Monday, August 17, 2015

Heading back to school and flipping the bird at the Mommy Wars

Back to school is early in Illinois (mid August) but it makes me think Fall thoughts.

After a summer of playing in the sprinkler, eating drippy popcicles on the patio, and watching movies in the cool air conditioning during the heat of the day I am ready for the next season. It's much less sweaty for this pregnant woman.

I'm pretty pumped about autumn and what that means in my part of the country. I can't wait to get the autumn decorations out, but I'm also feeling a little emotional - just like I did when L started school. The same kiddos who went to school last year will be in school again this year, but Ben is now beginning kindergarten with the official school uniform and full school day. There's so much I want for all my kids, but this just about sums it up:

But this is not about me - this is about you and you, L, are about to do some amazing things. School is so much fun. Being a part of a school community is so much fun. You will learn, play, grow, and be loved. I hope you are happy and challenged and encouraged. Please know that your father and I expect you to always show compassion, generosity, and respect. We expect you to always be kind, good, honest, and hard-working. We want you to love and serve and glorify our good God.

As much as I am getting misty-eyed over milestones, I am also remembering that the schedule and rhythm school brings to our home is a huge gift for me - it is freeing for me. That's one of the things I learned in Kindergarten:

More than anything, what I learned in kindergarten, after two years of pathetic attempts at super basic "homeschool" preschool (we're talking letter, shape, and number recognition here along with a little catechism), is that I need structure and I am really bad at giving it to myself. Our days ran so much more smoothly when the school day made us get up, get dressed, and be out the door by a certain time. Our home was immeasurably more peaceful following the school day routine. And perhaps most importantly I thrived with that schedule. Thrived.

Next year may bring something different for us as we make decisions to keep James safe from his dairy allergy, but right now I feel really great about what we're doing right now:

I am " interested in educating and building up [my] children, family, and community through traditional school," and I'm seeing that happen in our family's life now, which is really wonderful.

At this time of year I see a lot of my friends beginning their homeschooling. My good friend Grete is in week 3 because my good friend Grete has got her act together! Sometimes I look at her life and her amazing kiddos and the wonderful things they are able to do and... I am so happy for them while not wanting that life at all. (Which I say with a laugh and confidence that Grete would laugh too. Or at least smile. Perhaps while shaking her head at me.) I've seen how the schooling choices they've made over the years have really blessed their family and I feel like I've watched my friend become a better and more truer version of herself.

It's been really beautiful and totally a flipped birdie to the Mommy Wars that her parenting choice has been so different than mine and yet we are both so happy in our vocations and homes, and we are friends.

Once I wrote about not homeschooling:

Having the desire for be part of a traditional school community, to have time to volunteer in your community, to create or work, and then using the time while your kids are at school to do those things doesn't mean you're selfish or that you care less for your children. God has gifted you with certain talents, convictions, and holy desires - be who He has made you to be and you will set the world on fire.

I 100% believe that is true, and it's been a gift for me to have the hours of the school days to spend more time with my littles, to work on and create things that I love, and to try to serve our parish, friends, and family. But I also want to stress that that's what works for me and you should see Grete and all the things she is able to accomplish.

Back to school time can be such a beautiful testament to the fact that God has made us each unique, that there are seasons in our lives, that we have been gifted with different talents and strengths, that we are all on a path towards holiness, and that when we embrace those things our lives will look splendidly different but equally good.

Today two of my kiddos have their first day of school with another beginning mid-week. I'll be laying low in internetland over the next couple of weeks, tackling various projects and obligations and helping my cranky, hot, tired, hungry kids re-adjust to the school year. By September we will be on a roll so you'll see more of me then. Have fun, keep cool, and be good. ;)

Tangent in question form: Do you think it's okay if I get out the lovely fall decorations for the August 22nd Blessed Brunch I'm hosting? I have a rule (that I usually break) of no fall decorations before September 1st... What do you think?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Assumption and some great milestones

Let's start off with one of my favorite Marian songs, courtesy of JJ Heller. Or as Sebastian says in The Little Mermaid: moooood music.

Today is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. It's the day we Catholics honor Mary's special relationship with Christ and our belief that God preserved her from sin and therefore brought to Heaven body and soul at her death.

When I think of Mary I prefer to think of her as the mother of a grown Son. As I wrote once, "I like to think of her, Jesus and the apostles sitting around and she's telling them stories of the days in Egypt. Of the goodness of her husband. Of what it was like when the angel came to her. Of her three months with Elizabeth. I think that by the time she was standing at the foot of the cross she wasn't as thin as she had been in youth, though she was solid and strong. Her hands and face weren't as firm and wrinkle free. This is the woman I turn to for help in prayers."

Beyond just being a wonderful feast day, there's also some great things happening with two ministries I love (and I'm a part of).

One year ago today Blessed Is She launched and it's been such an answer to prayers for me: a daily devotional that is written by Catholic women for Catholic women. That's not fluff. That's not heretical. That's well done. Praised be Jesus! For example, here's today's devotion.

There's even a sweet giveaway happening over at the Blessed Is She site in honor of the celebration.

Additionally, The Visitation Project now has it's own website, thanks to your generosity. Coming very soon will be a newsletter for our listeners, special exclusives, and aired episodes available on iTunes.

Thank you to everyone has supported BIS and TVP over the last months.

Now go eat some blue jello with marshmallows or whipped cream (like a sky, get it?)!

Happy Feast Day!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

End of summer

Summer has flown by and is almost at an end. The kids go back next week and I'll have a second grader and a kindergartner both at our parish school, a pre-k-er at the public school, two at home, and one in the oven. (Whaaaat?!!!)

What was I saying? Oh yes: This summer has been a good one. 

Resa is fully, 100% out of diapers and 100% adorable.

 We have watched a lot of Doctor Who, getting ready for the season that was just released on Netflix.
 This is L, entranced with River Song.

We've done some small jobs around the house and yard. The newer wallpaper is pretty blah, and the old wallpaper I uncovered is... well ugly now. However, if this was bright and clean and new I would actually love it. Soon it will be painted white.

The yard needed taming. Well, it still needs a lot of help, but slow and steady wins the race. Ben helping his dad is just so, so, so, so cute.

Joe turned two and we had a Curious George party for him. Look at that cake my sister in law made and look at that smile. He was thrilled with us singing to him.

On Facebook people keep sharing an old article by Brandon Vogt about the advising medical experts approving James' alleged miracle, thinking it's new and that the cause has been re-opened. Unfortunately that is not true and, to my knowledge, the cause is still closed.

Which is really sad, so let's look at a cute picture of Ben and JF sleeping in our bed.

It's funny the article is going around now because just two weeks ago I shared my 30 minute presentation during a live Google broadcast. If you missed it, you can watch (or just listen to) the video here.

Last week I was back in the Portland, Oregon area recording more episodes of The Visitation Project. I'm really excited for the shows we did and I can't wait for you to hear them!

One of the episodes we recorded was the exclusive podcast that is available to our donors. You get to meet our engineer, Keith, and hear some other secret stuff. If you've got ten bucks to spare and you'd like to receive the podcast, our GoFundMe is still live and we'd love a little help. Here's where I explain why we need you and what makes our show different than other podcasts we all know and love. 

And lastly, if you missed Sunday night's episode, it's up on the Mater Dei website. A mom who homeschools, a mom who used to homeschool and now sends her kid to parochial school, and a mom with kids at the parochial and public school - hear what we have to say about being the primary educator of your children. Check it out here!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Doctor Who, Holly Golightly, TVP, and you

What do Doctor Who and Holly Golightly have in common?

They both have a definite understanding of what's cool, be it bowties or little black dresses. They are both pop culture icons. And they have both financially supported The Visitation Project. (There's different levels of giving, beginning at $10, and each has a special Thank You gift to go with it.)

The Visitation Project is a radio show but I know a lot of our listeners do not listen over the airwaves, but treat TVP as a podcast which I think is awesome.

Listeners like Megan:

Right now TVP only broadcasts in one corner of the big ole USA. Our hope, though is that soon more and more radio stations will begin to pick it up.

Imagine if, while running errands you tuned into your local Catholic radio station and you were greeted by a Texan, a midwesterner, and a hippy. It's like I'm riding shotgun in your minivan!

Imagine if your Catholic radio station carried voices, perspectives, and conversations you identified with.

Imagine if not just women who are in the know about podcasts or have subscriptions to special radio stations were able to stumble upon a radio show that was a mix of pop culture, family life, and a vibrant faith.

But even for those of us who like our podcasts - for walks or chores or dinner prep - here's some good reasons why TVP is a little different, and why what we do, while is costs money, is beneficial to you.

-Recording together, in person means we benefit form a professional radio engineer and equipment. This allows for less technical difficulties and a clearer, more vibrant sound, which means no matter where you're listening you can hear us over your coworkers, sizzling dinner, or playing kids.

- Working in Catholic radio, we are trying to reach a group of women who have been largely unreached. We talk about mother-in-laws, Sacraments, pop music, depression, self-care, and Divine Mercy. We are not a news show. We are three friends who are having fun but also wanting to show the world that Catholics aren't sticks in the mud.

- Being a part of Catholic radio means we are listener supported, however we are essentially free. There are no membership fees, no "Cool Kids Club," and no fancy equipment you need beyond a computer or - hopefully some day - your local Catholic radio station.

Now, I know that money is tight for a lot of our listeners. I also know everyday it seems like someone is asking for money. Maybe you are asked out. Maybe you're budget is really tight. I get that. Believe me, I get that!

So that's why I'm very happy to let you know that for those of you who give just $10 there is a special incentive - a podcast that will only be available to our donors. If you can give at the next level, $25, you receive the podcast + a copy of my chocolate chip cookie recipe. If you give enough I'll even bake you some and ship them to your house. :)

We are so grateful for everyone who has given, beyond the Doctor and Holly. To those of you who have given and to those who will: Thank You!

To give, click here.

Friday, July 31, 2015

You down with TVP? Yeah, you know me!

Hello, friends!

 Rebecca, Heather, and I are very excited to record another round of TVP episodes *next week,* but we need to let you in on a secret:

like many good things in life, producing The Visitation Project comes with a pricetag.

It's not too steep, but it's more than we can afford from our tight family budgets. If you like what you've been hearing and not only would like to hear more, but would like to help us expand our outreach with a website, iTunes podcasts, newsletters, and more, please consider supporting us financially!

Any amount helps, but we've got some awesome incentives for those who can give more, beginning at $25. (That would be the "Bathtub Madonna" level of giving. I'd like to see a few Whovians donate some "Jammie Dodgers.")

You can get to our GoFundMe page by clicking here.

We love you, and are so grateful for your assistance to keep meeting you wherever you are.

St. Charity, St. Hope, and Coptic 21 - Pray for Us!


The day I did the Amazing

It was a feat most woman would not dare to do. An adventure so epic even myself - especially myself - just a mere five years ago would have thought it improbable. No: Impossible.

"What was it?" you ask.

Well friends, I'll break it down.

First, while five months pregnant, on a hot summer day, I loaded up all five of my kids - aged 7, 5, 4, 3, and 2.

Second, we went to Hobby Lobby. All of us. With only their ridiculously small carts that can only fit the 2 year old in the basket-kid-seat-thingy, and the three year old in the main basket of the cart.

Third, we took a bathroom break. It was our first destination at the store and I was able to fit the cart, myself, and the three other kiddos in the smallish one room, sorta dirty bathroom. Everyone went potty, everyone washed their hands, and the baby had a diaper change.

Fourth, we shopped and got all the supplies needed for a bridal shower I held for my sister-in-law. No one cried and everyone was cheerful.

Fifth, we looked at the Christmas decorations (because it's still July so that makes sense). Glass ornaments were ooohed and ahhhed over and nothing broke. Nothing.

Sixth, we stood in front of an entire wall of pumpkins and I chuckled as James kept running his eyes floor to ceiling while waving his arms in big, open circles and saying, "Pumpkins. Pumpkins." He was in total amazement.

Seventh, we went through the check-out and no one asked for candy.

Moms and dads, if you are reading this and intimidated by the thought of taking your one or two, or three or four kids shopping I just want you to remember this: if I can make it at Hobby Lobby with 5 kids, no accidents, no shouting, and no tears you can too.

I'm gonna link this up with Kelly's Seven Quick Takes since I broke it down into seven steps, and now I'd like to make a little announcement:

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Answered questions and the Fulton Sheen / Alleged Miracle talk - just in case you missed the broadcast

You guys! Wow!

Thank you so much to everyone who showed up for last night's broadcast. I was happy so many were able to show up and I apologize for the bad lighting and for not always knowing what I was doing with the Google Hangout. But we made it through and all-in-all I thought it went rather well.

I also apologize because there were several questions people had submitted but I didn't see until the broadcast was done. I'll definitely be answering those in this post!

In case you missed it last night, you can watch it right here or on my YouTube channel. I spend the first two minutes doing an introduction and figuring things out, about 35 minutes doing the actual presentation, and about 15 minutes answering questions. If you watch it and have any further questions please don't hesitate to ask!

But now for all those questions I missed. There were some really good ones so I wanted to respond publicly. Here we go;

From Kendra: Bonnie, if the cause is reopened, if he is beatified, what will be James' role?
Usually at the beatification Mass the recipient of the miracle carries the first class relics and presents them to the main celebrant (sometimes the pope, usually a cardinal from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints). So James would have that role at the Mass but that would be it. We'd get nice seats for the Mass, and likely for the canonization Mass, too, which is a nice bonus.

From Kaylan: Hi Bonnie! My husband has a question - have any of the doctors ever tried to offer you any medical explanation as to how James could have gone an hour without a heartbeat and then be completely normal?
Yes, but honestly the answer is pretty lame and even other medical professionals have told me that. It usually goes something like this:
Doctor: You said sixty-one minutes, I think you mean sixty-one seconds.
Me: No, James didn't have a pulse for sixty-one minutes, over an hour.
Doctor: Well, he must have had a pulse and you just didn't know since it was a homebirth.
Me: For about forty minutes he was hooked up to a heart monitor, in the ambulance and in the ED, and that whole time he was P.E.A. on the monitor.
Doctor: Well, he must have gotten very good CPR.
Me: I didn't know a person without a pulse could receive CPR for over an hour, come back to life once all resuscitating tactics had ceased, and go on to live a normal, healthy life. Has that happened before?
Doctor: -------  No. --------  But then he must have been receiving oxygen through the umbilical cord.
Me: The medical records state that there was a "tightly tied true knot" in his umbilical cord. It cut off all his oxygen supply. It's the reason he was a stillborn.
Doctor: Well, he wasn't really a stillborn.
Me: He was a zero on the APGAR scale at 1, 5, 10, 30, and 60 minutes. I thought that's what a stillborn is.
Doctor: --------
Me: It's all in his medical records. Everything was documented.

Those are all snippets of actual conversations I've had with a handful of doctors. There always comes a point where the conversation ends because they have no more ideas but they also don't want to call it a miracle. One doctor made a list of "if/than" statements. "Well, if this happened, and then this happened, and if this was what was going on but we didn't know, than that would explain why James is healthy today." But there's so many conditions to their theory it's just ridiculous, and I've seen other medical experts reference the medical records and point out a flaw in the theory. And so the conversation usually just ends.

Our family doctor told me one day, "It's not a miracle that James is alive. It's a miracle he's doing as well as he is."

From Sheena: Question! Have you kept in contact with his doctors? I'm sure the whole situation was life-changing to some or all!
We have gone back and visited the NICU several times over the years, and due to James' severe allergies we've also been back to the emergency room more than once, so we've bumped into quite a few doctors and nurses who cared for James.

In particular, there is one NICU nurse practitioner who has since become a friend - when James was about a year old we ended up in the same Bible study. She has been wonderful at helping me understand all the medical jargon and explaining what everyone at the hospital was thinking and feeling while we were there. I don't know if it changed her life, but she is a wonderful nurse, mom, wife, and friend and I'm so happy to know her. :)

And that's it! Thank you again to everyone who watched. Oh! And if you would like to bring me in to speak at your parish, moms' group, conference, youth group, etc. please check out my speaking tab. I currently have openings for August - October and will be doing resuming local-ish speaking gigs in April 2016.