Monday, August 31, 2009

Remedy for Morning Sickness: A Hearty Lunch


Now that I am (finally) through the first-trimester yuckiness that so many of us face - yes, I am pregnant (15 weeks) and we are very happy! - I feel that it is my duty to share a wonderful revelation that I had about 6 weeks ago. Truly, I should have figured this out about three babies ago, but perhaps by sharing I can help some of our readers who are still trudging through those difficult first few months of pregnancy!

The revelation came one hot July afternoon when I was feeling at the height of my "morning" sickness. A good friend, Mary, had invited my kids and me on a last-minute trip to story time at our local library, and although I just felt like staying home, I knew that the distraction would be good for all of us. After story time, Mary invited us over for an early lunch. Again, I hesitated, knowing that my kids were ready for naps/quiet time, but I decided to take her up on her kind offer. We arrived at Mary's home and I played with the kids while she prepared lunch, fully expecting that we would be eating turkey sandwiches or something similar. After all, that's what I would be serving for an impromptu lunch date! I had forgotten that Mary is a great cook, and also one of the most generous people that I know.

We sat down to lunch and Mary served me a steaming plate of chicken and rice, full of veggies and little pieces of perfectly-cooked chicken. Let me tell you, it was the most satisfying dish that I had eaten in a long time, and the rest of the day I felt great! Had I been preparing lunch for myself at home, I would have eaten something much less elaborate - I've always saved our leftovers from dinner for another weeknight meal - but this delicious meal was just what my pregnant body needed. Since that day, I have been consciously eating a hearty lunch, usually leftovers from the night before or something that I have prepared in advance. I have been making soups, stews, and sauces galore so that I always have something on hand, and it has made a huge difference in my ability to function for the remainder of the day! On the menu today: beef stew left over from last night's dinner. I promise that it tastes much better than it looks in this unflattering snapshot :)

In case you'd like to taste Mary's delicious chicken and rice dish for yourself, I've posted the recipe below. It was such a life-changing experience that I made myself a big batch the very next day, and I enjoyed it for the rest of the week! The only caveat: I wouldn't suggest freezing this dish, as the consistency of the rice changes dramatically with freezing. Enjoy!

Chicken and Rice

1-1.25 pounds of chicken breasts or tenders
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 T. worcestershire sauce
1 t. salt
Juice of 1 lime
1 t. minced garlic

Chop the chicken into bite size pieces and marinade it in the rest of the above ingredients for at least half an hour.

2 T. vegetable oil
1-2 t. paprika
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3-4 small sweet peppers, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 tomatoes peeled, seeded, finely chopped (I didn't peel the tomatoes)
2 c. uncooked white rice
4 c. chicken broth
Salt and pepper
1.5 cups cooked peas (not from a can)

Over med-high heat, heat the oil and saute the chicken with all the marinade. Once cooked, take out the chicken. Add a bit more oil and the paprika so it infuses the oil (just a few seconds), then saute the onion for about 5 minutes. Next add the bell pepper, carrots, and tomatoes and saute another 5 minutes. Add the uncooked rice and chicken again and saute for another minute, drizzling with a little salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth and bring to a rapid boil for about 5-7 minutes (until the broth has been mostly absorbed), then cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes.

Stir with a fork and add the cooked peas before serving. Enjoy this flavorful and slightly sweet dish!




Saturday, August 29, 2009

Garden Advice

This summer, I have had a bounty of healthy green tomatoes which have rotted on the vine while turning red. This may be a blight, too much rain, or the fact that the fruit are low to the ground and not well staked. There are still about 20 green tomatoes left in my garden. Does anyone know if I would be better off just picking them now, while they are green? Will they ripen on the windowsill?

Do you have suggestions for next year so that this does not happen again (scrap the whole thing and buy from the farm stand is the solution I am leaning towards at this point!).

Friday, August 28, 2009

Me Versus Bee

Once every year, my husband leaves for a week-long theology course and week of fellowship with other great Catholic men. That one week a year, and only that week, I am guaranteed some exciting new pest or rodent infestation. Two courses ago the mice moved in and set up shop for a year and a half.

This year it's yellow jackets swarming my kitchen. Since yesterday evening, the bee body count has reached approximately 30. My husband's leather sandal is my reliable killing instrument. I'll let you know how high the death toll climbs before the exterminator arrives (before the end of the workday and start of the weekend, please God). So far, homespun caulking and spraying remedies have failed. I hope the Orkin Man has some extraordinary tricks up his sleeve. Thank God for professionals, seriously... I'm a do-it-yourself type, but when it comes time to raise the white flag, thank God for professionals.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Weeds

While mowing the lawn this morning, the words from 2 Timothy rung loud and clear in my crazy brain, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (2 Tim. 4:7) Rather profound for lawn mowing, eh? Profound until I tell you why I was thinking of this verse...

Weeds.
All over.
We have fought hard against them and yet they are still there!

Poor GG mowed the lawn a few weeks back and called me immediately while I was away in Ohio. "Honey, have you seen the weeds in the front yard?" I had.
"They are taking over!" Poor guy. I could see the stress lines forming on his forehead.
He has been fighting those darn weeds all spring and summer with everything from pre-emersion treatment to top down weed killer.
Yet the weeds still come and thrive and it is frustrating!!

There's crab grass by the edges and around our lamppost. There's Bermuda grass encroaching from the neighbor's yard. There is a leafy variety consuming the small strip of grass by the driveway. Ugh. Weeds.

When I stop to think, though, I am struck by how true this metaphor applies to the rest of our lives. We are living the good life, taking care of our day-to-day, attempting to have a holy perspective in the midst of life's ups and downs. And then the weeds come. They approach stealthily at first, implanting ever so delicately between the God areas of our hearts. Over time, without attention, they grow and flourish, putting down roots and becoming established in the soil of our life. They go from being immediate temptations to entrenched sinful habits. They draw the life out of all the good parts.

We might even have been actively trying to avoid the weeds, doing everything we know how to do--praying, reading the Word, attending church. We can never be too cautious. "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8

So today is not only a day to cut the grass, it's also one to do some serious praying and examination of conscience. I need to ask God to reveal the weeds in my life, the fledgling ones that I cannot yet recognize. Where are they, Lord? Show me them so that I can truly build the fruitful aspects of my heart. And while I'm at, God, inspire me toward a deeper relationship with you; one that can endure the weedy seasons of life and emerge fruitful and beautiful. Equip me for the long fight, my Lord.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

St. Monica, Pray for us!


Tomorrow is the feast of St. Monica, the day before the feast of her son, St. Augustine. I have always had a special place in my heart for St. Monica, but especially recently as our son was diagnosed with a disorder and will likely have long-term behavioral issues. When I feel overwhelmed and anxious about the future it is a comfort to turn to St. Monica, who walked a hard road with trust, abandonment and patience.

How can a mother not love this saint who shed tears and implored heaven on her son's behalf? Would that I could be as persistent and patient as St. Monica!

Charlotte of Waltzing Matilda
has a beautiful coloring image of St. Monica here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kindergarten Kid

In the spirit of Mary Alice's post on Shared Milestones, here is a milestone of our own to share:
My little boy started Kindergarten yesterday, and this morning he rode the bus to school for the first time - he'll be taking it home as well! Where has the time gone??? I can still remember dropping him off for his first day of "school" when he was 16 months old, and calling a friend from the car afterwards sobbing. I was in grad school at the time and needed the childcare while I completed an internship, but it sure took a while to get used to the idea of spending so much time apart from Christopher! Now that he's started Kindergarten, I realize that our family has entered a whole new reality. Gone are the days when I can take Christopher out of school for a week to go visit our family or for the day to visit the zoo, and gone are our lazy mornings of playing and taking our time before breakfast. Ironically, my early riser has taken to sleeping in, and his body has severely protested the early wake-ups these past couple of days. I predict that we will have an exhausted 5 year-old on our hands by the end of the week!
In any case, here's to new beginnings and new experiences! May God bless all of our children who are beginning a new school year, whether they are home schooled or going to school outside of the home. And may God bless all of us mothers, that we may make the transition from summer to school mode as gracefully and with as much patience as possible!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Shared Milestones

It was such a thrill when I met Danielle Bean last spring. After reading her first book in one session, I have been following her family for a few years on the internet. As I summoned the courage to begin to homeschool and to allow God to continue to expand my own family, her laid back style of large family Catholic motherin' has been an inspiration, and her sense of humor has helped me to keep mine.

Along the way, our children are growing up, too. I read on her blog that she just celebrated a boy's eighth birthday, while just today we were planning our own son's eighth birthday celebration.

And little Rafe? I feel like I watched him learn to crawl along with my twins, but like them, he is not a baby anymore. What a riot that just as I was making this video, Danielle was doing the same.

After you watch mine, you can read about and view hers HERE.
video

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Controversial Readings

From the book of Ephesians (5:22-25)...

Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.
For the husband is head of his wife
just as Christ is head of the church,
he himself the savior of the body.
As the church is subordinate to Christ,
so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ loved the church...

It bothers me that verses as clear as this can have such a broad range of interpretation. Paul sets forth here the appropriate hierarchy that should exist within a marriage: man as spiritual head, woman as subordinate. There it is. In black and white. If more marriages were aligned in such a fashion, we wouldn't be seeing the 50% divorce rate in this country. If more men were stepping up to the plate of "spiritual head" and loving their wives "as Christ loved the church", women would yearn to be subordinate. We wouldn't have confused gender roles, we'd have marital clarity and we'd all be better for it.

This doesn't mean that as my husband's "subordinate" I cannot be an equal contributor to our marriage; that I cannot share my thoughts, feelings, and opinions about issues arising. What it means is that he inspires me, calls me closer to Christ, and ultimately, makes godly decisions for the good of our family.

My husband is the head and I am his subordinate.
I am a woman, I have a brain, and I am ok with this.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Living Word

"Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest,if we do not give up." Gal. 6:9

Scripture like this has always made a great impact in my little world.
It has not been by huge thunderbolts from the heavens. Nor has it been by God directly speaking to me and striking me with blindness like He did for Saul.

When God breathed the sacred Scriptures into the hearts and minds of His writers, He left His Word to help guide and direct His faithful, His followers, even a brace-faced 14-year-old like I was at the time I first encountered this verse. I was starting my freshman year of cross country and was overwhelmed with nerves. There was a lot of hope and expectation surrounding my high school running debut. Subsequently, I was drowning amidst the pressure, particularly that which I was placing on myself.

We had run the first meet and I had buckled. What had gone so well in practice had fallen apart in the invitational. My two comrades had finished more than a minute ahead of me and I had lost all confidence in myself as a competitor. The days following the meet were dismal. I was wrought with teenage woes and poor self-esteem; it was likely a repeat performance was in the works for the following weekend.

Enter God's Word, delivered by an unlikely messenger for a young teen: my dad. I awoke early one morning for school to the soft glow of the loft light and my dad faithfully doing his morning devotions. He mentioned he had found a great verse for meditation, particularly in the midst of my running strife--"Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up." Gal. 6:9 At the time, my teenage mind interpreted the scripture to mean I needed to have hope, keep trying, and that God would determine the rest. Along with it I gleaned a sense of peace that God was with me throughout my trial and would reward me at the appropriate time. God had given me gifts and talents and I needed to nurture them and cultivate them in order to reap their fruit later on. It was just the motivation I needed.

Today I am equally as encouraged when I take time to meditate on this verse. It reminds me to press on and continue to carry my crosses. It says that I will "reap" at the proper time, but that I must also invest and work and strive to attain all that God has laid out for me in my future. It also assures that a proper harvest is necessary to achieve--I need to be willing to contribute sweat and work to the reaping. I cannot be idle, but active. I may not see immediate results, but God has promised His Glory because I am His child.

I am also reminded that the sacred Scriptures were written to guide and direct me all of my life. I need to dip into this precious wellspring so much more than I normally do. God has provided His Word for us here on earth. I am mistaken to forget it's there. And while I hate to admit it, as a Catholic I often do. I am surrounded by scripture at Mass, while praying the Rosary, in reciting prayers throughout the day, but I often don't reference the Bible directly. This is my own fault. The Church encourages me to do so:
And such is the force and power of the Word of God that it can serve the Church as her support and vigor and the children of the Church as strength for their faith, food for the soul, and a pure and lasting font of spiritual life" (131)

It reassures the Bible is God-inspired (106) and affirmed by the Holy Spirit (107). The Catechism also provides direction for how to best read and interpret it (110-114). I need to take on this challenge more.

I am also convicted of the need to show my children the Word more readily. Our family Bible sits prettily white and gold on our bookshelf. Along with our Catechism, it should be scuffed and ruffled and referenced on a daily basis; it should a guide in our happy times, our feuds, our children's discipline. Perhaps a family Bible verse committed to memory is a way for us to incorporate Christ more into our daily prayers.

Is your Bible gathering dust like mine?
My goal is to crack the good Book and share its fruits here at BC more often. You can hold me to it!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bebe Au Lait Promotion


For our breastfeeding mothers out there...

Buy One Hooter Hiders Nursing Cover, Get Another For $5

Simply select two Hooter Hiders Nursing Covers in the online store, and use coupon code HHFOR5 during checkout. You will get $30 off your order!

http://shop.bebeaulait.com/5-Hooter-Hiders


Go Green and Save Green:

Purchase a Simple Organic Nursing Cover, and receive a free matching 3-Pack of burp cloths. No coupon codes are necessary. This is a $24 value.

http://shop.bebeaulait.com/Go-Green


**Also, for any late night readers: Bebe au Lait nursing covers are being sold here today for $15!

Advice for Financial Planning

Recently, a reader asked us to speak about plans for paying for college when you have a larger family. I must admit, "how will you pay for college?" is one of the more personal questions, once strangers have established that they are all, indeed, yours and you do, indeed, know how "it" happens.

Financing life with a large family is serious stuff, even long before college becomes an issue. We have found that finances have been an important area of growth in our marriage, which is why I volunteered to write about it and begin the conversation.

First of all, I think that small savings early on in marriage can really add up, and I would advise any young couple to begin, even as soon as their engagement, to talk about and plan financially for life as a family. We did not do this as much as we should, but my husband is financially prudent by nature (that makes one of us), so we made fairly good decisions, but if I had been really planning ahead I would have saved even more early on.

I firmly believe that it is a big mistake to go into debt to pay for a wedding party, whether the parents or the couple are paying, and I am hoping that one of the effects of the recent economic difficulties will be a cultural change on this issue. If you have the money and choose to spend it that way, have fun, but we must understand that a prudent and wonderful life can be begun without a fancy ring or a fancy cake, most of our grandparents began that way.

Recently, my husband found a program called Seven Steps to Becoming Financially Free. This is an AMAZING resource. I believe that this program should be made part of all marriage preparation courses in the Catholic Church, as well as offered for other parishioners. It is a legitimate and sound financial planning course combined with a bible study and prayer plan to help your understand financial stewardship. This concept of stewardship has really changed our outlook and we have had really positive conversations about money and been able to make much better, more peaceful decisions since we began the program. At the time that we started it, we were at a bit of an impasse, as the realities of first time home ownership were combining with the slowing economy to make money a real source of stress in our marriage. I would say that we are both much more comfortable with our financial situation and decision process now, even though the dollars and cents have not really changed. We know where our money goes, we have a plan for the present and the future, we do not feel gutted every time we have to talk about money and we do not spend money that we do not have.

Now, when it comes to paying for education, let's be honest -- there are many of us who have to finish paying for our own educations before we begin to think about our kids! Seriously, it is a goal of ours to not still be paying for our college when our oldest starts college. The answer here is something called "debt acceleration" and I encourage you to read more about it in the Seven Steps to Financial Freedom book and workbook.

In addition, please indulge me in a few other pieces of financial advice:

1. If you do not have children yet and you are both working, try to live on one income. This will help in two ways -- first of all, you will not have to factor in a drop in standard of living when you decide whether to stop working when you have children, and better still you will already have money in the bank as well. We did this, or pretty close, during the few years after college. My husband worked before we were married and he lived at home and saved a lot, and then we lived on less than our two incomes when we were newlyweds. When he went to law school, the money we saved together with his summer incomes went a long way to reducing the debt we had to take on.

2. Be open to less than ideal housing situations. Now, I am not suggesting that you live in a slum with extermination problems, but we made a very nice life in several very small, fairly unattractive apartments, in "uncool" neighborhoods, even with as many as four children. When your children are very small, you can stick them anywhere, so two bedrooms were really plenty for us until fairly recently. Our rent when he was in law school was a tiny amount, and we lived in a family housing complex which we loved, we made great friends and had a great time. Back then, they would loan you an almost unlimited amount of money when you were in school, so some of our friends lived in much nicer places, took vacations, etc, all on student loans. We lived on less as a family then most of the single folks. Because housing is your single biggest expense, you can make a big impact by being especially thoughtful in this area.

3. Get life insurance coverage for both parents. It would be catastrophic to lose your spouse, and while you cannot prepare for that, you can make sure that you would not have an immediate financial crisis as well. Many couples only hold insurance on the working parent, but think of this -- if a SAHM dies, her husband will have to pay someone to do everything that she does, or take time off from work for a while, or both. In the case of homeschoolers, children may have to go to school, and you may want private or parochial school to be an option in that case. Lastly, to just think of the worst possible scenario, if both parents were to die it is just irresponsible to leave someone else to care for a number of small children without putting the financial means in place. This is tough stuff, and I know it is tough to justify it if you are just barely making ends meet as it is, but please do not put this off.

4. Start now. You can enroll in Upromise and earn free contributions to a college savings account. You may have relatives who give your child money from time to time -- put these small gifts in an interest bearing account and they will add up. I believe that Valley National Bank gives 4% interest in a child's savings account, which is a pretty high rate for something with no minimum, and it is a great feeling for the kids to see the money start to compound. You might decide that rather than telling them the money is for college, you are saving it for their "future." That money might buy the used car which they drive to summer jobs in high school, or if you are in a position to pay for college they might use it for an engagement ring someday. That money might help to finance a year off before or during college to do mission work, something that would not be covered by student loans.

However, unless you have significant financial means, steer clear of making major contributions to a 529 type college savings account where you will be locked in to using the money for college. While there are benefits to this type of account, many of us would be better off paying down high-interest debt, including our own mortgage or student loans, rather than saving in this way.

5. Be open to the fact that your children may have to carry some debt from their education. While this may make it harder for them starting out, it may also help them to be financially prudent. Also, I think that when the time comes it is well worth considering whether some private colleges are really worth the money, when compared with honors programs at State universities.

6. Work hard every step of the way. Seriously, parents of large families are going to have to do more with less, and this may mean cleaning your own floors or having your teacher husband take several summer jobs. You are going to have to figure out how to have fun in the backyard rather than heading to Disney World, how to make the most out of hand-me-down clothes, how to use the library instead of the bookstore. The benefits will be great and we will grow in humility. Our children will be better off. However, I have recently made a decision to stop telling my children that we cannot do things because we they have a lot of siblings. I know a woman who says "that is not how we choose to spend our money" rather than "we do not have enough money for that" -- she is absolutely right, because this is a choice we are making about how we use our resources.

7. Put your life in God's hands. This is first, last and most important, and is an integral part of all areas of family planning. We are called to be stewards of our resources and talents, and to use them to make a return for the kingdom. I am not a providentialist, and I believe that this requires a delicate balance of prudence and trust in the Lord. As we have seen in the recent economy, many were tempted into living way beyond their means and are really suffering for it now, however, we can be open to children and live within our means if we are careful, and when we are generous with God, both in our tithes and in our generosity to life, He will show us the means.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Catholic Snob or Guardian of Family Time?

So, it is that time of year at church... CCD registration time. I have a near-kindergartner who is eligible to attend, but do I want her to?

Our CCD classes start 20 min. after Mass lets out on Sunday morning and run for one hour. What is my issue? Well, twofold -- 1) I am not convinced of the orthodoxy and formation of the adult volunteers teaching the classes and 2) If some of my fears related to #1 are realized, then why waste a valuable hour of family time to have my impressionable daughter receive vague/possibly misleading catechisis?

To give you a bit more context before you sound off - I think I am doing a good job with fledgling catechism myself. I have committed us to a very enriching and exciting Catholic-centered kindergarten homeschooling curriculum for the upcoming year, we celebrate holy days, saints' feast days and the like year-round. Daughter knows all the staple prayers and seems to have a hunger for more.

Therefore, the conflict boils down to me wondering if a home-schooled kid with a very social disposition could benefit from an hour a week of "classroom" type instruction with a bunch of other Catholic kids or if we will interrupt our lovely family-oriented Sundays in order for her to receive lukewarm religious instruction that she really does not need. Thoughts?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Babies Don't Keep

I am not "maternal" by nature or by nurture. Over the last four years, though, I have settled down and settled in and allowed my heart to wander where it belongs, to fall in love with my children. Thank God for the love of mother and child. We put in more than we think we can, and we get out more than we dreamed we could.

My baby Angelina is 15.5 months old. She is starting to walk. She has humored me by being a late walker, a late weaner, a late talker. She still responded primarily to the name "Baby" until recently. She has been so sweet and lovely. I wanted her to stay a baby forever, and she tried to. But toddlerhood is upon us.

For my fellow fast-paced workhorses, I thought I'd share this simple poem I recently read, not to guilt us into slowing down, but to fan the sweet fragrance of mother-baby love...

Cooking and cleaning can wait til tomorrow,
For babies grow up, we've learned to our sorrow;
So quiet down cobwebs, and dust go to sleep,
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

Indeed, babies don't keep. I'm off to rock mine while I finish today's prayers. Sigh.

Grateful

For these...



I am feeling a bit guilty that I complained to MaryAlice about having to go outside in the pouring rain to pick this eggplant for our dinner. Now that the eggplant parmesan is cooking, I am enjoying the smell, and reveling in the joy of having grown our main course!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Government Funded Abortion?

There is much dispute as to if the current health care bill will allow for government funded abortion. Health care reform is needed. But health care is irrelevant if you are dead. Health care reform that ensures abortion as an "essential health benefit" is inherently unjust. As Juris Mater has pointed out to us before, the single most dangerous place to be as an American is in your mother's womb.

Thus far, amendments introduced to explicitly exclude abortion have been defeated, yet the Capps amendment passed, which would protect abortion coverage (the details of how, as I understand it, depend on the reauthorization of the Hyde amendment). FOCA seems to be creeping into the health care reform bill. Be aware! With a majority of Americans describing themselves as pro-life, it would seem to make sense to take abortion funding off the table and proceed with a discussion about health care.

***Updated to add Red's comment here, which I forgot to mention***
I think it is important to note that one of our good friends from Princeton, an aspiring doctor, asked us to post this and notify our readers about the risks of this bill. I am frightened for good doctors like her, who may have their career greatly affected by the unwillingness to participate in abortion.

You can read more about the potential of health care reform to fund abortions from the Catholic News Agency:
As Congress prepares to consider President Obama's health care reform this week, the legislation is drawing opposition from both sides of the aisle. At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, ten lawmakers warned that the current draft of the health care bill will force taxpayers, businesses and insurance providers to pay for abortions.

Reaction from Democrats first became public when a group of 19 congressmen, some of them "Blue Dog Democrats," sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the end of June.

In their letter, the group of 19 warned Pelosi that they would not vote for any health care reform bill that either mandates government coverage for abortion or allows the Health Benefits Advisory Committee to recommend abortion services be included under covered benefits or as part of a benefits package.

"We believe in a culture that supports and respects the right to life and is dedicated to the protection and preservation of families. Therefore, we cannot support any health care reform proposal unless it explicitly excludes abortion from the scope of any government-defined or subsidized health insurance plan," the congressmen wrote.

...

"Obamacare is the greatest threat ever to the lives and wellness of unborn children and their mothers since Roe v. Wade was rendered in 1973," Smith charged.

Recalling President Obama's comment to the Pope about wanting to reduce the incidence of abortion, the New Jersey congressman said that the "ugly truth is that his so-called health care reform bill, if enacted, will lead to millions of additional dead children and wounded mothers."

The group of representatives, which included doctors and pro-life women, asserted that the funding of abortions under Obama's health care restructuring will increase the number of abortions.

Agreeing with the 19 Democrat congressmen, Rep. Smith cited a Guttmacher Institute study that found "20%-35% of Medicaid eligible women who would chose abortion carry their pregnancies to term when public funds are not available."

"Government funding, facilitation, promotion and mandates will cause abortion rates to skyrocket," he warned.

"Obamacare opens the spigot of public funding and does more to facilitate abortion than any action since Roe. This is the big one!" Smith cried.

In addition to direct funding of abortion by the government, Smith explained that the legislation "vests new, huge, sweeping powers in an Obama-appointed committee tasked with establishing 'essential health benefits' that all plans must include."

These "essential benefits" include abortion, Smith said, citing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and remarks Obama made as a senator.

...

"Obamacare will also exponentially expand the number of abortion mills in the country by requiring that any insurance provider must contract with 'essential community providers, as specified by the Commissioner’," he said.

Smith pointed out that "Planned Parenthood, an organization that aborted over 305,000 children in 2007 alone, launched a multimedia blitz on June 17th, billing itself as an 'essential community health care provider.'"


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Case for Earlier Marriage?

I'm not sure I agree with all his arguments, but I thought this article in Christianity Today was an interesting piece about the problems of abstinence education and the trend of later marriages in Evangelical Christian circles (much of it can be applied to Catholics as well). Here's a tidbit:

Virginity pledges. Chastity balls. Courtship. Side hugs. Guarding your heart. Evangelical discourse on sex is more conservative than I've ever seen it. Parents and pastors and youth group leaders told us not to do it before we got married. Why? Because the Bible says so. Yet that simple message didn't go very far in shaping our sexual decision-making.

So they kicked it up a notch and staked a battle over virginity, with pledges of abstinence and accountability structures to maintain the power of the imperative to not do what many of us felt like doing. Some of us failed, but we could become "born again virgins." Virginity mattered. But sex can be had in other ways, and many of us got creative.

...It might sound like I devalue abstinence. I don't. The problem is that not all abstainers end up happy or go on to the great sex lives they were promised. Nor do all indulgers become miserable or marital train wrecks. More simply, however, I have found that few evangelicals accomplish what their pastors and parents wanted them to.

Indeed, over 90 percent of American adults experience sexual intercourse before marrying. The percentage of evangelicals who do so is not much lower. In a nationally representative study of young adults, just under 80 percent of unmarried, church- going, conservative Protestants who are currently dating someone are having sex of some sort. I'm certainly not suggesting that they cannot abstain. I'm suggesting that in the domain of sex, most of them don't and won't.

What to do? Intensify the abstinence message even more? No. It won't work. The message must change, because our preoccupation with sex has unwittingly turned our attention away from the damage that Americans—including evangelicals—are doing to the institution of marriage by discouraging it and delaying it.

...The abstinence industry perpetuates a blissful myth; too much is made of the explosively rewarding marital sex life awaiting abstainers. The fact is that God makes no promises of great sex to those who wait. Some experience difficult marriages. Spouses wander. Others cannot conceive children.

In reality, spouses learn marriage, just like they learn communication, child-rearing, or making love. Unfortunately, education about marriage is now sadly perceived as self-obvious, juvenile, or feminine, the domain of disparaged home economics courses. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In sum, Christians need to get real about marriage: it's a covenant helpmate thing that suffers from too much idealism and too little realism.Weddings may be beautiful, but marriages become beautiful. Personal storytelling and testimonies can work wonders here, since so much about life is learned behavior. Young adults want to know that it's possible for two fellow believers to stay happy together for a lifetime, and they need to hear how the generations preceding them did it.

Abstinence is not to blame for our marital crisis. But promoting it has come at a cost in a permissive world in which we are increasingly postponing marriage. While I am no fan of the demographic realities I outlined earlier, one thing I will remember is that while sex matters, marriage matters more. The importance of Christian marriage as a symbol of God's covenantal faithfulness to his people—and a witness to the future union of Christ and his bride—will only grow in significance as the wider Western culture diminishes both the meaning and actual practice of marriage. Marriage itself will become a witness to the gospel.

If you have time, go check out the article. I particularly appreciated his thoughts on the extended adolescence of young males, a subject Mr. Red and I have discussed at length as we would like to avoid this with our boys. In addition, I appreciated how he highlighted the things parents sometimes do to discourage young marriage, as many have a preconceived notion for their children as to the right time for them to marry. I'm not saying we should all push our children into marriage at the age of 19--definitely not--but rather that we often have ideas about what should be accomplished before a good marriage can take place (such as college, grad school, financial stability), and that sometimes our notions may interfere with God's more perfect plan for the vocation of our children. Obviously each situation is different, which is why I find my own "plan" for my children so glaringly problematic!

I was a little uncomfortable with the strong emphasis on sex--which is typical of my feelings regarding some Evangelical discussions on marriage--but I think his overall point that the current societal trends are working against God's design for our body was both very accurate and compelling. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

We Don't Use Many Bowls on the Weekends...

As I loaded the dishwasher yesterday after lunch, I realized something that only someone who loads and unloads the dishwasher quite often would realize: The side that holds our bowls looked empty compared to the side that holds our plates, when usually the opposite is true. This got me to thinking about why we use so few bowls on the weekends, and the answer is that rather than eating cereal or oatmeal for breakfast, we're usually eating something much more exciting. Like pancakes, or bagels, or eggs with toast...Yum :)
This points to one of the reasons that I love weekends - they are a change from the daily weekday routine, a time for our family to do things that we don't usually get to do. This diversity is energizing for me - by the time the weekend is over, I usually feel ready to return to the normal routine that Monday will bring - and it is also motivating - if I'm having a really rough Wednesday, at least there's always Saturday morning to look forward to!
I hope that all of you had a great weekend, and that you're feeling ready to start the week. Here in our home, we've gotten off to a bit of a rough start - the kids seem to have woken up on the "wrong" side of the bed and we're all a bit cranky, but I'm hopeful that a purposefully cheerful mommy will go a long way towards getting the day back on track. We can always hope :)
Mary, Mother most amiable, pray for us!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Now That's One Rash Decision

At the playground yesterday, while pushing my children in the swings, I noticed a pretty, young mother approach with three very young children and a fourth on the way. Yes! I could barely wait 5 seconds to strike up a conversation.

Me: Beautiful children, they look like they're about as close in age as mine are.

Her: They're very close in age, 14 months apart, 20 months apart, and my youngest and the new baby will be 13 months apart.

Me: Awesome! That's fantastic. Don't they enjoy each other so much when they're close in age?

Her (now pushing her children on the swings): No, we're done. My husband got it taken care of.

Me: (uncomfortable chuckle, inquisitive gaze)

Her: I'm totally done with this. During my 6th month of pregnancy, a few weeks ago, I made my husband go in and get himself taken care of. I assure you we're not having any more children.

I'm rarely at a loss for words. I was at a complete loss for words.

Bebe Gloton

You may have caught this tidbit in yesterday's news--a new toy available in Spain, "Bebe Gloton", is a breastfeeding babydoll sparking controversy over whether or not toymakers have gone too far in replicating real life. Little girls wear a breastfeeding halter with flowers where nipples would normally be. When the doll's mouth is brought close to the flowers, sensors initiate a sucking sound and motion for the baby's lips. Wow.

My initial reaction to seeing the doll yesterday was a feeling of awkwardness--not due to the doll or the breastfeeding, but due to the flowers! Once I got over my initial response, I thought through the beauty of allowing a little girl the chance to breastfeed a babydoll. If I am truly an advocate of breastfeeding, shouldn't I want to encourage young girls toward caring for their future children in such a way? My answer is a resounding "Yes!" However, I still think old-fashioned pretend play is best. How adorable it is to watch children (even my boys!) imitate the beautiful act of nursing with plain baby dolls. Leave more to the imagination!

************************
On a related note, yesterday my sweet little one, J, and I ended our year-long nursing relationship. What a dear little nurser he was, never biting, always cuddling. With my other boys, we quickly moved on to the next phase. This time around, I feel like crying! Now I know what other mothers are talking about when they share of weeping during the final nursing session.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Are You Sisters?

The great state of Texas hosted a wonderful reunion this weekend. Juris Mater, Kat and Bets all made the trek to our home for 3 amazing days. There have been many changes since our days as Princeton roommates, but we still love every minute we can spend together.

Mr. Incredible proved to be just that...babysitting 7 children under 4 so we could have a ladies night out.

The usher at church on sunday leaned over the pew in which we normally sit, which was was holding more children than usual, and whispered, "Are these your sisters?"

I smiled and shook my head no. But then I thought again. Sisters? Indeed we are. We share each other joys, sorrows, trials and heartaches. We are inspired by each other to be better wives, mothers, friends. We pray for each other and laugh hard together. I have to thank each one from the bottom of my heart for enduring travel to come to Texas in AUGUST just to spend time together.

One of these days we'll have to have a whole Building Cathedrals blowout. Do you think Mr. Incredible could babysit all our children??

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

8 years ago today


I've seen this floating around on some other blogs. Since my romantic side is still under development, I figured answering these questions was a pretty low key way to let you all know a little bit about my relationship with Mr. Red ;-) Enjoy!

1. Where or how did you meet? 6th grade homeroom

2. How long after you met did you start dating? Late senior year of high school

3.
How long did you date before you were engaged? 4 years. We got engaged after our junior year of college while celebrating our 4 year dating anniversary.

4.
How long was your engagement? 13.5 months

5.
How many people came to your wedding reception? 212, and I can't believe I still remember that number.

6.
What kind of cake did you serve? Vanilla pound cake with real buttercream icing, we went for taste over looks.

7.
Where was your wedding? In the Catholic church of our hometown. Our reception site was about 25 minutes away, just a mile up the road from where we live now.

8.
What did you serve for your meal? Chilean Sea Bass (my favorite) and Filet Mignon (Mr. Red's favorite).

9.
How many people were in your bridal party? 6 bridesmaids and 5 groomsmen (why do they have to be the same number anyway?)

10.
Are you still friends with them all? I'm still friends with all the of the bridesmaids (2 were relatives), including B-mama, but we have lost touch with one of the groomsmen.

11.
Did you or your spouse cry during the ceremony? No, but I was so nervous that I was shaking as I said my vows. Mr. Red still laughs at me whenever we watch our wedding video.

12.
Most special moment of your wedding day? There are so many it is hard to pick just one, so I'll pick 3. 1) The feeling we both had when leaving the church--pure joy! 2) Our best man's toast--it was short and sweet and beautiful. And 3) looking around at the reception and realizing that everyone in my life that I love was right there in that room celebrating with us--such a gathering will never happen again.

13.
Any funny moments? As we were about to go into the church, my Dad let me know this was my last chance to bail ;-)

14.
Any big disasters? It rained so hard that the corridor between the hotel and our reception room flooded. I had no idea until the wedding coordinator frantically informed me that they were cleaning it up, and then begged me not to tell my mother.

15.
Where did you go on your honeymoon? We went to Bar Harbor in Maine for a week. 9 months later we took a longer 2nd honeymoon to Europe. We visited Paris and Rome, and had our marriage blessed by John Paul II!

16.
If you were to do your wedding over, what would you change? I would have worn a different head-piece, and possibly cut a few guests off our list.

17.
What side of the bed do you sleep on? The right, but I'd prefer the left. This is just one of the many compromises in our marriage.

18.
Greatest strength as a couple? Our communication and our sense of humor.

19.
Greatest challenge as a couple? Our communication. And of course, the death of our daughter Therese Joy.

20.
Who literally pays the bills? Mr. Red.

21.
What is your song? Grow Old with Me. Mr. Red played this song for me after he proposed. We danced to it at our wedding.

22.
Describe your wedding dress: V neck, capped sleeves, A-line, heavily beaded with lace up top that carried through the waist and train. Covered buttons down the back, large poof at the bottom with large heavily beaded lace train. I bought this dress after going to one store, and trying on less than 15 dresses. I wanted it to be big, as I figured I'd never wear a dress like that again in my life.

23.
Are your wedding bands engraved? Yes. They are engraved with our wedding date and the reference (John 17:23) to a verse that we hope and pray represents our marriage: "With me in them and you in me, may they be so perfected in unity that the world will recognize that it was you who sent me and that you have loved them as you have loved me."

24. What are you doing to celebrate your anniversary? We are going to a Phillies game and eating cheesesteaks--my pick!

Thanks for reading! I have many prayers of thanksgiving today for my husband, and for all the wonderful marriages of friends and family we have been able to witness through the years.

Monday, August 3, 2009

We are home!


We are home from vacation and exhausted, but we had a wonderful time! All my prep last week paid off as we had a very stress-free departure last Saturday morning. We have enough children now that prepping for vacation is a ton of work, and in years past I grew resentful and stressed prior to our departure. This is the first year that I completely cleared my calendar the week leading up to vacation--and it paid huge dividends on Friday night and Saturday morning.

For the past four years, we have headed to the Jersey Shore for a one-week vacation with my extended family. My parents are very generous and rent a house on the beach for all 3 of their children (and spouses), and six grandchildren. With all of us living in one house for the week, there is bound to be a least a little tension! My brother and sister both have children younger than mine, and so in years past not everyone was on the same schedule. This year, however, all the children were old enough to be on roughly the same schedule as my children, and this made the vacation go REALLY smoothly! Everyone just seemed to be in step with everyone else, and helping hands surrounded us as we managed to take our kids back and forth from the beach two times each day. With so many hands, the burden was much lighter, and this was exactly the recipe my pregnant body needed to have a fun and relaxing time!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Self-Doubt

I am due to give birth to our third child in just under three months and I find myself wondering whether I can do it. This isn't the typical brand of motherly angst as the family prepares to undergo a drastic transformation. Instead, I just find that my "nesting" looks much different than that of most of the put-together mothers I know. I read countless blog accounts of pregnant ladies who love washing little clothes in Dreft and lovingly stenciling the baby's room. These wonderful mommies diligently clean the premises and even design the birth announcement months in advance.

You know what I do? I feverishly read intellectual type non-fiction books, I consume news articles late into the night, I try to edit together years of home videos on our computer, my husband and I watch classic movies and read reviews of them long past when we should be asleep. These tasks seem to be more a by-product of my angst over the impending loss of sleep and personal freedom that come with the arrival of a breast-feeding newborn, than healthy preparation for a new family addition. Don't get me wrong, we are really excited about our new son. I am taking good care of myself and I love breast-feeding and sling-baby wearing and co-sleeping and all that hippie attachment parenting stuff. Nonetheless, my emotions seem to be a strange blend for a pregnant woman. I am plagued with questions of whether I am right for this God-given vocation of being a stay-at-home mother of a large family, yet I know there is no other path for us. I am excited by our family's expansion, but I am perplexed by my selfish yearnings in these final months of the pregnancy. I question how I should handle these desires - should I really be reading The Arab Mind right now just because I have been meaning to do so for years or should I be boning up on the basics of natural child birth in order to give it another go?

I don't know that I have reached any conclusions, instead I spend much of my prayer time asking the Blessed Mother to prepare my heart and disposition for the arrival of our new son in October. Somehow, I think my family is accustomed to the brand of mother that I am, and I think God is so wise that He will continue sending us babies until I am forced to become better at loving self-sacrifice and prioritizing. In the meantime, I sure am learning alot about current events, and The Arab Mind is illuminating and so insightful.