Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Break!

As some of you may have noticed by the lack of blogging for the past few days, I've decided to take a break.  Not a long break, mind you.  My parent's are visiting Florida, and while I have internet where we're staying (kind of... at least, I have internet for spurts, when I load something like one out of four pages...) I've decided that after almost three years of posting pretty much every day (and often more than once a day), I'm taking this week off.  I'll be back on Sunday or Monday!  

Have a great week!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

"Family" Urgent Care

As I mentioned in my earlier post, everyone in the house has some sort of flu/cold combo that we're all trying to kick.  Sadie was the hardest hit yesterday, going to lay down in her room by herself and then telling Nani on the phone that she was too sick to go on an airplane to see her (Nani and Grumpa are flying out tomorrow and apparently Sadie had the travel plans switched around).

When Paul got home from classes I told him that I thought we should try to get her in to see someone, since it was Friday, and I didn't want to wait until the weekend and be stuck going to the ER.  Thankfully we'd just gotten a flier in the mail for a clinic, not far from our apartment.  It said "Family Center" and "Urgent Care" with a "average 10 minute wait time" and, the icing on the cake, "$35 per appointment."  The $35 was my favorite part, because most of the urgent care places we've been to don't take our insurance, and on a sliding scale for income we still paid around $100 for the doctor to say Mae had an ear infection (which we knew) and to write a prescription for antibiotics (I'd hate to see what the "scale" was for people above the poverty level because that seems a little steep to me).  And since the girls' doctor doesn't have a receptionist, but goes straight to an answering machine, we knew we wouldn't be getting in to see him before the weekend began.

So Paul called the office and said that we had two sick little girls who needed an appointment.  He came back into the room a few minutes later, shaking his head:  "They said they don't see kids.  They don't have a pediatrician."  I had figured that they wouldn't have a pediatrician, but since we just moved from a small town, our girls have both always seen general practitioners, and that's never been an issue.  "It's kind of weird," he continued, "since this flier says "family center."

Which does leave you wondering.  What exactly does "family" mean in "family center urgent care" practice if you don't see children?  How would it be any different from any other Urgent Care center (and actually the other, non-"family" urgent care center did see Mae for her ear infection)?

I'm baffled.  I guess they just like how the name sounded.

Thankfully Sadie and Mae both seem a little better this morning.  We'll be resting up because we are traveling a few hours to meet Nani and Grumpa someplace fun, after Mass tomorrow.  Paul has a week off (from classes, if not studying) so we're going to try to make the most of it (although I'm sure there will still be lots of studying!).

False Positives

Earlier this week I took a pregnancy test and it came back positive.  I danced around and ran out to tell Paul.  I was pretty much on cloud nine for several hours.  Then for some reason (mostly my addiction to seeing that little double line positive sign) I decided to take another.  It was negative.  And another, which showed one little line.  And then one more, just in case there was something wrong with the other two, because let's face it, I was still in denial and pretty certain that that first test had been right.

The next day I gave it one more try and the little test strip showed nothing.  I resigned myself to the fact that the four negative tests were probably right.  (The test shown to the right is not a cheapie... It's one of the more expensive ones I bought that came back positive when we were trying to figure out what was wrong during the months of positives I got after the miscarriage... and at that point I was apparently still hopeful that it was a real positive, since we didn't have an accurate diagnosis yet.)

A few online friends pointed out that posters had said in the review section for the cheapie Amazon HCG tests that they were getting false positives with certain batches.  So I guess I can say I now have had a false positive from the cheapie tests.  Sigh.

Don't get me wrong, I still think they're worth buying.  When I went to Walgreen's yesterday to buy every single cough/flu product I could find (as of this morning every person in our home is sick... I was the last to fall... waking up sick this morning...) the average pregnancy test was around $8 per test.  On amazon you pay $9 for 50.  And out of the 100 or so (a conservative estimate) tests I've taken in the past year (the vast majority were when I was waiting for the tests to go negative the three months after the miscarriage) 99% have been accurate.

But I do think it's important to keep in mind that there's apparently a higher chance of false positives with them than with the pricer tests.

The solution to this is to make sure to test a second time immediately if you do get a positive, hopefully while managing not to be hopeful or happy, so that those hopes aren't squashed if it is a test error.

Ah well.  Sadie was wrong.  I tested after she said:  "Mommy, you're tummy is looking bigger.  Do you think there's a baby in there?"  Wishful thinking, combined with pre-schooler honesty.  I do have to laugh at her frequent evaluating glances at my tummy.  Now if only I could get her to keep certain thoughts to herself!

Friday, February 24, 2012

"I Have to Kneel..."

The girl have both been sick and have been having a tough couple of days, with a horrible cough that I'm hoping goes away soon.  Last night Sadie got into bed and snuggled under the covers sleepily and I realized before she did what we'd forgotten to do.  Before we begin the family rosary she always says her own nightly prayer.  I asked her if she could say her prayers and there was a pause in the darkness before she gave the answer that I knew was coming.

"I need to kneel."

I asked if she couldn't please pray laying down, just this once, since she was already tucked in (and more importantly, since she was pretty sick).  This time the answer came more quickly, in a tone that sounded like tears might be close behind.

"I need to kneel to say my prayers."

So she climbed out of bed in the dark, knelt down and prayed, although this time the prayer was quite a bit shorter than it sometimes is, without the long pauses or the fancy words that she sometimes throws in.  Then she scrambled back into bed and I tucked her in again.

These past few weeks she's been quite an inspiration to me.  When we talking, and frequently when she's praying, she says things and the first thought that pops into my head is that we really can't take credit for this.  While a little seed may have been planted during family prayers and while reading her little Bible and talking about the saints, the way that her faith has taken root leaves me wide eyed frequently.

Don't get me wrong.  She's a typical little girl.  She's put in time out a half dozen times on a "bad day."  She tells me "no!" and has been having a little problem with "sassiness" this last week.  But she also goes and gets my Magnificat out of the drawer and says:  "Here Mommy, I got your prayers book, I'll pray with you."  And she tells me "I want to please God!" as often as she goes to time out.

This new interest in kneeling has an interesting two part origin.  She became interested in kneeling after we talked about it, in whispers for a few moments, during Mass one day.  Then she noticed that Saint Therese kneels to pray and fold her hands in her little books (which was followed by her coming over to me and to her dad during the day and saying: "Can you please fold your hands" frequently).  Then she noticed that Snow White kneels and prays.

Saint Therese and Snow White?

That did it.  The child now has to kneel.  The plea to kneel comes in the same teary voice that she sometimes tells met that she wants to be a "nun saint."

Her fervor has been inspirational to me as we've begun Lent.  I pray that it carries over, through her entire life!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Broken Fortress Dress Giveaway

Allison is have an awesome giveaway over at her blog... I would love to win this one!

Homemade Veggie Burger

I came up with this recipe yesterday while trying to think of a new veggie burger that I could make quickly for lunch.  We really liked the results, so I thought I'd share them here.

1 can kidney beans
1 can white beans (northern beans)
1 cup bread crumbs
1 packet taco seasoning
2 tbs garlic powder

Green Onions

Drain almost all liquid from beans.  Puree in a food processor.  Put in a bowl and mix with seasonings and bread crumbs (add extra bread crumbs if paste is still too runny to make patties).  Make patties.  Add cheese if you'd like to make it a cheese burger.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes (you might want to experiment with this because I'm not really trusting my oven's temperature these days because it's been rather inconsistent lately).  Serve on a bun (I added ketchup, mustard and green onions).

Ashes, Ashes...

I managed to snap a few pictures of the girls' ashes moments before they were washed off.  Sadie was pretty excited about hers.  Mae Bae on the other hand....  Well, Mae was being Mae and upon seeing the camera went from smiling to pouting to laughing and back to pouting again!

Mae decides she does not want to take a bath...

Sadie thinks she's being pretty silly washing her ashes off.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lent Arrives

Lent is here... and I figured out my Lenten Strategy 2012... just in time.

Several people suggested to me 40 bags in 40 days (where you get rid of 40 bags full of stuff), and that is definitely going to be a big part of my Lenten goal to simplify.  I'm going to make a big effort to get rid of the things that we don't need.  I've already piled something like 15 bags worth of stuff in the front hall... and I had to stop because we need to clear out the front hall before I can add more to it.  There's a microwave and a giant bag of toys, and I'm pretty sure that we could double or triple the bag of toys without making a dent on the solid coating of play things that are currently coating the living room floor after the girls being awake for all of one hour.  And there's a giant bag full of cream of chicken soup, because apparently I buy cream of chicken soup when I buy cream of mushroom soup, and while we go through a lot of cream of mushroom we apparently never use the cream of chicken, despite my apparent delusions otherwise.

I'm also going to focus on eating healthily and giving up junk food altogether, (with some light exceptions for the week when we are going to be traveling with my parents and I won't have my own kitchen or refrigerator)... although my new found love of Kale (and not just balsalmic garlic Kale chips, which are pretty much the best food on earth... but plain Kale too) makes me wonder if that should be on the "no" list, because I could really eat it, happily, all day long.  Baking cookies will be the biggest part of what I'm giving up... because I make chocolate coconut pecan cookies pretty much every week (the kind that are chocolate, condensed milk, coconut, vanilla and pecans, without flour or anything else) and I think I might have a slight chocolate coconut pecan cookie addiction at this point.

I'm going to try to pray the divine office, at least in the morning and at night, and read along with The Essential Lenten Handbook, which has daily meditations.  I'm also setting a goal to pray the rosary when we walk instead of listening to music (with a small deal that if I make it through 15 decades I will be able to put the earphones back on... since by that point I'll be so tired that a little extra musical motivation won't hurt).  And I'm going to make an effort to do a little more spiritual reading each day.

And so.... here we go!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fat Tuesday

Snow White

My brain has been feeling a bit like mush these past few days.  Maybe it's all the political drama of the past few months, but my brain just whirred along without producing any coherent thoughts any time I thought of writing a post.  However, I have been sewing!

I finished a new dress for Sadie today and began working on Mae Bae's sleeves.  The sleeves on this dress take forever to make.  They a combination of satin, silk scraps I had leftover from snood making and organza ribbon and putting them together takes a lot of time!  

I was planning on giving Sadie this dress next week as a surprise.  However, she stood next to my elbow as I sewed it, repeatedly asking that I "fit it" on her to make sure the dimensions were correct.  The second it was done she was changing out of the dress she was wearing to put it on.

I opted for a little collar, since I didn't think either girl would tolerate the traditional big Snow White collar.  And this time I made the dresses with zippers instead of velcro for the back closures.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Gingerbread Men Crayons

Sadie and I finally found a use for our broken crayons while Mae was napping today.  She peeled them and helped me break them into smaller pieces.  Then we put them in a silicone gingerbread man bold and we baked them in the oven for about ten minutes.  She was fascinated (she was hoping that they were going to turn into cookies).  We let them cool in the fridge to harden.

Afterwards she tried coloring with them... but then decided that standing them up and stacking them were even more fun!

The Clumsy Gene

Sadie has inherited her parents' clumsy genes.  She ran into her bedroom and about two seconds later, while I was getting dinner ready, I heard a scream and she'd  somehow fallen head first into the corner of her bed.  Sigh.

And yet she still managed to smile for the camera.  She's one tough little bunny!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

So... What Are You Doing for Lent?


It’s almost here.  And I’ve been planning on coming up with a plan since Epiphany ended, but really nothing seems quite right.  The last few years I’ve given things up, like sweets and soda, but usually the bulk of my Lenten devotions are adding a couple extra rosaries a day, or something like that. 

This year nothing seems right, at least on the “giving up” side (I know that I can come up with a dozen things to “do”, but I’ll turn my attention to that once I’ve finished brainstorming the fasting aspect).  The migraine thing has meant that I have, for the most part, given up most of the things I would normally think of giving up for Lent.  Now that I’ve begun to realize that everything from candy and soda, to bacon and pepperoni (and pretty much everything else vaguely unhealthy) seem to be migraine triggers, the realm of foods that I’d usually given up is already mostly out of the picture.  And giving up something I have infrequently, that might give me a migraine, isn’t really a sacrifice.  It’s more like common sense.

I can’t give up the Internet, as so many people I know are doing, since my business is online…

I thought about giving up meat… but as someone who was a vegetarian for ten years I know that it’s not really a huge sacrifice for me. 

I’ve toyed with the idea of giving up my irresponsible use of pregnancy tests each month, but then I wonder how that would actually work.  What if I actually do find myself in pregnant during Lent?  Then I’ll need to know as soon as possible, so we can find out if there is a progesterone problem.  So…  would I give up pregnancy tests unless I’m more than a week past the day when I would have (realistically) tested?  That seems kind of lame too (although I think I’m going to do it as part of what I’m doing…). 

I already wear dresses all the time… and since I have a covering on the majority of the time too it’s not like that would be much of a change. 

On the other hand, since my attempt at praying at least part of the Divine Office every day has for the most part been a failure (or at least inconsistent, with weeks where I’m good and weeks where I’m not) I think I will make that commitment, or at least commit to praying morning and nighttime prayers and to attempting to pray afternoon prayers.  I’m thinking of maybe adding a rosary on my own when I’m walking (since these days we usually just do a family rosary) too, but I feel like that’s what I do every year.  And I have a Lent book of meditations I’ll be reading and following along with (and reviewing).

I’m also torn on the fast.  I haven’t fasted… since the Lent before I was confirmed.  The last four years in which I’ve actually been Catholic have been: pregnancy, nursing, pregnancy, nursing.  I am still nursing.  But I’m nursing a nineteen month old.  Which makes me wonder if I should try?  I absolutely don’t advocate pregnant or nursing mothers of little ones to fast… but with a toddler only nursing once or twice a day?  I’m just not sure (any experience or advice here is appreciated… I’ve always been pregnant by the second Lent, so it’s never been an issue!).

So… that’s my not-so-helpful-I’m-so-obviously-not-ready-for-Lent-stream-of-consciousness post. 

What are you doing?  I’m all for stealing Lent ideas at this point, because I’m certainly not doing a great job of formulating any sort of plan on my own.

The Hours in the Day...

Having a workspace has made a huge difference in my life this past week.  I didn't realize how much time it took me to drag my sewing machine and other supplies out every single time I needed to use them, and then put them away if Mae woke up, so that she wouldn't have a chance to start pulling things apart.  Having a room with a door that I can close, leaving everything safely in place, has given me additional hours of work time each week.

And these extra, not-setting-up-or-taking-down hours are adding up.  I decided, for the first time ever, to figure out how much time I spent working at my SAHM "part time" job.  The answer?... roughly 6-7 hours a day, 6-7 days a week.  I've been trying really, really hard to take one evening off each week and just relax.  But lack of practice means I'm pretty horrible at that sort of thing, which is why it's 6-7 days a week instead of just plain old 6.  Sooo... that adds up to 36 (probably a low estimate) to 49 hours a week... with this week checking in at around 42 hours.

That's a lot of sewing!  And it doesn't count marketing and photographing and posting listings.  So I guess 50 hours a week would be better estimate, if you put all that other business stuff into the picture.  And yet, when I'm asked what I "do," I still say I'm a SAHM, because that's really the first priority.  Everything else is done during nap time or after bedtime.

Sadie doesn't nap anymore, so she brings a coloring book during nap time and lays on the floor and colors, or rearranges pieces of fabric, or plays with a long red strand of beads that she found somewhere, that decorated our Christmas tree this past year.  And she watches me sew and asks me if I'm making a princess dress about 50,000 times an hour.

January was the busiest month I've ever had, which was very good, but which also meant that I didn't have any time to make any new creations.  There's been a bit of a lull lately (in other words orders aren't at least exceeding the days of the month in February) and so I've been busy making new springtime designs and have thrown myself back into making chaplets.  And a sort of schedule has emerged.

During nap time I sew, or I pin giant piles of headcoverings and stack them by color to be sewn after bedtime.  When bedtime arrives I begin by sewing for an hour or two and then I take out my beading supplies and work on chaplets and rosaries in the living room until my eyes are too tired to stay open, or hand sew the finishing touches on headcoverings.

I do want to squeeze in a little more time for new ideas, because I have so many of them bouncing around in my head, but I'm usually so sleepy by my around-midnight-bedtime, that I go to bed.

And that is my small business schedule!  I'm kind of surprised by how many hours I spend on it when I actually add them all up!

Friday, February 17, 2012

On Recent Calls to Make NFP "Cool..."

Lately I’ve been stumbling across articles in the mainstream media about NFP, written by Catholic laywomen, who are taking a stab at the mysterious reason that so many women ignore this Church teaching choose instead to contracept.   One popular idea seems to be that it’s because NFP just isn’t “hip” enough.  They seem to think that if the Church just did a better job “marketing” NFP and upgrading the books and methods to make them more attractive, women would be falling all over themselves to sign up for NFP classes, while tossing their birth control pills out by the handfuls. 

They go on to say that maybe if the NFP teachers looked a little cooler, with a few less children, women would be more attracted to the idea too… and can’t we make the methods less scientific?  That shouldn’t be hard, right?  It should be easy!

Each time I read an article like this I was left with a feeling that something was a bit off in the understanding…

Maybe it is time for a little upgrading on the book graphics (I really can’t say on that one, because my NFP book is a plain green color with a few stripes, so it’s apparently not as offensive to a fashionistas sensibilities as some of the other books out there), but I somehow don’t think that the upgrade will cause the stampede that these articles seem to expect. 

And why aren’t there droves of fashion obsessed women beating down the doors to become NFP teachers?  Well, I suspect it’s because NFP does help shift ones perspective quite a bit… and puts priorities in a more naturally ordered alignment.  When God and family come first, you don’t have as much time to peruse the pages of the latest fashion magazine and even less time to race down to the mall to try on clothes.  In fact, even if a mom to a small tot makes it down to the local mall, and finds the hippest clothes and decides that she can afford them, there’s always a big chance some bodily fluid or food product is going to be splattered across it by midday… making it instantly less… cool. 

That doesn’t mean that women who follow this teaching don’t care about how they look… but saying that other women aren’t using NFP because the women that do use it aren’t fashionable enough, falls flat.  It sounds like an excuse worthy of a pre-teen… not worthy of a woman called to married vocation.   

As for NFP being easy… I don’t think that it’s one of those things that’s necessarily supposed to be as simple as remembering to pop a pill once a day.  The things in life that are good, often aren’t as easy as the alternative.  Even in following through when we decide to abstain we’re making a sacrifice, because at that moment we discern that something else is more important, and let’s face it, sacrifices are supposed to feel like sacrifices.  They’re not really supposed to be “fun,” although personally I’ve found following the Church teaching on this one infinitely more pleasant than pumping my body full of hormones that make me a banshee like psycho-path (extra estrogen does not make me a nice person… that’s for sure). 

I have a feeling that even if these “problems” that I’ve heard evaluated are fixed, plenty of women would still opt for the pill. 

In part I think this is the result of poor catechesis in past decades, running right up to the present.  I know I’ve said it before, but I made it through marriage prep and RCIA without hearing once that contraception was wrong.  I was confirmed without knowing that the Church “still” said that it was wrong.

But I think the problem goes deeper than that.  As long as the things of the world come before a person’s relationship with God, and their faith in the teachings of the Church he established with Peter, they’re going to have a hard time giving up the “easier” method of popping a pill or getting a shot.  Someone who’s begun to seek God, and attempt to follow his will in their lives, isn’t going to be thinking about how “cool” they look.  They’re going to be discovering the feeling of completeness that comes when we live our lives in accordance with Church teaching, the joy of uniting our will with God’s even when it isn’t easy or fashionable or “hip.” 

People are going to contracept because they think it’s easy.  They’ll do it because sin is attractive to our fallen nature.  They’ll do it because they don’t know what the Church teaches, or they don’t understand the teaching, or even because they just don’t care. 

But let’s not say they’re doing it because the other women who do it aren’t cool enough… or because it’s too hard (because if this switch is too hard, the path to holiness in general is going to be way, way too hard).  Let’s stop making excuses for why people sin, spread the good news and the joy of living rightly, and stop accepting excuses from ourselves for doing what’s easy rather than what’s right. 

The world isn’t going to love this teaching, because the world loves its own and this way of thinking most certainly isn’t of the world.  We aren’t going to draw people into the Church by being more worldly.  Until we stop trying to impress others, and start living out our calling to be a light upon a hilltop, I don’t see any of this changing… but if each of us embraced our calling to serve in this world, and loved God’s with all our hearts, the truth would be much harder to ignore… 

Let’s stop the call to focus more on the superficial and focus on God.  That’s the only solution to this problem.  Pray and fast.  Love God and your neighbor.  Light the world on fire with his love.  It will do far more good in spreading Church teaching, than a trip to the mall and a makeover.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A "Very, Very Dangerous" Animal

Yesterday I took the girls to the zoo.  We were walking along when we came across a sign announcing a new zoo attraction:

When we walked past the camels we paused to look at them and were asked if we wanted to ride them.  I said that I didn't think I could wrangle both girls together on top of a camel, so we'd have to pass for the day.  As we walked on I asked Sadie if she wanted to ride the camel some other time, if we came back with Daddy.  Her response was an adamant:  "No!!!!"  Followed by:  "I do not want to ride one.  They are very, very dangerous."

Before bed when I was on the phone with my Mom she repeated the same phrase two more times.  So I guess it will be a while before she's going to be willing to give it a try...

But... the camel ride sign did remind me of our camel story... which was also one of my first experiences when I really began to think about modesty:

A little over four years ago we were in Israel, on a religious pilgrimage. I'd been pretty sick the entire trip... on that particular night I was about 8 weeks pregnant and right in the middle of morning sickness.  Since our tour leader seemed determined to take us only to expensive restaurants, while keeping us away from markets of any kind, there hadn't been opportunities to buy snacks and the gap between 6am breakfast and 2pm lunch was definitely exasperating the situation, since snacks, at least for me, are really important in the first trimester.  The result meant I was a pretty sick, grouchy pregnant woman for much of the trip.

Late in the afternoon on one of our last days in Israel, we went to the Church that now stands in Bethany, where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

Now as a side note, before leaving for Israel I'd purchased some long skirts and made sure to bring sweaters and tops with long sleeves.  I didn't really wear skirts or dresses much at the time, but I remembered the reaction I'd gotten walking down the street in long, knee length gym shorts when I was going to school in South Africa, and figured that a skirt might not be a bad thing in the middle east.

This trip was my first experience with the reactions that often accompany along skirts and dresses because while they made my interactions with many people in Israel easier they also meant that some of the other ladies in my tour were pretty sure I was being oppressed by my husband and kept trying to offer me short sleeved shirts to change into (they didn't even believe our priest who said: "no, she's dress appropriately for where we are").

On this particular day though, we were going swimming in the Dead Sea and would be walking around parts of the desert in the morning.  I'd brought one pair of pants, a snazzy travel pair that turned from pants to capris to shorts with zippers and buttons, and I decided to wear them, with a cardigan and scarf.

Bethany was our last stop of the evening that day, before heading home for dinner, and I had noticed that the men we'd encountered, while not rude, were much less respectful. As we headed back for the bus Paul stopped in a shop to buy a beautiful crucifix we'd seen earlier.  He didn't want me walking back to the bus by myself, but I was exhausted and he was gabbing with the store owner and his family, so I pointed out that the bus was all of a hundred feet away and that there were people from our group outside.

As I walked to the bus I passed a member of our tour group getting down off a camel and stopped for a moment to watch.  Paul and I had been discussing camel riding all week.  He was adamant that it was dangerous.  I'm not sure, but I think he was pretty sure my lack of coordination would cause me to plunge to the ground in my delicate condition.  While I watched the man who owned the camel turned, saw me and announced that I needed my picture taken.  I told him no, I couldn't and he picked me up, carried me a ways, and flung me onto the camels back (I have a feeling this wouldn't have happened on one of the other, long skirt wearing days).  Someone ran into the shop and told Paul he needed to come quick.  He paid what was basically a five dollar ransom of sorts (the guy wasn't getting me down off the camel until Paul took a picture and handed over five dollars) and then had the camel sit down, while I looked sheepishly at Paul and he finally snapped a picture:

We've laughed about The Camel Incident, for the past four years...  but I think that might be where Sadie got the idea that "camels are very, very dangerous."  Or maybe, with all the talk of alligators and snakes around here, she just thinks that all animals in Florida are "very, very dangerous."

And that is why I had to snap a picture yesterday when we passed the sign for camel rides.  Maybe I'll be able to convince Sadie to ride one with me before Paul graduates from school!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On Being Ready for Marriage...

My brain has been on overload lately.  Between the HHS mandate and the Komen debacle it's been hard to think of anything else.  And so I sit down to type out a new blog, and stare blankly at the computer screen for half an hour and finally opt to post cute pictures of the girls or a cute story, because my brain is so full that I can't seem to get a coherent thought to transmit from my brain to my typing finger tips.

I even tried to go back and find something old that I could repost, but nothing looked vaguely appropriate, maybe because I couldn't figure out what I was looking for to begin with.

One idea for a post has been rolling around in my head these past few days, as we led up to Valentine's Day, and perhaps it will lead somewhere coherent by the time I've finished writing.  Here goes!

Occasionally I'll hear people talk about a couple who's just become engaged, with a sort of horrified tone because it's so clear to everyone around them that they're "just not ready" to get married.  "What do I say?"  I've heard asked (particularly on various forums).  "Congratulations just doesn't seem right!"

And those words always take me back to my own engagement six years ago and I think about how not ready I was, from an outsiders perspective (or really any practical perspective!) and then I think of how the last six years have unfolded.

Six years ago I hadn't gone to church regularly for years.  I had thought I was agnostic for a while, and then went through a phase, that lasted for a couple years, where I read everything I could find about Buddhism.  While I had passed through those two phases, I hadn't yet rediscovered any sort of faith that would ground me, or transform my life.  Any prayers I sent up felt half hearted and brittle.  I was irresponsible with my spending and had a ton of credit card debt, my poor roommate was tortured by my seeming inability to not be a slob, and while it was true that I was very much in love I was also pretty self centered.

Paul and I had been dating for 4 1/2 months when he proposed.  I said yes instantly.  And I know that plenty of the people who knew us, thought that we were insane.  Some couldn't manage to say congratulations or even pretend to be happy.  Others, like a close friend who ended up being my maid-of-honor, trusted my judgement, met Paul and loved him, and was completely supportive.  But the majority seemed pretty sure that the marriage wouldn't work.  After all.  They looked at us and saw that we:  "Just weren't ready."  I had one, not so well meaning person, say that if I got married I would just be on my way to being the next "ex-mrs. so and so..."

Sometimes I wonder if marriage, like parenting, can feel, especially in today's world, like something that you're never really ready for.  I mean, if you wait until you're really ready, will that magic day ever arrive?  Some people are certainly more ready than we were...

And at the time I certainly felt ready.

You see, there was one thing I knew without a doubt.  I'd met the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.  He felt the same way.  I trusted that somehow, the rest of the details would work themselves out.

Looking back on the girl I was six years ago, the logical part of my brain would have to have agreed with the naysayers.  I was in love, but immature and irresponsible.  I was that girl living in the SF Bay with torn jeans and a neck tattoo (sometimes I wish I could smack my then self upside the head and say "a neck tattoo!  Seriously!  What were you thinking?!?!?!?").

How could it possibly work?

Fast forward six years.  We married a year to the day after we went on our first date.  I converted to Catholicism, initially beginning the process because I wanted to attend the same Church as my husband, but somewhere along the way finding amazing truths that answered the questions that had begun my stint as an agnostic my sophomore year in college.

I was confirmed and received first communion the Easter after we married (coming up on five years this Easter Vigil) and began going to confession regularly.  We attended Mass every Sunday and watched as our lives were transformed.

The grace of the sacraments flooded into our lives.  It happened so quickly, and so dramatically, that it's hard to pick out exact moments when things began to change.  I know that praying the rosary was a huge part of my conversion.  We learned about and began following the Church's teaching on contraception.  And we both read everything we could about our faith.

It wasn't easy, because marriage, especially starting out, isn't meant to be easy.  For those of us who are called to marriage as a vocation, it's meant to be our path towards God.  And our path towards God, regardless of our vocation, is many things, but easy isn't generally one of them.  We aren't drawn towards holiness by gliding through life without a care.

As husband and wife we're meant to help each other, and our children, towards God.  And so, with baby steps, carried along by grace, I began to "grow up."  Without that grace, the naysayers probably would have been right.  With grace, showered in prayer from our new parish, our lives were transformed.

We still have a long way to go.  After all the path to holiness is never easy.  But I'm so glad that I listened to the tiny voice in my heart that said that this was the right path for us and that he was the man I was supposed to marry.  It has transformed us both in ways I never could have imagined.  And I have a feeling that, without the sacramental grace I've received since we married, I likely still wouldn't "be ready" and would probably hardly be much more "grown up" than I was six years ago.

So if you've ever wondered what to say to someone who is getting married, who you believe shouldn't be... "congratulations" is a good place to start (if your really, really close to the person... like a parent or a best friend... you can broach concerns... but for the most part, those who aren't very, very close to a person should stick to this answer).  And after that, pray for them.  Pray long and hard.  Ask God to shower his graces down upon their hearts.  Maybe they aren't ready.  But maybe he will take the vocation that they've stumbled into and turn it into something amazing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mae Bae and Maximus

I'm pretty sure "Maximus," the horse that Sadie got for her birthday, has a 3+ age recommendation... Mae Bae, however, doesn't recognize that fact.  Mae Bae is our climber and is now big enough to climb up and go for a ride.  She first climbed up and sat behind Sadie looking the wrong way...

Sadie wasn't thrilled when I saw and told her to stop bouncing up and down like a crazy person with her sister sitting behind her...

But they kind of made it work... overall... although Mae does look a little squished..

Then she climbed up on her own (with Mommy saying:  "Mae Bae!!!  Sit down!!!!!")...

And finally:

Happy Valentine's Day... 6 Years Ago Today...

We drove to this little town on the coast, north of San Francisco...

And while the sun was setting (and it was so cold!!!)...

Paul proposed!  And I said yes!

This is his favorite picture from the day:

We left the city and started planning for the wedding...

Married in the fall...

Found out our family was growing (here we are on our 1 year anniversary!  I just had to post a picture with Paul's curls!):

And welcomed Sadie...

And Mae!

into our little family!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sadie's Saint Talk

As soon as Mae Bae went down for her nap yesterday Sadie followed me into the office and while I sat down to begin working on a snood sale that I needed to ship today, Sadie started talking about Saints and God.  I grabbed my camera this time, and started recording.  I edited out all the long pauses and various other conversations about pins (I was pinning the snood and pins remind her of Sleeping Beauty pricking her finger on the spinning wheel...).  She constantly surprises me.  Here are the highlights.  

I don't know if you can tell, but I'm really surprised when she says: "I love Christian too!" Christian is the name we gave our little saint, but because she was so upset and was having nightmares, we have hardly mentioned him around Sadie.  She had always referred to him as: "the new baby" so I was really surprised that she even knew his name and started talking about him.

Mae Bae Fights Evil...

This is what happens when a 18 month old gets ahold of a spool of thread... and decides to use it to fight evil...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Mommy. I want to be a saint."

Sadie had been following from the bedroom to the office and back again while I switched Paul's books from the office to the bedroom, and my books made the move into the new sewing room.   Suddenly she stopped, and made an announcement.  I tried my best to remember every word as she was saying it, in a very serious, passionate voice:

Sadie:  "Mommy.  I want to be a saint."
Me:  "Oh Sadie!  That's a really good thing to want to be.  That's the most important thing to want.  I want to be a saint too!  And I want you and Daddy and Mae Bae to all be saints too!"
Sadie (with a very serious expression, in a surprisingly passionate tone):  "I want to be a saint so bad!"
Me (hugging her):  "You can be a saint!  God wants you do be a saint!  Do you know what you need to do?  You need to pray and love God with all your heart!  And you can ask him to help you be a saint."
Sadie:  "Why do I need to love God?"  She's had a serious case of the Why's lately.
Me:  "Because he made you to love him.  And he loves you!"
Sadie:  "Dear God.  I do love you.  Please help....  New baby..."(along with a mixture of words I couldn't understand).  In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen!"

She spent the next ten minutes asking questions about God and why he loves her and then said:  "Are nuns saints?"  I told her that some saints are nuns and priests and some are just people like us.  She thought about that for a while and when Paul came home and we were eating our split pea soup she seemed to be concentrating very hard.  I'd asked her if she wanted to tell Daddy what she'd been telling me about earlier and after about a minute she said:  "I want to be a nun!"

I have to say I'm a big fan of the Catholic Children's Treasure Box.  The stories about Saint Therese have made a huge impression on Sadie and I feel like the conversations and topics she's bringing up are pretty much exactly from the books!  But it still completely surprises me when we have conversations like this (I have to think really hard to answer all her questions because she really thinks about the answers I give her and then asks more questions!).

I'm going to have to keep learning about our faith if I'm going to keep up with her!  If that's not motivation I don't know what is!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Sewing Room

I've spent the last couple of nap times transforming the office into a sewing room.  Since Paul usually studies at the library (because our apartment is definitely not quiet and the girls are determined to find Daddy if he's around) I moved his books out onto the bookshelves in the bedroom, and moved my craft and cooking books in.  I'm really excited with the outcome!  

And of course, I had to snap a few photos.

Here's my yarn stash, and sewing area... The wooden boxes are filled with beads and rosary parts.

 Here are my craft books, sewing notions, and a work space non-sewing machine projects (and the yarn that wouldn't fit in my yarn stash...):

Fabric!  And "Real Mommy" my dress form.  Sadie named it.  And she runs around the house saying:
"Where is my Real Mommy!"



Princess Dress Ribbon and "Jewels."

Another picture of my work space! 

Sadie spent a while playing with the pedal while I was cleaning the room.

A work in progress:

I'm so excited to have my craft books in one place in my sewing room!  It's going to make it much easier to look things up!

More fabric.  Because apparently that giant shelf that goes up to the ceiling, isn't big enough.

I should explain why my fabric... problem... can't really go away while I still have my shop.  The thing is, when I buy fabric I buy several yards.  I can make roughly six headcoverings with two yards...  But I don't right away...  I make a snood, and maybe a convertible headcovering and put the rest of the fabric away, for future headcoverings.  It works really well for the shop... however... it doesn't save much space!

And here's the finished room!  I think this will make work a lot more efficient.  Everything's in one place and I won't have to lug my machine out every night, and all the fabric, and then scramble to put it away if the girls wake up!  I'm so happy to have a work space!