

 This is not a new thing to me.  It swings me back around to my current pilgrimage toward becoming less, so I can hardly be shocked when I blundered onto these thoughts.  It’s just like… ugh!  I gotta surrender my time too?!  

Yup.

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Shifting my paradigm, y’all. Little by little, facet by facet.  It is helping to bring my soul to a deeper peace.  Instead of frustration about not being able to write my 7 Quick Takes last week, I’m assuming I wasn’t supposed to. And wouldn’t you know, I’ve been inspired to write this entry! Perhaps it’s to help a friend of whom I’m unaware, struggling like I am.  Perhaps its just a little reprieve for myself.  Whatever it is, I thank God for allowing it right now.  I’m not saying that I’ve now mastered a complete surrender of my will to God’s will.  Goodness gracious, I’m only human!  This is going to be a continual LIFE LONG BATTLE.  But now I know. Now, I can move forward to becoming the best version of myself.

And this isn’t to say that I’ll never get my ME TIME.  But by not expecting it at every job Well Done, I am surprised to be given it.  I regard it, then, as a grace from God, not an entitlement.

SO.  Bare Minimum.  What is that for me?  

I’m breaking this up into 3 parts, or else I’ll have a mile long blog entry, and I know I’ve probably lost 3 quarters of my readers by now anyway soooo…

Part 1: What I DO
Part 2: What I Cook (and Pinterest ideas that have made my life easier)
Part 3: How My Children and I Function, Together

For me, Bare Minimum Mode is an indefinite period of time where I don’t go to any extra efforts to be anywhere except home, doing what needs to be done in order to survive. 

 This is pretty cleansing for me because a lot of time, we as mommies tend to feel like we HAVE to be… anything that “every other mom” seems to be doing.  Truth is, we don’t.  And truth is, “every other mom” isn’t doing it all either.  I’ve come to believe that the very happiest of families know what they need, and don’t go chasing around what they think they need, to keep up with Sally Supermom’s family.  These bare minimum moms actually become a supermom of their own, in my eyes anyway.
Here’s a rundown of my Bare Minimum household stuff as of right now.  It fluctuates and changes according to where we are financially, seasonally, and how I am mentally.

The Bare Minimums for me are:

  • The only time the whole family goes “out” is on the weekends: For groceries, to Mass, and to visit my parents or my husband’s parents. 
  • To the doctor if there’s an illness. My second son now has an ear infection, and our youngest is recovering from a double ear infection (I thought breastfed babies hardly got ear infections!?).
  • Many times, we have our family come to visit us.  I become easily vexed with the constant watching, chasing and corralling I have to do with my running boys. I vex to the point of exhaustion. So that when we get home, I need a nap or I’m irritated with my energetic boys until they’re in bed for the night.  I guess I’m pretty introverted.  If everyone comes to our house, I can actually enjoy the company.
  • We are not enrolled in any extracurriculars. Any. 
  • I hardly make note of how much TV is being watched (DisneyJR). I do turn it off, but I’m the opposite of the strictness I used to be.
  • I do laundry once a week. Note: not ALL of the laundry. Probably about half. And half of that half sits in a basket, not put away (but, at least folded, if lucky) for us to rake through as needed.
  •  The sink is always full of dishes. I try to get a viewing of a clean, empty sink twice a week. 
  • I vacuum 2-3 times a week (our carpet shows dirt like none I’ve ever known. Which is a good thing, I believe, or else I’d never vacuum.) 
  • I shower once a week. Twice if I seize the opportunity. A good round brush blowout, and my hair will last a whole week.  Luckily, I don’t have excessively oily hair, and a spray of Dry Shampoo will sustain it if I’ve got to get to the doctor with someone mid-week.
  • I absolutely delight in freshly manicured nails and a vivid colored nail lacquer. But right now, keeping them filed to a length which doesn’t trigger my gag reflex is proving challenging. (long nails make me wretch.)

    BAREST OF MINIMUMS: 
  • Feed people.
  • Wash people. 
  • Trim 60 fingernails once a week (+20 more of my own, if I’m lucky)
  • Wipe rear ends. 
  • HOLD THE BABY. 
  • NURSE THE BABY. 
  • Take lots and lots of photographs. 
  • I blog when I can.

If absolutely nothing else:

  • Bellies are filled.
  • The Rosary gets prayed.

Right now, holding and nursing the baby takes up a ton of time and space.  Baby 3 is 4 months old so he’s getting heavy, and too large to cradle with one arm.  Wearing him in a sling or a wrap helps me do a ton, but eventually my back and neck need a break. 

As this is the third round of baby-dom for me, I am conscious that this constant baby rocking, walking, nursing, bouncing, holding is a very short, albeit very intense, and extremely necessary phase for myself and especially the baby.  I am familiar with the benefits of being in constant contact with my newborn and I’ll alligator-snap anyone who tells me it’s coddling the baby and a “letting him control me” thing.  Wrong-o!

Okay, I’m spent.  Part II to follow very soon. 

Write to me, and tell me what your bare minimums are! I’m always looking for moms to copy from!

7QT (#5)(correction!)

Bienvenue to 7 Quick Takes hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler at ConversionDiary!

After you’ve finished reading my QT’s, if you’re a mom, or even someone who values personal space, Go check out Jen’s #6 for the week.  Ahhh I’d love it.  I never have my free space.  NEVER. -wait a minute. I do. When I’m brushing my teeth.  Most nights.  Though brushing with baby in one arm is a frequent occurrence as well.  So I’ll rescind to NEVER. There’s a sleeping baby in my lap right now. 

Last week consisted of much frustration, a sick baby, breastfeeding problems (TMI warning) but finished off with a beautiful celebration: the dedication of my parish’s newly built church and alter. (possessive of parish= parish’s?) 


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1. This is nap time at Bumpy Bridge (the name our oldest boy gave our house) on Tuesday:

  • Emmett laughing maniacally in his crib while bouncing up and down on his bottom, simultaneously flipping through the cardboard pages of a picture book.
  • Lexington prancing on his tippie toes, doing laps around the mattress, bellowing “I HAVE TO DO A PEEPEEEEEE!” as if he needed permission to go to the bathroom. (I’ve had marked discussions with him before, about how if he has to go, to get up and use the toilet. And that he doesn’t have to ask because using the toilet is better than peeing where we sleep.)
  • Laying with Collin, trying to nurse him to sleep so I could sneak out and start some fraction of the mountainous laundry which has magically cultivated by itself. 

    (EVE, Y U EAT OF FORBIDDEN FRUIT, NOTICE NAKEDNESS, AND MAKE LAUNDRY FOR ALL GENERATIONS!?) Collin drifted off for 10 minutes, but then woke up suddenly and began ululating like the little dinosaur which attacks Newman on Jurassic Park (his newfound voice, of which he’s proud) and pedaling his feet in the air so rapidly, the blankets stood no chance of me attempting to tuck him back into a cuddle bug. 


Another cup of coffee it is, then.

2. I attempted to wear Collin on my back with the Moby Wrap.
I failed.
This happened a few weeks ago, and I’d forgotten about it until I found a photo of it on my iPhone early last week.
Visualize:
Me, watching a baby-wearing video on how to wrap your baby on your back, thinking, “easy enough!”.

I get to the point of successfully hoisting Collin onto my back, the wrap properly placed with the middle of it across his back, the rest of it hanging on either side of me onto the floor.
At this juncture, I was hunkered over, saying, “Okay… now what?” whilst the first warning burp was fired: a lovely, wet, gurgle, which boiled, not quite to the opening of the baby’s mouth, threatening the back of my neck.
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                              [Laughing here, but not for long.]

Three curdle-y burps warning my ear canal later, I was still hunkered over, stuck at step one, baby drool drenching the fly aways at the nape of my neck, entangled in a tiny fist, and sweat rolling down my forehead.
I decided baby back wearing is for the double-jointed. For the life of me, I could not work the miles of fabric around my back, laden with baby because my arms would not bend BACKWARD.

3) Collin now has double ear infection. Anyone who knows anything about ear pain can tell you that swallowing is no bueno, let alone drinking through a straw, or in an infant’s case, bottle feeding or breastfeeding.  So, Wednesday night, I started getting the rejection.  Ahh.  It immediately was brought to the emotional state I experienced 3.5 years ago, when my oldest boy went on a “nursing strike”. :

 I was a new mom, a new breastfeeder, and had been so caught up with being pregnant and thinking about the presence of my baby, that I didn’t even know to read about breastfeeding and its challenges.  ”Challenges” is an understatement. Long story short, He had only been breastfeeding for 3 months when we switched to the bottle.  I felt like a failure, I felt a real sense of loss.  I felt angry frustration and confusion.  I felt like I’d lost a bond with my child. I was depressed and I cried, alone when no one was around, for two weeks when I realized I was finished breastfeeding.  Since then, I’ve become borderline psycho about no bottles.

 Fast forward past successfully breastfed baby #2 and here we are with #3 who’s ears hurt when he eats.  I started noticing reluctance to nurse on Thursday and by Friday, it was full throttle crying. All day. I was so stressed out that I now have clogged milk ducts in multiple places on both sides.  The pain of this is akin to an aching, cavity in your molars. 

5) I saw the light though.  After going through the stresses of baby 1, and the weathering yet peaceful nursing period of my second baby, I realized that fixing this is not going to take a tap of a finger and instant gratification.  This is going to take time and patience.  

Friday and most of Saturday, I walked around holding baby Collin upright, so his ears wouldn’t hurt from the pressure while laying back (i.e. BREAKING MY BACK AND NECK) and walked, rocked, and bounced on our orange medicine ball until he chose to nurse, for as long as he would do it. It involved a lot of crying from Collin, headaches for me, and no moments to myself.   I had to pump -something I really don’t like doing- a few times.  I applied heat to my clogged areas (sock filled with rice, microwaved 20 sec). I nearly cried, many times. But today, Sunday, he began to nurse like regular.  It was such a huge relief.  I probably couldn’t have had the patience to do this were it not for the help of my mom, who watched the older boys one afternoon, and of my husband, who took off Friday to help with the boys and basically clean up after the disaster zone I’d made of the house.

It’s taken three children to realize that, with human beings, there are no short cuts.  There are no schedules or equations.  Each person is completely different.  It’s time.   As a Mom, I owe ALL of my time.  ALL of my personal space.  DARN PEEING ALONE!  I can when I’m dead! -and the relief is far more gratifying than the shortcut, which hardly helps in the long term anyway.    
 

6) Since before I was in high school, our Parish has prayed to be able to build a new church.  10+ years later (that’s a minimal guess), on the Saturday Vigil, I got to witness and, even better, participate in the dedication of our new church and alter.

 My parents have contributed much to the preparation and building of this church, and were part of the celebration on Saturday. It was fun to listen to them talk about all of the intricacies involved in the preparation and building of this church, especially about the rehearsal:

My mom told us that aside from a man claiming to want to enter the new church before the dedication in order to pray, instead began shouting, holding up one of the Missalettes (which my mom believed he mistook for the Bible), yelling “IN SHA ALLAH!  ALLAH IS THE TRUE GOD!”, and other alarming ramblings which implied he did not like this particular church, and that he was indeed not praying, the dedication went off without a hitch.

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7) We could not have made it to the dedication Mass without my mother-in-law and Sis-in-law.   They visited early in the day to help dress and feed the boys while I was learning the ways of the Breastfeeding-whisperer.  They kept the boys entertained so that I could shower and dry my hair, uninterrupted (an extravagant luxury for me nowadays). 
For them I am so very thankful.  We made it, notwithstanding Lexington grass-staining the knees of his crisp, clean khakis on our way in, and notwithstanding him also peeing all over one of the brand new toilets and the subsequent wall behind it, the celebration was beautiful.  I love the smells of the chrism oil and incense. mmm!

Credits this week go to my Mom for taking the boys, Mom in law for helping us get ready, Sis for her thoughtful gift, and my loving, steady husband.

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          [My Mom, Dad, & Baby Collin]

7 Quick Takes, First Timer Here!

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I decided to finally participate in the weekly “7 Quick Takes Friday” hosted by the really neat Jennifer Fulwiler over at Conversiondiary. She’s really fun to read and her story is inspiring. Go look!

7 Quick Takes, for me will be a simple way to keep blogging, to keep it structured, and to keep it brief! BRIEF! I’m not good with brief.

I suppose that’s why I don’t like Twitter so much. Ehhhh.

So here are my first 7:

1) Still haven’t had my hair cut. And it’s enraging.
Not by choice, but just by the fact that one hair appointment can buy 2-3 boxes of diapers. Clean hineys are more important than long, stringy, banshee hair. I entered a “guess how many M&M’s are in the bowl” contest at a local hair salon to win $150 gift card and a Chi Flat Iron. I even prayed to win— something some huge part of me thinks is silly… Like why would anyone pray to win a gift card, or for the Bengals to win…? Contests and games seem silly to pray about -yet in light of knowing God to be present in every aspect of my being, I’ve yielded to the fact that I must invite Him there too. Even into the little insignificant trifling parts of my life, I want God to be there! So I prayed that, if it be His will, I might win the gift card so that I could get my hair chopped. But God was like “NEIN!”

Oh well. I suppose not then. Banshee hair I shall embrace for a while longer. …as I shriek while some of it slides from my shoulder and flops into a poopy diaper, or, as my second son uses it to lovingly wipe his snotty nose. So it is “Mein Kampf.”

2) The whole family has caught colds. I’ve even caught something. And I NEVER get sick.

My husband isn’t allowed to get sick either. It always seems to me that as soon as I mention someone (friend, family, distant acquaintance) has so much as a runny nose, my husband suddenly comes down with a life-threatening illness. I basically tell him to get over it and do a netipot. I am the epitome of a compassionate wife.

So I’ve learned not to say anything, and lo, my husband remains perfectly healthy. But this time, both of my oldest are markedly not feeling well, so theres no hiding it. Craig felt bad yesterday and I worked hard to belay my impatience with illness and make him tea and administer medication. —BUT WHAT’S THIS!? I, the lady of the house, am beginning to feel a slight scratchiness of the throat?!

Well, then it must be real.

‘Tis simply a cold, but I haven’t even had a cold in so long, I’ve forgotten that it really can slow one down. I’m praying that my littlest (3 months old today) doesn’t catch it.

—and now I pledge to keep the rest of the takes really quick.

3) 4 months later, I am still crocheting the baby blanket I set out to make for our youngest boy. Will it ever be finished?

image

Yarn 4dayz.

4) Bottom half of our Christmas tree’s lights have blown. I suspect foul play from my oldest boy.

image

Yes, a blanket is our tree skirt. NOH8.

5) Please, go watch this video: A new reality TV show featuring Jennifer Fulwiler about her life and her conversion from Atheism to Roman Catholic. It’s called Minor Revisions. Jennifer is a writer and through her blogging she wondered aloud to the blogosphere about the existence, or non-existence, of God, and was converted through her intellect and research, through her questioning, and her willingness to be transformed.

I enjoy this so very much because it isn’t some sappy, emotional, spiritual story with some grand pomp-and-circumstantial event marking her conversion. At least, her conversion doesn’t seem to be what so many seemingly typically expect to learn from converts. Fulwiler uses her brain to consciously draw conclusions. Not that others don’t use their brain… but I don’t think I need a source to declare that many people see a Christian mentality as ignorant and just plain stupid.

I’ve striven to reach out to those people who are repelled by the sappy, feel-good emotions of Christianity. Believe me, I know them. I’ve felt them… I feel them daily. But emotion is fleeting and not firm enough to build a foundation of religion upon— at least for me. This is how I wonder if many people are repelled by Christianity: because sometimes it seems so fake and filled with a layer only as thin as tissue paper. People shouting “GOD IS AWESOME” over and over again… “PRAISE GOD!” without actually praising Him. And for many people, that suffices— and blessed are those people!!! Truly, they are blessed, those who do not need or even want proof! But for me, I’ve always required more. I’ve needed the deeper layers. I need and crave profundity. Jennifer Fulwiler begins to describe this in the first of her series. Watch with me and tell me what you think! She’s also wittingly funny :) I’d like to dedicate an entry or two with further thoughts on her story, paralleled to mine.

6) If you’re looking for a simple gift for friends or family this year, I recommend these:

but not if you’ve got a nut allergy. Sorry. My nephew has a nut allergy, so I find myself always aware of allergens. But these are really, really delicious.

7) How can I not mention the shooting in CT this week?
Some blame guns. Some blame people. Some say, “hey there’s just bad people out there and we can’t stop them”
My contribution to throw into the pot is perhaps our culture does not value human life in the way they should. If the intrinsic value of human life was truly realized, I don’t believe there’d be murder, killing, abortion, genocide, prejudice, racism, fighting, or even war. But that’s a tough one to teach to our culture which watches reality television shows starring individuals who speak about children as a commodity, as a personal right to dispose of or create in vitro. It’s a difficult lesson to teach to a world which believes that the earth is overpopulated with human beings; that we need to sterilize each other, or limit our family size by law. By believing that defects, illnesses or diseases are the properties of an “unwanted life”, we should terminate the life in utero, we neglect to understand the unique design of a human being. How can a culture be changed? an entire culture fixated by the media, eating the lie like a bowl of Cheerios?
I dunno. So my family and I will pray for those families, for the souls of the victims, and for love to permeate this culture. We will try to lead by example.

What I Wore Sunday!

So FINALLY I am participating in What I Wore Sunday.  This is a little Catholic blogger link-up of ladies hosted by Fine Linen & Purple just to give each other some inspiration for what to wear to church each week.  This Sunday was the first time (out of 8 weeks) that I’ve: 

A) remembered to get a photo of myself.
AND 
B) actually gotten someone to take a photo of me. 

So to keep it short (cause all three of my boys are napping right NOW) here we go!

My husband took the first photo, and yes, I sloppily photoshopped it so no one can tell how messy my kitchen was hee hee heeee:

I’m nearly 3 months post partum and I’m still wearing my maternity clothes.  I’m beginning to enter the REALLY annoying phase where my maternity clothes are a little too big and my larger sized non-maternity clothes are still too small.  

My pants are jeggings from A Pea in the Pod, and they were not cheap.  But considering that I have worn them since the spring, all through the summer, and still now, they are worth it.
The tee underneath is a side ruched tee, again from A Pea in the Pod.  
The cardigan is a cream, cotton Ann Taylor cardigan that I bought last winter on sale for $15.  I bought a black one too because the price was right. I wear the cream and black cardigan VERY often.  The draped open front creates the illusion of a smaller belly… which is great for a post partum momma.

And meee shoes….arr.  Well, my favorite flats are missing a gem from the toe so I am now wearing a pair of Sperrys which my husband gave me about 4 years ago!

My oldest son took this photo:

And no, I don’t bother to tie them correctly. slip on, slip off.

Here’s some shoulder detail.  ooooh eeeee ahhhh:

And that’s it!  

I’ve never been one to want to wear jeans to Mass, but here I am.  Pregnancy changes the whole game for me.  Until I can fit into my skirts and slacks, jeggings it shall be.

…and in the end, the love you take…

So here we are yet again at the end of another pregnancy.

Really, could I possibly have MORE thoughts about being pregnant?

I daresay I could and I do! Hoo Hoo hoooo.

[So here’s where I’m going to give my readers an option. If you’re my age-ish, you might remember in grade school the books where you can “choose your own ending”. At the end of each chapter, the author gives a choice to the reader to:

"A.) continue to the next chapter if you want the character to change paths."

Or

"B.) Go to page # whatever if you want the character to feel all warm and fuzzy and live happily ever after."

So I’ll give the high points of my pregnancy and we can end there on a happy, fuzzy, comfortable note and not be offended, good day to you. But if you’re interested in putting personal agendas and feelings of being personally sought-out by me aside to think a little deeper, read on!]

*****

In stark contrast from my first pregnancy, this one was “planned”. I write that word in quotations because as far as a Christian mentality goes, all life is planned by God. So what I mean is that this pregnancy was strategically anticipated by all parties involved.

That being so, I can say that these 9 months have come and gone the quickest of all of them. I’ve had less pregnancy scares (no falls, car accidents, illnesses…) and hardly any physical pain at all. My last two pregnancies came with pretty overwhelming back pain during the whole 9 months.

I am certain that the pleasantry of this experience is due to:

1.) The fact that it’s my third experience being pregnant, thus knowing what to expect makes me worlds less nervous or anxious about my body changes.

2.) Having two toddlers rampaging the house definitely distracts me from noticing and obsessing over every little rise and fall of my heartbeat or sweat production or nail breakage. Basically, I don’t have time to revel in the Pregnant Princess crown that first time moms get to enjoy. And I’ve discovered I like it that way! It has made the time go so much faster. And it edifies my belief that serving others ultimately brings about personal fulfillment and happiness.

3.) I am wiser. I’ve done a ton more networking with other moms. I’ve read a zillion blogs and articles and books about pregnancy, labor and delivery and how to ask the right questions to your doctor. I’m still learning, but I have such a greater confidence in the natural ability of my own womanhood to do what my body parts were created to do!

4.) My generous in-laws gave us their king sized bed along with a memory foam topper. The last half of this pregnancy, I folded that sucker in half and have been sleeping (as my husband calls it) in an ivory tower of back-relieving heaven.

So I begin my 40th week feeling immensely blessed and greatly thankful for the ease and peace that I’ve experienced thus far.

[Here’s the end of the feel-good chapter in my story. If you have a tendency to think that everyone is out to offend you, I’d recommend you press the little x at the top of the screen and carry on to more important tasks. Seriously, there are more important things. Really. I honestly mean it. Life’s too short to get worked up over a pathetic blog entry. I don’t do it.]

Next Chapter:

Here’s what’s different:

Read More

Dare I talk Christmas? …and other magical holidays…

Well, as a parent, it’s time to think about Christmas.
Ugh, but who wants to when the weather is so beautiful and warm?

Well, if you’re a planning parent- which I am finding myself increasingly becoming- one must think about the dollazzz.

Some parents who, in my mind, are extraordinarily wise (my sister is one), start putting the dollars away as soon as January and then begin gift-hunting as soon as summer hits.

I like this idea because I have found myself in the opposite position:

Using latest paycheck to divide among my gift-receivers and scrambling to find gifts for all within the month of December. This is what I did before I had kids. …I didn’t give many gifts, and I still got stressed out!

When we had our first child, my husband and I decided we’d follow a gift rule for all of our subsequent children:

Three gifts each. With a set max spending limit per child.

Here’s our reasoning:

First of all, financially speaking, it can only help maintain a conscious level of spending. I grew up with beautiful Christmases. My sister, brother and I never got a new puppy or a pony, but we never felt left wanting. In fact, my favorite part of the gift opening was the stocking stuffers- it still is!
I know that some parents actually open a credit card to pay for their gifts. “…spending money you don’t have on things you don’t need…” says the Dave Ramsey inside my head.

So if we know before the month of December what we are willing and able to spend, that’s a plus in the long run, and monetary stress off of our shoulders.

But why just three???

This idea I obtained from my cousins who follow it with their children:

-Because baby Jesus received three gifts. (gold, frankincense & myrrh)

-Because I want our children to have a Christ-centered Christmas.

-Because, as a child, being given gifts with no limits can inflict emotions of greed, selfishness, jealousy & envy and negate the spirit of giving and love that’s supposed to resound in our hearts when we say “Merry Christmas!”

We also don’t do Santa.

“OHHH MY GOSHHHH— YOU’RE NOT DOING SANTA!?!? YOU’RE TAKING THE MAGIC OUT OF CHRISTMAS AND THE MAGIC OUT OF BEING A CHILD!!!!!!!”

This is what I hear from the peeps who don’t understand our decision.

(This Christmas photo is pretty magical to me)

My answer: no I’m not.

A.) Magic is not an important part of the kind of life I want our children to depend upon.
Imagination, creativity, freedom to dream, explore, experiment and dance silly are integral parts of childhood and are encouraged by myself. But magic? No.

B.) To be encouraged that characters with supernatural God-like powers exist: that they are GOOD (the Good Witch of the East/Wicked Witch of the West, anyone?) and that these characters will grant us material, earthly possessions if we are “nice” is not in-step with my ideal of Christian teaching to our children.
The only “magical powers” I want my children to trust in and rely on are the ones that derive from God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

So one may safely assume that we don’t do Easter Bunny, tooth fairy, Halloween or any of that other hallmark, gift-y materialistic-y nonsense.

I realize I use those words harshly, but I’m trying to stick a point.

I grew up believing and trusting in a Santa and an Easter Bunny… But I also never understood the real meaning of why we celebrated these holidays. I never experienced real joy in celebration of these holidays in my heart until college, shamefully. I am a late spiritual bloomer and a bad listener, I suppose. My parents really did try to tell me. But my dad did not convert to Christianity until my early high school days. The foundation was not as firm with me as it is my little brother who’s 6 years younger. I can’t blame my parents, they were on their spiritual journey! As am I.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable or harmful to teach our children the real reasons we celebrate Christmas or Easter. If I’m concerned about the ultimate attainment of getting my children to Heaven, can I start centering their focus on Christ too soon? I think not.

Happily, Catholics do celebrate a Saint Nicholas. And this is the “Santa” our children will grow up knowing.

(Our happy Christmas boy, last year)

I’ve written once before about how we don’t celebrate Halloween in the way society celebrates it. Glorifying the spooky, the gruesome, the witches and vampires is, again, not in step with how I want my children to be reared along with Christianity.

Mostly, because I acknowledge there is evil present. Real evil. If glory isn’t given completely to God, who, is it then given to? Again, as Catholics, we happily celebrate the real lives of saints who, as human as you and I, lived their flawed human life, in struggles & turmoil, triumphs and blessings but always turned to Christ to lead their steps, always giving all glory to God.

 I remember, after being told that Easter Bunny and Santa did not exist, my young mind trying to work out the confusion of who exactly that magic came from, whether magic is real, and who should I trust or look to for miracles?

The answer is obvious to me now. But I feel that as a parent, if I keep it very simple until they’re old enough to understand, I will continue to teach that God alone provides true and worthy miracles. That if my children are finding themselves wondering if “magic” is coming from anyone other than God, they need to stay away from it. It’s why we don’t encourage zodiac/astrology reading, fortune telling, palm reading, ouija board or anything involving a spiritual realm that has no full foundation in Christ. I wrote about that a few months ago, here.

(Oddly enough, I played the Wicked Witch of the West in our high school musical, The Wizard of Oz…. goodness, it was a blast!)

I don’t think this will take the excitement out of Christmas morning. I still get excited and I’m on the opposite side of our kids now!
I think, however, it will add a sense of true gratitude and love.

I never knew, growing up, in my Christmas present high, to look at my parents and say, “You gave me these things? You did this for me? Thank you. Thank God for you, Momma and Dadda.”
It was always “yeah, yeah, baby Jesus was born, but CHECK OUT MY NEW IPOD!” …of course iPods n’éxistais pas 20 years ago… But you know what I mean.

No, I don’t have some high expectation of overly reverent, saintly children who open their toys and run them down to the homeless shelter and then run back to church to sing praises to God.

I mean, I’d be thunderstruck if one of my little boys did that. I’d be proud to tears. But I know they are kids. I know. I was one. 

I’m hoping I can lead them to be better human beings, though, than I AM.

The way I place importance upon material possession in times when those materials honestly have nothing to do with the reason for celebrating, can help them become better human beings, I believe. And teaching them to trust in the miracles and powers of God alone will aid in leading them to Heaven, I hope.

This is the way we would like to raise our children.


But I’m not writing in blood.
And I’m certainly not writing this to point judgmental fingers at parents who wish to raise their children differently.

I know friends who grew up with little to nothing and now take great joy in giving to their own children what they could not be given in their own childhood. Many parents take Christmas -in a true Christmas spirit of joy- as an opportunity to give to their children and to others.

I write this not to justify my thinking, but for others. For others who, like me, need the idea. I genuinely appreciate a different idea. Sometimes a simpler idea. Sometimes an idea that makes me uncomfortable about my own decisions, makes me think a little deeper.  And if the idea is backed with good, God-centered reasons, I feel relieved to convert from the societal norm. Parents are placed with great pressure to keep up with what our neighbors or other family members do or have. Whether we want to admit it or not, I’m sure we’ve felt it from time to time. So there’s my idea. With my reasons for it. Until I find a better one :)

Care to share yours?   

Also, the stocking?  I count that as “bonus” :)

The Story of a Ballerina from Africa →

In April, I wrote about 17 year old Ballet dancer, Michaela DePrince, and her parents who adopted her out of Sierra Leone, Africa. When I saw her perform on Dancing With the Stars as a featured performer, she moved me to tears and strengthened my resolve (as if it needed it) that there is no such thing as “an unwanted child” when considering Abortion issues.

Someone responded to me by saying while her story is a triumphant example of how all humans should be treated, she was a lucky one out of the thousands of others just like her in the culture she was born into… thus, the other children who were not so lucky probably would have been better off aborted.

Better off killed. Better off extinguished. Not even given the chance.

Why? How is this logic workable in someone’s mind? That it’s okay to go ahead and kill an indispensable human being because that person might be subject to pain or suffering in his/her life? Who are we to feel that we can stand on the outside and judge the value or —what do they call it now? My prego brain is losing me… the QUALITY OF LIFE! there it is— how can we judge the quality of someone else’s life to be unfit so far as to deem that person not even worthy of the air he or she breathes …or has yet to even experience breathing?


For the general group of individuals who are pro-choice, they tend to be your “bleeding heart liberals” —though I can attest that this is only a stereotype, as I myself am an artist, a dreamer, an increasingly crunchy-granola-“earthy child” and my heart is pretty bloody— But to the bleeding hearts who feel it necessary to, in the case of someone they somehow deem as unworthy of his or her own life that anyone besides the Almighty Creator has the authority to remove that life from them, without even asking permission… that makes no sense to me. It is backward for a group of people who claim tolerance and love above all to be the guidance of their life choices and their “pro-choice-ness” to turn around, point a finger, and say, “YOU. You there, you’re better off dead!”

Those children like Michaela are living saints in today’s filthy world of people bantering over whether or not to eat at Chick-Fil-A because the CEO doesn’t support a certain sexual lifestyle. I say LET THEM LIVE. They are our silent angels among our ridiculously petty selfishness. The underprivileged , I am willing to bet, understand more fully the value of a human life.

This morning, I stumbled upon a second article about Michaela and just had to share. It gives more details about her amazing journey. Even though it’s a Yahoo article (I detest yahoo), give it a chance to alter your own perspective on human life and the gift that it is in itself. The article gives links to some videos of her dancing and my link above has the DWTS feature. She will move your heart.

Out of my lack of being able to speak charitably due to my impatient and overly aggravated prego hormones, I made these “memes” the other night while I was up with heartburn, brewing over ….ahhh… just STUFF.  

I’ve been thinking, after reading repeated, multiple angry, confused, uneducated and ignorant statements made by people I know, people I don’t know and celebrities we all know, that I want to take my skin off and scrub it on one of those old-fashioned washboards.  Like, the sheer amount of absence of intellect or even rational reasoning makes me writhe in my own skin.  

I am not an overly intelligent or exceptionally well-educated person by any means.   I am ignorant of MUCH.  And I don’t deny that.  

But what I am seeing surrounding all things moral-issue-related is inflated pride, and absolute unintelligence.  

It’s a terrible shame, because we are human and capable of intelligence.  But educating our intelligence takes work.  and as humans, we are lazy.  We form our opinions, we belt them out and we run others over, while we pride ourselves on our fully educated intelligence.  

But are we humble enough to question our education?  To say, “hmm… where’d that opinion of mine really come from?”

We constantly talk of INTOLERANCE & HATE in the world.  I agree it exists and sadly is practiced toward others.  But what I think the greater problem is, is ignorance and pride.  

We THINK we know the evil of a certain type of person or group or religious affiliation, but do we? Really, do we? Have we really done the research to fully educate and support our beliefs?  

I am finding more and more that, no.  There are sadly many more people than I would have ever believed possible that don’t do that research.  They simply disagree based on their own self-held pride and toss whatever ludicrous notions that are presented out the window, never giving it a second thought.  

All I can do is laugh about it.  I’ve been laughing in disbelief all day.  That’s why I can’t read too much of the absolutely idiotic— and I mean idiotic in the strictest, most sincere meaning of the word —banter that goes back and forth on certain blog/news/social network forums.  I am astounded at it.  But sadly, I know I’m not above it.  I’d love to think that I am; that I’m smarter than your average bear, immune to my own pride and prejudices… but I know I have them.  I am only human.  

I think, though, that this realization is what can make a difference in our world.  Corny as it sounds: Loving my fellow human beings above all else.

I will always stand by my understanding of right and wrong, good and evil.  But the word JUDGEMENTAL is not something I’m ready to fling as much as others.  Because I understand the meaning of that word.  There is general judging: discerning, understanding, reasoned educating.  …and there is eternal judging: determining the outcome of someone else’s eternal salvation based on their actions or words.  The first, I try to do while continually understanding my own faults and education.  The second, is absolutely not in my power.

"There are not 100 people who hate the Catholic Church; But there are millions who hate what they believe the Catholic Church to be."

-Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen



I think this sentence is fitting for many, many other facets and groups of people in our world as well and can be applied to the most current hot topics that have arisen in the news this week. 

ahhh…. so I continue to refer to my GIFs above and just laugh.  welp, that’s all I’ve got …for right now.

This is such a wonderful talk representative of Catholic views.  While she’s not the most eloquent speaker -she’s nervous and not very fluid- she makes profound and thought-provoking statements that opponents of NFP and pro-life views often times -to me personally, anyway- reject or have not pondered before.  Think deeper than the “band-aid”.   Her last statement -from Ghandi- is my favorite.

"Dr. Pia de Solenni is an expert on life issues, issues related to women’s health, the new feminism, and culture. She holds a Sacred Theology Baccalaureate from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) and a Sacred Theology Doctorate, summa cum laude, from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. In 2001, Pope John Paul II awarded her the Prize of the Pontifical Academies for her groundbreaking dissertation—an analysis of feminist theories in the light of St. Thomas Aquinas’ teachings" 


This is EXCELLENT.  Dr. Helen Alvaré, professor of law at George Mason School of law, brings common sense logic, intellect, empirical evidence, and many more resources to the table to talk about human sexuality, feminism, religious freedom and of course the HHS mandate.  

If you are at all concerned about your freedom to practice your religion -not just for Catholics!- and if you are at all concerned for women’s rights, I recommend finding the time to watch this.  I watched it in intervals throughout my morning in between our breakfast, diaper changings, play routine. It’s 53 minutes long but worth the insight if you seem to be finding yourself grappling for the empirical evidence needed to combat the irrational rhetoric used from opposers to shut us up lest we feel like we are “WAGING A WAR ON WOMEN!”  

Oh yes, a war is being waged on women, but it is from the very mouths of the individuals who are accusing us of it.  …and the sad thing is, they hardly realize it!  (…only the very dangerous ones do.)

 They hardly realize it because they are choosing to ignore the empirical evidence, and the common sense logic.  They believe in no moral absolutes.  They believe that a human is defined solely to the core of his/her being by sexual impulses.  ”DO WHAT FEELS GOOD.”  They liken us to animals, mere creatures among the dogs and cats: to be neutered and spayed.

When a society believes that the core of a person’s identity is defined by their sexual desires, we reduce ourselves to that type of poverty of ignorance to our full human capability.  

It’s atrocious that so many Americans are just sitting by, reading about Snooki’s pregnancy, or what celebrities look like without make-up, or garbling about the wage-earning gap between men and women.  

Dr. Alvaré says, “feminism has ONLY gotten us birth control and abortion.  It didn’t get us anything toward work life balance; to the extent we have it, we fought for it one woman at a time.”  

I believe she’s darn right.  And how sad is that!?  We’ve got our birth control, our abortions, but we are still angry: we still feel unequal.  We still feel objectivized by men.

WHY IS THAT, we angrily wonder?  We write and talk and shout.  We burn our bras and panties in proclamation of our “sexual freedom” yet we are still not free.  

Because we reduce our WORTH as a human being to our sexual “deficiencies” and desires.

Oddly enough as it may seem to secular society (the non-religious), Catholicism and many other Christian denominations ACTUALLY TEACH that human beings are MORE than their sexuality. Much more.  

And this is what our government does NOT believe.  Women are being treated like chattel, reduced to their fertility and nothing more.  ”Women NEED abortion, women NEED birth control in order to be equal” the government and secular society tell us.  Yet we are still angry.

This type of stuff is what is and should be so important to all women.  Yet, it’s not easy to read or to listen to.  It’s not like reading a cheap 50 Shades of Grey or Twilight or watching The View or any sort of entertainment.  

This is REAL STUFF.  This is reality.  So many women, it seems to me, hide their faces behind the fiction, the TV shows, the magazines and don’t utilize the time instead to do the hard work and really think and question what is going on and why.  

All I seem to see from some of the more obtusely loud individuals is, “I AM SO ANGRY ABOUT THIS!” “WOMEN DESERVE EQUALITY” “WOMEN AREN’T OBJECTS”  …and it’s normally followed with comments of many other angry women in ignorant support, with no intellectual, logical thought or questions to follow it.  Just a bunch of angry rhetoric.  

I am so tired of angry, empty rhetoric.  It doesn’t explain or demand anything but anger and irritation.   

What I hardly see from these angry women is work.  There seems to be no digging or scratching of the surface of motives or questioning of who are the people behind the movement and what is their motive, and from where have the motives derived, and are they founded in moral logic?   And by the way, what IS moral logic?

This is serious, and The View doesn’t dig into it, doesn’t even use a little gardening tool to shuffle through the loosely laid fertilizer. 

Women need to be reading for themselves.  This video helps, but only if you understand  the basics of moral absolutism.  And that goes to the very root of …well.. everything.  

And if as a woman, the phrases “moral absolutism”, “inherent dignity”, “secular society”, “objectivism”, and “moral relativism” sound boring or confusing even, you’ve got work to do.  It is in everyone’s urgent interest to become interested  in the meaning of these words and how they apply to how we are being viewed and treated today.  

It is paramount to even understanding how we understand and respect ourselves as individuals.

It is work.  Work is hard.  But this work makes us a smarter, stronger people for it.  And nothing worth having in this world is easy to get.  

I know, at the end of the day, I want to rest.  I want to watch a movie or read a good fiction book.  Nothing’s wrong with that.  But there is something wrong if that’s all we EVER do.  

 I find time to do this reading, listening and watching.  I choose, instead of creeping my Facebook “friend’s” status updates and latest acquirement of material possessions, to read and watch this type of stuff I post about.  I do it in segments.  I read at least an article a day.  It can be from anything, really.  I take note of the author and find out about the author.  I read supporting articles, I find other resources attached to the articles.  I discover where they come from and upon which foundation they are rooted.

Because at the end of the day, this is really what is going on in our nation and we individually have an obligation as an American citizen to KNOW it!  …not what Lucy just bought her three year old for Christmas… 

THIS is a great place to start, if you’ve never (or ever) thought about the question “What is right, and what is wrong, and who are YOU to judge me?!” 

THIS is a beautiful explanation of understanding the dignity and equality of ALL human life. 

THIS is a great place to start forming thoughts or different views upon what REALLY is sexual intercourse for.  

Here is a small clip of a series of videos that more simply describes the text above.

and THIS is a great book that discusses the consequences and paradox of the sexual revolution (when contraceptives were normalized).  And don’t let the title deceive you, it’s not some hyper-biblical lunatic writing about ADAM AND EVE… it’s written by a well-educated -gasp!- WOMAN.

 What I have given above as references can be a starting point.  Yes, lots of it is from Catholic authors.  There are thousands of other authors to choose from, but I have been able to more easily identify and understand these authors.  I recently told an acquaintance that the key to understanding these topics comes from being able to actually enjoy the work you’re doing; by identifying with the author, by enjoying how he/she writes or speaks.  These people spoke to me and that’s why I give them as references, in hopes that others will find it easy to read as well.  And then, that they will hunger to read more and branch out their own way!  

It takes a long time to get to know and fully come to understand the meaning of some of the vocabulary used.  Keep reading, questioning, digging. I started questioning in high school, continued through 5 years of college, and I am STILL reading.  I am still digging, I am still questioning.  It becomes a life-long burden… a good and worthy burden to educate and arm ourselves with.  Because then we can teach it to others, to our children.  We can awaken the ignorant and the lukewarm impassiveness of the couch potato laborers who think no further than the soap operas they gape at and the mundane family dramas they relish talking about.

Pope Benedict XVI's Holy Thursday Homily →

His words are BEAUTIFUL. I read this in mind with everything for which I fight. “it is not my will- MY PLEASURE, MY CHOICE, MY BODY- but Your will, o God.”

"The stance of Adam was: not what you, O God, have desired; rather, I myself want to be a god. This pride is the real essence of sin. We think we are free and truly ourselves only if we follow our own will. God appears as the opposite of our freedom. We need to be free of him – so we think – and only then will we be free. This is the fundamental rebellion present throughout history and the fundamental lie which perverts life. When human beings set themselves against God, they set themselves against the truth of their own being and consequently do not become free, but alienated from themselves. We are free only if we stand in the truth of our being, if we are united to God. Then we become truly “like God” – not by resisting God, eliminating him, or denying him. In his anguished prayer on the Mount of Olives, Jesus resolved the false opposition between obedience and freedom, and opened the path to freedom. Let us ask the Lord to draw us into this “yes” to God’s will, and in this way to make us truly free. Amen."

Easter Triduum →

Tonight, on Holy Thursday,  begins the Easter Triduum.  This evening is called Maundy Thursday because it is when we recall Jesus washing the disciples’ feet and it is the Vigil of Good Friday (when we recall the Lord’s Passion).

The Holy Triduum is- to me -the most spiritually and emotionally moving three days of the year.
Our Bible readings recall Jesus washing his disciples’ feet.  
WHY on earth would God stoop to wash the feet of a “wretch like me”?  Because he loves. He loves ME. and all who follow Him.  He calls us to serve others just as he did for his disciples.  

So, in the Catholic church, and in many other Christian churches, we recall this humbling sign of love our God served us with.  

In the evening, during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, usually after the Homily, Catholic priests all over the world, wash the feet of (usually) 12 parishioners (church members).  

The people chosen can be anyone, but normally they try to pick those who represent the different parts of our community: teachers, healthcare workers, government officials, new members or those seeking full communion with the Catholic church (baptism or confirmation) etc.

This is a powerful thing to witness- watching our priest bent over, washing the feet of each person.  Often I see him sweating as he takes care to wash and dry the feet of each member.  I’ve never had my feet washed, but I’d assume it’s even more powerful to experience, watching a holier person than myself wash my sinning feet! Just imagine if we were Simon Peter! 

"Master, are you going to wash my feet?"
Jesus answered and said to him,
"What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him,
"Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me."
Simon Peter said to him,
"Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well."
Jesus said to him,
"Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
John 13:6-11 


What a beautiful way to enter into the Easter season!  

I write of Holy Week hoping to remind us that Easter is not just another humdrum holiday.  
Like, oh, I’m just going along, doing my egg-painting and candy-buying and OOP! It’s Easter! All of the sudden! And the next day we are throwing away our eggs and candy wrappers and carrying on like nothing happened but a lot of eating and egg-hunting.
 No, that would be to cheapen what Easter is!  Easter is much deeper than that!  
Of course we celebrate with family and eat yummy food- we just spent 40 days in the desert!  BUT…
Lent- the 40 days before this week are a time of preparation- of sacrifice, repentance, service and personal reflection. This week is the INTENSE and final preparation.
It, just like Christmas, is not just some day that passes by.  It is a season!   

If you didn’t know this, that’s okay- you know now! And we continue to celebrate Easter, the resurrection of Jesus Christ our King every day, in each Mass, with joy and faith in our hearts!  Join and participate!  HERE is another great resource if anyone is interested to know more.

The above link gives the Church’s Bible readings for tonight’s Mass.  
Here is a piece from  John 13:12-15


"So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”