Thursday, April 28, 2016

What do you feed a kid who is allergic to everything

Food allergies: I hate them. I never, ever, ever saw them coming, and I never thought I would have to deal with them. Quite frankly, they have been both a much bigger and smaller cross to bear than I ever imagined.

When I learned that Ben was allergic to nuts I was bummed, but not too worried. Easy PBJs would have to be moved out of the easy lunch menu rotation but we could make it work. But when we learned that JF is allergic to dairy, nuts, eggs, wheat, tomatoes, and soy (along with cats, dust, and various seasonal crap) I was both incredibly sad and really worried.

Food is an important part of every single culture. One's ethnicity, religion, and socio-economic situation all combine to define what we eat and how we eat it, and what we eat and how we eat it help to define who we are.

Food brings people together. It helps us celebrate and grieve. It heals us and unites us. Traditions center around it and our holidays are filled with specific food that for a general culture and individual families help define that holiday.

The Super Bowl has chips, dip, wings, and beer. Birthday parties, weddings, graduations, and pretty much every other celebration has cake. And on it goes...

Valentine's Day: chocolate
St. Patrick's Day: corned beef, soda bread,  potatoes, and beer
Lenten Fridays: mac n' cheese, grilled cheese, cheese pizza and fish
Easter: chocolate bunnies and jelly beans
Fourth of July: hot dogs and watermelon
Halloween: Trick-or-Treat candy and caramel apples
Thanksgiving: turkey, buttery mashed potatoes, stuffing, dinner rolls, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream
St. Nicholas' feast day: Chocolate coins and candy canes
Christmas: cut-out cookies, hot chocolate, and casseroles

So just what do you feed a kid who is allergic to everything? And how do you make stuff special when so many of the celebratory food gold standards (pizza, ice cream, s'mores, and cake) were now off limits?

If you are a mom who just learned that your child has food allergies I want to tell you something: It is hard. And it can be very isolating. And people won't get it. And you will worry about your child every single day, especially if the allergies are severe. But you can do it. Your child will learn to advocate and ask questions to keep himself safe. Your loved ones will come to understand and will put your child's presence above the importance of the family's traditional pecan pie. And you will find that there are lots of foods you can feed for your child and your whole family. You can do this.

But first... go ahead and cry. Mourn those nachos, family pizza nights, Taco Tuesdays, and casseroles. Mourn the birthday cakes and milkshakes and Go'Gurts. Mourn the loss of friends and social functions. Cry and feel afraid for a little bit because I understand and I think you deserve it. But once you're ready to move on and get going, well let's get going.

The first step in moving forward is figuring out what is going to work with your family. Our situations will vary, but I am going to share five ways I feed my son - who is allergic to everything - and keep him safe in the world. Maybe some of them will be helpful to you.

#1 - Realize he's not allergic to everything. When wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts, tomatoes, and soy were taken out of our family dinners I was reeling, but the truth is there is a whole month's worth of dinners that don't have to contain any of those items. Basic meat, veggies, and fruits. Rice, quinoa, and steel cut oats. Vanilla Rice Milk isn't so bad, rice krispie treats can be made with coconut oil, and Earth Balance Soy Free "butter" spread is actually pretty good. Salt, pepper, and other seasonings go a long way and there's lots of tricks vegans have been using for years that can be borrowed. Focus on what still *is* on the menu, not what isn't. 

#2 -Try new recipes knowing that some will flop and some foods just can't be replaced. For a long time I felt I had to find recipes that would give me an exact-tasting, allergy-safe version of the food we wanted to eat. But the fact is baking always, and cooking sometimes, relies on chemistry and when you change the ingredients you are not going to get the same result. That being said, some recipes are simple to adapt (like the rice krispie treats mentioned above) and you will learn what they are - just be patient and don't be afraid to try, fail, and throw things out. And by the way, while most recipes I have tried online have failed me in one way or another, The Healthy Gluten-Free Life Cookbook has been wonderful. I'm not being compensated to say that, either. I just borrowed and then bought the book and want to share, although that is an affiliate link.

#3 - Say "no" to events when you have to. For the most part we have stopped going to potlucks, reunions, parties, and even our parish's coffee and donuts because it's just not safe for our boys, especially our son with the severe allergies. Truthfully, this is one of the hardest parts for me, because I want to be with my loved ones, but food is everywhere and at everything and my child's safety is more important. If it's not a situation where we can control how food is served and when hands are washed we just stay home.

#4 - Say "yes" when you can and help hosts keep things safe. Fortunately there are people who love us and who are willing to learn. We've had entire Thanksgiving dinners that are entirely safe for my boys to eat! When someone offers to make things safe for your child with allergies take them up on it! Explain beforehand what will need to be done and then pitch in, especially if it's the first time for the host. Bringing food, explaining about the allergies and hand washing to other guests, helping to wipe down tables and put food away - all of that helps you and others create a community with the shared goal of protecting your child.

#5 - Have a plan and communicate it.  Since allergies, our family has changed how things work in our home and every time food is eaten. We wash hands and mouths after we eat. Food is eaten at the table unless it is a "safe" food which can be taken outside or eaten from a bowl in the living room (popcorn, potato chips, popcicles, fruit). Grazing is not allowed, especially of "unsafe" foods. A pencil bag with emergency drugs accompanies my son everywhere. Anyone who will be left in the care of my boys is trained on how to use an EpiPen. Our kids are taught to speak up - the boys with allergies ask if food is safe for them and their siblings watch out for them, too. Friends, family members, teachers, bus drivers, babysitters - everyone knows about the food allergies in our family and are told the household rules.

Now you may be thinking, "That's nice, lady, but what am I supposed to feed this kid?" Well, here's some standards for us. These foods should all be dairy, egg, nut, wheat, tomato, and soy free although recipes and packaging change so please read labels!

- Earth Balance Soy-Free "Butter" spread
- Live G Free cookies, bars, and pretzels from Aldi
- Oscar Meyer Turkey Selects hot dogs
- Mustard
- Honey
- King Arthur Gluten Free Baking Mix
- Cornstarch (as a thickener for gravies, sauces, etc)
- Applesauce
- Jello brand jello
- Lays Potato Chips
- Tostitos Tortilla Chips
- Tyson Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets
- Italian Ice
- Frozen veggies
- Rice
- baked potatoes
- BACON!!!
- Fresh meats and fish
- Fresh veggies
- Fresh fruit
- Marshmallows
- Rice Krispies
- Kroger brand Chocolate Cheerios
- Corn Flakes
- Vanilla Rice Milk
- Mott's Fruit Snacks
- Regular Skittles
- Smarties
- Regular Starburts

Hopefully that's a helpful start for you! Most likely, you have a lot of those products in your home already. And remember, you can do this!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Recipes, IEP Prep, Mercy, Scripture, and Fiats - 7QT

1 - Let's start off with a song, shall we?

or maybe you'd prefer this one

L prefers this one. She loves the little dance he does (and so do I, really.)

2 - We have a lot of food allergies in our home and I have tried out a lot of recipes over the years. Just to review, JF and JP do not eat dairy, eggs, nuts, wheat, or tomatoes; Ben cannot have nuts; and I am currently dairy-free for Tee's sake. In case you're in a similar boat here's some recipes that some or all of us have enjoyed recently:

Easy Dairy Free Scones
I made these with blueberries and a clementine glaze the other day - delicious!

Easy Biscuits
Use water instead of milk for dairy free. I even substituted GF flour and added some herbs and they were still really good.

The Healthy Gluten-Free Life Cookbook (affiliate link)
This cookbook has been wonderful! I have tried so many online recipes which have been failures and so often allergy cookbooks don't cover all our bases. But this one has 200 recipes that are dairy, egg, soy, and gluten free. I can easily not use nuts for some but even with the ones that are based on nuts this book has been just awesome and I just had to share.

3 - Speaking of special needs (because I definitely think of the boys food allergies - especially JF's deadly allergy to dairy - as special needs), we are getting ready for JF going to Kindergarten next year and addressing his special needs. Our older kids are at our parish school but because of JF's apraxia he will need services that he can only get at our excellent public school. We're working with both principals to hopefully do a dual enrollment so he can have the best of both schools. At the encouragement of a friend of mine, who has spent many years advocating for her son, I made up an info sheet to pass out at JF's upcoming IEP meeting. I think it's such a good idea that I wanted to share an example in case it might be of help to anyone else. I used PicMonkey to make the section titles and then used Microsoft Publisher for the rest, but Word would work just as well I think.

4 - Earlier in the week I spoke live on Facebook, talking about a really wonderful video called Mercy is Greater, the book Beautiful Mercy, my fears, God's mercy and how I am supposed to live that out, and why I decided to start memorizing Scripture. Knowing that I was going to be sharing some personal stuff I was pretty nervous, which shows a bit in some slight rambling.

You can watch the Mercy is Greater video here, and you can go to my blog's Facebook page to watch the 12 minute video of me. And if you want to follow along and join me in memorizing Scripture please do. I will mostly be posting on Instagram, and mostly as a way to keep myself accountable to my goal of daily reading a chapter of the Bible, doing spiritual reading, and working on my memory verse.

5 - My nerves (and the tears) in the video meant that I forgot to mention something.

I wanted to say that my friend, Heather Renshaw, has been a major influence in my understanding the importance of Scripture memorization. Heather frequently peppers her conversations with Scripture. It's something I noticed while recording The Visitation Project with her (and maybe you've noticed to when you listen) and I've seen that same act in Facebook conversations and in offline conversations, too. She has used Scripture to bring hope, comfort, and praise into so many situations and often in situations where I didn't know what to say but Heather did because she has so much Scripture tucked in her heart. I see that as mercy in action.

The two verses I have memorized so are: Galations 5:22 and Philipeans 1:6. Look them up - they're good.

6 - Maybe you saw already, by the last Breakout Speaker for the Finding Your Fiat Conference was announced - Sr. Clara from the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

We have so many great speakers coming - it's an incredible line-up. I hope you can join us and be there, too. To learn more and buy your ticket visit our website.

7 - I don't really think these were so quick so I'll just end here with a big THANK YOU to Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for being hilarious and for hosting the link-up each week.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Blankets and Bibs and Other Things I'm Learning as a 6th Time Mom

When my first child was born I didn't know what I was doing so I read books and articles and then I did exactly what those books and articles told me to do. Perhaps my mom would suggest something and I would let her know that  You don't do that anymore. Because They say not to do that. And if we do do that, my child will DIE.

I should have listened to my mom. With Baby Tee I am finally doing some things differently and babyhood is so much easier this time around. For starters:

Poor L spent most of her nights freezing because I was firmly warned to never use a blanket. A light sleeper and a sleep sack - that was all my kid needed, I was told. My first three kids were bad to okay sleepers. I'm pretty sure they were just really cold, but with the last three I have gotten better and better at this.

In Tee's first weeks he would wear a onesie and a sleep sack all the time. And then for sleeping I would swaddle him and then cover him up with a heavy, crocheted blanket. When he was a little older I would keep him in a light sleeper, no sleep sack, and cover him up with a warm baby blanket while nursing him. I would then move him, still wrapped in the warm blanket, to the swaddle blanket, swaddle him, lay him down, and then cover him with the heavy, crocheted blanket. As it warms up we will lose either the warm blanket or the crocheted blanket but through the winter and cold spring all those blankets were exactly what he needed. And as he moves more I will probably have to forgo the blankets, too, for safety reasons but Baby Tee isn't rolling yet and is the best sleeper I have ever had and I am sure it is because he is warm and snug (and I'm pretty sure it's a gift from God. That too.)

Snug as a bug. A bug wondering why his mom is making him model for a blog post picture.

With my first two I *never* fell asleep on sofas or recliners while holding my babies because they would die. Now, I am well aware of the risks of SIDS and horrible accidents, but I also am aware of the risk of PPD and how exhaustion plays into that. Since PPD is a far greater risk for me personally (maybe not for you! I'm not telling you what to do!) I have the goal of falling asleep with each night feeding. When I sit down with Baby Tee in the middle of the night I cover us both up, latch him on, and close my eyes. Twenty to ninety minutes later I will wake up with a full-bellied, soundly-sleeping baby and my boob hanging out. Back to bed we go and instead of losing thirty to one hundred minutes of sleep I have lost ten, tops. 

Swings and Slings and Bouncy Seats 
With Baby Tee I use all these things. Having a swing I can set him in to make sure he's safe from being trampled on or tripped over by his herd of playing siblings is a very good thing. The wrap I am borrowing from a friend has been a wonderful way to shop, visit my son's classroom, and go for walks while still getting Tee's nap in. In the past I used bouncy seats and swings and even the carseat a great deal. But really, what I have finally learned or come to accept with my sixth child is that sometimes babies just want to be held in their mom's arms. We sit around a lot, but that seems to make him happy, and it was truly what I needed after the c-section anyways. 

I was so, so, so wrong to believe that bibs only came in handy once babies were teething or eating applesauce. For years I always carefully positioned a burp rag on my arm or the Boppy / pillow to catch any milk dripping from my child's mouth and I did the same for my bottle fed babies. Now I keep a bib velcroed around the carseat handle so I am never without one. While I do carry a burp rag in my diaper bag I rarely get it out. The bib goes on for every meal and does a fabulous job of catching milk and spit up. (And Nells' Bandit Bibs are so stinkin' cute Baby Tee gets all kinds of compliments!) I still use burp rags around the house (and Nell wins again with these!), but bibs make nursing so much easier in church, at a friend's, at the park, in my mini van...

Maybe it's because I am not parenting through the fog of postpartum depression, maybe it's because my son is warm and well fed and well rested and well loved - whatever the reason this has been easiest go at it I've ever had. I am grateful for that. And in the words of Flynn Rider, "Bibs! Who knew, right?!"

Monday, April 4, 2016

Thomas Emil's Birth Story -or- C-Sections Are Weird

Baby Tee is three months old now and it's taken me that long to type up his birth story, mostly because I didn't know what the birth story really was. There was not water breaking. No timing contractions. No pushing and catching. Having a planned c-section meant everything was done to me and that was so weird for me that I didn't know what to tell. But, in the end, I want to have some sort of written record of all my kids' births so I'm including all the little things I can remember and piecing them together does make a story. You can read about his name and backstory here, and here goes the rest...

On Monday, December 21st I had an appointment with my midwife, a truly wonderful woman. While I was pregnant with Ben she was training with my homebirth midwife and cared for me at all my appointments. She delivered Resa and JP. She has supported me through homebirth, an unmedicated hospital birth, an induced and medicated hospital birth, and has listened to my fears associated with all of my births. I trust her a great deal. We'll call her Anne.

With Baby Tee's pregnancy I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes for the first time. I know what you're thinking, "Bonnie, you had three babies who weighed over ten pounds and two who weighed over eleven. How were you only diagnosed with GD once?" and I don't know. One doctor suggested that I maybe had late onset with would make sense because I tested a month later this time than I had with previous pregnancies.

Regardless, I had it and I pricked my finger and changed my diet and saw a high risk doctor because of it. I also had a lot more ultra sounds than usual and at 37 weeks the sonographer guessed the baby was weighing 9lbs 14oz. So on that Monday, at 38 weeks pregnant, my trusted midwife Anne asked me if the high risk doctor had a birth plan for me. He didn't. Anne and I were considering inducing on the afternoon of Christmas Day, 39 weeks exactly, but she told me to discuss it with the high risk doctor the next day, at my scheduled appointment.

So Tuesday I went to the high risk doctor. A different sonographer measured my baby and guessed he was weighing 10lbs 14oz. The doctor came in to see me and we began to discuss my birth history. Big babies. Three had gotten stuck with shoulder dystocia, though they had been freed with the suprapubic pressure trick. One had been stillborn.

He listened and asked me questions and I explained that I had had a bad experience with the epidural the last time and was really nervous about having another one. I would actually prefer to feel the pain and not have another epidural. After some more discussion he said, "I think we need to do a planned c-section. I think that's the safest and best bet." I explained that I was game for that as long as they could knock me out. I would much rather not be awake for it because I didn't want anyone putting anything in my spine. He said he didn't know about that and I'd need to talk to the anesthesiologist and my ob but it was a possibility. That was all I needed.

I was so glad to have someone else make that decision for me. I had spent months worrying about it and trying to decide what I should do, what kind of birth I should have. It was wonderful having someone say, "This is the best option; we will go with this." It was exactly what I needed.

The ob/gyn my midwife works with was scheduled to perform the c-section and December 29th was picked. I had a DQ Blizzard and had Travis set up the crib.

On the morning of the 29th I went to the hospital. I had my Boppy, an outfit for Tee to wear home, my laptop, and a change of clothes. My hips / SI joints hurt so much and I wore slippers on my feet.

And then it was just a series of people doing things to me. Putting in the IV, prepping me here and there, asking me questions, having me sign forms.

I was nervous. Really, really nervous. I made sure the nurse knew I wanted to be knocked out. She told the anesthesiologist who came in and, in a sorta cranky way, told me that wasn't a good option and I would have a spinal tap. In and out, not a lot of kindness from her, just facts. We'll call her Sue.

Next, my trusted midwife appeared. Anne had another patient in labor at the same hospital but would probably be able to be in the room with me during the c-section. She asked how I was doing and Travis and I explained about the anesthesiologist and my preference. "You know what, I trust Sue but she probably just doesn't understand everything you've gone through. She's great and she'll take care for you and there's honestly no one else I would want you with. I'll talk to her." Anne then stayed to explain how a spinal tap is different than an epidural and said she thought I would have a much better experience this time. She left to fine Sue and Travis and I felt better about the spinal tap option.

After a few minutes Sue came back with Anne and this time she was much warmer. She explained in detail how she would do the spinal tap, asked me questions about my epidural, reassured me that this would be very different and brought Travis and I to a place where we both felt good about it, though I was still nervous.

My c-section had been planned for 1:30 but another delivery made the doctor, Dr. K, late so we waited a bit longer. I fidgeted and worried and prayed. We tried making small talk and I posted some pictures to Facebook and Instagram. And then just like that it was Go time.

I was wheeled to the surgery room. Travis was taken somewhere else to suit up. I sat on the edge of the table, holding a nurses shoulders while Sue gave me the spinal tap. She hit the same spot that had bothered me with the epidural and pain shot down into my right hip. Just as we had discussed, though, Sue pulled the needle out and found a different location. There was no pain this time, suddenly my legs felt incredibly heavy, and they swung me around and laid me down. My arms went out, a sheet went up, and Travis came in from behind to sit with me at my head.

Anne came in with her phone and asked if we wanted her to take pictures. "Yes."

Dr. K came in with a resident, Dr. M, and everyone was in a good mood.

I felt... weird. I was worried. I was anxious. I knew everything would be okay but at the same time I was - well I think I was dreading it all. The only surgery I had ever had before was getting my wisdom teeth removed and well, this was such a weird way to have a baby.

I don't remember a ton, probably because of all the drugs I was on, but this is what I do remember:

Tugging and jerking and me thinking, "If I can't feel anything but I can tell they are tugging at my body, how much force must they be using?"

Dr. K saying, "Look at those cheeks!" as he first laid eyes on baby Tee but before he was delivered.

Tee being held up for me to see as people guessed his weight as "at least ten pounds!" and taken to the cart at the side. Travis was invited over and I sort of watched as Tee was cleaned up and weighed.

His weight was announced - 10lbs 7oz - and I remember thinking, "I could have done that" - as in delivered him.

I next remember Dr. K saying to the resident, "This placenta is going to weigh 10lbs!" as they worked to finish the delivery and then, "This is a very big uterus." as they cleaned out all the extra... bits and bobs. The first comment was said lightheartedly and people chuckled. The second comment was part of a direction, I think. Either way, neither was insulting, though they could be read that way.

At some point they brought Tee over to lay on my chest and it was just as awkward as every picture has ever made it out to be. I'm glad I got to hold him and see him, but I still felt so strange that it wasn't a really tender moment. I was relieved when Travis and Tee were taken to the nursery while they finished stitching me up.

I don't remember any of the other details. I was all done and moved to the post-op room for monitoring and it was there that I really met my baby. Travis and Tee came in and I was able to hold him, nurse him, and look him over. I know I joked with Travis a bit and I wasn't in any pain.

From there they took me to my room where I was visited by my mom, JP, Travis, and my midwife Anne. I watched a lot of Netflix - The Great British Baking Show, Ken Burns' documentary on The Roosevelts - and celebrated my 9th anniversary by splitting the hospital's chicken strips and french fries with Travis. Amore.

Because of the diabetes there were issues with Tee's blood sugar and in the end we had to give him a few bottles and wake him up to nurse and feed on a schedule. Nursing wasn't always the smoothest but there was success to balance the frustration.

Travis spent the first night with me but I was alone the next couple nights. The second night there I was so uncomfortable. I hated the bed and Tee wouldn't sleep and nothing was right. My nurse offered to hold my baby while I showered and slept. She turned the water on and helped me in and - oh man! - that was probably the best shower of my life! She kept Tee while I slept for quite a few hours and when she finally brought him in to nurse I felt so much better.

I also chatted with Dr. M the resident every chance I got. I just loved her and I loved joking around with her. Once she came to check on the incision and commented on how nice it looked.
"Do you know who did that?" she asked with a big smile on her face.
"You should take a selfie with it."
She busted out laughing and said, "I'd be fired!"

Another time she came in as I was wincing and shuffling my way to the bathroom.
"Are you okay?!" she asked after I cried out a little in pain.
"Well," I said as I grabbed her arm, "I did just have major abdominal surgery."
Laughing she said, "Yes. Yes, you did."

Gosh, I'd like to pop in to take her lunch and visit with baby Tee.

When I was finally able to come home it was heavenly to be in my own bed again. For the first several days I spent much of my time napping, watching more Netflix, and spending time with Tee. The bottles we had had to give him made nursing more difficult and so much time was spent doing skin to skin and coaxing him to only nurse. In the midst of it all it felt like an epic battle and I'm so glad Travis gently reminded me that we'd had similar problems before and I could do it. (Although to this day Tee rarely nurses on my right side.)

 My mom moved in with us for a couple of weeks and she would get up with the baby, change him, wake me, sleep on the sofa while I nursed him in the recliner, send me back to bed, burp him, and get him back to sleep. For the first couple weeks I spent most of my night sleeping and Mom spent much of the day napping. It worked out remarkably well and my healing went very smoothly.

But c-sections are funny things. I don't really feel like I gave birth to my son; it seems much more that something was done to me. The process of giving birth - of pushing a baby out and feeling all the contractions and pressure and pain - that was so very different than Tee's delivery, where all I did was lie on a table and worry. It's not that the other births feel more victorious.  I don't know. I can't explain it really except to say it was weird.

The soundtrack to Thomas Emil's pregnancy and early days:

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Who Are You Looking For? -- An Easter Invitation

Another one came in the mail yesterday. It was our third.

A postcard with a cool graphic and non religious-y buzz words.

"High Energy"
"Dynamic Videos"
"Engaging Music"

One's goal is to be "the funnest place on Earth." Another promotes it's subwoofers and media.

So if that's what you're wanting, those places are there for you.

But I'm going to ask you a question, the same question that was asked of Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb on the very first Easter Sunday. "Who are you looking for?" (John 20:15) And along with that question I ask you, "What are you looking for?"

Are you looking for Christ? Are you looking for the Church He founded? Are you looking for Truth? Are you looking for answers to questions like "What is the purpose of life?" and "Why do we suffer?" Are you looking for an encounter with the Creator, the Savior, the Holy Spirit?

Are you looking to be entertained? Or are you looking for God?

If you are looking for God, He is waiting for you in the tabernacle at your local Catholic Church.

Jesus Christ told us that He was the manna sent down from Heaven and unless we ate His Flesh and drank His Blood we would not have life within us. (John 6: 43, 53) We believe that on Holy Thursday Christ fulfilled those words by instituting the Eucharist (the consecrated Host) at the Last Supper. We believe that on Good Friday Jesus the Nazarene suffered and died by crucifixion, a punishment He took on to save us from our sins. We believe that on Easter Sunday Christ rose from the dead, conquering death and sin. We believe that Jesus established a Church and that Church still exists today. (Matthew 16:18-19)

I invite you to join Catholics around the world this Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Experience the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior. He loves you and He is waiting to have a personal encounter with you through the grace-filled Sacraments of the Catholic Church. If you are looking for God this is where He is.

I don't have a bunch of buzz words to throw at you about how awesome your experience will be at Mass. In fact, depending on your local parish the music may be horrible, the architecture ugly, and the preaching uninspiring. But that doesn't change the fact that God is waiting for you in the tabernacle. His grace is waiting for you in the Sacraments.

If you are looking to be entertained, well, go ahead and attend one of those other churches. But if you are looking for God and Truth and His Church then come home to the Catholic Church.

Image by Simeon Muller

Monday, March 21, 2016

a bullet journal for Holy Week

Yesterday Travis and I were in different cities for Mass. I was on my own to tell JP and JF repeatedly that palm fronds are not light sabers while nursing baby Tee during a 25 minute homily. There should be a direct order from the USCCB that all homilies on Palm Sunday must be under 10 minutes. Let's get going on that.

So obviously my Holy Week was off to a holy start. ;)

Today is for playing catch up after a weekend that included my brother in law's wedding and our friends' daughter's baptism. Today's ultimate goal, though, is low to no stress. JF's allergies and asthma created a couple of incidents (hives at the rehearsal dinner and a nebulizer treatment during the wedding) so I'm ready to keep it low key.

I've even got a playlist, courtesy of my friend Katie:

Bullet journals are all the rage right now, right? So here's mine for the week, but typed out in a blog post instead of actually written in a neat bullet journal.

My hopes for the rest of the week:
Monday: light cleaning and groceries
Tuesday: catching up on laundry and doing last Sunday's Mass Box craft with the older kids.
Wednesday: hiding 30 pieces of silver (aka quarters from my Paradise Falls jar) for Resa, JP and JP and attending evening adoration with the family
Thursday: attending Holy Thursday service with the family - we haven't done this for a few years but I think the older kids will enjoy it and the younger kids will be given a low bar and fruit snacks.
Friday: bake hot cross buns in the morning, do Stations of the Cross with the kids at noon, have quiet from noon til three, attend Good Friday service
Saturday: clean the house, no tv, celebrate Travis' birthday with good friends
Sunday: 7am Mass, Easter umbrella baskets, feast and celebrate!

And really, most of it I'm not committed to, their just goals.

Cue the boiling water and the crying baby at the same time!  I'm hoping you have a grace-filled, fruitful Holy Week.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Donald Trump is Naked: The Truth about the Emperor's New Clothes

I don't want to make anyone blush, but I think we all need to talk about the Emperor's new clothes. 

At the beginning of this election season Donald Trump showed up with promises to make America great again and people responded. I didn't think he stood a chance - a reality tv star as president?! - but I get why people are drawn to him. I know that people are scared; they are angry; they are anxious. A lot of us are fed up with politics in America, with jobs leaving the country, and with the dwindling middle class. And Trump has promised to fix all those areas that are troubling us. He tells it like it is and he isn't afraid of doing so.

And in doing so, many Americans have admired the man, cheering him on and voting for him at the polls. 

But I wonder if people know who and what they are really cheering - do they get who they associating themselves with? I know it looks like Trump's wearing a shiny new suit but the fact is, the man is naked. He's got nothing on - no policy, no plans, no diplomacy... he is showing us his true self and it is ugly.

Take, for example, this incident: Peter Alexander, a reporter for NBC Nightly News said to Trump, "Is that presidential [to say 'ass' 'p*ssy' 'motherf*cker' in public]? A lot of parents are wondering how to explain that language; what would you say to parents?"

And then instead of answering the questions, Donald Trump mocks the reporter and says, "It's stuff like that [believing a presidential candidate should not use vulgar language during a press conference] that people in this country are tired of." people are tired of ... good manners? Believing in the dignity of the presidential office? Setting a good example for children?

Donald Trump didn't answer the questions, he just mocked Alexander. And then people whooped and cheered. 

You can watch the video of Peter Alexander and Donald Trump's exchange on The Nightly News' Facebook page while I let out a long, slow, infuriated exhale. 

Donald Trump keeps winning and I don't know why. 

This is a man who publicly mocks a man with a physical disability and people laughed and cheered and voted for him. 

This is a man who thinks partial birth abortion should be legal and pro-life Republicans lined up to follow him as he paraded through town, and then they voted for him. 

This is a man who wants to commit a war crime and kill the wives and children of enemy soldiers and people declared "What beautiful clothes!" and then they voted for him.

This is a man who didn't want to renounce the KKK and their endorsement of his candidacy and yet people still showed up to cheer and vote for him. 

This is a man who categorized Mexicans as rapists, refused to apologize for it, and people voted for him.

This is a man who wants to "open up libel laws" not in the pursuit of truth and justice but so he can sue and "win lots of money" while doing who knows what to the First Amendment. And people voted for him. They cheered, commented on the lovely color and rich fabrics he was wearing, and then they voted for him.

This is a man who repeatedly says insulting things to and about women, making people laugh and then vote for him. 

We need to be the boy in the crowd who cries out, "But the Emperor is naked!" The behavior, actions, and plans of Donald Trump are not real clothes. 

Trump is not the savior of this country. I'm not Pollyanna and I know that not every president - and certainly not every politician - is a Washington or Lincoln. But just so we're clear, if you vote for Donald Trump you are supporting his wardrobe.

Don't associate with the man. I know he seems like this great candidate - an outsider, a man willing to go against the establishment - but he is a belittling, bigoted bully. You cannot support a man like this without becoming what he clearly is. Your emperor has no clothes on and it's time to face the ugly truth.