Edel – A Different View

I wrote on Monday about how wonderful last weekend at the Edel Gathering was. And it was. It really was.

But what I didn’t write about was the parts of it that were hard. I mean, I wrote about how it was kind of hard to talk to other people because of being an introvert. But that was just uncomfortable hard. There were a few other parts that were more like painful hard.

I didn’t write about those parts because: 1) I didn’t want to be a Debbie Downer about something that was so great. And 2) because I was trying to keep my painful stuff private. And 3) because I didn’t quite even know how the story I had to tell was going to end yet.

Then I realized, through reading this post and the comments after it, that 1) lots of other women had similar experiences of Edel: GREAT, but kind of painful, and that some women even decided against attending Edel in order to avoid the painful part, so maybe it would be good to write about it. And 2) I thought about how keeping painful stuff private can be fine, but it never really seems to help me in any way to do so. And sometimes keeping painful stuff private just contributes to the idea that those things should be unseen and never talked about and taboo, which makes them harder in some ways. And then 3) Wednesday, I learned how this story would end, at least for now. So I decided I wanted to write about this other part of my experience at Edel.

I realize that most readers have no idea what I’m rambling about here, so I’ll back up. If you’ve read much here you know that for about a year and a half we have been struggling with secondary infertility (you can read about it here if you’re so inclined). In early June, I learned that finally, I was pregnant again, with a due date in late February. Naturally, I was ecstatic.

I was nervous because of my first miscarriage, but I was hopeful and absolutely thrilled. I couldn’t wait to see my baby (or possibly babies since I took fertility medications) on ultrasound. Each night when my kids prayed for “Mama to have another baby,” my husband and I secretly smiled together, eagerly anticipating the day when we could tell them our news.

I’m sure you can guess that the pregnancy didn’t turn out as we had hoped. About three weeks ago I had my first ultrasound, and the doctor said the pregnancy wasn’t viable. I won’t get into all the details, but for various reasons my husband and I were still hopeful that maybe there was a mistake, maybe everything would be okay, maybe we would experience a miracle. I had another ultrasound a week before Edel, and my final ultrasound was Wednesday. We now know definitively that the pregnancy is not viable. There’s actually no baby, just a “blighted ovum.”

In the midst of this process of waiting and ultrasounds, I went to Edel. It was a lovely break. In some ways it helped to take my mind off my concerns. But in some ways it kept my problems front and center in my mind. There were babies and pregnant ladies everywhere. Which was just awesome. But it was also hard. It was hard to be, at times, assumed to be one of the pregnant ladies.

I still have high enough levels of pregnancy hormones that I feel pregnant. And I look pregnant. And so lots of people seem to assume that I am pregnant. A few people have asked me directly. Many have just made comments suggestive of their assumption. I can’t blame them. Here’s what I looked like at the big Edel party last Saturday night (what I still look like): IMG951826 That’s me in the white shirt, in case you’re not sure. Super Friend (in the purple) actually is pregnant, and obviously so (to my knowledge, Jennifer Fulwiler is not pregnant, nor does she appear to be). Super Friend and I got quite a few pregnancy-related comments and questions directed at both of us. It was kind of fortunate actually that she was with me, because then she could just answer the question, and I’d look away or down or something and avoid answering myself. I heard a few comments about “is this space just for pregnant ladies?” when standing in a group of other women who were pregnant. A homeless man even catcalled at us regarding our bellies when we were walking to Starbucks, “Congratulations ladies!!! Pregnant women are so beautiful!”

It was such a strange situation to be in. Technically I was (and am) pregnant, but not in the most important sense of the word. I’m not going to be holding a baby in eight months.

It’s hard to admit, because I feel selfish to do it, but it was painful in many ways to be around so many pregnant women during the weekend. To repeatedly answer the question, “How many kids do you have?” To hear about so many other big wonderful families with five or six or eight or even 10 kids! These were all practicing Catholic ladies, after all. It was hard to feel like I’ll probably never be part of that big-family club. It was so bittersweet to hear Haley describe the moment when she first took a pregnancy test, and how she suddenly realized that, more than anything, she wanted it to be positive. She was talking about an unexpected pregnancy in a totally different type of situation than mine. But still. I know that feeling. Every month for a year and a half, I know that feeling.

Don’t get me wrong. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the Edel Conference. The conference was perfect. It was me that was not quite right. My heart is just hyper-sensitive to pregnancy talk and pregnant people and tiny babies and feeling pregnant when I’m actually not.

I think the reason I’m writing this is that, after reading Cari’s post and the comments in the Combox, I couldn’t help but feel that so many people are struggling with infertility, or sub fertility and/or miscarriage without ever talking about it. It’s a big taboo. I know that I didn’t talk to anyone about it at Edel, except for Super Friend. I don’t talk to my friends here about it. I don’t talk to most of my family about it, except my Mom a little bit and of course my husband. And by not talking about it, I feel alone in it. I read Cari’s post and the comments and I thought, “I wish I had met these ladies over the weekend. I wish I could have talked to them and given them hugs.” I think it would have been so refreshing to share these types of feelings and experiences with others going through similar struggles.

Because other people might look at you like you’re a big jerk if you say, “Geez, it’s kind of hard to be around all these pregnant ladies sometimes.” Or even if they don’t, I’d feel like a jerk if I said something like that. And in that room, so much of the talk was centered around due dates and how many children a mom has and it just got to feel overwhelming at times. I was worrying about when the direct question was going to come without Super Friend there to deflect it. I felt a little bit of jarring sadness every time someone addressed me inclusively with the pregnant crowd. “I wish.”

To be clear, not one time did I experience a single woman at Edel being mean or catty or gossipy. No one said anything hurtful to me. No one said, “Oh, only three kids?? When are you going to get going on the next one??” or anything insensitive like that. It wasn’t that kind of group. Everyone was so kind and supportive and accepting. It was just me, and no one had any idea. No one else had any reason to know that I felt like there was a big pink elephant in the room and it was my ambiguously pregnant belly with no baby in it. And even when I don’t have the belly, it still feels like there’s this huge part of my life that I’m not allowed to talk about. It’s a little bit like I’m walking around as an open wound, but no one can see it.

So that’s why I wanted to write this. So maybe the next time I’m in a group of moms, whether it’s the next Edel or something on a smaller scale, if a mom is struggling with infertility or sub fertility or miscarriage or whatever else, she will feel like she can talk about it if she wants to. Maybe writing about it will allow me to feel like I can talk about it sometimes if I want to, too.

Posted in Other Great Blogs, Pregnancy | 15 Comments

Five Things I Learned About Myself at the Edel Conference. And Then Some.

1. I am really and truly and introvert.

Sometimes I have wondered about this. Before this weekend, if you had asked me whether I am an introvert or an extrovert, I would have been uncertain how to answer. I love to get out of the house, I love to be with other people, I enjoy going to my husband’s work parties and evenings out with friends. Public speaking has never been a problem for me. I can get up in front of a room full of people and sing karaoke with only minimal anxiety.


But now I know, for real and for certain and forevermore, I am an introvert. I do not do mingling in a large group of strangers well. I am terrible at small talk. In such a situation, I am much more likely to stand in a corner and hope someone will come and introduce herself to me than to walk up to someone I don’t know and start up a conversation. I was so glad Super Friend was with me this weekend.


Yay! Super Friend!

There were many times I did introduce myself to someone new, but every time I felt awkward and scared and shy and stupid about it. I asked and answered the same questions over and over again. “Where are you from?” “How many kids do you have?”

I did have some wonderful conversations, mostly because the people I was talking to were much better at generating an interesting discussion than I am, and once it gets started I can roll with it.


Jen Fulwiler is good at conversation. And she’s tall!

I had a blast at Edel, but it really brought out the introvert in me. And I’ve realized, by looking at tweets and blog posts about the weekend, that lots of other women there were experiencing the same anxieties and discomfort I was (a great example here). There were a lot of introverts in that huge room full of mamas!

2. I am not good at Twitter.

There was a streaming Twitter feed up all day Saturday. I’m always sort of amazed and befuddled by Twitter. I don’t really understand it, and have never before felt much of a desire to figure it out, but as I was watching all the tweets on Saturday (some with photos even!!) I couldn’t help but think, “I really need to learn how to do that!” I’m so Twitter-impaired that when I wrote my “Anticipating Edel” post last Thursday, I used the wrong Twitter hashtag for #edel14 (I used #edelgathering, duh). Anyone have some Twitter tips to offer?

3. As much as I loathe taking selfies, there are some events that just cry out for the selfie, and I am not immune to that cry.

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4. Speaking of “cry,” I am apparently quite prone to getting all teary and choked up when listening to wonderful speakers say beautiful things about motherhood, and Catholicism, and friendship.

Oh my goodness, there were four people who spoke on Saturday. Every single one of them had me blinking rapidly and rolling my eyes to the ceiling, in an attempt to keep the welled-up tears from spilling over and making a mess of my mascara. Hallie and Marion and Haley and Jen made such amazing, funny, uplifting, and inspiring speeches. They really made me think about faith and motherhood and community in some new ways. I feel like I should expound upon this more, but right now I’m still processing it myself, so I’ll just say it. was. awesome.

5. I am sentimental.

Okay, I didn’t really just learn this over the weekend. But I did experience a great example of it.

Each Edel attendee got a card at the dinner table on Saturday night. It was a letter written by a Dominican Sister, Sister Elizabeth Ann, and it was just, well, indescribable really (see below for a bit I quoted from it to give you an idea). It (also) brought me to tears, and was so lovely, I really wanted to be sure to bring it home to keep it and read it again and put it in my box of cards to save.

But I forgot it in the Ballroom when I went to bed (kind of early because I had to get up at 4:30am to make our flight home). I got all ready to go to sleep and climbed into bed, only to remember that I had left the card on the table. I was really bummed, and thought about going down to get it. Then I thought that would be silly. It was 11:00. And I could just get one from someone in the morning or copy Super Friend’s. But I wasn’t sure if Super had remembered to grab hers, and she was already asleep so I couldn’t ask her, and we had to leave before anyone else would be up that I could ask for another copy, and I really wanted to have one! And what if Super Friend did forget hers and she wanted one too?? I had to go get it.

So. In order to enable myself to go to sleep and stop thinking about it, I got out of bed, put on clothing (sort of) suitable for appearing in public, and went back down to the Ballroom, where most of the moms were still dancing and whooping it up like mad (I was kind of jealous). I grabbed my card from my table, explained to the few people who stopped to chat why I was wearing PJs, watched for just a minute, and then I went back to bed. Mission completed. Here is just a portion of the letter from Sister Elizabeth Ann, so you can see why I wanted to be sure to have it:

Thank you for the daily, hourly, minute-by-minute gift of self you offer to your husbands, children, and all your loved ones.

Thank you especially for the gift of self you give that no one sees, no one appreciates, no one recognizes, and no one seems to care about. Thank you for making the effort. Thank you for trying. . . .

God sees. God Knows. God cares. He does. He really does! . . .

For those women bearing the heavy cross of infertility, I want to especially take a moment to recognize and offer encouragement to you. In our Catholic culture that embraces motherhood and big families, you may feel especially isolated and alone in your struggles and fears. Don’t lose hope. I want you to know that God sees and knows and cares about you too. . . .

Obviously, I needed to bring it home. I kind of wished I could have brought Sister Elizabeth Ann home too!

And now for a few other things about the weekend.

If you’re wondering about the shoes my girls created for me:


We did not win a prize. The shoe competition was fierce!! And as I told my girls, of course, the shoes they made were just “too beautiful.”

Overall, Edel was such an amazing experience. Several times during the weekend, Super Friend and I looked at each other and marveled at the women around us.

“Look at all these people,” we’d say. “Can you believe all of these women are faithful Catholic moms? This is so cool. These ladies are so diverse!”

And it was. And they were. They were diverse and wonderful. And kind of crazy.


I have never seen so many moms dancing and singing and partying hard. Pregnant moms, moms with babies in carriers, young moms, older moms. So. many. fabulous. moms.

And that pretty much sums it up.

It was good that we were there.


Posted in Adventure, Friends, Other Great Blogs, Reflections | 10 Comments

Five Favorites – Anticipating Edel

Tomorrow morning I’m getting on a plane and heading to the Edel Gathering for the weekend. This will be the first time since having children that I’ve taken a vacation by myself. I’m excited and nervous, and I kind of miss my girls already. Whatever. Here are five favorite things in anticipation of a fun and relaxing weekend:

1. I’m going to be meeting lots of women whose blogs I enjoy reading. Of course Jen and Hallie are the hostesses of the event, but Kelly, Haley, Heather, Kate, Dwija, Bonnie, Kathryn, Jenny, and Cari will also be there, along with other bloggers I’m sure I’m forgetting and many, many other lovely Catholic moms, and I know it’s going to be fabulous. I’m kind of excited.


2. I will be flying without children. I will have only carry-on baggage. I will not have a stroller or car seats or sippy cups to manage. I will get to check in online and print my boarding pass before I get to the airport. I kind of don’t remember what it’s like to get on a plane and have it be a sort of relaxing experience.

(My husband is laughing at the idea of flying with me being a relaxing experience, even before kids, because he is remembering all the times I forgot my wallet and/or driver’s license and realized it while pulling into the parking structure at the airport, 45 minutes from our house. But tomorrow? Tomorrow will be relaxing).

3. My two older girls helped me create my shoes for the “crazy shoes” competition tomorrow night.


Miss: “Mom, are you wearing these for a contest?”

Me: “Yes, Honey. It’s a contest for who can wear the craziest shoes.”

Miss: (doubtful) “I don’t know if these shoes are the craziest.” (adoring) “These shoes are beautiful.”

I won’t share a photo of the finished product until after the contest, but I already have a built-in response for her if I don’t win. I’ll tell her the shoes they made were just too beautiful.

4. I have a traveling companion. Super Friend is coming with me!!!!!


My husband is a little afraid I may not come back. Which brings me to number five, and my very most favorite favorite:

5. My hubby is watching our girls so that this trip is possible for me. And he’s doing it cheerfully and with a big, “You-deserve-it-Honey” kind of attitude. I love him.

DSC_0107If you’re going to Edel, I can’t wait to meet you!

Posted in Daddy, Five Favorites, Friends, Other Great Blogs | 1 Comment

Answer Me This – Bonus Husband Edition

This week I’m doing Kendra’s Answer Me This, and as a special treat, my husband is answering the questions as well.

1. What’s something you’ve won, and how did you win it?

Me: I won my school’s spelling bee when I was in fifth grade. The word that clinched my victory over a sixth grade boy named Darren was “juvenile.” I have a weird love for spelling (and sentence diagramming) and it’s always been something I’m good at.

I went on to the regional spelling bee, where I placed fourth. The word that knocked me out was “nemesis.” I had never heard the word before, and I spelled it N-E-M-I-S-I-S. At the district-wide spelling bee I was the runner up. I missed the word “exhaust.” Forgot the H, and realized my mistake as soon as I saw the look on my Mom’s face in the audience.

Is it disturbing that I have such a vivid memory of this? I swear, I do not feel that my life is lacking because I never won the regional or district spelling bee. . . I do still have the dictionary they gave me for winning my school bee though.


Husband: I won a State Wrestling Championship by kicking ass.

2. Do you save old greeting cards and letters, or throw them all away? Why?

Me: I save things from my husband and children, and some extra special things from other people. I have letters my husband wrote to me during our first year of dating when we had a long-distance relationship. I also printed out all the emails he sent me during that time. Those are all tied up in a ribbon and saved in a box in my closet. I also have birthday and anniversary cards from him, cards from my daughters, some letters and cards from my Grandma, and a thank you card from Super Friend. I also saved all the cards and notes I got during and after my conversion. I throw away most other things after saving them for a bit.

Why do I save them? I’m sentimental. I like them. They make me smile, and I want to be able to look at them when I’m old. I’ve read over the letters from my husband and some of the other notes and cards on occasion. In a world where everything is electronic and sentiments are rarely lasting, I want to be able to hold on to some expressions of love and support and friendship that have meant a lot to me at various times.

Husband: I throw them away. Next. (Note, I pointed out to him that he has a bunch of cards and artwork by our girls on his desk right now that he has not thrown away, to which he responded, “Yeah, but that’s like 1% of all the cards I’ve gotten. . .”)

Don’t let him fool you into thinking he isn’t sentimental. Here’s the upper shelf of his desk:


3. When you’re at home, do you wear shoes, socks, slippers, or go barefoot?

Me: Socks in winter, barefoot otherwise.

Husband: Barefoot. And socks in winter.

4. Who’s the most famous person you have ever met? 

Me: Depends who is more famous, Tom Arnold or Joey Lawrence.

Husband: Bill Clinton. Or Al Gore.

5. What has been your best work of art?

Me: My blog. It’s my way of being creative.

I also once cooked a coq au vin that was a masterpiece. (see #6 below)

Husband: Honestly, I don’t do art.

6. What is your strongest sense?

Me: Taste. I love me some tasty food. Example: Recently Super Friend and I went out to brunch at a local bar. On the way out, we were both rubbernecking a table of guys. We got outside and started laughing, because we had each noticed the other’s ogling, and both knew that the ogling had nothing to do with the guys at the table, but rather with their huge plate of yummy-looking nachos. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. . .

Husband: (laughs) Hmm. My common sense.

Check out more answers at Kendra’s link up. Also, check out her great post from today about family planning and having babies and not having babies.

Posted in Answer Me This, Miscellany | 1 Comment

Baby Catholic Answers All the Things, Volume 4 – Confession

I think it’s a fairly common belief of people who are not Catholic (and also some who are) that the sacrament of Reconciliation, or confession, is totally unnecessary. I know that I used to think, “Why do I need to confess my sins to a priest? I can just confess directly to God and ask forgiveness.” I also kind of thought it was creepy and weird that priests would encourage people to tell all of their deepest, darkest, secrets (says the woman who used to be a clinical psychologist) and then give them a penance to complete afterwards.

Of course there is Biblical support for the practice of confessing one’s sins to God.

Blessed is the one whose fault is removed, whose sin is forgiven. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputes no guilt, in whose spirit is no deceit. Because I kept silent, my bones wasted away; I groaned all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength withered as in dry summer heat. Then I declared my sin to you; my guilt I did not hide. I said, “I confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you took away the guilt of my sin. – Psalm 32:1-7

The Catholic Church does not dismiss the value of making a regular confession of one’s sins directly to God. I do this every day during my daily prayers, and I know a lot of Catholics go through the examination of conscience each day for this same purpose. The examination of conscience is something Catholics (ideally) go over before going to reconciliation, to assist in making a good confession, but many also use it for confessing directly to God in prayer. You can see an example here.

So sure, confessing directly to God is important, and valid, and necessary. But the sacrament of Reconciliation is a whole different ballgame.

Let’s start with the Biblical basis for the practice. In the book of John, when Jesus appears to the apostles in the locked room after His resurrection:

[Jesus] said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” – John 20:21-23

So, in the Bible, Jesus gave the apostles, the first priests of His Church, the authority to forgive sins. They do this by acting in persona Christi, or in the person of Christ. I mentioned in my post about the priesthood that there are two types of situations in which priests are given the special authority to act in the person of Christ: 1. during the act of transubstantiation in the Mass, or when the priest turns the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, and 2. during the sacrament of Reconciliation. So really, priests don’t personally have the authority to forgive sins, but they have the authority to act as Christ during the sacrament of Reconciliation, and as such, forgive sins.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Only God forgives sins. Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, ‘The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ and exercises this divine power: ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name.” (1441)

The sacrament of Reconciliation has been practiced in various forms throughout the centuries, with the very early Church instituting penances that were public and sometimes severe and lengthy in nature. It was during the seventh century that Irish missionaries took the practice of private confession and penance to continental Europe, and the sacrament has been performed in private ever since.

As the Church practices it currently, it goes pretty much like this: Parishioner goes into the confessional (which in our parish is just a little room with comfy chairs to sit on), sits down and says, “Bless me father, for I have sinned. It has been (however long) since my last confession.” Ideally, parishioner will have gone through an examination of conscience beforehand and will then be able to proceed to provide a pretty comprehensive list of sins for the priest. After this is done, the parishioner says the Act of Contrition:

Image credit Prayer Button

Then the priest, acting in persona Christi, gives a penance to the parishioner (perhaps a number of prayers to say or an act of restitution to perform), may say a blessing, and ends with something like, “I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

So, now that I’ve given you a little bit of the history of confession and how it works, I’ll tell you about my very limited but powerful experience with the sacrament.

I have only been to confession once, the Wednesday before Holy Saturday. All of my praying life, pre- and post-atheism, I have included confession of my sins to God in my daily prayers (okay, pre-atheism they were rarely daily. . .). So I thought it would be pretty straightforward to do an examination of conscience and go in and confess my sins to our priest. Yes, I was nervous, because I was confessing a whole lifetime of sins, face to face with the man who stands in front of our church pretty much every Sunday. I had a lot of stuff to confess from my whole life. But again, I had confessed most of it directly to God in prayer after my conversion, so it wouldn’t be too hard, right?

Well, first of all, the examination of conscience had me questioning myself about many behaviors, thoughts, and omissions that I never would have thought to confess or even think of as true sins before preparing for confession. So I had to face up to lots of things I had done or failed to do that I hadn’t even realized I needed to confess.

Then I went into the confession room with our priest. I was very nervous, and as I began my confession, I was kind of shocked by how much harder it was to speak my sins out loud to another person than to say them in my head during my prayers. I do truly try to focus on being repentant when I pray about my sins, but somehow saying them out loud to anther person made me so much more so.

I got through all of my fairly distant sins of the past and the more recent ones during my atheist years, and that was hard. But the hardest part by far was confessing my current day to day transgressions. The “smaller” sins that I grapple with in my everyday life, like using an unkind voice with my husband, feeling anger toward my children, being impatient, snapping at my kids, acting selfishly, and so on. I was struggling not to cry when I began telling my priest about some of my ugly behaviors and thoughts, things that I do now, not in the distant past.

When I got to the Act of Contrition, I could barely get the words out. “But most of all because they offend thee my God, who art all-good and deserving of all my love” was nearly impossible to say through the lump in my throat and over the sobs threatening to escape from my mouth. I suddenly felt the full impact of my sins, and how offensive they are to God, and I was appalled.

After I got through the whole prayer and the priest said, “I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” it was a really amazing moment. I truly felt a sense of relief and joy after my time in the confessional, and even more so after completing my penance.

So many people seem to associate the idea of confession with negative emotions, beliefs, and experiences. But here’s what I believe about it: Confession isn’t something the Church created for the purpose of controlling and manipulating people. It is a gift that Jesus gave to us to help us experience His forgiveness more fully. 

And it works.

I haven’t decided on the next topic yet. If you have a question, let me know. 

Posted in Baby Catholic Answers All the Things, Religion | Leave a comment

“I’m Catholic”

The other day I had to go to the hospital to have some blood drawn. I haven’t checked in to a hospital since I was in labor with Sis (almost two-and-a-half years ago!!). I was not near home, so I was at a hospital I’ve never been to before. As part of the (ridiculously loooong for just a lab test) check in process, one of the questions they asked me was if I have a religious preference.

In all previous instances when I’ve been asked this question, my answer has been, “Nope!” This time, I was a little bit taken aback by the question (again, it was just a lab draw), but I was pleased. I wasn’t happy with needing a blood test, but I couldn’t help but smile to myself at being able to say, “I’m Catholic.”

This got me thinking about the roles I’ve claimed in my life. Those I’ve had always, like “daughter” and “sister.” Those that I had for a while and no longer claim, like “psychologist,” “marathon-runner,” and “business-owner.” And those that were at one time new and life-changing and smile-inducing, like “wife” and “mother.”


When I first got married, it always made me feel so happy and proud to say, “my husband,” and it was a fabulous little jolt each time I said it out loud (I’m still very proud and happy to say it, it’s just not a jolt anymore). The same was true when I first began saying, “my daughter” in reference to Miss after she was born. I had a little flip of excitement in my belly each time I used those phrases to refer to myself, relationally, as a wife and a mom.


It was the same way on Monday, when I said to that stranger in the small, cluttered hospital office, “I’m Catholic.”

I got a warm, happy, proud feeling, knowing I am now a part of something really special. I felt privileged and a little giddy to say those words. “I’m Catholic.” And it gave me a feeling of strength and protection somehow.


It might seem silly, but being Catholic is so new and so life changing for me. Very similar to when I first became a wife or a mother. It changes the way I look at the world, the way I act, the way I think of others. All in good ways. It helps me deal with difficult circumstances and makes me more grateful for my many blessings.


Those two words that I almost never have occasion to say, “I’m Catholic,” when spoken out loud, leave me feeling proud and peaceful.

I love being Catholic.

Posted in Religion | 1 Comment

Dirty and Weird and We Wouldn’t Miss It

I’m not doing 7 Quick Takes today. I really can’t gather my thoughts enough to write seven different things. BUT, I can share some photos with you from our trip to the Dirty Weird Zoo yesterday. The place is still so odd, but definitely a summer tradition I wouldn’t want to miss.

Sis had her first experience with feeding bread to the animals. She was fearless.

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A donkey even nibbled her fingers a little bit. She just yanked her hand back and went on feeding it.


The big kids were racing all over the place, screaming with delight about all the animals to see.

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No one even freaked out about the inevitable goat attack. Except maybe me and Super Friend.


Miss and Lass even said the goats were their favorite, because “they were everywhere.”

Miss found a peacock feather, which she insisted on carrying around the whole morning. I know I’m not the only one who has a slightly neurotic terror of bird feathers. They are so dirty. Am I right? Ew. Ew. Ew. Happily she didn’t put up too much of a fuss when I told her she couldn’t bring the feather home.

After depleting at least 10 bags of bread and buns by generously feeding lots of animals, we had our own picnic lunch. I think it was a successful outing.


I hope you have a lovely weekend.

Posted in Adventure, Outings, Summer, Traditions | Leave a comment

Living on a Prayer

I overheard some interesting comments from my girls today while pushing my two youngers on the swings as Miss swung  by herself on the glider.


Lass (to Miss): “You’re doing that all by yourself. You can teach me how to swing by myself too.”

Miss: “Yeah. I’ll teach you. I’m a good teacher. I can be your mommy.”

Lass: “Yeah! You can be my mommy!”

Me: “Hey, wait. I’m your mommy.”

Lass: “No, no, no. I mean after you die.”

Oh. Well, that makes me feel better.


I have to admit though, I can’t blame them for fantasizing about another mommy a little bit. The past week or so I have been so tired and so crabby. I can’t even stand myself when I act like a jerk to my kids for much of the day, so I can understand if they might think an alternative would be enjoyable from time to time.


I’m sure that being tired in itself has contributed to my yucky attitude, but it’s a bit more than that too, I think.

Usually I wake up at 5:30 in the morning and spend some time praying and reading the Bible. It’s a wonderful way to get my mind and my heart right for the rest of the day. But lately I’ve been so tired, I haven’t wanted to get up early and I’ve been missing out on my usual prayer time. I’ve been trying to squeeze it in at other times, but that is never quite as fulfilling, and some days I’ve even missed it all together. This is not a good thing.

I was so disgusted with myself last night after a few days of just being a grouch, that I vowed to get up early and start my day right. So I did. I didn’t quite make it out of bed at 5:30, but I was downstairs saying my prayers by a few minutes after 6. And it made all the difference. I got some good Jesus time to start my day, and then I had an awesome day with my kids. DSC_0155

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An amazing thing I’ve learned in the past year and a half is that when I feel like a crappy mom, when I’m grumpy and acting like a jerk, when I’m impatient and snappish, I now have an incredible solution. I used to beat myself up and flounder through my difficulties and eventually give myself a pep talk and feel better. Now I know that I can just turn to prayer and pretty quickly get myself back on track. Seriously, it works.

When I’m drowning and feeling like I can’t do anything right, I turn my face to God and say, “Help me!” And He does.

When I’m having a wonderful day and feel like I’m Super Mom and all is going just right, I turn my face to God and say, “Thank you!”


Today, I said, “Thank you!”

Posted in Funny Sayings, Mommy Moments, Motherhood, Religion | 2 Comments

Baby Catholic Answers All the Things, Volume 3 – The Priesthood

My friend Liz asked:

Do Catholics have a “priesthood?” If so, how is it used and who is given it?

The short answer is this: Yes, Catholicism has a priesthood. Catholic priests are celibate men who experience a calling to a vocation in the priesthood. They attend seminary and are ordained priests, able to administer sacraments and perform other duties involved in ministering to a parish community.

And now the longer answer:

As I understand it, the process of becoming a priest basically begins with a man experiencing a call to serve God in the priesthood. Usually he prays quite a bit about this to discern if this is his true path and may meet with a spiritual or vocations director to assist with this discernment. He obtains a college degree, then goes to seminary. I’m not sure of the sequence of events, exactly, but a candidate for the priesthood also has to at some point undergo quite a bit of interviewing, background checks, and psychological and medical assessments before he can be ordained and assigned to a parish.

There are three levels of ordination in the sacrament of Holy Orders (the sacrament by which a man is ordained). The first level is the episcopate. This is the ordination of a bishop. A bishop is ordained by other bishops and stands in a direct, unbroken line from the apostles. All episcopal ordinations must be approved by the pope.


The second level of ordination is the priesthood. This is what people typically think of when they think of a Catholic priest. There are not enough bishops to minister to all the people in a diocese, so lay priests carry out this duty. Priests exercise their powers only in communion with their bishop. In fact, during their ordination they vow to maintain obedience to their bishop (there are also priests who are ordained to particular orders such as the Dominicans or Franciscans, and I believe that their vows are a bit different in that they are obligated to obey their order, rather than the bishop of the diocese, and their duties can be quite different too, but I’m less familiar with this type of ordination, so I’m just going to leave it at that).

The third level is the diaconate. A man can be ordained as a transitional deacon while on his way to becoming a priest, or as a permanent deacon. A permanent deacon can be married, but a transitional deacon must remain celibate, as he is preparing to become a fully ordained priest.


^^ From left to right, a seminarian, a priest, and a deacon ^^

When a man receives the sacrament of Holy Orders, the bishop lays hands on him and says a consecratory prayer asking God for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and for the gifts to fulfill the duties specific to his ministry. Once a man has been ordained a priest, he is spiritually changed and he is granted special graces according to his level of ordination.

Deacons can read the Gospel during Mass, preach a homily, and perform the sacraments of baptism and marriage.


Priests can perform all the duties of deacons as well as being given the special ability to act in persona Christi,  or in the person of Christ. This is the way in which priests are able to administer the sacrament of the Eucharist, by consecrating the bread and water and turning them into the real presence of Christ, His body and blood, through transubstantiation during the Mass. Priests are also able to act in the person of Christ when they administer the sacrament of reconciliation. Priests can also administer the sacrament of anointing of the sick and sometimes the sacrament of confirmation, as in cases of adults who are confirmed at the Easter Vigil (like I was).

DSC_0134^^ That’s me with our priest’s hands on my head during part of my confirmation ^^


^^ Here he’s marking a cross on my forehead with Holy Chrism oil ^^

Bishops usually perform confirmations and they are the only ones who can perform the sacrament of Holy Orders.

This is just a quick summary of what bishops, deacons, and priests have the authority to do. Of course, they have many other duties and responsibilities in their positions as well as administering sacraments and preaching during Mass.


Some people get upset by the fact that only men can be ordained as priests in the Catholic Church. The reason for this is that priests are acting in the person of Christ, and Christ was a man, obviously. The Catholic Church does not see men and woman as interchangeable, as some may argue they should be. Instead, the Church sees men an women as suited to different, yet complementary roles. Further, the ordination of men is a tradition that goes back to Christ Himself. He chose only men as His apostles.


The last issue I’ll mention about the priesthood is another thing that people seem to often misunderstand: celibacy. Priests and bishops are required to commit to lifelong celibacy as a prerequisite for ordination. Permanent deacons can be married when they become deacons, but I don’t think they can marry after they are ordained.

In our society, people are so inundated with the idea that it is unnatural to not have sex, whether married or not, that the idea of celibate priests is mocked and debased. People claim it is freakish to be celibate and usually do not bother to try to understand why the Church has this rule.

In fact, celibacy was not an original requirement of the apostles and early Catholic priests. In the early Church there were some problems, however with corruption and nepotism among priests, favoring their offspring and/or passing Church property to their spouses and children upon their death. In 1075, Pope Gregory VII issued a decree which effectively prohibited married priests from acting in the ministry. This was formalized by the First Lateran Council in 1123, and the Roman Catholic Church has required celibacy from priests ever since.

Consecrated celibacy is seen by the Church as a gift that God bestows on those called to the priesthood. It is a way for priests to be more like Jesus, to be more focused on their faith and duties. Saint Paul said, “I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” 1Corinthians 7:32-34

Liz, I hope that answers your question adequately :)


I’ve had a request to discuss confession, so that will be my next topic. What do you want to know about? The rosary? Saints? The Catholic Church’s stance on birth control?? Keep the questions coming!


Posted in Baby Catholic Answers All the Things, Religion, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

7 Quick Takes – Happy 4th of July!


I’ve been practicing singing my songs for the Labor Day party. All the songs are on a playlist in my phone, and I usually play them and sing along in the car. The girls really enjoy most of the music. I’ve had some interesting questions from Miss about some of the songs. For example:

Little Willy – “Mom, why won’t Willy go?” (lyrics, “‘Cause Little Willy Willy won’t, go home. But you can’t push Willy ’round, Willy won’t go“)

You Be Illin’ – “Who’s Ellen?”

500 Miles – “Mom, is he really going to do that?” (lyrics, “But I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more.

That’s Not My Name – “Why are they calling her that stuff?” (lyrics, “They call me ‘hell’ They call me ‘Stacey’ They call me ‘her’ They call me ‘Jane’ That’s not my name. . .“) and “Did that really happen?”

And my favorite/most awkward of the questions:

Sweet Dreams (by The Eurythmics)- “Mom, why does someone want to be abused?”


Speaking of Miss, I was feeling such warm fuzzies the other day when I heard her and Sis playing together. Miss was pretending to be Sis’s mommy, and was saying such sweet, loving things to her. I was just about to pat myself on the back for obviously providing such a beautiful model of motherhood when I heard, “It’s bedtime. You need to stay in bed. You. stay. in. bed. Go to sleep! Now stay. asleep. Stay asleep! STAY ASLEEP!!”


Things devolved from there and the “Mommy” ended up chasing the “baby,” yelling, “Get in bed! It’s time for bed!!

Ahem. She might have heard me say something like that before.


I just love this photo:


Lass woke up extra early one morning and my husband sat and perused this huge animal book with her before he had to get ready for work. They were playing a game that seemed to only make sense to the two of them. Love.


I am not always quite so engaging when one of the girls wakes up super early with me. Jake and the Neverland Pirates? Yes, please.



A friend texted me yesterday to invite me to the 4th of July parade today. I had no idea there was a 4th of July parade in our town. Seems logical that there would be, now that I think about it, but it had never occurred to me. I’m so glad we went.

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The parade was lots of fun for all of us, but my natural suspicion and defensiveness sort of put a bit of a damper on it for me. Early on in the the parade, a man came and stood directly behind my stroller, which I had pulled right up to the curb so Sis could see when she was sitting in it.


We had our sit’n’stand and my purse was sitting on the back seat. The man was disheveled and dirty, and he was totally in my personal space, so my mind immediately went to protection mode. I made sure I was between him and my kids at all times, and I nonchalantly moved my purse to the ground in front of the stroller after rummaging around in it for some chapstick (I didn’t want to be too obvious). I didn’t quite go so far as to plan out in my mind just what self-defense moves I would use on him if necessary (apparently he wasn’t quite as threatening as the young girl who walked next to my car while in the Starbucks drive through line), but I did keep my eye on him the whole time.


We had some friends over for a cookout tonight (same friends we went to the parade with). The girls had so much fun and they did sparklers of the first time. Two of my three girls were not scared at all. One was a bit nervous at first.

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My big girl sometimes just needs a minute to observe. She eventually overcame her fear.

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The grand finale:

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It was a great day, full of fun and friends. I can hear everyone else just getting started with the fireworks outside, and I’m ready for bed :) Happy 4th of July!

See more quick takes at Conversion Diary.

Posted in 7 Quick Takes Friday, Funny Sayings, Miss | 1 Comment