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Wrapping up 2011

2011 is in the bag and 2012 is yet to be! I received my blog report and I was impressed by some of the stats:

I had visitors from 6/7 continents and most of you guys are from North America and Australia!

My most viewed posts were:

A Song for Mama’s Milk (March)

Reminiscing the Dress (February)

Let’s Talk about Sex, Baby! (April)

Car Lashes… (April)

Welcome to the world, Cazimir Kolbe (August)

Some things to look forward to in 2012:

Series on Conversion/ Reversion to Catholicism

How to be a “Gentle Woman” when all you want to do is throttle the person nearest you

Catholicism 101: Stuff you probably never knew about the Catholic Church

Posts on St. Damian, my Patron Saint of 2012, as determined by the Saints Generator

Anecdotes on raising two girls and family life

Wonderful Recipes

Fun with Organization

… and whatever else we end up talking about!

So, thank you for reading and joining me on this journey! And be sure to tell your friends to stop by for a visit as well!

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Monday’s Journey: The Conclusion to Regina’s story

For the last few weeks, we’ve been following Regina (not her real name) on her journey of faith and I am happy to bring the conclusion to you today!

I wanted to send you some photos of Kate’s baptism – we had it this past weekend. Parts of it were lovely, but unfortunately some of the other families getting babies baptized turned the church into a bit of a marketplace and there was a fairly young priest who didn’t take control of the situation. One family even laid their babe out on the altar to take photos! People kept running back and forth to take photos, including walking back and forth in front of the priest as he was talking, and crossing in front of the font while other babies were getting baptized — we have no photos of that part of the ceremony because so many other people were buzzing around. It was a bit upsetting, especially since [The Hubs] and I had both thought so hard about it and were trying to take it so seriously. I must admit, it was hard to focus on the promises. We had a nice party at our place afterwards, though, with some very tasty cake.

Later on that night, I thought and prayed about it, and I realized that baptism is kinda like marriage – it is a gateway to a new life, and the ceremony itself doesn’t matter as much as how you decide to live the vows that you take. So it doesn’t really matter that her baptism was a zoo – what matters is that we have our families and each other to support and love Kate and raise her the best way we can. [The Hubs] is going to take a year or two of going to church before he does RCIA. He was ready to right before the baptism, but he was so appalled by the other families’ behaviour that he is really turned off church right now, which is unfortunate. I’m thinking about joining the choir! We’ll see.

I know it’s smaltzy, but I get teary-eyed every time I read that email. I think it’s the part where she says:

 …baptism is kinda like marriage – it is a gateway to a new life, and the ceremony itself doesn’t matter as much as how you decide to live the vows that you take

I mean, how profound is that? Regina’s story just makes me happy and I am glad that she thought it to be a good idea to share with you all as well.

And what’s a baptism without some tasty CAKE?

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I hope you enjoyed Regina’s story. You can let her know your thoughts and feelings by leaving comments here.

 

On another note, you might not be hearing much from me this week. Or, you might be hearing a lot, I don’t know yet.

Early on Black Friday morning, we received a call that no child is ever prepared for. My mother was unexpectedly was called home to God’s embrace. She was only 59 years old and in good health, according to her last physical. She and I had a few rough years therein, but I am eternally grateful that we had the chance to patch things up and the last few years with her have been great. She called after dinner on Thursday and we had a great conversation… the girls chatted up Grandma and we made tentative plans for her next visit here to Pasadena.

And then she was gone.

It’s old advice, but think about your own lives. Is there someone you are angry with or has done something so unforgivable? What would happen if they were gone tomorrow? God forgives us of all of our sins, why can’t we forgive others?

We fly to Wisconsin on Thursday and the service will be on Friday AM. I will post information on the CCM FaceBook page as requested by a few emails. Thank you for the emails, positive thoughts and prayers. I love you all.


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Sunday’s Journey: Regina, Part 2

November is the month where we focus on giving Thanks. Not only am I thankful for all of you, my readers for giving me inspiration to write, but I am also thankful for the gift of Faith, Hope, and Charity that comes from Our Wonderful Savior.

Over the next few Sundays, I would like to share with you Regina’s Journey… not her real name, but in her words (via email.) She’s given me permission to share her story with you and I give you permission to share with others. You never know where someone will be met on their journey, but remember… no matter who you meet, where you meet them, treat them with love and respect but do not deny the truth.

So, when we last left Regina, she was struggling with parts of Catholicism, specifically the Church’s view on homosexuality and treatment of women. This was a struggle for her personally because she and her husband want to have their daughter baptized in the faith, but didn’t know if it was right to have her baptized if they didn’t fully believe in the faith.

I asked her how she felt about the Eucharist (the source and summit of our faith) and to find out why the Church essentially does what she does with respect to the sticky-wicket social issues. (And I know that that is a total mom/teacher answer… “I could tell you why, but it’s better for you to find it on you own!”) And what did Regina discover?

I love the Eucharist and feel blessed, graced and warmed when I receive it – it is an important part of my connection to God. If it weren’t for the feelings that I get when I receive the Eucharist, I am sure I would be researching other branches of Christianity rather than trying to conserve my connection to Catholicism.

I’m down with God being the Father (rather than some ambiguously gendered being, although I doubt God conceives of himself as limited by “Him” – He has many feminine aspects to Him, but anyway). I much prefer mankind and humankind over men. It just sticks in my craw. But I agree about not getting caught up in the little things.
Part of me -old agnostic intellectual (Regina) – finds it difficult to turn myself over so completely to God, and I think that might be why I keep fighting with the little things. But since I’ve met my husband and given birth to my daughter my sense of worship and wonder at the world has changed significantly – for what can love and birth be but an act of God?
I had my pre-baptism meeting with my pastor today and we talked a little bit about some of the things we talked about. He had some interesting things to say on certain issues. The one that I felt particularly convinced of was his explanation of the church’s attitude towards homosexuality: he argued that as we currently do not know whether or not gays or lesbians are the way they are because of nature or nurture, it is difficult for the church to not view the act of gay sex as anything other than disordered – in the same way that premarital sex and contraception are both “disordered” to God’s plan. He said that if the Church ever decides that gays and lesbians are “born this way” (to steal from Lady Gaga), then they must have been made in God’s image and it would be only right for the church to accept them fully. Considering it took a few hundred years for the Church to accept Galileo, I’m not holding my breath, but his argument did give me peace. I think he genuinely appreciated my questions and interest, and I got the impression that he would rather see someone asking questions and thinking through things rather than blindly going along.
I’m going to do a bible study through http://www.salvationhistory.com/studies/courses/online as a way to deepen my own faith and understanding of Catholicism, and I’ve been looking at some of the different resources you’ve suggested. My husband is investigating RCIA, but I think our plan for now is that we make a serious commitment to attend church as a couple this year, and see where that leads him. He has difficulty with some of the more mystical aspects of Catholicism – namely the saints. He got off on a bad foot when he was looking at the study guide our church provided for the new mass translation and found that it featured saints days with the face of the Virgin appearing to people. We are both getting hung up on the details, I think.
Next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent and I can’t wait for you to read the conclusion to Regina’s story! Stay Tuned to next Sunday for the conclusion!

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Sunday’s Journey: Regina

November is the month where we focus on giving Thanks. Not only am I thankful for all of you, my readers for giving me inspiration to write, but I am also thankful for the gift of Faith, Hope, and Charity that comes from Our Wonderful Savior.

Over the next few Sundays, I would like to share with you Regina’s Journey… not her real name, but in her words (via email.) She’s given me permission to share her story with you and I give you permission to share with others. You never know where someone will be met on their journey, but remember… no matter who you meet, where you meet them, treat them with love and respect but do not deny the truth.

I’ve been following your blog for a while and I really respect your opinions and would love some advice.
After my engagement, I began attending church because I had a vision of a “church” wedding. In turn, I fell back in with the Catholicism of my youth. I had gone to Catholic elementary school, but switched to public secondary in grade 8 after experiencing some serious questions about faith in general and Catholicism specifically. After a relatively amusing marriage prep class, my husband (baptized Anglican, but stopped going to church when he was quite young) and I started attending mass. I love attending mass at my local parish, I love singing hymns, and I find prayer to be a comfort. However, I still have some major issues with Catholicism – not in it’s essential truths, but in it’s sticky rules that most people tend to not care about. These issues are preventing my husband from joining RCIA and me from being confident in my faith.
Now I have a baby girl, who is three and a half months old and we are in the process of arranging her baptism. I want to make sure I can stand up there and firmly make the baptismal promises with confidence. My main issues are with the restrictions against women in the priesthood (although I believe celibacy is important for priests, I have a problem with every argument I’ve read supporting the men-only side – I feel it is a historical construct imposed on the church rather than something inherent in Catholicism itself.).  The other major problem I have is with the church’s attitude towards gays and lesbians. I am from Toronto, Canada, where gay marriage is legal and socially acceptable. Being in the arts (theatre specifically), many of my friends are gay. One of my most devout friends — who sang the psalms and hymns at our wedding — is gay. I find it hard to believe in a church that prohibits my friends from fully expressing themselves. For example, most schools in our area have Gay-Straight Alliances, which are designed to promote conversations and respect between Queer and Straight youth. Our (publicly funded, not private) Catholic high schools have banned these clubs. I have been praying that Church leaders may find a way to accept my friends.
While I understand that you yourself might disapprove of homosexuality, and might produce some good doctrinal evidence that condemns it, I need to know that I can wholeheartedly promise to raise my child Catholic, while praying for change in how the Catholic church perceives women, gays and lesbians.
Does any of that make sense? Is it wrong to doubt a whole faith based on one little rule?
Anyway, sorry to rant all over you. I probably should talk to my priest about these things, but I’m so shy about it.
PS – I just read the new Nicene creed and am disappointed in the “for us men (!) and for our salvation.” I feel like God is provoking me!
How many of us have been in the exact same position? How many of us are in that position now? What parts of Catholicism are we currently “struggling” with? (I hesitate to use the word struggle, but I think it works well.) What is keeping us from fully living out our Faith?
Stay Tuned to next Sunday for the continuation!

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Don’t let appearances deceive you

Earlier this Spring I gave a lecture, along with another breastfeeding mom, to a series of high school classes. The class was on child development and the teacher was a breastfeeding advocate, but having no children herself, was having a difficult time answering some of their questions. So, she contacted the organization that I am a member of and we set up the talks.

I was super excited about the talks because it had been almost 4 years since I had left the classroom and while I love my life as an at-home-mom, there are days that I do miss teaching. Taking the opportunity to it’s fullest, I put on my best “teacher-like” outfit: pencil skirt, black twinset, nude calfskin platform pumps, and pearls. I even had my cutest two accessories with me: The Bear and The Dragonfly. (The teacher was 100% on board with us bringing our kids because she felt it could make a clear point about how mothering is 27/7/365 to the students. I, admittedly, was having trouble finding child care as the first class began at 730a and the school was about 45 minutes from my house.)

We walk in and start chatting with the students and one of the girls says to me: “Cute shoes!” I am a shoe lover and since I am a size 12, I don’t go hog-wild with purchases, but I tend to buy quality over quanity usually because there isn’t a large quanity of 12s out there, so I was very flattered that she noticed my shoes. I thanked her for her complement and she followed up with this comment:

“You guys don’t look like breastfeeders.”

Huh? “Look like breastfeeders?” My curiousity, of course, was piqued and I asked her what a breastfeeding mom looked like. She responded, “Well, kind of like a hippie.” At that point the bell rang and I made a mental note to come back to that, but I kind of forgot. For some reason this exchange popped into my head this weekend and I figured it would make a great blog post/ discussion.

Part of me wonders if some mothers have difficulty choosing to breastfeed because they feel that you have to bring all the rest with it. What is all the rest, you may ask? These are the things that I’ve heard from others, plus some of the things that I’ve incorporated into my own life:

Organic food

Gardening

Attachment parenting

bed sharing/ co-sleeping

homeschooling/ unschooling

cloth diapering

forgoing makeup

Gentle Discipline

not looking fashionable… just looking like a “mom”

smelling like patchouli (I am still not sure what that smells like.)

staying home with the kids

But do you really want to know what you need to make breastfeeding successful? A pair of lactating breasts, a baby and a support system. The rest is just details. While it’s true that breastfeeding and natural living and natural/ gentle parenting tend to go hand-in-hand-in-hand, breastfeeding is not dependent on your knowing what essential oils are best for what use, or where to find the best deals on amber necklaces. People may try to make you feel as if you are less of a mother if you are not breastfeeding AND making your children’s clothing AND tending a garden AND using the family bed AND homeschooling, etc, etc, etc, but one thing to remember is this:

every family is different

Each family makes the best choice for their particular situation and comparing what your family does to what your BFF’s or your WEF’s does (WEF= worst enemy forever) or what the Queen Bee at your kid’s school does will do nothing but keep you awake all night grinding your teeth in frustration. When in doubt, ask yourself these questions:

Am I happy?

Is my partner happy?

Are our kids happy?

Are we healthy?

Are we safe?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to these questions, then there’s a good chance you are parenting just right. (So, I know that was kind of a trip down the rabbit trail, but it all kind of goes together.)

Back to breastfeeding appearances? A breastfeeding mom looks like any other mom out there, she just has fewer bottles to carry around.

And what does this breastfeeding mama look like?

Everyday Look (if I’m not at the gym)

I’ll admit it. I am all about makeup, doing something to my hair or wearing a fascinator (crafted by moi, of course!) For me, it’s the little accessories that make the outfit. And come July 11, I will have been breastfeeding for 4 years.

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What are your thoughts? Has the breastfeeding culture, without intention, alienated some moms or made breastfeeding more complicated by setting unspoken standards?

Pax Christi!

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More things to never say to a woman with children: Military Edition!

From Mama Clementine, a non-government issued wife of a career soldier:

…I was thinking that for me, being such a Counter-Culture Mama, the lists of random rude questions and offending comments from those that it just does not concern, could go on and on…ad infinitum. So, I thought for fun, I would make a small project out of several lists of obscenely annoying Questions and Comments that I have gotten from strangers, all neatly compiled into categories. 🙂

     What follows is a list of my TOP 25 way too personal, yet oh so popular questions and all to common comments, that I have received during my husband’s Deployments.
You can read the rest here.
Just to warn you, some of her pictures might make you choke up a little!!

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Pax Christi!

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