Light After the Dark

Earlier this week, we celebrated our daughter’s 1st heavenly birthday.

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My son decided that Seraphina needed “balloons & hearts for her birthday”

On May 2, 2016, our 2nd baby went directly to heaven, a miscarriage that yanked the rug out from under me and sent me into a tailspin for the following year.  You can read all about our loss of Seraphina here.  (And, our first loss, Gale, here.)

The time following pregnancy loss, specifically when you had seen your baby on an ultrasound, who’s heartbeat you heard and cherished, and who’s presence you shared with loves ones aren’t easy.  And, you don’t move on from the physical pain and emotional & spiritual suffering, as quickly many people think or assume you do or should.

Your entire world is now operating from this point of reference.  You’re carrying this burden around with you that is unseen by the world at large.  You think about it daily, especially during the time when your body is recovering from the trauma it has been through.  It’s a daily reminder that your child is now gone.

I have a friend who’s baby was born about 10 days before my miscarriage.  I was due to bring them a meal and meet the baby (and was planning to tell them about our pregnancy).  That was the first big hurdle that was in front of me.  The thought of seeing that newborn and having to tell them of my own loss was too much for me at that time.

And, that was just the beginning of a very dark year for me. Read More

I’m Looking at You, Disney

 

If you have children of a certain age range and you’re people who consume some amount of media, specifically on TV, then you are probably familiar with the Disney Channel.  And, most specifically on the Disney Channel, you are familiar with the “Dream Big, Princess” commercial/songs/campaign.  If you aren’t, I’ll indulge you for a moment here:

Now, listen.  I love these little inspirational videos.  I love that Disney has somewhat let go of the typical “princess” party line (you know – fancy dresses, crowns, jewelry, etc….although, those ain’t gone and you can pay big bucks at the parks to have your daughter all dolled up like a fancy fairy tale princess in the Disney parks if you want that).  I think it was a genius idea to juxtapose girls of all ages, races, and abilities with all the different types of “princess” or female leads from their movies who are also of various ages and ethnicities.  I love that they encourage young girls to be leaders, follow dreams, achieve great things, pursue whatever it is that they love, etc.  The first time I watched one of these with my girls, I teared up because I was like, “Yes, my beautiful girls, I want you to be as individual and unique and strong as the Father in Heaven intended you to be!” Read More

What I Learned From My 2nd Miscarriage

(NOTE(WARNING:  This is a long blog!)

She was supposed to be our “rainbow baby” – the joy after the storm. 

IMG_2798When we found out we were pregnant again, 4 months after losing our baby Gale, I was excited.  The likelihood of miscarrying again, back to back, was very low.  My doctor had me come in within a couple of days of my initial call to check my HGC levels to make sure the pregnancy was strong.  I registered “low”, but passable and was put on progesterone supplements.  A couple of days later, my HGC levels were checked again and were soaring.

At 8 weeks, we loaded up the whole crew and waited to see the newest member of our family up on the “big screen”.  After waiting through a “full work-up” OB appointment for me, the kids running through halls and the staff being kind enough to put up with all the noise, we finally got to see the baby.  Her heart was beating like a champ, the kids were thrilled to discover they were going to have a new sibling (“Please, not another girl, Mom,” said our 5 year old, only son), and I felt confident that we’d be celebrating another birthday around Thanksgiving.  My doctor scheduled me for another ultrasound at 11 weeks “just to be sure of things”. Read More

How My Miscarriage Changed Me

It’s really hard to discuss miscarriage.  It’s not that it’s taboo, exactly.  It’s just that it’s not something that’s usually very public unless your pregnancy was already public.  And, when you lose a baby early in a pregnancy, many people don’t even really consider it much of a loss.  In fact, I was one of those people.  I mean, there has never been any question that once you conceive, that is a life with a unique soul.  But, I always thought, “If the pregnancy is lost early, how could you even feel very attached to that baby?” I truly did not understand because I did not have a frame of reference for that type of loss.

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But, now I do.  And, it has changed me.
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Our [Imperfect] Family Rosary

“Continue to pray the Rosary every day.”
(Our Lady of Fatima to Sister Lucia)

I don’t think there’s any practicing Catholic out there who would deny the importance of daily recitation of the rosary.  The saints, the Popes, and even the Blessed Mother herself invites us to pray it on a regular basis, promising great spiritual wealth and growth as a result of it.  And, I have no doubt at all that that is true.

childs+hands+holding+rosaryBut, for the vast majority of us, praying the Rosary daily is actually rather challenging.  Or, maybe that’s just me.  I am not sure if it’s that I lack focus or the ability to sit still that long, but when I am attempting to pray it alone (which, let me tell you, happens about 0.1% of the time of my life) or when I am driving (which is more realistic), I easily get distracted.  I do much better when I pray it aloud with other people.

But, the only people I am with on a regular daily basis are these tiny human beings that I call my children.   Which, hey, is GREAT!  Because, praying the FAMILY rosary is possibly an even more beneficial and spiritually efficacious type of prayer than praying it alone.

Maybe efficacious isn’t the right word.  Perhaps saying it’s a source of “great sanctification” is more appropriate.  Especially when your prayer partners are 5, 3, and 20 months old.

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I’m a Martha and I Know It.

Poor Martha.  She always gets such a bad rap for “being worried and bothered about many things” (Lk. 10:41).  She was a doer, perhaps a slightly Type A personality (though, not all of us Marthas are actually complete Type As).

Though many people skip over it, previous verses indicate that MARTHA welcomed Him [Jesus] into her home.”  (emphasis added)  Not “Martha AND Mary welcomed Him.”  Just Martha welcomed him.  She was the hostess who was presumably doing things like making the meal, setting out the food, filling drinks, keeping up with everyone’s things, cleaning off dirty feet, etc.

Chores

We Marthas know that we are worried and bothered by many things.  We see the overflowing trash, the mess on the floor, the sink full of dishes, the dirty laundry, the toilet that needs scrubbing, the sticky fingers on kids.  We are the ones doing the majority of the chores and keeping the household in order.  We take action, get the job done, and our love language is most likely “acts of service.”

We’re also the ones who get stressed out when visitors are coming over to the house – not because we have an “image” to uphold or that we are trying so much to “impress” the guests.  But, more because we want everyone to have a pleasant experience.  We want the food to satisfy, the seats to be comfortable, the drinks to be cold, and the friends to feel at home.

But, we feel like we get a bad wrap thanks to this particular verse in Luke’s gospel. Read More

The Suffering of the Good & Faithful

There’s never a lack of tragic situations happening in the world at large as well in our specific communities, families, and churches.  Sometimes, though, it seems like certain communities are hit really hard in relation to others.

2490e6dc072645fae6916b3526032d48One of my “circles” of people is my alma mater, Franciscan University of Steubenville.  Being that it’s a university, my connections and friendships spread much wider there than some of my smaller, more personal circles.  Though it is not a large university, there’s been a specific contingency of people (Catholic young families) overwhelmingly affected by hardships in the past year.

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Getting Schooled

It’s taken me forever to find time to finally write a blog.  But, here I am!!  And, I wanted to write on a topic that’s been on my heart and mind a whole lot over the past few years, probably since my first child was born almost 4 years ago.  And, in recent days, it seems to be a topic that keeps popping up over and over again in conversations and Catholic circles in which I run.

imgChoosing schooling for our children.

It’s been out there, hanging in the marital and family atmosphere since my son was born.  When knew the days would come when he would be old enough to have to begin formal education and we would have to decide which route we wanted to at least begin with.  And, when it’s your first child and you have no experience with any type of school one way or the other, it’s overwhelming to think about.

I went to all Catholic school, from kindergarten through college.  Every minute spent in a school uniform (well, up until college), nuns as some of my teachers, retreats & Mass as a regular part of our curriculum.  I was not homeschooled ever, though one of my sisters and one of my brothers both were for a short amount of time.  Those same two were the only ones in our family who ever attended public school.  I had some public school friends from work and activities that I did outside of the school, but not many.

I knew plenty of homeschoolers especially through our family prayer group.  I went to college with A LOT of homeschooled people.  In fact, I am married to someone who was homeschooled for a large part of his education (and, incidentally, who received his college education through the seminary).
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An Imperfect Prayer Life

We’ve been going through a relatively challenging time in our family over the past several (almost a year) months.  I say relatively because the challenges each of us face are different and are difficult based on our own family, lives and circumstances.  So, comparatively speaking, the things that have hit us aren’t devastating or insurmountable.  But, they have presented us with numerous opportunities to grow in faith & hope, rely on God completely to meet our needs, and to pray.

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Thank You NFL & Fox…

The Super Bowl was truly a family experience at our house this year.  At 4:30 or so, we grabbed snacks and gathered in the living room to pick the teams we wanted to win.

Hubby and I are both fans of Peyton Manning –  what a class act – so we chose the Broncos.  Our 9 year old picked the Seahawks because he’s contrary like that.   The 6 year old picked the Broncos because she wants a pony.  The 4 year old was rooting for “the ones with the green shoes.”

The older kids discussed (not for the first time since their playoff loss) why the Packers aren’t in the Super Bowl this year, and my husband and I explained that this is the exact opposite of every other football game we’ve watched all year.  They can talk as much as they want during the game itself, they have to be quiet during the commercials.

Then – kickoff.  Each time the game went to commercial I sat, perched on the edge of my seat, remote in hand, ready to punch the off button or turn the channel at any sign of scantily clad and objectified women, wardrobe malfunctions, twerking, or even crude innuendo.

Surprisingly, I didn’t need to use it.  From the positive family messages in the Cheerios spot

to the ad activism of Bank of America and Chevy,

the crude jokes, sexual innuendo and scantily clad women were kept to a minimum.

Then, the halftime show.  Now, my kids do not know who Bruno Mars or the Red Hot Chili Peppers are (though my 6 year old said she recognized “Give It Away Now”), but they bought the pre-game and in-game hype 100%.

“The greatest concert of the year?! I can’t wait!” my son shouted at the 2 minute warning.

We tried to prepare them for the inevitable disappointment that goes with the Super Bowl Halftime show.  My husband explained that while it *may* be the greatest concert of the year, the year has only had 33 days in it so far – so there’s not a lot of competition.  I remembered the infamous “wardrobe malfunction” that had mothers screeching in horror everywhere and wondered if I should tell my son to cover his eyes just in case.

Lo and behold – it wasn’t all bad.  Bruno and his gold lamé jacket squad were more Motown classy than pop star sassy.  Boy does that kid have moves!  The Red Hot Chili Peppers were in their head-banging glory and Anthony Kiedis (lead singer) even broke out his dress shorts for the occasion.

Both bands did what they do best, did it spectacularly, and didn’t need anything outrageous or controversial to put on one of the best halftime shows I’ve seen since U2’s 9/11 tribute and heart-shaped stage in 2009.

I know that many people complained that the ads and halftime show were as sad, pathetic, and boring as the game itself (that one touchdown the Broncos scored felt like an awful lot like pity points).  But this mom is grateful that I did not have to answer any awkward questions from my young children.

It wasn’t perfect…Since when do threesomes save troubled marriages Butterfinger?  And why is Uncle Jesse about to use your yogurt to trick a girl into oral sex Oikos?   Oh and Sodastream…I’m sorry but using seductive straws won’t get me to buy your soda? Fortunately the worst offenders were after halftime and after my kids were in bed.

Despite a few hiccups, I want to issue a huge thank you to the NFL and Fox for a family-friendly Super Bowl experience!

thankyousuperbowl