Monday, September 30, 2013

To Find Out or Not to Find Out? That is the Question..

This is probably my most wishy-washy pregnancy yet.  Is it because I've done it so many times, or I'm getting old, or because I'm lazy and don't want to commit to any decisions?  I don't know, maybe it's just pregnancy brain.  

We are no way close to deciding on baby names, and I had originally been putting it off until we found out the sex of this wee one so that would help our (lack of) focus.    But now we are leaning towards not finding out what this baby is going to be.  Which is shocking to me, because it's no secret I want a little sister for Maggie and I'm itching to find out.  However, there seem to be more reasons not to know...

Some history:

We didn't find out the sex for the first two babies, and then we did find out for the next three.  

My last two labors have been horrible, I mean natural, and I'm going to try that route again for this baby.

Ok, that's all you need to know, let's move one.

Reasons To Find Out:

1) It's fun to bond with the baby and settle on a name early.
2) I don't want to be disappointed in any way when I look at my sweet baby's face (if it's a boy, because I'm hoping for a girl).  I'd rather be "prepared".  I know that sounds terrible, but I'm being honest.
3) We can plan for room arrangements, clothes, etc.

Reasons Not to Find Out:

1) My kids want to be surprised.  Seriously!!  They don't want to know.
2) Therefore, we wouldn't be able to tell anyone.
3) I would love to experience a natural labor with the excitement of finding out who the baby is waiting for me at the end.  I think it might help dull the pain a bit.
4) There are so few surprises in life, and this is one of them.

So what to do?  How about you all decide for me?  Tell me what you did and why and if you would do it again...

Friday, September 27, 2013

7 for 7

My Eamon turned SEVEN yesterday!  
He's still such a little peanut, but full of spunk and joy to make him seem larger than life.  (You know the type.)
Here are some pictures from his big day:

He woke up this morning and said "It's my birthday! And Johnny Appleseed Day!  And Caitlin's birthday (his cousin)! And Gammy's half birthday!"  

I asked him if he felt older, and he said "Not really, maybe a little bit bigger or something."
How old are you?
His birthday meal requests:

Breakfast: Donuts (I added some yogurt for protein)

Lunch: A nutella and fluff sandwich (we never let them have this combo, and he's been dying to try it! The verdict was that it was "too sweet".  Well, I'll be.)

Dinner: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and broccoli - steamed not roasted.  Same as last year!
This is how he eats it...all mashed up together.  It's actually quite tasty this way!
The extent of my cake decorating skills - Mario characters lined up like a 7.
Don't peek!

A happy boy!!
An unhappy boy!  He wanted to blow out the candles. "I do it!"
Gammy and Grandpa came over to celebrate:

He got lots of great presents from his birthday list:

What little boy asks for a Tervis cup for their birthday?

6) Siblings were very involved in the present opening and play by play:

Who needs to have friends over when every day is an instant party?

7) This is what I live for...the faces!


Happy Birthday Eamon, we love you to the moon and back!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

There's Nothing New Under the Son

The other day I was reading a magazine article on little ideas to improve your health.  As I was reading, I realized that the Catholic Church had already implemented that her followers take up these healthy habits a long, long time ago.  For example:

1. Fasting.
There are loads of books available now that say fasting is the new way to lose weight.  Our bodies were meant to fast, they claim, just as they had to back when we were hunters and gatherers that had times of plenty (Me kill da big buffalo for you dear) and times of famine (Chew on dis tree bark to curb your hunger).  Fasting can help you lose weight and improve your health, say it's supporters.  Well do you know who the biggest supporter of fasting is?  The Catholic Church!  

When people have an inordinate attachment to any physical pleasure, the Church recommends fasting to learn how to control our urges.  We fast during Lent to prepare our bodies, hearts, and minds for the amazing things that are about to happen in our liturgical year.  Jesus himself fasted for 40 days to prepare Himself for His ministry.  We are all about intermittent fasting, yo!

2. No Meat Once a Week.
This one is something I see all the time in magazines about healthier eating.  "Just replace your meat meals with vegetarian meals once a week!"  "Try Meatless Mondays!" "Be kind to animals!"  Their selling points may differ, but meatless enthusiasts claim eating more fruits and veggies and less animal products is better for your body and the earth.  Well guess who jumped on the no-meat-train a very long time ago?  It's those dern Catholics again! Yup, Catholics should abstain from eating meat on all Fridays as a form of penance to honor Jesus' death on Good Friday.  Meatless Mondays? Let's bring back Meatless Fridays.

3. Communication, Talking Things Out.
I have a theory that the rise in popularity of therapists/psychiatrists/psychologists is directly related to the decline of Confession and spiritual direction.  We Catholics are so lucky that we can talk to priests about our problems, ask for and receive forgiveness for our sins, and leave feeling like a brand new person.  It is so therapeutic to be able to talk to an understanding soul and feel at peace when you are done.

Of course, there are times when a medical doctor is needed in addition to a "spiritual doctor", and we are lucky to have access to both.

4. Treating Yourself.
The Catholic Church isn't all about restrictions and abstinence.  Oh no!  Do you know how many Feast days we celebrate each year? Me neither because there are so many!  Feast days are a great excuse to plan a fancier dinner or bake a sweet dessert.  And while doctors are recommending vacations to help people's stress levels, the Fourth Commandment has been telling us to take a day off each week to go to Mass and spend time with loved ones and relax!  How's that for treating yourself right?

5. Forgiveness.
The Mayo Clinic reports that:
Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for compassion, kindness and peace. Forgiveness can lead to:
  • Healthier relationships
  • Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse
Jesus himself asked God to forgive his torturers, claiming they knew not what they were doing.  And shouldn't we be living in Christ's example?  But another reason to forgive others is so that God can forgive us if when we sin - "And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us".

6. Role Models and Super Heroes.

This is one of my favorite things about the Catholic Church.  While the world tries to sell you on Disney actresses as role models that end up being the exact opposite of what you want your daughter to grow up like, the Church teaches us about real men and women with diverse backgrounds and personalities who overcame it all to become Saints.  

You want an excellent example of how to live as a career woman and mother?  Read about St. Gianna.  Do you need inspiration from someone who has led a life of sin but turns it all around?  Try St. Augustine.  Maybe you need advice from a mom who has watched her child make poor choices but finally wised up?  St. Monica's your gal.  
Taking from the example of Apple:

Catholics can say "You got problems?  We've got a Saint for that!"

7. Having Families.
Did you know that having a spouse makes you healthier?  And having children also improves your life?  These things can reduce the risks of cancers, increase happiness, help you live longer, etc.  Guess who is the biggest supporter of marriage and procreation?  Yup, the good old Catholic Church.  We're not just trying to take over the world, we're trying to make it a better place ;)

8. Karma.
We've all heard that what goes around comes around.  The secular world describes it as karma.  

The Bible teaches us to "love our neighbor as we love ourselves" which is the Catholic interpretation of karma, I suppose.  Whereas karma can be viewed negatively (You just stole my boyfriend!  Watch out for that karma!), the Golden Rule is a positive way to live (I won't steal your boyfriend because I don't want anyone taking MY man).  See, it's much nicer ;)

9. Money.
Paying off debt is a good thing.  It's also a million dollar business for some people who are experts in the field.  People are desperate to find ways to save money, pay off debts, and increase their incomes.  But, we don't need fancy plans or highly paid speakers to tell us how to live a financially healthy life.  All one has to do is read Pope Benedict's Light of the World, where he says that people living in debt are people "living in untruth", or read the hundreds of passages about money in the Bible, or open the Catechism to see what it says about working and earning an income.  Work hard, spend wisely, save soundly, and grow in your love of poverty, because God loves the poor!

10. Healthy Sex Lives.
I can't even begin to tell you how many magazine articles I see proclaiming to give all the secrets to an amazing sex life.  

And they couldn't be more wrong.  They are almost all focused on a selfish love, on getting what you want, and not on giving love to another.  
Well, the world may not be in the know yet, but we Catholics all realize the way to have a healthy and fulfilling sex life is to have a committed partner who puts us first.  You can't get more committed than marriage with a vow of "until death do us part" and you can't get more selflessly loved than by a spouse who is following the teachings of John Paul II's Theology of the Body

So there you have it.  The best way to live a healthy life is to live a life in full communion with the teachings of the Catholic Church.  And remember...


Friday, September 20, 2013

7 QT: Fall Baking, Bracelet Making, Gender Guessing, and Pope Francis

I love me some Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Muffins, but they contain a day's worth of fat and calories, so I made some from scratch instead.  They were very yummy, everyone in my family gobbled them up and we were even able to bring some to a friend who is battling cancer right now.  The recipe is here, I made 24 muffins instead of the bread, omitted the nuts (I do not like nuts in my baked goods) and added a simple glaze (of confectionery sugar and milk and vanilla) once the muffins were completely cooled.
Because nothing says "You're gonna beat cancer's behind!" than pumpkin muffins.
We were gifted some apples from the baby's nanny's cousin's garden (did you catch all that?) and so when life hands me apples, I make Swedish Apple Pie.  Because even more than I do not like nuts in my muffins, I do not like pie crust.  Swedish Apple Pie  is the easiest thing to make, and you just pour the "crust" over the apples and it becomes this delicious combination of apple crisp and apple pie.  We have this at every Thanksgiving dinner in our family, but it's easy enough to whip up an a weekday too.  The recipe I use is like this one, I just add cinnamon to the apple slices, and make sure to pile the apple slices high in the pan because they always cook down a lot.
Tasted even better than it smelled, which is really saying something.
Speaking of beating cancer, have you read Nella's blog?  She is a mom of six who was diagnosed with cancer right after finding out she was pregnant with her 6th baby.  Go give her some love and prayers.

John-Paul made this one for me.  I apologize for my pale and freckly Irish skin.

My kids are like totally obsessed with making these weave bracelets right now.  All of them, from my 10 year old boy to my 5 year old girl are having fun with these. I really wish we had bought them a kit over the summer, since it would have given us zero moments of the I'm-Bored-Whinies.  Go get your kids some if you want some peace and quiet. Kit here (just one per family is enough), and extra supplies here (maybe one per kid?).

The other day, I realized my thighs were getting a lot bigger.
I excitedly told this to Phil, who looked at me like "Why are you so happy that your legs are getting fatter when every other day of your life you would cry about this same discovery?"
Seeing his confusion, I said "My thighs are getting bigger and my behind is getting bigger and that means I must be having a girl!"
Then added, "Or it means all those Reese's peanut butter cup cravings are finally catching up to me."
And I got sad again.

My poor husband tore his rotator cuff.  He did it while playing frisbee and throwing himself all over the field like he's still 19 and the best player at FUS (oh yes he was!).  At first he just said he hurt his shoulder and I had no sympathy for him because I always tell him he needs to play differently now that he's older, and take it easy so he doesn't get hurt.  But does he listen to me?  Of course not.  Unfortunately the competitive streak runs on both sides of our family.  Anyway, by a couple of days after the injury, he couldn't even move his arm and he made an appointment to see the doctor.  I started to feel really sorry for him.  Phil is not the typical guy who gets a man-cold and is useless for days.  That's more my gig.  

So if he's making an appointment, he's pretty much in terrible pain and/or dying.  The doctor thinks it's a partial tear and gave him some anti-inflammatory drugs, and Phil felt like a new man the first day on those bad boys.  Medicine and good doctors are such a blessing.

So much Pope Francis hoopla, eh?  Some clips from the interview (source):

On himself

Yes, perhaps I can say that I am a bit astute, that I can adapt to circumstances, but it is also true that I am a bit naïve. Yes, but the best summary, the one that comes more from the inside and I feel most true is this: I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.

On homosexuality

During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.

On abortion

We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

On the vow of chastity

Religious men and women are prophets. They are those who have chosen a following of Jesus that imitates his life in obedience to the Father, poverty, community life and chastity. In this sense, the vows cannot end up being caricatures; otherwise, for example, community life becomes hell, and chastity becomes a way of life for unfruitful bachelors. The vow of chastity must be a vow of fruitfulness.

On women in the church

Women are asking deep questions that must be addressed. The church cannot be herself without the woman and her role. The woman is essential for the church. Mary, a woman, is more important than the bishops. I say this because we must not confuse the function with the dignity. We must therefore investigate further the role of women in the church. We have to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman.

On the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits)

The Society of Jesus is an institution in tension, always fundamentally in tension. A Jesuit is a person who is not centered in himself. The Society itself also looks to a center outside itself; its center is Christ and his church. … But it is difficult to speak of the Society. When you express too much, you run the risk of being misunderstood. The Society of Jesus can be described only in narrative form. Only in narrative form do you discern, not in a philosophical or theological explanation, which allows you rather to discuss.

On being a Jesuit

Three things in particular struck me about the Society: the missionary spirit, community and discipline. And this is strange, because I am a really, really undisciplined person. But their discipline, the way they manage their time—these things struck me so much.
And then a thing that is really important for me: community. I was always looking for a community. I did not see myself as a priest on my own. The papal apartment in the Apostolic Palace is not luxurious … It is big and spacious, but the entrance is really tight. People can come only in dribs and drabs, and I cannot live without people. I need to live my life with others.

On his style of authority

My style of government as a Jesuit at the beginning had many faults. That was a difficult time for the Society: an entire generation of Jesuits had disappeared.
Because of this I found myself provincial when I was still very young. I was only 36 years old. That was crazy. I had to deal with difficult situations, and I made my decisions abruptly and by myself. Yes, but I must add one thing: when I entrust something to someone, I totally trust that person. He or she must make a really big mistake before I rebuke that person.
But despite this, eventually people get tired of authoritarianism. … To be sure, I have never been like Blessed Imelda [a goody-goody], but I have never been a right-winger. It was my authoritarian way of making decisions that created problems.

On the church as a healer

The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle."I see clearly that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars!

On the Second Vatican Council reforms

Vatican II was a re-reading of the Gospel in light of contemporary culture. Vatican II produced a renewal movement that simply comes from the same Gospel. Its fruits are enormous. Just recall the liturgy. The work of liturgical reform has been a service to the people as a re-reading of the Gospel from a concrete historical situation.
Yes, there are hermeneutics of continuity and discontinuity, but one thing is clear: the dynamic of reading the Gospel, actualizing its message for today – which was typical of Vatican II – is absolutely irreversible.

On uncertainty and God

Yes, in this quest to seek and find God in all things there is still an area of uncertainty. There must be. If a person says that he met God with total certainty and is not touched by a margin of uncertainty, then this is not good. For me, this is an important key. If one has the answers to all the questions -that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself.
The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble. Uncertainty is in every true discernment that is open to finding confirmation in spiritual consolation.
Part of me is all "You need to clearly state the Church's teachings and call on Catholics to follow them faithfully."  And then the other part of me is like "The way to win followers is through a loving example."  I don't think he's saying anything wrong, and I'm glad that so many non-Catholics are paying attention to what he's saying, but I don't like the way some people are taking his remarks to another level and saying that the Church is changing her position.  Like them, for example:

All in all, I'm just glad I'm not the Pope.  

Have a great Fall Weekend everybody!!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Maggie's Favorite Store

Linking up with Cari and her Theme Thursday: Store

After having the three boys, I dreamed of one day having a girl to do girly things with.  You know, the usual...buying cute dresses, braiding her hair, having tea parties, and of course, playing with dolls.  

Then along came my sweet Maggie with her very strong opinions on fashion, her deathly fear of braids, her disinterest in tea parties, but at least she loved her dolls!

Eamon teaching her how to bottle feed.

Maggie finds breastfeeding easier.

A princess for a princess.

Anyway, so when Maggie was turning four, her cousins started to brainwash expose her to all things American Girl.  Maggie would devour the catalogs and make lists for which baby doll she wanted.

She had finally settled on a particular Bitty Baby with blond hair and blue eyes.  And for her 4th birthday (almost 2 years ago...sniff...sniff), my little sister and I took our daughters to the American Girl Store near Boston and they were able to get their first dolls! 

 They were just a tad excited to get inside the store...but made sure to hold hands.

Once inside, Maggie changed her mind (it's a girl's prerogative!) and decided to get the Bitty Twin instead.  She named her Rosemary Margaret, which is her name backwards, loved on her all day long, and then promptly forgot about her.

I guess she's not my girly girl after all.

Ah well, maybe God has a girly girl in store (pun most definitely intended!) for me yet :)