On Abortion – I Used to Look Away Too

Sooo, Planned Parenthood.

I’ve been sitting on this post for almost a week, trying to decide whether or not to hit publish. There’s so much out there about this right now. I wasn’t sure I wanted to throw my voice into the mix. But I see people defending Planned Parenthood and dismissing the videos from the Center for Medical Progress, and I couldn’t help but think about myself, and how I used to do the same thing.

See, I used to think Planned Parenthood was great. I used to defend the organization staunchly against people who said it was bad. I thought it did great things for women and provided important “health services” for women who couldn’t afford to get them elsewhere.

I also used to be pro-choice. I thought a woman should have the right to do whatever she wanted with her body. I thought that the government and “those” religious groups had no right to interfere with what should be a decision strictly between a woman and her doctor. I said that I was personally against abortion, but I defended a woman’s right to “choose.” In my thinking about abortion, somehow I never, ever thought about what was actually happening during the procedure. That a tiny baby was being crushed or vacuumed or poisoned to death.

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A lot of people I know have a very hard time understanding how anyone could possibly believe abortion is okay. Or how anyone could defend Planned Parenthood, even now when the videos are being released showing how callous they are about killing babies and that they are selling the body parts of these babies.

But I understand. I understand exactly how someone could think it’s okay, because I thought it was perfectly acceptable, up until about two years ago.

People can think it’s okay because when we talk about abortion in our society, it’s kept very vague. When we talk about abortion in our society, it’s presented as something that every woman has a RIGHT to. Mainstream society makes it clear that to suggest abortion is anything other than a personal medical decision that every woman should be able to make about her own body makes you a woman hater, or religious zealot, or heaven forbid, a right-wing conservative nut job.

If you talk about the other person involved in an abortion, the one most directly affected, the baby, you are being insensitive to the women who choose abortion. No one wants to talk to about the babies. They call them fetuses, as if that makes them any less alive and important.

I even saw someone post on a friend’s Facebook page just the other day that “fetuses, by definition, are not humans.”

That. Is. Insane.

And by the way, not true.

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People can think that abortion is okay, because they associate the pro-life movement with conservative craziness. The mainstream media shows us “Christians” like the Westboro Baptists, and then everyone seems to feel like it’s okay to dismiss the “religious right” as a bunch of bigoted, narrow-minded, anti-progress losers who have no relevance in our current society.

I used to do this.

I used to drive by the billboards with the pictures of the tiny developing babies and the slogans like, “Abortion Stops a Beating Heart” and I’d scoff, “Geez, these religious crazies will go to any lengths, won’t they?”

I was so entrenched in my own way of thinking, that when I’d see something that challenged my beliefs and my certainty that access to abortion was a good and necessary component of any civilized society, I mocked it or simply dismissed it as the product of radical conservative loonies.

Our society discredits Christians and Christian beliefs as crazy and backwards and extreme.

I’ve been there, done that. I used to simply dismiss, without a second thought, all conservative viewpoints simply because they were conservative, and right-wing, and, I thought, crazy.

So I decided to go ahead and publish this post, because I can see this same thing happening right now with the videos that have been released by the Center for Medical Progress featuring high-ranking women from Planned Parenthood.

People are trying to automatically dismiss these videos because they don’t want to acknowledge what they are showing. People are trying to explain away the disgusting fact that Planned Parenthood is selling baby body parts by complaining that the videos were obtained secretly and that the undercover people who filmed them were goading the Planned Parenthood people into saying what they said. People are saying that the videos aren’t valid because they have been “heavily edited.” A judge has actually issued a restraining order to prevent any more videos from being released!

I have to wonder if the people who are saying these things have actually watched the videos. If they’ve even thought about what the doctors in them are saying. Because that first doctor, Dr. Nucatola, talked about crushing little babies’ bodies in just such a way as to avoid damaging the organs that would be wanted for research.

She’s talking about crushing a baby’s body.

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That wasn’t made up. They didn’t dub the video to make it look like she said something she didn’t say. She said that. Who cares how the question was asked or if she wasn’t aware that she was being filmed?

Some people are trying to explain away the videos by saying that they aren’t selling the body parts, only accepting payment to “defray costs.” If that’s true, why don’t they have a specific policy in place stating exactly how much should be paid for each organ? Why do we see Dr. Gatter haggling over prices and trying to see what other people are getting so she doesn’t get “low-balled”?

Others’ are trying to spin the videos as “not that bad” by saying that it’s always gross to hear doctors talk about medical procedures, and that doesn’t make it wrong. They compare Dr. Nucatola’s statements, describing a baby with a tiny body, containing tiny organs, and how she’s going to crush it, to those of a surgeon describing a heart transplant.

Can we all just stop a moment and see how twisted that is?

Listening to a doctor explain a life-saving medical procedure is not disgusting at all. It’s fascinating and thrilling. A life-saving surgery is a beautiful thing. An abortion, which kills a living being, is a terrible tragedy. If I saw a video showing a diseased organ removed from a body with doctors looking at it and poking it in a dish, I would probably think that was a little icky, but I would not gasp in horror, as I did when I saw the tiny baby parts being pushed around in a dish. A little leg. A hand.

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I know exactly how someone can avoid this truth by turning away. By following the herd of the mainstream media in glossing over what abortion actually is and thinking of it only in terms of women’s rights.

I understand it because I used to do it, but that doesn’t make it okay.

It doesn’t matter if you’re Christian, Muslim, atheist, or Buddhist. Killing is wrong. Abortion kills a human baby.

Can we please stop looking the other way? Can we stop dismissing what abortion is because pro-life messages might come from people with whom we tend to disagree?

Edel – The Message for Me

It’s now more than a week since I’ve been home from the Edel Conference. I’ve read many of the blog posts written by other ladies who were there, and I have found it interesting that each of us, though we attended the same event, came away with slightly different messages, that spoke to each of us individually with just what we needed.

Here’s my take-home:

On Friday after the cocktail party, Super Friend and I had a wonderful chat, late into the night. At one point in our conversation, she shared with me her love of the Divine Mercy devotion, and the prayer that is associated with the Divine Mercy image — “Jesus, I trust in you.” I got so excited that she had brought this up, and shared with her that that simple prayer has been my mantra during all of my struggles with secondary infertility and miscarriage. Every month, during the waiting phase, when I start to get anxious and/or hopeful and/or discouraged, I say that prayer. Every time I get a negative on the pregnancy test, I say that prayer. Every time I start to feel despair that I will never have another baby, I say that prayer.

Divine Mercy and “Jesus I trust in you” have been my secret weapons against the anxiety and desolation that come with repeatedly trying and failing to get and stay pregnant.

Later in this same conversation, Super Friend made reference to a Bible passage that was meaningful to her. She couldn’t remember quite how it went right away, but the way she described it made me think of one that I know.

I got all excited and exclaimed, “Oh! Oh! Isn’t that from Corinthians, or maybe it’s Galations. . . Oh, I don’t know where it’s from, but do you mean the story about when Paul gets a thorn in his side and he asks God to remove it and God tells him something like, ‘My grace is sufficient for you. My power is perfect in weakness’?  I don’t remember exactly how it goes, but it’s something like that, right? That is one of my favorite verses!

She said that yes, that was what she meant, and I then proceeded to tell her that I had first heard the verse (it’s actually 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10) when listening to a Lighthouse Catholic Media talk several months ago, and that it has become very meaningful to me since then. It seems like I keep hearing it and reading it all over the place, and every time I do, it hits me so hard that it’s just what I need. It was even the Sunday Mass reading for the weekend before Edel! I shared with Super Friend that the verse (in addition to the Divine Mercy prayer) has been really special to me as a way of helping me to deal with my fertility struggles.

As we sat there and continued to talk, I was feeling absolutely amazed that Super Friend brought up the two big messages that I have kept in my heart for months. It felt like the Holy Spirit was speaking right to me through my friend. It was a conversation I will never forget.

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But wait. It gets even better.

The next day, it got to be the time for the late afternoon speaker, so we were in the big conference room, and Kelly Mantoan was giving her talk. She was talking about the struggles of being a mom, and trying to find joy in our vocations, and I honestly don’t remember the exact context of the moment in her talk, but at one point she said, “Jesus, I trust in You.” I couldn’t believe it. I shot a quick glance at Super Friend and almost burst into tears.

“That’s my prayer!” I thought. “God keeps sending it to me.”

And THEN, Saturday night the keynote speaker during dinner was Audrey Assad. Guess what she opened her talk with? Mm-hmm.

The above-referenced 2 Corinthians passage! 

I heard her start reading the part about the thorn in Paul’s side, and I think my jaw just dropped, or maybe my eyes got teary, or maybe (probably) both of these things happened. Again, I felt the presence of God, speaking straight to my heart, through the lovely women of the Edel Conference.

There were so many wonderful take-home messages from the Edel Gathering. Each conversation and each speaker added a little something that I will hold in my heart.

But these moments that I’m writing about here, they were so powerful.

Jesus I trust in You.

My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.

I came home knowing that these two things that I have been holding on to for months are exactly what I need to keep holding on to. God was telling me that I need to trust Him. That my struggles are what are bringing me closer to Him. That His grace is enough to carry me through anything. That whether or not I ever have another baby, it will be okay.

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I got exactly what I needed out of the Edel Gathering. What was your take-home message?

Seven of My Favorite Things About Edel

I haven’t yet written anything about last weekend at Edel. There is just so much to say, and yet many other ladies have already described the weekend with posts that are beautiful and funny and spot on (you can find them all linked in one place here). I have been working on a different post, but for today, I’m just going to give you seven of my favorite things about the Edel weekend. I’m linking up with Kelly’s 7 Quick Takes too. Here goes.

1.

I got to spend time with my sister, my Super Friend.

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We had lots of time to talk about silly stuff and serious stuff and it was so good for my soul. Our hotel rooms were right next to each other, so she was able to put her sweet baby (The Godson) to bed or down for a nap and we could sit in my room and talk. We stayed up late on Friday night sharing stories and talking about faith. There were so many good conversations that I will never forget.

2.

The food! All weekend, the food was wonderful. Friday night I made dinner reservations at Hall’s Chophouse. Super Friend and I both ordered the bison steak with truffle butter and wild mushroom risotto. And some sort of chocolate pate dessert. It was ridiculous.

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And then there was Saturday morning, which also involved excellent food, but there was so much more as well. I loved everything about Saturday morning. I even managed to get most of a shower before the hotel’s water problems caused my water pressure to dwindle to almost nothing. At the end I had to rinse the conditioner out of my hair under a trickle from the tub spout, but I wasn’t going to complain, since many of the ladies in the hotel couldn’t get a shower at all.

Super Friend and I walked across the street to the awesome little farmer’s market. Then we got directions (sort of) from one of the vendors there to the Pauline Sisters’ bookstore. We had the address so we knew it was on the same street as the farmer’s market, but weren’t sure which direction to walk. He said, “Oh, I’ve been there before! It’s on this street. . . Hmm, I don’t remember which way it is from here. I know it’s on a corner (it wasn’t).” I chatted with him for a few more minutes about how lovely the nuns’ store was while Super Friend looked it up on her phone GPS. He had no idea where the store was, but he was quite friendly. He even said, “Are you on the team?” which we assumed meant he was asking us if we are Catholic. He said he was too.

We headed off in the direction of the store which was about a mile away. It was early enough that it wasn’t too horribly hot, and the walk was the perfect way to start the day. The only bad thing about it was that I forgot to bring my Fitbit, so I wasn’t getting credit for all the steps I was getting in (I’m kind of a Fitbit addict).

We knew we were probably too early for the nuns’ store to be open, so we were looking for a place to stop and get breakfast along the way. I glimpsed a sign down a side street that said “Crepes.”  Super Friend was all about crepes, but I wasn’t very sure, because the only time I have actually liked eating crepes was when my husband made them and we ate them like breakfast burritos. But was willing to give them a try and I’m so, so glad we did.

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The crepes were phenomenal, and we met some really lovely ladies who were vendors at the conference and came and sat with us. Jenny from Holy Heroes and the lovely sisters Mary, Nancy, and Sue from On This Day Designs (I love their jewelry!).

We finally made it to the bookstore, bought a few things for our kids, and made the (now quite hot) walk back to our hotel. It was a memorable morning.

4.

Another thing about Saturday morning that deserves its own number is that I got to sleep in, and I didn’t have to get up to the rush of breakfast and small people’s needs. I get up at 5:30 most mornings so that I can have some quiet time to enjoy coffee and pray, or read, or just be still before my kids get up and start wanting things from me. I realized almost two years ago that this is just something I need to do for myself and for my kids so our days start out on a better note.

BUT, though I actually enjoy getting up early, sometimes I really long to be able to sleep in and to STILL be able to wake at a leisurely pace and not have to start making breakfast and doing other things right away. I was looking forward to the opportunity to do this at Edel on Saturday morning, and hoping that it would work out (and that I wouldn’t wake up at 5:30 out of habit or something).

I slept until 7:30! And I still was able to lounge around for a bit, pray, make coffee, and tool around on my computer for a while (checking all the #Edel15 posts on FB and Instagram, of course). It was heavenly.

5.

Spending time with The Godson was so special. Usually when I’m with him, there are at least seven other kids running around and we don’t get to spend a lot of one on one time. I got lots of snuggles over the weekend, and even got to spend time with just him while Super Friend went to Eucharistic Adoration. He is such a happy baby, and was an absolute angel all during the trip.

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6.

The people!! I got to meet so many lovely ladies over the weekend. I actually did a pretty good job of making small talk with new people, which is really hard for me. After the fact I started to worry that in my nervousness I had blabbed on and on too much about myself, but I’ve decided to not be anxious about that and to just appreciate the women I was able to get to know.

I loved being able to meet one of Super Friend’s old friends (whom she reconnected with on the plane!), and the friend that she came with, and another lovely new friend from New York. I enjoyed meeting all the new people I got to speak to, but there were a few ladies I had been determined to meet before I went because of sort of knowing them from their blogs, and I managed to meet almost all of them, and then some. It always feels hard for me to go up to a woman I recognize from the Catholic blogging community and introduce myself cold. But I did it. Sometimes really awkwardly, but baby steps, right?

I met Mary from Passionate Perseverance and Cate from Dainty Cate and Micaela from California to Korea and Jenna from Blessed is She and Erika from Pray Species, who has been a reader and friend for a while and I finally got to talk to her in person. There were just so many great people.

7.

Finally, the Saturday night party. It was even better than last year. We karaoked, we danced, we imbibed.

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My very favorite thing about the whole night was that Super Friend got out on the dance floor with me. The dance floor is not really her favorite place, but she overcame her resistance and we danced and it was so. much. fun.

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So there you have it. I have another Edel post in the works. I’ll get it done soon. Check out other Quick Takes posts at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

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Edel, Summer, ALL the Good Things – 7QT

Happy Fourth of July! Two posts in one day, so that I can join in with Kelly for Seven Quick Takes Friday (it’s been a while!), and share all my love of summer to this point.

1.

We had some fantastic 4th of July festivities with friends last night.

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Wonderful friends, good food, good beer, and fireworks. Can’t beat that for a great American holiday celebration.

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^ My husband playing chase with all the kids ^

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I love our community of friends

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Earlier in the week, we went strawberry picking. Summer in Wisconsin is glorious.

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It really does make up for the long, cold winters. Well, almost.

3.

Our house has been on the market for two weeks now and we’ve had two showings. I have been cleaning and polishing and pulling weeds so much, it’s really starting to get to me. Examples: last weekend, I got out of the car at the farmer’s market downtown, and I saw some weeds growing in the sidewalk cracks. I felt a strong urge to bend down and pull them, just for the thrill of getting the root. Then a couple of days ago, I noticed myself being careful not to leave fingerprints on my steering wheel while driving to the grocery store.

I really hope our house sells soon!

4.

I’ve had some fun one-on-one time with my littlest girl while her sisters were at YMCA camp a week ago. She wanted to play princess and informed me that her name is “Annie,” (which is not her name). She was Princess Annie all day, until she decided she was Princess Baker Annie.

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The Princess-Baker’s finished creation:

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It’s not often I get to spend time with just my youngest girl. It was special.

5.

Next week, I’m going to the Edel Gathering in Charleston! I had a blast there last year, and am looking forward to some much needed mommy-recharging time.

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^ A selfie with Super Friend from last year ^

If you are coming to Edel, leave a comment and let me know. And please come up and introduce yourself! Even though I am really going to try to get past my introvertedness (word?) and meet new people, I probably won’t do a very good job of it to be honest, so help me out!

6.

Speaking of introvertedness, I stepped out of my comfort zone and reached out to another homeschooling mom here in town. Although I really love our community of friends here (see above), all of the kids who are part of our friend group go to school. I’m realizing that I really do need to connect with more homeschooling families, so I called our parish to see if they have a homeschooling group. They don’t, but the woman I spoke to gave me the name of another homeschooling mom in our parish. That mom is a member of a (non-Catholic) homeschooling group I’m part of on FB, so I sent her a friend request, and then a message, and she told me there is a Catholic homeschooling group in our town, it just hasn’t been very active lately. She added me to the FB group, and I invited her to meet up at a park with the kids. It was so fun! We made all sorts of plans to revive the local group, and she gave me some good info on other homeschooling opportunities in town.

It might seem like a little thing, but I’m really excited about this for myself and for my kids (and for the record, I have nothing against hanging with non-Catholic homeschoolers, but there’s something really fun about discussing plans for an All Saint’s Day costume party and a May Crowning and such).

7.

We are making a good, old-fashioned American feast for the 4th today. I have chicken brining, which I will fry this afternoon, my husband has his famous homemade baked beans cooking in the oven, I’ve got all the fixins ready to mix up some coleslaw, and lots of corn on the cob in my fridge. It’s going to be a great day.

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Happy 4th of July!

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For more Quick Takes, head over to Kelly’s link up!

That Time I Didn’t Ruin My Daughter’s Soccer Career

Every time I think I’m starting to get motherhood figured out, some new situation or experience comes along to give me a nice beat down. Organized team sports, soccer to be specific, has been the latest. Here’s a little story to illustrate:

For the past two months, my older girls have been playing on a soccer team together. And as with most things, their vastly different personalities were very apparent when watching them on the soccer field.

Miss was a bit hesitant in her first game, but then something seemed to click for her and she was suddenly all over the place, scoring tons of goals and seemingly having a great time. She was confident and played hard whenever she was on the field.

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Lass complained every time they had to go to practice or a game. She rarely seemed to put a in lot of effort, and during each practice and game she complained of her “tummy hurting” any time she ran much at all. She seemed insecure, and didn’t like to do most of the games or drills they did at practice, because she didn’t like to lose or make a mistake. I gave her all the gentle encouragement I could, but also a bit of tough love with, “In our family, we don’t quit and we always give our best effort. So get going.” She actually perked up a little bit at that point, though she still seemed to dread soccer days.

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The season was going along well enough, but then I made a mistake that I thought was going to ruin the rest of the soccer season for my eldest child.

Miss was really on fire one night, scoring lots of goals and running all over the field. She kept yelling to her coach the tally of the number of goals she had scored (from that game and the previous one). It was something like this, “I’ve got seven! I’VE GOT SEVEN!” then “NOW I’VE GOT EIGHT!” The coach often didn’t hear her or was trying to give instructions to other kids, so she just kept yelling it over and over. I was thrilled that she was so excited, but thought to myself that perhaps we might need to have a little bit of a talk about humility at some point. . .

Later in the game she was running next to her teammate who was taking the ball to the goal and about to score. Miss took the ball from her teammate and scored the goal herself.

After the game, we congratulated her on a game well played and shared in her excitement about her successes. We praised Lass for an increase in energy and playing hard. As always, we tried to keep the post-game talks positive and encouraging of all efforts.

However, I wanted to say something to Miss about learning to display humility and also about being part of a team and supporting teammates without taking the ball away from them. I didn’t want to rain on her parade right after her exciting game, so I waited until the next day to talk to her about these things. We talked about how to be happy and excited about accomplishments without boasting. She seemed to easily understand the idea of not wanting to come across as bragging about the number of goals scored (we had recently studied humility in Little Flowers). Then we talked about playing on a team and not trying to take the ball away from her teammates. She seemed to get that just fine too, so I left it at that.

However, during her next game, she not only avoided taking the ball away from her teammates, she also barely kicked the ball at all. She held back so much that she didn’t even try to take the ball away from the other team!

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I was horrified. I tried to talk to her briefly during the game to clarify what I had meant about just not taking the ball from her teammate when she is actively kicking it, and I encourage her to go after the ball, but it didn’t help.

For the rest of that game, she was hesitant and seemed to have lost the confidence that she had displayed in previous games.

Afterwards I tried to talk to her even more about what I meant. I over-explained. I apologized for perhaps confusing her or causing her to think that I wanted her to hold back. I encouraged her to go after the ball and play hard.

None of it made any difference. For the next several weeks, she played tentatively. Her spark was gone.

Do I need to tell you how terribly I was beating myself up? How my stomach clenched every time I saw her let the ball go by?

I had thought I was doing a good thing. I had thought I wasn’t criticizing, just providing a gentle lesson about how to play on a team. I had thought I was doing my job of teaching and guiding her in the ways of things.

Instead, I ended up fearing that I had crushed her little spirit and ruined her soccer career forever.

I talked to my husband about it. I talked to my mom about it. I talked to Super Friend about it (who assured me that the same thing had happened with her son and it would be okay). I prayed about it. I reminded myself that she’s only six. Still, every time I watched her, I felt awful and feared what horrible thing I had done to her.

I didn’t really know what to do. I felt like I had talked the issue to death in trying to backtrack and clarify what I had meant. So I just tried to encourage both girls to play hard, have fun, and get after the ball at each practice and game.

For a while, this didn’t seem to be making any change in Miss, but Lass was starting to show quite an improvement. The girls’ coach was wonderful and really put extra effort into helping her to enjoy the game and to score a goal either at practice or at a game. She mostly stopped complaining that her tummy hurt. She started having more fun. She really wanted to be able to score a goal, and though we always told the girls that the number of goals they scored wasn’t the most important thing, I suspected she would find the game much more enjoyable if she could experience that taste of success.

Last weekend, my husband and I decided to spend a lot of extra time playing running and kicking games with the girls. We all played duck-duck-goose and kickball, he played sharks and minnows and kicked the soccer ball around with them.

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Thursday night was their last game. I prayed that they would both end their soccer season on a positive note. They were on the field together, and both started out playing hard.

And then, within a few minutes of getting into the game, Lass scored a goal!! Her first goal ever. I was standing up and cheering, and I actually started to cry, I was so happy to see her joy in her achievement. Her sister picked her up and hugged her fiercely. Lass ran back to her coach and said, “I love soccer!!” She looked over to us on the sideline with a beaming smile and said with two thumbs up, “I scored a goal!”

And her accomplishment seemed to finally light the fire in her sister again. Within minutes of her sister’s success, Miss scored three goals, one right after the other. I felt like my heart was going to burst with happiness for both of them. And with relief that I really hadn’t ruined my daughter forever.

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I’ve found this soccer mom thing to be kind of tricky. I want to encourage my girls and push them to do their best, but not push them in such a way that they feel that approval is contingent upon scoring goals or some other specific measure of performance. I want to help them learn about how to be a good sport and a good teammate, but not squash their enthusiasm or desire for individual achievement.

In this situation, I had such good intentions, and still I totally blew it. Even now, I get a little teary thinking about it. I want nothing more than to help my daughters be confident and joyful in all the things they do. I know I will continue to make mistakes, so I only hope that an abundance of love and prayer will help them to overcome all of my shortcomings in the future.

At least I know they will never be lacking in those two things.

Bookroo Review and a Discount for You

I love books. I especially love finding good books for my kids. I read to my girls every day, at least at bedtime and during school, and usually at other times of the day too, like over lunch or breakfast, and any other time they pick up a book and ask me to read it. I just love how reading sparks their imaginations and gets them thinking and talking about all sorts of things.

Children’s books are kind of my thing.

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Sooo, when Jane from Bookroo contacted me and asked if I’d be willing to do a review of the Bookroo service, I was pretty intrigued*. I know there are a lot of crafting and activity subscriptions for kids out there, but I had never heard of a book subscription. Um, yes please. That is right up my alley. I looked into it, and I really liked what I found out.

Bookroo is a small, family run business. I like small businesses, and I like the mission of the people at Bookroo:

Our mission is to enable and empower parents to build their children’s book collections in an affordable and exciting way through curated monthly book deliveries. We believe in the power and impact of the written word in the life of a child, and believe it’s never too early to start reading to children!

Amen to that!! (You can read more about the company and the people behind it here.)

The service works like most other monthly subscription programs. They offer month-to-month, three-month, and six-month packages. You can choose to get board books or picture books, and they guarantee that the retail price of the books you receive will always exceed your monthly fee (you get three board books or two picture books per box).

It’s that simple.

I really loved the idea of trying the service, but I have to say that I was a little worried that we would end up getting books we already have. That was the only thing that caused me to hesitate when considering Jane’s invitation. We have a lot of books, and I didn’t want to get stuck paying for books we already have. But, how exciting is it to look forward to a package every month, which may contain fabulous books you’ve never heard of?

I’m sure you can guess that I decided to take a gamble and go ahead with trying out the service. I figured if we got books we already have, I can just hold on to them to give as gifts.

I chose the month-to-month picture book package, and our books arrived last Monday.

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My older girls were at camp all day, so it wasn’t until fairly late in the evening that I was able to bring out the packages and let them open them up. Surprise books are the best!

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The books we received were Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always and Harry and Horsie. Happily, we don’t own either of these books! My girls were excited to see the Squid and Octopus book, which we got from the library a few months ago. But the real winner of the package was Harry and Horsie. My girls requested that I read it right away, and they absolutely loved it.

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It was a very cute book that provided many opportunities for theatrical reading and suspense. We were all laughing at several points in the book, and after I finished reading it, my girls began to fight over who would get to keep the book in her bed that night (they all like to sleep with books).

At least one of them has requested it every night for a week, and Miss even took it with her on the bus to her camp field trip last Wednesday. The book has some wonderful lines that the girls all love to say together with me, and we’ve even added in a few things for dramatic effect.

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Daddy has even enjoyed reading it.

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So, the bottom line on the books we received is that they’re wonderful. Neither of them is an extremely popular picture book that everyone already has, and one of them I had never even heard of before. I like that in our first package we were able to discover a fun new book that we may not have run across on our own. The books are fun for me to read and enjoyable for my kids. Win-win.

The only bummer is that they don’t have a chapter book package too (yet??). I think I’d even love a grown-up package!

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Clearly, the verdict is thumbs up on this service. I think a Bookroo subscription would be a fantastic birthday or Christmas gift for any young child, or a perfect baby shower/new baby gift.

Now, here’s the fun part. Bookroo provided me with a link that I could give to all of you to get $4 off an order of any package. To get your discount, just click HERE and the $4 will automatically be taken off when you check out.

I highly recommend, and if you give it a try, let me know how you like it!

 

*I received a discount on a Bookroo package in exchange for writing a review, but all opinions about this company, the service, and the books are mine.

Answer Me This – Another Husband Bonus

I really enjoy this link up of random questions from Kendra. So I’m joining in again for Answer Me This.

Like I did once last summer, I’m also including my husband’s answers to the questions after mine.

1 – How long have you lived in your current home?

Me – Just over six years. We moved here when Miss was about three months old.

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Our house is now officially on the market, and hopefully our new house will be finished in September.

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I have wanted a white farmhouse with a tin roof for all of my adult life. I smile every time I drive up to this house.

Ben – “Too long.”

2 – How do you find out about news and current events? 

Me – Mostly on Facebook or from my husband and sometimes my mom. When important stuff happens, it’s usually all over my FB feed, and I can’t stand to watch the news. The cadence of a newscaster’s voice  is like nails on a chalkboard to me (they all seem to sound the same), and I have yet to find an online news source that I like.

Ben – “Internet, I guess.”

3 – Would you be able to make change for a twenty right now? For a dollar?

Me – No and yes. I almost never carry cash in my wallet, but I do have some change in there right now that adds up to a little over a dollar (I had to go check, because usually I don’t even have that).

Ben – (Change for 20?) “Hell no.” (For a dollar) – “Huh?” (he doesn’t carry change).

4 – What’s the craziest food you’ve ever eaten?

Me - Although I grew up eating very safe, normal, not-at-all crazy foods, I have become more adventurous in my food endeavors as an adult. I’ve eaten some mildly daring things, like raw oysters and squid-ink sauce on ravioli, but not much I would consider crazy. I guess the craziest things are those I made when Ben and I used to do our at-home version of the show Chopped. The dish that comes to mind immediately is The Great Pickled Herring Disaster from a few years ago. The other might be the dish I made with plantains, tofu, and bacon bits.

Ben – “I grew up eating cow tongue.” (I’d like to add that he also once ate blood sausage and likes to eat raw shrimp heads, shell and all, when we get sushi in Des Moines)

5 – Which of the commonly removed parts have you had removed? (tonsils, wisdom teeth, appendix, etc.)

Me – None of them. I still have all my original parts. Every time I go to a new dentist, he or she is always shocked to find that I still have my wisdom teeth. The only thing I’ve ever had surgically removed from my body was a nine-pound baby.

Ben – “Well, I am sans appendix”

6 – What’s your favorite sport to watch on TV?

Me – I used to watch college football a lot. I grew up watching Michigan football, and continued to watch it up until a few years ago, when life with little ones made it difficult, and the team was so bad it wasn’t worth the effort. I don’t think I watched a single game last year in its entirety. Now that Coach Harbaugh has come home, I may find it worth my while to watch again.

These days most of my sports watching is on a bit smaller scale though.

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Ben – “Wrestling, of course. (pause) People are going to read that and think I mean pro wrestling (laughs)”

For Kendra’s answers and more, check out her post here.

Thanks to my husband for playing along. What about you??

Teaching Girls to Respect Themselves is Not Shaming Them

The other day I read a blog post that I found interesting and refreshing. It’s called “To the Middle School Girls at the Pool Who Told My son He Was Hot.” (Go on over and read it real quick.)

I saw it as a reasonable commentary on the way that young girls sometimes act inappropriately, and as an appeal to them to stop and/or to their parents to guide them away from this way of acting. The post isn’t hateful, or judge-y, or hurtful.

I didn’t have a super strong reaction to it, and would have just filed it away in my mind as a nice thing I had read and then moved on, except that I saw at the bottom of the post that the author decided to close the comments because some commenters attacked her personally, even going so far as to call her shameful and disgusting. Wait, what?

Naturally, that piqued my curiosity so I scrolled down to see just what had been so “offensive” about the post.

The main problem commenters seemed to have with the post was that they thought that the mom’s words were shaming young girls and contributing to the “rape culture.”

Hmmm. I did not see that coming. The take home message of the post seemed to be this, “I’m trying to teach my son to respect girls/women. And girls, you should also respect yourselves.”

In my opinion, the author was not shaming girls, nor was she contributing to the rape culture at all.

However, the post comments made me think about the concept of “rape culture” in general and how it seems to get thrown around a lot on social media, perhaps without a clear understanding of what it actually is. So, I Googled it. Here’s a definition:

Rape culture is a culture in which dominant cultural ideologies, media images, social practices, and societal institutions support and condone sexual abuse by normalizing, trivializing and eroticizing male violence against women and blaming victims for their own abuse (Huffington Post)

Okay. So:

Rape culture is making jokes about sexual assault.

It is not a mom pleading with young girls to stop throwing themselves at young boys.

Rape culture is blaming a rape victim because of what she was wearing.

It is not telling girls that they should have respect for themselves.

Rape culture is Fifty Shade of Grey, for pete’s sake.

It is not teaching girls that they can and should be responsible for their own behavior and make good choices for themselves.

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It seems to me that our society has become so hypersensitive to never, ever offending anyone, that we have made it inappropriate and often offensive to tell people to make good choices and take responsibility for themselves. If we dare to suggest that someone might be doing something that isn’t in her best interest, we can attacked as being judgmental and hateful. Just like the mom in the above-linked post, who simply said in essence, “Come on girls, you’re better than that,” and was then chastised for “blaming the victim” (except that there was no victim).

This doesn’t help anyone, and I find it really disturbing as I think ahead to what I want my own daughters to know as they get older.

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As a mom of three girls, I think it does much more harm than good to send the message to girls that they can do whatever they want, wear whatever they want, and say whatever they want, no matter how sexually suggestive it may be, and no one should ever say anything to them about it, because correcting them perpetuates rape culture, or is misogynistic, or sexist, or whatever.

I want to teach my daughters to have respect for themselves and for others in all situations. And that means (when they get older) not posting duck-lipped scantily-clad selfies all over the place, or making suggestive comments to boys, or being sexually aggressive and pushy, and so on. I aim to teach them this stuff not because if they behave this way they’ll be attacked and it will then be their fault. Of course not. But because:

  1. Behaving in a sexually aggressive way could actually put them in a situation where they are at risk for assault, and
  2. Acting in a suggestive way and throwing themselves at boys will make them feel terribly about themselves, and
  3. I want them to know that getting a boy to notice them is not the most important thing and is not what gives them value, and
  4. They need to understand that if a boy does notice them, it should not be because their bodies are barely covered but because of the other many, many wonderful qualities they possess.

I could go on and on with many more reasons, but you get the picture.

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Trying to help young girls understand why they should have self respect and stop throwing themselves at boys is not shaming them. It’s empowering them in a real way. Not a fake, “you’re a woman, you can do whatever you want, sleep with whomever you want” sexual-revolution kind of way. That’s not empowerment. That’s crap.

Teaching girls that they shouldn’t always just do whatever the heck they feel like doing and dress in a provocative way and say suggestive things to boys does not contribute to the rape culture. It contributes to their healthy development.

I’m not trying to diminish the reality of rape culture with this post. I despise the attitudes that lead to this type of mindset. However, I think in some ways, as a society, we’re missing the mark in efforts to get rid of the rape culture. We should be crying out against the magazines and ads that portray women falsely and place an overemphasis on their bodies and appearance and sexy poses. We should be voicing opposition when the media publishes stories, like the recent one about the Duggar family, purely for the sake of sensationalizing and getting ratings, without any regard for the poor victims and their privacy. We should be turning away from books and shows and movies that positively portray sexual violence instead of turning them into bestsellers and major hit movies (ahem, Fifty Shades of Grey!!).

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I know my daughters will not be this innocent forever. It breaks my heart and scares the daylights out of me to know that they will be exposed more and more to the smut that is the “entertainment” industry in our country as they get older. I can only encourage them to try to seek out things that promote truth and beauty and love, and to always have respect and love for themselves and others. There’s no shame in that.

The world doesn’t need what women have, it needs what women are. – Edith Stein (AKA St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)

Answer Me This – Summer!

For the summer, Kendra is back with her Answer Me This link up. Yay!

Here are her questions, and my answers:

1. Any big plans for the summer?

We’re putting our house on the market, and building a new house. That’s pretty big.

Also, I’m going to Edel, with Super Friend! That’s definitely big.

And we’re going to a wedding at the beginning of August, where I will be singing many songs for the reception afterward, along with the band that consists of my husband, his brother, two of his cousins, and a family friend. Big.

Other than that, we’re at the Farm for the rest of this week, we’ll be going to the pool a lot, the girls have a few weeks of YMCA camp, and we’ll be soaking in the gloriousness of summer in Wisconsin.

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2. What is the strangest thing you believed as a child?

Well, I think I’ve mentioned before that I had an imaginary friend named Banny. At some point in my childhood, I guess I no longer felt the need to have Banny around. My explanation for his departure was that I accidentally killed him by jumping on my bed without realizing he was taking a nap between my mattress and box spring (which was where he slept?). You’d think this would have been traumatic for me, but it wasn’t at all. Perhaps I should be disturbed by that, but I’m not at all.

3. What is your favorite amusement park ride? (can be a specific one at a specific park or just a type of ride)

When I was a kid, I used to go to an amusement park called Boblo Island.

 

They had a ferris-wheel-type ride there that I don’t remember the name of. As I recall, it started out flat on the ground and you got into these little cars that started to rotate around the wheel and rise up off the ground. It went very fast, and in addition to that, there was a steering wheel inside the car that you could turn as fast as you wanted to make your individual car spin around. It was my favorite ever.

Beyond that, I always like pretty much all roller coasters and fast rides.

4. What’s on your summer reading list?

Surprisingly, I don’t actually have a summer reading list this year. Right now I’m finishing Confessions by St. Augustine.

After that, I think I’ll read Teaching in Your Tiara: A Homeschooling Book for the Rest of Us and A Dark Lure, which are on my Kindle waiting to be read (the latter of those was a free download). I also have a lot of other books at home that I want to read, like 10 Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, St. Rita of Cascia, The Heart of Motherhood: Finding Holiness in the Catholic Home, and Therese, Faustina, and Bernadette: Three Saints Who Challenged my Faith, Gave Me Hope, and Taught Me How to Love

5. Have you ever fallen asleep in public?

Yes, on a plane. I don’t think anywhere else.

6. What is your favorite smell?

New baby. And a very close second is newly baptized baby/chrism oil.

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That’s it for this week.

You can see Kendra’s answers to these and check out others’ posts/answers here.

 

This and That – A Quick Update

Just a quick update on why I’ve been absent for almost two weeks:

This week, our house is going on the market.

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So for the past week, pretty much every spare moment was spent cleaning, or fixing, or weed-pulling, or staging (other than the moments when I took my kids to the pool for the first time this summer or when I took my kids for a play date with Super Friend’s kids, both absolutely necessary breaks from the house prep).

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My house is so different now. My school room is now a dining room again.

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There’s no more paint splattered on the wall or play doh smooshed on the floor. The few things that I kept around for us to do art projects and some finishing of reading lessons over the summer are crammed into that green cabinet in the photo above. If you walked in my house right now, you would have no idea that I homeschool my kids.

My kitchen no longer has brass cabinet pulls.

Before:

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After:

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Same pulls + a can of metallic spray paint + a little bit of work = cheap fix for ugly hardware!

Furniture has been moved all around. Tons of stuff got moved out to a storage unit. Everything has been scrubbed and dusted and tidied and polished, and I hate this process already, and I’m glad I will never have to do it again.

And I’m really, really glad to be on vacation this week. It’s only Monday, and vacay has been just delightful already. We started out visiting my husband’s cousin and his wife and daughters for a band practice.

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My husband’s other cousin (the sister of two of the band members), is getting married in a month and a half, and we are going to be playing for her wedding. No pressure. And also, how crazy fun and awesome is that?? It’s going to be the most rocking wedding reception, and I can’t wait.

And speaking of awesome, my husband’s aunt (the mom of previously mentioned cousins) took me and my girls and our hostess and her daughters to the Grotto of the Redemption on Saturday. What an incredible monument to faith, envisioned and built by Fr. Dobberstein for over 40 years in small-town northern Iowa (it was then nearly completed by Fr. Dobberstein’s helpers and successors after his death, with two more statues now needed for its completion). It has rocks from every state and from all over the world, and depicts various scenes showing the fall and redemption of humanity. It is breathtaking and truly indescribable.

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Miss got her first taste of singing with the band. After each song she said, “Can we do another one?” I think she’s hooked.

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It was such a fantastic weekend. Now we’re at the Farm, doing all the Farm things.

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It’s going to be a good week.