My Sunday Best

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Two link ups in three days! Great to join you, Rosie and all!

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I wish we would have taken this picture before Mass, when it was sunny and fewer blooms were fully blown out. Oh well. My mind was a little scattered, as I’d just spent the fifteen minutes before heading out freaking out that a bug I smushed on my phone was a tick (there was blood on the tissue) and if a red mark on Aslan was a bite or the itchy spot on my thigh was not in fact a mole, but a head. I’m now much calmer. 😛

On me: Dress is from H&M about 3 years ago now. Shrug from Macy’s Everyday Value collection. The belt is ancient, so I no longer remember what outfit it originally went with. Shoes are from one of those outlet shoe stores; though pretty, sometimes awkwardly fitting.

On Aslan: Cat and Jack dress up outfit, sans the bowtie, which I lost before getting home from Target. When he wore this for Easter, I got a great matching (but huge!) one from Crazy 8’s.

Spiritual thoughts: I found it really interesting that the morning after watching the movie Silence we had a reading on sacrifice from 1 Peter and a homily on the shepherd sacrificing for the good of his sheep (meaning us and our flock).

Fr. Barron and Catholic film critic Steven Greydanus have thoughtful things to say about the movie, but in light of the reading and homily today, I’m reflecting on it even more.

Going by 1 Peter, we should follow Christ, and to do so, have no “deceit found in [our] mouths”–no “korobu,” the Japanese word for the apostasy Fr. Rodrigues and brother priest Fr. Garupe contemplates committing. Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross so that we might live in righteousness, much as the Japanese martyrs did in the film.

BUT the key conflict in the film is the wretched moral choices offered to the priests: continue to proclaim the One True Faith and refuse to commit apostasy, but let innocents be tortured to death OR speak his “korobu” and save the lives of five people. It’s like the prisoner’s dilemma of Christian witness: 1. Do you trample on a holy image and allow the authorities to call the Christian faith dead (consequently hindering the spread of the Good News for a long, long time) for the price of your soul and saved lives of a few? OR  2. Do you refuse as a witness to the strength of your faith (“the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church) for the price of the authorities tarnishing the Christian faith (“See how cruel it is–you must let others die because you won’t take one ‘meaningless’ step or say one ‘simple’ word) and the price of the lives of innocents?

In our good and holy priest’s homily, he said that in our journey to become Christlike, we should be like shepherds to our flock (our family, our neighbors, etc.), and that means putting their welfare above all else. Silence begins with Fr. Rodgriues and Fr. Garupe traveling to Japan to see if it is true that their mentor has committed apostasy, which they learn was an action insidiously designed to trap priests. Was their beloved Fr. Ferreira being a good shepherd in renouncing Christ so that others may live? When another character makes a similar choice, what is in his heart after–does he truly believe that his lifelong work for the state is for the “good” of the people (they get to stay alive!). And what is the true good, anyway?

Silence is rather silent on these questions, unfortunately (but given it was fiction, the filmmakers totally had license to actually say something and make a point). And our priest was cornered for the entire donut social, so I couldn’t ask him about it. Maybe next time, when the drama from the pastoral planning announcement has died down. But that’s a whole other post for another time….

7QTF: While the Babe Naps

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Linking up for the first time in forever!

Sooo first there was a six week gap. And now there’s been a 4.5-MONTH gap. Here’s a brief rundown of things happening/what I’ve been thinking since Aslan now naps longer than 35 minutes at a time.

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Aslan is 5+ months old and thriving. He’s going through growth spurt after growth spurt and just a bit smaller than a 10-month old in one of our play/mom groups.

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Writing has fallen so far on the wayside. A couple of weeks ago, PJ was primary-parent-on-duty so I could spend all day catching up on some writing work and meet friends for dinner. It was in lieu of spending all weekend at a conference when what I really needed aside from workshops about content was actual content. And one time Aslan napped well enough that a friend and I could have a writing date.

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With so little written since Aslan’s birth, there is even less to submit. I did get a chance to send a blog post to a mommy site. I got rejected, but hey, I tried!

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It’s funny how motherhood (especially staying-at-home) was everything I thought it would be like and also nothing like it at all. But during this near-6-month sabbatical I’ve discerned something. I need to work outside the home–and after a lot of mental anguish, I’m beyond caring what anyone thinks about that or providing justification. My reasons have to be only good for our family, not for any naysers. To whit, I have TWO job interviews this coming week. Please pray for me!

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One unwritten (anywhere proper–it’s fully composed in my head) thing is a thinkpiece on Hulu’s adaptation of  The Handmaid’s Tale. Facebook friends couldn’t stop posting about it, so I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Anyone interested in reading “No Balm in this Gilead: Catholics and The Handmaid’s Tale” alternatively titled “Seriously, Mike Pence Would Never Let It Get This Far, So Stop Freaking Out, Ladies.” ?

Aaaand my brain power is shorting out, so how about a couple more baby pictures?

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Aslan was welcomed into the Church a little while ago. Gotta love that new Catholic smell. Shoot…this reminds me I was supposed to use nap time to write thank yous…

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Pro tip: Boy Baptism outfits make great (and cost-effective!) bunny costumes. Just add ears.

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My Sunday Best

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Linking up with Rosie and the rest!

As much as I wished I could keep up with blogging during nap time/slowly typing one handed while feeding…that’s just not our life right now. So, six weeks later, here we are!

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I’m in a sweater from INC, I think, and black pants from New York and Company. They fit like they did pre-Aslan, which is to say, I needed a belly band form Target. But since I have slight abdominal muscle separation, I’m not to do crunches. Oh well.

Aslan is in a “Christmas” outfit from Koala Kids. He did wear it for Christmas Mass, and it was HUGE on him at 9 lbs.  The newborn dress shirt was stretching across his linebacker chest too much, so that’s going in the storage bin after a wash. But he’s still swimming in the pants! Baby clothes sizing is ridiculous.

Of course I have things to say about things in the world, but for now, just going to sign off until the next quiet time.

7QTF: Overdue Update Via Pregnancy Memes

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Linking up with Kelly and the rest!

Uh, so it’s been what, a whole trimester since I last posted? Oops. I meant to blog, but life and belly kind of sort of got in the way. Of course my return week has to be this week in November, and in the parlance of my generation, I literally can’t even right now. So funny pregnancy memes until I’m up for something more cogent.

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Obligatory bumpie comparison: 20 or so weeks (left) vs. 37 weeks (right).

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And feeling nothing remotely akin to early labor. But this is happening.

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In discussing Christmas wish lists, was asked for my sizes. Dear Husband told the family to just ignore clothes for me this year. “But surely her shoe size won’t change?”

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Down to two pairs of shoes out of six clsoed toe options. Flip flops, you say? Tomorrow’s high is 45. Farenheit. But I did just resign from the first of two jobs this week. Might write more about that later. For now, I’m just glad I can wear slippers more.

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I also have a longer span with which to increase these intervals:

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The struggle is too real. Thank God pregnant women can indeed, yes, it’s been studied, have coffee. *sips her pumpkin spice as coolly as Kermit swills his tea.*

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I’ve been having mostly good days, but then some bad ones. Like this:

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I was especially that otter yesterday at Trader Joe’s with all their Christmas goodies. Unfortunately our state will only allow them to sell beer, so no Brandy Beans made it into the cart. BUT I have MA and FL connections who might be able to hook a new mama up. Because as we can rejoice again, studies show when it comes to drinking post partum, if you can drive, you can drink. Or eat small chocolates with yummy yummy liquer in them.

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And on the good days, I feel like this!

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Baby is healthy, I am healthy, we’re basically all set up and ready to go. But watch him overshoot his Thanksgiving due date by at least a week and become a December baby.

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And on that note, while birth story blogs are a  nice genre many women enjoy, here’s my advance warning about my (non) contribution.

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Maaaybe I’ll take Jen Fulwiler’s lead and do haiku. Maybe.

Happier week ahead to you, dear readers!

7QTF: NFP Week 2016

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Linking up with Kelly and the rest!

To conclude my week of NFP posts, something light! NFP memes!

So, on one of our honeymoon drives, PJ and I listened to one of his favorite soundtracks to one of our well-enjoyed movies, Top Gun. My sense of humor being what it is, and my musically Ignatian prayer life literally seeing God in everything, started thinking of NFP memes based on the lyrics–drawn from a communal well of experiences relayed in public forums, articles, books, witness talks.

*TTA: trying to avoid, TTW: trying to whatever; TTC: trying to conceive

*Phase 1: period, Phase 2: fertile, Phase 3: infertile

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God, forgive me.

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 If you practice a sympto-hormonal method or would like to learn and need the gear, Simcha Fisher has just one more day left of her ClearBlue fertility monitor giveaway!

NFP Week 2016 – Humane Vitae: WWRW

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Another two-fer! A very late link up to the July Wednesday book reviews from fellow bloggers hosted by Carolyn Astfalk and Catholicmom.com.

I finally, FINALLY read the gem Humanae Vitae. This encyclical was “given” (how nice a turn of phrase! like a gift is given) on July 25, 1968 by Pope Paul VI. Annually, NFP Awareness Week is celebrated at this time to commemorate the anniversary of this life changing document. And yes, it is a gift.

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Though I’ve mentioned this encyclical before, I actually had never read it–not all the way through. And now that I have? My, what a beautiful meditation on marriage and humanity. I particularly liked the sections on God’s design for marriage and married love (8 & 9). Those paragraphs should be inserted into every wedding liturgy homily.

Also wonderful? How Paul VI clearly communicates the Church’s authentic mercy for families. He and the Magisterium got it–all the way back in 1968–got how the world has its trials, how couples may have a serious or reasonable rationale for delaying or spacing pregnancy, and how it is okay to use God’s wonderful design to do just that! Of course, true mercy does not involve flouting morals, for how can you be merciful if you care so little for the soul? Further, he calls upon everyone to essentially fix the world so that family life can be improved.

His proscriptions for politicians, doctors, scientists, etc., show that the Church doesn’t want to just leave us hanging. And in the case of Catholic doctors and scientists in particular, some people have taken this message to heart. We have incredible advances in fertility awareness methods, as well as NaProTechnology. Section 15 does address use of certain elements strictly for therapeutic means–I bet he’s smiling in Heaven to know that doctors are continually working to treat and cure bodily diseases with God’s own design of the human body.

However, I am sure he is displeased that his predictions (17) have come true. I’d read about them before, but seeing how precisely he laid it out was humbling. One that stuck out to me that’s not mentioned as much was this: “There is too much clamorous outcry against the voice of the Church, and this is intensified by modern means of communication.” (18) Facebook or Twitter fights, amirite? I really feel like if we as a society could just take time to fully listen, to fully engage with such documents as this (and Pope St. John Paul II’s Love and Responsibility, whose philosophy on the human person can be traced to elements in HV), there’d be less clamor and less outcry. Another disappointment was in what solutions have not been fully realized. In particular, I feel that some priests have shirked their responsibility in answering the Vicar of Christ’s call to accompany couples as they live out these teachings. While some priests and bishops are quite vocal in their defense of the teachings of marriage, I’ve heard stories of others, who, especially when it comes to the beauty of the why of NFP, do not have “stamped in the heart and voice…the likeness of the voice and the love of our Redeemer.” (29).

But I am glad for Pope Paul VI’s message to the world, along with his calls to each of us sons and daughters of Christ. In particular, I  favored this mission, one I’ve adopted through my writing for teens: “the need to create an atmosphere favorable to the growth of chastity so that true liberty may prevail over license and the norms of the moral law may be fully safeguarded.” (22)

That about sums it up. May we leave this week to “go and do likewise.”

Don’t forget! If you want to use a sympto-hormonal form of acceptable spacing births, Simcha Fisher is giving away ClearBlue fertility monitors!

NFP Week 2016/NAS – Wedding Fun

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It’s two-for-one day here at the old blog! Linking up with Morgan and the rest with another July post. The theme is “wedding fun,” and what better kind of opportunity to also touch upon NFP Awareness Week! I mean, the USCCB’s graphic features a couple in their wedding clothes!

Sooo…weddings are fun. I love being brought back to the joy of Day 1 of PJ’s and my marriage, especially given that one of the most exuberant dance songs (Walk the Moon’s “[Shut Up] and Dance with Me) I danced to plays every day on the radio. And yeah. Ahem, other wedding fun [usually] happens, which everyone appropriately avoids talking about or alluding to, except for maybe some relatives of a certain age or nosy disposition who ask about when the grandkids are coming or helpfully do the math when you have a special announcement before the professional photos are even ready or show their disappointment if there’s not. But, as hilariously (and okay, slightly inappropriately) depicted on Jane the Virgin (about 3:20 in, after a very lovely and respectful portrayal of the celebration of the sacrament of Catholic marriage), it seems like maybe a given.

I’ll let you in on a married lady secret. For some newlyweds, when they hear this question, they could be thinking some different answers (which most would never dream of telling you): “Not tonight! [because I know my cycle, and yeah, it’d be a miracle]” or “Not tonight! [and our serious/just/grave reasons are none of your beeswax]” or “Maybe! [because we’re taking the que sera, sera approach]” or “Hopefully! [because I know my cycle and tonight is the night!”]. They do this because they’re already starting their marriage with Natural Family Planning (or not–see the que sera, sera couples).

Prior to marrying PJ, I’d blogged about NFP before (see the categories), but from the perspective of a single or in-a-relationship or engaged-and-learning woman. As a woman practicing it, with a whole other person, my understanding and perspective has naturally been transformed. There’s “knowing” what you’re getting into, and then there’s knowing. Once you add another person’s heart, mind, attitudes, and behaviors into the mix, NFP is like advancing not just to another level, but advanced kingdom.

Heading into our wedding, PJ and I had to make decisions together, decisions I’d encourage any engaged or seriously dating couples to consider. And if you’re like me and have an NFP knowledge base or opinions, understand that you may have to shift or compromise (on what you discern) or (hopefully not!) open your eyes to a challenge to resolve before saying “I do.”

  • What are our NFP IQs? Having worked for a Catholic publisher and being an avid reader of Catholic lady bloggers and family life forums–I knew a lot. So when appropriate, PJ and shared what we knew (and I didn’t scare him off with TMI or “Look, enough people say this can be really hard. You ready for that?”!)
  • What method will we use? There are many! Each has its advantages and disadvantages. I had a pretty clear idea what I wanted to do, and having worked with the coordinator of my archdiocese on an app, really wanted to travel back to learn a sympto-hormonal method. I explained why, giving a brief overview of the other methods, and PJ was on board! What’s important is that if you don’t have a specific method for specific reasons like I did, that you and your guy both explore enough about the options. If you severely disagree, I would recommend finding someone through the Family Life Office for a couple (or the couple at your pre-Cana experience) to talk to–or even a priest to talk in general about how to manage the conflict. Just be aware that sometimes the diocese only offers one form, and in my estimation of the writing, many are fans of theirs and cannot objectively speak to others. And as the graphic above says “open the heart of your marriage”…to possibly changing–maybe not now or in a set time frame, but as circumstance allows. You do not need to have a forever plan.
  • When are we going to start? And to what end? I wish I knew how to underline in WordPress. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO USE NFP IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO. Sometimes some Catholics give other faithful a bad rap for extolling the virtues of NFP too much, as if it was mandatory, or worse, sinful because just/serious/grave  only means “there’s a war on” or “here’s the signed statement from the woman’s uber-Catholic doctor saying she could die.” So you two may decide on wedding fun without consulting a chart. But I do recommend learning a method, as a tool in your back pocket, for when you may discern you need to use it. One of the glorified benefits of NFP is communication. And this applies to engagement. You’ll have to talk about if you need  to start from Day 1, if you don’t care, as well as have to talk about whether wedding night fun should not happen (hey, it’s not a guarantee, and a perfectly valid and survivable choice!).  Another benefit is NFP can not just help you delay pregnancy, but achieve it! So if you both talk and agree you want to start your family as soon as possible, it might just take the guesswork or an agonizing monthly wait-and-see out of it. PJ and I talked about all these things, and more, and acted on the information accordingly. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

To conclude, I want to say that today is the feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. What must their wedding have been like? Scripture doesn’t tell us much about this couple; Tradition, a little. Like any bride and groom, I imagine they may have been full of hope and expectations and dreams–but could they have conceived of the notion that together they would conceive our Blessed Mother, a sinless child, and be doting grandparents to the savior of the world, Jesus? On that day, NFP was not a “thing” for them, but we can surmise that love, mercy, life, and a marriage of open hearts was. May they pray for us.

If you want the chance to win a ClearBlue fertility monitor, which is used in the sympto-hormonal forms of NFP, head on over to Simcha Fisher’s blog.