Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Chapel Veil. I am confused.

I was born in 1981. I was born a Lutheran.

Two strikes against me for having any understanding of the chapel veil.

Before I go any further, if this is your personal devotion and you feel it's something the Lord has called you to do, by all means go on with it and don't let me dissuade you! A call I can understand. I don't even have to know the reason 'cause that's between you and the Lord. You go rock that veil.

Confusion sets in when it goes much beyond this. I thought I had it figured out about 5 different times.

- 1 Corinthians 11. Ok, women should cover their hair. Got it. Great.
...except we don't do that anymore.

- It's to show humility before the Lord.
- It's to cover our beauty.
- It's because of the angels (yeah, don't get that one at all, but someone just said it, so ok.)

...the difficulty I have with this is the other article I read (darn it, I can't find it!) where a husband/father waxed eloquent about how beautiful his wife and daughters look at Mass because they wear chapel veils.

FAIL. maybe?

(Or perhaps I should just whisper, "I hope the angels didn't notice!")

Ohmygoodness, sorry, I couldn't resist. If I knew what that meant, I probably wouldn't say it.

Fortunately for me, if it's for the sake of covering beauty, I think my hair does that just fine - I generally wear it up in a wet mop, so um, no distractions or vanity here folks!

Today I stumbled across this great little post by a nun, The Return of the Chapel Veil.

"I contend that the Chapel Veil was born to save big hair from being squashed. I can only back that up with empirical evidence: before the Chapel Veil, we all either wore a hat or a bandanna, St. Bernadette scarf to Mass.  So we all looked like Polish cleaning ladies, except around Easter, when we all had our new hats.  When 60's big hair arrived, so did the Chapel Veil."


It makes sense:
- Women wore hats.
- Then hair got big.
- Hats squish big hair. 
-Women wore veils - or doilies. 

...but then what? Hair got long and sleek and the chapel veils slipped off? (Grasping at straws here folks).

I don't have big hair to squish (phew, dogged a couple bullets there) so I think I'd be much more inclined to wear a modest hat to Mass than a lacy veil. I'd also feel a lot less like angels were staring at me.

...except that I still don't understand why, apart from it being a private devotion. 


Friday, September 13, 2013

Homeschooling an Extrovert

Iain is an extrovert. From what I can tell, his sisters are introverts. While I have seasons of life where I am more or less introverted, this is most definitely an introverted season. I'm peopled-out by the 24/7 responsibility of motherhood. The idea of socializing beyond that is exhausting. Having people over for dinner gives me anxiety attacks (No joke. Ask my husband).

For a variety of reasons, Mark and I decided to give homeschooling a try. The school part is going really well. I think this is largely due to the fact that I started Iain in "kindergarten-lite" last year, so he's already up-to-speed on what a lot of kindergarteners are doing (I think). On the other hand, the gleam in his eye whenever he realizes he's going to see other people, other kids, is undeniable.

I've tried to plan the year so he does things 1-2x a week with other kids. He's part of the Good Shepherd program at our church, we're part of a homeschool co-op, he's involved in the Kindergarten program with the community we're part of, etc. ...and yet, part of me still feels guilty, every time I see that gleam in his eye, that he's not in a daily Kindergarten program.

I guess when I thought of homeschooling and the ridiculous comments, "But what about socialization?" I only thought about it as avoiding turning your child into one of those homeschooled kids, you know the socially awkward ones. I don't think Iain is going to have that problem. And yet, here I sit, asking myself "But what about socialization?" Not because I fear he'll be awkward, but because I can see that he craves it. He needs people.

And then there are my own fears. I know, I'm a mom. I'm bound to have fears for my children. Some real, some imaginary.

Iain is a child with a lot of labels. We all are, but his are perhaps more obvious: Catholic, Redhead, Multiple Allergies, [partial] Lefty.  To him, these things are part of who he is, and as unexceptional to him as being a boy, or an oldest child. As "tolerant" as our society likes to think it is, labels invite teasing and bullying. And Iain's an extrovert. My heart weeps at the thought of this people-loving child opening wide his heart to "All these friends!" only to have a small number of them make him wish he'd never done that.

I know I can't protect him forever, and doing so is not a service to him. My role as a mother isn't to shelter him from the world, but to teach him how to interact with it. So here I am, hoping that by starting him out in the shallow-end of the wide world of people, I can introduce him slowly, as he (and I) can handle it. There are bound to be disappointments, even in the shallow end, and as much as I hate to say this, I hope there are so that we can navigate them together. And he will discover that he has labels and that they make him who he is. And my hope is that he will learn to embrace them, rather than learning to be ashamed of them, so he will grow to be a confident, kind, extroverted young man: Catholic, Redhead, Multiple Allergies, [partial] Lefty and more!

So right now, for this and many other reasons, we're homeschooling. Perhaps this will be a short-lived venture with Iain, or perhaps not. We'll see...

Please feel free to share any insights on any of the above. I'm an eager learner.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Homeschooling Week 2: Still Not Enough Chocolate

...but this time I know it's my fault.

It was a day of too much. From the moment the kiddos begged to splash in the wading pool in the 55 degree morning sunshine, I suspected it might be. They did splash in the wading pool. I believe the temp was up at 65 by that point. It was blissfully peaceful for about 30 minutes, but then it was showers and getting dressed and lunch time and...GET IN THE VAN, WE'RE GOING TO BE LATE (although in actual fact, we arrived right on time!)

Our first official Homeschool Field Trip was on the calendar for 1 pm down at our local Nature Center (I highly recommend having one close by; they're amazing!) Every month they pick a topic and for 2 hours on a Thursday afternoon they present it to the local Homeschool kids and their families. Today's topic: Bee Ecology.

Things I learned (Iain apparently learned nothing, as he claimed he forgot it all when I asked him to tell Daddy about his day)
- Apiary: Where the beehives are
- the bee eggs are laid in the bottom part of the hives while honey is collected in the upper part of the hive. I was relieved to learn this, as I'd been imagining eating honeycomb, larvae and all. Yuck.
- Don't take all 4 of your children to Bee Ecology. It's a handful and the "sheds" (where you stand behind screens to watch the beekeeper) aren't exactly stroller-friendly.
- Lucy is apparently already at the age where she prefers to nap at home, rather than being lugged around during naptime. 6:30 pm and she's still trying to recover from this assault on her preferences.
- It was brilliant of me to pack an applesauce pouch for myself, as well as for the 3 kiddos, so that when I was trying to explain sweetly to one of my children what "Mommy's about to lose it" meant, I knew I had a sugar-boost just 50 feet away.

Did you notice how that began as interesting bee information and then morphed into mom lessons? Yeah, that was the afternoon.

After that we visited Mark at the office.

Three times between the end of Bee Ecology and arriving home, I tried to nurse a screaming baby. She refused to eat, but screamed enough for a dramatic let-down. TMI? You're welcome. She later filled her pants, twice, so I'm guessing that was what the fuss was about.

I nearly lost it again when we arrived home and my very kind, sensitive oldest said, "Mommy, I told you that I'm going to have a toast and honey snack. Right?" ...which I had said he could have as an after breakfast snack. Not a 30 min before dinner snack. (And how exactly is that asking, anyway?!) So he started crying and went to his room to take a nap. I went to try to feed a screaming baby [semi-fail], eat chocolate in the family room, and reheat leftovers for dinner. After which Iain did eat "toast on honey."

And we didn't even get any school done. But mommy learned a lot today.

And Daddy is a saint. He's out with the older 3, playing disc golf, while I stay here putting our house back together and listen to a screaming baby who is refusing to nurse, again.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

So You Think You Want to Homeschool? There might not be enough chocolate for that.

At the end of the first day I sat on the couch downstairs, hiding from the kiddos, wondering what I would do when I got to the end of the chocolate bar I was eating. Eat another? Cry?

It wasn't the school part that was the problem. No. My lesson plan was great. Iain did really well. We even managed to accomplish almost everything I had planned. I didn't plan for it to take 5 hours, but nonetheless, it was done.

It was the girls, ages 4 and 2. I hadn't anticipated them being so...needy. I don't recall a day where they have so absolutely, non-negotiably insisted upon 100% of my attention. The whining, the tantrums, the insisting on being with me, if not on me, all. the. time.

It must be a new-to-homeshooling/life-has-changed-and-I'm-insecure thing. Right? Please tell me "this too shall pass."

I need some advice. What do I do on days like this this? How do you handle the needy younger siblings who are preventing you from getting any school done?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Every Baby Comes with a Loaf of Bread

Don't worry, this isn't a soap-box on having as many children as you can! If you were hoping for a soap-box, here's all I've got for you: I've known many families who have had surprise babies and I think in those circumstances this little phrase is easiest seen. God loves babies. If he gives you one, He also provides - perhaps not what you want or the way you want it - but rather what He knows you need. 'Nuff said.

I just want to briefly mention an example of how I've seen this "truism" in our life and also what I felt called to do for Lent this year. Yes, they're related.

What I've noticed quite distinctly is that with every child added to our family, my cooking skills take a step up. Yeah, sounds kinda trivial doesn't it? I have to laugh when I think that our little "loaf of bread" is a momma who gets more and more competent in the kitchen.

Considering the various food allergies each of my kiddos has, not to mention my own recent foray into a gluten-free lifestyle, this increase in kitchen competence is no small grace!

So, for Lent this year, I felt called to do something that didn't seem particularly Lenten: to really engage in an effort to cook meals that could be eaten by every member of our family. Previously, I had been making variations on a theme to suit everyone's needs - and there are times that's the best I can do - but to make those 4 different meals every. single. day. was wearing on me. I must admit, it seemed like cheating to take on something for Lent that would (hopefully) make my life easier. But I suppose our Lenten sacrifices are meant to lead us to deeper freedom, so I guess this counts, right?

I knew that it was truly the Lord's inspiration when it started happening so easily! I would stumble across blogs that had recipes for all sorts of things I would never had thought I could make for everyone - like creamy sauces! These recipes have been springboards for all sorts of allergen-free possibilities.

My fear - really the fear that had held me back from doing this earlier (aside from the fear of bland food, which also turned out to be baseless!) - was that our grocery bill would be through the roof. In reality I've found this isn't the case. I'm more aware of what ingredients I use, but that hasn't translated to increased expense, at all!

So, this Lent has provided me with an increased repertoire of family-friendly meals. Cost hasn't increased, and at almost every meal I've heard my picky eaters exclaiming, "This is my favorite meal ever, can we have this again?!"

If you're interested in some of the recipes I've been using, you can find them at the recipe blog I share with my sisters: Three Cooking Sisters.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Incentive for Young Children

I was inspired by this blog post, by a mom who came up with a genius idea of how to motivate her children to clean their rooms without her constant nagging!

She uses a jar full of coins for each child and if their room doesn't pass inspection every day, a coin is removed. At the end of the month, the remaining coins are theirs to spend as they please.

Now, my kiddos are too young to appreciate a jar of coins with all its possibilities. In addition, I don't think I'm quite ready to give money to my kids to spend frivolously.

So, Skittles it is!

My twist on it is:

At the beginning of each week, I'll put 10 (?) Skittles in a separate jar for each child.

Each time they are asked to tidy up, be it the living room, their bedroom, etc. a timer will be set. If the area is not tidied in the allotted time, a Skittle will be removed from their jar.

Additionally, I'll come up with a voluntary chore system by which they can earn a Skittle or two for their jar by completing the chore to my satisfaction (number pre-determined by the effort required to complete the chore).

- Dusting
- Matching socks
- Sweeping the floor

You get the idea.

On Sunday, they will be able to eat all the Skittles in their jar.

I welcome feedback. Have you tried something similar? How did it work for you?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Isaiah 55:8

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.

Not long ago, I posted this on Facebook: 

Little did I know I would soon be shown an example of this from my own life.

A bit of background:

We are looking forward to a family trip overseas to visit Mark's parents, brother, uncle, get the picture. There are a number of people in Scotland that we are so excited to see! Sadly, this trip comes as a result of a health concern involving one of these people. Prayers for a full recovery are welcome!

Did I mention I'm pregnant? Fortunately, I will be able to "get in under the wire" as far as air travel is concerned - being not quite far enough along for travel to be prohibited. (Not to mention the amazing pregnancy I've been experiencing, with superb progesterone levels and not a hint of pre-term labor! Thank you Jesus and a gluten-free diet!)

Our travel window is defined by the above, the treatment plan for the ill person, Annie's 2nd birthday, before which she is 10% of an adult ticket, and Mark's work schedule. Needless to say, we had a number of rather important things to work around in order to find this window.

God knew this. 

And how does all this relate to my Facebook post?

Crazy Catholics children-loving people that we are, Mark and I were hoping for baby #4 for a few months before she finally graced us with her presence. I love having our children close in age and Annie was getting older by the month, resulting in our longest space between our children yet (19 m, 20 m, and now 26 m). I know, probably still Irish-twin status according to the rest of the world!

Now, I certainly don't want to make light of this baby's existence by assuming that the sole reason God waited longer than we would've to give her to us was so that I could fly overseas. However, I do recognize and marvel in this small part of His plan which allows:

a) Me to travel (I'm not too far along in my pregnancy)
b) Annie to be old enough to be not quite as much of a hand-full, but still not full fare.
c) We won't be traveling with a newborn in tow

If we had received the blessing of baby #4 when I wanted, none of the above would be the case. So, there you have it - God ruined all my plans month after month only to give me His plan in His time, which allows for us to visit overseas during the window of time that's available to us.

Thank you God for having a plan that was better than always.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Worth the Hype, Quick Takes

I realize I've been MIA for months, so if anyone is around to benefit, here you are: some of my favorite things. I apologize for all you Walmart-haters. I don't exactly love the place, myself, but I have to admit  the prices are right. 

I actually got this from my mom. THANKS MOM! It has transformed my hatred of laundry into a mild distaste. Considering our growing family (size and number) this is a blessing. This contraption is next to the dryer and I dump clean laundry in as follows: 1 bag for adult clothes, 1 bag for kid clothes, 1 bag for sheets/towels/etc. When a bag is full, it's time to haul it upstairs for folding and putting away. It would be even better if my kids hadn't fallen in love with it, too and pushed it around like the crazy people they are causing all sorts of cracks and breaks in the frame. Apparently there's a steel-frame version. I may be getting one of those, down the line.

I got an off-brand one (which I couldn't find a link for) from my sister, Heidi. THANKS HEIDI! She said it was about $1. Don't bother with the "Lodge" brand $8 set, but I wanted you to see a pic of what they are. They make scraping dishes with baked-on food remnants a breeze! No more scrubbing with a dish sponge or whatnot. Love it!

14 cents a diaper and they don't leak. Need I say more?

Not only the cheapest popcorn on the market, but also the tastiest. I'm not kidding. I've been known to go to Walmart simply to stock up on this stuff. It's that good. Big, fluffy, yummy - and probably GMO laden, but let's not go there, shall we?

Brand is irrelevant. Heck, mine is probably about 30 years old; I picked it up for $4 at Goodwill. No mess and no oil needed. Guess what no oil means? I can add all the butter I want and not feel bad about it. (I originally bought it 'cause I'm lazy but I love my popcorn, and then I realized what a brilliant little machine it is!) My mother, the popcorn guru-ess, even bought one after years of the pan-on-the-stove-method and then stir-crazy devotion.

Well, that's all for today, folks. I Hope I've made someone's life a little simpler. Walmart - not as bad as it seems (and hey, where else are you guaranteed  to see at least 1 person shopping in their pajamas?)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Gadget of the Week: Kitchen Shears

I know it's not a great picture, but this is what comes of having a camera phone that takes pictures that I can text to my email and a camera that, well, doesn't text. I'm Amish at heart, remember?

To the point (no pun intended) I wouldn't be half the mom I am without my kitchen shears. Do they have to be this brand? No. I don't even know what brand they are - Henkel maybe?

What do I do with them? E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G! Well, everything that requires cutting (or bottle opening).

Sandwiches, fresh herbs, veggies, chicken nuggets, pancakes, raw meat, cooked meat, I've even pruned with them.

Come to think of it, perhaps these awesome wonders of the gadget drawer (or knife block) should remain shrouded in a bit of mystery. Did I really just admit to cutting sandwiches, raw meat and pruning all with one item? Yes. Yes I did. Fortunately for all of us, they are also dishwasher safe. I love my kitchen shears!

What's your can't-live-without kitchen gadget?

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Intentional Cook: Iain-friendly cookies

This is the first of what may be a new series called The Intentional Cook. (Don't you love how non-commital I am?) In an attempt to make tasty food that accommodates our family's multiple food allergies and sensitivities, I have been forced into a creative and intentional method of cooking. Gone are the days of opening this, snacking on that... Here to stay are the days of planning, preparing and savoring healthy, "friendly" food.

Today's feature is egg/dairy allergen-free Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies that taste good. 

There are many recipes for allergen-free cookies, but before you send any links, check the ingredients. There are two key ingredients that create the flavor, texture and appeal of delicious baked goods: butter and eggs. Think about it. You know I'm right. When it comes to cookies you could throw vanilla in there for a 3rd, brown sugar for a 4th, etc. but really, butter and eggs are the foundation for tasty success. So you see, when I attempt to bake while accommodating allergies to these very ingredients the result is, well, disappointing - not for the 1 and 4 year old allergic recipients who are thrilled to have a tasteless hockey puck of sugar, but for their mother who knows exactly what they're missing. After a bit of experimenting and some divine inspiration, I think I have solved this problem!

Without further adieu, here's the recipe, adapted from Cook's Illustrated cookbook.

Heat oven to 325 and line cookie sheets with parchment

Combine and set aside:
2 cups + 2 Tbs flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

In a separate bowl beat together:
12 Tbs melted coconut oil*
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Mix in:
3/4 tsp egg-replacer powder
1 Tbs water
2 egg yolks (thoroughly separated from whites!)**
2 tsp vanilla

Gently combine wet and dry ingredients. 
Stir in 1.5 c Trader Joe's brand chocolate chips***

Place 1/4 c size blobs of dough onto cookie sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes (my oven required about 17 minutes). Cool cookies on the sheet. Obviously these are large cookies.

*Coconut oil is the butter substitute. Some people are allergic this, so do be careful. Yes, this will lend a tasty hint of coconut to your recipe. 

**The white of the egg contains the protein that causes the allergic reactions in *most* individuals with egg allergies. The egg yolk contains the flavor and fats of the egg. If the egg is well-seperated, the yolk is safe *for most people* to bake with. (I save the white and add it to my breakfast omelette for an extra shot of protein. I'm not allergic.)

***Most brands of chocolate chips contain milk products. Trader Joe's does not and is only about $.50 more expensive than regular chocolate chips. Hurray!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cathedrals of Death

What breaks your heart? What makes you weep like Rachel and causes blood to cry out like Abel's? What are you called to do about it, and when you hear that call, what is your response?

I ask myself these questions. My excuses are endless: I'm so busy, My children are young and keep my hands full, I pray, I donate. Perhaps that is enough. Maybe it is, for this season. Maybe it's not and if not, how will I answer for myself? If not, what example am I setting for my children and how does this example call them towards obedience...and courage. Isn't that it? Isn't it really that I'm afraid?

They have been called many things. I call them Cathedrals of Death.

Planned Parenthood has built these large centers in cities around the country:
Aurora, IL
Sarasota, FL
Portland, OR 
Denver, CO
Houston, TX
St Paul, MN
Michigan has stifled one, praise God!

Evil is the great imitator. It can not create, it can only distortedly mimic, disfigure and corrupt. Area clinics and regional mega-clinics. Did it just occur to someone at Planned Parenthood that this organizational structure was a good business idea? There's nothing new under the sun.

The Church gives life in its parishes and Cathedrals.
Abortion destroys life in its clinics and mega-clinics.

I pray that even now we might see glimpses of the future when "death has been swallowed up in victory." Come, Lord Jesus!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Techno Rant

I used to love computers. I was 5 years old. I remember sitting in the bedroom office, typing away at the computer. My dad worked - still works - with computers, so we had a home computer as far back as I can remember. I was confident and computer-literate. Yep, I was great with the spacebar. I wrote long stories and used the spacebar to navigate to the next line. I also used the spacebar to play the best game of all time: Space Invaders (our version had color, I don't know what's up with that one). I excelled at all that computer stuff. There she is, the same model that we had. (pic from here)

Jump forward a decade or less. I was sure I was a genius when I took that same computer, now sitting in (complete) parts in a corner of the basement, plugged everything together and...wait for it...turned it ON! Yes, that was a moment. I thought I had succeeded in something truly momentous, certainly far beyond my years. I guess that speaks for itself, doesn't it.

You would think having been raised with dinner conversations about gigabytes, software and hard drives, not to mention frequent "field trips" to visit Dad's office and the ridiculously noisy computer room -1980s air conditioning at its finest - I would be a natural with all this technology stuff.

The easiest A I ever got was my high school typing class. It was an elective and I needed an elective. That was what all that exposure got me. One A. In Typing. The rest was - and is - far beyond me.

Why am I on this rant, you ask? This evening I wanted to write a blog post about all the fun we've had during the past month or so. I wanted to include some great pictures that my in-laws took from our family vacation to the North Shore. But could I? Could I? Well, I could look at them in photo stream on my Macbook. I finally figured out something and got them somewhere. I'm sure I'm going to get the evil eye from Mark when he gets home. Quite frankly between super-important things like sorting through our finances and not-so-important but perhaps more urgent things like changing a zillion poopy diapers a day, do I have time or energy to try to understand what I haven't understood for 25 years despite a full-immersion lifestyle? I don't think I need to answer that for you.

Oh, and don't get me started on this new blogger configuration. I'm going to stop writing this now so I can find a pen, paper, bottle and cork. If you find my SOS, I'm lost somewhere in the land of Utter Frustration.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

NFP, my new favorite topic?

Wow. I wrote a whole post and with one misplaced keystroke, I erased the whole thing. grr. Well, here are the highlights, since I don't have the time or energy to rewrite the whole thing:

- Instead of constantly posting addendums, I am hereby warn you that NFP will probably be a regular topic and that I retain the right to correct  or expound on my thoughts.

- Thank you to all who have given me feedback on my previous posts. I am happy to hear from you and if you prefer the privacy of a Facebook message, I will certainly respect your privacy.

- One of the helpful criticisms that I received re my addendum was that perhaps its tone was too apologetic (er, not in the doctrinal sense). Ah, the pendulum. I suggest "blurring" my two posts together to reach a happy medium. 'Nuff said.

- For the sake of clarity, I want to revisit my statement that NFP is not intrinsically good for marriage. What I meant was that it is not meant to be used as an end in itself but as a tool for the rightly-discerned spacing of children. I have heard delighted exclamations from good-hearted-but-misinformed single women about the beauty of NFP and how they can't wait to get married so they too can use it! To which I say, uh, you're missing the point, sister.

Note: A la St Paul, a couple may feel called to abstain as a form of fasting. I would differentiate this abstinence from NFP in the same way that dieting is different from fasting. (Clearly they can be combined, but are not necessarily).

-- Does NFP demand and aid in the development of marital selflessness, communication and prayerful discernement? YES!

-- Do you know what else does that (dare I say, better)? Children.

Note: The knowledge that NFP provides can help in achieving pregnancy. However, these women were clearly taken with the idea of NFPs selflessness, communication and prayerful discernment, and at least momentarily overlooked the Church's beautiful understanding of the sacramentality of the marital union.

For further reading, here's a great blog post:

Truth in Advertising: How We Talk About NFP

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Addendum to NFP and Average Me

I'm not entirely clear on what my purpose in writing that post was - I think perhaps it was to get myself out there; to put myself in the conversation. I know this area (sexuality, ethics and human dignity) is my mission field, but for whatever reason I've been relatively quiet about it. I felt it was time to get on with it.

I chose the approach I did because I've been struck by the quantity of two opposing voices among NFP users. There are those who struggle (and I in no way wish to diminish the reality of their cross), and then there's the chorus of couples who probably also poop rainbows and write poetry about the wonders of NFP.

I find myself to be neither. I'm distinctly average: the person the textbook was written about, but I don't love NFP. I'd rather not have to use it ever at all. I'd rather God just give us the exact number of children that we can handle, as we can handle them, but that's not reality. I moderately dislike NFP. I despise [the idea of] contraception. I don't think I'm called to have 16 kids. That leaves NFP as the least worst option and, for me, a manageable if undesirable one. 

I wanted my voice to be somewhere in the mix between the rainbow-poopers and the people with very real burdens. I was hopeful that someone looking into NFP might read my post and see that for some of us it does "work." People need to hear this because our culture doesn't believe it. 

But me saying it works isn't me singing its high praises, or announcing that couples should use NFP [periodic abstinence] believing it's intrinsically good for marriages (eye-roll, head-shake).  For most of us, I think it's just a heck of a big step up from contraception.* ...and some struggle to believe that but they do it anyway. God bless them.

Friday, April 13, 2012

NFP and Average Me

NFP Buttons

NFP from my totally average perspective, by which I mean:

- non-ecological breastfeeding (sleeping-thru-the-night, pacifier-using) delays fertility by an average of 10 months
- cyclic mucus changes are obvious
- easy-to-read biphasic temperature shift

I have mixed feelings towards NFP. Why? One the one hand, it's opened a window making me an active observer as my body works to offer, bring forth and nurture new life.  On the other hand, gosh darn it, I can't unlearn it. I know, in a culture of control-freaks, this sounds weird, doesn't it? In fact, most women I know with large families or closely-spaced children make a point of letting you know that these children were "planned," as though to prove that NFP works, but they're open to life. But isn't there something beautiful about the idea that God's plan is better than ours? As I write this, I can feel my heart rate go up: What am I signing myself up for?!

Does this mean I'm a providentialist? I don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. Regardless, I think the 50% unplanned pregnancy rate found in our contraceptive culture seems unlikely for the average NFP-user. I guess it depends on what "unplanned" means. Particularly at this point in my ife, I'm not at all opposed to having an "unplanned" pregnancy, but considering my textbook averageness, I doubt I'll ever get pregnant by surprise. The closest I'll probably get is leaving it up to a God who has a better plan that I, knowing all the while when we're offering Him the right of first refusal. For the completely average woman, deciphering fertility is about as challenging as being toilet-trained. 

What you do with that information, well, that's up to you...but don't call the result an accident.

Here are some links for more information, but I gotta warn you, once you know your fertility signs, they're hard to ignore.

 - has awesome detailed explanations of the hormone cycle and the mucus they produce, just click on the various links for an education unlike any found elsewhere.

- teaches the basic "sympto-thermal" aka, mucus and temperature NFP method
- free charting website stores and interprets fertility data. 

- teaches a detailed mucus-only NFP method. 

- uses the Creighton method to decipher and solve women's health issues such as abnormal cycles, recurrent miscarriage, infertility, etc. in a way that works *with* a woman's body rather than circumventing the problem via birth control pills, ivf, etc.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Works of Mercy

The corporal works of mercy:
  • To feed the hungry;
  • To give drink to the thirsty;
  • To clothe the naked;
  • To harbour the harbourless;
  • To visit the sick;
  • To ransom the captive;
  • To bury the dead.
The spiritual works of mercy are:
  • To instruct the ignorant;
  • To counsel the doubtful;
  • To admonish sinners;
  • To bear wrongs patiently;
  • To forgive offences willingly;
  • To comfort the afflicted;
  • To pray for the living and the dead.
Taken from New Advent

I'm not very good at these. Fortunately, my vocation gives me ample opportunities to try, fail, and try again.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Feelin' Dangerously Snarky

Dear HHS,

I've got a couple preventative measures to add to your agenda:

1) Block the sun! Everyone knows it causes cancer. I propose you issue a mandate to construct a transcontinental shade-structure that blocks all sunlight. If people *REALLY* want sunshine, they could of course pull back a bit of the structure for *limited* amount of time, maybe once or twice in their life.

2) Stomach bags. You know I really can't control myself, and why should I?! Everyone knows how good chocolate is, but I don't want to get fat and risk diabetes. It would be awesome if you could mandate free stomach bags, [to swallow and remove later] so I could eat whatever I want, whenever I want, for as long as I want. After all, it's my right to be free from obesity and related diseases!

Thank you for considering these freedom-enhancing measures. I can't wait to live life the way I have a right to live it - free from cancer and obesity. Oh Yeah! No one can say "No" to that!

(...except those freaks who think everyone should practice self control be forced to be 800 pounds and covered in melanoma. They don't know what free-livin' is!)


A Concerned Citizen

Friday, January 27, 2012

Happy Birthday, Iain!

Four years ago, today I was lying in a hospital bed, waiting, worrying and wondering. Iain was born the next day, January 28th at 11:11 am.  My water broke a month before my due date and we didn't know what to expect when Iain was born. We were prepared for the worst (NICU time), praying for the best and ended up with a combination of the two. In the end, after we were discharged home, on schedule, he became hypothermic, his temp dropping to 94.7 degrees. Thank you Jesus for homecare nurses who discovered it and helped this first-time-mother get her baby off to the hospital when I didn't know better (I knew his feet felt cold, but assumed that was normal).

Iain, about a week old:

First time motherhood was overwhelming and I dare say traumatic. But, four years later, Iain is the picture of health - minor allergies aside - and I feel like I can safely call myself a seasoned mother (of small children).
  1st birthday:

 2nd birthday:

3rd birthday (was that really already a year ago?!)

Happy 4th Birthday, Iain! I am so very very blessed to be your mother. These 4 years have flown past, and I'm afraid they will only continue to fly by faster. I hope and pray that your coming year is full of growth in joy, wisdom, strengthening of character, deepening of love for God and others, and lots of wonderful experiences. I am so proud of you, my big boy!

Iain (not quite 4 - this was taken a few months ago)

And, just for fun, Mark's 4th birthday:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thoughts and Visions of Heaven

This is one of my favorite paintings. You can find it at the Cathedral of Saint Paul.  Every time we go to Mass there, I try to catch a glimpse of it before I leave.  A couple years ago, an artistic friend who was off to discern Religious Life (now returned), gifted us with a painting she had done of the Crucifixion, from below - from Mary's perspective as seen in the previous painting. I got chills - it was like I was inside the painting at the Cathedral. It now hangs in our bedroom, and it's the first thing I see every morning and the last thing I see at night. I am blessed.

That's my preface to the following - I had reason to contemplate the reason for the prominence of the crucifix in Catholic churches. I publicly thank the anonymous person who prompted this. Not surprisingly, this has brought me to a greater understanding of my faith - as these things often do.

First, God plopped this article in my lap, this morning: The Cross, Altar and the Right Way of Praying by Fr. Stefan Heid. Here are some exerpts:

The cross is the focal point of salvation and of liturgical action...
...the altar is the place of prayer: the cross belongs there, and, indeed, even more so, on the main altar. It is the place of raising one’s hands, mind and eyes to “look upon the one whom they have pierced.” Here, heaven opened up at the moment when darkness covered the earth: the Sun of Righteousness on the cross was raised up at the center of the earth, making our darkness light.

After reading the article, I had the following reflections (please correct me if any of this is incorrect!):

I read somewhere that the snake-on-the-pole that Moses made (so that everyone who looked on it would live) was a "type/foreshadowing" of our crucifix, today.

I suppose also, as Catholics since we believe the Mass is uniting time and space and making us present to, and presenting to us, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross (rather than simply a memorial), it makes sense that we would have a visual reminder of where we are - present at Calvary. 

On a lighter note, while I was reading/thinking/writing about all that, followed by a shower, apparently Iain had an apparition imagination. He announced to me very excitedly, when I got out of the shower that...

Iain: I saw Mary on top of my bunkbed, so I was throwing a lot presents up there for the little Lord Jesus. ...and Joseph was there and all of Jesus's disciples.
Me: What did Mary look like?
Iain: like a queen and a princess...wearing a was blue. ...and I tried to climb up there to get to the floor of Heaven, but I couldn't reach it.
Me: yes, you're not allowed on top of your bunkbed.

Friday, January 13, 2012

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!

1. The Way I Tidy

I'm sure this isn't a novel idea, but it has really helped me... I pick one side of a particular room and start my tidying there. I move towards the other side, tidying as I go. 

Leaving a wake of tidiness behind me is very motivating, as is having a room completely tidied before moving on to the next. I usually start in the living room and move from there to the dining room, then to the kitchen. By the time I get to the overwhelming pile of mail on the kitchen counter, there are plenty of tidy areas on which to rest my eyes. 

2. Hats

Does anyone remember the Amy Grant song Hats from her Heart in Motion album, circa early '90s? I was never a fan of the song, at least in part because I actually thought it was about hats and the lyrics seemed so random. You gotta cut me some slack, the early '90s was an era of hats and I was only 10 years old!

I had a good laugh about that when the song randomly popped to mind the other day and my adult-self realized what it was about. I'm still not an Amy Grant fan, but at least now I can understand and relate to what she was singing about. ...definitely wearing a lot of hats around here!

3. No Water

We have no water right now. That's why I'm sitting in my recliner, still in my pajamas, writing a blog post. Not having running water is so unmotivating! 

Apparently there was a "water emergency" on the corner of our block that necessitated the water shut-off. It should be turned on again in the next few hours. Going without running water is rather eye-opening. I can't: drink, wash dishes or clothes, use the toilet, shower, wash my hands after a diaper change (blech!), make cereal for my baby... Certainly, it's no hardship (yet). Like I said, it's just eye-opening.

4. Blog-a-holic

Hi. My name is Betsy. I'm a blog-a-holic. What are some of your favorite blogs or websites? I know, answering this after I've told you I'm a blog-a-holic is like pouring gasoline on a fire, but hey, sometimes that's ok. (Sure, neither you nor I can think of an instance where that would actually be ok, but let's just go with it.)

5. Bosnia and Other Residential War Zones

"Whaaaa? Huh?" Is probably what you're thinking. Let me explain: I think I may have mentioned in the past that my bedroom closet is a catch-all for everything that hasn't been put in its proper place. - Tangent: I have discovered just how important it is to have a place for everything! - Not surprisingly, the act of throwing all sorts of odds and ends into my closet has produced something akin to a rubble pile. Mark started calling it "Bosnia" because it looks like a war zone. He now joins in the fun, throwing things into "Bosnia" with wild abandon. Clearly he doesn't look in there when he does this, or he would notice that I actually cleaned my closet the other day. I'm too kind to mention that he's single-handedly recreating a war zone during peace I just mention it on my blog instead.

Iain just asked to color which reminded me that our craft drawer is in desperate need of attention. I just don't know if I can justify spending time and energy on something that hopeless. Where are those UN peace-keeping forces when you need them?

6. Lydia's Songs

Iain and Lydia love to sing. I love listening to them. I'm especially enjoying Lydia's current repertoire. She sings songs to Jesus, which usually sound something like (yelled to some familiar tune such as bah-bah-black-sheep) "This is for Jesus, hamsters down the drain..."

7. That's all for now