7 Quick Takes Friday - December 31, 2010

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

1. Collin's brother, his wife, and their son are in town, and we're having lunch today at an Ethiopian restaurant. I've never met their son, nor have I ever had Ethiopian, and I'm looking forward to both experiences.

2. We're also utilizing one of our Christmas gifts today -- Collin & I are meeting with a lawyer to draw up our wills, courtesy of my father-in-law. A very practical gift, and something we've been meaning to do for a while now.

3. This nasty cold is still hanging on, although I do feel better than I did. The other two kids are pretty well recovered but Violet's still coughing, poor thing. I hope we can rest up this weekend and kick this bug.

4. One of my favorite Christmas gifts that we received this year was a family bible, courtesy of my mother-in-law. It's the first hardcover Bible we've ever owned; what a treasure! I absolutely love it. The illustrations are stunning.

5. The kids had a great Christmas; Elanor got everything on her list, including a Jessie doll, a Pinkalicious doll, Goldalicious, and a Rapunzel Barbie. William got a Buzz Lightyear and his own Pillow Pet. Violet got a lot of fun stuff too, including a book called Violet Goes to the Country and a My Pal Violet.

6. My only resolution this New Year is go get back on the weight loss wagon. I kind of abandoned the whole effort around the holidays, although I didn't go completely nuts.

7. We have no plans tonight; we'll probably just hang out and watch a movie. Such is life with small children. ;) Happy New Year and a blessed 2011 to everyone!

My favorite pictures from Disneyland


(incidentally, I discovered that churros make wonderful teething biscuits!)

We had a great time once the rain stopped. We were supposed to be there from December 18-22, but it rained non-stop every single one of those days. We went to Disneyland on December 19 and were pretty miserable because it was so wet and cold. We ended up deciding to stay two extra days, waited out the rain, and did our two days of Disneyland on the 23rd and 24th. We were too tired to drive home on Christmas Eve night so we didn’t get home ‘til mid-afternoon of December 25th (and my brother-in-law ended up hosting Christmas instead). So it was a longer trip than we had anticipated. But, we did have fun once the sun finally came out!

Unfortunately, the day after we came back I caught a horrible cold (maybe bronchitis, I'm not sure), and I'm still struggling with it. I took the day off of work yesterday, but I can't really afford to do that more than once (I'm out of flex time, so it's all unpaid at this point) so I dragged myself in today. I'm getting by with the help of DayQuil, but barely. I hope I can kick this thing soon!

7 Quick Takes Friday, December 17 - Best Christmas Songs Edition

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

As promised last week, here are seven (or more...) of my absolute favorite Christmas song renditions. This is by no means a comprehensive list; there are more Christmas songs that I love than I dislike, but these are definitely among my absolute favorites. I've linked to the CD itself where applicable.

1. Cantique de Noel, A Fresh Aire Christmas, Mannheim Steamroller. This is a version of "O Holy Night" that is absolutely breathtaking. I first heard it while walking across Prexy's Pasture at the University of Wyoming campus on my way to class, listening to the FM radio on my CD player. I stopped dead in my tracks and just listened. As soon as I could, I found the CD for this song and bought it. Mannheim Steamroller is a favorite group of mine, and this rendition is the best instrumental version of "O Holy Night" out there, in my opinion. (Honorable mention from the same CD: Veni Veni, a Latin rendering of "O Come O Come Emmanuel" that will send chills up and down your spine. It's gorgeous.)

2. You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch, Carol, Tonic Sol-Fa. This CD's hard to find (I haven't checked iTunes) but this song is absolutely worth it. Don't get me wrong, the original by Boris Karloff is great, but Tonic Sol-Fa adds some fun a cappela zaniness. (Honorable mention from the same CD: Mary's Boy Child. It's upbeat and animated and doesn't sound like a funeral dirge, unlike most other versions.)

3. Auld Lang Syne, Barenaked for the Holidays, Barenaked Ladies. Hands down, best version of this song out there. Heartfelt and gorgeous. (Honorable mention from the same CD: I Have a Little Dreidel. Crazy happy song. Actually, this entire album is one of my absolute favorites; there are a lot of fun songs.)

4. I Need a Silent Night - The Christmas Collection - Amy Grant.

I need a silent night, a holy night
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here
To end this crazy day with a silent night

For me, this song encapsulates how I feel every Advent -- that it is so important, amid the rush and bustle, to stop and take time to meditate on the coming of our Lord. I'm ashamed to say that this year it seems our family has done more preparing for our trip to Disneyland than we have for Jesus' birthday, although we have made an effort to use an Advent calendar as a nightly ritual (and say prayers over our Advent candles every Sunday). Still, we can do better.

(Honorable mention - Amy Grant's "A Christmas to Remember" album. "Mister Santa" is a fun parody of "Mr. Sandman," and "Gabriel's Oboe" is a gorgeous instrumental song.)

5. The Hallelujah Chorus - An Inconvenient Christmas - The Oak Ridge Boys. Collin and I bought this CD off a Food for the Poor TV special during Christmas 2008, in which the Oak Ridge Boys and Mannheim Steamroller were jointly performing. The Oak Ridge Boys did this song and I was blown away. The harmonies are incredible; it's a difficult song to sing and they mastered it. (Honorable mention: the entire CD is wonderful. "Beautiful Star," "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" and "An Inconvenient Christmas" are my other favorites, but I love the whole album.

6. Toy Packaging - O Holy Night - Sara Groves.

Nothing makes me lose my cool like
Toy packaging
Ask the kids to leave the room for
Toy packaging
I have no choice the money's spent
I've worked for hours to make a dent
I guess it's anger management
Toy packaging

It's funny because it's true. Back in my day, toys weren't nearly so difficult to get out of their boxes (and I also walked to school in a blinding snowstorm, uphill both ways, with newspaper wrapped around my feet instead of shoes...)

7. Frosty the Snowman - Sharing the Season, Volume III - Lorie Line. I adore Lorie Line. I've seen her in concert and it was a marvelous show. All of her music is terrific - I highly recommend all volumes of Sharing the Season, as well as The Silver Album (which is essentially an unplugged album of solo piano songs). This version of Frosty the Snowman quite simply ROCKS. I mean that literally. (Honorable mention from the same album: As With Gladness. Simple, classic, beautiful.)

Incidentally, Lorie Line got her start at the same place where Collin and I became engaged 10 years ago today -- the downtown Minneapolis Dayton's (which turned into Marshall Fields, which I think turned into something else...). She was hired as a temp holiday employee to serenade the customers with piano music, and she became so popular that she ended up recording an album, and eventually turned professional.)

Oh, what the hell, we're going to make this a top ten because there are three more songs I just have to mention.

8. Feliz Navidad - A Very Veggie Christmas - Larry the Cucumber. Feliz Navidad, featuring a tuba solo and a spontaneous rendition of "The Chicken Dance" midway through. What's not to like? (Honorable mention from the same album: O Santa! "I'm from the IRS, and I've come to tax your--" *slam*)

9. Silent Night - James Galway's Christmas Carol - James Galway. Granted, I'm partial to the flute because I played it all through high school, but I have to say that this rendition of Silent Night is marvelous.

10. Carol of the Bells - O Holy Night - The Hillsboro Singers. Wonderful a cappela version of this song, complete with the deep bass "BUMMMMMMMMM" at the end. Love it. I originally bought this CD out of the clearance bin at Wal-Mart just because I liked the name of the group (Hillsboro is the name of my hometown). It was a good buy.

Feel free to leave comments with your own favorites -- I'm always on the lookout for great Christmas music!

We see TRON: Legacy this afternoon (w00t!) as our little engagement-anniversary excursion, and tomorrow we leave for DISNEYLAND! So excited (even though it's supposed to rain the whole time). Happy Friday!

7 Quick Takes Friday, Dec. 10 - Worst Christmas Songs Edition

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

I love Christmas music. In fact, I adore it. I'd say about half of my iTunes library is comprised of all the Christmas music I've collected over the years. However, there are some songs (or rather, some versions of songs) that I absolutely despise. Here, in no particular order, are seven songs that I don't care if I never listen to again. I've even provided a link to the song, where possible, so you can share in the loathing.

1. Last Christmas by George Michael. I hate this song. Hate it with the passion of a thousand burning suns. I once had a co-worker who was obsessed with it and played it (out loud, in our shared office) over and over and over and over. Now, of course, the stupid song comes on the radio every time I listen.

2. So This Is Christmas/ Happy Christmas (War is Over) - John Lennon. I don't think this is a bad song, per se -- I like its message -- but it is so overplayed. Like #1, it's on the radio constantly. I also find it somewhat puzzling that Lennon likes to imagine there's no religion, but sings a song about Christmas. Um, John... Christmas started because of religion. It's Christ's Mass.

3. Snow, from White Christmas. White Christmas is one of my all-time favorite movies, but I can't say I care for this song. Who the hell wants to wash their hands, face and hair with snow?? Brrrrrrrrrrrr!

4. The Twelve Days of Christmas - the Sinatra family. This is an annoying song in the best of circumstances, but this version? *shudder*

5. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause - Jackson 5. I've always found this song rather creepy, and Michael Jackson even more so. Hahaha, I think Mommy's cheating on Daddy with Santa! How funny! Um, not. This song is another they play eighty times a day on the radio.

6. Santa Baby - any version. I don't like this song because it's about crass materialism -- pretty much the opposite of what Christmas should represent. And the whole Sexy Santa vibe is off-putting.

7. Are My Ears on Straight/I'm a Little Doll Who Was Dropped and Broken - Gayla Peevey. Hi! I'm a doll! My bratty little owner dropped me and I broke into a million pieces! And now I'm scared she'll throw me away if I haven't been fixed to her satisfaction! Some day Chucky and I are going to get married and then I'll get my sweet revenge! (Okay, that last part isn't in the song, but it might as well be.)

So, there you have it. Next week I'll list seven of my favorite Christmas song versions.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader this weekend! Woohoo!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good: At Mass last night, William pointed to Mary (we have a statue of Our Lady of the Eucharist in the sanctuary) and said, “Look, Mommy, that’s you!”


The Bad: The kids would not sit still. By the end of the evening I was utterly exhausted, and I barely heard a word of Father Hans’ homily because I was too busy trying to get my obnoxious children to sit quietly so they weren’t disturbing others. I’m so glad I have Collin’s help kid-wrangling during Sunday Mass. (He had taken them to the 7am Mass, as it was the only time that accommodated his work schedule.)


The Ugly: William had a bottle of flavored water left over from supper (which we had in the church hall with the RE group before Mass), and right before the distribution of the Eucharist, he spilled it all over the floor. (I think Elanor was trying to take it from him at the time.) I could have died from embarrassment, and unfortunately I swore (under my breath, thank goodness, but still). A kind lady a few pews over ran to the bathroom, grabbed some paper towels, and helped me wipe it up. I missed receiving the Eucharist, but that’s probably a good thing as the swearing means I need to make it to Reconciliation soon.

My birth stories

My oldest, Elanor, minutes after birth

I've posted all six of my birth stories to my blog, and I'm consolidating all the links into one post for easier reference.

All six kids were born in a hospital, and all were natural births (vaginal and unmedicated). The last four (Violet, Gabriel, Peter, and Laura) were doula-assisted. Elanor, Violet, and Gabriel were caught by obstetricians, William and Laura were caught by CNMs (certified nurse-midwives), and Peter was caught by a nurse because the CNM didn't make it in time.

The birth of Elanor Mary

The birth of William Joseph

The birth of Violet Elizabeth

The birth of Gabriel Keith

The birth of Peter David

The birth of Laura Rose

Might I suggest Prozac?

I'm having a conversation about abortion, via Facebook messaging, with a pro-choice person who responded to some comments I made on Facebook. Her latest response amused me so much that I just had to share:

Whatever man i don't have any more time to dedicate to some crazy liberal person who wants to tell me what i should do with my body. You probably go knocking on doors telling people what they should do with their minds too. Ha communist swine! I DEFLECT THEE!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, then, I guess our conversation is over.

7 Quick Takes Friday - Dec 3

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

1. Oh my, Advent already. This year has just flown by. I'm trying something a little different with our Advent candles this year:

When Collin saw it, his only comment was, "That's not a wreath." Ouch. Thanks, honey.

I actually did try to find some pine garland to wrap around it but, despite a search of our local Michael's, I didn't find anything really useful. So I went with the poinsettias instead. They have a religious meaning, too. Right now I have them on a placemat that Elanor made at school, but I plan to buy a table runner as soon as I find one I like.

2. Speaking of table runners, I'm having a difficult time finding one that will fit our table. Collin (Mr. OCD himself) is adamant that the table runner has to hang over both edges of the table. However, our table, when the leaf is in it, is 78" long. Collin doesn't want to take the leaf out, and as the vast majority of table runners are 72" long, they're too short. I've looked at multiple stores and the only 90" table runners I saw were rather ugly (and 104" ones are too long). I'm going to try Bed, Bath, and Beyond and maybe Ross this weekend.

3. Our Thanksgiving was lovely. I tried to get a pic of all the kids, but it didn't work out so well. This was the best of the lot:

I love Violet's outfit. I got it for $6 at Once Upon a Child - shirt, pants, bib, and socks. So cute! And the message on her bib is oh so true:

4. My team took a group photo at work for anyone who has been insanely curious about the people with whom I spend 40 hours per week:

The wearing black with sunglasses shtick was actually my idea.

5. We saw "Tangled" on Black Friday, and we loved it! Elanor was already asking for a Rapunzel dress five minutes after we left the theater. I liked how the movie gave a good reason for Rapunzel's hair being as long as it was -- in the usual fairy-tale versions, there is no real reason for her hair being so long.

6. We also saw "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1" last weekend. I thought it was the best of the series, so far. I'm eagerly awaiting part 2!

7. Next up on the movie horizon: "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" (opens December 10) and "TRON: Legacy" (opens December 17). I'm fervently hoping that they both do well, especially Dawn Treader. I want more Narnia movies! Plus, Dawn Treader is my favorite book, so if the movie is a poor adaptation then I'm going to be terribly disappointed. Collin is terribly excited for TRON, so for his sake I hope it's everything he dreams it will be.

Happy Friday!

7 Quick Takes Friday - November 19

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

1. I did indeed have a WONDERFUL time at the Bioethics Defense Fund Passion for Life Benefit. Raymond Arroyo was fabulous, and I was tickled pink to see so many priests and religious in attendance! It was also fun to see how many small babies were there; I wish I could have brought Violet with me so I wouldn't feel so left out. :P I was able to meet Leila; visit her blog to see a picture of us (with the lovely Danya as well). I think Leila and I could have talked half the night if we'd had the chance!

2. Leila and I discovered something pretty neat: our youngest children were due on the same day! Her little boy Matthew (in the picture linked above) and Violet were both due on March 2nd, although Matthew was born mid-February and Violet was born March 5. Still, what a neat coincidence!

3. On a whim, I cut about five inches off of my hair last Friday night. I love the new look! My head feels much lighter and cooler now. Long hair was really starting to bug me so I'm glad I went shorter.

4. I've been falling behind on the housework lately. It hasn't helped that we've all been sick within the last two weeks. Collin was really sick this past week but couldn't afford to take any more time off of work, since he had to take a few days off when the kids were sick. Poor guy, he was miserable. :( We're all on the mend now but the house is a mess; I don't know how we're going to manage to get it cleaned up by the time Christmas rolls around. St. Martha, pray for us!

5. If we can find a babysitter, we plan to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 on Saturday afternoon! I'm SO excited. We're also getting together with other Catholic Phoenix bloggers for a wine-tasting event on Saturday night (again, contingent upon finding a babysitter). Collin has promised to drive home so I can sample as much wine as I want; an entirely fair arrangement given that I have always had to be the designated driver for him anytime I was pregnant and we were at a similar event.

6. Less than a month until our trip to Disneyland (and the release of TRON: Legacy, woohoo)! Next weekend I think we'll take the kids to the new Disney movie ("Tangled"), and we also plan on seeing "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" some weekend in December. Lots of great movies are coming out in such a short time (why couldn't one of them had come out on my birthday?! Don't get me wrong, "Red" was a fun movie, but something I would have been just as happy watching via Netflix).

7. Cute kid story to finish things up: We're halfheartedly trying to potty train William by putting a sticker chart in the bathroom and giving him a sticker whenever he uses the potty successfully (the idea being that X amount of stickers will get him a reward). It's not going too well, but that's rather peripheral to the story.

Anyway, William and Elanor were watching me clean out the cat's litterbox last night, and William asked me what I was doing.

"I'm cleaning the kitty's potty," I replied.

"Oh," he answered, his little forehead furrowing deep in thought as he watched me scoop the clumps into a plastic bag. "Does the kitty get a sticker now?"

Great news!

Archbishop Dolan is the new president of the USCCB! Praise God! I was not in favor of Bishop Kicanas' election. (No reflection on the man or his holiness, just concerns about his leadership capabilities and judgment calls.)

7 Quick Takes Friday - November 12

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

1. It's been quite the hectic week at the Wahlund household. Last Friday, Elanor went home sick from school after throwing up. She was fine all weekend, but on Monday she again complained of stomach pain and also spiked a fever. I took her to the doctor, who diagnosed an ear infection. An hour or so after we returned from the clinic, William began vomiting. He threw up five or six times in the span of four hours, and then thankfully stopped. He took a trip to the doctor on Tuesday, and was also diagnosed with an ear infection. On Wednesday Violet spiked a fever and also got a trip to the doctor. No ear infection this time, just a cold virus (probably the same one I've had all week and that Collin seems to be catching as well). Collin has only worked two and a half days this week, and I worked from home on Thursday. Thankfully everyone seems to be getting better.

2. Collin received a grade of 97% in his Technical Writing class, maintaining his 4.0 average at the University of Phoenix. He also received a very positive review from his professor. I'm so proud of him!

3. Elanor's new favorite movie is "The Nightmare Before Christmas." She was asking me for a toy we saw in Wal-Mart the other day, and I told her she should ask Santa Claus and maybe she'd get it for Christmas. She thought about this for a moment, then said, "I'll ask Jack Skellington." Okay, then...

I think she's more excited about seeing the Haunted Mansion's "Nightmare Before Christmas" theme at Disneyland then she is about seeing Santa!

4. My kids are getting so spoiled this Christmas. Grandma Vicki has already bought the top items on their wish lists. Yay for generous grandparents!

5. We also bought Toy Story 3 (via iTunes). I have not yet made it through a viewing without sobbing buckets at the end of it.

6. I'm meeting some co-workers tomorrow for lunch to belatedly celebrate my birthday. It should be a fun "girl time" together; we rarely get to socialize outside of work because we all live in different parts of the Valley. We're meeting in a location that's fairly central for all of us, so no one has to drive too terribly far. We're going to Oregano's, which I've never been to before but I hear is amazing.

7. Thanks to my wonderful husband, who is being very accomodating toward my sudden active social life, I also get some "me time" tonight; I'm going to the Bioethics Defense Fund's "Passion for Life" benefit. Although the introvert in me is sort of nervous about going without Collin, I'm looking forward to meeting other Catholic bloggers I know who are planning to attend (for example, Leila). All in all, should be a fun time!

7 Quick Takes Friday - November 5

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

1. We had a fun Halloween, although we got a bit of a late start trick-or-treating. We decided to take a family nap so the kids would be rested for the evening's activities, and we all slept until 5:30pm! I guess we all needed the sleep, but we had to scramble into costumes and I didn't get the chance to take all the pictures I wanted. I got a few good ones, though:

As you can see, we had Princess Tiana, Prince Naveen (in frog form) and a little firefly, all from Disney's "The Princess and the Frog."

2. I had a nice 30th birthday on Wednesday as well. I took the afternoon off of work and Collin and I went to see the movie RED. It was an enjoyable popcorn flick. I jokingly called it "Die Hard: the Retirement Years."

3. Later that evening, the kids (with Daddy's help) bought me flowers:

and also a lovely card. I'm truly blessed to have such a wonderful family.

4. Earlier last week my Medela breastpump finally gave out. I bought it in December 2004 so I can't say I'm surprised. Collin wasn't too happy at this unforseen expense, but I managed to find another (gently used) pump on Craigslist for only $100. It's working great so far and is in much better shape than my old one.

5. Last night, Collin found and killed two black widow spiders. One on our front porch rocker, and one on our backyard garden hose. Ew. He's calling the exterminators today.

6. Violet is eight months old today! She's pretty much crawling now and she tries to get into EVERYTHING. We call her "Miss Grabby-Hands" because you can't leave anything near her that you don't want her to grab. It seems like I'm forever having to fish things like candy wrappers and crayons out of her mouth! We'll have to do some hardcore cleaning this weekend so she has less opportunity to get into things.

7. Speaking of cleaning, I need to get the kids more involved in that. I'm tired of cleaning all weekend just to have them mess it back up in five minutes. I think I'll try a chore chart with stickers and see how that goes. Any hints?

Have a great weekend!

7 Quick Takes Friday

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

1. These will be really quick because it's late and I need to get to bed, but tonight I've cooked supper, made Halloween cookies (from scratch!), frosted said cookies (alas, with store-bought frosting), changed diapers, cleaned out the cat's litterbox, found a costume to wear to work tomorrow (my Renaissance Festival garb), got Elanor's costume ready for tomorrow, put a load of laundry in the washer and in the dryer, and emptied/loaded the dishwasher. So I figured I might as well get my Quick Takes in while I was being so productive.

2. I prayed outside the Glendale Planned Parenthood yesterday as part of 40 Days for Life. It was rather intimidating because I was the only one there, and I didn't have a sign or anything because I hadn't realized I needed to bring my own (the last time I participated, in ND, the signs were provided). In retrospect I should have tried to find someone to come with me, but I didn't think about it until it was too late. Anyway, I stayed there for an hour and it was pretty uneventful; I don't think most people realized why I was there or what I was doing. I prayed the rosary and two Chaplets of Divine Mercy.

3. I saw a teenage girl come out of the abortion facility, obviously upset and crying. A teenage boy (I'm assuming her boyfriend) was with her, and they were hugging one another as she cried. They sat for a long time in their car before they finally drove away. Poor girl, I can guess why she's hurting. Say a prayer for her, will you?

4. I saw a Facebook post from a high school classmate earlier this evening. She posted one of those "It gets better" videos... this one by a bishop in the ELCA. Her comment was, "I'm so glad to be part of a progressive and inclusive church." That comment really hit home why I left the ELCA -- I wanted to be part of a church taught the Truth despite society's whims. After all, as Pope Benedict XVI has said, "Truth is not determined by majority vote." The ELCA, on the other hand, seems more concerned about being "progressive and inclusive" than it is about teaching the Gospel.

5. In happier news, Violet's really starting to get around! She can army crawl, and she can get up on all fours and rock. Before I know it she'll be crawling all over the place. Luckily we still have the baby gates up. I can't believe how big she's getting; where did my baby go?? Here's a cute picture I got of Collin and Violet (and our Halloween skeleton!) on Sunday, as we were leaving for church:

6. I turn 30 on Wednesday. Eeep! That's all I have to say about that.

7. Another piece of good news from this week is that my sister and her husband are expecting a baby, due in May. I'm so happy for them! Their son, Mason, was born the day after William. He's going to be a great big brother! I bet he'll love his little sibling just as much as William loves Violet. Yay for babies!

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

7 Quick Takes Friday

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

1. I might as well rename my blog to "7 Quick Takes every Friday." That's all I have time to post anymore. However, I have been managing to write fairly regular blog posts for the Catholic Phoenix blog (turns out I'm more motivated to write if I know it'll actually be read), so that's progress, at least.

2. As my birthday is 11/3, Collin's is 12/24, Elanor's is 1/13, William's is 2/25, and Violet's is 3/5, we're going to do a big group present -- we're going to Disneyland in lieu of buying presents this year. Less clutter for the house is always good! We're leaving 12/18 and will get back 12/22, just in time to host Christmas at our house on 12/25. The plan is to get it cleaned and ready before we go, and then take the kids away so they have less time and opportunity to mess it up. We were thrilled to see that kids 2 and under are free, so we only had to buy passes for ourselves and Elanor (we also got the passes via Collin's Apple employee discount). To further save money, we're staying at a Super 8 about a block from the park (less than $50/night, baby! Woohoo!).

3. Collin has a terrific new work schedule starting in early November -- Fridays, Saturdays, AND Sundays off! We'll get weekends together again, and he'll have both Christmas and his birthday off. It's rare that he gets such a great schedule, so we're pretty thrilled. It couldn't have come at a better time -- we have a lot to do to get the house presentable for Christmas.

4. I love the Netflix app on my iPhone. I can watch TV episodes during my lunch break. My latest favorite is Clean House. (It's not as scary as Hoarders, but still... some of these people need to LET THINGS GO.)

5. We had a parent-teacher conference with Elanor's teacher on Tuesday. The good news is she's very artistic and draws very well for her age; academically, she's dramatically improved from the beginning of the school year. The quasi-bad news is that she's still lagging behind pretty significantly, and doesn't seem to understand a lot of the concepts taught. So, we're going to have her evaluated by the special education team. My mom's a special-ed teacher so I have some idea of what to expect by that, but it still makes me nervous.

6. We made homemade pumpkin-shaped spritz cookies over the weekend, using my Pampered Chef cookie press. Very yummy! We'll have to make some more this weekend.

7. It's Friday and my brain is fried. I can't think of anything for #7. So... here's a cute kid pic instead (Elanor, after her haircut last Saturday).

7 Quick Takes Friday

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

I'm very late with the Quick Takes today, but better late than never!

1. It's Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, so I'd like to take these first few quick takes to remember the babies I've lost to miscarriage.

2. Noel was conceived in October 2006 and died sometime November 2006 (we didn't discover that s/he had passed in utero until December 2006). I had a D&C and we arranged to have his/her remains interred. S/he is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Fargo, ND. After the ultrasound the diagnosed his/her death, my midwife gave me the ultrasound picture and I'm so glad she did. It helps to have that little bit of my baby as a memorial now that I'm too far away to visit his/her grave.

3. Chris (short for Christopher or Christina) was conceived in late February 2009. S/he died March 13, 2009. I miscarried naturally while in the ER so we weren't able to have a burial for him/her. All I have left of him/her is the picture of my positive pregnancy test.

4. I miss my babies every day, but I'm comforted by the fact that they are in heaven praying for me. I read this a few months ago and thought it was beautiful (unfortunately, the original article no longer exists; it appeared in The Catholic Telegraph and was authored by Fr. Rob Waller):

No words can take away the pain of miscarriage, although faith and time can lessen it. Some parents find the words of St. Bernard of Clairveuax helpful. He wrote to a couple that had a miscarriage. In response to their question, “What is going to happen to my child? The child didn’t get baptized,” St. Bernard said, “Your faith spoke for this child. Baptism for this child was only delayed by time. Your faith suffices. The waters of your womb — were they not the waters of life for this child? Look at your tears. Are they not like the waters of baptism? Do not fear this. God’s ability to love is greater than our fears. Surrender everything to God.”

5. Collin arrives home Sunday night and I'm so glad. I've missed him terribly. He seems to be having a good time in North Dakota, and I'm glad he's been able to spend some quality time with his dad, brother, and grandparents.

6. We got Elanor's school pictures back earlier this week. I was pleased with how they turned out.

Isn't she cute?

7. I was listening to "Why I'm Catholic" on Immaculate Heart Radio this morning. The guest was Dr. Ray Guarendi. It was an enjoyable show, and I was very intrigued when Dr. Guarendi, who was an engineer before he became a psychologist, discussed how the study of physics can help us understand the mystery of the Eucharist. I did a bit of Googling and found this article which expounds upon the idea. It's a good apologetic tactic to use when dialoguing with atheists!

7 Quick Takes Friday

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

1. Oh my goodness, what a day. My co-worker was on vacation so I had to supervise her projects, and today was a doozy. I've had nothing to eat but a doughnut all day, because I was too busy to take my lunch break. Collin's out picking up some Chinese takeout at the moment because I'm just too tired to cook.

2. I have to admit that I squeed like the Catholic fangirl I am when Greg Willits from The Catholics Next Door commented on my latest post over at the Catholic Phoenix blog.

3. Collin flies to North Dakota on Tuesday, and I'm apprehensive about the week of single parenting ahead of me. I'm just thankful that his vacation and my co-worker's vacation didn't coincide, otherwise I'd be an absolute basket case.

4. Baby Violet is 7 months old now! I suspect she has some teeth coming in, because she's been crankier than normal the last week or so and she's practically drowning in her own drool.

5. I'm starting to think William may be the proverbial kid who goes to college in diapers. He has absolutely no interest whatsoever in learning to use the potty. We've promised him a Pillow Pet when he learns to use the potty, but even that hasn't swayed him (even though he's glued to the television when the Pillow Pet commercial comes on).

6. Elanor is doing really well in school. She's quickly learning how to write and sound out words. We also made a family tree for a school project, and I was pleased with how it turned out:

7. Mmmm, my orange beef is here. I'm going to go relax with some good food, a good book, and probably a halfway decent beer. Have a great weekend!

7 Quick Takes Friday

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

1. Thanks to my Latin teacher, I've discovered a great new website: Catholic Phoenix. Many different writers contribute so there's always a fascinating new article to read, and you don't need to be a Catholic in Phoenix to appreciate them!

2. I've started watching season one of "Hoarders" via Netflix. It's fascinating yet horrific. The good thing is that it makes me want to clean my own house (which is not so good if I watch an episode before bed). Some of these people are so obviously mentally ill that it just hurts to watch, but there are some who honestly do appreciate the help.

3. We bought Elanor's Princess Tiana's Halloween costume last night, and she is so excited. The hard thing for her is going to be waiting for Halloween! We bought Violet's outfit too; now we just need to get William's and we'll be set.

4. Collin's had a great week. He got a 98% in his first University of Phoenix class (starting out his UP career with a 4.0 GPA!) AND he got a 3% raise at work. Woohoo!

5. Violet's just getting over her first ear infection. Last Sunday night she spiked a fever of 104.5, which was pretty scary. Amazingly enough, she didn't need antibiotics; by the time I took her to the doctor, it was getting better on its own so the doctor gave us a prescription just in case it flared up again. Luckily, it hasn't.

6. My grandmother bought her plane ticket; she's arriving for her annual visit on January 23! She's especially excited to see baby Violet again. :)

7. Collin is going to Fargo for a visit October 12-17. I wish we could all go, but it's just not possible financially. Collin's brother is helping out with his plane ticket as part of his Christmas/birthday gift, which is why he's able to go. I hope he has fun, but I'm going to miss him terribly (as will the kids).

7 Quick Takes Friday

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

1. My lunch today is warm mini pita bread rounds (from Trader Joe's) and roasted garlic hummus (also from Trader Joe's). Mmmmmmmm.

2. Collin and I are big garlic fans. Once, when we were in Winnipeg, Manitoba, we ate at a restaurant called Gilroy's. It's named after Gilroy, CA where something like 90% of the country's garlic is produced. I don't know if the restaurant still exists (it was November 2004 when we ate there), but it was incredible. Everything on the menu, from wine to dessert, incorporated garlic somehow. Our appetizer was whole roasted garlic cloves in olive oil. We spread it on French bread and it was marvelous.

I had a craving for that appetizer last week, probably because I had a bad cold (and garlic can help relieve cold symptoms), so I decided to try and replicate it. I've always been hesitant about roasting garlic; it seemed to me that it was a complicated process. However, I found it to be quite simple and easy. I used the instructions (with video!) at WikiHow and found it to be a much simpler process than I'd envisioned. The roasting garlic made the house smell wonderful. As a bonus, we finally were able to use the garlic press we received as a wedding gift (nine years ago!) but have never used. My only regret is that I never tried doing it sooner.

I plan to roast some more garlic this weekend, and I think I'll also try my hand at making homemade French bread (in my breadmaker) instead of store-bought.

3. 40 Days for Life has started up again. The nearest prayer location to my house is 40 minutes away but I think that's still closer than last year's location. I'll try to make it out there to pray a few times. I'm thinking about getting up an hour earlier and going to pray one morning a week, since it's sort of on my way to work (it's a bit of a detour, but not too bad). That way I wouldn't have to bring the kids with me (it's not that I don't want to expose them to pro-life work, more that I'm worried about their safety after what happened to Jim Pouillon). However, that would mean getting up around 4am (if not earlier), and it's hard enough getting up at 5am the way it is. I'll have to think about it more.

4. Richard Dawkins frustrates me. I read an article he wrote about the Pope, and I couldn't believe how rife it was with ignorance. (I hope it's ignorance and not deliberate lying, at any rate.) I understand that he is an atheist and does not believe in God or in Christianity, or in Catholicism for that matter. That's fine; he's entitled to his own beliefs and opinions. All I ask is that if he's going to attack Catholic beliefs, he should attack what Catholicism actually teaches instead of what he thinks it teaches. All that article did was build up a straw man and knock it back down. How does that educate anyone? It just promotes ignorance, and I thought that he, as an atheist, decried ignorance. Shouldn't he make the effort to learn not only what the Church teaches but why it teaches what it does so he could better repudiate it?

5. I love my Latin class (Learning Latin Through the Rosary) so far. The professor is captivating and dynamic and makes the material quite interesting. We've already learned the Sign of the Cross and the Hail Mary, and have started the Glory Be. One of the best parts about the class is that it's held the same day that the church has 5:00pm Confession and 5:30pm daily Mass, so I can attend both of those as well. It's a nice little oasis of peace for me in the midst of a busy week.

6. Elanor has a school project due on the 30th that involves making a family tree. I think we'll make a Christmas tree. We can cut it out of cardboard and use wrapping paper to decorate it, and use paper ornaments for everyone's name. I think I'm more excited about this project than she is. :P

7. I'm happy to say that work has finally calmed down somewhat; at the very least, I feel like my head is above water for the first time since July. I don't need to do overtime this weekend (yay!) for a change. Maybe I can actually get some housework done.

Happy Friday!

7 Quick Takes Friday

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

1. September is halfway through already. How did that happen?

2. I'm proud that I already have the kids' Halloween costumes planned. Elanor wants to be Princess Tiana (from "The Princess and the Frog"), so we decided to continue the theme and have William be a frog. Violet will be a firefly. They're going to be so adorable!

3. Violet has officially started solids! So far she's had oatmeal, pears, and bananas (she loved all three). I think we'll try some sweet potatoes this weekend. I captured her first taste of oatmeal on video; you can see it at YouTube. She's pretty much able to sit up by herself, too -- and she's trying so hard to crawl. Where did my tiny baby go?

4. Speaking of babies, my good friend Abbi and her husband Mike are expecting their first child to be born in late February! Abbi was the maid of honor at my wedding. I'm so excited for them -- becoming a parent is such an awesome experience.

5. I'm taking a Wednesday night class via the Institute of Catholic Theology called "Learning Latin through the Rosary." It's a lot of fun! The professor is fantastic; he's a former seventh-grade Latin teacher and he commented how he was looking forward to teaching people who are past puberty. :P I've always wanted to learn Latin, and learning the basics in a Catholic context is even better. Plus it's some nice "me" time once a week, something I've been sorely needing.

6. Elanor is going to a birthday party for one of her kindergarten classmates this weekend. When we went to Target to buy his birthday gift, I asked her what she wanted to buy him. Her reply, immediately, was "A sword!" So we bought him a Nerf sword and a pirate shield. His party is pirate-themed so I hope he likes it!

7. Speaking of pirates... Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, me hearties! September 19 be International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum! Avast! Belay!

7 Quick Takes Friday

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

1. Pursuant to my last Quick Takes post (in July! eep!) we did indeed get a new car -- a silver 2011 Nissan Versa! We got a bare-bones model with manual transmission and no stereo. Luckily, we had a relatively new car stereo (bought a few years ago for one of our older cars) just sitting in our garage, so we've had that installed and it looks great. It even has an auxiliary port so I can plug in my iPhone! Our new car gets 34 miles to the gallon, which is already saving us a bundle in gas expenses.

2. Elanor is doing well in kindergarten. She had a bit of a rocky start adjusting to the new schedule, and for some reason she balked at walking home from school with our daycare lady's son. This of course caused MK (daycare lady) to tell us the situation wouldn't work out, with her watching Elanor for free every day. *sigh* So, we've signed her up for before- and after-school care. It's expensive, but not as expensive as daycare. She starts next week.

3. Her schoolwork seems to be going well and she likes her teacher very much. I'd like to work with Elanor at home in terms of reading and writing -- anyone know of a good website with worksheets and such (preferably Catholic-leaning ones) that I can print out?

4. Collin and I celebrated our 9th anniversary by going out for a family meal at the Cheesecake Factory. YUM! I had a peach bellini, which was fantastic, and the lemon-herb roasted chicken. I also threw my diet out the window temporarily and had a piece of Reese's Peanut Butter Cup cheesecake. It was all delectable. I think we'll go back on my birthday!

5. We discovered there's a Famous Dave's BBQ next to the Cheesecake Factory, so we'll have go there at some point as well. Famous Dave's was one of our favorite places to eat when we lived in Minneapolis.

6. Collin bought Elanor a Pillow Pet (the unicorn) as a reward for doing better in school, and she loves it. In addition to sleeping with it she carries it around the house constantly. We bought one for our niece for her birthday as well, since she was begging her parents for one the last time she was at our place. (We got her a unicorn, too.) Now William is asking for one. It's a popular toy!

7. We don't have any big plans for Labor Day weekend; my niece's 6th birthday party is on Sunday so we're going to that, but otherwise, we're staying at home. It'll be nice to sleep in on Monday!

Nine years ago today...

September 1, 2001

What an amazing nine years it's been.

We moved three times (twice to a different state). We had five pregnancies, three incredible kids, and two babies we lost before birth. We jointly discovered the Catholic Church and converted, a move that wildly changed our lives for the better. We bought our first house and a new car. One of us finished college, and one of us just went back to school yesterday (he's doing an online program via the University of Phoenix). We visited Las Vegas twice and Disneyland once. We made it through some really rough times, and have had some really good times.

Here's to the next nine years.

I love you, honey.

starting my weight loss journey

I went to the OB/GYN on Friday (August 6) for an annual exam, and tipped the scales at 200 lbs. (I'm 5'6".) This is actually the first time I've had extra baby weight -- with my first two, I lost weight due to morning sickness in the first trimester and then gained very little weight during the pregnancy, so I ended pregnancy lighter than I started it. With Violet, I still lost weight but gained most of what I lost for a change, so I ended the pregnancy about the same as when I started it. And now I've gained more. Nursing doesn't seem to burn off a ton of calories for me, and my eating habits, I know, are terrible.

Anyway, I talked to my OB/GYN about it, and he gave me a kind of "come to Jesus" lecture about how if I wanted to lose weight, I couldn't wish it off; I had to be serious about making some lifestyle changes in my eating habits and exercising more.

I decided he was right. So I've contacted a nutritionist he recommended, and I subscribed to the Healthy Catholic podcast. Based on the info I learned from the podcast, I determined my Basic Metabolic Rate and downloaded some iPhone apps to help me count calories and track my progress. I've made plans for healthy meals and snacks. Luckily, there is a Trader Joe's very close to my work -- lots of healthy food!

I just purchased a new scale (we had one, but I think it got lost when we moved a year and a half ago and we've never replaced it) so I can track my progress. I'm also getting support from the wonderful ladies on the Catholic Answers Forums. Collin's being pretty supportive as well, although I think he was initially skeptical of my ability to keep it up.

So far I'm doing pretty well. I've managed to keep my daily food intake well under 1500, and I'm not constantly hungry like I thought I'd be. I highly recommend Daily Burn's Food Scanner iPhone app -- it's been incredibly helpful in counting calories.

I have some plans for exercising -- I'm going to purchase The Rosary Workout and perhaps some Walk at Home DVDs.

My goal is to lose 30lbs by Christmas.

7 Quick Takes Friday

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

1. Our $8K tax credit finally arrived! Woohoo! We were so happy the day it came then we went out to Red Lobster and had appetizers, entrees, dessert and wine.

2. The first thing we bought was a new dining room table to replace the rickety card table we've been using since we moved to AZ. It'll be delivered on August 2 and we can't WAIT. We realized, during the purchasing process, that it's the first piece of brand-new furniture we've ever purchased together -- all our other furniture has been secondhand or bought for us by a family member.

3. We're still looking at LCD TVs as well, but we haven't made a decision yet. There are a lot of choices!! I think we'll go with a 42", or maybe a 46" if we can find a good deal.

4. We may end up buying a new car (!) as our Ford Escort is slowly but surely dying. It has no air conditioning (estimate to fix is $500, which is about the car's value), the fuel tank has a leak and the windshield wiper fluid spayers have stopped working. We're thinking we may have to chalk it up as a loss and get something else. Since the summer heat started I've been taking the van to work, but I want to get a smaller, fuel efficient car to take to work every day -- driving the van is so wasteful (and expensive) when I'm the only one in it, especially given that I drive about 90 miles every day. I've been taking the Ford the last few days because the van needs a new battery (it's getting it today), and boy it's been HOT. If it was just the faulty A/C I could probably grin and bear it, but combined with the fuel tank issue and the windshield wiper fluid problem... it probably makes more sense safety-wise to get a new(er) vehicle.

5. Speaking of work, my immediate boss resigned to take a position at another company, so I've gotten a promotion of sorts. I've taken over four of his projects as well as his old office. One of my other co-workers is taking over the other half of his projects (and she has her own office now, too). It's weird, but good, to have my own little room after having cubicles for so long! I'm hoping that along with my new responsibilites will come more money, but I haven't heard anything about that yet. We'll see. In the meantime I'm just trying to juggle everything successfully!

6. In family news, Elanor starts KINDERGARTEN on August 9! I've met her new principal; a very nice lady. We'll meet her new teacher on August 5 and we'll probably get her school supplies the following weekend. She saw a picture of a Disney princess backpack in a Target flyer and it's all she's been able to talk about.

7. We're taking a quick weekend trip to Flagstaff, AZ this weekend to return my friend Rose's cat, whom we've been watching, to her. Should be fun -- beautiful area this time of year.

7 Quick Takes Friday

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

1. Violet had her 4-month check-up today. The doctor was a little concerned because she is slightly underweight. I don't have her exact stats yet (Collin took her, and I think he still has them) but I'm rather surprised -- she seems to be eating well, she has plenty of wet and poopy diapers, etc. She's just not gaining a lot of weight for some reason. I'm not sure what to do. The doctor (who I trust) advised supplementing with formula or rice cereal. I'm hesitant to do either. I'd rather do formula given that I'm wary about starting solids so early, but I worry that supplementing at all might detrimentally affect our breastfeeding relationship, and it's hard enough as it is pumping 3x per day. I'll have to do some more research before I make a decision.

2. Collin called the IRS today, and OUR AMENDED TAX RETURN HAS BEEN APPROVED!! We filed it back in April. A check for our $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit will be mailed late next week. WOOHOO!

3. The first thing we plan to do with the money is get our Ford Escort's air-conditioning fixed. It's around 110 degrees here lately, so I've been taking the van to and from work; I would much rather take our smaller and more fuel-efficient car, especially since I no longer need to take kids to/from daycare.

4. Another item high on our list is a dining room set. Since we moved to Arizona, we've been using a rather rickety card table and folding chairs. I desperately want a sturdy wooden kitchen table, one that will last us for years and years to come, and one that can seat at least five (preferably more, or at least one that has leaves so it can expand for company and such). I'm thinking something like this. If you have a recommendation, let me know!

5. We're also considering purchasing a flat-screen LCD TV (40"-42") and Nintendo Wii as a joint anniversary gift (our 9th anniversary is September 1). Flat-screens have really come down in price, and we've both really wanted a Wii ever since they came out. We've never had the room or the money for either until now. Again, any recommendations are welcome.

6. I may also try to talk Collin into getting a deep freeze so we can buy more meat and etc. in bulk, but we'll see about that. I think we'd rather both use the remainder of the money to pay off some debt and/or put into savings.

7. We had a terrific trip to Las Vegas last weekend. We didn't do everything we'd planned, but we certainly kept busy! I think my favorite parts were the Tournament of Kings at the Excalibur and the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay. The kids LOVED the Excalibur; they were thrilled to be staying in a castle. We bought Elanor a princess hat and she's hardly taken it off since we've been home. I think my dad had a fun time too.

We got home the evening of the 3rd. We went to a Rookie League baseball game, with a fantastic fireworks show afterward, on the Fourth of July. A great time was had by all!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

7 Quick Takes Friday

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

Wow, it's been a while since I've done one of these! Life is so busy that it's difficult to find the time to sit at the computer and do a blog post, and trying to post via iPhone is sometimes more trouble than it's worth. But I'm going to try and do better!

1. I'm very pleased that my blog (specifically, my conversion story entry) has been added to The Convert Journal. There are a lot of great conversion stories there -- check it out!

2. Violet will be four months old (!!) on July 5. The time has just FLOWN by! She is such a wonderful baby -- she smiles all the time and has started giggling and cooing adorably. She sleeps pretty well, although lately she's gotten cranky at night. I think she may be teething as well as she's a non-stop drool machine and wants to chew on everything. She's also trying to sit up on her own. Where'd my tiny newborn go??

3. Elanor is also growing by leaps and bounds. She is such a big help to me, especially when it comes to entertaining her brother and sister. Violet already adores her and always has a happy smile for her big sister. I can't believe my firstborn is starting kindergarten this fall! She's very excited and asks nearly every day if it's time to start school yet. Her current favorite book is Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney, all about a llama who starts school.

4. William is such a joy. He's loving imaginative play and is quick to laugh and tease. One of his latest exploits is to upend a wire mesh hamper over his head and walk around shouting, "Monster! Monster!" His favorite movie is Toy Story (both 1 & 2), and he constantly carries around a Woody doll that we bought him at the Disney Store. Like Elanor, he is enamored with his little sister and always wants to give her kisses. Here's a picture of him and his sister:

5. Over Memorial Day weekend, we visited Tombstone, AZ and the Kartchner Caverns. Tombstone was fun, if a bit kitschy, but Elanor was scared of all the fake gunfire. The Caverns were incredible and are a must-see for anyone visiting that area. They made me want to learn all about cave management!

6. For the fourth of July weekend, we're taking a quick trip to Las Vegas! Originally we planned to go to San Diego, but when the city (and possibly the state) decided to call for a boycott of AZ due to SB 1070, we decided that we wouldn't spend our tourist dollars there if they were so opposed to AZ residents visiting their state. At any rate, Las Vegas actually has quite a few family-friendly attractions, so we decided to go there instead. We're going to stay at the Excalibur.

7. My dad is flying down on June 30, and he is coming to Las Vegas with us! He's never been there so it should be a fun trip for him. I can't wait to see him again!

Authentic Feminism

I was so impressed by this post that I had to share.

From Dr. Gerard Nadal's "Coming Home" blog is the entry Authentic Feminism. Michelle posted the following follow-up comment to her words as quoted in the entry:

There’s a story behind my post.

I was at a pro-life demonstration a few weeks ago. It was an evening candle-lit walk through our city in rememberance of an unspeakable number of unborn children lost to abortion. It was a beautiful evening when young and old gathered together to say: this grieves us- we are impoverished by the loss of these children and the pain that has come to their mothers, their families and our state, and we want to help make it stop.

I fully intended to participate in the walk portion of the evening, until I was side-tracked. While hundreds of walkers assembled peacefully in the courtyard of a large church, fourteen (exactly, I counted) angry, disrespectful persons assembled outside the church property and with a few obscene signs, a handful of wire coathangers, and a megaphone, proceeded to try to disrupt the event.

At first, I tried to ignore them. I asked people in the courtyard to pray for them. But while a church leader spoke to the peaceful families assembling to walk, this little band of misfits were screaming the same stale, untrue slogans that I’ve heard a thousand times before.

I was trying to stay away, but the one that really got me going was “Pro-life, that’s a lie- you don’t care if women die!”

I was surrounded by many people I knew, including a doctor who helps women with no health insurance by delivering their babies for free; famillies who have opened their homes to pregnant teens kicked out by their own parents when they refused to abort; foster parents and adoptive parents; pastors who had organized baby gear drives for single mums; business owners who had donated time and services for pregnant mothers in crisis; and many more caring, pro-life people who certainly do care if women die- and not just the born ones, even if caring comes at considerably more personal sacrifice than screaming at strangers at an event you weren’t invited to attend.

And then there’s me. I have the utmost privilege of serving the women of my city full-time by coordinating an amazing team of (almost exclusively female) volunteers. Together, we offer free, compassionate care to women in crisis pregnancies, including pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, advice from midwives and nurses, crisis accomodation, parenting classes, baby and maternity gear and post-abortion trauma support. We rescue women from the brink of despair and offer them hope, help and real choices so that they can find the strength to protect and nourish their babies. We offer life-affirming solutions when all they have been offered so far is discouragement and death.

So that blog post was right out of the discussion I had with three of those fourteen misguided troublemakers that night. I approached them by asking for a rational, adult discussion instead of screaming lies, and they stopped yelling long enough to talk to me.

I heard lots of memorized straw-(wo)man arguments from them, and I kept coming back to the fact that I think their lives are more precious than even they think they are.

I said that I felt it would have been a tragedy if their mothers had aborted them while they were in the womb, contrary to their pro-choice position, which claims that their mothers’ abortion of them would have been empowering and didn’t need justifying. Whether, I’m right or you’re right on this point, I said, you still would have died. That saddens me and I would have protected you, while you want to celebrate and protect your mother’s right to have killed you.

I said that while pro-choice says “women can’t,” pro-life says that WE CAN. We CAN choose to love, even when it hurts. We CAN find innovative solutions to our problems. We CAN put the interests of others ahead of our own. We CAN, as individuals, and couples, and families and communities, find a way to care for both mother and child.

And at the beginning, before the baby is made, we CAN control our urges and make wise choices. We don’t need abortion- we need self control, support and the strength to stand up to the nay-sayers. Above all, we need self-respect. As Feminists for Life so succintly state, we should refuse to choose because we deserve better than abortion.

I said, you are saying that women CAN’T be equal to men unless we have access to chemicals or surgery to have our pregnancies destroyed. I said I believe we ARE equal to men already- exactly as we are, fertile uterus and all. If pregnancy makes our lives harder, it’s a sign that society, not biology, needs to change.

After all, I believe pregnancy is a sacred and essential task, and a privilege, not a burden, but one that we can choose to take up of our own free will, based on our personal life choices. I am totally pro-choice as long as your choices don’t infringe on someone else’s.

So I missed the walking portion of the evening. I did, however, exchange contact details with one of the young women, with promises to continue the discussion over coffee at a later date.

I jumped into a car and made it to the end point a few minutes before the peaceful crowd of walkers arrived. I’m sorry I missed the opportunity to walk through my city, arm in arm with hundreds of my caring, pro-woman AND pro-child brothers and sisters, but I think I perhaps accomplished more by staying behind.

I CAN speak the truth in love, and when all is said and done, love will win.

All I can say is, AMEN!

Back to work

I've been back at work for over a week now, and it's going well. 

The kids are going to a new in-home daycare that's only a block from our home, so Collin drops them off every morning. Since I'm able to go directly to and from work without having to detour and drop off kids at daycare, it's shaved 30 minutes (one-way) off of my commute and made it much less stressful.

I have to admit, being at work is somewhat relaxing. The nature of my job allows me to listen to my iPod most of the day, so it's a nice change of pace after riding herd for three kids under six. Still, I miss them.

Violet seems to be doing well with the transition, thank goodness. She's adapted well to bottle-feeding and so far I've been able to pump more than enough for her. Hopefully I can keep it up. I'm able to use an empty office near my desk to pump during my breaks -- very convenient. 

The biggest obstacle so far is finding time to keep up with the housework. Violet wants to nurse constantly in the evenings, to make up from being away from me, so it's tough to even scare up something for supper let alone do any dishes or laundry. I guess I can try catch up on weekends, but we seem to be making a lot of plans for weekends lately so chores keep piling up. Collin's new work schedule is M-Th (10 hr days) with Fri-Sun off, so I'm hoping he can help pick up the slack on his Friday off. Last night I wore Violet in the sling most of the evening, and I was able to pop in a load of laundry and do some prep for tonight's crockpot meal, so I think the sling will be my modus operandi from here on out.

As stressful as my days are, though, it's wonderful to come home to my baby's smile. Her grin of delight just melts my heart.

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