Monday, February 29, 2016

Democracy is Risky

I have to say that I'm very concerned about where our country is going.  The upcoming Presidential election really worries me.  At the moment, the GOP is infuriating me and I'm convinced that because of the ego and pride of certain candidates still running in the primaries for the GOP ticket that we will not see the best person win the Republican nomination.

I've been growing annoyed with the Republican party and their poor handling of many of the past Presidential elections.  From choosing the wrong guy for the Presidential nomination, or choosing the right guy only to have him choose the worst person as a running mate, they have flubbed it up time and time again.  Sometimes I wonder if they really want to get their guy in the White House.  McCain blew it when he chose Palin, when he should have tapped Alan Keyes who would have done far more for him than the gaffe machine from Alaska.  And now, somehow we've got someone who I really feel is an egotistical Democrat pretending to be a Republican as the front runner for the upcoming election.  It's scary stuff.

I've had many professors who would talk about what a tremendous risk a democracy is and how it doesn't take much to unhinge one.  I do worry if we aren't about to look at the unhinging of ours.  It's scary when you think about how we enfranchise our citizens to vote even if they are largely uninformed and have no understanding of the gravity of their vote.  Some of what I see going on make me cringe.  Just go on social media and read some of the unfiltered thoughts of people who will be voting for our next President.  It's frightening.

Our country clearly needs prayers.  I don't want to be a fear monger, but I don't think there's anything great looming on the horizon for our least not in the immediate future.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Fuller House...Really?

For the past few days my FaceBook feed has been lit up by friends and family raving about Fuller House.  Now I really liked watching Full House and I figured eventually I'd watch the new show, but wasn't overly eager to see it.

Tonight Bryan put it on and while we haven't made it through episode one, I'm shocked at how much they're pushing a political agenda.  I'm also finding all of the throwback references a bit cheesy.  I did notice that there is plenty that seems like it's a show I wouldn't want the kids watching.

It would be great if there were some good options for family tv out there.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Agony of Getting Lost

Madeline is away on a weekend long retreat with her youth group.  It should be a fun time and hopefully a very good experience for her.  She's enjoyed every retreat she's been on in the past year, so I'm sure this one will be every bit as good as the others.

Getting to the retreat, however, was a different story.  I don't particularly like to drive to places where I don't know the way without using directions.  I'd much rather know exactly where I'm going.  I chalk it up to my type A control freak personality.  I need that feeling of knowing where I'm going otherwise I feel nervous and on edge.  I don't like the unexpected.

Minutes before taking Madeline to her retreat I checked the email that was sent out to the parents to get the address.  I popped it into my Waze app and we were ready to go.  Along the thirty-five minute drive I saw a lot of places I remembered from last year, and then I started noticing that places I recalled from the route I took last year weren't along the route.  I figured it was just Waze taking me a different more efficient way since there were three different ways to get there when I checked it out on google maps.  Then after missing a turn and irritating the drivers behind me, we arrived at our "destination"  a place that was clearly not the retreat house and looked like a decidedly not nice area of the not so nice area where we were headed.  Oh joy!

So I had Madeline dial up the youth minister to find out why we arrived somewhere totally different.  And that's when she tells me, It's 8th Street spelled out E-I-G-H-T-H.  So once I typed it in to Waze we were there in about two minutes.  But it was enough to put me completely out of my comfort zone and send my stress level way up.  When I got home I just had to look at the email and the letter that was sent out and each of them had the address listed with the number for the street.  Gah! Either way, I was destined to wind up at the wrong place today.  But honestly, what kind of town has streets like Eighth and 8th both followed by street, or Sixth and 6th?  That's just asking to cause a lot of confusion.  I wonder how many people that don't live in the town get confused when they have a bunch of streets named like this.  And even better is it's not like these streets are far apart.  They're minutes apart and who knows, they may even intersect.  It's not like the little five mile long island I grew up on where there was a Pine Avenue in one town and five minutes away there was a Pine Street.  People got those confused at times, but they actually had different names and were in different towns.

I think it goes without saying, but getting lost today did not help me to relax at all.  I'm determined to not get lost on Sunday when it's time to pick her up.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Must Stress Less

There's no doubting it, I'm stressing myself out.  This morning I woke up and after staying in bed for a few minutes I realized that I was feeling pretty good.  Then my feet hit the floor and within minutes I was thinking about everything I needed to do today and then my side started hurting again.  Ugh!  Talk about frustrating.  I feel like I'm my own worst enemy right now.  I don't want to worry and I don't want to stress about anything, but it's like I'm unable to do anything but that.

Bryan being away on a business trip alone is stressful enough.  It's just me and the kids and I really feel the burden of shouldering all the responsibilities.  Most mornings that Katie has school Bryan will take her, but when he's gone that's my job.  Fortunately Madeline and Ellie are capable of helping to get Katie and Anthony dressed and fed in the morning, so that's a big help.  Otherwise there's no way I'd be out the door with Anthony in time to make it to Mass.  Food, however, is a problem.  Bryan is the one who usually cooks dinner so evenings are just rough for me.  And right now there are a lot of foods I don't want anything to do with so those are kind of off the menu for a time.  That leaves me with pretty much nothing to cook for dinner.  Tonight was night two of cereal for some of us, and I got a little creative in finding other options for Anthony that weren't PB&J sandwiches, waffles or bananas.  One more night of figuring out what to feed three of the kids until Bryan is home.  Madeline was at youth group tonight where she had dinner and she's about to go on retreat, so she at least has been eating non-cereal items for dinner.  Lucky girl!

I think it's just impossible for me to relax when I feel like I just have so much going on that I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water.  I'm hoping that once Bryan is home I will be able to feel a bit less stressed.  It always seems like it is worse when he is gone.  In fact, I started to feel really awful and had the beginnings of this problem while he was gone for a few weeks ago.

I know homeschooling is a big stressor for me right now.  I'm having a hard time keeping Madeline on track and she has a lot of ground to cover in the coming months to get everything completed.  She's going to a local Catholic high school next year and while we have until late July to complete all of her 9th grade work with Seton, we would like to have her final grades for the year sent to the high school by the end of their school year.  She did do a good job in the past week of chipping away at several assignments but she seems to have lost momentum this week.  Honestly, the sooner the can finish all of her work for the year the better.  I know once she's done I'm going to feel like a weight has been lifted off of me.

Just last night, I decided that the most stress relieving thing I could watch on tv after the kids went to be was episodes of Rugrats.  I used to watch that show all the time when I was in high school and  college just to decompress and not have to think about anything else.  So it was a bit relaxing last night to sit and watch that show.  I'll likely watch more of it tonight as I try to unwind.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

My Own Biggest Stressor

I'm starting to think I might be my own biggest stressor.  I have had several days with almost no pain since taking Prilosec.  In fact, I was beginning to feel so well that I was thinking that perhaps I might just cancel the appointment I have with the GI doctor.

I woke up for the second day in a row with a sore throat and ear pain this morning.  My body aches and I feel exactly the way I do when I'm about to get hit with another sinus infection.  Fun times ahead, I tell you!  So I went to the doctor this morning and before checking out my ear and throat he wanted to talk about the pain I had been having since the ultrasound last week came back saying my gallbladder and liver were just fine.  Unremarkable is the word on the report.

So I told him about how I started to think that perhaps the pain really was starting to remind me of when I was eighteen and got hit hard with reflux and the beginnings of an ulcer.  A lot of my circumstances are pretty similar.  I was under a lot of stress when this happened at eighteen and I started losing a lot of weight as a result of all the gastric issues. I've had a lot of stress and upheaval the past two months and that I suspect it was creating a similar situation.  So I told him about how I started taking Prilosec and eating only foods that I know won't aggravate my reflux and how within a few days I was starting to feel better and started to gain back some of the weight I had lost.

I asked his opinion about whether or not I should still go see the GI doctor and he thinks it would be wise to give the Prilosec a few more weeks and if I'm not feeling a lot better to then pursue seeing the GI doctor.  It makes perfect sense to me, but for some reason I have started stressing myself out today.  I don't know if it's because I'm feeling sick, or because I know I have a full plate of things to do these next couple of days while Bryan is on the other side of the country, or if suddenly the Prilosec just isn't doing anything for me.  I just wish I knew how to relax and stop worrying about everything.

I'm always very stressed and on edge when Bryan is away on business so that's nothing new.  But tomorrow and Friday Ellie is spending two days at the parish school shadowing in the class of a couple of her friends.  The timing for these shadow days couldn't be more inopportune for me.  I made arrangements with my friend who works at the school to meet me before Mass to take Ellie to the school since drop off time is during Mass.  But when it comes time to pick her up, I will be half an hour away at a friends house for a birthday party Katie was invited to.  Talk about bad timing.  So my father in law is going to come down for a bit tomorrow afternoon to spend some time with the kids and pick Ellie up at the school.  After that I have to take Madeline to a youth group meeting and then Ellie has a soccer practice that she'll be heading to and then it will be time to load up the little ones and pick up Madeline. Then, Friday, Ellie has her second shadow day and after that I have to drive Madeline to her weekend retreat which will have me upsetting nap time for Anthony.  She tried to find a ride out there but wasn't having any luck.  I honestly can't wait until Saturday morning when Bryan will be home.

The bottom line is I need to find a way to relax, stop worrying and quit stressing about everything.  It's absolutely no good for me to continue on the path I'm on right now.  If I thought the GI doctor would be able to run some of the tests I know he'll want to do I could see just going to the appointment, but both my family doctor and I are very confident that two of the most commonly used diagnostic tests will not be happening anytime soon.  Essentially I'm in a bit of a holding pattern for the time being.  I really just need to learn how to let go and let God do His thing, but that's so much easier said than done if you're like me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Hearts Can Change

I posted on Friday about how I was given a note telling me to take Anthony to the crying room by someone who was obviously annoyed by him.  The note had me very upset.  So upset that I felt the need to write a letter to our pastor about it and at the urging of Bryan, also to share a picture of the note I received to our parish Facebook page.

On Facebook plenty of people responded in a short amount of time.  Those who knew me were outraged, and several other's were also upset that someone would feel the need to leave such a note rather than just approach me face to face to discuss what she felt was a problem.  There were some good discussions coming out of that post, but ultimately, our pastor asked that it be removed.   By that point my letter to him had already been delivered outlining the issue and asking what he felt the best way to handle the situation would be.

This morning at daily Mass we all got to hear his response to my letter.  He made it abundantly clear that none of us should have a problem with the sounds of children in the church.  He also talked about how leaving notes like the one I received on Friday was not a Christian response.  Posting about the incident on social media was also addressed, since he felt it had the ability to fan the flames of an issue that can cause division.  So clearly the logic behind the post and it's subsequent conversation was revealed.

In all, Father's homily was top notch.  He explained to those present why some parents choose to avoid the crying room, citing that it is a circus room and not a place where parents can teach their child how to behave at Mass.  He addressed that it's not a problem to have a child making sounds during Mass, but how in cases where the child is wailing and unable to be quieted, how it would be prudent to remove the child for a time.  That we have done, and most people we have seen with little ones have done that as well.

I felt one of his best points related to the dropping fertility rate and how as people have chosen to have fewer children, we have created a society that is less accepting of the sounds of children.  He pointed out that these little ones have something to teach us and should not be excluded.  Because our society has become less child friendly, it has essentially gotten many of us to a point where we expect not to be bothered by them or their sounds when out in public.  He made it a point to state that when you attend a public event, such as a Mass, you cannot expect or anticipate that there will not be children or other distractions around you.  He let people know that that quiet some of them expect at Mass can be found in our adoration chapel.  I know that's one place I don't take my little ones unless it's empty, and if other people show up while we are there I always leave so we don't disturb them.

After Mass there was a lot of talk about the homily.   Many of the people there that know me were aware of what happened on Friday so they felt as I did that the homily was very well done.  I do wish the woman who wrote the note had been there this morning, but she wasn't. (I do think she sat in front of us at Sunday Mass.)  Grumpy Cat Lady, however, was there.  Over the past six or seven weeks I've been making it a point to say hello to her, hold doors for her and ask her how she is doing when I see her.  Today as I was walking out of the church with Anthony she came up to us with a big smile on her face to tell me how well behaved she thought he was today.  She even told Anthony he was really good.  So hearts can change.  It was such a welcome exchange and gives me hope that we will win her over in time.  Bryan thinks the homily might have played a big part in her change of tone, and he might be right.

So if you're the mom of the noisy baby at church and someone says something unkind or leaves you a note telling you where you should take that baby, take a deep breath before you respond.  If they don't run off as soon as saying something, tell them why you're not going to be pushed into a crying room or why you'll continue coming to the church.  Maybe you're like me and you have more than one little one.  On days when it's just me, Anthony and Katie, I know if I get up to take Anthony out of the church the noise level will escalate to fever pitch because Katie will then have a total freak out.  So sometimes what looks like the logical choice to an outsider is the lesser of two evils.  If, as in my situation, the person does an attack and run approach, write a letter to your pastor or approach him about it and let him know what happened and how you feel such a message can become a problem not just for you, but for other families as well.  If you have priests who are not shy about welcoming children at Mass they may just be your biggest ally in getting the rest of the parish community to accept the little ones.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Caramelized Bananas

A few years ago Bryan and I met up with one of Bryan's business contacts for lunch at Fogo de Chao in Philadelphia.  The place is like a festival of meat where the gauchos come to your table with different meats and you tell them what you'd like and they carve it off for you.  The food is very good and it's very easy to overeat there when surrounded with so many delicious meats.

As much as I love the meats there, there is a side dish that I love just as much as the meat.  That side dish is the caramelized banana.  It has that out of this world yummy quality that leaves me wondering if I should go for another round of filet mignon, parmesan encrusted pork or more caramelized bananas.  In those moments the struggle is very real.  There's only so much food I can eat at a time.

I'm not sure why, but I never tried making the caramelized bananas at home.  I suppose I thought it would just be too complicated.  Yesterday while at my sister-in-law's house for a graduation party her boyfriend's family was there cooking some out of this world food. His family is from Barbados and these people are just gifted with making some fabulous food.  While I was happily eating some rice and beans and bacon wrapped dates, a plate of what looked a lot like caramelized bananas appeared on the table.  Turns out they were plantains, but they tasted just as awesome as the bananas from Fogo.  The plantains inspired me to try making the caramelized bananas so I went in search of a recipe.

I found this recipe from Food Network and gave it a go.  The results were very yummy.  They turned out so well that after bringing some to Bryan while he was in a meeting, he came upstairs shortly after asking who made them.  They really only take a little bit of time to prepare, so I'll certainly be making them again.  I wish I had taken a picture so I could show you  how they looked.  You don't need to serve them over ice cream like they tell you in the recipe.  They're very good all by themselves.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

When Did Online Shopping Become Frustrating?

Lately I've gotten to the point where I can't stand going to the store to buy things.  These days I pretty much only shop at Target and Kohls because most other store annoy me.  I get fed up going to the store to buy something only to find that they don't have what we're looking for or the store is just aggravating to navigate in general.  In the past two months, even just going to Target, my happy place, has become something I will only do if I absolutely need to go there.  I'd much rather have stuff shipped to my door.

Online shopping has been great for helping me avoid the stores, but lately I'm finding that outside of Amazon, a lot of online retailers are a bit of a headache.  I don't even recall where I ordered from yesterday, it was Children's Place and one other place that escapes me, but both of their websites were just frustrating.  And just a few moments ago I was placing an order with Kohls for some items I needed to order for the kids and the check out process was so painful with their site malfunctioning during check out like it always does, that I got to the point where I felt as hopeless as I do when I am in their store and standing in one of their painfully long lines with kids who are suddenly desperate to leave the store or use the bathroom.  Nothing like bringing the aggravation of shopping to the comforts of your home.

I wish some of these online retailers would look at how Amazon and other sites that do online shopping and checkout really well, have their sites set up and follow their lead.  I can't help but think it's all a matter of getting a good developer in there to fix the issues.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Book Review: A Single Bead

Not too long ago I had the opportunity to sit down and read a new book called A Single Bead by Stephanie Engleman.  The book, which is geared, to teens, is about a young high school girl who after finding a single rosary bead belonging to her grandmother goes on to not only look for the other beads which all have significance to her extended family, but also on an unexpected journey to finding a deeper faith in God.

The story line follows a family a year after a tragic event involving the death of the grandmother.  The grandmother and her incredible faith were the glue the held the family together.  The main character of the story is a girl named Kate, who is presently dealing with her own struggles and the depression of her mother.  The story is engaging and keeps you wanting to continue reading to find out what will happen next.

Overall, I think the story is very well done.  The book has not only a good story, but a lot about Catholicism woven into the storyline, so it not only entertains,  it also informs.  I'd say this book will most likely appeal to teenaged girls.  I'm not sure if the guys would get into this book, but I know girls would enjoy it.

One of the things I like about this book is it has discussion questions at the end.  This is good not only for facilitating a conversation about the book with your teen, but also for reading the book as a group.  Even as an individual reading the book, you could look over the questions and think about them.  Several of them get you to think not only about the book but about how some of it can apply to your own life.  So it's a good series of questions for deeper thought.

I was provided with a review copy of A Single Bead by the publisher, Pauline Teen, in exchange for my honest review.  You can find out more about this book and view a preview here.  It is also available at Amazon.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Quick Takes: Second Friday of Lent

I'm doing my best to try avoiding stress, but it seems like stress just flocks to me like I'm a magnet.

I need to start working on getting announcements and registration forms together for our parish VBS.  I'm now about two weeks behind where I wanted to be.

I'm looking forward to this Sunday.  Ellie will be singing the responsorial psalm at Mass.  Hopefully we can sit close enough that I can record her singing again.  I always feel a bit self conscious pulling out my phone in the middle of Mass to record her when she sings the responsorial psalm.  Hopefully people just recognize that I'm a proud mom and not someone who just likes to take pictures and record random parts of Mass.

Madeline is getting a lot of assignments that were a bit delayed in being submitted checked off the list.  I will feel a lot better when she's caught up.

We're ditching cable very soon.  Between Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu and the content we've purchased for our Apple TV we are at the point where we really don't need cable anymore.  For a while I've been telling Bryan that I feel like it's a waste since most of the time I get annoyed that nothing good is on despite the many channels we have.  Bryan brought an antenna recently that also allows us to get the local news so we really aren't missing anything by eliminating cable now.

I don't know if it's a result of the Prilosec that I recently started taking, but the pain in my side feels like it's happening a bit less the past couple of days.  It's still not gone, but I'm not in a much pain as I had been.  I do think a lot of it is stress related.

I left Mass in tears today after finding a note written by the woman sitting in the pew ahead of us.  You can read about it here.

Response to the Well Intentioned Lady at Mass

I don't think we've ever been properly introduced, but I see you around at Mass frequently enough.  My name is Karen and the toddler I often have at my side at daily Mass is Anthony.  He'll be two in May.

My son really enjoys coming to Mass with me.  Our church is really like a second home to him, he's that comfortable there!  You see, he's grown up in this church.  From the time he was six days old he's been at Mass nearly every day of his life.  Typically I don't go to daily Mass on Saturday mornings since it's the only day of the week I ever get to sleep past 6:15am.  But on weekdays you can find me, Anthony, and depending on the day any one of my three older daughters at the 8am Mass.

I want you to know that I'm very touched that so many of the people at daily Mass are so happy to have us around.  People, who I worry I am bothering by bringing my son to Mass with me, come up to me before or after Mass all the time to tell me how happy they are to see and hear him each day and how he reminds them of their grandchildren or great-grandchildren.  Did you know that the people who sit in the front of the left hand side of the church talk among themselves when they hear Anthony come in and start making sounds?  Apparently they refer to him as "our baby."  I didn't know that until recently.  They've been referring to him as their baby since he was very small, I'm told.  I actually think it's really sweet that they think of him that way.

One of the things I love about the people we attend daily Mass with is how loving and kind they are.  I hope you've experienced some of the kindness and love that Anthony and I have.  You, me and Anthony are all so blessed to have such great people who come together and pray with us at Mass each day.  Don't you think?

I want you to know that I'm not oblivious to the sounds my children, especially the baby, make at Mass.  Probably more than anyone else in the church, I, the one right next to the baby, cringe when he starts to make noise.  If it's happy sounds or him singing I try to relax and not worry about it.  His godfather likes to point out that Anthony is crying out to God his Father when he starts making noise at Mass.  I suppose he's right.  With only a few words in his vocabulary, I suppose he prays the only way he knows how.  I can tell you that he knows how to make the sign of the cross.  Have you ever noticed how cute a toddler is when he does that?  Anyway, I digress.  I know the noise can sometimes be unpleasant.  But that is life.  Life isn't always neat and tidy or quiet.  When each of us comes to Mass we don't cease to live life for that half hour or hour that we are in the church.  Those of us with years of practice and self control will obviously have a better handle on keeping still and quiet, but little ones have a hard time acting like adults, because that's not the nature of a small child.

I know you are bothered by the noise my son makes.  I'm sorry for that, but I'd like to point out to you that none of us are perfect.  Not me, not my son, not you, or even the priest who's offering Mass that day.  I'm sure that each one of us does something that annoys someone else, and I bet a lot of us bother people at Mass, but you probably are unaware of it if you do because most people will recognize that the person who is doing something that annoys you is a beloved child of God, and that person has every right to be there worshipping God as just as you do.

You asked me to take my child to the crying room, which makes me think you are annoyed by the presence of a little child at Mass.  I am sorry his sounds bother you, I really am.  But let me tell you why I'm going to continue sitting right where I always sit at daily Mass.  That spot, where we sit, right under the station of the cross that says "Jesus dies for us", reminds me day after day that I am broken and in need of a savior.  But there's more.  I sit where I do because should my son begin to make an excessive amount of noise, I can easily walk to the rear of the church and either stand outside the glass doors until he's calm or just stand next to the holy water inside the church and he's happy.  I don't often leave the pew because I'm teaching my son that when we go to Mass we stay in our seat.  We don't get up and walk around and take breaks.  Raising little ones and teaching them how to behave is a tedious process that takes years.  I don't know you, so I don't know if you ever had little ones or not.  If you do have children then I suspect you know what a difficult, yet important job I have in guiding my child to become a good Catholic man someday.   But I'd like to ask you if you've ever been to the crying room.  Have you felt how icy cold the room is during the winter months and have you felt how swelteringly hot it is during the summer?  It's not an inviting space.  Also, did you know during the week that the crying room is empty?  Going to daily Mass and sitting all alone in a cold room looking through hazy glass to see Mass going on down below is a great way to feel like you're not part of congregation, but rather a spectator.  My family and I sit in the pews because we're raising our children, who are members of the church by virtue of their baptism every bit as much as you or I,  to learn how to worship and adore their God at Mass.  We've done the crying room with our eldest daughter and it was a disaster.  The crying room is more like the circus room.  There's no reverence and people act like they aren't even at Mass.  It is not a place to teach your children how to behave at Mass.

Now maybe I'm reading something into your note.  Perhaps you assumed that I didn't know there was a crying room and you've taken some inspiration from the banners listing the works of mercy behind the altar and decided that it would be a mercy for you to instruct the ignorant and inform me that our parish is equipped with one.  Might I suggest in instances where you find yourself annoyed by my child or anyone else at Mass that you opt instead to bear wrongs patiently?  Offer the annoyance up to Our Lord.  Tell Him that you can't stand the sounds of the little baby that He loves and made in His image and likeness.  Talk to Him and then listen to see what He says.  I'm sorry, but I believe Our Lord is just as happy to see my baby in the church even on his most obnoxious screaming day, as He is to see you there when you are having a good day, a bad day, a day when you're just going through the motions, or even a day when you're angry with Him and can't understand why He placed whatever cross you're struggling with at that moment in your midst.  He loves each of us in spite of ourselves.

If I misjudged the nature of your note, I'm sorry.  I have a difficult time believing it was written with a charitable spirit, especially considering you dropped it at the place where we were sitting on your way back from communion as you left the church.  And considering you didn't sign your name to it, I can't help but feel it was a bit passive aggressive.  If you were that upset by the baby's sounds you could have stayed until the end of Mass and approached me to discuss it.  I want you to know that you hurt my feelings and made me to feel like I was unwelcome.  You are not the first person in recent memory to do this.  But like her, I will treat you with kindness and I forgive you for hurting me.  It may take me a bit of time to get over it, but I will.  Just know that in the meantime I'll be praying for you.  I pray that God will soften your heart.  Perhaps you have some circumstance in your life that makes hearing the sounds of a baby happily singing bother you.  I am sorry if the joyful noise of one of God's little ones upsets you, but I urge you to take it to Our Lord.

Going forward, please bear in mind that your actions and words, whether spoken or written, have the ability to hurt those around you.  Your note, which thankfully I did not read until after Mass was over and after I had prayed for you, upset me so much that I left the church in tears.  Those who encountered me on the way out were upset that anyone would do what you chose to do.  Had you given me this note on a day when Anthony was exceptionally loud, I likely would not have been as upset as I was in receiving it today.  I would like to point out to you that Anthony made no noise until the offertory.  It wasn't until Fr. Pete called him out for not making the noises that he loves to hear, that Anthony made any noise.  Prior to that my son was happily munching on Cheerios, which I bring to keep him quiet, and scribbling on a piece of paper.

So again, I'm sorry that the sounds of my child disturbed you.  I suspect that you might be less bothered by his sounds and antics if you perhaps sat on the other side of the church where it appears to be quieter.  We won't be offended if you choose to sit further away from us at Mass, just know that I plan to continue sitting in the same place, give or take a pew, for the foreseeable future.  Somedays will be louder than others, I'm sure, but as always I will do my best to keep my child as quiet as I can.  Unfortunately that free will that Our Lord endows each of us with kicks in at birth, so as much as I, too, would love to go to a Mass that is so quiet you can hear a pin drop, even I can't stop the baby from making noise.  Know that I am right there with you in disliking noise during Mass, but when I hear a baby crying or a child loudly talking, instead of grabbing a pencil and paper to tell the mom where to go, I offer up a prayer for the child and the parent with him.  It's rough being the parent of the kid who makes noise.  People will turn and glare at you and occasionally someone will snap on your child inches from his face or leave a note that is the equivalent of saying: "Dear Mother, Your child is annoying and not welcome to sit with the rest of us.  Please either go to the crying room or don't come here."  It's not a fun place to be, but it's life.  Can you just imagine if someone were to snap on the lady who reeks of perfume and tell her she should go sit outside so she doesn't bother people who can't handle the way she smells?  How awful and tactless that would be!  Or what if the man who says all the prayers too fast or too slow, or the woman who is singing her heart out to God and hitting every wrong note along the way were told they should go sit somewhere else if they can't say the responses with perfect timing or sing perfectly.  That wouldn't be a Christian response at all and I imagine it would really hurt the person who was on the receiving end of such comments.

Finally, let me tell you why your note struck such a chord with me.  It not so much because you hurt my feelings, which you certainly did, but it's because I worry that you have done or will do this to another parent.  This is the sort of thing that may make a family decide that it's just not worth going to Mass anymore, or at least not while their child is still very young.  Would you really want to be the catalyst that drives someone from the Church and perhaps places their soul and the souls of their children in peril?  I wouldn't want that on my conscience at all.  People will remember when they've been offended or treated unkindly so ask yourself before you act if what you are doing is being done out of your own selfish desires or out of a spirit of charity.

Kind Regards,

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Small Successes: February 18th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up...

1. Thanks to my $1 a load laundering service, I had a living room filled with several loads of clean laundry this morning.  I was feeling up to actually getting something accomplished, so I managed to get everything folded.  Ellie was nice and helped get some of the laundry sorted and she also put a good amount of it away for me.

2.  I have Katie set up to homeschool for kindergarten.  We've decided to have her do another year of pre-K three mornings a week so she's still interacting with her friends since being around the other kids seems to be doing wonders for getting her to talk.  I enrolled her with Seton for the upcoming school year and we already have all of her books.  So now I'll have plenty of time to start planning.  I think I'll probably start her some time in the late spring so I won't feel like anything has to be rushed on the days when she goes to pre-K.

3.  I finally made myself go to the craft store to buy the cording I needed to turn the new Jesus Tree set into ornaments.  I even started gluing the cording to the backs of the wooden discs.  I had forgotten how much I hate working with hot glue.  Several of my fingernails are now sporting a hot glue coating, but I managed to keep from burning my fingers badly.  I also found a cute little bendable tree in the Easter aisles of Target that I can use for the ornaments.

4.  I'm feeling mildly better today after making an effort to try to stop stressing and worrying over everything.  I've had a few moments where I'm having pain, like when the kids start bickering or when the baby starts having one of his tantrums.  So whatever is wrong with me, I suspect a lot of it is due to stress.  I'm trying very hard to relax, but I think after having a couple of very stressful months filled with illnesses and some decisions that will bring big changes in the fall, I just got to a point where the stress and worry overtook me.  I feel like I need a few days off to just take a break.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

One Problem Ruled Out

I had the ultrasound done today to see if the pain I'm feeling on my right side is my gallbladder.  I was really surprised when I got a call from my doctor shortly after noon letting me know they received the results.  The good news is my gallbladder and liver are fine.  I'm very happy about that, because I figured I was either going to have several months of misery ahead of me, or would have to have surgery, which I'm not particularly a fan of having to go through that.

When I got home with a CD of the scans they did Bryan and I took a look at them and compared them to ones online.  We both thought my gallbladder looked normal, and I was starting to wonder just what could be making my side hurt.

I have a history of reflux and had the beginnings of an ulcer when I was 18.  I think it was all the result of me being as high strung as I am and just being very stressed.  Since that time I've tried to worry less, I watch the foods I eat to make sure they won't cause reflux and so on.  So on a whim, I decided to google ulcer and where I'm having pain.  All of my symptoms, including the ones that didn't get mentioned as being associated with gallbladder issues fall under that category, too.  Then I started thinking about how the acidic foods I've been eating this past week, that were supposed to be good for gallbladder issues, were making my side hurt more, even to the point of feeling like it was burning.  That's when I told Bryan I thought it was possible that I might really have a GI issue.

When the doctor's office called me it was to tell me that I need to see a GI doctor if I'm still having pain.  I spent almost an hour calling around trying to find someone who could see me in the next week or two.  It's near impossible.  After calling about seven offices I finally managed to get an early March appointment.  After I gave a bit more info on my present situation she decided that she was going to send a message to the office scheduler to see if she could get me in sooner.  So now I only have to wait until next Friday to see the doctor.  I'm hoping that they'll be able to give me something to give me some relief.  In the meantime, I'm going to try to relax a bit and stop worrying about what could be wrong.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

So Much for Everyday

I meant to blog yesterday but between falling asleep on the couch for a few hours mid day and getting caught up in the History Channel Series The Men Who Built America my day rapidly disappeared.  I spent six hours last evening watching three of the episodes from that series.  It was nice not having to watch Sofia the First and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  I feel like I see too many of those shows.

My gallbladder ultrasound is tomorrow morning.  I'm hoping it will show the reason why I'm having so much pain on the right side.  From there, we'll have to see what, if anything, the doctors are willing to do for me.  I called and set up an appointment with a surgeon today at the request of one of my doctors only to have the receptionist tell me that I was wasting my time.  It appears that there are certain medical conditions that make medical professionals unwilling to consider the possibility of treating you.  As I told the one doctor I saw today, I'm experiencing pain at times that is more painful than labor, and lasts far longer than I've ever labored.  I told the receptionist at the surgeon's office that I'd like an appointment anyway even if it is a waste of time.  I'm hoping it won't be.

The more I described the pain I was having to the doctor I saw this morning the more she kept nodding and affirming what I was saying until she said that everything I described was exactly how she felt just before she had to have her gallbladder removed.  She seems to think there's a good chance I have gallstones.  All I know is if it's stones or an inflamed gallbladder, I want something done as soon as safely possible so I can stop feeling so awful.

I feel like I'm near useless at present.  I've gone another week since doing any laundry or even setting foot in the basement.  If it's not on the main level or upstairs, I pretty much have nothing to do with it.  Outside of making sandwiches or a bowl of cereal for the smaller kids, I haven't prepared any food for anyone who isn't me.  Fortunately Madeline, Ellie and Bryan can all make food and all know how to do laundry.  Otherwise I think we'd all be half starved and wearing dirty clothes.

I took the older kids to confession on Saturday and while discussing my severe dislike of suffering, I got asked if I ever just want to time travel in those situations.  Yes!  I do!  I really do.  And finally, someone else gets how I feel! For instance, if I could go back a few months, I'd go and have my [then] infrequent gallbladder pain looked at and hopefully addressed.  I'd also have insisted on seeing an ENT dr. before December so my sinus inflammation could be treated with the preferred treatment option.  If I could go forward, I'd skip ahead to October or November.  But I guess if I had the ability to time travel that I'd be skipping out on chances to offer up my suffering, as well as numerous chances to really lean on Our Lord for his grace and support.  Do I want to suffer?  Not at all, but if it's what I'm being called to do, then I'll do my best however imperfectly I may do it.  I told Father in confession that I feel like it's been Lent for me for the past month.  So while everyone else was on day four of Lent, for me it was day thirty-one and yet, Easter won't get here any earlier for me.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Thought for the First Sunday of Lent

I've been reading The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales For Lent as my Lenten reading.  St. Francis' words always seem to resonate with me, which is probably why he is one of my favorite saints.  His writings have such a profound, but simply put wisdom that always seems to make perfect sense.  As I was reading from his sermon from the first Sunday of Lent of 1622 on temptation, this particular except jumped out at me and really caught my attention and I thought I'd share it with you:

"What a great pity that the desire for perfection is not itself sufficient for having it, but that it must be acquired by the sweat of our brow and hard work!  Do you not realize that Our Lord willed to be tempted during the forty days He was in the desert precisely in order to teach us that we shall also be tempted during the entire time that we dwell in the desert of this mortal life, which is the place of our penance?  The life of the perfect Christian is a continual penance.  Console yourself, I pray, and take courage.  Now is not the time for rest."

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Because I Just Had to Wonder

I tend to wonder about a lot of scenarios.  They always pop into my head as just random thoughts like: If I ran out of diapers while out and the baby needed to be changed what would I do?  They're almost always scenarios that could be likely but are probably highly unlikely.  Sometimes I have a solution for the situation in mind and other times I just push it away and pray that I never have to find out.  Today one of those scenarios I hoped would never happen, happened.

The scenario is: What would you do if one of your children vomit during Mass?  My initial panic reaction revolves around how I'm going to clean it up.  Our parish has hand dryers in the restrooms, so running to get paper towels isn't an option.  Fortunately for us, I had wipes on hand and it wasn't like crazy full out stomach virus caliber vomiting.  Anthony was asleep until the Gospel and we assumed all was well with him.  He woke up, was fussy, and seemed like he just wanted to go back to sleep.  Then he started acting like he needed to drink so I gave him his cup.  Seconds later we heard that cough that all mother's dread and my arm was suddenly bathed in vomit.

We didn't know if there was going to be another round so Bryan took Anthony to the back to the church to clean him up while I used wipes to clean up myself and any surrounding areas he may have hit.  Since Bryan came back about 5-10 minutes later and Anthony seemed like he was going to make it, we didn't have to cut out mid-Mass.  The homily was about temptation and I thought it was pretty fitting since I was pretty tempted to just get up and leave after the vomit incident.

So now I know how we would handle small scale vomiting and clean up at Mass, but I have no idea and I hope I'll never have to find out how we would handle something on a larger scale.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Quick Takes: First Friday of Lent

I got tired of looking at the laundry covered living room floor and forced myself to fold the laundry this morning.  It's amazing how much better I feel when that one particular room is neat, even if I hardly spend any time in it.

I can't help but think that the idea I had two weeks ago of paying the older girls a dollar per load of laundry is one of my more brilliant mom ideas.  I haven't done laundry in probably three or more weeks because I just haven't felt well enough to do it, and offering a bounty of a dollar per load means that Bryan, the little kids and I will continue to have clean clothes.  

I'm having a really hard time with this gallbladder issue.  I feel like just about everything I eat is on the list of things not to eat.  My ultrasound isn't until Wednesday morning next week, so I won't know what the issue is until sometime later next week.  I've been trying to eat foods that are gallbladder friendly and some that different places claim work to chip away at gallstones and other gallbladder issues.  When it really starts hurting me I feel like I have something in my rib cage that is exerting a lot of pressure but not getting anywhere.  It's an odd and painful sensation that I think is worse than labor.

Since I ordered new ornaments for our Jesus Tree I realized that I will need something to hang them on when they get here.  I think I want something like this yarn tree, but I'm guessing I'll have to wrap it in brown yarn or twine.  Does anyone have any experience using one of these kits or doing a do it yourself version of it?  I'm not exactly finding what I want when I google instructions for making one.

Anthony decided to write across the pantry doors with pencil just minutes before taking his nap.  I'm not sure why, but pencil seems to be the most difficult thing to remove from painted surfaces.  I really wish the older kids would stop leaving pencils out all of the time.  I've never had a child who was so determined to scribble all over the doors and walls anytime he finds a writing implement.

Now that we're a bit more decorated for Lent, I feel like the nativity and some of Katie's preschool Christmas crafts are a little out of place.  I suppose I'll have to do something about that soon.


On a more exciting note when I was vacuuming the powder room floor this morning I must have tapped the pipe that feeds water to the toilet a bit harder than I thought.  By the time I finished vacuuming all the goldfish cracker crumbs out of the vanity drawer there was a pretty big puddle.  And yes, you read that right.  One of my kids likes to bring snacks into the powder room and leave crumbs all over the vanity top and now in the drawers, too.  Of course no one knows who did it.  I'm fairly certain Bryan got the leak to stop.  Might be worth checking it out to be sure...

Thursday, February 11, 2016

When Your Crying Baby Gets Singled Out at Mass

Yesterday morning was a crazy rush to get myself and all of the kids out the door so we could make it to Mass.  It was snowing a bit and sticking to the road, and since just about everyone seems to show up at Ash Wednesday Mass I knew we needed to be out of the house earlier than I normally leave if we wanted to find a seat easily.  Last year we got there right when we normally would arrive and had a rough time finding a place for all of us to sit.  So I decided that we needed to plan ahead this year.

We got there nice and early and Anthony got settled two pews behind Grumpy Cat Lady (I opted to give her a one pew buffer rather than sit in our usual Sunday spot and risk irritating her.).  Right now there are some little pencils and some pledge cards for our annual diocese charity so Anthony has been having a grand time scribbling on the cards and not only staying in one spot for most of the Mass, but also being quiet.  A pencil and a little notebook are going to be finding a home in my bag soon.

All was going relatively well.  Katie was being her usual grumpy self because I didn't bring her homework, which we had forgotten about until that morning, into the church, but it wasn't anything awful.  We were in good shape until the homily.  At that point Katie decided that she needed to use the potty, so Madeline took her to the restroom.  And that's when Anthony decided that he must yell after them.  When that didn't yield them coming back right away he decided that he just needed to yell louder and louder.  All the while, poor Father was trying to give a homily.  But he's used to this noisy baby so he just decided to talk louder and louder until that wasn't good enough and he just needed to stop gesture towards us and say something about  "the set of lungs on that baby."  That was the only part of the sentence I could hear clearly.  Sigh.  I don't have a tally of how many shout outs Anthony has gotten at Mass in the past 21 1/2 months, but I can tell you it's a lot, and it's never any less mortifying.  Father took what felt like a two minute tangent to talk about Mr. Noisy Baby who oddly enough decided to chill out and quietly drink from his cup while Father talked about how he's not bothered by loud Anthony and how none of us should be either.  Part of me wondered how our friend Grumpy Cat Lady reacted to that.  But then I started thinking about how while it's great to know that Anthony and his often loud cries, singing, talking and spitting/raspberry sounds are really welcomed in our church by our parish priests and even most of the visiting ones, as well as most of the people we go to daily Mass with each morning, I realized that I am not always ok with that noise.

So those words about not being bothered by a crying baby have got me thinking.  I'm generally not bothered by other people's crying babies.  In fact, if your child is wailing somewhere in the church,  I'll send up a prayer for you because I know how it feels when you're holding the crying baby and you can feel the eyes of others on you as you try to get your little one calmed.  It's not fun to be the one with the crying baby, particularly when you feel self conscious about it.  It's nothing short of a dose of humility when said noisy baby gets pointed out during a homily.  This morning, I think Anthony was trying to see if he could go two for two with our pastor.  Almost immediately after Father started his homily Anthony started talking over him, but fortunately it was short lived.

I'm not sure if I'll ever get used to being the mom with the noisy baby at Mass.  I suppose there will come a day when I might miss these days of having a noisy boisterous baby happily shouting out to God, but I think those days are a little further down the road.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Blogging for Lent

I spent a good amount of time thinking of things to give up or take on for Lent this year and due to certain circumstances giving up something such as a food isn't going to work this year.  And while I love reading, I haven't been able to do a ton of that lately, either, so outside of reading one book of St. Francis de Sales Sermons for Lent, I don't exactly have a ton of Lenten reading planned either.  I'm not even sure if I'll make it through the book.  I hope I do.

I tossed about the idea of giving up Facebook for Lent, but even that seemed like something I wasn't being called to do.  Then I thought about the neglected blog.  And that's when I got the idea to write each day.  So I'm going to give it a shot and see what happens.  It's going to be an exercise in letting go for me, since the primary reason I haven't been blogging, aside from having too many demands on my time, is I don't always feel like I can just come here and write if I don't have pictures for you to see as well.  I think it's pretty evident that I've read too many articles about how blog posts need pictures and a ton of other things if they want to be read.  So I'm not going to worry about it.  If you really want to read, you'll read.  If not, no worries.  In a way I think it has been pretty silly of me to worry about whether or not people will find the blog interesting if there are not a slew of gorgeous photos.  My photography skills, despite years of trying, are not exactly impressive.

Much has been going on around here as of late.  It seems like this is my year of medical misery.  Last year I spent seven months battling on again off again sinus and ear infections.  Since April I've had crackling sounds in my right ear anytime I swallow, and I find it a bit maddening.  I finally went and saw an ENT dr in January and basically there's no chronic or serious issue, no hearing loss, and not anything they can do for me other than tell me to keep taking my allergy medicines and use a saline nose spray.  The sinus and ear issues have led to me leading a mostly coffee free existence.  The baristas at my local Target Starbucks miss me.

My newest medical issue seems to be my gallbladder.  I've been having pain for the past few weeks and I'll be going for an ultrasound next week.  At the moment, I'm trying to figure out what I can eat without being in pain.  After talking to two doctors yesterday, it looks like dairy and a lot of other foods I like are off the menu.  It's frustrating to say the least.  I'm praying that's it's not anything serious and is hopefully something that can be resolved with some dietary changes, but I'm not sure if that's very realistic.

I told Bryan the other night that I sort of feel like Job.  I feel like I'm really being tested right now and I'm trying very hard to just trust Our Lord with this, but He's certainly not making this easy for me.  The past month in particular has just been very difficult for me.  So please don't be surprised if there comes a day when you find me whining on here.  I suspect it's bound to happen.

I don't feel as prepared or organized for Lent as I ordinarily do.  I still need to get our merciful tree up on the basement door, and I waited until today to decide that I should replace our felt Jesus Tree with something that doesn't need pins to hold the ornaments onto the felt tree.  I just don't have it in me to chase Anthony around the house trying to get the pins and ornaments back from him which I'm sure will be an all day, every day of Lent fiasco.  So I ordered a set of ornaments from Jesse Tree Treasures.  I'm looking forward to using them once they get here, but in the mean time I'll just use the felt ornaments we have until this set arrives.

So until tomorrow, I hope your Ash Wednesday is going well and I'll be back sometime tomorrow.
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