The Horror of our Generation

September 29th, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Faith | Kids - (Comments Off on The Horror of our Generation)

Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a mandate that nearly all private business who offer health insurance to their employees will have to include coverage for sterilization and contraceptives, including those that cause early abortions.

As a Christian, there is no way I personally can approve of this by sitting back and doing nothing. Yesterday, I visited the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website and wrote an email to the Department of Health and Human Services recommending that they do not enact this mandate. It violates my freedom of religion by forcing me to pay for a practice my church and I personally condemn.

Pro-choicers claim that it’s the woman’s right to do what she wants with her body. I totally agree with them on that. A woman can either choose to be abstinent if she doesn’t want to get pregnant, nearly unheard of in this era of sexual debauchery. However, once she’s pregnant, it’s not just her body. Every human being’s life begins at conception. Modern medical science has proven that a baby has 46 of its own unique chromosomes at conception. There is another human being growing and living, and its heart is beating.

As Dr. Suess says in Horton Hears a Who, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

I also can’t imagine the longterm effects an abortion has on the mother-physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I am currently attending a weekly bible study on the book of Exodus. Click here to read a summary on the story of Exodus. A few weeks ago, we discussed that there are three times in human history when major infanticide* has occurred.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14

  1. In the book of Exodus, when Pharaoh orders the death of all male Hebrew babies.
  2. In the Gospel stories, when Herod orders the death of all males under the age of two shortly after the birth of Christ.
  3. Now.
It is an absolute horror that the practice of abortion is so accepted in our society.
We have been accepting the normalcy of abortion for far too long, nearly 40 years in the United States.
And now, if this law passes, we will be forced to spend our money on the murder of our children. We need to cherish the lives of our children, not destroy them.
So what can we do? Several things –
1. Visit the US Conference of Catholic Bishops website and write to HHS opposing their recent preventive services mandate. Here is what the default email says, it is clear and succinct.

“Pregnancy is not a disease, and drugs and surgeries to prevent it are not basic health care that the government should require all Americans to purchase. Please remove sterilization and prescription contraceptives from the list of ‘preventive services’ the federal government is mandating in private health plans. It is especially important to exclude any drug that may cause an early abortion, and to fully respect religious freedom as other federal laws do. The narrow religious exemption in HHS’s new rule protects almost no one. I urge you to allow all organizations and individuals to offer, sponsor and obtain health coverage that does not violate their moral and religious convictions.”

We only have until September 30th (TOMORROW!) to write to HHS, so get a move on! Do it now, it only takes a minute or two.

2. Write to Congress supporting the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (HR-1179).

3. Spread the word. Get everyone you know to bombard the HHS and Congress with emails opposing the preventive services mandate. As Christians, we are called to show love for others at all times. If someone disagrees with you, act graciously and show them love.

4. Attend pro-life events. The National Life Chain event will take place this Sunday, October 2, 2011, at 2:00PM CST. Locally, pro-life supporters will be standing at the corner of 48th and Broadway holding signs** and praying in silence from 2:30-3:30PM. LifeChain.net describes the Life Chain event like this:

LIFE CHAIN is a peaceful and prayerful public witness of pro-life individuals standing for 90 minutes praying for our nation and for an end to abortion.  It is a visual statement of solidarity by the Christian community that abortion kills children and that the Church supports the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death.

5. Pray. Pray for an end to abortion. Pray for the children lost. Pray for all pregnant women. Pray for the parents and doctors of aborted children that their hearts will be changed. God still works miracles. He listens to our prayers. If you don’t do anything else, please just pray.

*Infanticide is defined as the practice in some societies of killing unwanted children soon after birth 

**The approved Life Chain signs wills say 

  • ABORTION KILLS CHILDREN
  • JESUS FORGIVES AND HEALS
  • ADOPTION: THE LOVING OPTION
  • LORD, FORGIVE US AND OUR NATION
  • ABORTION HURTS WOMEN
  • PRAY TO END ABORTION
  • LIFE—THE FIRST INALIENABLE RIGHT

Happy Birthday, My Sweet Boy

August 3rd, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Kids | Our Crazy Life - (Comments Off on Happy Birthday, My Sweet Boy)

My sweet little guy turned four today. Four years ago at this moment, I was still in labor, not quite a mama yet. After 41.5 weeks of pregnancy and nearly twenty-four hours of induced labor, I was exhausted and just wanted to meet my baby. I expected our baby to look like my husband. I’m not sure why, but I just knew he would.

TT in 2008, when he was about a year old. I can't believe he's four today.

Then he came out and they put him in my arms, soaking wet and screaming (it’s a boy!), and I recognized him. I really did. He looked like me. I cried and just kept saying, “My baby! My baby!” (emphasis on the MY.) It seemed unreal that God could give us such a splendid gift.

That night, I never could have imagined how I’d feel on his fourth birthday. Well, today I feel joyful that we’ve made it this far. I feel sad that my guy will be going to kindergarten in just one year. I feel glad that he still gets in bed with me in the morning to snuggle. I feel closer to my husband than ever because of the struggles, laughter and love we’ve experienced parenting our children together.

Four is going to be a great year. He’s big enough to have a real conversation, and he has all kinds of new “great ideas” all the time. He still loves cars. He also plays pretend, going to work “like daddy” with his tool belt, making his guys ride their plastic horses, and even “cooking dinner” with his sister on her kitchen set.

Today I am thankful for TT, my curly-headed baby turning into a rough and tumble boy.

What are you thankful for today?

Every once in awhile, I catch a little snippet of the Today Show when I have to sit down and nurse in the morning. This morning the hot topic was “Mommyrexia,” which is when celebrities and others try to gain as little weight as possible during pregnancy so they can still look glamorous.

Dr. Nancy Snyderman is the chief medical editor for NBC, and she was disgusted by this, as was I. She called it “vulgar” and “an upper East side white girl obnoxious problem.” (Go Dr. Nancy!)

I miss that beautiful round belly!

These days, some people don’t see pregnancy as the gift that it is. They see it as a distortion of their bodies, as being ugly, and as just getting fat. Perhaps I’m against the norm, but I have always loved being pregnant. I have never felt better and more confident about my body during pregnancy than at any other time in my life – even better than when I was a senior in high school running 8 to 10 miles a day. That beautiful round belly contains the most precious gift, a child. When a mother feels a child moving inside her, the love grows and grows.

Although I can sympathize with the feelings of being fat and wanting to be thin again, the love overshadows everything else when I’m pregnant.

Pregnancy and children are truly a gift from God. I have many friends and acquaintances who have had trouble getting pregnant and have longed for years for a child. This story about “Mommyrexia” would make them all want to puke. These women are given the responsibility to care for a child growing inside them, and they squander that gift by trying to be thin? It truly is sick.

Pregnancy is the best reason ever to “get fat”, to take care of yourself, and to let your body do its job. Pregnant women everywhere: cherish this gift! Far too many women out there wish they were as blessed as you.

Please pray with me for all those men and women who long to be parents.

Prayer to St. Gerard

O good St. Gerard,
powerful intercessor before God
and Wonder-worker of our day,
I call on you and seek your help.
You who on earth did always fulfill God’s design,
help my friends to do the Holy Will of God.
Beseech the Master of Life,
from whom all paternity proceeded,
to make my friends fruitful in offspring,
that they may raise up children to God in this life
and heirs to the Kingdom of His glory
in the world to come. Amen.

Funny Friday – Pixar Edition

July 1st, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Funny Friday | Kids - (Comments Off on Funny Friday – Pixar Edition)

I love Pixar movies. We own all of them except The Incredibles, Wall-E, and Ratatouille. Each Pixar movie has funny little quotes that you don’t notice unless you’ve seen it a hundred times. And believe me, I’ve seen each of them a hundred times. Or more.

Here are 10 funny Pixar quotes that I have always enjoyed. If you have any more, let me know. Have a great weekend everyone!

Just a sampling of the many Pixar toys we own

  1. Ken: I like your legwarmers.
    Barbie: Nice ascot!
    -Toy Story 3
  2.  Sharks: I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself. Fish are friends, not food.
    -Finding Nemo
  3.  Mike Wazowski: [while Sulley brushes teeth] C’mon, fight that plaque! Fight that plaque! Scary monsters don’t have plaque!
    -Monsters, Inc.
  4. Rosie:  And that’s how my twelfth husband died. So, now I’m a widow. I mean, I’ve always been a black widow, but now I’m a black widow *widow*.
    -A Bug’s Life
  5. Mr. Potato Head: Hey, a laser! How come *you* don’t have a laser, Woody?
    Woody: It’s not a laser! It’s a… [sighs in frustration]  It’s a little light bulb that blinks.
    Hamm: What’s with him?
    Mr. Potato Head: Laser envy.
    -Toy Story 
  6. Carl: Hey, you in the suit! Yes, you! Take a bath hippie!
    -Up
  7. Mack: Wait a minute, here. They’re just using the same actor over and over. What kind of a cut-rate production is this? [when he realizes that the Hamm car, the Abominable Snowplow, and the P.T. Flea car are all voiced by the same actor.]
    -Cars
  8.  Ken: I’m not a girls toy… I’m not! Why do you guys keep saying that?
    -Toy Story 3
  9.  Mrs. Potato Head: [to Mr. Potato Head] I’m packing your extra pair of shoes, and your angry eyes just in case.
    -Toy Story 2
  10. Lightning McQueen: He won three Piston Cups!
    Mater: He did WHAT in his cup?
    -Cars

UPDATE: I’m watching Toy Story 2 with my kiddos and just heard a couple more gems.

11.   Andy [speaking for Evil Dr. Porkchop aka Hamm the Piggy Bank] : You must choose! How shall she die? Shark? Or death by monkeys?!
         –Toy Story 2
12.   Slinky: Oh no, it’s closed.
         Potato Head: We’re not preschool toys, Slinky. We can read.
         –Toy Story 2
UPDATE AGAIN: More from Toy Story 3
13.  Barbie: Ooh! Glitter tux!
        Ken: Who cares? Who cares? Sequins are tacky!
        –Toy Story 3

Things No One Tells New Mothers

July 1st, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Kids - (3 Comments)

When I had my first baby, I had no flipping idea what I was doing. Figuring out diapering and just being responsible for someone other than myself were real challenges. By the time the third one comes around though, diapering is old hat, and I’ve realized that I don’t have to do everything “What to Expect the First Year” says. I can make my own decisions about parenting, and even if someone else does it a different way, that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

Here is a list of things I wish someone had told me when I getting ready to become a mother for the first time:

  1. Parenting is hard. Really hard. But you can do it! A lot of times, you have to do things you don’t want to do. You are the one to make tough decisions for your kid. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart (or stomach!). You can and will do it. Why? Love, that’s why.
  2. It’s OK to be a bitch sometimes. Your baby relies on you to stand up for her when it comes to her physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. If a stranger wants to give her a squeeze during cold and flu season, it’s okay to say no. It’s okay to make people wash their hands before touching your baby. Stand up for your baby, even if it’s uncomfortable.
  3. You can’t take everyone’s advice. Everyone has their own opinion on how to raise children. It would be impossible to apply every piece of advice you get because much of it is conflicting.
  4. You know your baby and what’s best for him better than anyone else, including your mother, random strangers and well-meaning relatives. You have the power to make decisions for him, and what you say is of supreme importance to his life. Have confidence in your role as parent.
  5. All kids are different. Even if another kid is the same age as yours, that doesn’t mean that they “should” be doing the same things. Try not to compare your child to other people’s children or to her own siblings. One of my kids crawled at 6 months, one at 7 months, and one at 11 months. They are all perfectly normal, healthy children. They are just all different.
  6. You’ll have a whole new respect for your own mother. Your mom cleaned poo off the back of your neck when you blasted out in the middle of the night. When you’re doing it for your child, remember that she did that for you because she still loves you as much as you love your little bundle.
  7. Breastfed baby poo smells like biscuits. Yes, really. A baby who is exclusively breastfed does not make stinky poo. My husband thinks it smells like buttered popcorn. Sometimes it smells like your prenatal vitamin(which you should still be taking if you’re nursing!). Whichever, the point is – it does not stink. And while we’re on the subject of breastfeeding…
  8. Breastfeeding is tricky… at first. It feels super weird the first few times. It’s not something that just comes naturally to everyone, but don’t give up. It takes a couple of weeks, but once you get the hang of it, it’s an awesome bonding thing, knowing that your child truly needs you just to eat. Having a little life look you straight in the eye as they take nourishment directly from the source… amazing. You’ll see.
  9. There’s no “right” way to parent. You breastfeed? Good job! Your kid ate today! You formula feed? Good job! Your kid ate today! Take care of your kid’s needs, and don’t worry about a specific style, schedule, whatever. Do what’s best for you and your baby, and don’t apologize for it.
  10. Be prepared for the LOVE EXPLOSION! My good friends Mike & Mandy get credit for coining that term, but it’s the best description I’ve ever heard. When you’re in the delivery room, you won’t believe the crazy incredible love you feel for this tiny person you just met. It’s like your heart is instantly bigger and can hold so much more love for your newborn baby.
So – all you parents out there… Am I right? What other practical advice can we give our expectant mommy friends?
UPDATE:
11.   From Beth H. – “I think the best advice is to just follow your heart and your instincts. They’re almost always right.”

May the Daddy Bless You

June 19th, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Faith | Kids - (1 Comments)

Peach turned two years old about a month ago, and we all “practiced” singing the birthday song over and over. Many, many times.

When she sang it (to herself apparently), she’d get to the “May the dear Lord bless you” verse and sing confidently, “May the Daddy bless you!” I thought it was pretty adorable. Toddlerisms crack me up.

But when I really got to thinking about it, she replaced the words “dear Lord” with “Daddy”. It’s actually pretty profound. In Mass today, we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Trinity. The trinity is the belief that God is actually three persons in one – the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Three persons, but one God.

In the past several years of my life, I have focused on having a “personal relationship” with Christ, always trying to think of Jesus as a best friend that I can easily have a conversation with through prayer. I think is a good way to think about God because He does love us and He knows us better than anyone.

The Daddy

Today at the end of Mass, we sang the song “Abba, Father”. The word abba is translated to English as “daddy”. Our “dear Lord” is our “Daddy”. God is our father, our daddy. We can lean on Him, go to Him for advice, and rely on Him because He’ll never let us down. What an awesome example He is to fathers in this realm. My honey shows that godly love for our children with a smile on his face every day. Even when they’re acting like maniacs.

I know I’m so blessed that I still have my own father here on earth, and that he’s a loving, faith-filled Daddy. I am able to relate to God better in a father/daughter relationship because of my dad.

As we celebrate our fathers today, let us not forget God the Father, our Daddy in Heaven.

My day so far…

June 9th, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Kids | Our Crazy Life - (5 Comments)

My day so far:

4:45AM – Up to nurse Vanilla. After staying up till 1:30AM doing laundry.

5:30AM – Packed a lunch for my honey as he had to be to work at 6:00. Then back to bed.

6:45 – Peach gets in bed with me. Snuggles! 🙂

7:34 – TT whispers loudly in my ear. “Get up, Mommy! I’m hungry!” Peach wakes up, and bowls are filled with cereal.

The morning starts off quietly – we watch the end of A Bug’s Life while waiting for Vanilla to get up. We play with cars, and just get ready for our day.

I decide today is a good day to get things done around the house. I load the dishwasher, and when I’m putting my Finish powder in, I notice the bottom of the box seems a little damp. Hmmmm… yep. Pipe’s leaking. Awesome. I dry out the inside of my cabinet and scrub it with bleach.

By the time I’m done with that, Vanilla is up, demanding to be fed. I whip out a “bottle” and feed her. We play for awhile longer, I get some more laundry in the washer and fold some out of the dryer and put it away. I write a quick blog post while the kids play on the floor right next to me, and then it’s time to get outside. By this time, Vanilla’s taking her morning nap, so I’m out on the porch with the maniacs. TT starts putting on his shoes, and I squat down to put Peach’s shoes on for her. That’s when I notice something greenish-brown all over her legs and one hand. “What’s all over you, Peach?” as I lean down and take a whiff. Yep. It’s poop. This day just keeps getting better.

Complete bath and scrub down of Peach while Vanilla wails in her room and TT actually waits quite patiently. Then I look on the floor search and smell the entire living room and where she had been sitting, and I get to scrubbing four tiny brown spots off my carpet. Okay, deep breath.

TT two summers ago on the swing in question.

An old picture of TT on the swing in question.

I get all three (clean) kids outside and peace resumes. Peach is doing Harry Potter spells with a stick from the yard, and TT is busy destroying ant hills and digging in the dirt while Vanilla jumps and chews on toys in her exersaucer.

When a fight breaks out over a swing, I realize we’ve been outside for an hour and half, and it’s dangerously close to lunchtime. I wrangle the kids back inside, wash their hands in the bathroom sink, and get lunch ready. Lunch is smooth, Vanilla gets another “bottle”, and we watch some of the Nate Berkus Show.

TT starts whining about milk, so I know it’s naptime. When I get to the maniacs’ room, I find another pleasant surprise. Ball point pen scribblings decorate the wall. Deep breath. Lovely. How creative. I bring Peach and TT in for interrogation, and Peach explains in her two-year-old babble that it was her. A trip to the corner is in order.

Now all three are napping, and I’m thinking I’m going to have to do the same if I want to survive the rest of the day. But alas, there’s Vanilla again, wailing for mommy. So much for “getting things done” today.

I truly love being the mommy, but today is just one of those days when I’m happy I haven’t lost my patience.

It's all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T

June 9th, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Kids - (5 Comments)

The part of parenting that I know is necessary, but that I definitely don’t enjoy, is discipline. Some days I feel like the majority of my interactions with my kids involve breaking up fights and telling them to “knock it off” or “go stand in the corner” (our version of time-out).

Most days, though, my kids play well together and we all have a lot of fun. I really don’t have a lot to complain about when it comes to my kids’ behavior.

Lately I’ve been trying something new. When I’m talking about my kids to other adults and I know they’re listening, I’m always very complimentary about certain skills.

"Go stand in the corner!"

Like I’ll say, “TT is really great at helping me with his sisters. He’s getting to be such a big boy.”

Or “Peach always listens to me. She’s a good listener.” Then later on, TT will ask if he’s a good listener too. And I get to say, “Yes, of course you’re a good listener too. I love it when you listen.”

It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more I talk about them having good behavior, the more I see it in action. Try it out, and let me know if it works.

We talk a lot about respect in our house. Respect for all adults, for each other, for God, even for their toys (I don’t want them turning into Sid from Toy Story). Every time I treat them respect, look them in the eye and talk to them, I see it coming out of them as well. I must be an example of respect and patience for my children.

Do you have any other tips on getting kids to be respectful?

You're Gonna Miss This

June 6th, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Kids - (3 Comments)

When I was in college I was a big country music fan, and I still really enjoy country songs because they all seem to tell a story. One of my favorites came out a few years ago – “You’re Gonna Miss This” by Trace Adkins.

You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days
Hadn’t gone by so fast

These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this 

When we first got married, we had a little one bedroom apartment with the shag carpet. I’d get home from class and prepare crappy simple suppers because at 21, I didn’t know how to cook at all. We prayed before our meals, and dreamed about what it’d be like to own a house, get three dogs (NOT my idea), and have 10 children. Yes. Ten.

Six years later, here we are, proud parents of three children so far [and zero dogs.]:

TT

TT – The Bashful Boy

TT is our oldest, a shy three and a half year old boy who loves race cars, four wheelers, his little sisters and just being outside. He was the only kid who cried on the first day of preschool because he wanted to be home with his mom. 🙂 TT already has an attitude and a good sense of humor. He’s “TT” because when Peach was 14 months old, she started calling him that. His name doesn’t even have a T in it.

Peach

Peach – The Wild Card

Peach, our two year old princess, is our wild card. She gives the most hilarious dirty looks, the biggest smiles, and has been feisty since she was born. She started climbing furniture before she even learned how to walk. We’re going to be in trouble when she’s a teenager. She’s “Peach” because that’s the only princess her dad could think of… thank you Nintendo.

Vanilla

Vanilla – The Mellow Miss

Vanilla, our youngest daughter, is just five months old, but she’s already laid back and sweet. She really gets a kick out of her older brother and sister, and she goes with the flow really well. She’s “Vanilla” because that’s what her brother named her when I was 20 weeks along.

Someday, I’m going to look back on these days – when I had three children under the age of four, and these are going to be the “good ol’ days” – as my mom would say. Although I’m almost sure I won’t miss the tantrums, whining, funky diapers, telling them to “knock it off” 50 times a day, etc… there are some things I KNOW I’ll miss when they’re gone.

  1. Movies and a picnic with popcorn on the living room floor
  2. Watching our parents form relationships with each of our kids as individuals
  3. Solos in the van to the chorus to “Love Will Hold Us Together”
  4. Their faces and laughter when we blow bubbles outside (what is it with kids and bubbles?)
  5. When TT asks if I’ll lay down for a nap with him
  6. Random kisses on the shoulder, leg, or wherever Peach can reach in that moment
  7. The way Vanilla looks at my eyes and not my mouth to see if I’m smiling
Okay, this list could go on for pages and pages, but the point is – I better enjoy these moments while I can. Pretty soon TT is going to be embarrassed to give me a hug when I drop him off at school. And Peach is eventually going to think singing in the van with her mom is lame. And Vanilla will be crawling, then walking around and climbing the walls with the other two maniacs all too soon. I’m cherishing today.

“Children have neither past nor future;
they enjoy the present, which very few of us do.”
Jean de la Bruyere

…and I forgot!

May 24th, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Kids - (4 Comments)

When I was a little kid, my mom had little notes and drawings we had made hanging on the inside of her cherry kitchen cabinets. I remember she had cut out a little poem from a newspaper that read:

“On Judgment Day, if God should say,
‘Did you clean your house today?’

I will say, ‘I did not,
I played with my children, and I forgot.'”

It still hangs in that same cabinet today, and I try to look at it almost every time I’m there. I have no idea who wrote it, but I’ll give credit if someone can tell me who did.

I always remember this little poem so I can keep my priorities straight. Our home will never be the perfect, put-together house that I would like. But I do cherish my children. Don’t get me wrong, I have days when I wake up in the morning and wonder how I will ever get through the day with three kids under the age of four. I lose my cool on occasion quite often, and I pray for patience all the time… I just want to have patience right now.

For now, I can only concentrate on the actual cleanliness of my house (You know, clean, but messy). Of course my house is going to be messy. As soon as I get one thing put away, the kids have already dragged out three other things… in a never-ending cycle.

I have quite a few friends – those Type A personalities – whose children’s toy rooms are decorated and organized absolutely perfectly. Anytime we visit their houses, I come home and think, why can’t I do that? Why can’t I be more organized?

And why can’t I? I’m not that person. I’m not naturally organized. And it doesn’t drive me all that crazy to have the kids’ toys everywhere. At the end of the day, seeing the toys strewn about the living room makes me realize how blessed I am to be able to stay home and just play with my children.

Playing together can be such a good learning tool. I always try to make everything seem like play for my children – even going to the grocery store. Kids like it when you just talk to them, and listen to their stories. My three-year-old loves going to the grocery store because he knows it means he gets to pick things out and talk to his mom the whole time.

My own mother did this… I can remember “helping” her bake and cook, and looking back, I realize that it probably took her ten times longer to get things done when we helped. She really has a way of making people, children in particular, feel special. I really hope I’ve inherited that skill at least a little so my kids can grow up knowing that they are a real priority in my life.

So, YES – I played with my children today, and forgot to straighten up my house. I think God will understand.