Archive for July 2012

7 Quick Takes (v. 71)

July 27, 2012

1.  Well, the world has gone mad…over Chick-Fil-A of all things.  The advocates of gay marriage have chosen a chicken sandwich restaurant chain that has always espoused Christian values, such as observing the Sabbath, as their battle ground.

We actually went to Chick-Fil-A last night for dinner.  We had no political agenda; we just really like the food.  My six-year-old composed a “Chicken song” for our last visit there about two weeks ago.  We used to plan our trips back home to Kentucky in order to stop at what was then the nearest Chick-Fil-A in Indiana.  We just really like Chick-Fil-A, and apparently so do a lot of other people because the place was packed as usual.  We are excitedly waiting for the one in our town to open soon, so that we don’t have to drive 30 minutes every time we want to eat there.

2.  But after I posted a Facebook link to what the Chick-Fil-A CEO really said, my best friend from high school replied that anyone who publicly opposes same-sex marriage is being hateful and bigoted.  I sincerely questioned why he wanted to have any relationship with me or the Catholic Church (with which he claims affiliation) since we both publicly oppose it and therefore must be hateful and bigoted.  He then de-friended me.  It makes me a bit sad, but at the same I feel that it is probably for the best and I wish him no ill will.  But still…all of this over some tasty chicken.

3.  When I went to my weekly midwife check-up (38 weeks), she was a little bit concerned about the baby’s heartbeat, so they put me on a monitor.  Let me clarify, they sat me down in a comfy recliner in a cool room where the only sound was my baby’s rhythmic heartbeat.  It took all of my will-power not to fall asleep and take them up on their offer to let me stay and nap for a few hours even after they were sure the baby was fine.

4.  My nesting obsession for this week was scrubbing down all of the kitchen chairs from top to bottom.  Over-all the house has been staying much cleaner since we instituted the eating schedule and ban food and drinks (other than water) from the living room.  It has taken a lot of effort to make sure we keep to the schedule and deal with the occasional whining, but the trade-offs have really been worth it.

5.  I had been rereading the first Harry Potter book at night as I waited next to my four-year-old’s bed for her to fall asleep.  When I got to the part where Harry, Ron, and Hermione are trying to figure out about Nicholas Flamel all I could think was “I bet they wish they had a muggle computer with Google on it about now.”

Of course, Google did not exist when the story is set in 1991, and most people were barely aware of the internet when the book was published in 1995.  But even my crappy library had a computerized card catalog by the mid-80’s that probably could have pulled up something about Nicholas Flamel, if anything existed in the library about him at all.  And I would bet some wizard would have at least invented a spell that works like the “find” function on websites to find key terms in a book by then.  It just goes to show that magic can’t solve every problem, even in a fantasy world.

6.  I have developed a fear of orange juice as my due date approaches.  I have read in a few pregnancy books over the years that orange juice + labor = puking.  I think one of my midwives even said something to that effect at one time.  So, while part of me would be almost willing to superstitiously drink orange juice expecting Murphy’s Law to kick in and start my labor, I really, really, really hate puking.

7.  Everyone else in the house keeps freaking out every time I express some sort of pain and discomfort, which at this point is at least 20 times a day.  They see me grimace or hear me suck in my breath suddenly and then ask if I’m in labor.  Then I explain that the baby has jammed her feet into my left side for the 5000th time or that I just did some minor chore that turned out to be more strenuous than it would have been even three days ago or I clumsily whacked into something.  You’d think that by the fifth baby everyone around me would realize that labor in real life normally doesn’t go from absolutely no feeling to excruciating pain out of nowhere.  But I think everyone, including me, is just on high alert right now.


Among My People

July 22, 2012

Yesterday I was able to attend the local Immaculate Heart of Mary Homeschool Conference.  Just like when many years ago I saw a stormtrooper walking around downtown Indianapolis I was reassured that I was in the right place for the Star Wars Celebration II, I knew I was in the right place at North Central College when I saw a sister in a brown habit sitting quietly on a bench outside the assigned building for the conference.

It turns out that it was Sister Mary Joseph Heisler of the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart.  Just an hour later I would hear her give a talk about Finding God in the Pots and Pans that was full of humor and inspiration.  And she had that joyful countenance that just seems to radiate the love of Christ.

After paying my fee at the door, the first vendor that caught my eye was for Nancy Larson Science.  Science is the one area of our homeschooling that I feel like I might have slacked on a bit too much.  I just don’t feel confident with the experimental side of things.  But there were three things that I really liked about this program: 1) everything you need comes in one kit, 2) it has an idiot-proof script for the teacher to follow, and 3) it is designed for multi-age teaching.  It is a little pricy, though, so I’m considering the re-usability factor.  It’s definitely not something we would start this coming semester, but I’m considering it for the spring and summer.

As I continued to browse the various vendors, it was nice to get my hands on some sample copies of various curricula I am considering for the future.  Looking at internet samples isn’t always quite the same.  And by the time I got to the table for the Midwest Theological Forum, I wanted to buy half the books in the Didache series for high school catechesis to read for myself.  They also had this awesome book titled Faith, Science, and Reason:  Theology on the Cutting Edge by Christopher T. Baglow that I desperately want to get my hands on when I can afford it.

Besides curricula vendors, there were also some Catholic publishing companies, book stores, and religious stores that had set up tables.  One table featured a book I had read a year or two ago, a modern retelling of the Snow White and Rose Red fairy tale, entitled The Shadow of the Bear by Regina Doman.  As I discussed the book and asked questions about its sequels with the woman behind the table, I looked at her name tag and realized that I was talking to the author herself!!  It was kind of a cool moment.

Probably the best part of the conference was meeting up with some of my friends from my Catholic homeschooling group.  Beth and her teenage daughter just popped in for a little while amid their busy schedule.  I spent a lot of time talking to Andrea, who is just starting the homeschool journey with her three boys ages newborn to six.

When I first arrived at the conference, I had run into Kristine and her husband Paul.  They are considering starting up a youth ministry in their home for Catholic teens from families who take the faith seriously.  We talked about how their teenage daughter was in another program at their parish which mostly consisted of teens whose parents forced them to attend.  While we all agreed that it was great that those teens were participating in a parish program, even if reluctantly, I correctly surmised that my friend’s daughter was having a hard time connecting with any of the other teens because they probably treated her like a three-headed freak for being strong in her faith.

I can totally sympathize with how their daughter feels.  Often times in my life I often feel like people see me as a three-headed freak for either being a homeschooler or an orthodox Catholic or both.  It was nice to have a few hours among my own people, with other three-headed freaks like me.  That’s what I also love about my small homeschooling group that I belong to now.  But I really can’t wait until next year’s conference!!

7 Quick Takes (v. 70)

July 20, 2012

1.  Last Saturday my husband went to Arlington Park race track with a friend, and his first thought was that the kids would really enjoy it, too.  So, we loaded up the kids the very next day for the park’s Family Fun Day with free pony rides and a petting zoo and the usual free admission for kids under 17.  We gave the three older girls each a $10 betting voucher, which led to some ups and downs when Katie (4) and Bailey (9) picked winning horses and Piper (6) didn’t.

Unfortunately, they shut down the pony rides just as we went to get in line, but the highlight was definitely watching Sabrina (2) cackle with delight as she fed the sheep at the petting zoo.  Over-all I think the kids had a good time, and I was happy to work in another big, fun activity before the baby is born.

2.  Recently I was forced to finally put everyone on a strict eating schedule for snacks and meals at the kitchen table with only water allowed in-between times.  This is something I’ve struggled with for years.  The first few days involved a lot of whining and tantrums from the two older girls, but for the most part everyone has been getting in the groove.

I’ve still been giving them a wide range of choices at the feeding times, but I’m finding a whole host of benefits from putting in the effort to keep to the rules about when and where people are allowed to eat.  I just hope that we can make it through the post-partum period without slipping back into bad habits.

3.  I woke up at 3:30 Sunday morning, and I had a heck of a time getting back to sleep.  While I lay awake, I got hit with my first real nesting urge.  I have wanted to get the living room carpet cleaned for awhile,but I just figured it was something that would have to wait.  It just kind of hit me, though, that I had to have it cleaned before this baby comes.  So, I rented a Rug Doctor Monday evening, and my MIL and I worked together to remove about 3 layers of dirt off of the living room carpet.  We even gave the area rug in the kitchen a once over.  Both look worlds better, and now I won’t have that keeping up up at night anymore.

4.  Last week some friends from church invited me over to check out their air conditioning set up.  They’ve lived in our town home subdivision for many years, and they know all about the HVAC issues that began when this place was built.  We had looked into getting a portable A/C unit, but we knew that the venting connection wouldn’t fit correctly in our side-to-side windows.  But thanks my church friends, I was able to learn how to over-come that issue, and we have all been sleeping much better in spite of the mini heat wave we had this week.  If we can just get the upstairs to 85 degrees instead of 95 degrees at night, it is totally worth the $300 we paid for the unit.

5.  On Tuesday when I took Katie to her preschool painting class, the teacher (an acquaintance of mine) took one look at me and said, “You’ve dropped.  I can tell that baby has dropped just since last week.”  Then on Wednesday I ran into someone else who said that she could tell the baby had dropped since I had last seen her Monday night.  I declined to have my cervix checked at my 37-week midwife appointment, but the baby was already at zero station the previous week.  I have been getting that “walking around with a bowling bowl between my legs” feeling more and more this week.  My parents want me to hold out on having this baby until after my dad’s cataract surgery next week, but all bets are off at this point!!

6.  I got into a Facebook “discussion” with a Catholic friend who was defending the Leadership Conference of Women Religious based on an interview he heard with a member on NPR.  I must admit that I’m getting pretty annoyed with the “old men at the Vatican picking on the poor nuns who do such good social justice work” narrative being perpetrated by the mainstream media.

But it led me to take a look at the other council for women religious in the U.S., the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious.  They apparently broke off from the LCWR in the early 90’s over concerns with the doctrine and political goals of the LCWR.  Somehow I was not surprised that two orders of sisters that I’ve come to highly respect in recent years (the Daughters of St. Paul and the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia) are both members of the CMSWR and not the LCWR.

7.  Today is the first day all week when I haven’t a single appointment to attend.  I do have to go to Aldi, though (sigh), since I won’t be able to go tomorrow.  Tomorrow I’ll be going to the Pere Marquette Homeschooling Conference!!  I’ve been looking forward to it for ages, since I wasn’t able to go last year.  I’m hoping to hit the vendor hall and check out a few of the speakers, and it would be really great if I could hook up with some of the ladies from my homeschool group.  It’s not a big conference, but I love that I can indulge both my homeschooling and Catholic nerdy sides at the same time.

Give Peace a Chance

July 15, 2012

It was really hard to find good descriptions for the 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit.  I was really struggling to put together a working definition for Christian peace.  Most dictionary definitions just describe peace as a cessation from war or strife.  The word peace conjures up images of peace signs, peace fingers, bed-ins, and pot-smoking hippies.

But this just didn’t seem like the right connotation of peace in a daily Christian context.  I mean I could certainly use that definition of peace to try to forestall sibling bickering (and hitting and hair-pulling).  The idea of “turning the other cheek” also fits into that as well.  The Sign of Peace at Mass is meant to reconcile us with others, especially those whom we have been at war with in some form, before we receive the Eucharist.

I couldn’t help thinking, though, about how this idea of peace seems to be almost at odds with the virtue and gift of Christian fortitude, that inspires us to stand up for what is right in the sight of God.  Fortitude calls us to go to war with sin and the proclivities of the dominant culture.  With the current political climate, Catholics have seemed to need fortitude more than peace.

I still felt like there was something missing in the definition of peace as the antonym of war.  What is the point of peace as people like John Lennon meant it?  Yes, war can have devastating consequences for all people involved; there can be so many innocent victims.  And it is very hard to support a war that one feels has no positive purpose and only offers destruction.  But the whole beauty queen, utopian vision for World Peace discounts the possibility that there are ever just reasons for a war.  Why should we all just get along?

Then I went to Holy Hour and Eucharistic Adoration for the first time in months.  And I felt the peace of Christ just wash over me.  I started to feel the full context of what peace really is.  I sat there with the Lord and I felt a certain calm that I have not experienced in ages.  All of the disappointment, stress, anxiety, and discontent that I had been feeling for so long just seemed to dissipate into the quiet.

That’s when I was led by the Lord to this definition of peace to share with my children:

Peace is the calmness that results from our trust in God’s love even in the face of disappointment, hostility, and unfortunate circumstance.  It brings restfulness and contentment instead of anxiety and anger.  Through peace we can discern the right course of action for dealing with a problem.

During Holy Hour we say the following prayer:  “May the all-powerful Lord grant us a restful night and a peaceful death.”

When most people long for a “peaceful death” they imagine a non-violent death where they just pass in their sleep.  But for a Christian, a “peaceful death” should be any manner of passing, secure in the knowledge of God’s love for us.

7 Quick Takes (v. 69): 36 Weeks with Pictures

July 13, 2012

1.  I am officially at 36 weeks.  Do I look pregnant now?  I did one naked belly picture, so that everyone can get the full effect.

2.  I finally gave in and washed the baby’s new clothes.  All of the little tiny outfits are just so cute.  Of course, all of the baby books and baby magazines would be horrified by just how few clothing items I bought.  They always advocate 15 of every item, even though most newborns out-grow half of their clothes before they get a chance to wear them once.

3.  Speaking of the wide array of baby crap available, this is basically what I feel is necessary at this point:  Pack ‘n’ Play Bassinet with Changing Table attachment, bouncy seat, feeding chair, nursing pillow, diapers, nursing cape, and baby sling.  The only things not pictured are the second bouncy seat, second nursing pillow, and bath pillow upstairs and the double stroller in the garage.

4.  I haven’t actually installed the infant car seat, but in case you’re wondering how in the world we’re going to get around with all of these kids….Piper is in the booster seat in the far corner of the back seat, Bailey is in the middle, and Katie is in the other booster seat.  Then Sabrina and baby #5 are in the middle row.  Unfortunately, there is no room left for Granny to ride with us anywhere.  We’ll have to start taking two cars to Mass on Sunday.

5.  We still haven’t completely decided on a name for #5.  We have a name, but we don’t love it.  We keep hoping that we’ll come up with something else that we’ll both just know is the right name.  So, I’ve been looking over my books trying to come up with a new list of suggestions.

6.  I do have everything fairly set up for our fall semester of homeschooling.  I will have to order a few resources from the library around the second week of August, and things will have to be tweaked once we see how things flow during the first week.  But I feel that I’m as ready as I’m going to be.

7.  As I mentioned in my last post, I have started trying to pack my bag for the hospital.  I happened to be at the Meijer that carries my favorite trail mix, so I bought an extra box just to take to the hospital.  I thought trail mix, a few packs of peanut butter crackers, a few pineapple cups, and my usual pack of cinnamon graham crackers would give me plenty of snack options for those middle of the night feedings in the hospital (in addition to the extra snacks I order with all of my meals).

Going to the Hospital Round 5

July 9, 2012

Back in May of 2008 I posted about what I had packed in my hospital bag.  Now it’s time to pull out the duffel bag and start packing once again.  But I am using that old list to remind me even though it’s only been about two years since the last time I did this.

Clothing: Nursing gown (to change into after I get a shower), nursing bra, two pairs of thick socks with skid tractions on the bottom (cold chills are common after delivery and hospital floors are always cold), house slippers, a loose and comfortable outfit to wear home (black sweats, long-sleeve tee, regular socks), and one pair of underwear*.

Well, the nursing gown mentioned is long gone, but I have some nifty pajamas that I’ve been wearing during my pregnancy and the top is made to be pulled down for nursing access.  I just have to decide if I want to take the blue pair or the gray pair (very Civil War of me).  And I’ll probably wear my flip flops instead of my house slippers to the hospital this time.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Ladies Black Interchangeable Flip Flops

Hygiene: Body wash, shower poof, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, deodorant, razor, and hair brush. Basically, pack what ever you need to feel clean. I also pack a few maxi pads, even though I might not use them.

Not too much has changed there, but I may need to get some new travel sizes.

Nursing Supplies: Lansinoh nursing cream (even if you know what you are doing your nipples will still be a little tender for the first few weeks), nursing pads in case my milk comes in early, and a nursing cloak.

I doubt I’ll buy a new tube of nursing cream to take with me.  Usually the “free” sample they give me in the hospital is enough to last me.  But I will take my nursing cloak with me again so I don’t have to kick my dad or any visiting priest to the other side of the curtain or risk making them feel uncomfortable.

Baby Stuff: Two sleepers for baby’s first photo/going home (one gender specific, and one gender neutral), a few thin cloth diapers (as burp/spit up cloths), and a few extra diapers “just in case”.

I’m a little torn about which outfits I want to take for the baby.  I’ll probably take a couple of sleepers and one onesie outfit and then see how horrendously hot the weather is when we get discharged.  I’ll probably also leave the cloth diapers at home and just pack the newborn disposable diapers in the diaper bag I keep in the van rather than my hospital bag.

Miscellaneous: Digital camera, extra batteries, two disposable cameras, wallet with checkbook and insurance card, charged cell phone with phone number list, Sudoku book with pencils and a lightweight (physically and mentally) book to read for entertainment, and a plastic baggy full of Honey Maid cinnamon sticks (for snacking).

We really need to get a new digital camera since our old one is on the fritz.  I’m still debating about a disposable camera.  But I know that I will be bringing my new Acer Iconia Tablet and taking advantage of the free WiFi at the hospital.  Not only can I access Facebook, blogs, Netflix and the Laudate app (Catholic Bible, Catechism, prayers, etc), but I also just bought the e-book of Style, Sex, and Substance to read using the Kindle app while I’m in there.  Of course, I really need to remember to bring the charger as well.

Now I just need to print out this post and start packing….

If Your Right Eye Makes You Stumble…

July 7, 2012

Before I had kids, I really never thought it was a big deal what kids were exposed to on television or in movies.  I obviously didn’t think that young children needed to be watching explicit sex scenes, and frankly I’ve never been a big fan of gratuitous sex and nudity.  But at the same time I didn’t see what the big deal was about kids being in the room while I watched soap operas or other shows aimed at adults.

The first time I became aware of how kids absorb things from the television even when they don’t seem to be paying attention was when I was watching Runaway Jury.  This would have been sometime around when my oldest was around 2.  There is one scene where Rachel Weisz’s character gets attacked.  Bailey was playing with some toys near the television when the scene occurred, and she started to get upset and cry about the “girl getting hurt”.  I’d like to say that I changed my viewing habits immediately, but I didn’t really.

Later as Bailey became caught up in shows like Hannah Montana, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and iCarly, my husband and I started to get concerned about some of the recurring themes in the shows.  For instance, there was a lot of undermining of parental authority, which I understand helps give the show a plot-line.  The problem was that the kids were rarely punished; most story lines ended with the parent apologizing to the kids for not just letting them do what they wanted to do in the first place.

Plus, every show revolved around some young teen who was in some extraordinary situation (pop star, internet star, etc), giving the false impression that all young teens should have these extraordinary life-styles.  We realized that by allowing our kids to continue watching these shows they were being repeatedly exposed to values contrary to ours and contrary to reality, as well normalizing them.

But that concept really only applied to children.  We were adults.  We surely didn’t need to monitor what we watched.  Well, I began to realize that I needed to monitor what I watched, mainly because I am with the kids all day long from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep.  Whatever I watched on television, they were bound to be exposed to as well.  So, shows with content that might be inappropriate or even disturbing for children, like Battlestar Gallactica and Bones and House, I started to watch on my laptop instead of the television where it was easier to block what they saw.

But then, as my husband and I became more intent on our faith, we started to become more discerning about what kind of content we were exposing ourselves to and the mental and moral effects it might be having on our perceptions.  Just like children, once adults have been exposed to an image or idea it is hard to just erase it from our minds.  And once it is in our minds it can seep into our hearts.

I believe that pornography is one of the most damaging things in our society.  It’s very creation involves perverting male and female relationships, undermining the inherent worth and dignity of those involved, and trivializing sex as an act designed for personal gratification only.  In the past 20 years, pornography has become mainstream. It is not just the wide variety of disgusting websites available on the internet;  it is everywhere in various degrees of intensity.  My husband can’t go look up sports scores without seeing a half-naked woman pop up on the screen.  HBO and Showtime can’t seem to make a show for adults without tons of gratuitous nudity and sex.

And the more adults expose themselves to these images and ideas the more desensitized they become.  Just like a child watching all of those tween shows starts to think that there’s something wrong with her life because she isn’t a pop star or that at age 13 she doesn’t have a boyfriend with whom she is allowed to hang out with alone in a darkened room, adults start to get dissatisfied with the reality of their lives and burying themselves more and more in fantasy land.

Now the natural assumption is that pornography is mainly a “man problem”.  Men are more visual.  Men have a more physiological desire for sex.  But women have their own form of pornography that warps their expectations just as much:  romance novels and movies.  Many single young women watch these seemingly innocent films from When Harry Met Sally to The Notebook and this is what they absorb about the perfect relationship:

  1. The man who is perfect for you is probably either unattainable to you for some reason (already in a relationship/out of your league/a vampire) or he is someone who you probably despise because he keeps going around acting like a jerk.
  2. You will know your relationship is meant to be when there is some dramatic obstacle put in your path (a long distance between you, a misunderstanding about a relationship with another person, a secret from someone’s past, meddling friends/parents, mental/physical illness) that is overcome by a grand gesture of some kind (interrupting/calling off a wedding to someone else, showing up at an important event and making a public declaration of love, sacrificing one’s career).
  3. Once you are married, your husband will always take care of your needs and wants before his own, split all of the housework and child rearing duties 50/50, and support you in whatever dream you personally want to achieve even if it is not in the best interest of the family as a whole.*

Of course, many modern romance novels intersect both forms of pornography with over-the-top romantic plots and explicit sex scenes.  Whereas this kind of  media was in the past seen as a bit of a joke, it has become mainstreamed so much that we have 50 Shades of Grey (a book about a relationship full of sadomasochism) on the top seller list.  And while Magic Mike might not be as explicitly pornographic as 50 Shades, this movie about buff male strippers is marketed to encourage the objectification of men based on their physical appearance just as traditional porn objectifies women.

Then we wonder why there are so many divorces when so many couples start out their relationships with pornographic and/or overly-romantic expectations for sex, love, and marriage.  They then are let down by the reality that life is not full of “extraordinary” events as portrayed in movies, television, and books and their partner is an ordinary person and not a porn star or romantic hero.

Relationships can be hard work, and the best ones are those that do not have tons of drama and angst.  A good relationship should be a bulwark against the drama and angst and stresses of ordinary life (loss of a job, puking kids, etc).  But this reality is not what we see on television, in the movies, or in books.  Reality doesn’t sell, because people turn to entertainment to escape from their mundane, ordinary lives.

Now I’m not saying that wanting to escape every once in awhile is a bad thing.  But I think we need to be more careful about how and how often we are trying to escape from our ordinary lives.  We need to think about how are mental vacations are effecting our relationships with God and others and our satisfaction with our lives.

When it’s over are we glad to return to our normal lives and sleep in our own beds, so to speak, or are we forever lamenting about how beautiful it was at the beach and how horrible it is to be home in the land of cooking and laundry?  And what is the cost analysis of where we choose to go on vacation?  Are we looking for a place of peace, renewal,  simple fun, or even mental stimulation, or are we choosing a vacation spot that encourages immoral thoughts and behaviors?

I think a lot of people end up knowingly going on vacation near the toxic dump thinking it is just an innocent trip without realizing the poisons to which they are slowly exposing themselves and the example they are setting for those around them.  They may not only be setting themselves up to sin (or purposely indulging in sin) but leading others into sin as well.

Now I don’t want to come off as if I have it all together and am holier-than-thou.  I used to be well-known for my affinity for The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but when I began to take my faith seriously I realized that I would one day be held accountable before God for advocating a movie that glorifies immodesty, lust, and promiscuity in the name of entertainment.    I had to pluck out my right eye and start protecting my left eye.  This is something that I continue to struggle with discerning.  I just think that this is something that people, especially Christians, need to be aware of and take seriously.





*Oh, wait, #3 came from the Feminist Propaganda Manifesto in the section about how a marriage should be if you absolutely can not overcome your socially-conditioned attitudes that getting married and having a couple of kids (NO MORE THAN TWO!!) is a positive thing.