Homeschool and Changes and Sacrifice

We are on the verge of beginning another school year at home, and this one feels like it is coming at me with many, many changes. I’m finding this both exciting and uncomfortable at the same time. I have hemmed and hawed about what day to pick to actually start school, and have finally decided on next Monday as the official first day, with a few small activities this week to get into the swing of things. We even took our first field trip today.

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It’s been a little tricky getting things ready to start, because one big change is that we will eventually be in a new school room, and for the time being we are in a state of transition. Our new home was supposed to be finished around now, but is now not going to be done until October. Our old school room got all packed and put away when we put our house on the market, so I’m pulling out a lot of things from storage, and I’m having a hard time finding stuff, because when I packed it away I thought I would just be getting everything out in our new house around now, and not needing to find specific things in poorly marked boxes.

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Since we’re going to be changing things around a lot when we move, I decided to go ahead and make a shift from an obviously preschool-like homeschool room to a room that will grow with us. This means individual desks for each of the girls (the little table we were using just wasn’t cutting it anymore), a bigger, free-standing white board, and workbox tray carts (which still haven’t been put together because the company sent me the wrong size). For right now, everything is being crammed into our former-school-room-turned-back-to-dining-room-and-now-partial-homeschool-room-again room.

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I’m excited about the new way our school will be set up, if not completely happy with it’s current configuration.

The other big change is that Miss isn’t going to be going part time to our local Catholic school anymore. I love that we tried the hybrid homeschool model (I think Michele, who is trying it this year, coined the term), but it just wasn’t going to work for us this year.

There were many things I liked about having Miss in a regular school last year, and some things I didn’t. The main reasons we aren’t doing it again this year are that 1) having Miss at another school part time was disrupting the flow of my homeschool schedule; 2) it’s going to be a bit too far to drive after we move; and 3) she really didn’t want to go again. She said that regular school “takes too long,” which makes sense since we can get all of our homeschool work done for the day in a couple of hours, versus her being at school all day.

And in the same way that having Miss at school for one full day a week was disrupting our homeschool schedule, so were a few other things that I have had to move around or cut out. We aren’t doing any out-of-the-home lessons in the morning anymore. Piano got moved to the afternoon, and we will be starting a homeschool gym class two days a week at the YMCA and have homeschool choir and art classes once per week with some local families as well, all in the afternoon. This is hard for me, because I’ve always counted on having some time in the afternoons to get things done while the girls were resting and/or napping. Sis is going to be missing her nap more often, and I will be missing it too.

But the hardest thing about this change is that I have had to give up my bi-weekly Monday morning Catholic Bible study with my friends. It has been such a great experience for learning and building community with some wonderful ladies, but it just doesn’t fit with our plans this year. I probably could have made it work, but I feel pretty strongly that I want to get the girls into a routine of Monday through Thursday school time in the mornings. Fridays will be for some school things and extra projects, for field trips, or for a make-up day if we take a field trip or have something else during the week. In order to be consistent with this schedule, the Bible study had to go.

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But while I’ve had to give up this one social activity, I’m trying to add in some others. Knowing that we won’t have any outside-the-home school this year, I’ve really been trying to establish relationships with other homeschooling families so that my girls can develop friendships with kids they will be able to see frequently. I am excited for their gym, choir, and art classes to start so they can begin forging new friendships and building on the ones we have already begun with some new families.

I know I need to do this, and it’s fun and exciting to meet new people (as uncomfortable as it can be for my introverted self to take the first step). But it’s hard to know that they won’t be able to see their old friends, who all go to school full time, quite as often. We can’t do weekly morning play dates with Super Friend’s kids anymore, for example. Her two oldest are in school every day now, and my family needs the school time in the mornings.

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I feel kind of sad and anxious about these kinds of changes. I remember reading a blog post once in which the author claimed that homeschool moms have to give up their friendships with their non-homeschooling mom friends, because that’s what you have to do to put your children’s home education first. I don’t agree with this. At all. And I have no intention of blowing off my friendships or those that my girls have with kids who go to school. We will find other times to get together. But it still feels a little lonely to know that the easy days of morning coffee play dates with friends are over (at least until next summer).

So that’s where I am right now – on the verge of diving into a new year, excited and fearful about all the changes this will bring for us, and hopeful that I will be able to balance all the things to teach my children well with consistency, help them to develop new friendships, and manage to keep our old friendships going strong.

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My Kids Went to Vacation Bible School, and It Made Me Cry

Last week was VBS at our parish. I have wanted to send Miss to it for the past two summers, but it always coincided with a week that we were out of town. This year, we decided to stay home, and Lass was old enough to go too, so both of my older girls attended.

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Our parish really goes all out and does a wonderful job with the program. The kids made crafts and played games, all while learning Bible verses and stories, and about the love of God. My girls just loved it, and I was so happy they got to attend.

Each day when I dropped them off, and again when I picked them up, the whole group of kids and volunteers sang a song together in the church. The message of the song: “My God is powerful. He stands invincible. I will hold on to Him. Through God I will overcome. He’s the rock that will never move.”

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Most days at drop off and pick up I got to see the kids do the song together (complete with arm motions throughout), and I was surprised to find that I couldn’t help but get choked up as I watched them sing. Every time, my eyes welled with tears, and I just stood there feeling all the feels and hoping that the tears wouldn’t spill over and make me look really foolish.

It seems like kind of a weird thing to get all emotional over, right? But as I watched all the kids get so excited over this song and it’s message, I felt this overwhelming joy that my children have this community and this Faith to grow up with.

Sometimes it’s still hard for  to believe that we even go to church, that we are even Catholic at all. I think back to where I was three years ago, on my unbelief and scorn for all things Christian, and I marvel at where we are now. I get overwhelmed with gratitude for what we have that we almost didn’t: Faith. Prayer. Community. Church.

And it’s in small moments, like those in the back of the church at the start and end of each VBS day, that I realize how powerful God really is. That He could take someone like me, a diehard atheist, and transform me into a true believer, a weekly-Mass-attending, pope-loving, confession-going, Jesus-freak Catholic, is nothing short of a miracle.

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The kids performed the song in the front of the church at the end of Mass yesterday. I got all teary-eyed again, and then nearly dissolved into full-on sobs when the recessional hymn was “As For Me and My House, We Will Serve the Lord.”

Yes we will. And I am so incredibly grateful for it.

Getting Ready for School – 7QT

I’m having mixed feelings about the fact that it’s nearly the end of August. I can’t believe summer is almost over and I’m sad to see it go, but I’m also really excited about our curriculum this year and eager to get started on the school year. And I’m looking forward to fall, which is my favorite season and would be the best thing ever in my opinion, except that it’s always followed by winter.

Anyway, I’ll do a post next week about our plans for the school year, but here’s what we’ve been doing lately to get ready for it.

1. Reviewing curriculum.

Since our house was on the market, I have kept all of my homeschool stuff packed away, and I just recently got everything out. The girls went out to play in the rain the other day, so I set myself up with my huge binder of stuff and started figuring out what I’m supposed to do with it. Probably a good idea.

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2. Getting supplies.

Since we homeschool, we don’t have big lists of things to get for the school year, but with back-to-school stuff on sale right now, we went ahead and got some fresh crayons and notebooks. Everyone loves fresh crayons. And back-to-school is always a good time to stock up on new socks and undies too.

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3. Getting haircuts.

I guess I just like to make a bit of a production about starting school again, even though we’re doing it in our dining room. So I took the girls to get them back-to-school haircuts. They posed for a before picture:

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And here’s the after:

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They really wanted me to take an “after” photo of them facing the wall too:

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4. Trying to check out a homeschool gym class.

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There is a local homeschool group that meets on Wednesdays at a nearby park for gym. I have never taken the girls because it’s right in the middle of nap time. But now that Sis is the only one who naps regularly, and I’m trying to decide what we’re going to do for gym class this year, I wanted to take them to check it out last week.

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I had the time wrong at first, so we were there an hour and a half early. Then when we the correct time finally rolled around and still no one was there, I called the woman in charge, who told me it had been cancelled that day. She said it was on for this week, but then we had an inspection scheduled for our house on Thursday, and Wednesday afternoon came and went with me completely forgetting to take them. Sooo, next week.

5. Putting stuff together.

When our house is done (hopefully in October) we will have a new school room. I decided I did not like having one table for all the girls to use for their work, so I got them individual desks that need to be put together. I also got a new standing white board and some craft organizing trays for workboxes. I haven’t actually started putting anything together yet, but I did get one desk out of the box, only to put it right back in when I learned of the inspection happening this week. It will happen before we start school.

6. Enjoying the last few days of summer.

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Most of my girls’ friends will be starting back to Catholic school on Tuesday, so we’re trying to enjoy as much of the last few days of summer, especially with them, as we can.

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7. Preparing myself mentally.

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Not actually with beer, though that’s nice too (and doesn’t that picture just look like a little slice of happiness for a summer day?)

I’m trying to think through what my objectives are for the year. Obviously there’s the curriculum part, and my goals for each girl and what I want her to learn and accomplish. But I’ve also been working on really preparing myself to be more peaceful and have more fun in school this year. We started out great last year, but after a while things sort of started to drag on some days. We had a few awful moments when I got stubborn about just. getting. the lesson. done. instead of remembering that the happiness and growth and love of learning in my children is far more important than any lesson or curriculum or specific skill being taught.

This year I will remember that the most important thing for me to do every day is to help my children to find wonder and joy in learning, and to help them learn to learn. Beyond that, everything else is gravy.

I hope that you’re still enjoying the last few days of summer! I’m linking this one up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes Friday. Head over there to see more!

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Ditching the Cover-Up at the Pool

Early this summer, one of the first times I took my girls swimming for the season, my oldest daughter said, while pulling down her bathing suit shirt as if to cover her rear end: “Oh my gosh, I’m so embarrassed!”

A few weeks later during a week of summer camp, my middle daughter asked me, “Mama, am I fat?” Then she started to cry.

Both of these scenarios shocked and confused me and broke my heart. I truly don’t  know why one of my daughters would express embarrassment about her body while another would voice concern to me that she is fat. I’m pretty vigilant about not sharing my own body image issues with my girls. I don’t talk about my weight (or theirs) with or in front of them, and I never criticize my own appearance in front of them.

I have lost 40 pounds since January, but I have done it without mentioning weight loss or calorie counting in their presence. I don’t think they’ve even noticed a change in my appearance.

And yet, somehow my girls went from this innocent place where “fat” was just a word to describe something, to a place where the idea of being fat is embarrassing to them or makes them cry. I can’t help but feel physically sick just thinking about it.

I feel like I’m doing something wrong, like I’m failing them.

Then, a few minutes later, I feel like I’m not doing anything wrong, and there’s just nothing I can do to completely block the “fat messages” of our society from invading their innocence.

I’m not sure which is worse.

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Why do I get so freaked out about this?

Because I remember being a tween/adolescent girl and feeling like I was fat and how much I hated feeling that way.

Because I remember some of my friends in high school taking diet pills and/or binging and purging (either by vomiting or using laxatives).

Because when I was a psychologist, I worked with people with eating disorders and body image issues. It’s so hard to help people who have lived most of their lives thinking they are ugly and/or fat.

Because even though I’m almost 40 years old and I just lost around 40 pounds, I still struggle sometimes with being accepting of my weight or appearance.

Right now, I weigh roughly what I did when I got married.

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Unfortunately, my body looks drastically different. Back then, pretty much everything was where it was supposed to be and was fairly sleek and smooth and toned.

After three children in three years, “sleek, smooth, and toned” are not the right descriptors for me. Saggy, dimpled, and deflated are more accurate.

Fortunately, I have come a long way from my adolescent self, and the truth is that I usually don’t really mind these bodily changes of motherhood too much, as it’s a very small price to pay for the three precious daughters I’ve been blessed with (I’d happily gain 50+ pounds of “baby weight” all over again given the chance). When I’m dressed in regular clothes, I even feel pretty good, actually.

But when I’m a little less covered, like at the pool for example, I struggle.

In summers past, I have always just worn a big loose, flowy cover up over my bathing suit. But this year, in the moment when I heard my oldest daughter say, “I’m so embarrassed,” and I responded, “Honey, you have nothing to be embarrassed about when wearing a bathing suit,” I decided that my days in a cover up at the pool were over**.

This summer, even when I’m not in or near the pool, I’m not throwing on a cover up or wrapping myself in a towel anymore. This was uncomfortable at first, but after the first trip to the pool, I just don’t even pack the cover up anymore, and now it’s no big deal.

Except when I’m noticing how my thighs spread unattractively when I sit down to eat lunch, or when I feel the jiggle-jiggle as I walk around the deck of the pool, or when I notice that even with a midriff covering, somewhat loosely fitting top on my bathing suit, I still can’t hide my permanently pooched-out belly.

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Yeah. Except for those times.

I wish this wasn’t an issue for me, but sometimes it just is. However, I’m going to continue to do everything I can to make sure it won’t be for my girls.

This weekend we’re having a pool party with some friends for Lass’s fifth birthday. I’ll be strolling around the pool in just my suit. I’ll feel self conscious, but hopefully I won’t show it. Sometimes it really is helpful to just “Fake it ’til you make it.”

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**I’d like to quickly add that this post is not about shaming anyone who chooses to wear a cover over her suit, or suggesting that moms wearing bathing suit cover-ups cause their daughters to have poor body image. It’s just one small way for me to battle back at the anti-fat culture.

On Humility (or Lack Thereof)

Last Thursday, we had our beginning-of-the-year, meet-the-new-members Little Flowers Girls’ Club Picnic. During the picnic, Miss was going to be getting her final badges to finish up her Wreath I. Lass was getting “sashed” in the Sashing Ceremony as a new member. We were all excited for the start of the new Little Flowers year.

To back up a little bit, Miss was one of the original members of our Little Flowers group (some of my friends and I started it together last year). At the beginning, all of the girls got sashes, since that was the only thing available from the website for wearing/displaying badges at that time. I lost my love of the sash pretty quickly, as it wasn’t terribly sturdy, and it always seemed awkward for the girls to wear. Then I accidentally got some glue stain on Miss’s when I was trying to use stitching glue to adhere her patches (don’t try this, it doesn’t work).

So when we started this new year, I was excited to see that there are now adorable vests available on the Little Flowers website. I immediately thought that all the Flowers in our group should switch to these, but no one else really wanted to go that far, so it was decided that each girl could decide whether to get a sash or vest for the upcoming year.

I decided to get a vest for Lass, and to go ahead and get one for Miss too, since her sash was a little messed up from the glue incident. I didn’t ask the girls what they wanted. I just got them what I wanted. I showed them the vests last week, and when they said, “Mom, I want a sash,” I “convinced” them that the vest was better, and that was that.

The night before the picnic, I stayed up late, taking Miss’s patches off her old sash and sewing hers and Lass’s onto the adorable vests.

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Adorable, yes?

I was so excited for them to wake up the next morning and see their vests. I just knew they would love them.

You can see where this is going, right?

In the morning, I proudly showed the girls their vests. They both threw fits and said they wanted sashes. They wouldn’t even put the vests on. I got all fired up by righteous anger and I-stayed-up-late-sewing-this-for-you hurt feelings.

I yelled.

They cried.

I fumed.

They cried some more.

I was awful. It was ugly.

As I type this, I have no idea why I didn’t realize that this would happen. When I told the story to my husband, he said several times, “Well, you could have seen that coming,” and “You knew that was going to happen.” But I didn’t. I can only explain my complete idiocy on this issue as an excess of stubborn pride.

Somehow, that morning I managed to realize what a jerk I was being and how stupid it was for me to just decide to get them something different than what they were expecting without even asking them. How unfair it was for me to not listen when days before they had told me that they wanted sashes.

I tried in vain to think of what I could do to fix the situation. I wanted to address with the girls how their response to the vests I gave them was not really the right way to go (we generally try to discourage wailing and complaining when someone gives us something or does something nice for us), but mostly I wanted to figure out a way to fix my wrong in the situation. I knew there was no way I could get them sashes by that evening’s picnic. I felt horrible. I was near tears, and I sent up some desperate prayers for help and guidance on how to fix the mess that I had made.

When I am at my ugliest, the best thing to do is pray.

And then text Super Friend.

I sent her a text about my misery, because we were getting together with her and her kids later that morning, and I wasn’t sure we’d be very good company. I had absolutely no expectation that she would be able to help me. I just wanted to tell someone how awful I felt, and at the time I was still kind of mad about my girls’ responses to the vests, so I was looking for a little bit of sympathy too.

A short while later, Super Friend called me. She asked me if I had thrown away Miss’s gluey sash. I told her I hadn’t. She then said that she had managed to find an extra sash at her house and asked if I wanted it. She had an extra sash!

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. Matthew 7:7

I couldn’t even answer her over the lump in my throat. There was a long pause as I struggled to speak. Finally, I just started bawling, “Yes please!!!”

The guilt and relief and gratitude for an answered prayer just overwhelmed me.

I spent all of my girls’ rest time that afternoon taking off the patches I had so carefully sewn on the night before and re-sewing them to the sashes. I gouged my finger with a needle. I offered up that time of sewing for my girls.

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May I always remember these sashes when my pride and selfishness get in the way of mothering my girls the way I want to.

A Wedding, Some Zoos, and Lots of Summer Fun – 7QT

Summer is flying by, and between getting our house ready for showings, picking out things for the new house, and practicing music for a wedding reception we performed in, I have hardly blogged at all (not that I haven’t wanted to!). Here’s a quick little catch up post of our summer happenings. I’ll apologize in advance for the lack of photo quality. I’ve been leaving my big camera at home, sometimes because I don’t want to carry it, but usually because I forget it (it’s tucked away as part of my showing-ready minimalism). So the following are all phone photos. Sorry!

1.

The wedding.

My husband’s cousin got married last weekend. My girls haven’t been to a wedding in several years (and don’t remember the ones they have been to), so they were extremely excited.

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We had lots of wedding dress up and role-playing around here in preparation.

The wedding was lovely and I was excited to get to spend a little bit of time at the farm where my Father-in-law grew up and my husband spend many happy hours of his childhood. The house was built by my husband’s great grandfather (who dug the basement with horses!). I was happy that my girls got to see and experience it a little bit.

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2.

The reception.

I was so privileged to get to participate in the band that performed for the reception. (I’ve posted about the band before. It’s primarily made up of my husband, one of his brothers, two of his cousins, and a friend. I just sing some songs and play some tambourine.)

The bride is the sister of two of the band members, and she and her husband took a chance and let us play the music for their reception. We aren’t a professional band, and in fact only had about two hours of practice time with the whole band together. But everyone spent so much time practicing at home individually, we sounded pretty darned good.

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It was a blast. The music and dancing and family time were perfect. And most importantly, I think the bride and groom were pleased.

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3.

The hospitality.

I have to mention the hospitality of my husband’s cousin and his wife. We traveled to their small town in Iowa twice this summer, once for a band practice, and once for the wedding. Both times, they let us stay with them in their house, fed us, and made us completely comfortable and welcome. It’s so amazing to visit someone and feel like they are truly happy and not put out in the least with having you in their home. Ben’s cousin’s wife took care of everything for us. She watched my kids while I practiced with the band. And she did it all with a genuine smile. I was inspired to do a better job of this myself when people visit us.

4.

The zoo (#1).

Moving on to other summer things, we went to a small local zoo last week with Super Friend and four of her five children. It was a little dirtier and more weedy than I remember it being in years past (to the point that we could barely see a couple of the animals through the tall weeds), but the kids still loved it.

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The highlight of the day occurred when we were walking out to the car. We ran into a zoo employee, who was bringing one of their newest residents in through the front entrance. She let the girls pet their nine-week-old baby tiger!

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5.

The pool.

We joined the pool again this year, and have been spending a good amount of time there.

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It’s our new go-to family activity after Mass on Sundays. We have it nearly to ourselves for a few hours before other people get around to making it to the pool.

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We get in and swim with the girls for a little while, and then relax for some mom and dad time while they splash around in the shallow area. Summer at its finest.

6.

The Dirty Weird Zoo.

Just yesterday, we took our annual trip to the DWZ. It’s still dirty and weird. And unfortunately this year they didn’t allow us to take bags of bread for the kids to feed to the animals while we walked around. That was always the big selling point of the place for me. My kids enjoyed feeding bread to the animals so much, I was able to overlook the dirtiness. This year I wondered if it was worth it without that fun experience for them.

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Surprisingly, they didn’t seem too disappointed about not having the bread to give. I think I was more bummed out about it than they were.

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They still made great memories with great friends.

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7.

The other stuff.

We’ll be trying to soak up the rest of our short summer here before we officially start our school. So far, it’s been fun and fast.

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I hope you’re enjoying your summer too!

Check out more quick takes at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

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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

2

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!