Sunday, June 30, 2013

A dozen years

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but yet am not making sense, I am likely in need of more sleep.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all the mysterious things my children do while quiet, and if I have faith that, one day, I will get eight hours of straight sleep... but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all the time I possess to poor cooking and my body over to non-stop nursing, but do not have love, I am nothing. 

But I am not nothing. :)

Today my husband and I celebrate twelve years of wedded life.  We welcomed the day in by watching Princess Bride until midnight, and later we will be actually going away for 24 hours, thanks to the help of my parents and some wonderful friends.

Dan, it's not how I imagined it would be. But in the immortal words of "Lego House":  
"I think I love you better, now."

"In this the love of God was made manifest among us, 
that God sent his only Son into the world, 
so that we might live through him. 
In this is love, not that we have loved God 
but that he loved us and sent his Son 
to be the propitiation for our sins. 
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, 
God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." 1 John 4:9-12

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Stage-singing in the dark

If leisure is the basis of culture, parents are the wildest of barbarians. I guess we didn't need Josef Pieper; any unkempt parent on three hours of sleep who doesn't know what or when they last ate (leftover chicken nugget five hours ago) can tell you that.

I plead this as my argument for not reading enough, not getting in touch with my fellow bloggers (particularly now in the blogathon) like I've really wanted to, and to excuse any fault, should any exist of course, in my often semi-conscious scribblings.   

I haven't at all figured out how to read and write and mother.  How do you do that??  I just barely can write and parent, thanks to the exquisitely timed and worded "I'd like to challenge you on that" from my dear friend Imelda on the occasion of my lamenting the lack of leisure and why I couldn't blog.  You have her to thank for all this bloggage here. But still, argh... when I write I want to humorously tap into my mommy vocation and deeper still to the prior years of my college education while being actually caught up with what is going on in the world as opposed to just what is going on in my kid's diapers and... wouldn't you know, this takes time. :S

Even now while stealing from sleep, and chores, and meals, and family time, what I want to write about outweighs what I've actually written.  For instance, just in the past two weeks, I haven't mentioned the dot with legs I yanked from my daughters leg, trip to a science museum of my youth, the aftermath of my basement flood (yeah, you were all wondering what the rainbows were about, huh?), baby's first time on a horse, a dance recital, what my home renovations were (I mean, you're dying to know that), and the story behind this pic of my daughter playing duck duck goose with a bunch of Eagle Scouts.

Maybe all my chattiness here is just backlash from years of listening and thinking and not talking.  You see, blogging has been the weirdest experience, for while remaining as outwardly reserved as ever I was, now people know everything's that's going on. It's flattering. It's disconcerting.  It's utterly bizarre.  "What do you mean you know I like Pinkberry?  I... oh.  Yep, I did blog about that while in my pj's alone in the kitchen at midnight.  Guess that does now count as communication."

How fun and how weird.  Give me a moment to get over technology for a second, I grew up in the 80's with penpals, indulge me: WOW!!!  Okay I'm done.  

My party trick is ruined. At one time, I'd simply listen and think and decide what I liked about what I heard you say. Now I'm gabbing on for all these silent viewers.  "Blogger" tells me I have quite a few viewers in Russia, for instance.  Yes, Russia. Which yes, is flattering and bizarre.  Privyet!  Blagodarstvuyu!

So, I need all your blog addresses or comments here or a bunch of coffee dates, this conversation is crazy one-sided (how rude of me); we need to catch up.  Ball's totally in your court.  How are you???? :)

Anyway fellow introverts, I'd like to challenge you to find a way to pursue that nagging [good, virtuous, or non-moral ;)] thing you'd love to do but don't think you have time for.  You know the thing. If I can make time, you probably can to.  Like prayer.  Fortunately you can offer up pretty much everything to God as a prayer so there are many options but yeah... think about it.

Maybe you can blog and then we can like be totally blog-pals too! :D  Can't deny it's scary though.  It's like deciding it'd be fun to sing on an empty stage in a dark theater, and then suddenly the lights go on and you realize hundreds of eyes are on you.  To blog is to open yourself up to criticism. To the very real possibility that people will say, "Uhhh... she's not really who I thought she was."  Worst, you take the risk of saying the wrong thing, or the right thing the wrong way, and to make that mistake in front of a whole lot of people.


To quote a popular song typifying the sublime wisdom of this age: 

"I don't care. I love it!"  (Link includes equally inspiring and most non-offensive video [seriously what's going on there!!] I could find of the tune.  Do excuse their terminology of female dog and slang for excrement.  And I suddenly want to buy new sneakers...)

Which is not true at all, really.  I mean about the "not caring" bit.  But I will always try to err on the side of humor. :)

My hard-earned kid-free time ends in an hour and a half... a period which is supposed to include dishes and laundry.  So adios Maria!  Auf Wieda̦schaung Birgit!  NamasteVita!  Viso gero Sonata! Do zobaczenia Kinga! God þē mid sīe, Dr Rice!

"Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, 
but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all." Matthew 5:15

Friday, June 28, 2013

To Emily Whenever I May See Her

My friends, I'm annoyed.  It came to my attention that a fellow Catholic blogger was on EWTN, and was later sent appearance-improvement tips by a viewer.  In response, I want to send my own message to her and any other woman criticized for the way she looks:

First of all, to the woman who received these remarks: in the words of Anne Shirley, "Mrs. Hammond told me that God made my hair red on purpose and I've never cared for Him since."  In contrast, I've struggled with God's artistic choice to make me a brunette.  ;)  But you He has chosen to crown with the sunrise, with eyes to match His sky and a smile that aptly communicates His joy.  

And to any woman reading this (yes, you): You are beautiful.  It is perhaps the hardest truth for any woman to fully and totally believe, that fact: that she is beautiful.  We know in our heads that what's inside is most important, and that we each are a unique reflection of the beauties of our Creator.  But it is hard to believe that in our hearts, since our appearance is so daily and constantly attacked, criticized, and room found for improvement in every commercial set we watch.  

Our skin should be smoother.  Our hair should be thick but sleek; it should be curlier and straighter and dyed but natural-looking.  Our makeup should belie our age: make us look older when we're younger, and younger when we're older. Our clothes should be newer, and make us look thinner.  And we should always be thinner, but not too thin, and not too thin in the wrong places.  We should all have perfect six-packs while remaining soft, our face should have an eight year-olds complexion with the eyelashes of an emu and the lips of a fish while we maintain the butt of a teen and the breasts of a woman three days after giving birth.  And we should do this consistently from the ages of 15 to 85.  

While we are just trying to cash out in the grocery store, we are accosted by female-centered, guilt-inducing merchandise on all sides.  On the right are shelves of chocolate which we are supposed to want to buy for endorphins to feel better about ourselves while at the same time we feel guilty for eating it because well, on the left, are magazines of gorgeous, air-brushed photos of women meant to exemplify the epitome of feminine pulchritude.  It is somehow completely accepted that an annual representative of such creatures from each state will engage in a televised competition where our kind are paraded about and judged like cattle.  Seriously, does half the population watch for the talent portion?  And much worse abuses of the female image can visit any smartphone...

Oh yeah, and guys?  You can shower and shave.  Or not.  

So many varying standards are set up as mirages of appearance achievement that each of us was probably once the ideal "type" in some century.  Years ago, a pale and full-bodied woman was considered attractive, whereas today we're to be skinny and tan.  I've wondered if the ideal of female beauty has something to do with her perceived wealth, since today slender, tan people communicate they have time to work out and lay around at the beach, whereas the full-bodied pale ladies of yore obviously had the luxury of staying indoors and the health and provision to put on some pounds...

Whatever the basis of Hollywood's current idea of what we should look like, it is just that: Hollywood's idea.  Someone else's idea.  Someone other than God's, other than yours, other than the ideas of those who love you for being who you are.  

Women have been fed this diet of self-criticism for so long, that not only do they believe they are doing themselves a favor by following it, but they actually believe they do others a favor by offering this processed critique themselves.  

My suggestions to any particular helpful soul, who under the guise of Christian charity wishes to pick apart someone's appearance:

1.  Take anything with the word "Makeover" in it off your DVR, which will doubtless empty it.  Actually, quit watching TV altogether.  

2.  Now limited to the radio, you will actually be able to hear and understand the message intended to be received in "Life on the Rock."

3.  Realize God loves what He made, loves it first thing in the morning before it encounters Dove, Speed Stick, Venus, Aveeno, Oil of Olay,or Maybelline.  As a spiritual exercise, go for a week without them and realize you are just as precious and valuable as you were before.  

4.  Find better ways to encourage fellow Christians on their walk with Christ.  Really.  I mean, really!

Sometime today, look in the mirror, and just give God a compliment on His work: you. 

"Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come." Proverbs 31:25

Thursday, June 27, 2013

How to feel feminine

1.  Adorn all four of your daughters in summer dresses
2.  Put on one yourself, because rooms are being painted and you are behind on laundry with pants
3.  Pack your van with females, and go to Lowes (yes, hit a new Lowes, to avoid "Senor Enticing" from yesterday (bleck):)
4.  Go inside.  Behold towering shelves of improvement materials.  Smell wood and paint and deck cleaner.
5.  Want to die.  But don't.
6.  Proceed with gleeful gaggle of girls down main aisle, wringing your hands.
7.  Realize the clop-clopping sound is not a knight in shining armor coming to rescue you, but paint being spun in cans
8.  Realize no one at all is going to rescue you, and you need to "woman up."
9.  Scan horizon for a red vest.  Hone in on victim.  Encourage your girls to gallop with cart behind you as you give chase to your man.
10.  Lead squadron of hooting young ladies down Aisle 46, where you finally arrest your quarry.
11. Knowing men can't read your mind, be specific with your request: "Where can I find plumber's tape?"
12.  Encourage girls, (oldest pushing cart, all others how hanging off of it) to follow the silent, swift walk of Mr. Red Vest.  Arrive in main aisle
13.  Red Vest: "See the signs hanging from the ceiling?  Read 'em."
14.  Lift thine eyes unto the heights... "Um... Kitchen. Windows.  Garage Doors.  Plumbing."
15.  Red Vest is grinning.  "Where do you suppose 'plumbing tape' would be?"
16.  Take a wild guess in a still, small voice: "Plumbing?"
18.  Go to plumbing aisle.  Use wide-eyed, Nazgul-hissing, and frantic gesturing to keep your female cohort from racing in the aisle with abandon.
19.  Search diligently for the &%%^(!! tape.  Don't find it.
20.  Lead your pack to seek out next red vest for further assistance, feeling very feminine indeed.

Okay, that's one way anyway.  I am actually the type of mom who wants her girls to learn how to change tires and gives them martial arts classes.  But this was today.  :)

Today is also the day we celebrate the life of Fr. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, an organization I am fondly a part of.  It encourages Christians to make ordinary life a prayer and find God in the tasks of daily life.  I would love to go to the special service tonight, but instead I'm going to join 300 teens celebrating the conclusion of Catholic Heart Work Camp week, which my older girls and I were also a part of.  Am now going to drink a bucket of caffeine to maintain the proper level of adolescent enthusiasm for noise and music.

"Sing joyfully to God, all the earth: serve ye the Lord with gladness. 
Come in before his presence with exceeding great joy." Psalm 100:2

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

DOMAnd if I do...

I am currently typing with my right hand while helping my toddler eat an empty calorie, artificially orange flavored and colored freezer pop with my left.

As you can see, this had been preceded by a chocolate ice cream cone, half of which is probably melting on the kitchen floor.  Or the rug.  Or my laptop.  No wait, I'm typing on that... thank God!

I don't care... I'm too hot.  Yes I have A/C but have spent the day running around in the heat, picking up kids from Vacation Bible School at my church where they, I'm informed, were anointed with baby oil to show they are special. (!)  Also went to Lowe's, feeling hapless and sweaty, and was treated to the help of a gentleman from somewhere south of the U.S., who informed me that I smelled "very enticing," accent full-on. (!!) Attempting daft cheerfulness, I said, "Oh, thanks, it's my deodorant.  So yeah please stick it in quickly cuz I have to pick up my kids."  Immediately regretted my choice of words, but the boards went in through the front window of my mini-van and I made a quick getaway.

(Last time I really picked the wrong words?  Interviewing two wonderful ladies who were challenged with dwarfism.  I was totally patting myself on the back the whole time, as I had nonchalantly sat down to talk to them while they stood, kept the conversation running smoothly until I got to their work, and was informed one of them taught first grade.  At that point, I squealed in journalistic enthusiasm: "Oh, what a great age!  I just love little-littles!!"  Yes, I actually said that, and suddenly the two ladies "had to go."  Sigh...)

And I'm discouraged.  I'm trying to be current in at least some world events, and when I do I hear strange news which often makes me just want to bury my head back in the absorbing affairs of my household and get on with my day.  Whatever side of "the issue" you are on: let's all just breathe.  I just like disagreeing in a civil manner when possible, you know?  But no worries if you like more excitement: my husband has promised to guest post if I just get toooo sweet; I believe I would entitle it: DMV for "Dominant Male Venting."  

In any case, believing as I do for now that my main calling is to take care of my relationship with God and my family, the most I generally do for the rest of society these days is... pray. As in an Our Father here and there, a quick lifting up of such situations to the Lord. Occasionally I'll sign a pro-life petition, and will call representatives when I remember but mostly... I try to avoid excessive anxiety and give it to God.  

Not being in any position of political power, and not able to vote till the next election... sigh....  Honestly, what's a mom to do?  Thoughts?  Suggestions?  It seems responsible to keep abreast of what goes on in Washington, but also seems foolish to just succumb to impotent worry.  For instance, the status of a--er--dear friend whom I love till death currently reads: "DOMA is dead... country to follow?"

I'm not saying Christians shouldn't be informed or concerned, but what does God want us to do?  What does "defending what's right" look like?  While the answer varies with each person, it will not include panic,  or hatred, or despair.  We are called to live today.  Like I am called to feed dinner to my kids now...

But just one more minute before I attend to the kids beginning to clamor in the kitchen: I'm trying to take things one day at a time, which is really all I can handle.  I'm curious: how do you deal with news implying the government is taking over individual liberties, or that global-warming is causing worse storms or... anything that disturbs your general peace of mind?  I'm not personally sure how I would protest every shenanigan that goes on in my state; in parenting and politics, I tend to "choose my battles."  So the demonstration I've frequented most is a prayerful walk in front of the clinic right down the street...

When thinking of a verse today, it came to mind that Jesus said these words at a time when Caesar's soldiers had no respect for His countrymen.  He said these words knowing about the upcoming destruction of Jerusalem.  He said these words knowing that the leaders of the time would find a "legal" way to kill God.  And He said this anyway:  

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Or if you prefer, the classic: "Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof." Matthew 6:34  And what if the evils are, in fact, today?  (Love this one!) "Casting all your care upon him, for he hath care of you."  1 Peter 5:7  In the end, our Father's got this in His hands. :)

Find what action God is calling you to.  Realize fear-mongering is not one of them.  

For today, I'm making dinner.  Because tomorrow, since forgetting or returning something is integral to the home improvement experience, I have to go back to Lowes.  Oh... hel...p.  :D

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My husband's ex-girlfriend

Today, in between settling squabbles over fries in the mini-van, I was reflecting on how strange life can be.  

For instance, I'm in this Blogathon due to the agency of a single person: my husband's ex-girlfriend.

Remember meeting her like it was yesterday: 

"Oh great."

Dan plopped his backpack down on the floor of the chapel crypt, which in my college was a perfectly normal place to hang out.  

"What's up?" I sighed. I was ferreting through my backpack too.  I had an exam coming up, and all the weight of the world was on my 19 year-old shoulders.  Such stress.  (ha!)

"Found out she's coming back here."  

"Who?"  I was distracted.  Did I have the right notes?  And my boyfriend always found the longest way to get to the point of a conversation.  He talks more than me, even today.

"My ex."

I drop the bag.  My ears perk up.  

"Oh.  Er... is that going to be a... problem?"

"Well, I hope not."  

It's hard to describe the sheer awkwardness of dating life in a college that is shy of 300 people... everyone knows everyone else, and can tell from who is sitting where at lunch who's "together" and who's not. 

But most likely he was worried how she and I'd get along.  We were both in choir, after all.  And she and I were sopranos...

Yes, I expected to dislike her, at the very least; it seemed simply the thing to do.  And I wasn't at all prepared to meet a vivacious lady with long, raven, Pantene-perfect hair, who greeted us both with a sly but kind grin, and flounced directly to her place in rehearsal.  The room was filling up, and soon the entire female section had surrounded her and were catching up.  Being the shy freshman that I was, I just shuffled my music and watched from a distance.

The woman did not talk: she gushed.  Quick to joke, with a ready laugh, and a lovely voice.  I couldn't help but like her.  :)  Still do.  My respect and admiration for this fellow writer, artist, accomplished musician, and devout Christian has only increased over the years.  Got to catch up with her a bit last November, when my family was down south and attended the ninth annual St. Cecilia Arts Festival that she runs.  And caters. :) 

It's been so neat to watch where the Lord has led us in our individual lives and unique callings.  He does indeed work in mysterious ways.   

Now I have to thank her for encouraging me to write more, again, and getting me into this grueling I meant great 30 day writing challenge.  :)  As this experience draws to a close, I think it's fitting to say M, you inspire me, and I know you inspire so many others through your beautiful blog:

Monday, June 24, 2013

Brief attempt

Haiku theme day in the Blogathon!

Since I'm going to be spending the night at a children's hospital with a child who is going to have a test to determine whether she has sleep apnea.  (i.e. she's absolutely fine, but because dad has it, daughter is going to have to spend one night sleeping with electrodes glued all over her)... due to that, I'm embracing a brief theme today.


Haven't written one since 5th grade.  Ummm....

Noisy activity
slowly surrenders
to quiet sleep

Hope it will anyway.  Did I do it?  Not sure.  Anyone else want to try?  :)

Good night!  I hope...

"For they that sleep, sleep in the night; 
and they that are drunk, are drunk in the night." 1 Thessalonians 5:7

(No, I didn't know 'bout that verse either... :)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The fine art of the PB&J

"Nooooo!  Ohhhh nooooo!"

Yawning, I swung into the kitchen to see what travesty was currently taking place.

By the counter, my husband was guiltily holding a pink plastic knife, covered in peanut butter.

"Daddy!  You s'pposed to use the pink one for the jewwy!  The JEWWY!" In bitter disappointment and righteous indignation, she flew out of the room.

I looked at the offending sandwich and sighed.  Dan chuckled in bewilderment.

"Yeah, the pink knife is for the jelly, and the blue one is for the peanut butter.  And then the crust is cut off, the sandwich is cut in half, and served on a plate."  Then I went off to remonstrate with the mini diva.

Can't help but compare the humble pb&j to blogging.  It can be tough to find the perfect balance of sweetness and protein, substance and fun.  I'm working on it though.

Meanwhile, try to refrain from having tantrums in the other room, and I'll figure out which knife to use.

heh heh
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom..." Psalm 111:10

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Why I didn't have an abortion

As some of you know, I recently had an discussion on my Facebook wall about moral and political issues, something I haven't done before... I'm not usually big on publicly debating personal beliefs on FB in front of silent multitudes.  But we're both being civil, batting the issues back and forth like a tennis match. No one has attempted to run madly into the other's court and beat the other over the head with their racquet.  :)

I congratulate us both on our civility because touchy points have been raised--which we obviously feel opposedly passionate about--particularly around the issue of choice. It's a topic that people of good will can feel strongly about, whether you think you should defend the rights of women in trouble, or whether you feel compelled to save the lives of children.

I believe there are ways to do both.   

During this debate, it was mentioned that  most abortion cases involve "a case where a woman does not know how she's going to support her baby while going to school or to work, while also paying for childcare."  And something clicked...

Back in 2002, I was such a woman.  Newly married, engaged in the opportunity of a lifetime to study overseas, finishing my degree, jobless, homeless, with no health insurance.  

Unexpectedly pregnant. 

I'm planning to tell you more of the story later. For now... I want to offer my own personal testimony as to why I did not make the choice to abort, and why I am very happy I didn't, despite some negative consequences.  

When I first realized I was expecting an unplanne- for baby at a totally undesirable time, I understood, for the first time in my sheltered conservative life, why women would have an abortion.  I knew having a baby would destroy every plan I'd made for my future at the time.  And I didn't feel "pregnant": I felt like I had the worst flu of my life.  All the time.  I felt scared, and sad, and so very, very disappointed.  In a word: devastated.  

So why didn't I have an abortion?  

Not because I'm better than those who do.  Certainly there but for the grace of God go I.  

I didn't because I did not consider it to be a serious option.

And why not?

1. I had been taught, and believed based on the evidence of science, the use of reason, and the teachings of my faith: that life begins at conception. These beliefs were not imposed on me. They were simply explained well and made sense.

2. Therefore, I knew an abortion would be killing a human being whom I would likely otherwise be well-acquainted with, and likely fond of, for the rest of my natural life.

3. And I didn't want to do that. More than I was scared, disappointed, sick, confused, and wondered what the hell I was going to do now, I couldn't dispose of this baby. Even though I really, really, really didn't want to have one right then, and even though this baby would change everything.  

Like it says in the insipid movie I finally watched on DVD "Eat Pray Love": "Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face.  You kinda wanna be fully committed."  I was in no way ready for this tattoo.  But I was still waiting in line to get it.  

I cannot express how grateful I am that I went through with my pregnancy.  And I'm not sitting here congratulating myself: instead I consider myself very blessed and lucky to have had the education I did, and the support of everyone around me to have that baby.  

Because the outcome might just possibly have been different if some sweet, motherly family member had taken my 23 year-old hand and said, "Sweetie, I know you didn't mean for this to be happening.  I know you are terrified and that your plans are in jeopardy.  Look, let me help you make an appointment, and we'll get this taken care of, okay?  Then you can finish the degree you deserve, enjoy your time traveling Europe, just get used to being married, find a good job, save up money, buy a house, and then--when you are ready--you can start having kids.  Don't worry about this honey; it's just an 'oops.'  It will be like it never happened.  It's quick, you'll feel better within a week, and then you can move on with your life.  You have so much potential, darlin'!  So don't waste it!  You have a legal right to get this fixed."

As kind and soothing as that all sounds, it is a huge disservice to a woman--particularly a scared and desperate woman--to present eliminating a pregnancy as an option to solve a problem.  Women shouldn't have to kill their own children to have a better life. In my opinion, that's the worst abuse we can offer to a woman, let alone her child.

Our society should not be presenting desperate women in desperate situations with an even more desperate choice. One they may well someday regret, and never, ever stop regretting.  

While I acknowledge that others may have different experiences, I personally am so glad no one said that to me. Because becoming a mom unexpectedly, severely morning sick, while a student overseas, with no job or house or property or insurance, was crazy hard. And terrifying. And it was so disappointing to look at the shattered pieces of my own cherished plans.

But then, there was God's plan.

All the things I had wanted to do, and have had to change or postpone, were good. But a baby was a greater good.  She turned my world completely upside down.  Yet in the end, it looked better that way.  And while I have suffered considerable setbacks for choosing to have her, while I have not finished my degree track nor yet had a proper career, I do not ever regret having my unplanned, unexpected, unwanted pregnancy.


It costs money to support children. I know, because I've struggled financially where since we had them. And a D&C is indeed easier on the body than childbirth. I know. I've had both. I've had babies, and I've lost babies.

And having them is better.

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field..." Matthew 13:44

Linked to and RX

Friday, June 21, 2013

Where my kid came from

"Cece, where do you come from?"  I sighed, amused at her loud, made up song involving cake, butterflies, and dinosaurs.  She's a hoot, a roaringly extroverted, pink-obsessed, overgrown three-year old princess currently built like a linebacker.  

She seemed suddenly displeased.  "Where do I come fwom?"  She began muttering thoughtfully.  Sounded a bit like growling.

Driving around in the van later, she suddenly piped in from the back seat:

"Mommy, 'member when we went to the yeg store?"  

What now.  "Huh?  What is it, Cecilia?"

"The YEG store.  And you said  'These yegs are perfect!' and you got them, and then you went to the hand store and said 'Yook at these hands! they are perfect' and got those and then went to the finger store and said, 'Yook at these fingers; they are perfect' and got those?  'Member that Mom? That's where I came from."

(guffaw)  Can't make this stuff up. :)

You're absolutely right, Cecilia. You are perfectly made. Fearfully and wonderfully so.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lunch with Pepper

I always come through the back entrance, which sneaks behind a pleasant little elementary school full of noise and life and art projects in classroom windows.  From there, I keep the river on my left for about a quarter of a mile, the lines of gravestones filed up for acres on my right.  Then suddenly, there's some on the left too, right beside the river.  That's where I slow down, and find the one tree to park under for shade.

A statue of Mary overlooks "Babyland," gesturing a quiet, serene surrender with her hands open, palms facing forward.  The mother of Jesus stands watch over these sleeping little ones, including my own.  She's been in that child care position for about three months now.  I wonder when I'll get "used" to that.  

I take a deep, cleansing breath before getting out of the car.  I have learned that I always cry there, so far, but I'm seeking control and calm while doing so.  Particularly this day because, for the first time since I was blissfully pregnant and unaware of trouble, I was going to be alone with her, no other visitors beside me to be strong for.  The kids are in their last week of school, my little ones are being watched, and it's just me and "Pepper," which as you know, we decided was a good nickname for "Perpetua Grace." 

I jump out of the van, carrying an extremely non-glamorous lunch from "Tinkerbell" (the name my three year-old gives "Taco Bell.")  Usually a visit here entails a sigh, crouching down, dusting off and rearranging what the mowers disrupted, leaving something new--a flower from my girls, stopping Cecilia from harvesting cool grave decor from the neighbors, and then running like hell to keep Felicity from prematurely joining her little sister in eternity as she dashes gleefully for the (albeit quiet) road.  

But today, I wanted to have lunch with her.  Just me and her and chirping birds.

So far so good.  It's breezy and sunny.  I'm peaceful.  This was a great idea.  Time to just be present with what was and what is to come.  

I've brought her a toy.  Opening the truck, I groaned.  The large pinwheel had been caught under the stroller.  Dumping my fancy white and purple plastic lunch bag, I struggled to disengage it, finally succeeding.  There was only a small mark on the green petal of the pinwheel.  A mark, I realized, that had been left by my best double stroller, the one that she would have ridden in with Felicity... 

Blinded by tears now, I slam the trunk, grab the bag, and walk choking with sobs towards her site.  I take time to visit "Faith," the girl whose mom I met here the day of the funeral.  Hoping to go to the zoo with my fellow loss mama sometime soon...  And then I make my way to Pepper.  

I love her spot.  Well, as much as one can love one's child's grave.  Great tiny piece of property. It's actually shaded!  Right beside a stone bench, the statue, and the trees that grow beside the river.  

The site is being reseeded, again.  Custodians are determined for grass to grow there despite the shade, so that the bare rectangle of earth will forever blend in with the rest of the yard as soon as possible.  I'm not sure if I'm happy or sad about that.  This is still kinda surreal.

Turns out, it's hard to eat and grieve at the same time, but I had a bite to say I did it.  I dusted off the fake flowers I left last time, shuddered at the bugs scrambling when I moved the damp little statues, arranged the bouquets beside the Stop and Shop cherub on clearance and the stone angel that really looks... stoned.  I mean totally on crack, staring blankly at me.  Cool.  An excuse to shop for her!

Ignoring the noble attempts at reseeding, I lay down on the grave and closed my eyes.  It crossed my mind that someone might see me, and that I might be cutting a pretty pathetically tragic figure out here with this brilliant idea... but you know what they tell you when you give birth?  "Honestly, you won't care who's there at the time."  And I really didn't.  My heart was as close as possible to her, and this was the best I could do. 

The last time I'd spent this much time in a cemetery was in a college class: "Aestheticism and Mysticism," given by Dr. Timothy O'Donnell.  One class we were simply bused to a graveyard, told to walk around in silence, reflect, and pray.  I remembering looking at the stones with names obscured by time, known now only to God.  That each of these markers stands for a life in another world, one even more vibrant and alive than this one.  That she is there, and happy, and knows I am here, thinking of her.

Faith is cool, huh?  :)

It makes all the difference in this world for me now, for sure.  Because you know, I was totally crazy about this 17 week old fetus.  Really adored her.  Forever sad that she is gone.  Cannot imagine the grief of someone who actually chose to be parted from such a small but precious life.  

I pray for them a lot these days, the living victims of abortions: the mothers.  Even the ones who are currently happy with their choice.  Because however many years they are happy, they will never be free of the possibility of sudden and severe regret, and feeling this awful grief.  I pray they find the love of God at the same time.  They are still much-loved mothers, even if their babies are now in eternity.  Like mine.   

I got up eventually, and realized that dirt is dirty, and I was an absolute sight.  And did you know that dirt and tears make mud?  Who would have thunk.  It was melodramatic enough to be humorous, which was helpful.  I smiled and brushed off with brown Taco Bell napkins, pushed the pinwheel in as deep as I could, and stood to admire the set-up. (Note Taco Bell cup behind seriously stoned angel.:)

The pinwheel clattered noisily in the wind.  Now she'll be the loudest one there.  Knowing my kids, I bet she would have been.  

As I drove away, I turned to blow her a kiss. The pinwheel spun joyfully as though she, too, for now, was waving goodbye.

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, 
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, 
nor anything else in all creation, 
will be able to separate us from the love of God 
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pleased with politicians for once...

Thrilled at the promise of some governmental sanity today!  Daring to hope for the country's future!  Whatever the president decides to do... I'm encouraged, really I am.  Love when things make a little more sense.

In the words of the Senior Policy Advisor with The Catholic Association: "The overwhelming majority of Americans support such a ban, recognizing that there is no difference between a fetus in-utero in the sixth month of pregnancy and a baby in the NICU born at six months of pregnancy, except the protection of the law.”  

Common sense: curiously refreshing.  

And particularly given events in my life this past spring, I absolutely cannot imagine the emotional pain a woman may endure knowing she chose to have such a thing done.   This bill would encourage better and literally more livable choices.

I'm thinking I'll be blogging a bit about my little angel tomorrow, just fyi/fair warning/etc.  I haven't gotten a system down yet for topics on certain days of the week, like others seem to... hmm.  I mean... hey, I could limit loss blogging to "mournful Mondays," social issues to Saturdays, and heinous crafts / disastrous recipes on Wednesdays and attempt humor the rest? 

Also... I'm reading up on what you blog-readers like.  I'm told you like links and polls.  

So... Do you like polls?  Why or why not?   (snore)  

How about this: What's your favorite scripture verse?  I enjoy looking up a scripture a day, but I'll let you do the work this time... :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Time for rainbows

Serious rainbow weather going on over here. Yesterday there was one over the house just burning up the sky with colors.  Never seen one so vivid before.

My smartphone does it no justice whatsoever.  That doesn't stop me from holding it up and impotently taking shots of the heavens.  

Naturally I yelled for everyone to put down their various after dinner pursuits and come stand in the damp and look at the sky.

And I'm pretty low key for my family, regarding rainbows. My grandfather saw the rainbow, and actually called my parents to tell them, and my dad actually woke up my mom to actually go rainbow hunting. In a car. You know tornado chasers? Yeah my folks are rainbow chasers. I gotta live with that. :) 

A rainbow reminds me of three key things:

1. Noah
2. Kermit the frog
3. Gay rights

Yep. It does. Will never forget the time I was told as a kid I couldn't wear rainbow colors anymore because "it means something bad" with no further explanation.

I realize that one of those topics is very controversial. I mean, where I'm from, people talk about Kermit. A lot. And get really agitated, one way or the other.

I think it's good to remember that our highest call is to charity.  Simcha said this well recently on a different topic  Basically, here too, there's no need to get all judgmental and smug because you don't personally have amphibian inclinations and struggles. 

From the heartache I've seen, its really, truly not easy being green, however that shade was achieved. I sometimes think greater harm is being done by the hatefulness that surrounds this issue on both sides than by inordinate affections for Miss Piggy. Could be wrong, but just a thought. 

In any case, self-righteousness was never a Christian virtue. Our job is to inspire people to live the joy of being God's child, joy communicated through our own example. Speaking for myself, I have too much work to do in that area to find any time to sort through which stone to throw first at Kerm

And that goes for Miss Utah too.  Since I'm on a Simcha kick, here.  Yeah, what she said.  

"And above all these put on love, which is the bond of perfection." Colossians 3:14

Monday, June 17, 2013

Two short videos

Today is a theme day (all together now: ooooooo!) at Word Count Blogathon 2013: posting videos.

A perfect opportunity for me to showcase my mastery of the I-Phone camcorder... is it even called a camcorder anymore?  Dunno.

It is also an opportunity for me to practice writing shorter posts before I am diagnosed as "morbidly verbose."


And proof my daughter has inherited her mother's talents.

"For I have written to you in a few words." Hebrews 13:22

(snicker snicker)

("But just wait till tomorrow.")

(Yes, thank you, I am enjoying myself...)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Just for the guys

"Father's Day is not just for the guys anymore."

When I overheard this on the radio yesterday, I had two opposed reactions:

1. Aww c'mon...
2. Duh, it never was...

I'm sitting outside a carousel, in a van, sleeping baby in car. Dad's being a hero and taking the other three in to the merry-go-round; I managed to get car sick and watching that horsey thing spin would finish me off. So I'm appreciating him.

And I'm watching crying, whining miserable kids returning to the parking lot in dribs and drabs, tailed by exhausted looking parents.

And I'm thinking gosh. It's so hard. Being a mom. Being a dad. Bending over backwards to make the day special, and it still ends with overtired children who can't understand how grateful they should be.

So today, it's important to acknowledge those who try anyway. To be good parents even when it's not "good" for them. From midnight feedings to waiting through their baseball games and playground time to letting them have birthday cake at their friends' party right before bedtime.

It's so draining. It's so worthwhile.

So happy Father's Day to all those guys who are strong and sensitive, manly and nurturing. It's a tough job. Thanks for doing it.

Particular thanks to my gentle, Mr. Roger's-like dad, 

and my tough and sweet husband whose four girls require playing pretty princess and dancing while being swung in great squealing circles and draammmma and lack of peace and quiet and.... Yet he stills holds a job just so this can all continue. And then after work, he's there till the last bite of dinner through the last story, the last protest and tear, staying awake till the last girl has gone to sleep. And yes, I'm usually that last girl I was just talking about. :)

Here's the gift I made for him.  In case you can't read it:
"There's a special bathroom in heaven for the father of all girls." :)

Fathers, today is your day. Thank you.

"As a father has compassion on his children, 
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him." Psalm 103:13

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Darn, I should be fat by now

By now, I should be huge.  By now, I should be enormously uncomfortable.  By now, I should only be able to eat small meals.  By now, I should be getting up to pee, constantly.  By now, I should be feeling "pelvic pressure," which basically means feeling like your insides were falling out. :) By now, I would be hot, all the time. Feeling yucky and miserable and achy. 

Halfway through this blogathon, and I've not written a word about it as I practice "moving on."  Yet not a day, not an hour, goes by without me remembering.

I just needed to take a moment, today, in the midst of this, to mourn what should have been, by now.

"Their passing away was thought an affliction, and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace." Wisdom 3:2

Friday, June 14, 2013

To my first graduate

Today, you graduate from fifth grade.  My four and a half pound baby.  My five foot four inch preemie.  The girl who now shares shoes with me and steals my shirts.

I am trying to account for the years that have passed.  The days were long, but those years... they somehow went by in a blur of car trips and Christmases and endless errands and sleepless nights.  And now, we're here, your sisters and dad and I watching the simple ceremony that says, in one more way, "You're moving on."

Claire was so happy to see you up there, dressed in black and white, conducting your class while they sang.  And your baby sisters were so happy to see there were two cakes. :) I really enjoy watching the four of you together.  I hope you always stay close to the little ones who look up to you, and your "almost twin" that's always been right there to play anything you dreamt up.

You are now too old to stay most of 180 days in the brick building around the corner.  You're done with the elementary school you walked into as an adorable, bespeckled first grader, with all the confidence and optimism in the world.  School would be easy.  It was fun for you. Until it was hard, and homework lasted for hours.  Then it wasn't so fun anymore. It was kind of sad to see that happen, to witness how life increasingly makes more demands on all of us.

But I know you are equal to the challenges you will face.  You already stand before an audience with ease, whether dancing, singing, or speaking to a crowd; you did it today, with your short speech about your time at the school.  Art and music come easy to you.  Daily, you're writing down more German words in your notebook, something you just decided to do on your own.   Just like you will simply sit in front of piano and pick out the notes of a song. With younger children, you are nothing short of a wonder; every baby and toddler adores you.  You are already a nurturer, a protector, even already a teacher, the profession you want to have someday.  I'm sure you'll be successful enough to eventually have that big house for children you want to have. :)

You have always taken me by surprise, from the first moment I realized you existed.  And it has always turned out to be a good surprise.  Even though, I confess, the responsibility of raising someone as precious as you was completely overwhelming for awhile.  But you have been worth every effort I've ever made. From waking up early to french braid your hair this morning to first learning how to use that awful breast pump and waking up every four hours to do so.  It has all been so, so worth it.  And you are worth more than that.  Enough for God to give His life to spend forever with you.

You're worth so very much, but you don't comprehend that quite yet.  You're at the age where self-esteem is being assaulted by a silly, silly world that says girls must act a certain way, say certain things, weigh certain pounds, dress certain ways.  Please, please don't listen, beautiful one.  No one else but your Creator can define who you are. Nothing and no one can replace the beauty that you are.

If I let you read this now, you will roll your eyes a little, smile bashfully, and say, "Uhh, thanks mom."  But someday, I think you will understand.  Someday you may even write something similar to my grandchild, a note that will make you cry and make them embarrassed and will make me smile.

I love to see you grow up, even though it's sometimes hard for me.  I'm so proud of you.

"In all thy ways think on Him, and He will direct thy steps." Proverbs 3:6