Thursday, March 28, 2013

Danish Weddings for All

Right now God's hearing a lot of different prayers by a lot of different people on two very different sides.

I'm trying my best to stay informed without getting my news from super-biased, emotional sources but honestly I haven't looked very hard to find things from the pro gay marriage camp. I'd like to read some such articles if anyone has a suggestion, but if the argument comes down to "it's a right" and "let's not hurt any one's feelings" then I'm not interested. If they have good logic for why it is a right then that I am interested in. I will still disagree (marriage isn't a right whether you're gay or straight) but I am very interested in understanding the other side.

I really liked this article The Red Herring of Marriage Equality by Steven Smith (h/t Brandon Vogt) and especially this point:
But in that normative sense, equality is wholly uncontroversial—and entirely useless. Everyone favors equality: Everyone thinks that like cases should be treated alike. Nobody argues, “These groups are alike in all relevant respects, but they should be treated differently.” So when people disagree about legal or political issues, they aren’t arguing for and against equality. Instead, they are disagreeing about whether two cases, or two classes of people, actually are alike for the purposes of whatever is being discussed.
Consider an example. We would treat blind people differently either by denying them the right to vote or by denying them drivers’ licenses. But we would treat them unequally only in the first case, not in the second. That is because an ability to see is not a relevant qualification for voting, but it is a relevant qualification for driving. We know this, though, not by applying the idea of “equality,” but rather by thinking about the nature of voting and of driving.

I also liked what Meg said at Held By His Pierced Hands:
 I don’t think there are a lot of people sporting pink equals signs who are trying to destroy the moral underpinnings of our society or corrupt children. And I haven’t met many who support traditional marriage because of hatred and fear.

Abigail just about took the words out of my mouth in her post What Marriage Means to Me:
Here are the pre-conditions for a holy marriage in the Roman Catholic Church

--one man and one woman
--faithful for life
--open to life
--and if you are baptized in Christ, you need to get married in a Christian Church
--and you need to be "free to marry" (i.e. no previous marriages, or a valid Catholic annulment)

Right now there are a lot of heterosexual unions that people called "marriages" that don't count as sacramental marriages within the Roman Catholic Church. If you're in a "open relationship" where it's okay to have affairs as long as you tell your spouse, that's not marriage. If you get married and intend never to have kids together, that's not marriage. If you are two Catholics and you elope in Las Vegas. That's not marriage.

Divorce is bad in the Catholic church. We live in a culture of 'no-fault' divorce.

Heterosexual couples have really screwed up the Institution of Marriage.

Heterosexual couples divorce freely. We use contraception and have abortions. We suffer from domestic violence abuse and drug addictions. We've also got the clean addictions like "workaholism" that are just as destructive to family life, even though they are socially sanctioned.

So the sins against marriage are easy to see and are all over the place.

Mary also made some excellent points over at Let Love Be Sincere but one of my favorite things she said was this:
You see, a couple of years ago there was this story in the newspaper.  It was about a church down south that refused to marry an interracial couple.  People FREAKED THE FREAK out.  I am one member of an interracial couple and I DIDN’T freak the freak out.  In fact, I thought, awesome, at least I know what church not to go to.  Unfortunately, a lot of people thought the church should face consequences, be forced to shut down, etc… Here’s the thing.  In our country, we allow for a variety of thought, and if a church doesn’t think a black man and a white woman should be married, well that makes me shake my head.  BUT, I don’t think our government should force the issue.  I don’t think our government needs to be involved in how marriage is defined in churches.

I've also been watching what's going on in France. The New York Times has an article about hundreds of thousands of people turning out to protest a proposed bill to legalize gay marriage there.  While they mention all the religious people who have turned up to protest they don't discuss the fact that  many homosexuals in France are also protesting this bill. How many? I don't know - it's hard to find a good answer to that since I can't seem to find a neutral report on that matter.

Then I saw the following conversation on Twitter about news from Denmark that all Lutheran churches must now allow  homosexual couples to marry because of a newly passed law.

Sometimes I just wish the government would remove spouses and marriage from the equation. Keep marriage in the Church and have the government rely on something that's not Sacramental. It's not the most well-formed opinion and it's not even a consistent thought, but I do think about it.

The Roman Catholic Church will never, ever witness the wedding of a same sex couple. It will not rent its churches or halls out to same sex couples for weddings and receptions. Same for marriages of people who are divorced or who are going to have an open marriage or who will use a form of contraception to never have kids*. This is not because we're a bunch of hateful bigots but because we would see it as a lie, a sham, going against what marriage really actually is. And so I wonder if what Elizabeth Scalia says will actually happen - if we will be driven underground. If it does happen I do not look forward to it, but I do think it might be just the kind of suffering and separating of the chaff and wheat that we need.

*Sadly I am well aware of priests who have gone against Church teaching and witnessed same sex weddings and weddings of people who have previous, not annulled marriages. I am also aware of heterosexual couples who have lied to priests about things like contraception and affairs so they could get married in a pretty church. Obviously, that is not how things are supposed to be.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

gimme gimme some lovin

Gimme some lovin everyday. That's what I say.

Spencer Davis Group anyone?  No?

Well, how about this:  Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

So long, Google Reader. Hello, Bloglovin. Thanks for picking up the slack.

coffee tastes better with honesty

Since I've deactivated my Facebook account I'm not sure how much of an uproar people have made about a recent story about the Starbucks CEO.  It was reported that he said he didn't want to do business with people who support traditional marriage, and I've seen this spin on several blogs and twitter accounts.

Here's the thing, as a Catholic I totally get how people can take what I do/say/believe and twist into a half truth or a full-on lie. I've seen people leave the Roman Catholic Church because they read the book Holy Ground: Walking with Jesus as a Former Catholic. The book is a joke - the author, Christ Castaldo, readily admits that he was raised in a nominally Catholic home, barely going to Sunday Mass, that that they stopped attending all together by the time he was a teen. He claims to be an authority on the faith even though he was obviously barely catechized and reading through the book he clearly understands very little about what the Church actually teaches. I know second graders preparing for their First Holy Communion who could better explain what the Catholic Church actually teaches than Castaldo does. Over and over again he takes his poor understanding of Scripture, Church history, and Church teachings and misrepresents them as he portrays himself as an authority.

It's sad to see that people have abandoned the faith they were baptized into and raised in because they read Castaldo's and other, similar books. Instead of going to actual sources - like a parish priest, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or books and websites written by people who claim to be faithful to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church - they did incredibly poor research and relied on pathetic sources. If their faith journey were a research paper they would fail for using such pathetic resources.

So what does all this have to do with Starbucks? Well, the CEO didn't actually say what people are saying he said. What he actually said was:

“Not every decision is an economic decision. Despite the fact that you recite statistics that are narrow in time, we did provide a 38% shareholder return over the last year. I don’t know how many things you invest in, but I would suspect not many things, companies, products, investments have returned 38% over the last 12 months. Having said that, it is not an economic decision to me. The lens in which we are making that decision is through the lens of our people. We employ over 200,000 people in this company, and we want to embrace diversity. Of all kinds.

If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38% you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares in Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.” 

I know there a many people who try not to patronize companies that support beliefs that are contrary to their own. No Disney, no Girl Scouts, no Oreos, no Susan G. Komen, no Starbucks. Personally I support some of them and some of them I intentionally do not support. It all comes down to doing your research, finding the truth (because the media probably won't give it you and you'll have to check multiple sources and wade through the spin), and considering how what you've learned impacts your convictions.

Don't leave the Church because you read a stupid Jack Chick tract and don't stop buying Starbucks only because someone tells you that its CEO doesn't want your business because you support traditional marriage.

You can read more about the Starbucks CEO's comments here or here.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

What I Wore Sunday

Cardigan: Mossimo from Target
Wrap Dress: Merona from Target
Black Tank: Liz Lange Maternity at Target
Brown Boots: (not shown) Payless
Finishing touches: old, cheap hoop earrings and Party Pink lipstick by Maybelline
Someone needs to clean the streaks off that mirror.
Thanks to Fine Linen and Purple for hosting!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Thoughts throughout the day

Several women have made timelines of their day, documenting all the little things they did for each moment. I thought I'd spin that a little bit and document my thoughts throughout the day. In case you were curious...

6:10 Why is James tapping me while I'm laying asleep and Travis is sitting up next to me, clearly awake?

6:30 I told Travis he could visit his family but only if he was gone for one meal of the day. That booger just left before breakfast. That's two meals he'll be gone for. I wonder if he even changed any diapers.

6:45 He didn't change any diapers.

7:20 Pancakes will feed all the kids.

7:21 Pancakes will FEED ALL THE KIDS!

7:22 I need to make a meme of that.

7:40 Where's the pizza cutter so I can cut the pancakes.  I should blog that.

7:41 "I should blog that." I'm so lame. No one gives a damn about my pizza cutter trick. But maybe it'll get pinned because people will find it helpful? I could include the yard stick in the drawer handle trick. It'll be like something Kathryn Whitaker would do. But I'm not Kathryn Whitaker. But maybe she'll be proud of me. Except they're not even my ideas. Whatever. I'm so lame.

8:00 Are they all done eating? They're not gonna leave any syrupy bloated pieces of pancake left on the plate for me to eat? At least they'll be full til lunch time.

8:15 Coffee was made for creamer. Caramel creamer.

8:27 It's amazing how much I want people to not talk to me. It's like that Bjork song about it being oh so quiet. Except Bjork is weird and that song is weird. But I just want it to be oh so quiet.

8:30 Puzzles! We all like puzzles!

8:40 I wish James could talk so I'd know if he knew what I was saying. Sometimes I think he's so smart he's playing dumb. "What? I'm practically a mute! You can't expect me to pick the puzzle pieces off the floor, or eat all my apple slices, or stay in my chair through dinner. Wahahaha! Apraxia!"

9:22 And now the kitchen will be clean for the next 11 minutes.

9:23 Banana bread crumbs? I should sweep the floor. Where's my laptop?

9:34 Someone stinks. Ah crap.

9:39 Everyone is fed and in a clean diaper and happily occupied.  Hellooooo, Doctor.

10:15 I miss David Tennet. This guy has no eyebrows. It's weird. But bowties are cool. Allons-y!

10:27 Holy cow, Katie!

10:30 If we get a new house and it has one of those stupid formal living rooms I'll change the space into our "fake homeschool" / playroom. Come on, Pinterest, give me ideas.

10:40 Oooooooo. Like like love!

10:59 I need to feed the kids.

11:06 I really should start lunch.

11:15 Leftovers for mom. This is the best lasagna I've ever made.

11:34 We should all load up and go to DQ.

11:35 Do not add butter, do not add butter, do not add butter so James can eat it.

11:40 Is this noodle small enough for Resa? Death by Farfalle noodle and incompetent mother is a bad way to go.

11:44 Sit and eat and let's all be quiet.

11:45 Or not.

12:00 I need to melt the butter for the cookies.

12:01 What was I going to do?

12:03 James is napping! Quiet time!

12:05 I'm going to make a meme.

12:10 I should check my email.

12:15 I miss Facebook.

12:16 Hellooooo, Doctor.

1:00 I'm gonna really make a meme now.

1:08 Why can't I figure out these stupid meme generators? What's the point of generating a meme if it won't let me somehow upload it to my blog or save it to my desktop. Damn memes.

11:11 This is so ghetto.


1:21 What is that thumping? The kids are gonna break something...  I don't care I just want no one to talk to me.

1:27 I hate the #2 key on this laptop.

1:28 Seriously, I need to melt the butter for the cookies.

1:30 Bake and watch Doctor Who? Don't mind if I do!

1:35 Stupid frozen butter...

1:45 Bennet and Lydia are naked and sliding off the toy box. Don't laugh. Don't laugh. Don't laugh. Travis would be so pissed. Don't laugh. Just look mean and upset.

1:50 Shake, shake, shake the nasty formula up.

2:00 loooooooove this baby girl! Teresa Marie, you're the best baby ever. Gorgeous fingers. Gorgeous eyes. You smile while you sleepily take a bottle. looooooooove.

2:03 And I can just lay you in the crib and you giggle, kick your feet, and go to sleep. Best. Baby. Ever!!!

2:05 Pants-less James Fulton, up from his nap.

2:06 Yes, Lydia, of course you came up here because you knew I had baby bottles to carry downstairs and you wanted to help. Of course.

2:10 Back to baking and Doctor Who.

2:30 Twitter...

2:31 Is Blogger taking away the blogs in my Dashboard? I wonder if Cari knows. It needs to be simple so I can do it.

2:54 Children! Please don't cry. Just let me pee in peace.

3:00 Travis will be home in half an hour. As soon as he gets here I'm going upstairs and locking the door. If the cookies are done baking.

3:18 He's early.

3:27 I'm not going  upstairs.

The rest of the days thoughts were mostly uncharitable so we'll call it quits there.

Friday, March 22, 2013

7 Quick Takes

1 - Van Morrison + The Chieftains = AWESOME!  (I was going to post this last week for St. Patrick's Day but like I mentioned earlier I totally dropped the ball on that feast day.)

2 - Since I laugh at fart jokes, we should all be worried.

3 - I have this problem where I am always getting teeny tiny holes in my shirts, right on my belly.  I have no idea how I'm doing this but I just got a new maternity t-shirt that I wanted to wear every other day for the next solid year and now it has two little snags. So...Question for people who sew and mend: can I save it?

4 - Bangs. Are they still in? Like, the look below, that's kinda classic and will always look good, right? Or is it just because she's pretty and wearing a nice scarf. Oye. I wish I was good at this fashion and style crap.

5 - Here's something I love about Jimmy Akin: he's never snarky. Here's another thing: when he writes he isn't trying to be clever - a sin many of us bloggers commit, trying to be clever not being clever. He also doesn't join in the he said / she said blog posts.  Jimmy Akin just writes to inform and his posts usually (all that I can think of in recent history at least) seek to only do that. He's not jumping to conclusions, he gives the benefit of the doubt, he uses good sources and quotes, he's not being gossipy, he clarifies. For an example, read his latest column at the National Catholic Register.

6 -  Regarding the use of the word 'crap' above. I say 'crap' and 'butt' and 'shoot' and think nothing of it. However, I've been told that 'crap' and 'shoot' are just as bad as 'shit' to a lot of people and that 'butt' is just as bad as 'ass'. Are you in this camp? While all of us can agree that 'f---' is definitely offensive and vulgar, it's interesting to me that some of the other words are up to discussion.

7 - My to-do list today is: dust, clean two spots on the carpet, put away laundry, bake banana bread, nap. The reward for doing all these things will be going to the Fish Fry at my parish tonight, with the additional bonus of my Grandpa paying for my family if we get there by 5:40pm. WE WILL NOT BE LATE!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

third time's the charm: local presentation on James and Sheen

Twice before I was scheduled to give my presentation on James and Venerable Sheen in an event hosted by the Elizabeth Ministry at St. Patrick's Parish in Washington, IL. Twice before it was cancelled because of the snow.

We're trying again and the event will be held this coming Monday, March 25. Yes, it's Holy Monday. So if you need some kind of spiritual practice to enhance your Holy Week you are welcome to come to the Knights of Columbus Hall in hear me speak on the (alleged) miracle of Jesus raising my son from the dead.

The presentation will begin at 6:30pm and lasts about 45 minutes. The event is open to any and all, though because of the subject matter it may be more appropriate for ages 12 and above. I hope to see you there!

Holy Monday, March 25
Knights of Columbus Hall
120 Walnut St. Washington, IL

If you're interested in having me give my presentation at an event you're planning please contact me.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Most Formative Experience of My Life

On Sunday all the Conversion Diary readers were asked "What was the most formative experience of your life?" I had to stop and think for a moment but then it was easy for me to identify what it was.  I know I've written before about my college internship in San Francisco but with Jen's question I wanted to talk some more about why it was so important to me.  Just thinking through this blog post I've been able to pinpoint even more parts of who I am that were influenced by that summer.

The story really begins with my younger brother lending me A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. If this helps to give you a frame of reference for who he is, Dave has since gone on to found McSweeney's, write several more books - fiction and nonfiction, and has written the screenplays for movies like Away We Go and Where the Wild Things Are.

AHWOSG is Dave's memoir, written when he was still a young man. I loved the book. Not because I identified with Dave's life at all (an orphan from a wealthy north Chicago suburb, having lots of sex and living in big cities) but because I appreciated his brutal honesty, his creativity, his humor, and his strong desire to figure out his life. I was also challenged as a young writer to have a voice as strong as his.

When my college professors told me during my Senior English Major exit interview that they could have a stack of one hundred papers from all different people and know, without seeing a single name, which one was mine because my voice was so strong - that was because of Dave Eggers. When people comment about my honesty on this blog - that is because of Dave Eggers.

During my Junior year at Eureka College (alma mater of Bonnie Engstrom and President Ronald Reagan!) I heard Dave speak in Chicago. He talked about his book but he also spoke of a non profit writing center he had recently opened in the Mission District of San Francisco: 826 Valencia. 

826 offers free after-school tutoring and a variety of workshops all aimed at inspiring kids to read and write and to love them both. Their small staff was supported by interns and volunteers who tutored, organized, worked with teachers, helped fundraise, led workshops, and also manned the pirate supply store.

Yes, a pirate supply store. Where they sell peg legs, lard, hand-sewn pirate flags, award-winning glass eyes (really!), books published by McSweeney's and the child authors of 826, and things like this:

"Pillage before plunder - what a blunder. 
Plunder before pillage - mission fulfillage."
"Beards are the new black."
You can support the writing center and get your pirate on by buying them here.

And so I went back to my college dorm room and applied for a summer internship, to work for a Pulitzer-nominated author in a city I'd never been to, where I knew no one, with absolutely no money to pay for it.  But I wanted it and I told God I wanted it and asked Him to make it happen if He wanted it too.

I networked, telling people that I would clean and babysit in exchange for room and board. I waited and prayed and told anyone I could that I wanted this internship.  And God must have wanted it too because I got the internship. Then my adviser called his cousin in San Francisco and asked if she and her husband had any connections. She told a co-worker who's kids went to the same private school that Dave had sent his younger brother to. The co-worker put it in the school newsletter and I was put in touch with Anne. Anne and her elementary school aged daughter and their cat Foggy opened up their home to me. 

I had a view of the city and the Bay. They paid for my public transportation passes, let me live with them for free, bought my groceries, and paid me $50 a week while I house sat for them as they spent half of the summer traveling the world. They were kind and generous and gracious. It was perfect.

They couldn't take me in for my first two weeks so I stayed, for free, with my professor's cousin.  While there I was literally two very short blocks from the Bay, with a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge.  She and her spouse were warm and caring and funny.  It was wonderful.

It was the first time in my life that God took care of me in such an obvious way. Maybe it was the first time I was just paying attention, but the care and generosity He displayed then set the stage for other things He would do in my life. It steeled up my trust in Him. It was the beginning of James' story.

Days after I finished my Junior year I flew out to San Francisco, all by myself. I'd never done anything like it before. A small town, Midwestern girl with traditional values and a traditional upbringing, I found myself in a very liberal city, taking the bus, walking the hills of San Francisco, and working alongside people who were much, much, much more hip than I could ever be.

I'd come to work and pass through the pirate gear and next to the ladder that led to the loft that housed McSweeney's.

And I'd head to the writing center in the back. I'd tidy and clean, I'd organize and plan. I'd make copies and prepare. I'd sometimes run errands - to the bank, the coffee shop, the supply store. I'd answer the phone and man the pirate supply store. I did some ESL tutoring of kids who were born in Mexico and whose parents spoke no English, and I talked with those families about their struggles and victories in coming to the US. And to top it all off I got to meet and work with authors, real published authors, like Dave of course but also Michael Chabon and Jenny Traig (who knitted me the most amazing hat). 

During my free time I explored the city, usually on my own. My coworkers liked me but we were very different (hipsters living in SF vs. me - it should be obvious). With a little help from my hosts I figured out buses, trolleys, and the subway system BART. I hailed my first cab. I practiced a little bit of Spanish. I wandered through neighborhoods. I rode a bike across the Golden Gate Bridget. I attended art museums, concerts, and a Bar Mitzvah. I encountered many wonderful, colorful people- my favorite of whom is Tatjana, a German woman I met at a BART station and became fast friends with.

My time in SF was an adventure and led me to many little adventures - things I never would have done before or had the courage to do on my own. While I had already done some traveling in the past, my summer in California rooted in me the desire to see more of the world and to see it in a way that the locals live it. It was a big reason that Travis and I honeymooned in Scotland, buying a map and renting a car, instead of going to an all-inclusive beach in Latin America. It's why I had the gumption to wander about Boston, Rome, and Krakow by myself. It's also why I tend to see people as people and sin as sin and I don't confuse the two. And it's why I have a great amount of compassion for immigrants, being a bit of a thorn in the side to my "if-you-can't-speak-the-language-go-home" grumbling relatives.

Back home my whole community was supporting me- my school, my family, my friends. I worked hard, not to impress the people around me but to make everyone back in Illinois proud. Never before had I felt so encouraged and loved and it was an empowering thing to have so many people so strongly believe in me. 

Additionally, my boss, Ninive, taught me a great many things. "We need to tidy this place - the kids will come soon - they deserve to sit in a tidy space - no one wants to sit in a mess." She'd say that at least once a week and it made a strong impact on me. Part of hospitality is preparing our homes and spaces to welcome others; it is one of the ways we respect the basic dignity of all people. I took that mantra with me and it has affected every role I've had since, from campus minister to admissions counselor to housewife. 

Ninive was a strong, Latina woman but she was different than all the other strong women I had encountered in the work force or academia  She believed that I could go on to accomplish many amazing things if I desired but unlike most of my female professors, she counted stay-at-home motherhood to be to be just as good and lofty a goal. She truly appreciated my hard work and my positive attitude. 

I was a girl who had never believed that I was good enough or that I would accomplish anything really great or amazing or cool. I was a small fish in a small pond but going to San Francisco showed me that even in a big pond  a small fish could make a difference. Ninive, my friends, professors, and family - their confidence in me showed me that they believed in me because they knew I could succeed.  I didn't have to prove myself to anyone. I was loved, I was valued, I was enough. That's a pretty powerful lesson for a young woman to learn and it has been foundational in every good thing in my life that has happened since: my marriage, my motherhood, my role in founding the Behold Conference, my writing, my involvement in my community - everything.

So there you go, Jen: my long winded answer to the most formative experience of my life.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Kerug + coffee cups = love?

Alright. You got me. I actually don't own a Kerug.  We just make do* with a Mr. Coffee and some Folgers and creamer.

But, someone I know and love has a Kerug and so I thought I'd try to win a giveaway at Momma In Flip Flops for a Cafe Escapes K-cup six pack. They sound delicious and maybe, if I win and I play my cards right, she'll brew the chai latte for me.

You can try your luck, too, by heading over to Andrea's blog and entering here.

* I looked it up. It's "make do" not "make due".  In case you've ever wondered.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

What I Wore Sunday - St. Patrick's Day edition

We are climbing out of the stink and yuck of the flu in these parts. Lydia and Bennet gave it to Travis and me and then James succumbed. I was a little worried, as we headed to Mass this morning, that James wouldn't be over it the way I thought he was and do another holiday treat for us like he did on Christmas morning. But luckily we seem to be all good!

The kids' Mass behavior was pretty good. Short homilies help so much with that! Afterwards we treated them to Shamrock Shakes from McDonald's... some day it'll be green beer. 
We all wore green, because we're like that, but we were so late we had to sit in the cry room.

It's a bit chilly here still and the girls wore cardigans and tights and looked so, so cute.
Poor Teresa was so tired. "Just let me nap, Mom!"

I don't love this outfit.
I don't really love how I look any more.
But soon I'll be holding a newborn and then maybe I can lose all the weight once and for all.
Lastly, thank You God, for hand-me-downs and gifts. My kids would have been naked today without them.
Black jersey dress: hand-me-down
Greenish tank: hand-me-down
Same brown boots: same old boots
White cardigan: Mossimo from Target
Quick confession:
I have been failing as a Catholic mom lately. I'm behind on homeschooling and this would have been a great week to do the letter 'P'.  Granted I was sick but - come on! - "Pope" and "St. Patrick" all in one week.  Instead we're on "O" for whenever I get around to that.
I'm pretty sure my kids have no idea what a pope even is, let alone that we have a new one.
Also, despite the fact that I have a great book
to explain everything secular and religious about St. Paddy's Day we've barely read it. (Opting instead for the super easy Brown Bear and Freight Train reads.)
But today I read it super quickly while the corned beef roasted and I served it with mashed potatoes and peas... because I felt like there should be something green on the plate.
Dessert was totally James-friendly cupcakes! No eggs, no dairy, baby!
(You can see the recipe here if you want.)
The rainbow cake will be served at my Tuesday mornin Mom's Group.  Come if you're in the area. :)


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Five Things + Liebster Award

The lovely Paula from Home in Douglas and the delightful Emily from Glitter Rainbow Happiness Land both nominated me for a Liebster Award.  To top it all off the wonderful Lisa from Gesterlingpalooza tagged me in the Five Things game.

Ahhh! Micaela from California to Korea tagged me too!  Golly - this pregnancy and flu have really made me dopey.

I know I'm pathetically late in doing this, but that doesn't mean I'm not honored and happy to partake.  So, for those of you with nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon, here's a bunch of stuff about me with some pictures of things I'm anticipating.

A good, old fashioned Easter egg hunt on a not-too-cold day.

First, the Five Things:
1 - I enjoy throwing parties. I like to go into them like I'm a boss, setting up a Pinterest board, creating a theme, making a menu, and thinking of cute decorations. How they turn out is another matter, but I have fun in the prepping.

2 - My favorite comfort food is cubed steak with mushroom gravy served with mashed potatoes. Take a cubed steak, coat it in flour, and brown it in some oil that's heated in a deep, large pan. After both sides are browned pour on a can of cream of mushroom soup and then sprinkle that with a packet of dry onion soup mix. Cover with a lid and let simmer for about 40 minutes. Take the meat out and reserve the rest of the gravy in the pan for the mashed potatoes. It is amazingly high in sodium, not good for you, but totally delicious.

3 - When I'm sick I crave 3 things: toast with a teeny, tiny schmear of butter; red Gatorade; and red Popsicles.

4 - I've seen Sting, Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, Nickle Creek, New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, JJ Heller, Sara Groves, Audrey Assad, They Might Be Giants, Newsboys, and Davy Jones (from The Monkees) live in concert.

5 - Despite my experience with James I am still very pro homebirth.  It's not really an option for me any more but I wish it was.

Planting our garden and then enjoying its bounty.

Now, Paula's questions:
1 - What is your favorite way to relax?
Getting one of fancy pedicures that include a massage up the knee, lots of lotion, wine to sip on, strawberries and chocolate to snack on, and nice nail polish.

2 - What is your favorite season?
Fall. Love the colors, the holidays, the clothes, the atmosphere.

3 - Who is your favorite visual artist?
Waterhouse? My favorite sculpture is Michelangelo's Moses.

4 - Who is your favorite writer?
Probably C.S. Lewis.

5 - What is your favorite Scripture passage?
In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall bread upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:78-79

Sweet summer dresses.
6 - Do you live where you live by choice or by circumstance?
A little of both.

7 - What do you most want to be remembered for?
Being the kind of woman who brought people to Heaven with her.

8 - What is your greatest accomplishment up until now (besides your children)?
My marriage.

9 - What is your favorite food?
A good, thick cheeseburger with tomato, lettuce, onion, mustard, and ketchup.

10 - Why do you blog?
It helps me think and clarify what I believe and how I feel.  It also helps me stay in touch with friends and family.  And when people leave comments that lead to a discussion - well I love that because it forces me to think even more about what I'm saying and if I'm right or not.

Playing outside.
Now Emily's questions.
1. If you had to eat one thing or meal all day for a week, what would it be?
Salad (but that includes fruit salad, lettuce salad, bean salad... this is totally not cheating)

2. When you get to go out by yourself (or with a friend/relative), what do you do? Or what would you want to do?
Usually I go to a coffee shop or the Barnes & Noble. I'll get some magazines and a drink and sit and read and sip and people watch.

 3. Do you find your children have similar temperaments?

 4. Sweet or salty?
Both. It's why salted caramel is all the rage, right?

 5. When you are with your husband, who usually drives? What about on longer road trips?
He does. I only drive if he's tired, but usually I'm more tired.

Flowers on my front porch.
 6. What's a "chore" that you secretly (or not so secretly) enjoy doing (I won't tell anyone)?
Picking up and organizing the kids' toys - all by myself!

 7. Are you a morning person or night owl?
Neither. I'm at my best in the middle of the day.

 8. What was the last book you read & was it any good (this is a selfish q, as I need some suggestions)?
Literally the last book I read was Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and it was good. Right now I'm slowly working my way through The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic by Matthew West and it is good.

 9. If you could go on any vacation (expenses paid) with your kids & husband, where would you go? What would you do there?
I'd go to Disney World but I'd wait about two and a half years. My kids will still be young enough to love it and have it feel magical but they'll all be old enough to enjoy it.

 10. I'm at your house. What would I see?
Me and James in our pajamas, a mess on the floor, clean bed sheets and towels that need to be folded and put away, Mighty Machines on the tv, a fairly clean kitchen.

Don't mind my dust

Hey y'all.

I'm doing some re-organizing of the blog's layout so you're seeing some old posts pop up.  Just ignore and keep on keepin' on. 

Advent Series

The Advent Series was created to show that there is a wide variety of ways to keep the Season of Advent and that none of them are the one "right" way. I was humbled by the generosity of so many top notch writers, bloggers, and people to partake in this series and I am so very grateful for their participation.

From feast days and traditional traditions to books and not-so-common traditions, I think these posts have a little something for everyone.

If you don't do much or anything for Advent I hope you are encouraged to try something - just one little thing.
If you have already crafted one or two traditions in your home but you're looking for a particular idea I hope you are inspired.
If your Advent is just right I hope you join me in celebrating how deep and wide the beauty of our faith is as seen through the various ways that these women keep Advent in their homes and hearts.

Thank you for reading, God bless you, and have a Happy Advent!

Advent in the Engstrom Home by Bonnie
Making the Most of Your Family's Advent by Lisa Hendey
Advent with the Clan by Cari Donaldson
A New St. Nicholas Day Tradition by Abigail Benjamin
Advent Acts of Service by Leanne Willen
Go with Your Strengths by Nancy Piccione
Why We Do Not Make Wish Lists by Stacy Trasancos
Celebrating the Immaculata by Alisha Landry
Traveling with Traditions by Kailin Alfermann
Advent in Our Home by Grete Veliz
Preparing with Simple Traditions by Dwija Borobia
Our Lady of Guadalupe by Lisa Gesterling
Santa Lucia by Grace Patton
A Perpetual State of Advent by Lisa Schmidt
I Will Wait by Katie Bogner
Guadete Sunday: Simple Joy by Kate Wicker
Rejoice Always by Marie Meints
Building Anticipation by Kathleen Vogt
Learning Love through Loss in Advent by Kathleen from The Boring Blog
Oh, Traditions by Joanna Brady
A Little of This, A Little of That by Susie Battey
I Feel Holy by Jennifer Sagel
The Jesus Stocking by Karen Edmisten
A Birthday to Celebrate by Kathryn Whitaker

If you want to start at the very beginning, here's the vlog that announces and explains the Advent series:

2013 Sheenazing Winners & Nominees

The Sheenazing Blogger Awards are a fun way to celebrate the excellence of the Catholic blogosphere* and are named for Venerable Fulton J. Sheen. Sheen was amazing at using the newest forms of media to communicate the beauty of the Catholic Church and his love of Christ to the world. I'm positive that Sheen would be a blogger were he alive today and that he is in Heaven, totally approving of this award.

All listed blogs were nominated by readers. Thank you to everyone who took part and congratulations to the winners!

Funniest Blog
Silly, sarcastic, goofy. This blog also has serious posts but most of them leave you laughing out loud. No really, you actually laugh out loud.
Winner: Simcha Fisher / I Need to Sit Down
Barefoot and Pregnant
This Ain't the Lyceum
Bad Catholic
Clan Donaldson
Camp Patton
House Unseen Life Unscripted
There's More Where That Came From
Mama Needs Coffee
Time Flies When You're Having Babies
NFP and Me
Oh Jones
Martin Family Moments
All Things Gale
Random Blog Drama
Mary Is My Homegirl

Coolest Blogger
Reading this blog makes you awesome just by association.
Winner: Jennifer @ Conversion Diary
Margaret @ Minnesota Mom
Cari @ Clan Donaldson
Jenny @ Mama Needs Coffee
Grace @ Camp Patton
Meg @ Held by His Pierced Hands
Kassie @ Secret Vatican Spy
Kate& amp; James @ Real Catholic Love and Sex
Marc @ Bad Catholic
Ginny @ Small Things
Kelly @ This Ain't the Lyceum
Jess @ Look Snap Love
Dwija @ House Unseen
Simcha @ I Have to Sit Down
Eye of the Tiber
Hallie Lord @ Moxie Wife
Katie @ NFP and Me
Colleen @ Martin Family Moments
Kathryn @ Team Whitaker
Haley @ Carrots for Michelmas
Anna @ In Honor of Design
the Darwins @ Darwin Catholic
Melody @ Blossoming Joy
Beth @ A Mom's Life
Sarah @ Amongst Lovely Things
Jessica @ Shower of Roses

Best Looking Blog
Seriously, how did she do that with her header?
Winner: Moxie Wife
Clan Donaldson
Those Landrys
Call Her Happy
Early Bird & Night Owl
With a Hopeful Heart
1 Flesh
Camp Patton
Clan Donaldson
Clover Lane
Aspiring Kennedy
In Honor of Design
Slow Mama
Better Than Eden
Messy Wife, Blessed Life
Small Things
The Loveliest Hour
Catholic Cookie Jar
God Spies
Martin Family Moments
Pondered In My Heart
Starry Sky Ranch
Our Catholic Life of Grace
Carrots for Michaelmas
The Busy Budgeting Mama
Life Happens When
Team Whitaker

Most Inspiring Blog
Encouraging, uplifting, honest, challenging.
Winner: Like Mother, Like Daughter
Barefoot and Pregnant
Conversion Diary
Held By His Pierced Hands
Real Catholic Love and Sex
The Road Home
Fumbling Toward Grace
In the Heart of My Home
Amongst Lovely Things
Finding Great Joy
Joy Beyond the Cross
Moxie Wife
My Child, I Love You
With a Hopeful Heart
Reflections of a Paralytic
NFP and Me
Lord, Make Me a Saint
From Empty Hands
Little Catholic Bubble
We Make This Look Good
California to Korea
I Have to Sit Down / Simcha Fisher
Snoring Scholar
Abigail's Alcove
Passionate Perseverance
Small Things
Martin Family Moments
More Like Mary, More Like Me
Carrots for Michaelmas
Life Happens When
The Road Home
All You Who Hope
Equipping Catholic Families
Sole Searching
The Young Catholic Woman
Enjoying the Small Things
Sanctus Simplicitus
Crusaders for Christ

Best Lifestyle Blog
Tips on celebrating liturgical season and feast days, decorating the home, cooking, dressing, raising good kids: you're Pinning every other post because they're all so great.
Winner: Like Mother, Like Daughter
Shower of Roses
Team Whitaker
Fountains of Home
Catholic Icing
Camp Patton
Moxie Wife
This South Korean's Got Seoul
Sometimes Martha, Always Mary
My Child I Love You
Catholic Cuisine
Better Than Eden
Clover Lane
Fresh Coat of Paint
In the Heart of My Home
Catholic Inspired, aka Crafolic
Waltzing Matilda
So Much to Say, So Little Time
Amongst Lovely Things
Fine Linen and Purple
House Unseen, Life Unscripted
Pondered in My Heart
Catholic All Year
Our Catholic Life of Grace
Catholic Sistas
Homeschool Goodies
Carrots for Michaelmas
Fear Not Little Flock

Best Link-Up EVAH
Whether it happened once or is on-going, this is the link-up you love.
Winner: Seven Quick Takes @ Conversion Diary
What I Wore Sunday @ Fine Linen & Purple
{phfr} @ Like Mother, Like Daughter
Snapshots @ Clan Donaldson
Birth Stories @ Camp Patton
What I Wore holiday editions @ Camp Patton
First Friday Link Up @ Catholic Icing

Best Underappreciated Blog
Best kept secret of the internet. These blogs have 100 or less followers for some crazy unknown reason.
Winner: This Ain't the Lyceum
The Art of Making a Home
B-Movie Catechism
Because Two People Fell In Love
California to Korea
All Things Gale
The Mother Load
The Boring Blog
The Early Bird & the Night Owl
Fountains of Home
And the Kitchen Sink
Having Left the Altar
Joy in the Morning
Let Love Be Sincere
Time Flies When You're Having Babies
Life Is Beautiful
Theological Librarian
Catholic Cookie Jar
Reasons for Chocolate
Dainty Cate
A Blog for My Mom
Dietel Days
The Fantastic Mrs. McCants
Little Jesus and Me
Fountains of Home
Romancing Reilly
Random Blog Drama
The Big White Farmhouse
Molly Makes Do

Best Mommy Blog
Food, diapers, beer, Sacraments, sex - she covers it all while the kids are napping.
Winner: Camp Patton
Martin Family Moments
Moxie Wife
Lord, Make Me a Saint
Reasons for Chocolate
House Unseen, Life Unscripted
Messy Life, Blessed Wife
Time Flies When You're Having Babies
Life Happens When
The Kennedy Adventures
House Unseen, Life Unscripted
More Like Mary - More Like Me
Time Flies When You're Having Babies
All Things Gale
The Uneducated Housewife
My Child I Love You
Barefoot and Sometimes Pregnant
Mama Needs Coffee
A Blog for My Mom
Dietel Days
A Totus Tuus Family
In the Heart of My Home
Small Things
Simcha Fisher / I Have to Sit Down
Barefoot and Pregnant
From the Heart
All You Who Hope
Clan Donaldson
Amongst Lovely Things
Finding Great Joy
Elisa Loves

Smartest Blog
Not just opinions, well formed opinions.
Winner: Like Mother, Like Daughter
I Have to Sit Down / Simcha Fisher
A Star of Hope
Housewife Spice
B-Movie Catechism
Not a Goblin, But a Troll
The Practicing Catholic
Brandon Vogt
Ignitum Today
Barefoot and Pregnant
Martin Family Moments
Conversion Diary
Little Catholic Bubble
Accepting Abundance
Catholic Family Vignettes
Just Showing Up
Bad Catholic
Enjoying the Small Things

Blog with the Best Memes
Not just the 'Y U No' guy but also the best modified public domain photos.
Winner: Bad Catholic
Not a Goblin, But a Troll
The Crescat
1 Flesh
Barefoot and Pregnant
From the Heart
Clan Donaldson
The Loveliest Hour
This Ain't the Lyceum
There's More Where That Came From
Mary Is My Homegirl
Wake Up and Smell the Incense

Best Blog by a Catholic Man
Adding variety to our daily reading by not sharing recipes, craft projects, or stories about poopy diapers.
Winner: Bad Catholic
From Empty Hands
Steve Gershom
Brandon Vogt
The Strangest of Wars
Patrick Madrid
B-Movie Catechism
Not a Goblin, But a Troll
Never Give Up
Creative Minority Report
On This Rock
Happy Saints
Standing on My Head
Life of a Catholic Teen

Many thanks to Colleen at Martin Family Moments for taking the time to link up all the blog titles.

*Here's an update I added to the original Sheenazing Awards voting post:
A few concerned readers have contacted me questioning some of the nominated blogs, pointing out the authors' discrepencies with orthodox Church teaching and faithfulness to our Holy Father and the Magesterium. Please know that I did a brief review of all nominated blogs because I did not want to promote anything which my husband and I do not actually support. I did not have time to delve into archives of 100 blogs, I did my best, and I apologize if I missed something. Next year - if I'm crazy enough to do this again! - I will add the category "Best Blog by a Heretic" and try to better stress that all other categories are for Catholic blogs that are orthodox.