Friday, January 29, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday

1.  This is my first time doing this...  I think...  anyways, Jen at Conversion Diary hosts 7 Quick Takes each Friday and this time I decided to join in. 

2.  Last night was Stump the Monk in Peoria.  Fr. Nathan from the Community of St. John was the monk who answered questions from the crowd of young Catholic adults at a bar and grill near a university campus.  A favorite part was when he described his habit:
 - the tunic underneath with empty pockets:  no money (poverty)
 - the belt:  no honey (

Thursday, January 28, 2010

my handy husband

In an effort to save money, last night my husband removed the five stitches in my back.  His tools?  Nose hair clippers, a sewing needle, and an utility knife. 

Are you jealous?

He has removed his own stitches before, or so he told me, qualifying himself to do the procedure on me.  I was more nervous about it than both my home births.

Monday, January 25, 2010

simplify

For some reason in my life right now I really want to simplify some things.  Declutter.  Sort through clothing.  Give away half the stuffed animals my children have and never touch. 

Let's be honest, that stuff isn't going to happen.  So instead I simplified the layout of my blog.  It feels clean to me, like a cleared off counter top - one of my favorite things.  :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Peter's would-have-been birthday

January is the month that our first child, Peter, was due to be born.  The 15th was his official due date, and it was a day that came and went without tears, just a brief acknowledgement that it was here and he wasn't.

I know that if Peter would have survived then Lydia would not be here, which is a tricky truth.

I bring him up, not for condolances, but because I want you to remember him the same way I do.  He is always present to me as a great litany of questions and imagined features, giggles and hugs.

I suppose, more than anything, I want people to be more compassionate to mothers who have miscarried and to their families.  I still grieve for the child I never knew.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

fluffy bunny Jesus

"I'm afraid the the gospel is not all puppies and kittens and Jesus carried me on the beach when I only saw one set of footprints."
Fr. Dwight Longenecker from Standing on My Head


Anyone who knows me well, knows why I love this quote.  It goes right along with my "fluffy bunny Jesus" frustrations. 

"Fluffy bunny Jesus" being the term I created to describe the brand of Christianity where
God is love,
He loves you,
He wants you to be happy,
and so do what makes you happy
because that's what God wants because He loves you,
and even if it's wrong He'll forgive you
- no problem -
because He loves you
and doesn't want you to feel bad,
He just wants you to be happy.

Of course there are truths in that school of thought, but as a whole it's way flawed.

I always feel bad for people who subscibe to that brand of Christianity, too, because I know that while it looks so pretty there's no real substance.  Nothing to truly answer tough questions or help through tough times.  And the real relationship with the Holy Trinity, and all its richness, is lost to them - which is the true sorrow.
I've noticed something at the gym's day care.  When I pick Lydia up, or check out the monitor, my daughter is usually playing by herself or pacing, trying to find someone to interact with her.  She doesn't seem lonely, but it breaks my heart to see her smile at a kid who then turns his back to her or walks away.

I want to take the snobby little 3 year old by the shoulders and say, "This is my daughter!  She is adorable and amazing and she wants to be your friend!  Don't you know how lucky that makes you?!"

I'm sure that a large part of this situation has to do with the age of Lydia and the other kids at the day care and their ability to play.  But it still makes me want to cry, even with logic and science on their side.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Today, while watching today's episode of Oprah I was hugely convicted about using my phone while driving.  Travis and I do not text, but we both use our driving time as an opportunity to catch up on phone calls. 

I will never again talk on the phone while driving.  Never.

The stories I heard broke my heart and I cannot put myself, my children, my loved ones, you and your ones at risk.  I am remorseful for every time I used my phone while driving.  Never again.

If you are drunk at .08 blood alcohol level or are talking on the phone you are 4x more likely to get in a car accident.  (drunk driving and talking on the phone - even hands free - are the SAME risk factor!!!)

If you are texting and driving you are 8x more likely to get in an accident.

Check out Oprah's website to read the stories and learn more.  One thing that really made an impression on me was the diagram of what you see when on the phone and driving.  Check it out.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

for tantrum throwing toddlers

Momopoly has a great post today on dealing with that very thing.  Here's a snippit:
I’m nursing the baby and reading with my oldest daughter from Teach Your Child How to Read in 100 Lessons when my toddler starts to fall apart. She throws a crayon. She hits her big sister. She starts screeching.


“Use words,” I screech back.

More tears spill from her big, brown eyes, saying what words cannot. I need you, Mommy.

Later that same day we are cuddled next to one another. She places her hand on my cheek, a tender gesture that never fails to tug at my heart.

And then she uses her words very well. “Mommy, why do you yell at me when I ‘cwry’?”

To read the rest, go here.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Anita!

Anita, woman I only met once at the 4H fair, cousin of my dear friend.  I feel I know you far better than I do because of all the wonderful things Crafty Katie has shared.

I meant to write you a Thank You note when you bought me the Burt's Bees mama's belly ointment. 
And I meant to write you again when you made me the wonderful, possibly too-hip-for-me nursing  cover.

But I never did because I'm lazy or forgetful or busy or all those things at different moments.

But please don't think I am not grateful and that I don't love those things you gave me.  Because I am grateful and I do love them.

So THANK YOU for your thoughtfulness and generousity.  May God bless you in your goodness.

Friday, January 8, 2010

the following things are hard:

- holding Lydia and not being able to tell her how much I adore her.  I want her to know forever how much beauty and goodness she brings to me as a 20 month old.  When she is a teenager I want her to know how deep and wide and unconditional my love is for her.  I want her to know how proud I am of her, how helpful she truly is, and how she delights me every day.

- knowing that my little man is growing up.  Will he be embarrassed of his silly mother?  Will I be able to connect with him and raise him to be a man's man while I am such a girly woman, baking sweets and dancing in the dining room?

- being friends, or even aquantences, with people who have more money than me.  It's hard not to be jealous of and bitter towards someone who isn't going on vacation this year because they bought a boat, or they talk about bargain shopping for outfits that cost $75.  I suppose this is why it's not polite to talk about money in public.  (not that I'm guilty of that.)

- knowing that I will be baking a chocolate cake today and later serving it to my family in honor of my mom's birthday, but I cannot eat it!

- balancing between the thought that my house is never clean and that I just need to shut up because my house looks fine.


- knowing that all the adorable smiles and laughs Bennet gives me, and all the adorable things Lydia says and does every day cannot be held onto or remembered forever.  It breaks my heart to know that in 20 years I will not remember the cough-like sound of Bennet's laugh at 4 months, or the melt-your-heart way that Lydia reads The Hungry Caterpillar with me.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

encouragement in motherhood

Whilst speaking with a group of more experienced Catholic moms I shared a small portion of my frustration with motherhood and how I need to be reminded in the goodness of this vocation.  They all smiled and nodded and laughed, not at all condescendingly, but as they remembered feeling exactly the same way.

Then one of them shared with me a thought that brought great peace, reassurance and encouragment to me:  to mother is to do the Works of Mercy every single day, over and over again.

Wow.  Thank God I heard that.

The works of mercy are the actions of saints.  And that's what I want to be - a saint.  Yet I had always figured becoming a saint had more to do with how I felt about what I was doing than what I was actually doing.  I always felt I was lacking in my mothering and therefore in the progression of my vocation (my path to holiness, to sainthood).  But with those words I saw that nothing was lacking.  God really hadn't given me more than I could handle; quite the opposite as He had given me everything I needed!

Already this has brought a change to my interactions with my children.  Changing their diapers, dressing them, playing with them, reading to them, feeding them, loving them - all of this has been easier to do and done more joyfully.

Praise God for all of this!

The corpral works of mercy
•To feed the hungry

•To give drink to the thirsty
•To clothe the naked
•To shelter the homeless
•To visit the sick
•To visit the imprisoned
•To bury the dead

The spiritual works of mercy
•To instruct the ignorant

•To counsel the doubtful
•To admonish sinners
•To bear wrongs patiently
•To forgive offences willingly
•To comfort the afflicted
•To pray for the living and the dead

Almighty God, I pray that you bless all those who read this post.  Help them, provide for them, bless them and show them Your love.  Amen.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Super yummy supper tonight:

curried coconut chicken
brown rice
green salad with craisins, croutons and a bit of cheese

Saturday, January 2, 2010

ssshhh... don't tell my friends at LLL

But we have given Bennet formula.  (I had forgotten how that stuff stinks!)  Travis took the kids to his parents' last night so I could catch up on some sleep.  The pumped milk supply is running low so we had to introduce formula a couple days ago to make sure he'd get enough to eat.  He took it well, but when I arrived at their home today he was very happy to latch on again.  :)


PS - My friends at LLL wouldn't actually care.  That was just a joke.

My advice to the bride

My cousin is getting married and she mentioned asking me for help later on.  Instead I typed up the following letter: 

#1 Budget, know it and stick with it.
And in order to stick with it you need to know what is important to you. Favors at the reception and bubbles after the ceremony can easily be rid of and no one will notice. Recruit friends and family with talent. Offer to pay them a small fee and usually they’ll do it for cost - labor as a gift, or completely free.


#2 Food served at a buffet is usually better than plated meals. It's also less wasteful and soooo much cheaper.


#3 Bridesmaids, wait to pick them.
As in wait at least 4 months. You’ll want to see how friends react to your engagement and if they’re supportive or not. You’ll also want to see which friends you remain close to. When you move to the next part of your life some single friends may resent you and other friends who are also married, engaged, etc will become your stronger allies. Life changes and some friends change with it, not good, not bad, it’s just the way it works.


#4 Wedding Cake, to save or not to save.
We saved money by having a smaller “display” cake and serving our guests sheet cakes. The “display” cake, the one we cut, was served the following day at the present opening party and the topper was frozen, of course. Having sheet cakes also allowed me to have a variety of cake flavors. But if a big beautiful cake is important to you then do it! Friends who have had the centerpiece cakes (one on each table) have had a lot of left over cake or wasted cake at the end of the evening. But if that’s what you want then do it!


#5 DJ
If you need a DJ in Central Illinois I strongly recommend Absolute Light & Sound (309-275-5100). They are the absolute best in this area and reasonably priced for how great the quality is. A good DJ makes or breaks your reception. Believe me.


#6 If you’re going to splurge on anything I suggest it be a dress you love and photography.
You’ll look at your pictures for the rest of your life and you want to like the way you look in them. A friend of mine and her husband have their own business and take great pics. Morris Photography is the name, 309-363-1450, http://www.sethmorrisphotography.com/.

 #7 Pictures
a) make sure your photographer can politely boss people around. If the photographer isn’t assertive then it will take forever to get pictures done – which can be stressful
b) assign someone (girlfriend of a groomsman perhaps) to take pictures at your rehearsal.
c) Make up a list beforehand of pictures you want taken and make sure the people in them know they are supposed to be there. Most photographers will have you do this with them, but if you recruit a friend to take pics it doesn’t always happen.


#8 Wedding Coordinator – have one!!!
Some churches will have a wedding coordinator, in which case you still might want to have a personal attendant / gopher. A wedding coordinator can just be a friend who is assertive, polite and can make things happen. She should also know how to run a rehearsal and a reception.  Seriously, this will make your wedding day go soooo much better!!!! She can tell the bridesmaids when to walk down the aisle, coordinate the ushers, make sure the programs are getting handed out, run errands if needed, and she should field all questions so you aren’t bothered. (You will be so sick of questions by the time your rehearsal comes.)

#9 The Marriage
In all of this make sure you’re preparing for the marriage – which is way more important than just the one day. In detail discuss things like debt, credit cards, kids (spacing, number, discipline, schooling), holidays, hobbies, contraception, budgets, on and on. Pray together. Have fun.

And on that note, I strongly encourage you to look into Natural Family Planning. It’s cheap, eco-friendly and most importantly, it has really strengthened my marriage, my trust in God and Travis, and my knowledge of my body. Travis and I have successfully used it to achieve and put off pregnancy, so we know that it works. It forces us to have serious, meaningful conversations about things like money, sex, attitude, prayer and goals. I honestly don’t think we would still be having these conversations 3 years into our marriage if we weren’t convicted about NFP. There are several different methods, www.cdop.org has information on all of them and classes, if you are interested.