A Mother’s Day Reflection

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My mother is the most beautiful person in the world.

Is there a person on this planet who does not think that their mother is beautiful? No matter what their personalities, flaws or quirks…our mothers, they are the most beautiful people in the entire world to us.IMG_2020

It seems as though we knew this before we were even capable of speaking. I know that we all did, because I gaze into the eyes of my newborn baby and I see it in his eyes:  love.  So much love, for such a tiny, unintelligent little human.  A human incapable of speaking or articulating their emotions… yet, innately aware of love in the form of sacrifice.IMG_0031

I want to argue that babies recognize our sacrifices as mothers for them. Truly.

For what is love but the willing of another’s good? That willing is, sacrifice.  So if  love is sacrifice, love is also realizing sacrifice, love is made manifest in sacrifice.

Therefore, if our babies love us, they must innately recognize sacrifice.

I know this to be true because of the fistfuls of dandelions I get presented with by a dirty, squishy toddler after I’ve just lost my patience with them not minutes prior.

From all the hugs and kisses that never cease to come even on my grouchiest of afternoons.

From all the ‘look Mom!” I get beckoned with, even though I grumbled to them about how messy they are…

I am no philosopher or theologian. I mostly stand for long periods of time at my kitchen sink washing dishes and thinking about things like this.

I usually think about them on the days I am most disgusted with all my mistakes and shortcomings, and while I’m sitting (standing) there wallowing in guilt…one of these five little people God has charged me with typically runs in bearing scribbles on paper they made just for my wall.  Or hands me a clay creation or paintings, or makes an announcement that they made their bed and ‘wait till you see! You’ll love it!”

Each one of them subconsciously, is aware of the sacrifice I make for them…the sacrifice that speaks mountains of love to them, whether or not they can expressly pluck it out of their awareness and put their finger on it, don’t doubt the intelligence of these creatures: they know. I know they know because of how much they love back.

Which leads me to finally in my adult consciousness expressly be able to pluck out my own awareness that this is how each of us were as children. Acutely, albeit unaware perhaps,  in tune with how much our mothers sacrificed for us, and how much they love us… which in turn makes them most beautiful to us.

Does not sacrifice make someone all the more beautiful?

I see it in my six month old’s eyes. He isn’t just happy to see me, I see love, I feel beautiful and I know it is only because of the purity of his soul. Despite all of my personality flaws and shortcomings all this baby sees and knows is my sacrifice…my love… for him. And I suppose in his eyes, I can be nothing but beautiful.

And so it is with our own mothers when we were children! Is that not a wonderful thought? When I stop and truly let that sink in I have to catch my breath sometimes.

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Mother’s Day almost 30 years ago!

In a way, how very sad it is to be an adult! To loose that innocence. To become older and grow weary in our visions, allowing emotions and fleeting human flaws cloud our awareness of the depth of our mother’s sacrifice.  To dull our image of true beauty with the law of the world. The law that says judge, hold grudges, loose patience and focus on the passing… not the lasting.

It seems only through parenting our own children that the foggy glasses are lifted off of our eyes and the purity of vision once again restored. We can see the depth of love, through sacrifice that our own mothers have for us!

Oh and to think that this all is only a tiny fraction of the love that Our Blessed Mother in heaven has for all of us.

There may be those who say their mother’s did not love them, did not sacrifice for them… but if they are beautiful (and who, who among us can say otherwise?) If they are beautiful, it is only because of their love for you. Because of their sacrifice for you! At at least ONE moment in time, they made a significant sacrifice for you! (You are here, are you not?) And that one time, is probably the single greatest sacrifice they ever could have made for you!

Sacrifice and love makes the soul radiant with beauty beyond compare.

Saint Augustine says “ Love is the beauty of the soul”

No one’s beauty ever has, or ever will, surpass the beauty of my mother.

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I can clearly remember being young and wanting only to look like her. How was it possible for someone to be grounding me, yet never falling from being beautiful? Nobody else’s mom was as beautiful as mine. And even on the most difficult angsty teen days, I never once stopped thinking she was beautiful.

Though she be fierce and at her wits end with me, she always remained: beautiful.

Though she be exhausted and trying to listen with all her might to my ramblings, still: beautiful

Though she have migraines and illness, fever blisters and injury: so, so, beautiful.

The farther I delve into my own journey of motherhood, the more beautiful my mother becomes.

Every middle of the night bedwetting incident, followed by another child’s nightmare needing soothed, followed by a baby up to nurse… the more tired, the more stretched to my limits I feel, the more beautiful my own mother becomes.

I so badly want to slow down and see this cycle for what it is truly being conveyed to us from heaven: this is true love. This cycle happens for a reason.KatieAdam-1515

We begin with purity, with seeing others only for their love and sacrifice and finding beauty only in that love and sacrifice. Along the way we get a little clouded in our vision but then we have children of our own and come back full circle to see the beauty of the human soul. Especially our mothers. Perhaps this is what Saint Therese means when she teaches her “Little Way” and encourages us to be childlike. Maybe it just means always remaining aware of the sacrifice and love. No matter what’s been said or happened in the past, at the end of the day that sacrifice and that love is still there and will always be there (if I must…at the very least, our mothers did give birth to us!) That sacrifice is where true beauty lies.

The happiest of Mother’s Day to my most beautiful and always beautiful mother, and all the beautiful mothers out there!

 

 

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ARCHIVE: Why We Don’t Do Disney (and other things to make you roll your eyes)

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  **Reposting this oldie because of all the FUN STUFF Disney wants to shove down your kid’s throat. Stand strong my friends, kids can have a wonderful childhood without the ol’ Magic Kingdom!***

 

 

 

Ok, so I have had a beef with Disney for a few years now. But in light of recent revelations that only confirmed my suspicions, I felt it was time to finally drag this old post out of my saved drafts folder and finally muster up the courage to publish it.

Before I go any farther there are some things you should know. My big kahuna of an issue is the Disney movies. My daughter owns several Disney “Barbies” (solely because they are the only modest ones out there!) We have some Disney character items lying around in our toy bin, and Disney pointless objects like stickers and coloring books. My Uncle also works for Disney. So yes, if you come over my house to inspect, I assure you, you will eventually find something linked to the “Disney” company here.

However, our kids don’t watch Disney cartoons or movies. Disclaimer, they have watched these:

1. Winnie the Pooh (1974) – The only ‘scary’ thing in this movie is the Heffalumps and Woosels… which are just elephants and weasels. No rudeness, no attitude, no defiance….just a silly nilly willy old bear.

2. Toy Story 2– That’s right, not the first one and not the last one. It’s the only one that is benign enough… with the ‘enemy’ being Newman in a Chicken suit. The first one has that creepy pyscho Sid destroying toys and blowing things  up….exactly what I don’t need my sons seeing, and the last one is freaky when the toys go to the dump and they see trash cans filled with baby doll body parts.

3. Mary Poppins. No explanation needed. Good morals and lots of music.

Now that’s said…here’s why we tell our kids “we don’t do Disney‘.  Back in college, I had a hunch and once I had kids, my hunch only grew more curious. My hunch was that Disney movies undermine the authority of the parent. And if you undermine the authority of the parent, well, kids pretty much raise themselves with an innate disdain for authority and structure. Or to be more specific…. values and morals. Or to be even more specific, they subconsciously are developing a relativistic mindset. If you can plant the seed of relativistic worldview (what I feel is right is right, what I want is right, when I want it is right..) at an early age, and only foster this relativistic mindset all throughout their very impressionable adolescent years…. guess what? It’s going to be an uphill battle in the teen and young adult years trying to undo that. Especially when you have society working against you tenfold. But that’s just my hunch.

My hopes to share some of my Disney movie memories with my kids kinda unraveled in my lap last summer as I put on “Finding Nemo” for all of us to watch as family. I thought “Finding Nemo” was cute when I watched it in college (note: after I knew better what behavior is acceptable and what is not) however, watching it with impressionable preschoolers, who you are trying to form in good manners and character- I was really upset when in the first ten minutes of the movie, Nemo’s mother dies, Nemo makes fun of his Dad’s “overprotection”, Nemo deliberately defies his father, and tells his father to “shut up!”.  My kids were wide-eyed and shocked that Nemo did those naughty things. That movie was over pretty fast in the this house. Then the wheels in my head started turning. Nemo gets his way in the end. And guess what? His Dad apologizes for being so overprotective. How’s that for irony? So the moral of the story is…….. do what you want to do, your parents are stupid and annoying, they’ll get over it and realize that they were wrong for not letting you make your own decisions. WHAT? (ahem. Relativism, anyone?)

I started going down the list of all the Disney movies I could think of and I started finding some common and disturbing themes. Guess what? The majority of Disneymovies have a premise of either one or no parents. Is that a little odd to you? It is to me. It’s innately teaching kids that having both a mom and a dad isn’t vital or important and that their roles are interchangeable. It’s laying the foundation that marriage isn’t a necessary institution. Believe me, it’s planting seeds of how they perceive marriage. And believe me, in the climate we are living, our kids need all the reinforcement they can get on traditional marriage. How could you sit there and try to explain to your son why kids need both a Mom and a Dad, when he can say back “well…. Ariel only had a Dad…and Simba only had a Mom….they were ok…” Up. Hill. Battle. And frankly, I’m already too tired to deal with it… so it’s easier just to avoid it.

Here’s some of the movies with single/no parents present:

  • Bambi
  • Snow White
  • Cinderella
  • Little Mermaid
  • Pocahantas
  • Toy Story
  • Aladdin
  • Lion King
  • Beauty and the Beast

And that’s just to name a few. Still curious? Go to the Wikipedia page here and look for yourself... you’ll be surprised how many there are. (I am not going to launch into how over-sexualized the female characters are in the Disney movies… because we all know that and we‘ve read the dozens of articles… but take this as a given: they sexualized a lot of their characters!)

Also, defiance. Defiance of parental authority is a Disney classic. Think about just recently in Brave, Frozen and Finding Nemo….nice sugar coated relativism. All those previous films listed too, go against the parent’s advice and teaching, does their own thing and gets rewarded in the end. Not exactly what I want my kids absorbing subconsciously because that ain’t how God works. Look at salvation history, folks. There are rules, there are instructions, God is mericful but God doesn’t succumb to our whims and change his laws because of our mistakes.

Speaking of God, you know that name isn’t allowed at Disney studios or in their movies either. Not that it should surprise you. But am I taking it too far? I used to wonder if I was but then I discovered “Gay Days” that Disney parks put on annually and , mind you is NOT a private event… but open to families and millions of children! I began to ask myself, if a local theater was putting on these “days” in our town would I still take my kids to the theater when they performed an original scripted play? No way in hell, man. I wouldn’t trust them to keep the material innocent and pure enough for my kids minds… then why in the heck would I trust a multi-billion dollar company to keep their material pristine… when clearly they’ve got some kind of an agenda? (And they do, they’ve started putting it into their TV programming!)

I don’t care if I’m wrong or over-analyzing it. I only have a mere 18 years to prep my kids for the battle of the real world, and I need all the help, not hindrance I can get! Sorry, but I have no spare souls over here that I’m willing to experiment with.

But what about me you naysayers might debate? Didn’t I watch all those Disneymovies? Yup. Watched the Disney channel a lot too, and even then I knew it was all a mockery of adults and authority. Did I have an attitude problem? You betcha. All those kids on the Disney channel had attitude problems and idiot parents. They were child-kings. They were everything we thought we wanted to be. Their lives revolved around : them.  I guess I turned out ok, but I definitely caused some undue friction in the teen years. Which inevitably may have been there just because I was in the teen years, but I feel the Disney influence only exacerbated the situation. Also, not for nothing but have you seen the trend in the lives of these Disney channel stars? Like Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Christian Aguleria, Lee Thompson Young, Linsday Lohan…. now that’s really got to make you wonder about Disney‘s magical influence.

Look, my kids watch plenty of TV. Don’t you worry. We just choose things that will support our parenting philosophy, not unravel it. There is plenty of wholesome children’s television out there that features nothing sexualized, both a mom and a dad parenting (something that becoming more rare for our kids to see) and respectful children with good manners.  Hey, you are what you watch. Here’s what we opt for instead of Disney:

  • Fireman Sam
  • Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
  • SuperWhy!
  • 19 Kids and Counting
  • Thomas the Tank Engine
  • Angelina Ballerina
  • Kipper
  • Veggie Tales
  • Lots of Old School Musicals (Singin’ in the Rain, The Sound of Music,  Dr. Dolittle, White Christmas)

 

I know I take this really seriously. ( But obviously not too seriously, since I do own Disney princess dolls, etc. see previous paragraphs). I have a big problem with Disneymovies. They are consistently, delibrately anti-God, anti-authority and anti-Traditional Marriage. This is just not the entertainment I want my kids exposed to. Am I saying your going to have perfect angel kids if they don’t watch Disney? Nope. But do I think avoiding Disney will make parenting a lot smoother for you? I have a hunch it might….

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Broken Mirrors

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It is disappointing to me to hear so many fellow Christians expressing anger that Donald Trump is our president.

For starters, he was not my nominee of choice. I find him arrogant, rude, ridiculous and brash, among a host of other characteristics.

However, I cannot turn my back on the faith I profess. The faith which obliges me to remain hopeful and to be merciful.

As Christians, we are the Easter people! The people of hope! Our hope lies in the Word of God and His church. They have shown us time and time again that leaders and kings with massive brokenness and weakness are used to work wonders of the Holy Spirit.

If we walk around griping, moaning and predicting what a disaster the next four years will  be, what are we proclaiming to those around us? We are saying that despite a person expressing a willingness to work for good, their past, their faults, behavior and personality will impede them.

Is our speech evangelizing a faith of mercy and trust? Or are we saying there is mercy for some- the ones who are kind tongued and holy-but no good could come from the ones who are difficult to bear? This is not practicing what we preach.

How can so many ‘Christians’ not be hopeful in this circumstance? The more I pondered and prayed about this, the more the Lord placed desire on my heart to share this with all of you. I remembered King David. King David was a married man who was eying his best friend’s wife, then committed adultery, got her pregnant, then had Uriah (the best friend)murdered so she (best friend’s said wife) would be available to wed. Yikes. That some pretty nasty page 6 stuff going on for King David.

Lest we forget that King David also established the Kingdom of Jerusalem, he is Israel’s most beloved King mentioned a little more than 1,000 times in the Old Testament alone!

King David, that broken scalawag was solely responsible for bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem…’placing divine worship at the center of national life’ (Bible Basics, Bergsma)12767025195_f10e90ae8c_b

My guess is not many people who knew of David’s sins would have ‘voted’ for him or given him much support.

‘David? Yeah right. He’s out of control. He’s on a power trip. The guy thinks he can get away with murder!‘ (pun intended)

However, I am amazed at how far and wide the Lord’s power stretched through the broken mirrors of his soul. The Lord ends up making a covenant with David (no small deal)… and it is from David’s lineage that the Son of God comes forth. That’s quite a story of hope for all of us!king-david-nathan

Biblical history is littered with stories such as these. Saint Peter himself, publicly denouncing Christ. What about Samson, Noah, Lot, Thomas the Apostle, Jacob, Rahab or Saint Paul?  Saint Paul murdered Christians before he became the greatest advocate for Christianity. How is it that these types of men, with their faults, sins and difficult personalities were able to be used as instruments for immense good?

Perhaps there is an actual chance that victories for Christianity can happen through the Trump administration? Absolutely.

Any Christian who knows what our faith professes cannot deny it. The Bible proclaims it. Sunday’s second reading re-iterates it:

“Consider your own calling, brothers and sisters.
Not many of you were wise by human standards,
not many were powerful,
not many were of noble birth.
Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise,
and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong,
and God chose the lowly and despised of the world,
those who count for nothing…” (1 Cor 1:26-31)

Looking through that lens, what Christian cannot be filled with joy? He’s a dang fool. Of course he is. But so am I. And you.  The joyful news that we must remember is after 8 long years of anti-Christian, a-moral, pro-abortion, un-open to discussion administration suffocating the life out of us- we have someone who is at least attempting to try!

Perhaps he’s not your top pick. That’s ok. But here is someone who has expressed a willingness to fight for life and on the side of our Christian beliefs. No matter what his past sins are or his personality is like, he is making strides in alignment with our faith beliefs. A fool who’s trying. Hmmm sounds a lot like, well, every human being on the planet earth.

If we vocalize contempt and doubt instead of encouragement and hope what are we telling those around us? What are we teaching our children? We will inadvertently teach them to focus in on faults, and we become the Pharisees. Who among us is that perfect?

I’m begging all Christians, in light of our faith, in light of the tremendous examples in the Bible, we have to stop the bickering and the belittling.  You simply cannot say you are Christian and turn around, in such a time as this, and refuse to be joyful when a broken person does something good for the Church.

To say with our examples, “So you say you want to work on our side, but we all know the sins of your past and we’re going to hold you to your baggage and say it’s impossible…’

This is not our faith.

And the argument does not work for ‘the other candidate’ or the ‘previous president’ because in order for God to work through someone, there must be willingness. And on ‘her’ part and ‘his’ they avowedly expressed no such willingness.

If the banning of federally funded abortions, the re-institution of the Mexico City Policy…within the first week of office isn’t a step of willingness in the right direction than I don’t know what is. (Praise God just thinking about the babies that will be spared because of these two acts! Hallelujah!) Also, let us look to who is being placed in significant positions by this administration: good leaders like Andrew Bremburg, Dr. Ben Carson, Kellyanne Conway.

Let us recall that no administration has ever ‘fully supported’ the March for Life. This administration publicly mentioned at least three times that the March for Life has their ‘full support’. And their lack of comment on the Women’s March should speak volumes for which side of the abortion issue their allegiance lies. The issue of life, especially the life of the unborn, is the single most critical issue that we face today, and any victory in their defense deserves to be celebrated!screen_shot_2017-01-27_at_11-43-05_am_810_500_55_s_c1

If these aren’t hopeful signs and a reason to rejoice then thank goodness you won’t be the one in charge of judging me at the end of my life. Yikes! Tough crowd.

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This is not to infer that we all need to get on the bandwagon and love their personalities or their past. This is not to say turn a blind eye. This also obviously doesn’t mean that we need to support every future decision that this administration makes. But it is to say, how could there ever be hope for any of us if there is no hope in this situation? If we are stubborn enough to pout and doubt that tremendous wonders will be worked through Trump’s weakness and brokenness, than what are you saying for me? What about my weakness? How can I ever hope to be a good mother, wife, sister…fully knowing my own baggage and the weight of my own sins. If every rude thing I ever said was recorded, if all my mistakes were public knowledge, surely no one would think I was capable of any good at all.

I’ve got news for all the grumpy Christians out there who cannot find the silver lining in this administration: none of us are saints. We all have baggage, sins, personality flaws, and annoyances. I’m going out on a limb and guessing Trump isn’t the only person in the room who’s said some pretty mean things before. We are all just a bunch of broken mirrors. And yet, miraculously, through your willingness and my willingness to keep trying, God manages to bring good out of our measly efforts in this adventure.

Deep down  this tempest of opinions among Christians boils down to one very real, crucial thing. It is that we all think we have to be perfect. All of us despise our own brokenness and we hate seeing it in others, especially those who are leading us. We look at their ugliness and faults and it scares us, because deep down we doubt how good could ever come out of our own ugliness and sin. We naturally, want to see flawless, perfection, purity, holiness and success.

These feelings are distorted.  Yes, we are flawed and broken, but beautiful because of it. We are foolish.  We all have sins, sometimes awful ones, yet God still triumphs in us. In our weaknesses, He is made strong!

Some of the most beautiful pottery in the world is broken pottery. In the Japanese art of Mending, Kintsugi, broken dishes and pottery are put back together together with gold, silver or platinum. According to My Modern Met:

“This repair method celebrates the artifact’s unique history by emphasizing the fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them. Kintsugi often makes the repaired piece even more beautiful than the original..”

ncpmbsoj3hses0xn9ke6_1065306615What was once weak, useless, garbage is transformed into dishes of increased value and beauty. Just like the astounding victories of saints and biblical heroes ahead of us, lighting the path… proving time and time again that as long as you are willing, God can work miracles through any of us. Especially someone who is trying. Even if they are trying for the very first time. Even if they are arrogant and rude. God. Still. Uses. Them. Without hiding or disguising sins, something truly beautiful can come forth.

If you don’t believe that it is possible, then you don’t believe it is possible for yourself. And I’m telling you, it is. So have hope. Have joyful hope!

I take incredible comfort in knowing that the eve of the election was spent with a national vigil of Holy Hours being held. Prayer in front of the Eucharist is so incredibly powerful that I felt nothing but complete trust when the election went to Trump. This was all in the Lord’s hands. eucharistic_adoration_credit_matthew_rarey_cna_3_ewtn_world_catholic_news_11_6_12

The thought I rely on is this: my kids are watching all of this. My kids need to know that despite their shortcomings, even on the days when they say they are Christian but then they go do some un-Christian thing…that I still believe they will rise to the occasion and keep their word. That no matter how many times they end up in the confessional, God will prevail and work good through them. I refuse to complain or be gloomy in the face of even the tiniest victories for Christianity. I will not teach my kids they are the sum of their failings, but of their efforts to keep trying.  Let’s all try to have joyful hope in this administration, for our children’s sake, to teach them the most powerful lesson we all struggle to accept in our darker moments:

God can still work through you. No matter what.

John 1:5 “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it.”

Good bye, girly girl.

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I really need to give up trying to be as girly girl as I used to be. It’s a futile attempt with three little boys constantly hovering over my every move.

Earrings get pulled out, necklaces broken, lovely sequined shoes cannot hold their own when dashing after an escapee in the mall.

Jeans, sneakers, sweatshirt and ponytails would much more equip me to tackle my darling offspring whilst they try to jump off the playhouse roof…for the 100th time in a hour.

Pretty much.

Pretty much.

Here’s the thing though. I grew up with only sisters! We had tea parties, and played dress up for endless hours and curled up in corners reading books. My childhood was filled to the brim with blissful adventures of domesticity like playing house and painting finger nails and baking. To this day, all three of us revel in our dangly earrings, sparkly shoes, and swishy dresses. And to boot, I have my dear daughter who aches for all of these things in excess but like me, is constantly rudely brought back to the reality of the fact that we can’t have them as long and Larry, Moe, and Curly are running circles around us.

Point in case: the Infamous Sunday Mass Debacle.

Ahem.

You ready for this one?

Well. To begin.

It’s not like I’m completely unaware that wearing stockings, heels and a flowy dress is a THREAT TO HUMANITY, or just, to my sons’ happiness… it’s simply that I had forgotten.

It had been SO LONG. So long since Jack was the toddler who dragged his rubber soled shoes down the back of my BRAND NEW (no. LITERALLY bought them on the way to church) new pantyhose, as I knelt in church and he sat on the pew behind me.

Dragggggg. Rippppp. Right before going up to communion.

It had been equally as long since the time Jack pulled down my jersey knit skirt as he waited on line behind me while, again, going up for communion. (Thank goodness I was wearing a slip!!!)

After such incidents as these, I had actually adjusted my Sunday attire to leggings (un-rippable by rubber soled boys shoes) and flats, and dresses (attached to my shoulders that cannot be yanked down)

For as long as I can seasonally, I never wear stockings anymore. Because otherwise I figured it would be easier to turn over my bank account information to Walgreens at the rate I was needing to replace pantyhose.

Anyway.  My pregnancy hormone ladened brain seems to have forgotten the ‘whys we dos what we dos‘ when we have little boys in tow. And on a particularly beautiful, sunny, breezy, Sunday I went to Walgreens, bought the silkiest stockings, put on my girly heels, and the flowiest chiffon dress in my closet.

It was a pink chiffon dress. If you must know.

It was lovely. And between the chiffon, the silky hose, the heels and my pearls (and the new pregnancy!) I was all girly girled up and bubbling over with feminity (and naivety) as we walked into Mass.

I feel pretty....

I feel pretty….

We almost made it to the Gospel when Charlie began to not resist himself. He swished my dress a few times, and I primly leant over and whispered to him to leave Mommy’s dress alone.

He busied himself with something in my purse, then coyly wiggled his way back to me and slid his hand up and down the apparently irresistible stockings and flounced the back of my skirt up a bit. Not too high, just above my knees, but still not ok.

Blushing, I again, lowered my self ever so precariously in my  heels to his height and gave him “the eyes” while asking him to please not do that to Mommy’s dress.

Of course, he did it again the next time I stood up. Only this time, a wee bit higher than the previous time. About thigh height now. I noted that there was a family with hormone ridden teen aged boys sitting directly in the pew behind us, and upped my serious ‘stop it’ game with Charlie.

I went the ‘what did I just say’ route, with the bulging Stanley eyes, and some shameless bribery with tic tacs.

DID I STUTTER?!

DID I STUTTER?!

He knew I meant business.

Yet clearly, boys being faced with silky stockings and flowy dresses find it just far too tempting. Even when they are 4.

(things really  don’t ever change much for them, do they? How different is a 4 year old boy from a 30 year old boy?)

We managed to make it another five minutes or so, until the big reveal happened.

We all stood for the Our Father, after being safely hidden by my pew kneeling for a bit. I really had felt we’d have no more issues the rest of Mass.

Our Father started wrapping up and we were gearing up for the Sign of Peace. (Do they seriously plan the timing of these things?!)

When, faster than anything, Charlie grabbed the back of my beautiful, flowy, pink chiffon dress with both hands and parachuted it up as high as it could go, let go and let it fall down to his sheer delight.

Completely and totally exposing, um, all of anything that was underneath.

Nothing left to the imagination there, folks. Lucky for me I was wearing the most blah pair of Hanes Her Way that has been ever invented.

Did I mention there was an 18 year old sitting directly behind me?

And that we were just about to exchange the sign of peace?

How’s that for humility?

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So, we had a funeral for my panty hose. I retired the chiffon dress for the time being. I now have buckled down and have to view my clothes much more tactically adaptable to my environment as opposed to pretty and fashionable.  Football gear might be my safest bet at this point.

In any case, take this as a warning all you moms of little boys. Don’t let your derrière be the next unsuspecting victim of a toddler’s indiscretions, especially in the middle of Mass.

And if a pink chiffon dress and silky stockings lure you into some delusional thinking, I tell you with certainty it lies! Run the other way!

Nothing is worth loosing your dignity! Abort mission and succumb to to the sneakers and sweatshirts!

Of course I’m writing all this as a reminder to myself.

You know, the next time (in like a year) I find myself lured into buying silky stockings at Walgreens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gender Reveal?

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So I’ve been thinking a lot about whether or not to find out the gender of Thimons Baby #5 lately.  We have a daughter and three boys… and for the first part of this pregnancy, as I clung nauseous to the edge of my sofa, I told myself I needed the mental preparation if another boy was in store for us. 3 tiny tornadoes in one small house was already making my head spin. I would certainly need a good 9 months to brace myself for a possible 4th tornado.

Which got me thinking about the definite differences between boys and girls. Don’t get me wrong, I love love LOVE my boys, but in light of all the gender drama lately.. I’d like to grab the microphone and “Ahem, Ahem” address the crowd that gender reveals a whole heck of a lot about a person, right from the get-go. I don’t care what popular journalists and psycho-doctors want to say otherwise. I have lived it, baby.

Mia, my oldest, from the start was the easiest baby…great sleeper, great learner, earliest talker. By 16 months when our son Jack was born, she was toting around her baby doll, nursing her baby, nurturing Jack (who screamed constantly) and trying to help change diapers.  There was a distinct maternal instinct, from that early age that she was expressing as a little girl.

The boys, while sweet and caring brothers, greeted newborn babies differently. Taking risks by trying to ‘leap’ over them during their tummy time, or see how quickly they’d react to a bop on the head from a Lego. One time poor Max was littered with a pile of their toys, in their attempt to make him stop crying. I saw the distinction between how guys nurture and how girls nurture. Guys, ‘here, do something, just stop complaining and work it out’.

And now, as they are all growing older… the distinctions are broadening like never before. Mia pouts and gets sensitive if you ask her for the thousandth time to please clean the 79 books off her bed and re-shelve them.  She sulks when you reprimand her but she also writes us dozens of notes for every silly little thing that flutters into her almost eight year old head. Shopping lists, thank yous, reminders, and of course, “Sorry my room is clozed for repairs. Come again later!’. In the mornings, she likes quiet and she’s reached the point of exasperation with her brothers for ‘busting into my room when I’m trying to read’.

The boys on the other hand, wake up swinging from the chandeliers. They compete over everything: who can get downstairs first, who can eat more, who has more Legos, who can push Mommy over the edge by asking the same thing over and over again. They start their day on loud, fast paced energy, and crash at the end of the day like a Mack truck. When they get punished, they shrug it off… sometimes a little too quickly, but they don’t take it… or much of anything personally. All three of them don’t sit still for books. All three of them are super picky eaters. All three of them never want to ‘chill out’ or slow down.

I see clear differences, from the start, between boys and girls. And perhaps the differences are more exaggerated to me since I grew up with only sisters.  Just my observations though! All too frequently incidents happen where I find myself thinking, “girls would NEVER” or “boys would NEVER”.

Point in case, as I mounted the stairs one afternoon in search of my laundry basket, I came upon it. It was perched, teetering on edge of the top step of the staircase, with Charlie seated in it, tightly gripping either side of the basket. Practically flying up the steps, flailing my arms to ‘catch’ the prospective accident I was about to witness I screamed,

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”

Completely unphased, he looked up and responded

“Going down.

(Duh, Mom. I’m GOING DOWN, can’t you SEE THAT?)

“In the LAUNDRY BASKET?” I asked/shouted/panted

“It’s a boat.”

Um, Mia would never, ever ever ever attempt to fly down my 15 step staircase in nothing but a laundry basket. Nope. No siree.

What Mia does do is quietly get out scissors, and fabric, and dolls and sit intensely working on the floor of her bedroom. By the time I notice the extreme lack of chitter chatter in my house, all of my scotch tape has disappeared….and my Sharpies….and I hear her triumphantly entering the kitchen with a basket (my bathroom basket that she swiped) piled high with…. garbage? No!

“Look what I MADE, Mom!” She’s giddy and proud

“Are those your new socks I just bought you?” I’m blinking non stop and sifting through the garbage pile   fabric creation she’s bearing in her basket.

“Yeah! I cut up my socks and made headbands for my American Girl Dolls! Look!”

I freeze in that frozen Mom face you get when you realize how no body ever has socks that match, so after weeks of forgetting, you finally remember to pick up a brand new 12 pack of socks… only to find them snipped to smithereens the following day by a very creative child.

The boys would NEVER. They wouldn’t even be nurturing enough to care to brush the dolls hair let alone redesign all their socks into accessories.

See what I mean? Big differences… even from little people.

So for this baby I was going to find out the gender, because quite frankly, it does reveal an awful lot about the tiny person I’d be charged with soon. But I opted not to.

Instead I thought about it and realized that my daughter and my sons have all done things very differently, but each peeled away a different layer of my selfishness…that only they could do. When I put it in that light, I reasoned, they were each sent to me not for me to form them, but for them to form me more… they were exactly what I needed to chisel away at my vocation and aid my spiritual growth. So with that in mind, I think boy or girl… this baby is the next perfect stepping stone that God wants me to take. And I’m super excited to meet him or her when our journey is set to begin!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(More) God’s Food

Comments 4 Standard

Since some people were asking, I wanted to share some shopping lists and meal plans that we’ve been using over here. Hopefully this helps cut down the process of transitioning your lifestyle eating. I know it’s been a huge transition for us over here, but very, very worth it. The physical, mental, and spiritual benefits are priceless. I say lifestyle choice because that is really what we’re talking about here. Not a get thin quick diet, not a fad or food shaming philosophy (Good grief!) but an actual lifestyle change. One which, I know for us, is a constant evolution of learning and growing. It’s never changed then done and over with, it’s a deliberate, ethical, constantly adaptive choice to sustain our bodies in a way that glorifies God.

A very powerful thing, in this regard to lifestyle change, happened actually during the beginning of our ‘conversion’… while I was on retreat with the Sisters of Life. At the end of the retreat, I sought out the ‘kitchen sisters’ who were in charge of the meals for our time there. I wanted some recipes, because I was completely blown away by how delicious the food was (they provided an abundance of gluten free options at each meal) and also how little of it left me feeling full…for a long time.  Sister quite simply informed me that, as an order, they started thinking about how someone cannot be spiritually nourished unless they are physically nourished, in the best way possible. So for their 25th Anniversary, they made a commitment to pursue more nutritionally dense meal options to provide to their retreatants. What about this struck me? It was that as an order, they saw the need to make a commitment to change their nutritional lifestyle, as a direct connection to spiritual growth. I don’t know about you, but I strongly admire the Sisters of Life, and they are some seriously holy women. That nugget of information left me walking away in great admiration.

Before I share these lists, I want all of you to know I am by no means an expert in any of these areas. I have however, been under the guidance of a well-seasoned nutritionist who is not only an MD but who’s been practicing for well over 40 years. He’s lived a life on both sides of food perspective. So, suffice to say, I do consider him an expert because he’s got way more experience, education, and wisdom in this field than I could ever dream of. I am also super lucky to be surrounded by some seasoned ‘Mamas in the field’ who are kind enough to share their tips and recipes with me! That being said, I am just merely passing on positive information that has impacted my own life with you. As I think I usually do ie: books, movies, products. Generally, when something is awesome or great, don’t we HAVE to share the news with those we love? See this as just that. I also hope that all my research and experimenting saves YOU any extra work!

I leave you with some encouragement from Saint Augustine:

“Treat your body as if you were going to live forever, and take care of your soul as if you were going to die tomorrow!”

Click Here: Sample 2 week meal plan

Click Here: Shopping List

Click Here: Meal options

:::Favorite Recipes:::

Homemade Parmesean ‘crackers’ (gf)

Paleo Pancakes (my kids cannot tell the difference between these and regular pancakes!)

Devils on Horseback

The Best Pumpkin bread ever (gf)

Chocolate Avocado Pudding (tastes like Jello!)

Sweet Potato & Onion Quiche

Butter Buttons

Pie Crust (GF) you can’t tell the difference! Just add 1 tbl vinegar to the mix.

**This just shared with me** Jesus’ Bread 🙂 Check it out! 

         My Top Ten Pantry Must – Haves

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Beef Gelatin Powder, add this to smoothies, soups, sauces, everything! It is odorless and flavorless but oh so good for your intestinal health.

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Canned pumpkin, huge source of Vitamin A… easily mixed into a variety of dishes to ‘beef’ them up. Even Mac & Cheese!

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I like to use dates to sweeten breads & muffins, they melt when they bake but throwing them through the blender makes them impossible to detect for picky eaters

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These I always keep on hand, it’s just veggies and fruit with no added sugar in a pouch. My 6 year old loves them.

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Organic, Extra Virgin, Unrefined Coconut Oil. Use for cooking, or for your face, or for…treating warts like we did! (no joke! they never came back!)

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Nature’s miracle food. Also, 2 of these bad boys in a blender with cacoa powder, some butter and vanilla… instant chocolate pudding.

Bubbies-Pure-Kosher-Dills

Voted best pickle in America! And they’re lacto-fermented, so taking your pro-biotics was never so tasty!

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Mmmm raw cacoa powder! Sometimes, we mix it into plain yogurt, too.

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Loaded with essential amino acids and B vitamins this stuff is delicious. Use as an alternative to soy sauce or just for general seasoning.

 

 

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Raw honey. It’s so thick, you need to scoop it out with a spoon. Never heated, strained or pasteurized leaving you with all the beneficial pollen and propolis from the honey that keeps your immune system on the up & up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

God’s Food

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It’s been 3 months now since Tom and I made the decision to cut the added sugar, coffee and gluten from our lives. As well, we eliminated foods containing artificial ingredients. We reasoned that we need real food to make real people.  Artificial food is good for making— well you know what I mean.

Now, before you fall off your chair and start making harsh judgments in your head, please continue reading.

No one loved coffee more than Tom, and no one loved carbs and gluten more than me. So if I’m sitting here, feeling so impassioned as to share this transformation with you…please consider that it may be worth it for you and your family.

I keep telling people, it’s really is so basic. Although it is hard for people in our modern society to believe. what you eat affects EVERYTHING on both a physical,mental, and dare I say, spiritual level. Here’s the thing, I used to start yawning every day around 2 pm. I would need multiple trips to the pantry for snacks, chocolate, usually coffee, (always coffee in the morning) and here’s a big one. I always woke up groggy. Very, very groggy and grumpy. No matter what time I went to bed. This was just life. I figured this was par for the course as  a mom raising four active children.

I was blessed to have an excellent nutritionist that shared an office building with my chiropractor. I decided to meet with him, I suppose a prompting of the spirit nudged me. After relating to him about my strong religious convictions he said to me

So the food God put on the earth isn’t good enough for you? You have to buy manufactured fake food?

Me: ‘It just costs so much more

Him “But  if you believe He created this incredible machine called your body, and that He put everything on the earth for you to sustain and keep it running, why then are you trying to change what isn’t broken?

Then he pointed out that what’s really expensive is someone in the family getting sick and having to pay the those doctor bills or to have to take time off from work! Huh. Good point.

The nutritionist had my attention at this point. Soon, he probed my conscience further.

I started asking myself “Aren’t our bodies temples of the Holy Spirit? And doesn’t it only make sense if I consider myself a ‘religious’ person, that it should carry over into how I treat and care for my body… which is not only a GIFT but a TEMPLE to house of our living God?  If “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” does that only apply to our kitchens and bathrooms and to the outside of our bodies? What about our insides?  After all, they don’t call it junk food for nothing” and why would I bring “junk” into the one holy temple I was given dominion over by the Lord?

If the 5th commandment tells us to not commit bodily harm to ourselves shouldn’t that carry over to the way we eat? Can we continue to deny that eating poorly and cultivating poor eating habits in our children isn’t in fact doing harm? Especially in 2016 when we have so much scientifically proven facts that simply cannot be ignored. And importantly, since there’s a multitude of studies that show that good nutrition is one of the main pillars of physical and mental health?”

I honestly felt like a hypocrite. How could I prudently care for my soul and the souls of my children by carefully selecting nourishing, experiential influences in their daily life, while at the same time neglecting the REAL nutritional needs of our physical bodies? How could I put things into my body, that I know full well are not nourishing to it? It was all this that convicted me to try the experiment that was being proposed.

Part of me didn’t want to know the stats and the facts, I just wanted to run an experiment and see how I felt. But the thing is, thanks to my nutritionist and my own research I now know why the coffee, sugar, and gluten wasn’t doing it for me or Tom anymore.

The Turning Points:

1.Coffee is not your friend:

Because coffee mimics some of the natural hormones of our body, it does the job of stimulating the adrenal glands to produce a whole host of other activating hormones. When we bypass certain glands such as the pituitary and hypothalamus, which are normally responsible for adrenal stimulation, they get lazy and even atrophy. That’s why some people get so addicted to coffee. But coffee and caffeine are never as smart as the glands that do it naturally so the adrenals and all the others get confused and this leads to enormous emotional and physical stress.

It’s easy to get addicted to coffee and especially the caffeine portion of it. That’s why coffee feels so good but is so hard to get off of. The problem is when you try to fool nature you always wind up fooling yourself. If you do it routinely and often enough, your these vital glands may just decide they don’t need to bother producing those essential hormones anymore. This is a serious problem which may already be wreaking havoc in your body presently!

This explanation made complete sense to Tom, who was finding he needed more and more coffee everyday to make it through. He was up to 5 cups!  While we may not be biological geniuses, we know the truth when we hear and feel it. Remember God intended our food to be real food, quoting Genesis 1:29

“God  said: See, I give you every seed-bearing plant on all the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food;and to all the wild animals, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the earth, I give all the green plants for food. And so it happened. God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good

Now, please tell me how I could argue with that.

2. Sugar is Poison

Ok, but while Tom had become dependent on coffee, sugar was my drug of choice as it is for so many of us. I’m not talking about candy, but the cookies, granola bars, pop tarts, crackers. The added sugar that food companies sneak t into almost all packaged food can handicap your whole beautiful system of a body.  Did you know when they put cancer cells under microscopes and introduce sugar, it grows? Yes. Sugar feeds cancer! It also is largely responsible for the obesity and diabetes epidemic our country now faces. Did you know that a recent UCLA study indicated that 50% of all American adults are diabetic or pre-diabetic? At the turn of this century that statistic only applied to adults over 55, now it’s just flat across the board for all adults 21 and over. Does this get your attention!?

That risk holds for all of us and especially the future of our younger generation as numbers continue to skyrocket. The reason food manufacturers sprinkle sugar into everything, even soups, salad dressings, peanut butter and pasta sauces, is because it’s so addictive . They know for sure that you’ll want to come back for more and more and more. Food manufacturing is one of the few industries that doesn’t seem to care if it kills off its own customers! If you think I’m exaggerating about sugar please Google CBS 60 minutes IS SUGAR TOXIC hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Click here to view it now! This act alone might save your life or of someone you dearly love.

Tom is friends with a woman who successfully beat breast cancer. All through natural means. And  according to her, as a survivor, she won’t go near sugar ever again. That spoke volumes to me.

3. Modern Wheat is Nothing like Jesus’ Wheat

I used to think ‘But Jesus ate bread’ but no. Different wheat. So much better for you, (search: einkorn wheat)

My nutritionist turned me on to the book WHEAT BELLY in which the author Dr. William Dean explains that

the original ancient wheat had 14 chromosomes, but now wheat has over 40 chromosome. That’s why some people refer to it as FRANKENwheat. The radical alteration of modern wheat and the gluten it contains makes it so much harsher on your digestive system, causes intestinal inflammation ( bloating, gas) and just as importantly inhibits your immune system and unnerves your nerves leading to increased risk of depression and anxiety.  People with Crohn’s and Celiac disease usually respond very well to a gluten free diet. And oddly enough, IBS, Crohn’s, Celiacs, Diabetes… these are all 1st world problems. You aren’t seeing these cases in countries that eat mostly vegetables, fruits and meats or grains that haven’t been altered by a “better living though chemistry” philosophy that we’ve been duped into here in the United States. So, essentially between the gluten and the sugar and the caffeine and the added artificial ingredients the American diet is just Yuck and it’s reflected in the fact that America has been rated by the World Health Organization as the unhealthiest of all the industrialized nations

Huh. So all the evidence leads me to believe, ‘shockingly’ that the food God gave us is in fact NO DOUBT the best we can put in our bodies.

4. If it wasn’t in Eden, don’t eat it.

Your pantry should be empty compared to your fridge. The fridge should be stuffed to the gills with fresh fruits, vegetables, REAL yogurt * , butter, cheese and fermented foods. Other than some rice and canned tomatoes, maybe dried lentils.. get the heck away from that pantry! And no cereal for breakfast! Those carbs just activate our bodies in a similar way as does caffeine, by spiking blood sugar. Then by noon of mid afternoon comes the crash, then more carbs then another crash. Having a breakfast loaded with healthy nutrients, including good protein, fats and a small amount of complex carbohydrates gets the day off to a good start. People who don’t eat breakfast are much more prone to obesity and diabetes. And kids who eat a healthy diet perform much better in school.

Grass Fed butter... liquid gold! Literally.

Grass Fed butter… liquid gold! Literally.

Probiotic Sauerkraut

Probiotic Sauerkraut

Eat more eggs!

Eat more eggs!

 

*whole fat, grass fed Greek yogurt. Not pretend sugar loaded cultured milk. Yoplait or Dannon should not qualify as yogurt. Ever.

5. Transform your mind

It does take a total re-look at the way we approach nutrition. I mean we were all raised with that crazy Food Pyramid thing that says ‘GRAINS GRAINS GRAINS!’… of course I don’t have to go into that here. But if you read the book ‘Wheat Belly’ or “Grain Brain” by a leading neurologist, you’ll learn why the big pharma companies want you to eat more grains since it keeps the dollars from diabetes treatment flowing. I really love how Dr. Josh Axe puts it in his book ‘Real Food’,

” America’s Standard Food Pyramid recommends eating six to ten servings of grains a day. Umm, ok. Have you ever actually eaten 10 servings of bread in a day and not woken up in a coma or ten pounds heavier?? Eating six to ten servings a day is like eating 3 slices of pizza, 2 sandwiches, and a giant bowl of pasta all in one day! Does this really sound healthy to you?”

(To hear more from Dr. Axe listen to this free podcast here.)

But even with all the evidence piling up I still wasn’t convinced that a change in diet would really result in obvious changes to my family, but there was only one way to find out. That was to have the open-mindedness and courage to swim against the tide and make the changes that were recommended to me.

So now it’s 3 months later, and I’m totally loving how I feel. Perhaps I sound like an info-merical but the fact is, I can honestly say, I have never had this much energy or lack of anxiety in my whole life. My head is clear. I wake up ready to start the day. My previous lack of energy used to be very scary for me, especially on the days I got very little sleep and had a full day ahead for me. But now with my dietary changes in place I feel like I can manage and hold my life together even if on occasion I should get inadequate rest. Says the wise man, “A car won’t run if you put cement into it!” So now the fuel I put in my tank is high octane natural food with no fuel additives.

Lunch time. Sue me over the salami.

Lunch time for the kids. Sue me over the salami.

 I don’t get cravings throughout the day or need a pick me up in the afternoon! I’m really stunned by this one. But the key point I learned is that if you are sustaining your body properly on health oils, fats and proteins, you stay full and it gives your body the stamina it needs to perform your daily duties effectively.

Isn’t that only a great way to  honor the body God gave you?

I owe it to the Lord, who didn’t have to create me, but He did. I owe Him the honor of caring for this incredible machine, to the best of my ability.  And I think you owe it to Him to at least do some research and run a little test of your own.

So for me it’s sort of a scientific thing but mostly a religious thing. I think morally and ethically speaking, I am obligated, as a practicing Catholic, to nourish my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit. It has made me happier. It has brought me more peace between myself and my Creator. And I don’t even care how prosaic that sounds. I literally have more joy in my being, and it does help to FEEL awesome.

Don’t be intimated by it, it was so much easier than I originally anticipated. You can do it! I promise you the difference in your life, in your mental state, in your spiritual life is TOTALLY worth it. I won’t go back. I swear to you, it feels way too good. I will say though, all of this was done with the support of an excellent, knowledgeable nutritionist. If you have someone in your area that you know of than I highly recommend doing this under their supervision. Especially if you want optimal results. Obviously most of us are not that familiar with the foods we should and shouldn’t consume. It really helps to consult someone who’s an expert in the field but if you think you can do it on your own more power to you!

Look, you don’t need to settle for a fake Jesus to nourish your soul on Sunday (I hope not!) you go for the body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist.

So too, you shouldn’t settle for fake foods to nourish your gift of a body. (Which is only on loan to you!)

 

Do not conform to this world…but be transformed by the renewal of your mind..” Romans 12:1-2