Egg on Face…and how to recover

So I got this email from a friend recently (names redacted to protect privacy):

I know you aren’t on facebook for Lent, so I wanted to bring you up to speed on something and ask your advice. Last week I asked my friend M on her wall if she would buy some Girl Scout Cookies from P (the emailer’s daughter), even if she didn’t like them she could donate boxes to the troops overseas. She commented back that she would not now, nor ever support the Girl Scouts for their collusion with Planned Parenthood because it violated her conscience as a pro-life Christian and then she linked to all kinds of articles claiming the GSA was supported and supports Planned Parenthood. Wouldn’t a simple no have been enough? How should I respond?

When I emailed back the first thing I said was, “You do realize I agree with everything your friend posted, right?” I have bought Girl Scout Cookies in the past and I was one once upon a time, but that organization bears little in resemblance to the one that exists today and I don’t support the organization as it stands now.  The reason that I included the above in my response is that I have found that sometimes, when someone realizes you are willing to listen, the confuse that with your agreement in their argument or belief. In this case, I wanted her to know exactly where I stood on the whole GS Cookie debate.

My advice was simple. Don’t respond to her publicly but out of respect, read what she linked to if you haven’t already and remove your post from her wall. Privately, then I would apologize for not realizing this was offensive to her and you will respect her decision and not ask her again. You did put the query on her wall where all of her friends and family could see it. She probably felt a certain responsibility to stand up for her beliefs in front of everyone, especially if she had not discussed the issue previously with them. In addition, she probably felt that a simple “no” would not suffice because you included the message about donating to the troops. A simple no might have made her feel she would appear unpatriotic or love her country less or something of that nature. I’m not saying anything you did was inherently wrong, but she probably felt forced to do what she did. (I should mention here, I do not know the person who had this posted on her wall only the one who emailed me.)

While I am all for promoting focusing on what binds us not divides us, I realize there are times when we must state our feelings loudly and clear. This is one of those issues for me. While I would have chosen to remove the post from my wall and contact the person privately, I would probably feel pressured to address the issue publicly because of the large amount of Catholic friends and family I have on facebook who would likely see it, possibly before I did. The friend who emailed me was embarrassed and humiliated which I am sure was not the person’s intent but it is a common feeling when you unintentionally bring up a subject you didn’t realize had such emotional value attached to it. In this case, supporting organizations that are in collusion with Planned Parenthood. So, by removing the post and not responding directly–privately– to it and expressing a small apology that you didn’t realize this was an offensive gesture, you show you respect the person even if you do not agree with their belief. I realize that for some people saying you respect them as a person despite a difference in belief is unacceptable. If that’s the case, it’s best to NEVER associate with those people whose beliefs are different from our own. Although, if that is the route you have chosen I do feel the need to point out,  our very core we all have our humanity in common so although you may not think there is anything similar there is always that. Polite discourse is always on the menu but divisive, hurtful argument achieves little good. If anything. In the case of the above facebook wall post, the initial contact might have been friendly, but put the respondent in a difficult position of balancing how to defend her beliefs politely with trying to make the person writing the post understand just how strong those beliefs are.

Right now someone has egg on her face, time will wear it away, but in the mean time, there are ways to keep a friendship tested in this way if both parties are listening and respecting one another.


A Thankful Woman’s Book of Blessings

Joining Judy again today to show an attitude of gratitude!

1) Thankful for the gift of mass. It is truly a time of refreshment and invigoration in my week.

2) Thankful for great free programs like our local branch library’s story time.

3) Thankful for wonderful friends who shower us with hand-me-downs mostly for our boys, but recently, Shelby has gotten some too!

4) Thankful for the beautiful collection of prayers we are privy to as Catholics. Novenas, psalms, Hail Marys, we have something for everyone!

5) Thankful for our kind and loving priest who welcomes all into our parish. He is truly a shepherd of the Lord.

But wait…there’s more

Tuesdays are typically pretty boring in our house. After all, we’re over the manic nature of Monday and we’re settling into the week. Well, that’s not the case at all today. I was up before 5:30 this morning preparing for the day. I usually roll out of bed around ten minutes to six, in case you were wondering. Weeks ago Jeff had put in to be off today to help me and boy am I every glad he did.

Today was the first day for applications for our county’s pre-K program. They started accepting applications at 7:30 am down at one of our county buildings, so after we put Shelby on the bus, the  boys, Jeff and I got in the car and headed over. Luckily there is a playground and it wasn’t too chilly this morning so Jeff took the boys out to play while I filled out paperwork and waited in line to attempt to apply for Joey. We won’t know until mid-June if he is accepted or not. I was glad we got there early because while there were a few people there ahead of us, there were tons of people there when we left.

We came home afterward, initially our plan was to go to story time at the library at 10, (I took a cat nap at home) but when we got in the car to go, the boys were barely tepid on the idea, so we decided to go straight to our next destination…Costco. We wanted to compare prices and purchase some things we needed. We got some good deals on items we use a lot (ahem, frozen waffles and chicken nuggets) and a couple of items for Jeff’s classroom.

Costco is almost directly next to Target, and Target is our FAVORITE store in the whole wide world (Costco is a close second). So we headed over there because Jeff had promised the boys each a present for Joey’s good behavior at Will’s sick visit yesterday and Will’s bravery over letting Mommy put those drops in his eyes. Joey is attempting to collect all of the World Grand Prix race cars from the movie Cars 2, so we were looking for the last two he needed, Lewis Hamilton and Rip Clutchgoneski (sp?). First I found a combo set with Lewis that was $30 which was a bit more than we were looking to spend. Luckily, Jeff went through the extensive collection of Finn McMissile’s and Maters and found one lone Lewis Hamilton car. Thrilled barely describes how excited we were. Will got a Percy “ghost train” from Thomas. Will really loves Thomas. We also were hoping to find a copy of the movie Surf’s Up and not only did we find one, it was marked down special to $4.75! Jeff wanted to peruse the kitchen gadget section and found a mandolin there for his classroom as well as a dough cutter. The price on the dough cutter was so good that he got one for home too. He also got us a home scale for baking.

The only bummer of our shopping trip was that neither Target or Costco had any kale. We have been dying to try and make kale chips, oh well, maybe our local grocer will.

After Target, we decided to go to Chick-fil-A. If we had a Chick-fil-A closer to our home, we would be there minimum once a week. So we take every chance we get to go. The food is wonderful and the service is excellent. And, of course, it’s a very Christian run company. Most people recognize that by the fact that they are not open on Sundays. However, it is so much more than that. Today we went in and I found seats while Jeff ordered. The kids love the cow pictures. The owner of this franchise was in plain view and socializing with all the guests making sure they were taken care of. He was even one of the employees going around offering fresh pepper to anyone with a salad (Jeff got one). No one treated our kids like they were an annoyance (this happens even at McDonald’s sometimes). The staff was very good with them and complimented their behavior numerous times. And the best part, my kids actually ate all their food. We let the kids play about 10 minutes on the play equipment before we had to hit the road and go home. It’s close to 2:30 now. Joey had a dentist appointment at 1:40 and Jeff isn’t back yet with the boys (Will went along too, he will have his first appointment in May after he turns 3, and Jeff wanted him to see what the experience was like). I am curious as to whether they made another stop!

At 3:15 we have OT for Shelby then tonight I am riding with a neighbor to listen to a talk being given by an expert in autism. Can I say again how happy I am Jeff is home helping out today? I even graded tests for him…

Lovin’ My Husband

Joining Judy for sharing some more Husband love!

1) Lovin’ my husband for taking today off to ensure that everything that NEEDS to get done in that one day, WILL get done in that one day!

2) Lovin’ my husband for embracing so many of my culinary ideas and encouraging and helping me with them. We have made some great new recipes of late!

3) Lovin’ my husband for being so encouraging of all my Lenten practices. He is not Catholic but is very supportive.


True Wealth

Fresh off the high of reading Elizabeth Esther’s latest post, I was thinking of what the true American dream is. My answer, it is being with the ones I love. As long as we are together, in our home, in an apartment, the most important thing is we are doing it together. No physical building or fancy car could ever replace my husband and children. Which is why we live in a small home that we have clearly outgrown, drive old cars and–although Uncle Sam considers us poor according to our tax return–still consider ourselves richer than people with three houses and a yacht. (And I think Elizabeth is too!)

Shortly after reading her post, however, I was confronted with the ugly fact that the rest of the world (well, the rest of America at least) doesn’t see us that way. I received an email from a family member that was so condescending in it’s very existence my blood came to a full Italian boil. I simmered down, dashed off a quick, albeit clipped, response* and said mid-afternoon prayer. It doesn’t really matter what was in that email or what the intentions behind it were, the bottom line is this: just because my family is poor (financially) does not give anyone else the right to say how raise our children or live. Period. We are raising our children with God and in accordance with our values and beliefs and if that is offensive in some way to people who have a very secular view of true wealth, well, I don’t apologize for that.

A couple of years ago, a good friend of ours lost her job. She had struggled for years with drug addiction and alcoholism and had nearly died at one point by her own hand before reaching out and beginning to attend AA meanings and redefining what  a life of value truly was. When she lost her job, it had the potential to be a very severe blow to the progress she had made as the majority of her life, her importance was determined by her checking account and success in work. However, with continued prayer and vigilance, with continued eyes toward the Cross, she did not relapse and ended that experience a much stronger person and with a better understanding and appreciation for how truly rich her life was.

Lent is a time of reflection, a time of challenging ourselves to live Christ-like lives by doing penance. It’s a time to own up to our short-comings and tackle them head-on (or at least one of them! people like me have a lot of them so one at a time!). It is a time to remember God’s will in our lives and respect it. And with respect comes acceptance. Even Christ, in the garden, asked God to deliver him from his fate, if it was His will. That prayer, thy will be done, is extraordinary. In my reflection, I am finding out the truth about how much our family does with less and how blessed we truly are. Jeff’s decision to become a teacher was following Jesus’ call to his disciples to “Come after me,” just as Jesus called Simon and Andrew (Mk 1:16). He had for years wanted to be a teacher but his main reason for not doing it was the money. A teacher could be truly successful because his or her value could not be measured by his or her tax return. Jeff had to abandon this way of thinking to return to school and take on a lower paying, higher stress profession where his “value” is not so easily defined by a Wall Street Analyst. This is not an easy undertaking. Certainly, we would be more financially secure if he were managing a country club and I was working full time, but we made a decision for him to work at this very worthwhile job while I stayed home with our children who let us know every day the value of that decision. Our choices are incomprehensible to most of the world. And especially, to some in our family. There are some who quite honestly, look down their noses at us. That is their choice. However, it does not give them a right to dictate to us what decisions are best for our family. At the poor advice of some of these people, we bought a house as quickly as possible which made Jeff accepting two positions he was offered in other states impossible as he could not afford rent there AND our mortgage here and our house would likely sell below value IF we were able to sell it. I joke that some family look at us like “Eddie and Katherine” from National Lampoon’s Vacation series, and they probably do, but Eddie and Katherine were happy. They had each other and they didn’t have the stresses Clark and Ellen did of keeping up (or ahead of) the Joneses. I’m not saying that Eddie and Katherine were perfect (nor am I saying Jeff and I are, far from it) but I have a lot of respect for people who know what they have, who know all material wealth is temporary and fleeting and live accordingly in how they treat each other.

God has called us to raise three children (so far), one of whom as special needs, with very limited funds. Are we creative with what we have, yes?! Do we think life might be easier with more breathing room in our budget, of course. But are we truly happy as we are, yes, yes we are. A thousand times yes. And people who do not understand that, I pray for.

*I realize that some would say, why respond at all? Well, the person who sent this email is one who freaks out if we don’t respond and also has a read receipt on every single thing he/she sends out so would know I opened the message anyway.

The Verdict is In…

and it is a double ear infection and conjunctivitis for Will. He hasn’t complained of pain, which is not surprising, he doesn’t. But I did notice a swollen lymph node on his  neck the other day around his ear and figured we may have to figure ears into the equation. This is only his second ear infection in close to three years of life, so we can’t really complain. Hope your Monday’s have gotten off to a less momentous start than ours has!

The Lenten Journey Continues

So, we’ve made it to the first Sunday of Lent. How is everyone doing? And while we are at it, do you feast on Sundays or continue the fast?

Last year I read this article by Rebecca Teti over at Faith and Family Live, the gist of which (haha, I used gist in a sentence about F&FL) about reigniting the argument as to whether Sundays are “days of Lent” and if you are obligated to fast on those days. She links to an article by Catholic-convert and apologist Jimmy Akin that says, well, they are days of Lent and you are supposed to fast. But, she goes on to mention that Lenten penance  is voluntary so no need to give up feasting on Sundays. If you read through the comments, there is a wide, but respectable variety of disagreement on this topic. While I do subscribe to the “feast on Sunday” approach, I am not going to log on to facebook and spend all day there. Today I logged in for a second on the iPad to get that pesky notification to go away and read one message that turned out to be pretty important, but I may not even go there again the rest of Lent. One reason that I find compelling is mentioned in the comments of Rebecca’s article, that it is often more difficult to give up six days and get one off than 40+ straight days. As someone mentioned there, after a prolonged fast, it is often no longer a challenge to give up what you have chose. For me, personally, when it gets easy, it feels like cheating. I don’t give up the fast, but I add something else to fast to. Not that fasting has to be the most grueling thing in the world, but easy, to me, means it is no longer a sacrifice. If I find that facebook no longer feels so important, twitter or something else will go. Equally compelling is the explanation I found here. I think they truly worded it best:

Q. Are Sundays part of Lent? If so, are Catholics required to continue acts of penance on the Sundays during Lent?
Sundays most definitely are a part of Lent as they are listed the first through fifth Sundays of Lent, and not of something else. The Sundays do, however, take on a different character than other days because Sunday is always a celebration of the Resurrection. There is no rule on whether Lenten practices continue on Sundays since such practices are voluntary anyway. Without a doubt we should maintain our preparation for the Triduum on Sundays, whether or not that includes acts of penance.

So, I say feast, whether I choose to always do it or not.

Moving on…in my quest to read an hour of the Bible daily, I have kept up although I did miss my hour yesterday, I read two hours today. I am now to Exodus and the second plague (it’s the frogs in case you’ve forgotten). I’ve also done well with the Divine Office, the Rosary and the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows and the Angelus. I feel like I spend more of my day praying than anything else, but I can’t see how that could possibly be bad. As always, my kids are a challenge, particularly with the Rosary because of length. I have a friend who calls the Rosary a “kid magnet”  because as soon as she picks hers up to pray, she is bombarded with “Mommy, I need!” Father Morneau’s Lenten Reflections in Ashes to Easter continue to inspire and challenge me. I am so blessed to have this as part of my Lenten prayer regimen.

Mass this morning was wonderful. Only Joey and I were able to attend because Will’s eyes are still not great and although we are fairly sure it is NOT conjunctivitis, I am taking him to the doctor tomorrow to get it looked at because Joey had a similar incident a few years ago that was actually an ear infection. And he’s been like this off and on (but mostly on) since Wednesday. I’m tired of not being able to go places because my kid looks infectious! So, Jeff stayed home with him and Shelby (I can’t go to mass with Shelby alone, at least not yet) while Joey and I made our way into town.

And as part of our Lenten planning is our celebrations of St Patrick’s Day and St Joseph’s Day. They are both Joey’s patron saints and therefore, both celebrated in our home. And would be anyway for Jeff’s Scotch-Irish heritage and my Italian heritage. Today Jeff made Pane di San Giuseppe (St Joseph’s Day Bread), we plan on making it a few times before the big day. We’ve planned our menu out for both days and hopefully will attend daily mass for both of them as well. It is such a fun month to be Catholic in March!

I hope each of you is doing well on your Lenten journey. May God continue to Bless You!

Ash Wednesday

This year I had high hopes of getting the kids to mass. I even planned to take the boys with me to the school mass at our church hoping seeing other kids behave would inspire my two-year-old to do the same and knowing the homily would be more to their level. I had such high hopes.

And then I got up 30 minutes early on Ash Wednesday, I completed my Morning Offering, Invitatory, and some reflection with Amy Welborn-Dubriel. I took a shower and got dressed, I got Shelby up and off to school. I went in to wake up the boys.

Joey was very excited to go to mass, “and have someone put ashes on me.” So getting him up was no problem. Will was very whiny and when he rolled over, I knew why. His eyes were crusted over. Both of them. Last year all three kids had a gastro-intestinal virus. And it appeared that this year, pink-eye was on the menu. I cleaned his eyes (he couldn’t open them prior) and stuck him in the tub. Then, to add insult to injury, we didn’t have any of his typical breakfast foods on hand and that was more than his two-year-old heart could bear. He sobbed for a good forty minutes. Between threatened pink-eye and his mood, mass was not on the menu. (Good news though, his eyes cleared up as the day went on and it turned out to just be allergies acting up, but I didn’t want to take the chance as bad as they were when he woke up.)

Joey and I were bummed,  but I realized it was necessary. This year for Lent, I am, as last year, giving up facebook with the added caveat this year that I am not having private messages forwarded to my email. I let people know in advance and several requested my email and phone number before the start of Lent so they could reach me if needed. I am also checking my email less often which has numerous benefits as well. I have started the Divine Office this year and am continuing that. I am also using Father Robert Morneau’s reflections in Ashes to Easter.  I have also decided I need to read the Bible more and devote one hour a day to reading and I am taking notes, writing down events and verses. As of today, Jacob just stole the blessing from Esau and is fleeing to Laban to find a wife (little did he know, he was getting two, I am sure my husband and many others do NOT envy him that!). I also have been saying the Rosary (the sorrowful mysteries every day along with the traditional mysteries for the day…on Tuesdays and Fridays I say all four sets of mysteries) and the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows. And I have made a special devotion to the Angelus at noon and Chaplet of Diving Mercy at 3 pm. Yes, it is a lot, but I’ve been Catholic almost 33 years now, so I  think I’m ready for this type of challenge!

So fasting: giving up facebook (check)

Prayer: well, see the previous paragraph, I believe we are covered!

Almsgiving…at first I found this problematic. After all I am not working right now and usually I would give up a luxury to donate that money either to my parish or the crisis pregnancy center or some other charity. It’s not a lot, but it’s about what it represents. Well, this year, that was out of reach. It is close to impossible for me to volunteer with the boys home all day. So, what to do…then, yesterday, shortly after mid-morning prayer, I got a phone call from a mother of one of Shelby’s classmates, she was upset about something and needed to vent on her way to her part-time job. We talked for about a half-hour and about five minutes before the conversation ended, I realized how much listening I was doing and how much she needed me to listen and to help her work through her problem. The night before I had spent an hour on the phone with the mother of another of Shelby’s classmates where she told me many things weighing heavily on her heart including how disconnected she felt from God and her church community (she was raised Southern Baptist and her father is a deacon) because of her child’s autism. I realized that sometimes, the charity we give is not to those the world classifies as “needy” but to the people who actually need us. Both of these mothers “needed” me at that moment and I gave my time and my ear. By disconnecting from facebook, I am forcing myself and others to make more personal and immediate connections and that has opened me up to give my time and and attention to people who need me. And that will be my almsgiving for this year. Where there is a will, God makes a way.

I wish all of you a joyous and spirit-filled Lent.

The LORD bless you and keep you!

The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!

The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace! ~Numbers 6:24

He must increase, I must decrease. ~John 3:30

Be still, and know that I am God. ~Ps 46:10

Shrove Tuesday

Here is a wrap-up of our Shrove Tuesday endeavors.

A few years ago, I began referring to the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday as Shrove Tuesday as opposed to Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. Not that either of those titles have anything wrong with them, they don’t, I just liked the way Shrove Tuesday sounded. While our OT was here, we looked up what “shrove” means and found it is the past tense of “shrive” which means to hear a confession, assign penance, and absolve from sin. (See more here.) Since finding that out I like “Shrove Tuesday” even better.

My grandfather’s family is from Poland and we believe there are some other Eastern European cultures mixed in as well including, Russian. So, I had planned blini for our Shrove Tuesday breakfast. Of  course, Jeff had made pancakes over the weekend and had some left-overs so we used those instead of making traditional blini.

If you don’t know, blini are typically thinner than most pancakes, about as thin as you can make them. They are made with baking powder as well.  They are served with butter, jams and even caviar in Russia. Some people will tell you real blini have to be made from buckwheat. A Russian woman I met a few years ago told me that was well, hogwash, that people in Russia made blini of whatever was available or convenient or cost-effective and sometimes it varied from area to area on what was traditional.

We had them for breakfast and lunch. (I actually made real blini today.) My kids skipped the caviar and had them with dark karo syrup. I am not really proud of that, but it was in the spirit of the day.

In past years we have had King Cakes (shipped from New Orleans bakeries and sometimes including beads and dabloons) and one year even went to a Mardi Gras party at church where the food was cooked by a New Orlean’s native making gumbo, crawfish pie, jambalaya and with a real Zydeco band. I was just not as prepared as usual to accomplish any of that. Instead, this year we had chicken enchiladas for dinner. And for dessert we had a toffee cheesecake (it was made late last week, so we had been working on it a few days)…

Next year, I  hopefully will have my act together to make some gumbo and crawfish pie and order a King Cake. I also want to try these Swedish traditional treats.  But we  had our share of fat and calories that day for sure!


Seven Quick Takes Friday

— 1 —

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. But it is what it is. I am in the best place in the world for this to happen.

— 2 —

Valentines Day. Well, it happened. As a friend of mine said, he dislikes the commercialistic aspects of it and seeing how friends of his who are married or have romantic attachments complain if they didn’t get “the” gift du jour . Using Jen’s Saint Name Generator my patron of 2012 is St Valentine of Rome. I know that for the last two years, as we endured a health crisis with our youngest, unemployment, Shelby starting school, etc, our marriage seems to have been on the back burner. This is NEVER a good thing for anyone. So, St Valentine of Rome was a very appropriate choice. No, we didn’t do roses, chocolates, jewelry or anything like that. I got Jeff a card and I cleaned the house and he got me a sub from Subway. Really, really. We both worked on something that would be appreciated by the other. That’s what the day is about. Not out-doing yourself from previous years but making a small gesture of thanks toward that person in your life.

— 3 —

My husband is a man of many talents and little patience. No doubt being married to me and having three kids (mostly being married to me) have forced him to learn a lot more patience than he would have otherwise, but still, it can be in short supply. So, the school system he worked in last year allowed him to shop for supplies at whatever grocery store was close, convenient, cheap or whatever other criteria he needed to meet. This year, he is finding out just how different things can be system to system. He finds out that discipline can be radically different school to school and that some systems just block youtube others block everything but their own website. And he learned the system that he is in will ONLY reimburse him if he shops at Costco or Sams. So we now have memberships to both. (And they did reimburse him as a courtesy for previously bought items at other places.) He has zero patience for the staff and lay out of warehouse stores. Zero. So, let’s just say the last couple of weeks he has been a bit grumpier than usual. All that being said, I’m thrilled with the memberships and  CANNOT wait to go shopping at one, the other or both.

— 4 —

Warning: Profanity ahead, just a little

I have seen these signs both on the internet and in person. Now, seriously, what does this person hope to gain??? Two things they will NOT be getting 1) Improvement in behavior/relations of/with their neighbor and 2) a sold house with this sign.

— 5 —

Back to Valentine’s Day for a wee minute. We live close to the ocean and love it although we do not take advantage of it nearly as much as we should. But, after Shelby’s surfing experience last summer at Surfers Healing, we are more obsessed than ever. So when the Surfrider Foundation posted this on Valentine’s Day, it warmed my heart in many ways.

photo credit to Jesse Cadman

— 6 —

Another idea of lasting love from pop culture:

In the end, Carl and Ellie DID make it to Paradise Falls and left their mark.

— 7 —

Finally. We build A LOT of forts.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!