This day…

On the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, we had progress reports come home from school.

Shelby is either making progress or satisfactory in all her goals. None say additional time needed which is great. It would be fine if she did, but good to know she’s making steady progress and/or achieving her goals.

Joseph’s teacher said he’s doing great. His reading testing shows him at or above grade level in all areas. He still struggles with some mirror writing which was noticed. Also he stubbornly does not always capitalize the first letter in a sentence, but those are small and very attainable things.

William recognizes 18 out of 26 capital letters and 16 out of 16 lower case letters which is great considering he’s had no formal schooling til four weeks ago. He also can identify all the numbers from 0 to 10 and is counting to 14. It is hard because Joseph was so much further ahead at the same point in kindergarten but William is not Joseph and he didn’t have the extra year of maturity nor the pre-K to back it up. Overall, I’m happy but I’m in slight dread of the parent teacher conference in 2 weeks when we’ll go over his reading tests. I know it’s not an indictment of me or of him, I know he won’t be top of his class like Joseph was but will be somewhere in the middle, it’s just an adjustment. William is intelligent and he’ll get it.

I can’t imagine being told while I held any of my tiny sweet babies that a sword would also pierce my heart. To say nothing of seeing one hanging on a cross. I constantly remind myself that my mothering trials are nothing compared to the Blessed Mother and what she endured in her just over 3 decades of motherhood. But it is far to tempting for me to trivialize the very serious mothering issues I encounter. The challenge is to unite my suffering to hers and then offer it up for the mothers whose children are beheaded and for those who are sitting in cancer wards hearing unthinkable news. And those who’ve prepared themselves to lose their children so many times.

Yes, relatively speaking, I’ve got it easy. Even with autism, it’s far easier than a lot of mothers. But it doesn’t negate those struggles are in fact struggles and they can be used to draw myself closer to Christ through his Blessed Mother and can be used for the betterment of all mothers.

Oh yeah, I had stuff to do…

One week from today my six-year-old will become a seven-year-old. So, I kinda got distracted from bloggy-blogging prepping for his birthday.

Prepping for a seven-year-old’s birthday who isn’t having a real “party” is way more involved than it sounds. I promise you. First of all, I have to nail said almost-seven-year-old’s preferences down. What kind of cake; what kind of cake decorations; what he really, actually wants…you get the idea.

In addition last week was the start of Bible Study Fellowship for me and Faith Formation for that boy. I made it to BSF, he didn’t make it to FF because right after I got everyone off the bus and into the house, I had a massive allergy attack. Think sneezing uncontrollably, coughing like I’m hacking up a furball, with swollen oozy eyes. Thank you, ragweed. When your five-year-old gets you a tissue and some water and your almost-seven-year-old is guiding you to the couch while telling his sister to go into your bedroom and he’ll start her movie for her in a minute, you sit there and wonder, what has become of this crazy life that your very young children can handle it all in a moment like this.

And we’re now into full-fledged homework every afternoon for both boys. Joseph breezes through math then dawdles on spelling. William is generally reluctant to start anything at all, then suddenly does all his work. And I still have to mediate Shelby’s ever changing desires and needs and make dinner.

But, you’re saying, Kristen, really, you aren’t doing homeshowings anymore, it shouldn’t be THAT crazy! Oh, but it is, because I’m working 4-5 days per week so all my cleaning et al also has to be crammed in between school getting out and dinner time which is swiftly followed by bath time, reading time and bed time.

Oh and every few days I have to defrost our freezer because it’s 11 years old and ornery and we have to wait til October’s check from Jeff to order the parts we need to replace. Which we will do ourselves because…

And if that’s not enough on our plates, we’ve started taking down all our wallpaper in the house because after the carpet, everyone hated that we even had one inch of wallpaper anywhere in our home. So, we have our entire kitchen to de-paper and paint then finish the second bath and eventually do the master bath (aka my bathroom) which is all we have but buyers hate wallpaper.

Last week at work, I got the most hours I have ever gotten at this job. Ever. And since that was awesome, I’ve gotten all Joseph’s birthday presents (with the exception of one that Jeff will get on his way home from work one day this week). I’ve gotten lots of fun stuff for the kids, and I bought a bottle of wine because stress.

And because our lives have to have some semblance of organization, we have plans with both grandparents for the birthday weekend (only Mimi we won’t see because we have to go to her and unfortunately, our travel budget is maxed out for the month ;(  ). And we have plans sans grandparents. I swear this is one lucky, loved little boy!

So, now I’ve bored you to death, but I hope you get why blogging’s been…well…light.

What’s a Good Conservative Catholic To Do?

According to Chicks on the Right, a poor little seventeen-year-old entreprenuer in Virginia is being picked on. And the big bad bully? Is a group of “Conservative Catholics.” Well, that’s not entirely true, but according to the title of their post, would definitely lead you to think that these so-called “Conservative Catholics” are leading the way. 

According to the article they got their scoop from initially, the main agitators are not identified as Catholic but a “Conservative Alliance.” In fact, nowhere in that article is the word “catholic” even present. But, the Chicks focus on the “Catholic” aspect because of some facebook messages and emails left by people identifying as “Conservative Catholics.” I find it hard to believe that these are the only harassing emails but that’s the one the shop posted on it’s facebook page.

I admit, I think the name of her shop is dumb. Certainly nothing I would choose for my own shop. And I have no intentions of ever going to Front Royal, VA. Ever. So I would never be her customer anyhow, but it raises a few interesting questions. For one, why pick on Catholics? And why are the Chicks conflating political conservatism with religious orthodoxy. Plenty of so-called “Conservative Catholics” hold a pretty wide array of political views. In fact, Pia de Solenni in this piece talks about how the terms “liberal” and “conservative” are not especially helpful in the context of the Church as they are applied politically. But I have serious doubts the Chicks know much, if anything, about that. And so, when they say that “conservatism needs a make-over” they have no clue about those that might be deemed more “conservative” within the church. 

It also raises the questions of those who defend the Church and her teachings on modesty and sexuality. Are we the enemy if we choose to follow church teaching in regards to what we allow our children to be exposed to because it might upset a teenager living her dream of owning a shop? Are we the enemy if we dislike the use of the word naughty to convey only sexual desires? Because if I’m re-claiming the word naughty to describe my sons’ misbehavior and I don’t like another application of the word so I don’t patronize a business using it in that undesirable way, I’m somehow degrading the conservative movement AND a poor girl’s dreams? Or am I only big and bad and EVIL if I send her a note saying why I’m boycotting. 

I wouldn’t be staging a crusade against this shop, but I wouldn’t be it’s customer either. And. while realizing Front Royal is her home town, she had to have known that if she opened a shop with that name with those pictures, people were going to have feathers ruffled. I think she knew exactly that and that’s why she’s making all the negative publicity public. I think she knows, in her young years, that controversy sells more doughnuts than just making great doughnuts does. I believe she is fully aware that just thumbing her nose at people in her town who do get all hot-under-the-collar about this sort of thing by having her name and local success isn’t enough. She has bigger aspirations, and to make them go global, she’s gotta attract global attention. So, when the local loony bin calling themselves “Conservative,” “Catholic” or a combination provided it, she jumped right into the fray. I don’t believe for a second she is a poor, suffering kid having to deal with negative publicity rather than run her shop. If anything, she’s laughing all the way to the bank. And the ding-dongs who sent her these letters would do better to run her business into the ground by not patronizing it and not giving her ammo for growth. I certainly am not going out of my way to skip her shop, but plenty of people (read the comments) are going out of their way to patronize it now as a result of this little “boycott.”

We live in America. Anyone can, as Chris Rock says, “say any dumb ass thing he wants,” So these people can write their letters, silly as they may be, and this young woman can name her store any crazy name she wants. So what is a good conservative Catholic to do? Keep on keeping on. Do what you feel is best. Walk past the store. Go to mass. Teach your daughters not to stoop to the sluttification of the world however that may be. And teach your son’s to respect women. In your thoughts and words, be the Catholic you want others to think of when they think favorably of Catholics. Realize that before the world hated Catholics for the behavior of a few, it hated Jesus. You don’t have to appear harassing, but you just have to act according to His will.  

How and Why I abandoned the Whole30 on Day 8

So, on Friday, I mentioned how it was going on Whole30. Then, I ended it.

I found out in 8 days that I do not have an intolerance to grain, dairy, sugar, soy, MSG or anything else. I just eat way too much of a lot of crap. So, no reason to continue a very restrictive diet that offers cures of these.

I did lose six pounds in eight days, but I lost seven doing nothing. And by doing nothing it means unconciously not snacking. 

I was feeling hungry constantly and running out of approved foods quickly. 

I didn’t have the budget to make myself one set of meals and the family another set. 

I don’t believe that all grains and dairy are bad all the time.

You can’t weigh yourself and if your weight loss is not as readily noticable, you quickly begin to run out of steam. Even if you *know* it’s “good for you,” if you’re lacking motivation, you lose interest.

But I did learn some important lessons in eight days that I believe will contribute to continued weight loss and better living.

No fake sweeteners. No sucralose, no aspartame, no xylitol. But watch sugar consumption. We have a new rule of only one dessert per week. Last night Joseph, William and I shared a single slice of cinnamon carrot cake (hey I got William to eat raisins and carrots this way!). I’ve had to break the no artificials rule today and drink a diet soda because I needed the caffeine for an allergy induced migraine (hello, ragweed).

DRINK WATER!!! I drink unsweetened hot tea in the mornings for some caffeine, but I drink only water for the most part otherwise. Water is still probably my least favorite drink, but I drink it constantly now. So, there you go.

Focus on whole foods, but don’t worry if you occasionally have noodles or a slice of bread. Our dinners have been, for Jeff and I, a protein and veggies. I have eschewed butter for the most part on my veggies, but it is awesome to eat some good food. Tonight Jeff and I ate pork chops (the kids were all fried, ours were grilled). We did have some broccoli cheese rice but not in huge portions and green beans. I also found some great paleo/whole30 recipes that we will eat in the future. Jeff did make me an awesome paleo dairy free tomato soup that I loves!

Be concious of what you’re eating. I was in shock that sugar is in almost ALL bacon! I did find a brand that does not have sugar at my local grocers (after throwing my hands up in the air early on) that is not the most expensive so we will eat bacon. But it’s amazing what food companies will sneak into foods. Be on your guard! 

Weigh yourself if you want to, but don’t beat yourself up. Birthdays happen. Weddings happen. As long as they don’t happen too often: emotional eating will happen. But you do need a bench mark and if you need it for motivation, use it. Don’t let a program tell you otherwise. It’s not the number on the scale, it’s how much “weight” we do or don’t put on that number. If we overemphasize that and make an idol of our bodies that way, that’s wrong. But if we neglect to figure it into our overall health together, that’s negligent of our “temples” and that’s wrong too. I get that the program is not supposed to be used for weight loss but for overall health, but for those of us out there like me (and others in the group also proclaimed the same lack of overall issues)…it is very easy to lose patience and/or motivation.

If the goal is overall health, it’s okay to make your own plan! As long as you can stick to it. I’ve re-added some exercise in and I feel great. Aside from the stomach virus I am blaming my husband for (four out of five of us have it and he was first!) and the very real ragweed allergies (which I have been told by many friends is not real, it is really a food allergy…nope, in my case it’s the real-deal…and for my kiddos too, all 3 of them!) I’ve had a good week or so and I’m excited to eat healthier. Like I told Jeff, although I’m no longer Whole30 compliant, I’m also not going back to the old shove ALL the food in my face ALL the time way of eating I was taking part in before. 

Welcome to healthy lifestyle-land stop and stay a while.

Seven Quick Takes Friday

— 1 —

Two weeks of school done and doner here. This week we started homework. I thought the “new car smell” of the school year would start wearing off. I thought wrong. I have two very eager, for the time being, little guys excited to do their homework every day. So, it’s been kind of fun. William is terrible with details but has made a friends with a little girl whose name he told me is Dacia, but it might not be because William got his dad’s genes when it comes to attention to detail, like names. I realize how that sentences just read. It’s okay. Joseph was selected as his class’ first student of the week. We had a lot of fun picking out pics for him to bring to school and his favorite book and he gets to do show and tell tomorrow. Shelby seems to be having a good week although a few of her classmates have already succumbed to sickness. I am hoping that our good health from last year holds up this year!

— 2 —

This week I had a new experience, working while all my kids are in school. We’ve had a good run of it thus far. I’m getting hours and am up and mobile for several hours during the day. And I get to interact with adults. Always good for me.

— 3 —

Today marks 8 days of the Whole30 challenge. I have mixed feelings about it. Everyone told me I would have more energy, more than a few people told me my skin would clear up (thanks to no dairy), and that all my aches and pains would be gone. Nope. None of that. Even my digestive issues which I was sure would be better without sugar and grains persist. I only had one oops and it was half an ear of corn on the cob on Saturday. That one little slip-up didn’t derail me. I’m persisting and I guess I’m not as surprised that all the curative claims aren’t true for me but I am surprised it’s not been more difficult. I didn’t have any withdrawal symptoms or exhaustion that I was warned of. Which made me think I wasn’t doing it right, but I was reading labels and not cheating, so maybe I’m just lucky? I am losing weight. I am breaking the biggest Whole30 rule and weighing myself. And I’m five pounds down in a week. Now, I lost seven pounds before starting without doing anything, so I’m sure the diet change jump started me. Will it persist with just diet alone? No idea. I guess I need to add some excercise in. So why did I break the rule and weigh myself? Well, because I was getting kind of bored of the food and everyone else I know doing it is having all these breakthrough things happeneing and honestly, because I was curious. I still don’t believe that weight loss is ultimate goal here or motivation (for those calling the Whole30 police on me). I really want to prove to myself and others that eating cleanly is a good thing for over-all health. But, I don’t know, feeling ambivalent is just where I am one week in.

— 4 —

The house is off the market. We’d lowered the price twice. We’d increased the amount of the carpeting/flooring allowance and it didn’t do a bit of good. And now that I’m working almost all days…I just can’t handle showing with the kids in school and we can’t leave our dog in the backyard all day. He’ll bark. We’ll get in trouble. Since this isn’t going exceptionally well anyway, we decided to cut our losses and take it off the market for the time being. We will be moving next summer no matter what. And we will replace the carpeting. This was Jeff’s attempt to “test the market” and our test yielded results. If you have an older house, people want everything brand new inside. Everything. God let us know in a big way, that now was not our time to make a sale but our time to find out what we needed to do to make a sale. Jeff was convinced the carpet would not be a stumbling block because of the carpet allowance. Unfortunately that’s not the case, but live and learn!

— 5 —

Please pray for Courtney and her family. Mama Mary has been a mentor for me raising a very special girl and my heart breaks for her. But I will not be sorry for them, as per Mary’s request. And her reasons are perfect.

— 6 —

So despite my eating plan…I’m kind of craving pumpkin everything. 

— 7 —

You know what… I give…time for bed. Have a great weekend.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

All the Best Finds

Links guaranteed to make you laugh, cry, smile and feel the gratitude and love.

From CBS News, parents taught their son with Downs Syndrome nothing was impossible. They thought they might have to all learn the painful way, but as it turns out, they were right–nothing is impossible.

 

Also from CBS, this time from CBS Sunday Morning, an update to a story of a talented man who left everything he knew and loved to save his family. And how they are living what he won’t call the American dream, instead the American reality.

 

Have you seen the Vine of this lamb? Now don’t you want one?

 

An ALS ice bucket challenge done right and done local. Bonus: it happened in the city my parents live in.

At Father Z’s blog, St Monica’s instruction to her son as to where her body should be buried. Just like a mother. And a saint.

Cardinal Dolan’s brief reflections on St Augustine and St Monica are not to be missed.

And finally…the video done from Wrightsville Beach’s Surfer’s Healing:

Seven Quick Takes Friday

— 1 —

I was all set to type these up last night and for them to publish and WHAMMO! Fell asleep watching a rerun of Community. I guess I really needed that sleep. Especially because I was up at 3:30 AM to let the cat up, up at 5 when Jeff’s alarm went off, then 5:20 when Joseph climbed into bed with me, 5:30 when I heard Shelby up and making quite a ruckus in her room.

(NSFW, small children…) Well, that’s about what the ruckus sounded like AND I found I was in the beginning stages of an allergy induced migraine. After Shelby got up and was settled, Joseph started wheezing. Because my morning wasn’t awesome enough. I got him set up with the nebulizer and went back to bed. For 30 minutes.

— 2 —

I started the Whole 30 today. I was thinking about and pulled it up online and then the same day I finally looked it up, Haley decided she was going to start it today and started a facebook support group. So, I thought, hey why not. This is obviously something that God felt I should do/try or He wouldn’t have had one of my favorite gals of the interwebs post about it the same day I was looking into it. So far, I’ve have a hard boiled egg for breakfast and a big old mug of hot Irish Breakfast tea sans sweetener. I’m not dying although I did throw my hands up in the air and ask, “Why God! Why!” when I saw that there is no bacon without sugar. And I stupidly bought sweetened flaked coconut for my Monkey salad. I will have to exchange that but other than that, it’s been okay. Oh yeah, wakes up with migraine on day 1…yay me!

— 3 —

Still no movement on the house front. St Joseph, I know you got this!

— 4 —

So, need a first day of school post and all, but all three kids are in school. All have had a great week. All of them love their teachers. That will have to suffice for the time being.

— 5 —

I love working at a store where I get an employee discount. Wow, does it make things more affordable. And they link the same items I get a discount on to my kids’ school. So, double benefits. It also means I get to eat and have a clean house–triple, no quadruple benefits. Sorry,I just had to share.

— 6 —

So, my boys love all the “dog shaming pics” you find on social media. There most recent favorite was a pug who had a sign saying he ate crayons and pooped rainbows. But this one right here, this one is on the money for a dog we know.

My parents have a husky named Padme. Padme likes to chew things she thinks are toys up. Sometimes they are toys. Just not her toys. This summer at the beach she ate Shelby’s plastic Cinderella and attempted to eat Mario’s hat off the boys’ plush Mario. The baby Jesus from the nativity scene…a mere appetizer.

— 7 —

Speaking of Baby Jesus, it’s almost September. Not December. I could really do without the Christmas countdowns I’m seeing EVERYWHERE!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!