Friday, January 31, 2014

Celebrating the Clown of God...with Pancakes

 Today is the feast of St. John Bosco! 

I have an affinity for this Italian priest who founded the Salesians.  He lived in the 1800's, is a patron saint of catechists, and was most known for his schools for boys and his sense of humor. 

See?  We like him.

Several years ago, we asked him to be the patron of the little school for boys we call our home.  I just discovered, too, that he was born on the date we were married.  I love that!  While I learned some about him in college, I'm realizing that there is a depth to his life and writing that I've yet to uncover.  So very much I can learn from this holy and good man who knew how to speak to the heart of little boys.  Even more I can learn from his admonitions to patience and love in all our encounters with them.  Sigh.

He's sometimes nicknamed "the clown of God" because he was known to juggle, do magic tricks, walk the tightrope, and play sports with the boys in order to draw them into a relationship with Christ.  He'd even sport the nose when the situation called for it.

Like someone else I know...

"Get them to love you and they'll follow you anywhere," he said.  
How sobering it is to realize the reality of that "anywhere."  

But while he was known to be silly and was a lover of fun and sports, that didn't mean he shied away from talking about the serious.  In fact, many of his writings concern sin, hell, and an awareness of death.  His words contain formidable warnings for those who don't take seriously the things which they should.  He loved Our Lady fiercely and promoted devotion to her as a sure means of growth in holiness.  He often talked of the necessity of frequent Holy Communion and Confession.  There is also an abundance of wisdom in his words for anyone who teaches, parents, or works with young people.  Enough that I know I need to be learning more from this great man.

In honor of our patron's feast I surprised the boys with some "clown of God pancakes" for breakfast:

A few gems:

"Without confidence and love, there can be no true education."

"Frequent Communion and daily Mass are the two pillars of education."

"A school without music is a school without a soul, for music aids education.  It is a most effective means to obtain discipline, morality, and help good feeling."

"Be quick to forgive - and do so wholeheartedly - whenever a pupil shows he is sorry.  In this case, forget everything.  Never say, "You will pay for this," to one who may have disobeyed, answered back, or lacked respect.  That would be very un-Christian."

"Do not reprimand or correct when you are angry or upset, lest your pupils attribute it to anger, but wait, even a few days if necessary, until you have calmed down."

"An idle mind is the devil's workshop."

"As soon as you become aware of temptation, busy yourself with something.  Idleness and modesty can't go together.  In overcoming idleness, you will overcome temptations against purity."

"Guard your eyes for they are the windows through which sin enters the soul."

(When asked about the secret of his immense success with the young, he simply replied) 

"There can be no virtue without obedience."

"My dear boy, don't you know that we must put up with a little suffering and learn to subdue our flesh in order to win Heaven?"

"There are plenty of ways to practice mortification!  Just patiently endure cold, heat, sickness, troubles, people, happenings, and so forth."

"Do not pamper your body; guard your senses, especially your eyes.  Above all, avoid bad reading."

"Since work is such a power against the enemies of the soul, I will not allow myself more than five hours sleep."

"Dear boys, remember that the devil's favorite bait for leading one into sin is, "Oh, that is nothing to worry about.""

"If you happen to be doing some good, the devil and your own sense of self-satisfaction will tell you that you've probably done more than enough already; maybe people will even tag you as a fanatic and over scrupulous.  At death, though, the good you have done will seem so slight that you will realize you have been deceived.  Strive to be aware of this now."

St. John Bosco, please pray for our family!

(P.S.  I highly recommend the movie on his life St. John Bosco:  Mission to Love!)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Quick and Crazy Birth of Michael Joseph

(Alternate title: The Birth Story That Took Longer to Write Than to Actually Happen)

I feel like this birth should be the easiest to write about since it was the fastest.  But for some reason, I haven't sat down in the past near seven years to write about it.  And I really really need to.  So I'm doing it.  Finally finding the words to describe Michael's crazy and wild entrance into the world late one March evening in 2007.

We discovered we were pregnant in July of 2006.  Michael's pregnancy was hard.  I struggled with a lot of fear since we had just lost Joseph Mary only two months earlier and that was such a shock and a heart break.  I was constantly analyzing how I felt and I remember checking every single time I went to the bathroom preparing myself to see the blood.  But I did feel sicker this time.  That, at least, was a comfort.  My hCG levels were good and the doctor even put me on a natural progesterone skin cream just in case that was the issue with the last pregnancy, telling me that there were no drawbacks to using it as long as you wean yourself off carefully.  I used that until about 16 weeks or so.  We did have one episode of light spotting at only nine weeks or so and I went in that day.  It was thrilling and surprising that we were able to pick up his tiny heartbeat that early!  Such a grace.  Hearing that sound brought some relief to the worry.  Some.

I struggled a lot again with the lightheadedness and low blood pressure, especially in the morning.   Later in the pregnancy, I had these crazy nosebleeds that would go on and on and on, usually in the middle of the night.  I remember passing quarter size clots through my nose.  (I know you wanted to know that.)  Every time I was beginning to think that maybe I'd need to go to the hospital, they would finally stop.  I'm sure part of it was the dry air of winter but I wish I had been proactive enough to have really have looked into what was going on and fixed the underlying cause because it couldn't have been good for me.

This was also the pregnancy when the back issues started in full force.  I never realized after John Paul was born that my abdominal muscles never completely knit back together.  I felt okay but once the weight of Michael's pregnancy grew, it threw my back off in all crazy ways since there was no support in the front.  There were lots of tears.

John Paul was born six days earlier than the estimated due date so I prepared myself to be ready for that.  I was due officially on St. Patrick's Day and part of me did think it would be fun to have the baby that day.  I didn't want to be caught so completely off guard this time around so I was ready earlier, though.  Thank goodness.

During the time between John Paul's birth and Michael's pregnancy our doctor stopped attending births at home.  The insurance company raised his rates too high for it to make sense for him.  So we went along with him and decided to birth at the hospital this time instead of switching.  At the time, I still wasn't all into my birthy stuff and made the decision without a whole lot of research or thought.  I regret that a lot.  You know those things you wish you could go back and redo in life?  This is one of those.

We took the hospital tour and sat in on their class (with our two year old sitting in my lap eating Cheerios).  I wanted to know where things were and what the room was like.  The class itself was pretty lame.  Here's what we will do to you when you come in.  But at least I was able to get a look at the room itself and know what the rules were for being set free once the baby was born.  I also learned that people will look at you funny if you ask about bathtubs and CD players.

We went to bed Friday, March ninth at around nine.  I fell asleep quickly and was jolted awake only an hour later at ten with what I realized quickly was a VERY strong contraction.  I laid there for a few minutes and another one hit.  I woke Brian to let him know and I remember going downstairs to the bathroom and walking through them.  They were spaced a few minutes apart but they were strong.  I remember getting in the shower figuring that either that would help calm them down or at least make me feel ready to leave for the hospital.  Once I got out I remember them picking up a lot while getting my face ready to go (oh, yes I did).  Brian came down and I remember finally relenting that we did, in fact, need to call our friend Jim who lived around the corner from us to come watch John Paul and that we did, in fact, really need to get out of there because things were getting very intense very fast.  We had a half hour drive in front of us.  I felt bad about waking him up when he had two children of his own already but they had volunteered and were some of the sweetest people in the world, previous homebirthers themselves.  He would come and then my mother-in-law would start the drive up to take his place.  I'm fairly certain I made Brian make all the calls because who wants to be on the phone during a contraction?  (Or, if you're me, who wants to be on the phone ever?)  Our doctor was already at the hospital for another birth and he said he would wait.

Jim got to our house quickly and I just remember having a beginning of transition type of contraction while standing in the doorway ready to leave.  Thank God he was there.  We left right away for what turned out to be the most painful car ride in my entire twenty six and some years of existence.  Never transition in a car if you can help it.  Never EVER transition in a car that is a half hour away from its destination on a rainy night with so. many. stoplights. on the way.  I am so grateful that we had purchased a used minivan before this labor for the sole reason that I was able to move around in a limited way, bending, swaying, squatting, groaning in the back seat hunched over the car seats.  I have a great deal of respect for women who go through transition naturally lying down in a hospital bed.  I must move.

I did remember during this time to start pulling from the visualization aids from the hypnobirthing book my sister had lent me.  I tried the best I could to relax, to breathe, and to visualize opening.  It was helpful but very hard to do while hunched over the car seat.

We (fi-nal-ly) arrived at the hospital's emergency room around 11:20 p.m. and the clerk knew what we were there for.  She was a smart one.  She made me get into a wheelchair and I was in no position to argue.  Brian ran to park the car while some random man wheeled a writhing and twisting me down to the room.  I may have tried to bolt from the wheelchair, it's all a bit fuzzy.  The nurse who greeted me there tried to make me put on a gown.  I gave her a look and said words that I don't remember but basically equivalent to "NO way in hades are you going to make me worry about my outfit right now, woman".  I may have scared her because she didn't come back and she was replaced by a nurse used to working with "Dr. E.'s patients."  I appreciated that and I promise, I wasn't mean or intending to be difficult but have you ever been in transition while someone tried to talk to you about your outfit choice?  I was in full having a baby right now mode and was about to need to be stripped down anyway.  

Dr. E. came in (yay!) and was surprised to find me already at 9 cm.  Thank the good Lord.  It was so so intense.  Crazy intense.  I'm convinced that while it's great when a labor is quick and it means that everything is lined up well and ready to go, it can also mean the labor is way more WOAH since your body is doing the same exact thing but in less time.  The visualization actually did help and I remember the image of a rose opening being the one that was easiest to remember in the moment.  A few minutes later and I was feeling the pressure and the pushing and the "dear silly man, I'm sorry, but there is no way I am NOT pushing right now".  Brian got into position since our doctor had asked if he was interested in catching the baby.  And since Brian's cool like that, he was very much interested.  In one agonizing push out came that sweet little head and according to Brian, the rest of him "just shot out."

There are no words for that moment I experienced right after.  It was this primal need to hold my baby.  A need I could feel in my throat and my body.  I can still feel the traces of it.  There was no control over my arms as I reached for him and pulled him to my bare chest.  (At some point just before pushing I had ripped off my shirt.  Detail you didn't need?  Yes.).  I don't know what I would've done if they had taken him even for a moment and thank God I didn't need to find out since they handed him right to me.  A boy!  Another sweet baby boy and he was perfect and oh my sweet goodness, what. just. happened?!?

It was 11:42 p.m. The entire labor was a wild and crazy hour and forty two minutes.

His cord was clamped after it was done pulsing.  I don't remember much about the third stage and the afterbirth and all that.  I do remember the joy of the stitches from the tear (SARCASM) because he came out so quickly.  But I held my sweet baby boy the whole time despite the chills and shakes.  Whether they were from shock or just normal post-birth shakes, I'm not sure.  I was thrilled and in shock and in love and exhausted.

He was weighed at six pounds 15.5 ounces.  We joked that the extra half ounce must've put me over the edge and my body was in evacuation mode (John Paul was six pounds 15 ounces as well) necessitating the whirlwind labor.  He was 21 inches long and absolutely perfect.  I could barely let him go to take that glorious (and dizzying) post birth shower.

Pretty soon after, the doctor went home telling me I could leave whenever I felt up to it.  I would've been ready that very minute but we had to wait to see about the Rh issue since I'm negative and Brian is positive and we had to do that whole "name the baby" thing that they make you do.  We waited for the blood test to come back and tried to get some sleep while I cradled the most perfect newborn in the world in the crook of my arm.  And since hospitals are so conducive to rest, I got probably 46 minutes worth of sleep.  Or something like that.  Very early that morning of March 10th we decided on the name Michael Joseph.  Michael because of St. Michael's awesomeness (and according to my grandmother, "Every family needs a Michael.").  Joseph in honor of the little one without whose sacrifice this new little person would not exist.

I ended up needing the Rhogam and we waited for what seemed like eternity.  I was not at all patient. I just needed someone to open some closet, pull out the Rhogam and stick it in me and for some reason that took four hours.  Four very long hours.  I couldn't wait to be home and I missed John Paul so much.  It felt so odd and off not having our family together at such a big moment and the hospital felt strange and uncomfortable.  Finally it arrived and we were able to go.  It was noon.  If they hadn't of made me use a wheelchair, I probably would have run.  (Just kidding.  I'm not that much of a super birther.  I would have hobbled humorously.)

There is a huge part of me that wishes I would have just stayed home and had the baby there.  Had I known how fast it was going to be and how close we were to having a baby in the car, I probably would have.  This was a huge factor in our future decisions.  I am grateful that I got a taste of the hospital, though, because it helps me help other women having a hospital birth and I'm grateful for a doctor who was supportive of natural birth.  And I'm grateful for a husband who knows how to drive fast.

His birth was beautiful.  Beautiful in an intense, crazy, wild, powerful sort of way.  I'm not sure I'll ever cease to be in awe that God saw fit to trust us with another of His children and the crazy way He brings them here.  I'm not sure I'll ever be able to convey to this boy how much love I have for him.  I'm so eternally grateful for the gift of the amazing little person who shot out and changed our world forever. My grandma's right:  Every family needs a Michael.

I wish we had more shots of his birth but we were kind of busy :)

 I remember someone suggesting to Brian that people like to get a picture of the scale.  They failed to remind him that people like to actually get the baby in the shot, too.

Michael Joseph
March 9, 2007
11:42 p.m.
6 lbs. 15.5 oz.  21 inches

Monday, January 27, 2014

Mysticism and Paradox :: Weekends with Chesterton {2}

Or I suppose Weekdays considering a I'm a little late to the game at Sarah's.  But I've been reading Orthodoxy with some other ladies and wanted to share one of the passages that resonated with me...even if a day late!

I love how Chesterton can take elements of our Christian experience that we can sometimes feel hesitant or even embarrassed about and highlight how not only are they reasonable but they are the most reasonable answers to man's questions.  Like mysticism, the recognition of mystery and the reality of the unseen.

From Orthodoxy:
"Mysticism keeps men sane.  As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity.  The ordinary man has always been sane because the ordinary man has always been a mystic.  He has permitted the twilight.  He has always had one foot in earth and the other in fairyland.  He has always left himself free to doubt his gods; but (unlike the agnostic of today) free also to believe in them.  He has always cared more for truth than for consistency.  If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them.
The whole secret of mysticism is this:  that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand.  The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious.  The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid.
As we have take the circle as the symbol of reason and madness, we may very well take the cross as the symbol at once of mystery and of health.  Buddhism is centripetal, but Christianity is centrifugal:  it breaks out.  For the circle is perfect and infinite in its nature; but it is fixed forever in its size; it can never be larger or smaller.  But the cross, though it has at its heart a collision and a contradiction, can extend its four arms for ever without altering its shape.  Because it has a paradox in its centre it can grow without changing.  The circle returns upon itself and is bound.  The cross opens its arms to the four winds; it is a signpost for free travelers.

Symbols alone are of even a cloudy value in speaking of this deep matter; and another symbol from physical nature will express sufficiently well the real place of mysticism before mankind.  The one created thing which we cannot look at is the one things in the light of which we look at everything.  Like the sun at noonday, mysticism explains everything else by the blaze of its own victorious invisibility."
-G. K. Chesterton-

Truly, it is the one who seeks to answer everything by the experience of the senses who will be driven insane.  It is that man who puts himself and his limited thoughts above thousands of years of human experience who well embodies arrogance.  When one admits that they do not and cannot know everything and finally admits the reality of the sun, the world around suddenly begins to make sense.

Pop on over to Sarah's to see what others are gleaning from Chesterton!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Tale of the Squole

Or Squat.  Squouse.  Mourrel?  Vourrel.  

We really weren't sure.  

That, I'll have you know, is how one captures the elusive squole.  With enameled pot in hand and skittish wife with camera by side.

For the last month or two we've been hearing something in the attic at night.  It sounded too big to be a mouse.  Too small for a squirrel.  (I know my rodent sounds well.)  A peek up there didn't show any nesting typical of a squirrel or opossum.  We even had the bat people come and make sure it wasn't the bats that we know roost behind our chimney.  *shudder*  The guy saw, and I quote, "something coming at me" (?!?!), freaked out a bit, slammed the ceiling hatch shut, and said it could be an "attic rat."  How that is different than a regular rat, I have no idea.  But his quote for getting rid of said attic rat was far, far more than the cost of our own trap.  We got this, bat man.

(But then, of course, we did that thing where you forget about it until the problem presents itself again and then you think, "Oh, right.  That.  We need to do something about that."  And then you promptly forget until the next time.)

The other night we saw Maggie cat tracking something and we heard it in the radiators.  She gave up quickly.  She's kind of lazy.  

Last night we saw her doing it again and got in on it.  We saw something - SOMETHING - scurry across the floor.  We were right.  Too big for a mouse, too small for a normal squirrel.  Rat?  But the tail!  The tail almost made it look like a baby rabbit!  And these weird skin flaps on the side.  Oh my, what IS that thing?  Maggie gave up.  We spent a hilarious twenty minutes or so involving enameled pots, baskets, cake carriers, rulers, cat food and Brian's not so patient mutterings regarding me and my camera.  
(Husband.  How else am I supposed to get these spectacular shots and intrigue the masses with my rodent tales?  THEY WANT TO KNOW.)

That's it's tail!

We cornered it in the almost laundry room.  Then it snuck out as cute and desperate as could be and stole some of Maggie's food.  And then I fought back the urges of wanting to keep it and love it forever and ever.

We finally snagged it in my cake carrier.

  Squirrel?  Mouse?  Both?  For a while we really thought that's what it was - some sort of mutant cross-breed animal that we had the privilege of hosting in our attic.  Do animals do that?  Like mate with each other across species naturally?  (No, no they don't.)  

(I gave it a fine selection of almonds, peanuts, and sunflower seeds on which to dine.)

I googled "squirrel body mouse face" (DON'T do that.) and it led me to pictures of our creature.  Turns out it is a squirrel!  
A northern flying squirrel.  
In. Our. House!  Which may not be exciting to some of you but around here it's pretty rare.  By this point of discovery Brian had already left with it safely stowed in my cake holder driving it according to my instructions, "far from here but somewhere with an old abandoned barn so it won't just freeze to death.  And somewhere it can have tolerant friends that won't reject him for being a cross-breed."  (Brian's response:  "Aw, we should make a movie about him.")  I called him with the thrilling rare rodent news and told him he should throw it and see what happens.  He wouldn't.  He just asked if he was now supposed to keep it.  (No.  But I'm sort of regretting that after seeing how excited the boys were when I told them the story.  "We've been wanting a squirrel! We wanted to teach it to use a sword like Urchin!")

So as if one infestation of flying rodents wasn't enough, we can now add this to the list of animals that have invaded this house.

Fruitflies (It sounds lame but no.)
Live yellow jacket nests (in the basement and in the walls!)
Wolf spiders
Flying squirrels 

(And that's not including the stuff we see outside.)

In case you were desperately in need of a better idea of what it looked like.

And dear Jesus in Heaven, thank you for not letting it do this while we were trying to get it:

Super squirrel!

We would have freaked and thought it was a bat mouse.
A bouse.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

{pretty, happy, funny, real} - vol. 40


I took the camera around the house in an effort to intentionally find some beauty.  We've been stuck here for some long winter days lately!

I was the lucky recipient of one of Theresa's beautiful creations!  I finally don't have to carry around the Mass bag John Paul got when he was one year old, monogrammed with his name, of course...  I love this bag and now I can feel like a real lady with a pretty bag :)

I bought some flowers as a gift but I've been enjoying them on my counter until I can give them.

A St. Anne chaplet gifted to me by a doula client.  Her baby is one year old next week!  


In my world, the pencils would all be the same monochromatic unfinished natural wood.  But I knew these would make my boys happy.  Sigh.  The sacrifices we make...

I've had this poster for four years and finally got it in a frame.  And then it didn't fit the spot I had for it. But it still makes me happy.


Exhibit A (posted at Christmas):

Exhibit B:

  No. Words.
(Thank you to my friend Megan for sharing with me on Pinterest!)

Also, this.  This is what you get when you're cheap and save up all the bottles to redeem the deposits but keep forgetting to bring them with you to the store:
I was cooking dinner and turned to discover that the Luke had dragged the bag in, unloaded it, and was organizing and playing with the bottles.  This has happened before.  What is the intrigue with the bottles, children?  I have since remembered to bring them to the store.  The $1.75 was totally worth the month of a bag of empty recyclables sitting in my laundry room.  Or not.


If you're interested in voting in the Sheenazing Awards, voting is now open here!

Thank you so much to those that nominated this little blog for the following categories:
Best Looking Blog
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You put a smile on my face and to have my name next to those others is quite humbling!  I appreciate every person who takes the time out of their busy day to visit me here so much.  Truly.

Hope you have a lovely Thursday and please hop on over to Like Mother, Like Daughter for more people {p,h,f,r} 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Scriptures for Miscarriage (with free printable)

After we lost our baby years ago I found comfort and peace in many of the words given to us by God in Scripture.  I thought I would share a few here for anyone who may find help and hope in them. Some were bathed in my tears, perfect right when I needed them, some needed to work their way into my heart as I grieved, but all of them somehow brought healing in my brokenness and provide that still.  At the end of the list is a box where you can download and print the list for your own private use.  I hope it blesses you and brings you comfort.

1 Samuel 1:27-28
"For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me my petition which I made to Him.  Therefore I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord."

Psalm 6:6-9
"I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.  My eye wastes away because of grief, it grows weak because of all my foes.  Depart from me, all you workers of evil; for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.  The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord accepts my prayers."
(Oh, He does.  He accepts our prayers even when the only prayers we have are raw sobs of grief.)

Psalm 23:4
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me."

Psalm 34:18
"The Lord is near to the broken-hearted, and saves the crushed in spirit."

Psalm 116:15
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."

Entire Psalms that are helpful: 13, 22, 23, 77

Ecclesiastes 11:5
"Just as you do not know how the life breath enters the human frame in the mother's womb, So you do not know the work of God who is working in everything."

Wisdom 1:13-14
"God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living.  For he created all things that they might exist."
(This one, especially, spoke straight to my heart as well-meaning people tried to comfort me with talk of "God's will" while my entire being and soul seemed to scream out that NO, NO, NO, this is NOT God's will.)

Isaiah 25:8
"He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken."

Isaiah 49:15
"Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?  Even should she forget, I will never forget you."
(Most mothers I know never forget but this is a comfort when you feel like everyone else has forgotten your child.)

Jeremiah 1:5
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you."

Lamentations 3:20-23
"My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me.  But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.  "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him.""

Matthew 5:4
"Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted."

Matthew 11:28
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Mark 10:13-16
"And they were bringing children to Him, that He might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them.  But when Jesus saw it He was indignant, and said to them, "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God.  Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."  And He took them in His arms and blessed them, laying His hands upon them."
(Also Matthew 19:13-15 and Luke 18:15-17)

Romans 8:18
"I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."

Romans 8:28
"We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to His purpose."

1 Corinthians 15:51-55
"We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed...then shall come to pass the saying that is written:  "Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy victory?  O death where is they sting?"

2 Corinthians 1:3-5
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. "

1 Thessalonians 4:14
"For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep."

Revelation 21:3-5
"I heard a great voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men.  He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away."  And He who sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new.""

There are certainly many more Scriptures that can speak to the grief and prayers of those suffering the loss of a child.  I would love to have you share here any others that you may have, especially those that may have spoken to your heart in that grief.

(Scriptures are all taken from the RSV or NAB translation.)

You can download and print the Scripture list here.
(To print, scroll over the upper right corner of the document box below and click the "pop-out" button that appears.)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Frigid and Abbreviated January Daybook

Outside my window...
A dark and bitter cold January before the dawn.

Thankful for...
All your prayers for our family.  The time with baby Charles.  Brian.  My boys.

Thinking about...
Blogging.  Well, not really.  I'm thinking I should be thinking about blogging but I'm not.  There are so many amazing bloggers out there.  People who take this outlet to a whole different level than I do.  People with far greater gifts in this area than I could ever hope to have.  But I'm just going to keep plugging along here at my humble little place and just let it be whatever He wants it to be.  I'm usually pretty okay with that.

Yesterday John Paul asked if we could have a day off of lessons soon to just do whatever.  As if we didn't just take a full month off for Christmas and the end of Advent.  I think he was a little disturbed when it dawned on him that other kids had Martin Luther King, Jr. Day off and we - gasp! - didn't.  Nor do we really do snow days.  Ah, the agony he must endure of month-long vacations, hours of Lego time, no bus rides, a two or three hour school day, days off for solemnities...

From the kitchen...
I made a batch of elderberry syrup to help ward off the flus and colds going around.  At first we were taking it directly by the spoon at night but now I've been putting a generous shot of it into a green smoothie to share every other morning or so.  The goodness of the smoothie, the syrup, lots of vitamin C, and a generous dose of luck and so far we haven't been hit (yet) by any of the year's sicknesses.  Which is such a gift compared to the last two years and I'm not forgetting to be crazy grateful for that.

Our new laundry room!

As few places as possible over the next week.  This frigid cold snap will keep us cozy indoors.  I'm trying to make the best of it and appreciate it for what it is and the gift that it can be.

 Lumen Fidei by Pope Francis
Orthodoxy by Chesterton
I keep thinking that at some point in my life I should read Dante's Divine Comedy but I have yet to pick it up so that's going well.

for Erin, Rick, and their family

for those struggling with infertility

for Theresa

for those with lots of little ones who are overwhelmed and just plain exhausted

for an end to abortion and the conversion of all those who work in the abortion industry

for those marching in D.C.

Around the house...
We're slowly getting that laundry room together.  Other than that, not enough vacuuming and a whole lot of Legos.

A picture thought to share...

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Just a Quick Update and So Much Thanks

Thank you all so much for your prayers.  I know so many of you have been praying and I owe you an update.  Yesterday was a heartbreaking day but one filled with an abundance of grace.  During the hour of mercy my sister birthed her baby boy and we got to see our little nephew for the first time.  It was such a gift to be able to be there and hold his tiny body.  So sweet and so perfect.  Such a grace to have that time with him and say goodbye.  His name is Charles Laurence.  A priest was there shortly after for a blessing and the hospital staff was phenomenal.

Several times during labor and afterward my sister said she could feel all the prayers from so many people lifting her up.  Thank you.  His death is a testament to life and grace.  He will be so missed but we rejoice in his beautiful and brief life and pray that we will meet him again someday.  For those of you who know them there will be a funeral service and burial at their parish sometime this week.  Thank you again for all the prayers and please keep them coming as the shock wears off a bit and the reality of this loss to our family sinks in.

May you have a beautiful weekend and really, thank you.

Sweet Charles Lawrence, pray for us.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Can I Please Ask Your Prayers?

Our family was devastated yesterday by the news that my sister's unborn baby had died.  She was almost 20 weeks along.  We don't know yet whether the baby is a boy or girl.  This is their third loss and they have four beautiful children here on earth.  They are reeling and heartbroken.  

I know so many of you know that raw grief, that same heartbreak.  Would you please pray for Erin and Rick today?  They will be at the hospital and Erin will have to deliver the baby.  It will be a painful, heart wrenching day.  We're grateful they are at a Catholic hospital with a Catholic doctor and will be treated well.  Please pray for the medical staff, for their decisions, and most of all for Erin and Rick and the whole family to be drenched in grace during this time.  She's counting on the prayers of others to get her through this and I promised her I would ask you to pray, too.

Thank you so much, friends.  This means so much to us.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

This Month in Boys - January 2014

John Paul

-was only slightly tempted at the $20 offer to potty train his baby brother.  His motivation lasted about 3 hours.  (I fully intend on trying this strategy again when he is older should there be future need.  Seriously, how worth it would that be??)

-finished fourth in his first participation in the homeschool National Geographic GeoBee for the 4th-8th graders!

-asked to become an altar server.  The jury is out on whether we think he's ready...

-has been working on building a laser from the scraps of a broken CD player that I let him go to town on.

-along with Michael helped decorate our church for Christmas.  It was really awesome to see my boys serving like that and helping Father place the poinsettias.

-has been asking to get a job.

-is pretty sure he's beginning to grow a mustache.

-predicts that this year will include him receiving the long coveted bee bee gun.


-combined his Advent earnings with John Paul to buy a fruit tree for the poor.

-is incredibly excited to visit the Catacombs.

-decided "I know what I'm going to make out of Legos today - St. Peter's Basilica!"

-has also decided he would like to be a "famous artist" someday and in fact, "I already AM an artist!"

-is planning a Lord of the Rings party for himself despite the fact that he's never actually read the books and only knows the characters and story through John Paul's detailed recollections.

-was pure joy during Christmas.  I loved the excitement when he leaned in to whisper right before Christmas Eve Mass began, "Mama, it's almost Christmas!!"

-is my daily egg fetcher.

-has asked to begin reading Mistmantle with me.

-is this close to being done with 1st grade math and the First Language Lessons 1 book.

-predicts that this year will include him receiving his First Holy Communion from the pope!!


-is very concerned about the "picket pocketers" in Rome.  He decided that we should all wear personal rearview mirrors while we are there and has requested to bring a few zip ties to tie up any offending picket pockers.  (Michael's in charge of tackling.)

-used his Advent earnings to buy a kerosene stove for the poor.

-says "savor" when he means save.  As in "Mama, can we please savor this Lego castle for tomorrow?"

-declared that "the best way to tell if someone is alive is to tickle them.  Then you know."

-some time after a great nap, said "Mama?  I want to do another chore."  Sleep changes everything, people.  E-ver-y-thing.

-has been loving listening to the Holy Heroes saint stories on "the personal CD player".

-can. not. sit. still. during prayer time.

-really has been a delight since resuming the afternoon nap routine.  He's even been taking some two to three hour ones!

-thinks I'm a "really good taco folder".

-would like a "Lego set of the catacombs".  Get on that, Lego.

-predicts that this year will include him finally receiving that tractor for his birthday.


-SINGS!  It is the sweetest thing in the world to hear him "sing".  His personal favorites lately are "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" (English and Latin, of course), "Silent Night", and "Joy to the World".  And he'll tell you which one he wants you to sing with him.

-does his own "math" by scribbling in an old math workbook.

-is finally starting to say some intelligible words!

-one of which is "me, me, me!" anytime he wants to do something himself.  He has been all about helping with the chores lately, which is pretty darn adorable.

-is cutting his two year molars.  Thank God it hasn't been as bad as the others!

-still does his sign for milk when he wants to nurse and looks like a little crab with his pincer claws.

-is sleeping through the night.  Again.  Yay!  :)

-predicts that this year will include sooner rather than later that potty training thing that Mama keeps talking about.

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