Pages

Monday, October 7, 2013

9 Weeks Pregnant

Well, I made it to 9 weeks today of my pregnancy. I am thrilled to be here. I have been so sick and nauseated, (it's gotten way worse since my last post) it is so hard to feel this bad all day long with no break. I've been sleeping as much as possible and doing as little as possible. Thank God I have a very supportive husband. If anyone has ever experienced hyperemesis, it is a horrible thing. I've lost almost 10 pounds and on a bad day will throw up 10+ times. It just goes on and on... Maybe sometime in the future I will be able to write about some of the support I have received from some local people of our new parish - which is amazing because these women have been awesome and they don't even really know me. What a Holy group of amazing mothers. I don't even feel worthy. As has happened in all of my previous pregnancies, my spiritual life is in the tank right now. I haven't been to mass in a few weeks and my prayer life is dismal. The sickness just drains the life out of me. I know I do not "suffer well" and will be dragging my butt to confession again soon. Hopefully in a few weeks I will be able to return to a little bit of normalcy. I'm picking up some Zofran refills tomorrow. The people in my new church are going to hold me much more accountable than the old one, where it was so easy to slip into anonymity. I already have the church secretary asking me if she needs to bring me Communion because I was not at mass on Sunday and she knows I am feeling sick. She offered to clean my house and watch my kids! Honestly, my house is so messy right now, I am embarrassed to take her up on her offer! I just need to fight through this.

My doctor called today with my lab work and told me that I have the "Anti-m" antibody. No idea what that means, but I need to now be "co-managed" by a high risk perinatal doctor throughout the pregnancy. I think it will mean a lot of blood tests, bi-weekly ultrasounds, and hopefully that is ALL. It is a little un-nerving to get a call like that, but from what I am reading on-line, I think they like to be over-cautious to make sure the anti-bodies don't impact the baby, but the likelihood of  a healthy baby is high. I've never been to a specialist before for anything.

And, I will mention that the visit with my old best friend from high school went really well. Just like old times. We don't exactly share the same views on religion, but I did get a chance to express how important faith is in our life now, not that I am going to sway her, but you never know. I am thrilled because she has been trying for her 2nd child and was one step away from IVF, but just let me know, after much effort, she is expecting. So I get to go through this journey with her. I am SO GLAD that she did not resort to IVF, for obvious reasons...

I'm checking out now and going to bed before I start to get sick again. Good night everyone!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Just Another Update Post

Well, sometimes it's nice to just write without too much of a purpose... So get ready, because that is what I am doing right now. :-)
So, last post I was complaining about my friend who was not exciting about helping me watch my kids for my doctor's appointment. I'm over it. But I'm excited that I was able to work something out instead... scheduling later afternoon appointments on selected days, so that I will be able to drop the little kids off at my husband's work (after school) and he will be able to get home just in time for my oldest one to get dropped off by the school bus. (Oh yeah, my oldest is riding the school bus again... it is just working out better that way, and the high school boy is NOT riding the bus anymore after my conversation with the superintendent.) So, for now, 2 problems are solved. I'll go in for my first appointment on October 14th. I asked for early blood work because my Progesterone levels are always so low (~9.5) they are always in amazement that I have been able to carry 3 pregnancies to term. In the past, I've been on early Prometrium supplements. This time, I'm not. I'm also NOT feeling as sick. (I am always really sick with all day vomiting.) But this time, I have only thrown up a few times... Still nauseous as all get out, but I'm much much much "better" than all 3 of the previous times. So, hoping, maybe? It's because it is BOY and not because I'm going to lose this pregnancy. I can't really sit around and worry about it, but it keeps crossing my mind. I'll definitely feel some relief once I get lab work and an ultrasound.

I didn't report that we received an offer on the home we are trying to sell, which was an answer to many prayers, as we plunged forward into this risky home-buying venture right before I quit my job. We are really over extended and ended up having to drop our sales price almost $20k to get a contingent offer. The buyers backed out this evening because the seller on their home couldn't get financing. Now I am one step away from panic mode. We do really need to sell our house. I'm trying to be patient, but the situation is getting more urgent for us. Hopefully we will have no delays in getting the buyers to sign the proper release forms so that we can get the home back on the market again, pronto! I don't mind walking away from all this with credit card debt, which we can deal with later and over time, but we are currently in a situation where we cannot make monthly ends meet and the reserves are (almost) gone, so we have to stop the bleeding. I thought we would have sold our home by now, but I think the market is a little weaker than I had anticipated.

My girlfriend from Seattle, an old best friend from high school is coming to visit me on Wednesday! I can't wait, and I haven't seen her in years! She is coming out of the blue, for one day to catch up with me and to meet my kids. I'm so excited. She was explaining to me on the phone how now that medical marijuana is completely legal in her state, that it is "everywhere" and smoke shops are popping up all over the place with medical marijuana cookies and muffins and treats. Not sure what to make of that, but I declined her offer to bring me some treats. (She was joking, I am pretty sure, but not 100% sure, because she was not into that at all in high school/college and if you got caught with that stuff here in Ohio, well, you would probably be serving jail time...) I was trying to "warn" her that the closest Starbucks is over 1 hour away from where I live and that I now live out in the middle of nowhere. She also hasn't seen me since my "Catholic renewal" so we haven't explicitly talked about it. I hope it doesn't make her feel uncomfortable. I hope this visit goes well, she is such a cool person, and very liberal. Back in high school, I was the wild one, and she was quite conservative. Now, I think the roles have reversed somewhat? Either way, it is only for one day and night, and we should have a great time catching up.      

Well, I'm signing off, to the 3.5 people who read my blog, HA HA, thanks for reading! :-) :-) :-)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Disappointed by a friend

I have a girl friend who I met a long time ago when we were both getting our Ohio Real Estate licenses. That was ages ago, when I only had one child and was not religious at all. You could say at that stage, my #1 passion was achieving sales super stardom. Well, we clicked at that point in our lives, and became close and this friend has seen me go through massive transitions, many of which probably do not make any sense to her, from becoming very devout in my Catholic faith, developing a love for the Bible, becoming open to having more children even though I am not really the "mom type", quitting multiple successful careers on a whim, my eco-breastfeeding and co-sleeping while she is more of the structured "Ferber-Method" mother, and moving out to the middle of nowhere like a crazy person, and she has continued to be a good friend to me! She is still in Real Estate and is currently helping me sell my old house. She has 2 older kids and graciously gives me oodles of awesome hand me downs and kids toys!!! It's always like Christmas for our family when she cleans her house.  (That's not why I'm friends with her, but I'm just saying this is a blessing for our family, of which I am thankful.) Anyway, I am struggling now with starting to feel horrible in my early pregnancy and not really wanting to find a new doctor. I was thinking about driving an hour away to stay with the same doctor who delivered all my other babies via C-Section, because I have familiarity with him. I'm worried about logistics, trying to figure out how I am going to handle 3 kids + a new born, with no friends, no close family, and no support network close by. I had a flashback to 2 years ago - the last time I had two young kids in a pre-natal appointment, while I was lying on the table trying not to throw up and the baby was crawling around the room literally tearing everything up, and the toddler crying, and the nurses running about trying to bribe my kids with suckers, well, I just don't want to repeat that experience, it wasn't good. I had the "light bulb" idea that I would ask my long term girlfriend, to do me a favor. My kids are always good while strapped in their seats in the mini-van. There is a DVD in the mini-van. I could let her sit in the car for 15 minutes or so, pop in an Elmo CD, and she could make phone calls while I go in for my first pre-natal appointment which is already way over due. I even offered to by her lunch. I can get the anti-nausea medication which I desperately need and blood work and/or ultrasound to make sure this is a viable pregnancy. No big deal, right? I hate asking for favors, but there really is no one else I know to ask this of. So I asked her. Dang, you would you have thought her reaction was to donate a kidney or something... she was obviously taken off guard, "Well.. ummmm, I can't do it Mondays, or Fridays. Tuesdays are bad, and Wednesdays are out. Well, definitely not in the Spring, and I can't do it on Thursday Oct 10 or 31st... but other than that...." was basically her response. I was getting the vibe that this was a really big deal and that it was a huge mistake to ask her and regretted it immediately. Then I thought, maybe she was worried I would take advantage of her for *every* prenatal appointment or that I would somehow overtake her life with doctor's appointments and dentist appointments and massages and haircuts. (I really was just thinking about this first appointment, or perhaps not even thinking at all.) Anyway, 2 days elapsed and I still couldn't bring myself to make the appointment. She asked me today if I made the appointment and I said, "Oh, as soon as I asked, I regretted it... I could tell that you really aren't up to it." And she kind of made some excuse about having something else on her mind that day, and then said she could help me just this once but then had to add in a, "Well, what if the baby cries..." (Oh man, call me hormonal, but I was just getting extra mad at that point... and pretty much ended the phone call.) The thing that hurts the most is that I thought I could rely on her for something silly like this. (And I know she would do it, but does she have to make it into such a big deal? Come on!) Forget it, I'm actually thinking about putting my younger kids into part time day care so I can go solo to my pre-natal appointments. I'm trying to ask the neighbor if their 12 year old daughter can babysit for 3 hours after school so I can do this. I'm disappointed that my long term girlfriend is not as close of a friend as I had given her credit for. I think our friendship must be pretty shallow. I also think perhaps amidst all the crazy changes I've made in my life, I'm about to cross the "great divide" into having 4 kids. (You know with 3, you are still "normal"... especially since we have all girls and obviously must have been "trying for a boy", right?). I'm actually feeling cautious to tell certain people now, even more so because I am almost 40 and well, there are those out there who will think this is irresponsible and risky. I dunno. My girlfriend has her two perfectly behaved kids and a really nice structured life. They have lots of money and take big fancy trips to Europe every year. Perhaps my messy, poopy, poor, chaotic, diaper-filled, unglamorous life is not very appealing to her at all. I just thought for sure she would have said, "No Problem!". I'm still her friend, and I'll try to get over this quickly, but I am not going to ask her for help with my kids again, it just made me feel too bad.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Why High School Students Shouldn't Ride The Bus With Elementary School Kids

So, I know I haven't posted in a while, and have been suffering from a bit of "writer's block".  I started a post a few weeks ago about how my 2nd grade daughter sat next to a 17 year old, (yes, a 17 year old) on the school bus ride home, and he asked her to play "Kiss or Dare".  I just deleted that post because I don't think it quite came out right... but can you BELIEVE that? She declined the game, but they did have a 45 minute conversation, and from what my daughter told me I could tell that he was trying to manipulate her na├»ve innocent little mind to make some kind of "move" on my 7 year old. (Needless to say, I freaked out and called the principle and superintendent and that boy is not on the bus anymore.) Some crazy Ohio law about all kids needing transportation and since we live in a rural area, there is 1 high school student that needs to be bused home with the elementary school children on our bus in the afternoon. Of course, he would sit next to MY child. Thank God she mentioned her "new friend" to me that evening while I was giving her a bath. (If I wouldn't have asked...and intervened....this could have easily become a really bad situation.) I just couldn't believe this happened. I've been picking her up from school everyday since then. I was also concerned for the other young little girls riding the bus, as some of them are even younger than my daughter. Anyway, I get angry just writing this, so I won't go on.

On a happier note, I somehow got it in my head that I wanted to do a week-long organic juice fast. (I really want to drop about 15 pounds or more from my last pregnancy, but haven't been able to do it... Actually, I haven't honestly tried hard enough yet, but felt that now is the time.) I decided for peace of mind to just confirm that I wasn't pregnant first, so I bought some 99 cent pregnancy tests from Dollar General. Well... 2 of the tests WEREN'T NEGATIVE!!! Wow. I'm a little surprised, and it's very early to be spilling the beans... I haven't even been to the doctor yet. I think I'm only 4 weeks pregnant. I pray that this is a viable pregnancy and that since I've been eating healthier since we moved out here, that maybe (I doubt it, but I can dream, right?) that my debilitating morning sickness that accompanies my pregnancies will be a little more manageable than the last 3 times. It's just too early to tell, but right now, I feel good. Please keep us in your prayers!

God Bless!
 

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Miller Country Adventures

It's time for a blog post! I finally broke down and purchased a prepaid Verizon JetPack so I could get online. It's been driving me crazy. The phone company has to run a new line to our house and that was supposed to happen 2 weeks ago, and I haven't heard a peep from them. I wonder if we will ever have a home phone and Internet access?

Did I mention that I painted a chalkboard wall in one of my bedrooms? I turned it into the kids "playroom", it's where I put all of their toys and books and stuff and I let them mess it up during the day and we clean it up together before we go to bed at night. I just think this wall is so cool, and I kind of wish I had done this in the kitchen, or in my own bedroom...

Take a look "Before"...



And now "After"...




I will also admit that I have been kind of struggling without my dryer, and here is my pitiful attempt to hang a clothesline:


Even with repeated attempts to tighten my lines, they just keep a sagging. Some day I will do some real research and learn how to do this correctly with pulleys and all that, but for now, this will just have to do.

I'm still trying to grasp the concept that we are living in the country, I just can't believe it. I love it!
The children have been outside more in the past 2 weeks than they have been in the past 7 years in our old home.




The only 2 really negative things so far is that it is horsefly season, and these bugs are everywhere and they are nasty. They chase you and they are BIG. This one wouldn't leave my car door this morning and it was as big as my THUMB. Gross.

 
 
The other negative is that many of the people (and moms in particular) that I see out and about, have tattoos and smoke. Not that I'm trying to make sweeping judgments, but I'm slightly worried about exposing my kids to the "redneck" element and having them think that underage smoking and tattoos are in anyway "cool". I'm also worried that I will have nothing in common with anyone that I meet (as in too-goody-two-shoes for the neighbors and not-Catholic-enough for the Catholic homeschoolers that I haven't met yet, but hopefully can find them around.) Hopefully I will get this figured out. I'm pretty much a loner and one local Christian friend (who has small kids and is not 20 years younger than me) who can put up with me and my rosaries and my hyperactive kids and Ohio State loving, sports-fanatic, beer drinking husband, would be a Very Good Thing!

Have a wonderful day everyone!

(And I can't resist a few more shots, I just love this...)



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Unplugged

Well, we've been really busy these past few weeks... we moved our house-full of stuff into our new house out in the country (a whole ordeal in itself), and we have been working diligently on getting our old home ready to sell and listed (another massive ordeal), driving back and forth each day to drop the kids off for their last few weeks of day care for the month of July. It has been busy indeed!

In our new home we currently have:
1) No Internet
2) No Home Phone
3) I lost my smart phone before the move so no Internet Phone Access, using a prepaid dumb phone
4) No Cable Television (I don't watch TV, but my husband is catching a few stations on his rabbit ears)
5) No Clothes Dryer (ours started smoking...) been drying them outside on a makeshift clothesline and wherever I can.
6) No Oven (I've been using a crock pot and microwave to cook family meals).
7) No Dishwasher (We've been doing it the old fashioned way!)

We are also a good 10 miles away from all the fast food places and convenience stores that we were so accustomed to hitting up and we have a big 'ole gravel driveway with an old rusty gate that we keep locked up now to prevent strangers driving down looking for things to run off with... (apparently this can happen occasionally out where we live if you invite it, so we keep the gate closed, which is what the neighbor we share our driveway with tells us we should do) It is a pain in the butt to unlock, so we've been spending our evenings at home unpacking boxes, cooking at home, and trying to get settled in and organized - it is kind of a deterrent from driving anywhere you don't really have to go. But I truly feel "unplugged"... no Internet, no phone. I realize how much I have missed being able to surf the Internet, google interesting things, get on Blogger, and read and respond to email, or drive a mile down the street to go to Starbucks, Panera, or Goodwill. I'm checking email right now in our vacant old house, which still has our access temporarily... It feels so good to be able to do this right now because it has been so long! It's going to take me a while to catch up with everyone.

All in all, we are so blessed, even though still stressed and maxed out financially, hoping that our old home will sell quickly, but very very thankful to be in our new home and looking forward to a simpler lifestyle, more privacy, more nature, and more time with my kids. I want this move to bring me closer to my husband, my family, and to God, and lately, I think we have been in over drive mode, it's been having the opposite affect, but today, my husband and I got to go to confession together alone, (only 2 more days before full time kids = crazy mode :-) and a nice relaxing lunch and walk downtown. It's an amazingly beautiful day today. Going to catch up on my email now... while I have a chance to do it!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Saying Goodbye to the Corporate World

A week ago on Friday was the last day of my full time job as a Software Engineer at GE Aviation. HOLY COW, YES-I-DID-JUST-QUIT-MY-JOB!!!!!!!!!!!  It's been such a surreal head trip, I haven't had a chance to really process it or sit down and write about it until just now. This wasn't really officially planned or thought out very well... it was a decision made more on emotion, than logic... The "smart" thing would have been to:

a) finish our home renovations
b) move
c) sell our current home
d) move the kids into the newer (much more affordable daycare in our new area) and work for another year so that we could begin to pay off the large amounts of credit card debt we are quickly racking up.

But I decided that I just didn't want to. I wanted to stop working.

So I put in my 2 weeks and resigned. It's insane really, but I want to throw financial caution to the wind and be a stay at home mom and the sooner the better. After years of praying about it, my husband is finally on board. I know there will be a lot of lifestyle changes. We eat out all the time. We buy most of the groceries and misc. household items that we need (want) without really a second thought or discussion. We don't have a tight regulated budget. We are going to have to figure out how to live off of less than 1/2 of the income we are accustomed to. I'm not exactly sure how we are going to make this work... but there is no turning back now.  (OK, well, I do know actually, and that is with Epic Withdrawals from my 401k plan and a lot of prayer, that is how.) I'm also going to have to figure out how to be WAYYYYY more domestic than I am now... and that, my friends, is a scary thought, but I am really excited about learning. I'm going to have to develop a heck of a lot more patience when interacting with my children also, so I'll have to take that day by day. I'm going to have to cook and clean and all that stuff that does not come easy to me.  I'm about as opposite of a "Martha Stewart" type as they come...

Right now I feel very humbled and extremely blessed to have my family's support in making this very huge transition in my life. I want to thank every blog reader who ever said a prayer for me when I needed it. (And there were many times when I really needed it!) Thanks to every family member and friend (Nova and Lisa) who listened to me complain for hours about my job stress.  Thanks to a few amazing co-workers (Barb and Char) who sent me off with kind words and the perfect parting gift, and for my Spiritual Encouragement group (Pat, Mike, Jim, Mike, John, and the rest of the gang) who prayed over me for "success" in my new "job" and gave me a very touching card.

And most of all, thank you to my husband, James. You are my best friend. I love you! I know I am a very lucky woman to have you and thank you for putting up with all my crap.

Anyway, the coolest part of all this was coming home last week to a "surprise party" my husband and kids put together for me.
SURPRISE!!!

I mean, how can much better can life get than walking home to a welcome like this???

My kids don't know what they are in for...

Check out my cool sign!

And I even got an Ice Cream Cake! :-)

Thanks for reading my blog. I hope you all enjoy your 4th of July weekend with family and good friends. God Bless!
 


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Two lines of GOOD NEWS

A completely 100% ALL CLEAR night for thorough lice checking the entire household. Woo Hoo!!!

We were finally able to get to CONFESSION last Saturday!!! FINALLY!!! Thank You, God!

The best remedy for self-treatment of Lice

Two posts ago I lamented about finding a head full (and I do mean a head full) of lice in my daughter's hair. It has been a rough week, folks... Going through all the "traditional" treatments... The NIX shampoo, the lice combs, the rosemary essential oils preventative shampoo, handpicking out every single lice egg I could find... I think I've already spent over $200 on specialty lice removal items. My goodness.. changing everyone's sheets daily... combing out every strand of hair, cleaning like a mad woman, it's just all a bit much, after a 10 hour work day. At last things are getting better. We are having "Lice Wars" to see if we can find any evidence on any of the kids' heads at night time bath. 1 point for a nit, 2 points for a nymph, and 3 points for a fully grown bug. (It's the game you really want to lose, trust me.)  I search and search and after very thorough nit-picking, I can usually spot one egg and/or one baby lice on a head. Now I really freaked out after finding a single bug on the baby's head! (We are still co-sleeping.) Great, yes, I checked myself and found a microscopic bug and a nit or two. I was so thoroughly disgusted. I just don't have time for this! It's gross. And you want to hear something crazy??? I washed my daughter's down comforter that was quarantined after the initial finding... and had stuck it in the dryer to "kill any remaining eggs" it was ever-so-slightly damp when I pulled it out, so I spread it out and left it on top of the dryer to air dry. In the middle of the night, I went down to put in another load of clothes, and when I flipped on the light I saw what must of been a dozen lice crawling around on this white comforter. What the .... ? I have no idea where they came from (did the eggs hatch after taking them out of the dryer or did they crawl off the other clothes from my daughters' hamper?) Who knows. I put everything in garbage bags and tied them up and I am still trying to wash and vacuum, wash and vacuum, and not caught up yet.

As if that is not enough, today at work I was in the ladies room, and I glanced down on the linoleum floor.. and... I saw a small little bug the size of a pin point.. I had to focus to see it, and I recognized it right away, as a single louse crawling around in a circle on the bathroom floor.. whoa.. this was there before I walked in, so it wasn't from me... I am just paranoid now that these guys are everywhere. Please be on the lookout! I cannot be alone in dealing with this.

Anyway, of all the crazy remedies, this is the cheapest and was extremely effective for self treating myself. I found this on the Internet and it really works! Here is what you do...   Wet your hair with hot water. Douse your hair with baby oil... work it in everywhere and saturate your entire head with it. Get a high quality inexpensive vinyl shower cap and put it over your hair. I put this on and let it sit for several hours. The heat from your head combined with the oil with suffocate the lice. After a few hours, you can remove the cap, and sit down in the shower and begin to comb out your hair with a lice comb. It will be extremely easy to comb out because of the baby oil. Any bugs or eggs just slide right out effortlessly. I would comb once and then wipe with a tissue to check for any evidence, then repeat until I have touched every hair on my head at least a few times. Once you feel that you have gone over everything, wash your hair normally with shampoo to get out all the oil. The added bonus is that your hair will be extra soft because of the baby oil "conditioning treatment". This worked better than using the harsh chemicals and the bottle of NIX. I'm posting this, not to gross you all out, which I probably already did, but in case you ever have to deal with this, you will have an inexpensive and safe alternative for dealing with these horrible bugs. Hopefully, you will not need to!

Friday, June 7, 2013

My biological clock is still ticking...

Well, 2 days ago, I was really surprised when I started my cycle again. I guess I should have expected it, but it's been a very very long time since I've had a period. (Only 1 in the last 4 years). Actually after the surprise wore off and I scrambled for a quarter to hit up the machine in the ladies room... I felt a sense of relief that it actually arrived! I'm going to be 39 very very soon.. and while this is still young (kind of, er, well, maybe not.. ), And I'm just sitting here wondering where the time has gone and where it is going. The past year I've had some health issues.. mostly minor, but annoying. My under active thyroid is getting worse, I have gained weight, my energy level is not so good.  Back in April I started experiencing really strange new pains in my hips. I tried to tell myself that it was because of carrying my heavy 1-year old on the sides of my hips too much, but it just felt more like... arthritis starting to set in. It hurt and ached almost every day for a month and a half. Wonky things were going on with my body, I felt nauseous one day and actually ran to the drug store to take a pregnancy test. (negative.) My sciatic nerve was so painful another day that I was afraid to hold my baby while walking.
.
Now I'm looking back and wondering if some of this wasn't just my old worn out body kicking itself back into gear for ovulation, and having a hard time getting going? Who knows. But I'm filled with ambivalence about getting pregnant. Of course, I also feel like my window of opportunity is quickly closing, and I've safely waited the 2 year mark that I needed for healing after my recent C-Section so there is no really good reason to stop this from happening.  No time like the present, right? Besides the fact that we own 3 houses at the moment and are in a state of turmoil and flux and I want to quit my job! And the fact that my husband moved into the spare room because I've been working such late hours and keeping him up with my typing on the computer. Who knows what will happen, I just have to trust God on this one, which has worked well for us in the past. I only hope I can physically and mentally handle "it" and everything "it" comes with - good and bad, if something does indeed happen in the future. And if our family is complete now, well, I think that would be OK also, almost relieving in a way, but would make me a little sad also. 

Anyway, just musing about all this.. nearing 40 and all.. geesh... it has its own special set of problems and concerns. So it's nice to know I'm not alone.  

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite

We have been working very hard on getting our new home "ready" to begin moving into it. A lot needs to be done. Installing a mailbox, new carpet, painting, cleaning, scrubbing, power-washing, electrical work, carpentry work, siding repair, concrete repair, septic pumping, and the list goes on and on. We've been driving out to the country several times a week after work to check up on things and get started. It's taking a toll on everyone, and every time we go, we don't get home until late and the kids are up way past their bed time.  I'll try and take some pictures eventually and post them because we are going to do a complete transformation on this house so I want to capture some "before and afters". I signed up for Angie's List. So far it has been an awesome $20 well spent. We have found some great contractors from recommendations on the site, and it is so valuable to read the feedback and see the ratings. I wish I would have known about this years ago, it could have saved us a lot of trouble.

Last night we drove out to the house to check up on the (new and better) painters from Angie's List. They were an excellent choice! 1000% more professional than the last crew that stole my paint. (We decided they were not going to be doing any more work for us.) I picked a gray color for my house.. actually.. a cross between a gray and a beige.. apparently this is the "new" thing.  It's called "Greige"... The color I picked is Sherwin William's Perfect Greige. 

Do you want to see it?

 
After we got home last night, the kids were exhausted. They were so dirty from playing outside, I had to give them baths even though it was 2 hours past bedtime. That is when I found a whole head full of lice on my oldest daughter's head. Ewww yuck! :-) My 3 year old had a few of 'em too.. Let's just say, I spent almost 3 hours last night trying to de-lice the kids and I'm going to have to probably do it again just to be sure I got them all. My daughter's hair is so thick and brown it is extremely hard to see and get to them. It was no easy task. Poor kids... I feel terrible for not noticing earlier.  Lauren said she wanted to go to school and tell her best friend all about it. She loves nature. Aren't kids funny? I suggested she keep this one to herself, so people don't start making fun of her. Now I am wondering if home-schooled children have to deal with this? Perhaps, but I doubt it.

Thanks for reading my blog!

Friday, May 31, 2013

A thought on the virtue of temperance in speech

In my Last Post I talked about my new prepaid wireless plan. It's interesting to me how this new cell phone plan is causing me to think closely about my conversations. Since I spend a lot of time driving in my car (over 2 hours a day) I listen to Catholic radio or often will call either my husband, or my sister, or a girlfriend. Sometimes these conversations are deep, sometimes they have important purpose, like checking up on a friend in need, discussing evening plans with my husband, or solving some kind of problem, but sometimes they are just a waste of time... idle talk about nothing of great substance. Now that my minutes are depleting from a set amount that I can track easily, and I'm trying to save money, I realized that I don't want to "waste" my time on meaningless conversation. I'm thinking about saving my words for important things. I'm thinking about Ephesians 4:29:  Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Saving money on cell phones

It's time for a quick post. Nothing earth shattering here... Just another attempt to cut costs in my household and I'm exciting about my new "find". We cancelled our home phone a while back. (We use "dry loop" DSL-only for our Internet connection which costs about $30 / month.) We do not have cable. My husband and I each carry a cell phone with unlimited data coverage and a shared minute pool and we have an extra phone on this plan for my mother in law to use in case of an emergency. We use Verizon because the coverage is so great in our neighborhood, and it's also good in all of the rural areas that we travel to frequently. All of our family is on Verizon and we like the "free" mobile-to-mobile concept.

Anyway, our bills have been gradually getting out of control. Like $185 / month for these 3 phones! And we don't really even come near our cap of 1400 shared minutes with the nights and weekends and mobile to mobile. I have to pay 10 cents for each text message and seems like people are texting with greater frequency just to say "hello" and this has been racking up. The monthly fee for standard service is expensive. The additional data for the two of us is $60 more... So I've been researching a ton and have finally decided to go with a prepaid service. I decided on Page Plus Cellular. It is run on the Verizon network, so our smart phones will still work, email still works, and everything is basically the same as before. We can keep our existing Verizon phones and our same phone number and port in for free, with no activation costs. All I needed to do was to pay for the first PIN card with my credit card, and will have to do this every month (or get set up on the automatic renewal, which I plan to do soon.) The best part about all of this...? I put my husband and myself on a $29.95 / month plan that includes 1200 minutes of talk, 3000 texts, and 250 MB of data. I'm in the process of setting up my mother in law with a $10 card with 100 minutes that will last for 120 days and I'll fill her up every 4 months. This strategy is going to save us over $110 a month, for a total of less than $60 per month plus the ~ $3.00 monthly average for my mother in law.  And now I can accept text messages without worry. I'm loving this new set up and just wanted to put it out there. It had never even occurred to me that prepaid wireless was a viable option until last week.

What about you? How many cell phones are in your family and are you happy with how things are going?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Working Women Mothers - Leaning In?

Have you heard of Sheryl Sandberg? She is the COO of Facebook. She is 43 years old and the mother of 2 young children. She is beautiful and smart and successful. She authored the best seller Lean In, that we read and talked about for my "Women And Technology" group at work today.


I bought this book and read it in one weekend. I enjoyed every page of this book because I find her attitude and mindset so fascinating - and also because as a working-outside-the-home-mom in corporate America, every single page of this book somehow resonated with me. I literally related to every personal story she shared in her book regarding day care, the guilty feelings, the effort to "succeed" in a male dominated work force, her kids getting head lice, the breast pumping, the 'shame' about leaving work at 5:30 and not wanting your peers to know because they are working around the clock. This book is non-judgementally written and talks about giving our daughters choices and confidence to succeed and encourages women to stay in the workforce. So interesting! (I will also mention that the book is not just for working moms it is about working women in general and gender issues and how women and men are perceived differently in the corporate world - we actually are liked less the more we succeed, so we have to compensate by utilizing a different set of skills in order to be perceived as likable - a problem that men don't have to deal with. It talks about how we as women hold ourselves back by our lack of confidence and how both men and women are conditioned to do so.)

Personally, (and obviously this is my private struggle that I'm not going to talk about at work - but I'm writing about it here on my blog...) I'm facing the question on whether I should be Leaning In to my career and embracing it, as I have sacrificed and worked hard to get where I am, and it is good for my daughters to have the choice to do so and the role model as well, if that's what they want or need to do... But the entire time I'm reading this book, for me it had me shaking my head "No" and affirming that I want to Lean Out of my career and Lean More Into Motherhood. I do feel that the best of both worlds would be to have a part time job. I guess I'm just conflicted. But however you feel on the matter, as a working woman and mother, this is an enjoyable and thought provoking book to read - whether you agree with Sheryl's choices or not.

Here is a video of Sheryl speaking out at a TED talk and gives you a glimpse of the style and content of her book. Take a look if you are interested in this topic:


Monday, May 20, 2013

The sad state of my soul today

I hate writing this post. But I'm just being completely honest about the fact that I haven't gone to church in the past 3 weeks. (No, I am not recommending this to anyone). We have been completely consumed with trying to close on our house which is 1 hour away in the country and 1 hour away from work in the city, so it's been one continuous commuting triangle - driving between 3 different far away cities trying to get the kids to school and get to work on time and meeting contractors and loan officers and Realtors and notaries and going to Lowe's to buy locks to secure the house so the painters don't come back to steal the copper  pipes or the microwave - the weekends being the only real time to accomplish anything of substance. A lame excuse, and I feel guilty about this. I know it is a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sunday. That sounds severe if you are a non-Catholic, but this "rule" ensures that we are putting God first in our life. There is a natural flow and order and a "glue" so to speak, that holds our family and our marriage together when we are obedient to the Church. No matter how bad things get - we have that constant, that we go to Church together as a family on Sunday (or in our case, usually Saturday evening.) And that is missing right now, or being replaced by worrying about getting our new house in order. I realize without God we really have nothing. A few days ago I had cleaned out my car and stuck some of my work papers and my new leather bound Bible in an empty diaper box in the front seat of my car. It has been over a week since I cracked open my Bible. (Again, not exactly a recommendation here...) I went to retrieve it last night, and the way it was leaning over, it had fallen over and bent back the leather/paper cover and now has a huge ugly unforgiving crease across the front cover that will never come out. I just thought this was so depressing. I need to get my butt to confession and back to Mass.

The painter who stole my paint

Ten years ago, I used to sell real estate - back when the market was booming mad. I used to work for a well known national production builder and sold those cookie-cutter McMansions. I also had my real estate licence and worked as a buyer agent. Times were very good then. I was putting my husband through college full time when he decided to go back to school in his mid 30's. (Never say it is too late to go and get a degree or change careers! It is not.) I remember one couple who I sold a home to had zero down and over $70,0000 in credit card debt and a credit score of 560. We were able to credit-repair them up to a 600 FICO over a 3 month period and qualify them for a home. (With zero down!) Four years later they foreclosed on the home!  This is an extreme case, but there were many instances where I was showing homes to people who had no business buying homes and they were hell bent on buying the home for zero down. And they did it too! This thinking is what got us all in the mess we are in now.

Anyway, having recently gone through the buying process and having a little knowledge about the subject, it is just amazing to me how much harder it is to buy a home now, then it was then. We have very good credit, good income, etc. a "good buyer" - and this process was very grueling. Lots of paperwork, lots of conditions... One of the issues why we couldn't close was because there was some children's artwork on some of the walls of the home. My kids were actually fighting over who got to have the room with the "ladybugs" in it. It wasn't Picasso, but it didn't bother us at all. The appraiser commented that it was "graffiti" and we had to get drywall holes (one was a rough in for a whole house fan - that we didn't even want covered up...) and the bedrooms painted as a condition for loan approval. This was a major hassle. The bank wanted us to pay half of $1750 to have someone come in and put primer over the existing "artwork" and fix drywall holes. My view was that if I was being forced to pay money for a painter - then at least let's get colors that we like. They weren't having any of that - they were only going to cover up the markings with a neutral paint color of their choice.

After haggling about it and getting nowhere with our Realtor and the bank Asset Manager, we stopped by to meet with the contractors while they were beginning and decided to "work a deal" with them directly. They were already getting $1750 to paint 4 bedrooms and cover 3 drywall holes and put a makeshift cover over the whole house fan rough in. They told us to go buy the paint and pay them $300 and they will paint our colors instead of the plain white in the bedrooms. (We wanted to paint the girls bedroom 3 different "fun" colors - keeping it very bright and unique. The rest of the bedrooms - a warm gray color.) The painters told me to get 8 gallons of gray and 1 each of the "fun" colors, pink, red, and purple. This paint cost over $400. I knew it was too much paint, but I was looking forward to using the rest of the gray elsewhere in the house - the hall way, the bathrooms, the family room, etc. And I had plenty of plans for the "fun" colors too.. to do all kinds of cool stuff for the kids. In the past when we have used painters, they always leave the paint - especially when we have bought and delivered our own paint! Anyway, these painters totally took our paint. We didn't want to make a major deal out of it, my husband asked if there was any left over. The painter who was loitering around to clean up said, "Oh, my partner must have taken the red..." and then my husband saw the huge 5 gallon pail of gray in the back of his truck. He casually said, "Oh.. that is for my next job..." (yeah, right... after my hubby's evil eye, he ended up bringing it back in and putting it in our living room when we were in another room - so at least we got that. It's over $130 worth of paint - that I need to paint the rest of the house that I thought was pretty obvious.) Next, I picked up the purple gallon can that was left in our living room - it was virtually empty. (This was used for 2 10 x 10 walls.. so we are talking only 200 sq. feet.) - No way. I didn't say anything, but I was just kind of wondering what happened to all the paint? I wanted to use that paint to decorate letters of my kids names for their new room and paint some new ladybugs for them on their new walls. As the painter was packing up and turning to leave, I heard my husband say, "You have purple paint leaking out of your duffel bag onto our front porch." Sure enough, in his haste, he had somehow managed to pour at least a half gallon of that leftover purple paint into some unknown container when we weren't looking and put it in his duffel bag... and it started to leak out in a big glob all over our porch! AWKWARD! I kinda consider it stealing. Or to give him the benefit of the doubt - at the very least, really tacky and highly unprofessional. I hate to write a book about it, I mean who cares - take the paint - fine. But I do want to ask my readers a few questions for some perspective:

a) When you buy paint for your painters (especially in a wacky color), do they leave the paint behind, or is it acceptable for them to take it?
b) Do you tip your painters? (Obviously, I did not tip.)

c) Am I overreacting?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

We bought a Homepath Home!

Well, it has been over 7 months of fighting for it, and we actually did it! We bought a Fannie Mae Homepath home - a bank owned property out in the country. It has been an emotional, draining, stressful, long, and frustrating 7 months. We are no where near done either, the process is just beginning because we have numerous issues to fix and our current house to sell... but we got to this point (which I was doubtful that we would). It's all in the quest for a "simpler" life - it is just going to get much more complicated before it can get simple though... but we knew this before taking this plunge. The foreclosures on the market are unbelievable. So many people are losing their homes. You really can take nothing for granted. The benefit of having a job, a source of steady income, and all that comes with it, is a real blessing.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A working mother's best and worst day

Here is a brief glimpse at the last really good day that I had as a working mom... and it involved utilizing a paid personal business day, so I didn't have to go to work at all! (Working does have some perks!) First of all, we all slept in until the kids naturally woke up on their own and we leisurely got out of bed. Next we had breakfast, and I got my oldest ready for school and dropped her off at elementary school. I took my other 2 in for their doctor's appointments. Afterwards, my toddler was asking me if she could go to "school" because she wanted to play with her friends and told me that she "loves school". When I dropped them off at day care, my little one wanted to hold my hand and have me sit in circle time with her. She was so excited to bring me into her classroom and get to experience her world. She was beaming! The baby was all smiles. After spending a good hour with the kids in their classrooms, I left and went to go get my hair cut... not at the usual super cuts... but at an expensive salon! Woah! I do this once or twice a year. So great! Afterwards I got AN HOUR MASSAGE. AWESOME! Relaxing time for myself! Afterwards, met a girlfriend for a drink! All the time getting paid, and not feeling guilty for doing all this. After a few hours, I picked up my kids and we had a great evening. We went for a walk, we read books. The whole while thinking, I could really never ever have a day like this if I wasn't working...

Now, contrast this to a really bad day... thankfully they are not like this everyday, but they do come around once in a while... First of all, the alarm gets set wrong, or for some reason I hit the snooze button too many times.. I'm off to a late start. I fell asleep before taking out the laundry the night before, so I don't have clothes to wear. You end up wearing, you know, the really bad clothes, that you are embarrassed to wear into the office, but it's all you've got, and you know you look dumpy, but it's the best you can do. The baby starts screaming before you even leave your room. She's not co-operating. You manage to squeeze her into clothes during the screaming-bucking episode, and by this time the other children are already fighting over the toothpaste and toothbrushes, and at this time I realize I am 7 minutes from missing my daughters bus ride to school. I have an 8:30 meeting with my boss, that I am going to have to text her and tell her I am running late. (Does everyone hate that feeling as much as I do?) and after screaming and possibly spanking, losing my temper several times, and cussing a few more, manage to get everyone dressed (barely) and downstairs. The baby poops and I have to change her again. She is doing the bucking thing again and I have to hold her legs down with all my might to get her diaper changed and pants back on. She's screaming at the top of her lungs. Now my toddler is throwing a crying fit because we didn't put the right kind of headband on. I can't get her to stop. I forgot to wash my pump parts the night before, so everything is smelling like rancid milk. I'm trying to wash everything as best I can, throw lunches together, prepare the bottles, get the crib sheets and blankets together for the cots at daycare, and everything else I need for the day. By this time, the two youngest are crying and the oldest is whining that her stomach hurts. Now not only did we miss the bus, but we are actually late for school. Now I just added 20 more minutes of late to my day because I have to escort my daughter to the front desk and sign her in with a reason for her tardiness. Lovely. Getting the other two off to daycare, with at least 2 kids crying on the way. The baby has taken off her socks and her shoes... we had to pick up McGriddles from McDonald's drive thru because I had no time to feed them breakfast at home. At day care I have to park in the far spot because all the close ones are taken. Try doing that with 3 kids and crib sheets and lunches and backpacks and kids with no shoes on - no small feat. Driving to work - grateful for the solitude. During lunch, getting a call from school because my daughter said something disrespectful to a teacher. Great... thinking, look, I know how you feel, she does the same thing to me at home. At work getting an invitation to an important meeting that had to be scheduled from 4 to 5 to accommodate some managers schedule. Having to decline the meeting because, hey, day care closes at 6 and I have to pick up my kids. (Does anyone else hate THAT feeling also??) The little voice in the back of your head that reminds you that you are such a less than stellar employee.. and not only you, but everyone around you knows it... but that doesn't cut as nearly as bad as the thought that you are a less than stellar mother! Your kids getting to see you scream at them walking out the door, and scream at them coming home while trying to get them into bed. Walking in the door at 6:30, to a pig sty of a house and a stressed out husband because he has job stress and a bad back and a bad knee and chronic pain and hasn't gotten laid in over a month and can't stand to hear the baby screaming at the top of her lungs, which she does everyday at all times, because her mom has eco-breastfed her into a tyrannical crying spoiled little thing that needs constant holding and constant attention. The getting-to-bed war is as bad as the going-to-school war. Wash, Rinse, and Repeat. Some days I think, it's just gotta be better than this... like I said, not everyday is this bad, (thank God!) but some days ARE really this bad.  :-)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Babies in Heaven

I found this online and I think it is a beautiful vision and it made me tear up. I pray that this is true.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

How I discovered Catholic Radio

This is a continuation of my (long) reversion back to the Church... The beginning is HERE

I was perhaps confused... yet I continued to feel a strong pull to the Church and to Jesus. I still needed to discover what exactly this meant. (I am still discovering this today.)

I was still seeking out an opportunity to experience "Real" Eucharistic Adoration. I found yet another website while I was surfing the net at my desk at work during down time. I was excited to find a Catholic church a few miles from my office that had Eucharistic Adoration during lunch! Alright! Yes! I got in my car, and decided to take a long lunch that day.

I easily found the Church, feeling great.. walking up to the Church... and... nothing. The doors were locked! I could see children inside (this was a school) but they were near the front. I knocked quietly on the door, hoping to catch somebody's eye... I was too far back and nobody saw me to open the door. I stood there stupidly for about 5 minutes trying to get noticed, but I finally realized that this was futile and I wasn't going to get into this church... so I dejectedly turned around to leave.

God, I'm just trying to figure this out... why is it not happening, you know, like in the book?

Oh well, I thought, this is totally dumb.

I started my car and began to drive back to work. As I was turning out of the parking lot, I saw a simple sign stuck in the ground that said, "Sacred Heart Radio" 740 AM.

On that day I stopped listening to NPR during my 2 hour daily commute, and started listening to Catholic Radio. That was 5 years ago! It has been one of the best things I have ever done.

My next after work excursion was to be much more eventful...

Monday, April 15, 2013

Bible Timeline Session 11 - The Royal Kingdom

As usual, I am weeks behind on my bible study posts, so this is going to be quick. I have been so good up to this point about doing all the optional readings, and looking up all the references, taking care to do the homework in depth, etc. But... work has been kicking my butt lately. It is pretty much expected we are to work overtime and some weekend time to meet all the deadlines. I'm being pulled into other programs to help meet their deadlines also. I start getting resentful when I have to work more than 50 hours a week. If I get a spare moment late at night, once my kids are finally sleeping, I would rather be leisurely reading my bible, than doing work. I also don't like working on Sundays. (Well, now I'm doing just that.)  Anyway, due to the work stress, I didn't get a chance to answer the questions for last week (Session 12). I was surprised how huge of a difference it made, not being as prepared, and I didn't get nearly as much out of it, as I normally do. Hopefully I can get back on track soon.

Session 11 is talking about the Royal Kingdom period of Salvation History. We learn about Samuel, the "13th Judge" and the rise and fall of Saul, the first king of Israel, and the introduction of David, son of Jesse, who is anointed as Saul's successor. I really like the story of Hannah and Elkanah in 1 Samuel 1. I was touched by Hannah "pouring out her soul to the Lord" (1 Samuel 1:15). She was so intense in her prayer and desire for a child, that the priest thought she was drunk. If only we could all pray like Hannah. She is so grateful for God's answer to her prayer that she "lends Samuel to the Lord" (1 Samuel 1:28). But she remains at home and nurses him, until he is weaned, probably at the age of 3, before doing so. Hannah, in my mind, is the ultimate stay at home mom.

In 1 Samuel 3:1, right before little Samuel hears God calling him in the night, we read:

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. 

This just makes me wonder, is the word of the Lord rare today ? With all the distractions, the work, the television, the music, the hustle and bustle, the responsibilities, the activities, the Internet, facebook, blogging, email, google, pinterest, twitter, linked in... does the word of the Lord get drowned out?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

What does the church parking lot say about the church?

Driving home from Mass this evening in our used mini van, I couldn't help but comment about the appearance of all the cars rolling out. A BMW and a Mercedes were next to us. Expensive cars all around us. Nothing unique was identifying any of these family vehicles as Catholic, or religious in any way. It looked no different than being at a high end shopping mall. I looked at the bulletin. Last Sunday, $44,394 was collected during the Sunday collection. $35,106 was the prior month's e-giving. This parish is pulling in over $2.7 Million dollars a year in collections. It has many wonderful people and the programs and services it offers are top notch. The other church we like to go to is not in a prestigious community. It is down town across the street from a scrap metal recycling center and homeless people are frequently walking along the street. Would you believe that almost every single car, and I am not exaggerating (well, most of them are vans, and many are the large 15 passenger vans which make our mini-van look like small potatoes)...the huge vast majority of vehicles are older, beat up, and have pro-life bumper stickers, Catholic Radio stickers, visible Catholic paraphernalia, Nobama health care signs, rosaries, etc. you name it... in or on their windows and bumpers.  If you pass by one of these cars, you know you are dealing with someone who is a Fool For Christ and The Church. I have never seen a BMW in this parking lot. Last week's Easter collection was $8669. This church tithes over 7.5% of its weekly collection to St. Vincent de Paul and its very active pro-life committee. I love this church. I don't have to even tell you which one of the two has the longer confession lines...

Using Facebook to Fight Abortion

I don't have a Facebook account... but my husband does and he will occasionally post pro-life articles to his network of secular friends. A few months ago I received this email plea from my best friend from high school:


Can you join Facebook? Please?

 I’m friends with James so I can see when he posts pictures of you and the girls, but I wish he could talk about non-political topics.

I admit, my first reaction, which is the coward in me, thought, "Oh No.. what is my husband posting NOW??? And what will my friends and family think?" But, I know he needs to just keep on posting. And maybe I need to get a facebook account in the near future. You just have to be prepared to take the heat. Sometimes I lack the guts.
 
In the underground Pro-Life media world right now, people are discussing the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. I am still trying to piece together the full story, but all I know right now is that he is an abortionist/"doctor" in West Philly who plead guilty to third degree murder for killing babies after they were born alive and is now on trial and possibly facing the death penalty. Pretty big news, no? Main Stream media is not covering this. Have you heard any of this on the 10:00 news? Or on talk radio? Or in the newspaper? No, of course not.

LifeSiteNews.com is an amazing resource for things that are happening that you need to know that nobody wants to talk about. (And it's not always an easy read.)

This comment from "ConservativeAmericanMom" tonight in the comment section, really has me thinking tonight and I wanted to copy and paste it for you:

One important thing to do is to try to change the national opinion about abortion by using social media. "Friend" everyone you know on Facebook and then go to organizations like Lifesite news and other pro-life sites on FB and "like" them. You will then get their "memes" (pictures with messages) that can easily be shared with your FB friends. Then it is so easy: Click share or like on those memes and perhaps write a little message to your friends in your own words . Social media is POWERFUL!!! Whole governments in the Middle East have been overturned because of social media during the Arab Spring.  
It doesn't work if people are too shy to speak out about it, though. I am always shocked when my Christian/ pro-life friends that are on Facebook are quiet about abortion; they share or say NOTHING. Too many people are worried about offending their friends. Give me a break! If your friends can't respect you for speaking up for innocent babies, then let them "unfriend" you for God's sake. Putting messages on FB is the least we can do for these children!
When you share and speak out, you can do it in a calm, kind way. The culture has had too much exposure to the other side for far too long. This is how we can help change minds and hearts.


What about you? Do you have a facebook account? Have you lost friends for speaking up on controversial topics like abortion or anything else?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Discovering the Real Church

This post is a continuation post about my story of reversion/conversion into the Catholic Church. You can catch the beginning of the story HERE.

At this point, I was still plowing through "Biblical Revelations" by Anne Catherine Emmerich, I had begun to "pray" in the only pathetic way I knew how to, and call out to God for help, and I began to listen to, and join in a little, with the religious conversations going on at work. I had a general understanding that my friend (who was attending a Latin Mass) was a different kind of Catholic than I had ever been exposed to, and was curious about this. I knew my only daughter was 2 and that continuing to live the selfish and gluttonous and carefree life that my husband and I were living was not right. We were not practicing any religion, and hadn't for years.

I was a contractor during this time, and my work load was very reduced. The projects I were assigned to had excess funding and a lot of downtime, and the client wanted me "available" (and paid me to be "available") but I personally did not have a whole lot to do. There were many days when I would be sitting at my desk for many hours waiting for files to be transferred, or waiting for someone to check in a software update, or for a script to complete which could take all day to run. Sometimes the boredom was overwhelming... but I didn't mind it one bit. I used every single spare moment during this time to surf the Internet and read about Catholicism. This went on for months. I was blessed with the opportunity to get paid a lot of money to sit at my desk and surf the Internet for the majority of my day looking up anything and everything about the Catholic church. I do believe this was the Holy Spirit at work providing me this avenue to enter back into the Church. Because, Our Lord only knows, there was not one religious influence that I, nor my husband had, amongst all our friends, family members or neighbors that we knew or were exposed to, that could have brought about this transformation. We were 100% secular in every way, and so was everyone else whom we associated with at home and in our neighborhood. He (God) had to take me a whole city away, to a job that I didn't want, in a field I didn't want to be in, in a situation that I was very uncomfortable in, around people that I didn't quite care for, quiet my mind, isolate me, humble me, and open my eyes and my heart so that I would finally hear. I just had no idea... So I began to surf the Internet. I found traditional Catholic sites and read and read and read. I realized that I really knew very little about the faith of my childhood. I remember being very floored that "The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass" was really that - an actual sacrifice. (And not just a memorial symbolic re-enactment of the last supper.) I mean, growing up "Catholic" I understood that the Eucharist is "really the body and blood" of Jesus, but I never understood. I never internalized it. I don't think I really ever thought about it or appreciated what this meant. I definitely took it for granted. Why didn't anyone explain this to me? I was confused. And I continued to surf the Internet all day. I read about the Saints. I read documents from the Council of Trent. I researched Papal history. I read about angels. I read private revelations of the Saints about Purgatory. And Hell. I researched Exorcisms. I read about Eucharistic Miracles. I read about the Marian Movement of Priests. I read about Garabandal. I found the Dimond Brothers website. I read Catholic prophesy. I found the fisheaters website. I read St. Bridget. I read the SSPX website. I read about how to pray the rosary. I pretty much read anything I could get my hands on, without really the ability to discern what was real and what wasn't, because it was all very new to me. I was beginning to understand the new term called "Eucharistic Adoration" and was curious about it. I became drawn to experience this "Eucharistic Adoration" and to see Jesus in a "monstrance". (I knew what a "monstrance" was - but only because it was on the cover of the book about the Real Presence that I mentioned in the prior post.) I had never seen one of these items before in my life. I felt robbed that here I was, 34 years old, and nobody had ever shown me these things before. If this was so important, than why didn't I know anything about this? Why the hell not? An unexplained hunger began to grow in my soul to experience this mysterious "Eucharistic Adoration" that I had never ever heard of before. I began to actually yearn in my heart to find the Real Presence of Christ in a monstrance! I barely understood what I was asking for, but the desire was there. And He had to be in a monstrance. It sounds so silly, but this desire was definitely there.

I found out the local suburban parish down the street was doing a "Eucharistic Adoration" night. I was excited and nervously, I decided to "check it out" on a Monday night after work. Even though I hadn't been to a church in a very long time. I went and was very disappointed to find a small gathering of older ladies singing some patriotic "God Bless America" and doing some devotion on rosary beads that I had never heard of before. It felt alien and uncomfortable to me. (It actually was the Divine Mercy Chaplet, but I did not know what this was at the time.) It just seemed very strange. And the most disappointing thing of all was that this "Adoration" was just the same old tabernacle in the same old 70's church. There was nothing exposed, no monstrance. It wasn't anything like what I was looking for, in my mind and felt a little creepy. There really was nothing there to Adore. If felt like a senior citizen prayer session in a dark empty church. It was a let down. I left that night feeling very confused. My friend at work who went to the Latin Mass had made some inferences about how the "Novus Ordo" or "New Mass" was highly inferior to the Traditional Latin Mass - which is how all Catholics celebrated the Mass prior to Vatican II, when Latin was replaced with the vernacular and a whole lot of other changes were implemented, like the priest facing the people instead of God, and the tabernacle no longer being placed in the center of many churches, and changes to the words being said during the Consecration. I had no deep understanding of these things - but perhaps he was right? I stopped going to church years ago because I was not getting anything out of it. It was boring. The sermons were bad. Was something indeed missing here? I was very very confused.

*** To Be Continued ***

Friday, March 15, 2013

What's going on with the kids?

I thought it would be fun to let my readers know what has been happening with my little ones. This is not a typical post topic for me, but I am still trying to find my "grove" in blogging and this is not something I have to really think about before I write, I can just write. :-)

So... It's been a busy month. My oldest, Lauren, turned 7 on March 8th, and my middle daughter, Layna, turned 3 on March 9th. Last year I spent way too much money and threw a big "fancy party" at Paintbrush Pottery for my 6 year old. It was a lot of effort and very expensive. We had to invite everyone from her public school kindergarten class, and everyone from her daycare after school class. I just felt it was too much. This year, we took the girls (just our little family) to Chuck E Cheese and then to Skateword. Ahhh, how low stress, and fun, and overall much better. I picked up a cake at Kroger's and we sang happy birthday at Chuck E Cheese. I didn't give them any presents, and they didn't even care. They had a blast roller skating - it was Layna's first time on toddler skates and she was so darn cute. They have been begging me to go back all week.

Layna, finally, FINALLY, is beginning to potty train. She has been tinkling in the toilet just great! How exciting. I really thought we would never see this day. However, "going #2'... well, that is presenting some challenges. She's just not ready. She has made a complete mess in multiple public places now 2 times in the past 24 hours. This evening we were having a family pizza night, and we had to bolt out of the restaurant... (no diapers on hand, no change of clothes) We had a leakage issue (very very bad) and we had to take off all her clothes in the parking lot and do a full body wipe down and buckle her in her car seat in her birthday suit. At this point, we just had to laugh, because the situation was a little out of control. We all jumped in the shower when we got home.

Lauren has been losing teeth like crazy. The tooth fairy has been busy. I can't believe my "little girl" - and she is very much still an innocent little girl.. is growing so fast, and getting too big to fit in my lap. I love the young lady she is turning out to be, but it also makes me sad because I know this stage is going to fade quickly and soon enough we will be approaching those "tween" years... 

Leah, my baby, is getting ready to turn 1 next month. She is my most spoiled baby yet. I have created a "little monster" (as my husband likes to say). I'm still letting her sleep in our bed, which definitely has its pros and cons. She is very very close to walking. I am exciting about her taking her first steps.

Well, that's a quick update on my end. What about you? What fun things do you have to say about your kids or grand kids or nieces & nephews today?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Disappointed

Have you gone through a time in your marriage where things just were not going well? We were there about 5 months ago. I was profoundly unhappy due to my circumstances at work and how they were negatively affecting my ability to parent and interact and be there for my children. You know, it's the classic glass half full / half empty scenario... and while I should be extremely thankful for the wonderful job that I have, the roof over our heads, the excellent school district and neighborhood we live in, the wonderful things we are able to do with our children, and the fact that we are able to make ends meet and to keep our little family together, sometimes instead of counting my blessings, it is easy for me to fall into a state of despair over it all. The bottom line is that I want to stay at home with my kids - at least while they are little. Unfortunately, it's not something I ever discussed with my husband before we married because at the time I just took for granted that I would always be career oriented. I've always worked hard at whatever job I could get my hands on ever since I've been a kid. I grew up in a family where much of our self worth was based on the answers to these questions: Are you successful? Are you debt free? Are you making a lot of money? Do you have an impressive title? The thought that I might want to stay at home for a while and not work just never really crossed my mind or seemed like a viable option. I really regret that now, because I have changed, and my priorities have changed, but we have already spent the last 12 years crafting this life together that is not so easily changed.

Five months ago, I think my mild discontent developed into a full blown depression which felt an awful lot like a black cloud always hanging over my head and could send me into a crying fit at any moment. My husband and I were constantly arguing over this. During this rough patch, I hate to say it, but we were fighting so much, and were so miserable, many of our fights would end in an all too familiar "I'm leaving!" or "I wish I could just leave!" or "I want out of this relationship!" On many occasions I would sit crying in my car, and thinking that it was my Catholic faith, and that alone, that was holding us together, and barely, it seemed. If we didn't have that, (and our children) it would have been tempting to run away.

Thank God I am in a better place for now. Part of what helped us get out of this horrible funk, was finding our "dream home" out in the country. My incredible husband was willing to move far away from his job, friends and family, to try to reduce our mortgage and taxes so that I could get one step closer to staying at home or working less hours so that I could be with my little ones more than the 2 hours a day that I get during the stressful workweek. How I have been praying for this to work out! After 5 months of dealing with bank negotiations, things have fallen apart. This is due to the bank's realtor not submitting the proper paperwork in time. We are disappointed. I don't quite know what direction to turn next. I am trying my best to trust that God is guiding this process for us.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Seven Suicides in the Bible

A week and a half ago I completed Session 10 of The Great Adventure Catholic Bible Timeline Study... and I'm rather behind in my bible reading, so I'll be pulling a late nighter tonight to try to catch up for next week's session. Last time, we completed the book of Judges. Rather rough reading. It is a time in Israel's history when they have fallen away from God and "Everyone did what was right in his own eyes". It was the ultimate moral relativism! (Hmmm, not too far off from today, actually... in light of a lot of our recent legislation...) But back to the point... The story of the Concubine's wife in Judges 19 is perhaps one of the most harrowing old testament stories I have ever read. My jaw actually dropped as I read it.

And then there was the intriguing life of Samson... the most well-known Israelite Judge. Samson's colorful life is chronicled in Judges 13-16. His death by suicide is one of the 7 suicides mentioned in the Holy Bible and after praying to God for vengeance for the loss of his eyes, goes like this:

Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" Then he bowed with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people that were in it. So the dead whom he slew at his death were more than those whom he had slain during his life. (Judges 16:30)

The other 6 out of 7 suicides in the Bible are as follows:

Abimelech in Judges 9:54 - Then he called hastily to the young man his armor-bearer, and said to him, "Draw your sword and kill me, lest men say of me, 'A woman killed him'" And his young man thrust him through, and he died.

Saul in 1 Samuel 31:4 - Therefore Saul took his own sword, and fell upon it.

Saul's armour-bearer in 1 Samuel 31:5 - And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword, and died with him.

Ahithophel in 2 Samuel 17:23 - And he set his house in order, and hanged himself; and he died, and was buried in the tomb of his father.

Zimri in 1 Kings 16:18 - And when Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the king's house, and burned the king's house over him with fire, and died

Judas in Matthew 27:5 - And throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself.

Samson's death was different than the rest of these. He prayed to God as he committed this act and Samson is actually praised in Hebrews 11:32, so to me it is very doubtful that he would be in hell right now. (Judas, may be another story, however....)

Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about Suicide:
"We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to Him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives. (CCC 2283)"

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Inside the Mind of an Agnostic

"It is said that God has created man in his own image.
But it may be that humankind has created God in the image of humankind."
- Thich Nhat Hanh, Living Buddha, Living Christ 

Last night I "interviewed" someone important to me in my life. Someone that I don't see very often and don't talk to very often, but somebody that I love and care about. Our conversations are always interesting. This article is an attempt to summarize and capture some of the questions that we discussed last night.

What religious affiliation are you?

None. I don't have one. I am still searching.


What does this mean?

I am an agnostic. I don't identify with any specific religion.


Does God Exist?

I do not deny the existence of God or a higher power. I accept that there are forces far greater than us, but I cannot understand them, and I am OK with that. I am not arrogant enough to know how the universe was created. God is not a human being, that I am sure of! I cannot accept that which is beyond human understanding.


Have you thought about the ramifications of this?

I think it is more important to focus on living better and being a better person right now. People are too caught up in the afterlife and creationism and preaching. Like missionaries who knock on your door and want to convert you. Religion provides us with a Moral Code. It helps us to live a better life today. The afterlife is not more important than our life today.


Do you believe that you have a soul?

No. But I'm not some horrible person, I just don't believe this. We have physical brains that have all sorts of neurons and chemicals that provide us experiences that we misinterpret this way.


Who is your favorite philosopher?

Thich Nhat Hanh... a Buddhist Monk who led the 2nd largest passive resistance movement in Vietnam in the 60's. He is now in a monastery in France. He talks about improving  your daily practice here on earth. Being Mindful, being in the moment...


What is your favorite quote by Thich Nhat Hanh?

A quote that comes to mind is also the title of one of his books... "No Death No Fear". I also recommend his books, "Peace is Every Step: The Mindfulness of Everyday Life" and "Living Buddha, Living Christ"


Have you rejected your Catholic faith?

Yes.


Does religion help or hurt society?

It should help to make the world a better place, but it can hurt also. Wars... fighting... Abuse of women in the Middle East, all in the name of God, etc.

This summarized the bulk of our conversation. We also talked about how spirituality helps one when dealing with death and how this is a positive thing. I also was able to listen to what it was like to be at a Quaker "Friends" meeting, where individuals gather in "silent expectant" waiting, until moved to speak on whatever subject that they are moved to do so. All are welcome. He mentioned that in the future he will "interview" me, and I welcome that opportunity.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Rahab and her Mighty Works of Faith

I hope everyone had a nice Ash Wednesday. I am ready for Lent this year, I need this. I am planning on ditching some really bad habits. Right now I'm hungry. We just got back from 7 pm Mass. It is always tough to take the little ones to a late Mass...

Something good happened to me last week. I was invited by somebody that I don't know all that well, although he is a devout Catholic, and knows that I am too. (This all happened 3 years ago when I was walking by his cubicle, and I saw a Saint calendar, a crucifix, and a small statue of Our Lady tucked away behind a large plant.) This guy is supper quiet, and I am pretty extroverted, I just walked up to him and said, "Wow, you have a very Catholic cubicle..." And we had a nice one-time conversation about Our Faith. I really didn't see or talk to him after that... but apparently, here a few years later, he is moved to my floor of the building, and I noticed him so stopped by again to say "Hello"... He then asked me if I had heard about the "Spiritual Encouragement" meeting that is being put on by a group of men during the lunch hour. This is a group open to any denomination of  Christian to meet together to talk about faith, the Bible, and to pray. And he asked me to come to the meeting. (A few years ago, there is no way I would have said Yes to something like this. I would never have "put myself out there" at work like this... and I would have been intimidated by any "sola scriptura" protestants in the group who may not agree with Catholic thinking.) But my CATHOLIC  bible study is giving me a little bit of confidence.... Maybe I can do something like this? So, I said YES!

Tomorrow my friend is leading the group (everyone is taking turns) and I know he is going to talk about Grace, and Our Sacraments... and I have a feeling there is going to be a debate ensuing.

What does all this have to do with Rahab, and Session 9 of the Bible Timeline Great Adventure? Well, while I was doing my homework last week, I learned who Rahab was while reading Chapter 2 of the Book of Joshua. Rahab was a cult prostitute in Jericho. She helped the Jewish spies when they came to hide and instead of turning them in, she professed her faith in the One True God, and asked to be saved. The red cord she hung out of her window in Joshua 2:24 is symbolic of the Passover and indeed what allowed her life to be spared when Joshua's warriors would destroy the city.

Rahab later marries into the tribe of Judah and becomes an ancestor of Jesus! She is heralded later in the bible, in Psalm 87:4 "I will be mindful of Rahab". And again in Hebrews 11:31 "BY FAITH Rahab the harlot perished not with the unbelievers". And once again in James 2:25 "And in like manner also Rahab the harlot, was not she justified by WORKS, receiving the messengers and sending them out another way?"

This is interesting and I'm stuffing this into my arsenal for when the Faith vs. Works argument comes up, as I'm sure it will. Some Christians will quote Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace you are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God. Not of works, that no man may glory." They will interpret this passage that WE ARE SAVED THROUGH FAITH (ALONE). The "Alone" addition was a Martin Luther interpretation that stuck.

However, our Catholic understanding of the matter, is that we are saved by grace through faith AND works. This can be clearly seen by the entire 2nd Chapter of James. "Faith without Works is Dead!" (See James 2:17, 2:20, 2:26, well go ahead and just read the entire Chapter, it is good!)  I may not be eloquent in expressing it, but I hope I can adequately defend Our Faith in a discussion on this matter. Maybe Rahab will help me. (I need it.) God bless everyone. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

My Catholic Musings For Today

Where you as stunned as I was when you heard the news that Pope Benedict has resigned? I heard on the way to work this morning as I was dropping the kids off at day care.  It leaves such a strange feeling. Our Holy Father has been (and is) such a source of inspiration to me. I pray that his health is well. We can only wonder what is really going on in his mind and what suffering he could be going through with all of this.

***

Speaking of wondering what is going on... I surely cannot be the only one pondering the whereabouts of Father John Corapi. He was a sort of personal hero to me and both my husband and I spent hours listening to his talks. He is such a gifted speaker and made the Faith simply come alive. We haven't heard a peep out of him, and God only knows where he is now and what he is doing. I like to give him the benefit of the doubt and hope that he has repented of any wrong doing that may have occurred and has already long since been to confession. I hope he is living his life out in silence and obedience and has not left the Church or turned his back on his priesthood. I was working my way through his 50 volume Catechism series CDs when the scandal broke in 2011, and haven't been able to finish listening to all his CDs since then, but don't want to part with them. At some point, I will probably listen to the rest of them. Right now, it's like he is completely invisible and in fact doesn't exist. It's sad because Catholic media can't really discuss it, and can't really endorse him by playing his recorded talks, even though they are incredible to listen to. God please help him wherever he is...

***

So, this weekend we were running late as usual, the kids were in very rare form, and none of us had nice clothes to wear, so we had to settle for the "Church down the street" (that I don't prefer to go to Mass at, but, it is literally right down the street and super easy... so we seem to often end up there.)  It makes me squirm, because there are probably 20 Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. (A Sidebar: I used to call them "Lay Ministers" as to make them all sound less important, but the correct terminology is actually "Extraordinary Minsters of Holy Communion" - not to exalt the role in any way, but to purposely stress the fact that they are not supposed to be the norm, (it is an extra-ordinary thing after all) and you are handling the Body and Blood of Our Lord! (Not to diminish anyone who does this, but it is really overused and abused at my local parish. It is like a casual social event rather than a solemn Miracle.) 

Also, at this church, I have noticed that the Father has stopped reciting the Nicene Creed and the Cantor has stopped singing along with the Gloria. It is the strangest thing, as we have been used to having the backup. (You know how it is when you kind of "know" that popular song, and it's easy to sing along with when it is playing on the radio, but without the vocals to fall back on, there is no way you can sing the words on your own?) Well I guess that is what was happening because the silence was deafening. Pretty embarrassing. It was so obvious that nobody around me knew the words, and worse yet, they didn't know exactly where to flip to in the little red book, and nobody was saying or singing a thing. I was actually embarrassed for all of us!  I felt like I was the only one saying and singing anything! I started singing louder to fill the void, but it was only even more obvious that nobody was singing... (There were a few people in the front who were chiming in, but the HUGE VAST MAJORITY were just standing there and not saying a thing!) I kept thinking  "Whoa, people.. you better make some noise!"  It kind of seemed like the whole point was that the priest intentionally decided to be silent so that we could feel and hear for own selves the ignorance and hypocrisy evident in our congregation. And boy did I feel it. Is this happening at your parish too?