About Kristen

A 30-something wife and mama of 3 (so far) living out my faith (Catholic) in the southeastern US.

When the days seem hard…for no good reason

I guess I should have known when I decided to sleep in an hour this morning: today would be one of those days. The morning went fine. I slightly overcooked the bacon but the kids ate it with no complaints. Everyone got dressed and went to school with minimal hassle.

We said prayers. All of them. All the various novenas I’m saying (because I’m masochistic I say multiples at one time) were prayed and requested.

But something just feels off. I have these days sometimes. Everything is right everywhere but in my head and heart and I just ask God over and over to let me get through this. Let me get by so I can get to the good stuff. Because I know there is good stuff. Lots of it.

Let me fully appreciate that fall is here and the first two days have been real fall days. Let me glory in the quiet I have this morning even though it means I will have to work tonight. Please God, let me feel all those blessings!

But, God’s letting me feel this way and as much as I would like to hand it back and say, “no, the happiness-joy please,” I am way too old to think that is going to work. There is a reason for this feeling today. I’m not sure what it is and maybe I’ll never know, but God does.

Evelyn and Annabelle say “God has a plan.” They are so right. God does have a plan. And in these odd, dry spells, it’s what I cling to. God has a plan even when I feel like nothing, or am crying my eyes out and don’t know why, or when I am inexplicably happy. God has a reason, God has a plan. His plan is better than everything I can imagine because He sees and knows all. Today I am like Moses in the 40 years in Midian. Wondering, “what happened? how did I get here again? God, have you forgotten me?” Tomorrow I may be like Moses in Egypt before fleeing, over-confident and believing in my abilities and not remembering all comes from God. Or I might be like Moses as he returned to Egypt to free his people KNOWING all is from God and not forgetting it. God is using this time. God is preparing me heart and soul. God has a plan. He knows. This day may seem hard for no good reason (and believe me, I’m wracking my brain for one but even hormones don’t seem to cover how I’m feeling) but there is a good reason, God’s reason.

God help me to follow your will, not my own. Help me to embrace this time, however long or brief you deign it to be. Help me remember your sovereignty and your might and your ability to use ALL OF IT for good. As much as I’d like this moment to pass, please know I want Your divine and perfect will even more. Amen

Things Making Me Inexplicably Happy Right Now

We’ll start with Celia’s Hot Wraps. Well, the hot wrap with Texas Pete. Wraps/Tortillas have been a comfort food fave for a while for me and these are new ones I just tried. They tie 100% whole wheat as my favorites now. I have done cheese and avocado quesadillas and chicken strip wraps with them and they are really delicious. And I’ve been getting them on sale, so double score!

The new tv season. I am really excited with the first episode of The Mindy Project in the books and upcoming premiers of Reign and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. And I’m going to give Gotham a try tomorrow. If I don’t like it, I’ve only wasted one episode. Castle, The Blacklist, and Parks and Rec should be awesome too. I’m sad about Parks and Rec‘s last season, but I’m also a little nervous about how they’ll handle it and the time jump (because Amy Poehler didn’t want to work with one infant, nevermind three, and I’m not completely in disagreement about that decision). I’m sure it’ll be fine, but you know, I have to worry about it for some reason.

The radio. Doesn’t that sound silly right after tv, but no, it’s the truth. My car has satellite radio in it courtesy of my father-in-law which is set to the 80s station but I don’t do all 80s all the time and satellite radio doesn’t have local traffic and weather. So, I have programmed in: KLove, our local Catholic Relevant Radio station, NPR news, NPR Classical music and Port City Radio (local news and talk). I love KLove and Relevant Radio for uplifting and informative programming. And KLove has excellent music. I listen to both online as well. Now for the NPR, our local station has long been a mish-mash of talk, local programming, and mostly classical music with some jazz and blues thrown in. Well, last Wednesday, they split into two stations. The new stations now features the BBC news hour (which I loved listening to on Friday after the Scotland referendum vote), Diane Rehm in real time, a local state-wide show. The evenings are playing jazz and there is some local programming music on weekends but they’ve added some other great talk programming like America’s Test Kitchen and People’s Pharmacy. And the classical music is a great alternative when my kids are KLove-d out (I don’t believe it’s a thing, but my Joseph suggests otherwise and maybe there is such a thing as too much of a good thing) and it’s so beneficial for developing brains. Port City Radio I listen to occasionally when I really can’t get into much else. I think I’m gonna program my other FM stations to all country.

Twitter. I don’t know why, but lately it’s a source of happiness and positivity for me.

Our new parish. No, really. I loved our old parish but I LURVE this one. Joseph had his first faith formation class and he is like a little sponge. Love his teacher this year as much as his teachers last year (who we miss!!!) and adore our director of faith formation for 1-5. She is so sweet and will be Shelby and William’s teacher but she also is just awesome with all the kids and parents. We had a parent meeting and she is so enthusiastic and got me to volunteer to be a catechist if she decides to split the first grade class at Joseph’s time. No guilt at all, she said she may need one and asked us to pray on it. She even said to us that all suggestions are prayed on which filled me with such joy to hear. So often these days I see decisions made in parishes that are legalistic or business oriented with no thought to possible benefits beside financial gain or the much maligned “clericalism.” One of the heavy criticisms of our new parish in a recent survey was it was being run like a business and the new priest (Shelby’s beloved Godfather) has said that he was going to make this a church not a business. I also was happy to hear the religious education ministry is actively seeking out volunteers. Many parishes the size of ours tend to have very established ministries where newcomers aren’t always welcome, and I’m sure there is a fair share of this going on but it was great to see one ministry wasn’t so already. Mass has been so joy-filled with the boys here. They have really enjoyed the antiphons being sung at the beginning of mass and last week we had a Scola with lots of chant. And Shelby and her Godfather usually share a few minutes together in the vestibule before mass. Can we say #blessed?

Blessed Is She. I have long been reading the daily readings as often as I possibly can and to have the beautiful perspectives in my inbox is a gift straight from the Spirit. They rejuvenate me so much and I frequently am sharing on the facebook blog page.

Bible Study Fellowship. We’ve been back for two weeks and I cannot believe how much I missed it over the summer. Summer was full but this was definitely missing. My new small group is wonderful and faith filled and my new leader is so inspiring to me and kind. She is excited to hear all our insights and encourage open sharing and transparency. One of my goals was to really find the connections of the Old Testatment to the New and wow is that happening in this year’s Study of the Life of Moses. I am also so thankful that last year’s study was the study of Matthew as we are in Cycle A for this year and so many of the lessons I studied over the last year are so re-inforced in church teaching! Like Scott and Kimberly Hahn advocate and my patron for 2014, St Jerome as well, knowledge of the Bible really opens up the mass in new and beautiful ways.

DeAngelo Williams. I’m not a Carolina Panthers fan despite living here for the franchise’s entire history but I am a huge fan of this running back. He is a sweet guy who is totally genuine and a hard worker. He spends his time on social media not bragging about partying or with sexually charged posts but with updates of his sweet daughter and how much he loves her, info on his community events so fans can come out and support causes close to him, his love of his late mother whom he lost to breast cancer, funny things he sees and most recently, his accurate criticism of the league’s handling of the recent controversies and Roger Goodell’s press conference.

What does everyone think of our commish now? He also found out that those lights that brightens a room can also burn you! #ididntseetheelevatortape
It’s men like DeAngelo Williams who will save this league.
Tomorrow is Monday which means kids go back to school. And the choir said, “Amen!”

Happy Birthday Joseph!

Seven years ago this morning at 4:09 AM, I became a mom of boys. Or one at the time. After we got over the shock of a blond hair, blue-eyed pale child (okay, so we’re still not over the shock not.at.all.) we had to figure out a name for the little guy. This is how it went, at 16 weeks, I had an ultrasound that said I was having a boy. And we thought of names but Jeff was reluctant to agree to anything. By the time we got into the OR, we had it narrowed down to six. Eight hours after he was born, Jeff agreed to my choice of Joseph Patrick. Joseph meaning, “God will give another son” and we were thrilled to have a second child, and, wouldn’t you know, we did get another son 20 months later. Patrick meaning, “noble.” And out little guy well, he has noble intentions!

Seven years. Hard to believe, he’s a first grader now. He can read now. He solves for “x” in math. He has permanent teeth.

Because Joseph’s birthday falls early in the school year, we typically haven’t had school parties, and he’s okay with that. For this year we gave him a weekend of birthday and filled it with fun.

On Friday I downloaded one of his gifts, Minecraft to the iPad (which subsequently the cord died on…so we gotta replace that). They got to play that after school.

Saturday he got to play more Minecraft until my parents got here. They came for the afternoon/evening and got him Skylanders Swapforce. After mass we all went to Red Robin where Joseph got a sundae for his birthday and a special recognition.

This morning we let Joseph sleep in. The other kids got up and ate and eventually Joseph did get up and requested to open presents first. He got from us a Spiderman bag full of goodies. He got a Toothless plush dragon from How To Train Your Dragon he requested and a Skylanders water bottle he wanted. Since he got (along with Minecraft) everything he asked for from us I decided to fill the bag up with other goodies he would like. He got candy corn and pumpkins, pumpkin marshmallows, Cocoa Puffs (his favorite sugar cereal–we don’t eat sugar cereal unless it’s a special occasion), hot cocoa (he loves that his birthday coincides with the beginning of the fall and colder weather), a cool Halloween cup, and some fun candy. Jeff also found a larger size Mario figure that he knew Joseph would love.

This afternoon Jeff took both boys to the bowling alley per Joseph’s request. They bowled a great game where Joseph bowled a 94 and then they played video games.

Jeff’s dad and step-mom came over for dinner. They brought Pizza Hut as it’s Joseph’s favorite. From them he got a gift card to Gamestop and a family membership to the NC Zoo which also includes all three state aquariums and 1/2 price admission to a huge planetarium in Chapel Hill and a few other science centers/museums in our state and in other states there are reciprocal memberships. We’ve wanted to go the zoo for a while. And now they have a litter of lion cubs who just went on display full time. Our local aquarium also recently got a bald eagle who will be there permanently as he was injured and not able to be fully rehabilitated into the wild. There is also an aquarium at the beach we vacation at in the summer. I really look forward to using this pass and Joseph has been studying the zoo map intently!

We had cake, which Jeff made. Here it is:

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We had these figures ahead of time except the mushroom and Mario, which were Joseph’s presents he opened today. His Mario was too heavy to sit on the cake, but we loved making the cake ourselves and had fun with the idea. And it was delicious and Joseph really enjoyed it.

I cannot wait to see what this new year with our oldest boy has in store. If the first day is any indication, we have a lot of great stuff to look forward to!

Reminding myself sometimes, it’s just not worth it

I went on a blog following purge earlier this year. A few I eliminated I added back in because a) I either couldn’t remember why I removed them or b) remembered and thought my reason was stupid. I’ve been happy with my decisions and that’s great.

Today, on facebook, a comment from a blogger I stopped following and did not re-follow reminded me that sometimes, trying to like someone is just not worth it.

Believe me, I want to believe everyone is wonderful ans likeable in real life, but sometimes, it’s not worth the mental effort to put into that based on their blog and comments from them I find ever-present.

This particular blogger is a mommy-blogger and she has this uncanny knack for sticking herself squarely in the middle of a debate and then heading for the hills. She often “shoots from the hip” and gets herself in over her head. The only times I didn’t see her back down (aka run away and no longer engage) in fights were on twitter where she attempted to gang up thinking the main contributers in discussion with the person she disagreed with would back her up. Unfortunately (for her), most of her would-be supporters, defended the person she attacked, even when they didn’t agree with that person. I think this blogger doesn’t realize she often presents herself in social media as falsely naive, disingenous, and an instigator. I’ve seen her husband on several comment feeds being very aggressive, so I honestly think she thinks she is the lighter touch.

Here’s the deal, I’m not going to like this person online. Period. Her statements and her delivery of them are poor at best most of the time. And she does bully people occasionally. Maybe we’d be great friends in real life, but I have my doubts. Serious doubts. So, I avoid contact.

So, why am I writing about this? Well, the reason is two-fold. One, to remind myself I don’t have to like someone else who on the outside looks like she would be just like me but really isn’t. And two, to remind myself how social media works to tear down as much as build up. I left my neighborhood’s facebook group recently (which I was briefly an admin of) because of a very childish and ugly exchange in the comments of a post. Seriously, those comments were becoming a near occasion of sin for me. And it reminded me why I know so few of my neighbors…because it’s not in my nature to like every person I meet and I want the freedom to accept and reject relationships. And if you outright reject a relationship with a neighbor who might be the only one home to help you jump your car one day…well, now you’ve got problems. My father once told me that them more people you get together the less likely everyone is to get along. People will devolve into smaller groups of like-minded interests and personalities. Thankfully I’m not a person who insists all her friends “be together and love each other” as I thought I might be as a teenager. I can respect that I might be able to be friends with a wide group of people…say all of my neighbors (I’m not but let’s just use this in a pretend scenario). However, that could never ensure all of my neighbor’s being friends with one another. And for me, that’s okay. I won’t force them all to get along. I can’t do that. So, in reality, I’m okay with being friends with some, friendly with others, cordial with a few and non-existent to more than a few. I’ve pretty much got all my bases covered with what I’ve got and I’m okay with that.

Sometimes, online, it’s not worth it to read a blogger you “should” like and “should” have a lot in common with because it causes your blood pressure to rise. And in real life, it’s not always worth it to try and be friends with people you have nothing in common with. Being friends with everyone isn’t the goal. LOVING them is. And I’ll be the first to say, it’s a whole lot easier for me to love some people when we don’t interact.

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.