Friday, July 29, 2011

Seven Quick Takes Friday (6)

Thanks to Jen at for hosting.  A huge word of thanks to anyone who has helped us by giving us boxes, watching our children during the past few weeks, or helping us prepare for our move in any way.  Even to those of you who offered, but we never took you up on it, we appreciate all your love and support!

Moving day is this weekend, primarily on Sunday.  I haven't mentioned it here until now, but we are experiencing a slight housing problem at the moment and are moving in with my parents.  Nothing drastic and we are all ok - no job loss, we are all healthy, no divorce, everyone is fine.  But this will definitely be an adjustment.  My mother-in-law and father-in-law have generously offered to help with moving expenses so that my hubby (their son) doesn't have to do too much heavy lifting (he has a congenital heart defect - transposition of the great vessels- and we actually went to the ER this week for some relatively minor symptoms).  We will work on moving a few small items and a toddler bed on Saturday.  I have heard great things about the movers we are using: College Bound Movers.  We originally scheduled something with another company, but two days after booking, they called us to say they didn't have any availability for that day but they could do the weekend and by the way the price will be jacked up by about $4k.  Gee, let me think about that, sounds WONDERFUL.  No thank you! 

A huge thanks to my parents who are giving up so much for us to move in with them.  They will now get to experience the joys of parenthood all over again when they should just be experiencing the joys of grandparent hood.  The middle of the night toddler potty trips, the crying baby who doesn't want to go to sleep yet, no more private time when they get home from work, no more relaxing when we leave their house to head to our home.  They will have fun spending time with our girls, no doubt.  Lots of hugs, smiles and play time too.  But hopefully, our time there will be somewhat short lived so they will be able to have their space (and us ours).  Here's to hoping can recoup and move on in a relatively short time frame.  In the meantime, we will try to be one big happy family, with a few minor growing pains I'm sure. 

Alicia, our three year old, seemed fine when we shared the news of moving in with memere and pepere.  She said, "that will be fun!"  I'm hoping that once we are actually living there, she will not constantly be asking when we will be going to our home.  For months now she's been talking about "my house."  It's been rough hearing her say that, knowing that soon we would not be returning to her house.  But children are resilient, or so I'm told...

For anyone who has young children sharing a bedroom, do you have tips for me since the girls will be sharing a room? We are going to try to have bedtime be the same and they are both usually good sleepers.  I've checked with Alicia about sharing a room with her little sister and I think she likes the idea.  But between Alicia falling out of bed, Hannah's motion detector/monitor sounding off periodically, and shouts of "mama, I have to go potty," I'm not sure how this is gonna go down.  Advice please?!

Church will be closer, which will be great.  Since we are involved with teaching teens TOB and are involved in another ministry for returning Catholics at our church it will be nice to be such a short drive away.  This will also be great for possibly weekly adoration and maybe even getting in an extra mass each week.  Maybe head to First Friday adoration which I have yet to do as well.  So I'm thinking that this hopefully will open up other opportunities for me to grow in my faith and relationship with God and no my relationship isn't dependent on the church building itself.  ;P  I'm praying through all this God will show us the path he wants us to take next.  He has a plan, and I'm hoping for a few hints and/or gentle nudges.

What is also great is that friends and family with young children around my girls' ages will be closer too.  I always feel guilty when I don't bring Alicia to visit with her friends.  She has started to seem a bit on the shy side, so I must make a better habit of this.  Being closer should make it easier, I hope.  Friends and family, beware. ;)

My job is NOT closer for me, but IS closer for hubby.  Will cut down his commute, although on Monday and Tuesday he will have to drive up to meet me and THEN to his work.  So wait a minute, it's kinda lengthening his...  Well, not every day though.  We'll work it out somehow; maybe I will have to go meet him with the girls at his work instead.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

We all like natural, right?

So, lately I've been thinking how there are a lot of ladies out there who want to eat all natural food, organic and such, for their health.  And I've been wondering why it is that some of these same ladies will routinely ingest chemicals into their body to thwart a natural process in their body that functions correctly.

You see, this week is Natural Family Planning (NFP) week.  I'm sure some of you are going to roll your eyes and say here she goes again, and now she's going to get on CONTRACEPTION!?!?  But again, I'm going to speak about my experiences of how we went away from my being on "the pill" (why it continues to go by this moniker, I don't quite understand) and how NFP has blessed our lives. 

In college, I made a pretty drastic turn around from "wanting to wait to have sex until I got married" attitude to a "hey, I better make this the choice I want to make and not the result of putting myself in bad situations with the wrong guys" mentality.  So a few bad situations after my sophomore year, I decided to put myself on "the pill."  I don't remember all the details, but I know that I went to our health services and they had to refer me to another source since it is a Catholic college.  I remember going to this off-campus site and sitting in a large room on a metal table for an exam.  There was very little explanation of how the pill worked and I suppose I should have known better to do the research on my own.  But being young-ish and thinking that a doctor would provide me with all the details, I went ahead with my plan.

Fast forward past my tumultuous twenties to getting married the year I turned 30.  I had returned to the church but knew that something was wrong.  I remember very clearly that the sermon that made me make an about face on contraception and the sermon itself wasn't even about that topic necessarily.  The gospel that day was about the rich young man who wanted to follow Jesus but went away sad because he could not sell all his belongings and follow Jesus.  And Jesus was sad too (at least according to Luke's account, the other two Mark and Matthew did not mention Jesus' reaction.  John didn't even bring this up!).  Our pastor asked us, "What is keeping you from a full relationship with Jesus?  What is causing you to walk away sad?"  For me it was an "oh no!" moment.  "Why is God placing this on my heart?"

I talked to my husband about my concerns about being on the pill and how I was feeling about it in terms of my relationship with God.  Hubby said, "There's been info in the bulletin, let's look into Natural Family Planning."  I can't fully explain how grateful I am to have a husband who wouldn't look at me like I have four heads!  He merely said, let's find out about it.  We didn't commit then and there to definitely change our ways.  We had just moved into our house and we weren't ready for children.  We knew we were to be open to children from our marriage vows, but felt that if we were to be good stewards, as we are called to be in terms of discerning family size, we should probably hold off on having children for the time being.  By the way, contrary to popular opinion, the Catholic Church does not expect you or even WANT you to have as many children as possible.  In fact the Church encourages people to be "responsible" stewards over their fertility.  In this view of "responsible parenthood" married couples carefully weigh their responsibilities to God, each other, the children they already have, and the world in which they live when making decisions about the number and spacing of children.*  We are to be generous with our openness to life, not motivated by selfishness when discerning family size.  I do find myself worry a bit about keeping a balance here.  More on that another time perhaps.

So back to our story, we went to the information night and it was very eye opening.  I was amazed at all the information I didn't know about how my body works and how the pill works, as well as all the dangerous side affects (hence the need for commercials to talk about the side effects for the majority of the air time).  That night I stopped using birth control and we waited for our appointment with the NFP practitioner to learn the Creighton Method (there are several different NFP methods - more on that below).  This one is all natural and doesn't require temperature testing at the same time every day.  After learning the Creighton method, it's really quite easy - you need do nothing except make observations.  We've been using NFP ever since - this was back in 2006.

We started trying to have our first child in 2007, probably about six months or so after coming off the pill and trying to "avoid" pregnancy, and were pregnant by the end of the year.  When we started trying again for our second child, we immediately knew something was off with my fertility.  That's the best part about NFP - the knowledge you gain about yourself and your body.  I had ONE DAY where I was fertile every cycle.  That was it.  In a regular cycle the window is larger than that, usually five or more days.   We were referred to the closest specialist for NaProTechnology - in Gardner, MA at In His Family Image Family Medicine.  He took a full hour on the phone with me to review my medical history and made a few suggestions until we were to meet with him.  When we met him in person, he was very patient and again took an hour with us to explain what he believed was happening based on my chart.  (What doctor these days meets with patients for an hour!)  He looks at every patient's individual information and situation and treats their personal issues, not just some supposed "tried and true" method for everyone that comes in through the door.  He recommended a few vitamin supplements and some changes to my diet, major changes in my mind, but manageable changes.  Within a month we were pregnant with baby number two.  I was on progesterone supplements for almost six out of the nine months I was carrying our second little girl.  It was scary in some ways, but reassuring that he wanted to keep tracking my progesterone levels to ensure the safety of our baby.  I don't know of other OBs that bother to continue this testing past the usual first trimester.

God works through us all in the most amazing ways.  After learning that a cousin of mine was struggling with infertility, I was trying to find a way to gently tell her about this doctor I went to.  After learning she was doing IVF, I was so concerned for her and was trying to figure out just the right time to tell her.  Unfortunately, there really is no best time.  I sent her a message with the info, hoping she would look into it.  She became pregnant through IVF and I prayed that she would carry to term, but unfortunately she lost the baby.  I gently reminded her of the doctor again, and this time she looked into it.   She is now seeing the same doctor who helped us with our fertility, has undergone surgery for endometriosis and is learning the Creighton method to start her family.  I pray that she will be successful very soon. 

I will be the first to admit, it isn't all roses, in fact there are some definite difficulties with it.  I won't lie.  There are times when abstaining seems to go on forever, although in reality it doesn't.  There's usually maybe about a week where you have to abstain.  If you think about it, what were to happen if you or your spouse had major surgery and that was out as an option, or any number of illnesses?  Would you be abstaining then?  Probably and maybe even with a little difficulty.  But I think that sometimes in abstaining you find other ways to be intimate.

These days NFP is more scientific than most people are led to believe.  So many people say, "yes, that's how we had baby #3, natural family planning."  But I'm not sure that they had the information that is now available.  I'm pretty sure most people who say this didn't really track their fertility.   Current NFP methods are: the Basal Body Temperature (BBT) method, which monitors changes in a woman's temperature when she wakes up each morning; the Ovulation Method (OM), which monitors changes in a woman's cervical mucus (this is what Creighton is based on); and the Sympto-Thermal Method (STM), which combines observations of temperature and cervical mucus with other indicators such as changes in the cervix and secondary fertility signs.*

NFP can also help with things like Ovarian Cysts, PMS, Endometriosis...  So, there are reasons to use it even beyond the baby making department.  Anyone can use it, including people with irregular cycles (mine are never the same from cycle to cycle) and beyond the initial learning curve, it isn't all that difficult to use.  The effectiveness of NFP is very reliable - with around a 99% effective rate at avoiding pregnancy for those who understand and use their method as taught correctly.

Some people will argue that using NFP is no different than using the pill or other contraceptive measures.   NFP methods are different from and better than artificial contraception because they

  • Cooperate with, rather than suppress, a couple's fertility
  • Can be used both to achieve and avoid pregnancy
  • Call for shared responsibility and cooperation by husband and wife
  • Require spousal communication
  • Foster respect for and acceptance of the total person
  • Have no harmful side effects
  • Are virtually cost free

NFP is unique because it enables its users to work with the body rather than against it. Fertility is viewed as a reality to live, not a problem to be solved.*  Contraception says "no" to God's plan while NFP works in cooperation with God's creation of the fertility cycle, using the infertile periods or fertile periods accordingly.  But it allows for God to step in where other methods kick God out of the equation.
The dates of Natural Family Planning Awareness Week highlight the anniversary of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae (July 25) which articulates Catholic beliefs about human sexuality, conjugal love and responsible parenthood. The dates also mark the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne (July 26), the parents of the Blessed Mother.*

*Some of the information contained herein "Used with permission from the NFP Program, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Seven Quick Takes Friday (5)

Thanks to Jen at for hosting.  This quick takess is a list of some favorite books I've read recently and some not so recently... 

So I have definitely been on a reading kick.  This past week I finished, I Kissed Dating Goodbye at the recommendation of our parish deacon.  We will be using it to supplement the Theology of the Body for Teens class materials in the fall.  Been a really good and interesting book to read.  It was written by a young 21 year old man who later went on to become a pastor for a non-denominational Christian church, get married and has three children.  The book centers around his decision not to date until he was ready to commit to marriage.  I'm not sure how the kids will take this, although it is not required reading.  We will be using the parts of the book that give ideas and tips for what they should focus on other than finding a girlfriend or boyfriend.  It basically calls for honoring time as singledom as a time for building deep friendships, preparing for your future and strengthening your relationship with God.  All great things I think.  Thinking back to the problems I had when dating, I wonder what my reaction would have been if I had come across this book.  I probably would have taken some of it as good ideas, but probably not have held off on dating until I was ready for marriage.  Great ideas though and I hope our teens can see how it can be helpful.

Quite a while back, the RN who taught us the Creighton Method of Naturally Family Planning recommended The Good News About Sex and Marriage.  At the time we had not yet learned about Theology of the Body and we were not as fervent about learning more about the church's teachings.  So, I didn't purchase this wonderful gem until a few years ago and have not read it from cover to cover, although I think the only part I have yet to read is on celibacy and the priesthood.  But what I love about it is the question and answer format of the book.  It is something that you usually cannot find in a bookstore and has to be special ordered, but if you happen into a Catholic bookstore, it should be there.  It covers the basics about the Church's teachings on sexuality, from pre-marital sex, to same sex marriage, to contraception.    It is an easy read and as the subtitle says, it provides: "Answers to Your Honest Questions about Catholic Teaching."  There is a resources section in the back that provides listings for things ranging from "For Troubled Marriages" to "Post-Abortion Healing" referrals.  There is also an index so that if you wanted to look up "tubal ligation," "intimacy," or "foreplay" you can quickly go to the sections that cover these topics. 

Bad Girls of the Bible is a book that my husband bought me - can't remember if it was a birthday present or some other occasion - but what a FUN book to read.  It goes through ten different "bad girls"  in ten chapters.  Each chapter starts with a modern day rendition of the bad girl and then goes through the bad girl's decisions and how it relates to us and our society today.  Each chapter ends with a "What Lessons Can We Learn" set of questions and a "Good Girl Thoughts Worth Considering."  And at the back of the book there is a study guide with scripture quotes to go with each "bad girl."  The first "bad girl," Eve really drew me in.  Quite possibly my favorite part of this first chapter was when the author showed us that not only did Adam blame Eve for his sin, he actually blamed the Lord!!!  I'm sorry, but how ballsy is that?!?!  And of course Eve was not far behind him in the blame game.
In Genesis 3:12 we read, "The man said, 'The woman you put here with me - she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." 

And Genesis 3:13-14 "The Lord God said to the woman, 'What is this you have done?' The woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate."  The devil made me do it!!!  The first time of many that God heard that one!  Way to go Eve!!!

After having learned about Theology of the Body (TOB) in a four week presentation at my church, I was eager to learn more about this amazing teaching.  So I bought Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West.  I was told, and shown through the course of the presentation, that Christopher West brings us to a better understanding through everyday language and personal experience.  I was definitely right in buying this easy to read cliff notes version of TOB.  Pope John Paul II was a brillant man and at the time, I was in no way ready to read his actual 129 Wednesday audiences where he reflected on these important church teachings.  As a side note, it is probably time for me to take a look at the actual text of John Paul II's talks.  For anyone unfamiliar with what I mean when I say "Theology of the Body," basically TOB is the study of God as revealed through the human body.  TOB was presented by Pope John Paul II during 129 Wednesday audiences, between the years 1979 and 1984.  His reflections are based on Scripture (especially the Gospels, St. Paul and the Book of Genesis), and contain a wonderful vision of the human person.  Oddly enough, right after I finished this book by Christopher West and I was wondering to myself how I could help to spread this important message, our church was seeking volunteers to go through training to teach Theology of the Body for Teens in confirmation preparation.  I was both scared and excited to teach the Catholic church's views on sexuality.  YIKES!  But God works in mysterious and wonderful ways!

At the presenation where we learned about teaching TOB for Teens, I bought the book Life-Giving Love: Embracing God's Beautiful Design for Marriage by Kimberly Hahn.  Having heard Scott Hahn's CD talk about his conversion to Catholicism from his life as a devout Protestant, I was curious to read this book by his wife on marriage.  I read this one a while back and don't recall all the details, so I'm not sure I can give a really great review of this one.  In this book, Kimberly Hahn brings us back to God as the One who designed marriage in the first place.  She points out God's plan for the family as revealed in the teachings of the Catholic Church.  There is an interesting story of how she went from contracepting within her marriage to realizing the errors in her thinking on contraception from an unlikely source:  an ethics class at seminary where she was supposed to study the issue of abortion and create a presentation for teens teaching the truth about and the value of all life.  She makes quite a u-turn.  She covers topics of infertility and miscarriage in this book as well.  A great book for those who are married, or for those who are single as well, covering the topic of marriage and what it means for a number of other important issues we face today.  I may have to reread this one again soon.  There are parts in this book that I recall about her c-sections and miscarriages that were incredible and I found them to be very moving.

Ok, so the next book I am about to read is The Lamb's Supper by Scott Hahn (Although I also just noticed in my cleaning another book by Kimberly Hahn that I may read first - again on marriage.  I started reading the first chapter tonight, but I think it will have to wait until after Scott Hahn's book.)  I cannot review this book as I have not yet read it, well, ok, except for the first chapter.  I am hoping that his view and experience of the Mass will enlighten me and enrich my experience of the Mass.  These days I am just finally coming to an appreciation of transsubstantiation and am eager to see how he links the book of Revelation to the Catholic experience of Mass.  Maybe when I finish the book I will already have written or will write some blog posts about things I've learned.

The Bible is the Word of God, after all, so I would be remiss to not mention the book I read on a daily basis.  I am working at humbly letting the Word of God transform my life.  Just recently someone pointed out that the Bible is just "A story, a book, a novel. ..It is a work of FICTION and not a road map for how to live your life."  I see it as a very valuable road map; I see it as the Word of God.  Most days when I read the gospel or other scripture passage for the day, there is something that speaks to my heart.  It almost always shows me something new I should work on or provides me some comfort.  I'm glad that I've come to see that reading scripture is a useful daily practice and that it isn't just some book.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Holy Roller

Oddly enough when I titled this blog post weeks ago and saved it in my drafts, my hubby told me that when we were dating, someone from his work used to say "So, you seeing the Holy Roller this weekend?"  I guess that going to church on Sunday qualified me.  Maybe this is because so few people actually go to church anymore.  Well, ok, I suppose it also helped that I had a priest friend with whom I would occasionally share dinner.

But I do think it's a little weird that going to church qualifies one as a "Holy Roller."  I mean this title of "holy roller" isn't something I aspired to, but I could be, and have been, called worse.  I definitely don't see it as a bad thing to be, although most people quip this more as a dig than a compliment.  A favorite quote by G.K. Chesterton I posted in my last Quick Takes Friday makes a lot of sense:  "Just going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car."  There are plenty of people who are in church, but who fail to let God in, fail to live true to the gospel and take Jesus out to the world (I can probably include myself in these categories at times).  Being a church goer does not qualify one as holy and it doesn't necessarily make you a better Christian than others.

But it did get me to thinking:  Why must we demean holiness?  Isn't it something we should attain?  Aren't we all called to holiness?  I mean, truly, holiness is merely working to become fully the person God intended us to be.  Working away at our defects and weaknesses.  Trying to live an authentic life.  Do people not want to be a work in progress?  Are people truly satisfied with who they are and think there is nothing about themselves that they can improve?

I think what people don't want to be, is "holier-than-thou."  I think there are people who may say this of me, that I am "holier-than-thou" and think I have all the answers.  I do not.  I know I do not.  I am working to understand and parse through, piece by piece, the answers the Church has given us.  She makes sense, in areas that most people cannot believe makes sense.  I'm not sure how that makes me holier-than-thou.  I'm trying to humbly point out how I came to be "in line" with the Catholic Church teachings.  I think there is real wisdom in it. I refuse to take what society throws at us as absolute truth.  Have you seen what they throw at us?  I refuse the auto buy in.

However, I think what really turns people off from the idea of being holy is that they feel that then they could not enjoy life, they could not have any fun.  I think they feel like they could not be free to be themselves.  I feel more free to be myself and am more open and honest now that I have God and my faith back ,then I was when worldly freedom had it's grip on my life.  I can look back at past negative experiences and not just dwell on them in misery.  Instead I can say "Yes, I regret those choices but I can make better ones moving forward."  I can have some stress in my life and choose to be hopeful in God's plan rather than make myself crazy trying to figure out how I can fix it.  I can have fun just enjoying a glass of wine playing Candy Land with my husband, having a picnic with my girls after work at the park, or sitting reading a good and challenging book.

Being holy is working to be the best you can be in all aspects of your life - work or play, friendship or family ties.  Who doesn't want that?  Being holy means being true to yourself, to the you that God intended you to be; not to the you that everyone thinks you should be or even the you that you sometimes feel you want to be.  We all have tendencies to want things that are not good for us or to do things our own way, myself included.  If we were to ask ourselves "Will this help me be the person that God intended me to be?  Will this help me to be the very best version of myself?" maybe we will start to make different choices.  I know I still have PLENTY of areas that I can work on.  So go ahead and call me a holy roller.  I'll take it as a compliment.  But I am humble enough to know that I am not there, yet I must acknowledge that God wants me to keep trying.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Seven Quick Takes Friday (4)

Thanks to Jen at for hosting.  Let's get right to it... 

Wanted to make it to the beach this week to visit with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law and their kids.  It's been such beautiful weather this week here in NH.  It never happened though.  It would have been Wednesday or Thursday that I took the drive out since I work Monday, Tuesday and Friday.  But it was a good thing I didn't on Wednesday because I ended up feeling horrible right after the girls' bed time.  Nauseous and dizzy.  Would not have been a good drive home.  I think that I may not have had enough water that day.  Maybe it wasn't enough carbs. Anyway, Thursday I visited with my mother-in-law who broke her foot the first day of summer watching our girls.  I figured she would have normally spent some time at the beach so we should go spend some time visiting with her.  It was a really nice visit, although the girls wanted to do nothing but climb on mama.  I wonder if it's the cast that is having Alicia be so standoffish with her Nana.  Alicia did do some drawing on her cast which she hasn't until now.  Nana's cast should come off in two weeks!  Hopefully!  I STILL feel guilty.

There was lots going on this week that I needed to get done.  I left my post-it "to do" list behind at my mom's house on Tuesday, so I rewrote the list in a notebook.  After taking a look at said list today, I only ended up accomplishing three things on my "to do" list out of a possible 14.  The list just keeps getting longer and longer.  Posting on my blog was on the list, but it will have to wait until early next week.  I started it, but never got back to it.  "Holy Roller" post will be coming next week.  I think...  tonight I'm off to finish thank you letters for my daughter's birthday presents along with the pictures I insert from her annual photo shoot!

Our 10 month old started crawling this week on Monday.  Funny thing is, the day I said that I wasn't ready for it, she started.  Now the fun begins.  A little delayed, this whole crawling thing, but her sister started walking at just a little over a year, well before she was crawling.  As much as I don't feel ready for this, I'm glad she's becoming more independent.  She was getting heavy, carrying her around all the time - I think she weighs almost 24 pounds.  Now, big sister Alicia HAS to pick up all her small toys.  She just turned three so this shouldn't be a big problem, but any tips on how to keep her focused on it so I'm not nagging her all the time?  Although, I suppose it's a mother's job to be a nag. 

Time to get going on my fundraising for the Jimmy Fund Walk in Boston on September 18th.  I've come to the conclusion that fundraising is not my thing, although in 2001 I raised quite a bit of money for the American Stroke Association.  I've committed to this walk in honor of a brave little 10 year old girl with an inoperable brain tumor (my husband's cousin's daughter - diagnosed at the age of 6).  Check out her website here, read especially "The First Year" and "Make-A-Wish" pages.   Last time we saw this sweet little girl was a few months back and she was so interested in watching and playing with both our little girls.  Anyway, I decided that it was best to step outside of my little world and help with a very worthy cause.  I only need to raise $250, so basically 10 people at $25 will do it, even 9 people would do since I'm considering myself donor #10.  Please consider donating if you can.  Every little bit helps.  I will be sending out a letter and email soon (this was also on the above "to do" list).  Thank you in advance for whatever you can do.  As far as my physical readiness for the walk, I'm not AT ALL ready.  OK, so it's only 5 miles I plan on walking, but I'll be pushing a double jogging stroller with at least 50 pounds worth of kiddos in it!  I signed up for this walk with the intention of adding walking to my routine and it has yet to happen.  Maybe in a few weeks when things settle down.  But don't we always tell ourselves this?!

Surgery for my cousin's endometriosis was just Wednesday.  The surgery went well and she seems to be feeling alright.  I'm really hoping it helps her and her husband on their journey to having children.  She started learning about the Creighton method recently and is seeing the Na Pro doctor that I saw when we had trouble conceiving baby #2.  She has a blog about her experiences with IVF and her more recent journey to learn Creighton. (There's also a link to her blog Eat.Scream.Cry on my "Bloggers" tab.)  Sending lots of love and prayers for a speedy recovery and to achieving the family of their dreams.  They will be great parents when it happens for them.  If you could add it to your intentions, please pray for them as they continue their struggle with infertility which will hopefully turn around very soon.

"Just going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car." G.K. Chesterton.  I LOVE this quote.  Don't just stand there in church!  (OK, but you still should GO to church!)  Don't be afraid to live it people!  Get out there and be an example of Christ for others! 

Confession time:  I'm not doing so great with saying the rosary daily.  Actually, I haven't even said it once since posting about praying the rosary.  Best of intentions not put into practice.  Poop! (my favorite curse word since becoming a mom!)  Maybe soon?!  Why do I struggle with spending time in prayer?  This bothers me; ok bothers isn't the right word.  This makes me sad.  I MUST CARVE OUT MORE TIME FOR PRAYER!!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Seven Quick Takes Friday (3)

Thanks to Jen at for hosting Seven Quick Takes.  I like doing this every week because it forces me to sit down and write something.  I try to add topics as I think of them, even if it's well before time for a post...

Had a really nice 4th of July weekend.  When we went to see the fireworks on the 4th, Alicia covered her ears the whole time because it was too loud, but she had a good time.  When we left to head home she said thank you and then again first thing in the morning, she woke up at 6:30AM!!!, she thanked me again.  How sweet is she?  She still is talking about them and saying that she had a good time watching the fireworks.  I'm hoping that in a few years, she will enjoy the booms although I know with me it took quite a while to actually enjoy them.  Hannah didn't seem to mind although initially we thought she was going to really NOT like it.  But she didn't let out a peep and was definitely was paying attention (mostly to the noise) because any time there was a boom she'd whip her head around to see what happened.  Below are two pictures of my ladies 4th of July weekend!

In previous quick take posts I wrote about what's going on in some nearby public schools, ie. the graphic sex survey and condoms being handed out, both in middle school.  Well, just the other day I saw this quote:  “The preservation of innocence is not due to prudery, to fear, to love of isolation, but to a passionate desire to preserve a secret until God gives the one to whom it can be whispered.”  - Archbishop Fulton Sheen.  LOVE IT!

My daughter's birthday was yesterday.  Went to go do pictures in the morning and Alicia was horribly shy!!  She has never been so disagreeable.  She wasn't throwing tantrums, just climbing in my lap, refusing to take pictures.  Eventually I chased her around which got her laughing and I'd run and grab her and bring her back.  The best pictures were caught when they brought in the Lego table for her.  Good grief.  She's never been like that.  Luckily we managed to get a few really great shots.   The rest of the day was nice - we went to visit her nana and then at night we had a small gathering at night to celebrate the actual day of her birthday.  She was very excited to have cake and then she played Candy Land for the first time.  (Hubby and I played after she went to bed.  A nice enjoyable game where you don't have to do much thinking.  AHHH!!!  It was GREAT fun - I think I was giggling almost the whole time!  We had wine as well, so I suppose that helps too!)

My daughter's birthday party is tomorrow.  Below is a picture of her cake.  She LOVES Word World.  Preparing for her party was pretty time consuming this year.  I decided to create homemade word world coloring books for favors for the kiddos along with homemade sugar cookies, both using letter cookie cutters AND regular round sugar cookies with edible icing pressed onto frosting (DO NOT frost cookies or cakes when it is 90 degrees in your house - things melt and don't look all that great!), alphabet pasta salad (because of the word world theme) and bake a two layer cake myself.  Not sure I'll do a theme next time around, although maybe I've already set the bar a little too high.  Next year maybe I'll keep it more simple.  Keep those expectations a little lower.  Will she remember this party next time around? 

My intention has been to keep Alicia from taking afternoon naps since last Thursday.  Every night she would stay up asking to go potty several times until almost 11:30.  I was getting nothing accomplished.  It's been going really well, except for wetting the bed.  She sleeps through the night, although we also made her crib into a big girl bed on the 4th of July and she's started waking up earlier.  I actually teared up a little when  I saw her lying down on her big girl bed for the first time.  It seems like she's growing up so fast and she's only three!  But now she does get to play in her bedroom in the morning for a little bit which I think she likes.  We got her those silly safety rails on her birthday because she keeps falling out of bed - every night since we put it up.  Oddly enough, she doesn't always wake up when she hits the pillows we put on the floor in front of the bed.  The bed rail actually covers the whole bed, so I think we're going to just do without.  What's the point, really?  We could just keep her in her crib.  Here's a picture of her on her big girl bed.  I think convertible cribs are the way to go.

I asked my hubby to get me a book for Mother's Day that I had heard about and really wanted to check out.  Since we set pretty low spending limits on our gifts, I figured this would be a helpful hint that should keep him within out budget guidelines.  So just this week, I finally finished the Book:  The 10 Habits of Happy Moms by Dr. Meg Meeker (check out her web site here).  I really will have to reread it and jot down a few notes to remind myself in quick snippets what I've learned there.  The best one yet is Say "No to Competition".  Best advice EVER, at least I think.  Comparing ourselves to other moms doesn't help anyone.  GREAT advice.  So, I also got my hubby "Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters" for Father's Day by the same author.  Just some of the parts he has read out loud to me are shocking.  I probably will have to read that one too, just to be sure we're on the same page.  I'm already doing some things wrong, but will have to start correcting myself.  The advice given is so good.  And this book, by the way, is scaring the crap out of my husband (he's posted about what he thinks so far here).  I think he's freaked out that he has to be our daughters' hero.  But I know he'll be great.  That's part of why I got him the book.  I bet on most levels, he already knows in his heart what to do to be a good daddy to little girls.

Been really enjoying a few other Catholic bloggers.  Little Catholic Bubble and Bad Catholic are my faves these days.  Also Endless Strength.  It is nice to see opinions that are similar to mine on topics that are such hot topics and so divisive.  Most people that know me, and lots that don't know me for that matter, do not share the same views as me these days, so it is nice to know there are others who have the same strong opinion as me.  My first controversial blog post titled When Disagreement Equals Phobia which I just posted this week produced very little in the way of comments.  I really thought people would be very negative and tried to brace myself for it, but I was even more shocked that there weren't many comments at all.  Maybe people didn't know what to say, maybe people were taken aback by my feelings on same sex marriage, or maybe they thought here we go again with those Catholics.  I try not to be preachy in my blogging, but give an honest perspective of why and how I came to the views I have.  Anyway, these bloggers above (I've also linked to them on my bloggers page) that I read help to inspire me and sometimes even give me some fuel for thought.  Thanks for writing and sharing your thoughts and lives on your blogs.  It is great inspiration and comfort.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

When Disagreement Equals Phobia

In light of same sex marriage being enacted into law in New York recently, I fear it is time for my first really controversial blog post.  I'm sure many of you will not agree with me; I truly hope that any comments posted on this subject can be discussed civilly (please do feel free to post comments - I am interested in your thoughts on what I've written).  Try to hear me out, try to stay with my writing and read it to the end.  But I AM one of THOSE Catholics who believes that marriage should not be redefined to include same sex partners.  True marriage is between a male and a female. 

To be honest, I never thought I'd have much to say on this issue.  It wasn't all that long ago that I found myself sitting in Church wondering why people thought that God, in his love and mercy, would possibly condemn homosexual persons for acting on something that God himself placed there.  Who are we to judge?  But I've come to realize that it isn't about judging homosexual persons, rather, that we are called to speak the truth with love.

Regardless of what our society says, there is truth, objective truth, a reality that we cannot change or decide for ourselves.  Most people fail to believe in this; moral relativism rules the day.  We say to ourselves, MY conscience tells me this is ok.  This is what works FOR ME.  What we fail to see, is that God has a plan.  Just because we want to be "free" to do what we want, does not make it right.  We cannot create our own moral code.  God created us to CHOOSE between good and evil, not to DETERMINE what they are.

Part of our truth is that our world is fallen.  God gave us free will.  He wanted us to choose him FREELY.  However, most of the time, myself included when I sin, we choose to disregard God, to NOT choose Him and His way.  We think that we know better than God, what would make us happy.   How well does that work out for you?  I know that when I was doing things "my" way, I was not happy at all.  I was actually quite miserable.

So, back to how I came to see God's plan for us.  A few years back, my husband and I went to a four part lecture at our church on Theology of the Body.  Some pretty amazing and complicated stuff, but some of the basics made so much sense.   I think we all take for granted what love is, but for what it's worth, love is desiring the good for the other, above desiring the good for ourselves.  We are all created to love and live in communion with others.  We were not created to be in isolation, rather, we are all created in the very image God as a triune God: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  So, specifically in marriage as a mirror of the Trinity, a man and a woman join together as one flesh, creating a whole new being from this union.  (Read my post on the Trinity here).

If we are to image God, the Holy Trinity, we need to know how he loves.  So, how does God love us?  He gives His love FREELY to us.  His love is TOTAL, complete and He gives all of Himself to us, withholding nothing.  God is FAITHFUL; he never abandons us and never stops loving us.  God's love is FRUITFUL and brings us life - Jesus died for us so that we could have new life.  God actually gave us the desire for love, ie. happiness and union with him!  God created us for love!  Why are we are all so interested in the "marital" union, sexual intercourse?  Sexual intercourse actually points us to God!!!  No wonder it's so wonderful, right?!  Marriage here on earth is a foreshadowing of our union with God.  And no, we won't be in heaven as one big sexual orgy - that's just the closest comparison we have to envision just how wonderful our communion with God will be.  He made us desire sex, stamped the language of love into our very bodies as male and female, then commanded us "Be fruitful and multiply."  So, then what marriage is truly meant to be: a FREE, TOTAL, FAITHFUL and FRUITFUL exchange of love between one man and one woman.  

What does this mean for same sex couples?  Or why just between one man and one woman?  To draw on the Free, Total, Faithful and Fruitfulness of the marriage covenant is simply not possible for the same sex couple.  They do not give of themselves to each other totally, no gift of fertility can ever happen and hence there is no way for their union in the sexual act to produce that new little human being, not fruitful.  Let's say you don't buy into this Free, Total, Faithful, Fruitful thing.  Let's say you don't believe in God.  If you want to go with the law of nature, two same sex animals cannot produce offspring.  Two beings with separate genders need to come together to propagate the species.  I will grant you, marriage is not all about propagation of the species, but it is what keeps babies coming into the world, well, ok minus IVF.  Maybe I'll post on that topic another day.

I have to admit that homosexual persons have a pretty difficult cross to bear in this, God's plan for sexuality.  Can we really expect people to go their whole lives chastely?  I mean, they have needs, right?!?  Our society equates love with sexual activity and no one wants to deny others love.  However, true love is giving of yourself to another in service.  There is no requirement for a bodily exchange.  Yes, we all desire that exchange as it points us to God.  But any exchange outside of a true marriage does not mirror the Holy Trinity and does nothing to point us towards God.

I'm sure that I've probably not done very much to change your mind if you are, in fact, in favor of same sex marriage.  Hopefully I've given you something to mull over, at any rate.  But here's what I fail to understand: how does my disagreement with this new "definition" of marriage, which in my eyes can never be redefined even if new law says it is something different, make me homophobic.  There is never a reason to fear, condemn, belittle or look down upon homosexual persons.  They simply have different struggles than I do. They are God's children and have my love and respect.  I just do not understand how disagreement equals phobia.  I am not afraid of homosexual persons, truly I have empathy for these individuals whom I feel are seeking out God in our Godless society.  They may not realize that is what they are doing - searching for God; I certainly didn't when I was mired in all my sexual sin.   I just know that only when I was truly keeping my heart open to God did I see how my life back then was so far from His plan for me.  Keeping an open heart to truly try to understand why the Church teaches what she does on sexuality was a key turning point.  I hope that you, as a reader, have at least tried to read through this to see why I now hold true marriage to only be between one man and one woman.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Seven Quick Takes Friday (2)

My second quick takes to start off July.  Thank you to Jen at Conversion Diary for hosting and congratulations on your bundle of joy, Pamela.  Happy Fourth of July everyone!

Do you ever watch Maury Povich and think to yourself: "How could that poor girl not know who the father of her child is?"  OK, so I haven't really watched it, at least not in the past few years.  But while most people are quick to condemn and quite often find these ladies disgusting for having a lax moral code, I always have sympathy for these girls who are testing father #5, #8.  I mean, truly, what happened in this girl's life that led her to such behavior?  She probably thinks she is just having a good time with her sexuality and doesn't care, but anyone who has been there knows the truth.  Makes me sad.  I don't watch this show, partly because it is on when the girls are awake and I try not to watch a lot of TV, but mostly because it hurts my heart.


Praying the rosary is something that I don't think I ever got into saying when I was younger.  If I did, I know that I was not saying it paying attention to the mysteries and I would just say the Our Fathers and Hail Marys for each bead.  I think it may  be time to add this to my prayer life, just have to figure out WHERE to fit it in.  Would like to do this daily, but I think I will have to see where I can best find time for it.  During nap time for Hannah?  Maybe Alicia and I can start saying it together when I put Hannah down.  It might be nice or she'll drive me to distraction.  We'll see where that goes.   
picture of the rosary made with rose petals
from Memere B's memorial flowers
I have to wonder at people who go to church and think mass is too long, they don't say any of the words, sing or participate in any way.  It is really great that they are there, and I'm not supposed to judge, but sometimes I just get so annoyed.  Are you really there?  Why did you come?  Is it to fulfill an obligation?  Do you think your singing voice is horrible?  By the way, If God gave you a poor singing voice, He deserves to hear it back.  In my more generous moments, I wonder if they are going through a difficult time.  Do you have some hurt that renders you unable to get any words out?  Cannot sing because your voice will crack and bring tears to your eyes?  I've been in that last category - at church unable to speak or sing, lest I cry.  Which leads me to think, you know, sometimes a good cry at church might be a good thing. Haven't done that in a while.

Went to confession earlier this week.  I somehow came to the realization that I was firing on all cylinders.  I took a look at the seven deadly sins and figured I had at least one thing to confess in each category.  Envy, pride, wrath, sloth, gluttony, lust and greed.  I used to have my "usual" list that I would try to work on between confession sessions.  Luckily I seem to be doing better with MOST of those.  However, now I am adding to my shortcomings.  Great.  My last confession was a month and a half ago.  We'll see how long it takes me to go back;  my best bet - sometime in mid August.  Praise God that Jesus institued this sacrament before his ascension into heaven.  I left feeling SOOOO much better and am so grateful that God doesn't leave us to "sit in it."  We have the ability to put it all out there and let it go, and then start over with a clean slate.  This is ALMOST my favorite sacrament.  Almost. 

Saw another email in my inbox last week that didn't make my first Seven Quick Takes Friday (1), see #6 at the link for last week's email outrage.  Email #2:  Condoms were distributed in middle school to 7th and 8th graders by accident.  This by a school district that has an abstinence based health curriculum where "distribution of birth-control devices isn’t done at any grade level."  ODD!  There must be someone who knew what the topic of the assembly was going to be.  The health educator "maintains she didn’t deliberately distribute them, but that students might have picked them up."  Interesting...  I suppose at least we should be glad that the principal apologized for this action and that he called it highly inappropriate.  Not sure how I feel about sending my girls to public school these days.  The things I hear make me more and more nervous about what is going on in our schools.

I've been listening to the Station of the Cross on AM radio these days or online.  Can't stand it when it doesn't come in, or fades out just during what seems to be the main point of the topic the host is covering.  The SonRise morning show, Women of Grace, are top on my list, but my favorite has to be Mornings with Mother, even though they are all repeats of prior broadcasts.  The foundress of EWTN, Mother Angelica, is just too funny (I don't know she's doing any public speaking and I think that she is not in good health these days).  Every time I hear her speak she always has something she says that makes me chuckle right out loud and usually she is laughing herself.  I have various post it notes with little quips that may someday make it to a blog post.  She's pretty good for inspiration, I think.

Been really enjoying quite a few G.K. Chesterton quotes.  My favorite right now applies to so many different situations:  To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it. A Short History of England (1917). Really must find a book of his to read.  There would be plenty of options and I'm sure I'd be fascinated.  Need to renew my library membership...