I'm a Guardian Angel!

I'm so pleased and honored to report that I've become a Guardian Angel for the adorable Steven at Reece's Rainbow!

Look at this sweet face:

Isn't he just a little doll? From his RR page:

This little one is SO cute!   Wispy brown hair and giant brown eyes, Steven is HIV positive and has fetal alcohol syndrome.    Steven is described as a sweet and affectionate  boy.  He is perfectly mobile with no physical delays.    He needs a loving family so he can reach his full potential!

From one of our adoptive families who visited with him in April 2012:  can tell that he has FAS (by his facial features). Very petite.   Bad teeth poor thing, very worn down.   But a happy friendly playful guy, shared nicely.  Waited his turn.  Ran around chasing bubbles with the rest of them.


How is it possible that sweet Steven only has $10.00 in his adoption account?? I'm going to make it my personal mission to make sure that number increases!

If you or someone you know might be interested in adopting Steven, this is a great article: 8 Surprising Facts About Adopting HIV-Positive Kids


The lovely Amber at Making the Moments Count tagged me in this meme and I am happy to participate. It's like ├╝ber-Quick Takes!

The Rules:

1. Post the rules.

2. Post a photo of yourself along with 11 random facts.

3. Answer the questions given to you in the tagger’s post.

4. Create 11 new questions and tag new people to answer them.

5. Visit the people you tagged to let them know.

That's me with my MIL, Vicki. Sadly, it's the most recent picture of me I have. My hair's a bit shorter now.

11 Random Things

1. Almost every night, I nurse Gabriel to sleep while watching an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger (gotta love DVR). I have a weakness for watching Chuck Norris kick butt, and I think Clarence Gilyard is very cute.

2. I love barbershop quartets, and enjoy watching YouTube videos of the international barbershop quartet competitions. Like this one:

3. I'm a sucker for good mystery novels, and I'm working my way through Sue Grafton's books at the moment. I'm currently on "M is for Malice."

4. I also love the "In Death" series by J.D. Robb (a.k.a. Nora Roberts). I own almost all of them.

5. I was named after two relatives: my uncle Joel and my great-grandmother Anna.

6. My middle name is boring. It's Renae. (No offense to any readers named Renae/Renee out there...) My mom said she picked it because it sounded nice with JoAnna.

7. When I was confirmed, I picked St. Anne as my confirmation saint. I kind of regret that now, because her name is already incorporated into my first name, so she was already my patron saint anyway. If I could do it again, I'd pick St. Catherine of Sienna.

8. Collin picked St. Gabriel as his confirmation saint, hence why our littlest has his name. :)

9. I am a total name nerd. For several years, I've belonged to a message board devoted to critiquing and discussing names.  I'm not very active there anymore, due to time constraints, but I still love a good name discussion.

10. I think we're going to get a pet fish fairly soon. Collin's dad found an aquarium at a garage sale and bought it for us. We'll probably go with him the first weekend in May to pick one out and get all necessary supplies. I can guess who is going to end up getting to clean the tank (sigh) but I am going to make the kids help me.

11. My favorite ice cream is Ben & Jerry's Half-Baked. Half cookie dough, half fudge brownie. Mmmm.

Amber's Questions

1. If you could have gone into any profession (apart from being a mom), what would you have done?

Right now, I'd love to get a Master's in Catholic Theology. I've always wanted to get a Master's in Library Science. I worked in a library in college (circulation desk clerk in the science library) and I absolutely loved it.

2. What are some items on your bucket list?

Travel to Italy and see the Vatican; go on a Catholic Answers cruise. (Or, take a Catholic Answers cruise to the Vatican and kill two birds with one stone.)

3. Do you have a favorite color? What is it?

Blue, any shade. 

4. Did you read the Hunger Games? Have you seen the movie? What did you think?  (I have selfish motives behind this question)

Yes, yes, and I thought the movie was very well done. I didn't like the shaky-cam at all, and there were some parts of the book that didn't make it into the story that I was kind of disappointed about, but otherwise I thought it was excellent. 

5. What places, foreign and local, have you visited? What were your favorites?

The only other foreign country I've visited is Canada, although if it's ever safe we do want to go to Mexico since we live so close to the border. Locally, I love Kartchner Caverns. They're absolutely amazing. The Grand Canyon was impressive as well.

6. Did you attend college? Why or why not?

Yes, I went to the University of Wyoming for two years, and then I transferred to the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and completed my undergraduate degree there. I have a B.A. in English and a minor in Technical Communication.

7. What are some things you are passionate about?

Catholicism, the human rights of unborn children, natural childbirth.

8. Do you read parenting books?

Occasionally. I like Parenting with Grace by Greg Popcak, and pretty much anything from The Sears Library.

9. Any book/movie recommendations?

See my random facts above! I recently bought the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert and it's terrific.

10. Serious or funny?

It's not either/or, it's both/and -- depending on what's called for in a given situation. ;)

11. Preferred music genre?

I was a big country music fan as a teen, but not so much anymore. These days I mostly listen to classical, showtunes, barbershop quartets, some Christian music. I'm rather eclectic. I love Jonathan Coulton.

 I'm too lazy busy to do the new people/new questions part, so anyone who feels inclined can steal Amber's questions for this meme. :)

Correcting Misinformation

In the course of doing some research on the various methods of NFP, I came across this site from Cornell University's health department. It begins with this little gem:

The first ten words were enough to make my blood boil. Although I figured it was a futile gesture on my part, I hunted up a contact e-mail address and sent a message:

You have some misinformation on this site: http://www.gannett.cornell.edu/topics/sexual/birthcontrol/contraception/natural.cfm

It says, "Natural family planning, (sometimes known as "the rhythm method").... which is false.

The rhythm method (or, more accurately, the Calendar Method) is a form of NFP but by no means the only one, so to imply that "NFP" and "rhythm method" are interchangeable terms is false and misleading, especially given that the Calendar Method is the least effective form (as few women have perfectly consistent 28-day cycles).

Other, more reliable methods of NFP include:

Billings Ovulation Method
Creighton Method
Marquette Method
SymptoThermal Method
Fertility Awareness Method

Please research these accordingly and update your site to correct the misinformation.

Like spitting in the ocean, right? Still, it made me feel a teeny bit better.

Imagine my surprise when I received a reply (emphasis mine):

Hi JoAnna,

Thank you for your message. I have shared it with one of our sexual health clinicians and she agreed that there are, yes, a variety of methods, of which “rhythm” is the most well-known among laypersons. And yes, many of the other methods are more effective. We appreciate your close reading of our website and will be updating it shortly.

In health,

Heather [redacted], MPH
Public Health Communications Specialist
Gannett Health Services

If you heard screams of frustration coming from the general direction of the Phoenix metro area earlier this morning, that was probably me.

My response:

Um, no, rhythm is NOT the most well-known among laypersons, unless you're in a time machine and have traveled back to 1969. What is the sociological basis for that assertion?

No reply as of yet. I'll update this post if there is one. In the meantime, anyone want to drop them a line informing Heather that her "sexual health clinician" needs a little re-education? Let's show them just how well-known NFP is among laypersons!

(And don't get me started on the assumption that all NFP users "are are opposed to, or don't want to use, other contraceptive options" - gah!)

Violet's Other Birthday

Violet's Other Birthday -- that is, the anniversary of her baptism, her new birth in Christ -- was on Saturday, April 14. I knew it was in mid-April but couldn't remember the exact date, so I finally looked it up.

I wish I had remembered on the actual day, but better late than never, right?

7 Quick Takes Friday - April 13, 2012

--- 1 ---

It's Friday the 13th! Here's a good article from Snopes.com on how the day came to be considered as unlucky.

--- 2 ---

I need to spend the weekend getting the clothes situation at my house managed. It's terrible. I have Mt. Laundry in my bedroom, and all clean laundry that is done is hanging out in clothes baskets. I think the kids' dressers are full of outgrown stuff. Here's hoping I can work all day Saturday with minimal interruption (isn't that a lovely fantasy...).

Actually, what I need to do is take a day off of work, so I can have 8 solid hours alone in the house to get it done... but I'm always hesitant to burn my flex time in case I need it for illness (either mine or kids'). Sigh. So much to do, so little time.

--- 3 ---

I admit, shamefully, that I am delighted by the fact that there is now a Wal-Mart two miles from my house. I know, Wal-Mart is the devil, etc. Still, it'll be nice not to have to drive to the busiest part of Surprise to go to the very crowded Wal-Mart there when I want to get diapers or cheap clothes or other stuff.

Apparently they had the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile there for their grand opening. Sadly, I was not there and did not get to see it.

--- 4 ---

I wrote an article for my company blog! Feel free to click over and take a look (or even comment if you are so inclined) -- it looks good for me if there are a lot of pageviews. :)

--- 5 ---

I bought a necklace from Cammie's shop, Full of Grace Creations, and it arrived yesterday! It's so beautiful - I can't wait to wear it to Mass on Sunday.

--- 6 ---

Collin and I have become quite addicted to the iPhone game Draw Something. It's basically Pictionary. I'm terrible at it (plus drawing on a little iPhone screen with just your fingers is difficult), but we have fun.

--- 7 ---

I'm sorry, these are lame quick takes. My brain is fried from a very long week, and the fact that I didn't really get to sleep in at all last weekend is taking its toll. I think I'll let the kids stay up a bit later tonight just so they don't wake me up at the crack of dawn tomorrow.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Hilary Rosen says...

"I admire women who can stay home and raise their kids full-time. I even envy them sometimes. It is a wonderful luxury to have the choice. But let's stipulate that it is NOT a choice that most women have in America today." - source

Um, Hilary? What about the women who WANT to work outside the home but CAN'T because what they'd pay in daycare is more than they'd make as a salary? Or because illness (either their own, or a child's) or logistics (e.g., only one car and no jobs within biking/walking distance, in a city without reliable public transportation) makes it impossible? Realistically, sometimes being a stay-at-home-parent ISN'T really a choice.

Why not just admit that all mothers work hard regardless, and that every woman should be credited for doing what's best for her family?

And the first sentence of that paragraph is B.S. Let's look at the logic of your original statement:

"Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life."

Premise 1: Ann Romney has never worked.
Premise 2: Ann Romney raised 5 kids.
Conclusion: Raising 5 kids isn't work.


So either you were lying when you said Ann Romney has never worked, or you're lying in the HuffPo article. I think you're a liar no matter what, frankly, and your attitude is a disgrace to mothers and women everywhere.

How is Gestational Age Calculated?

Gabriel at 8 weeks past LMP (6 weeks after conception)
No, Arizona did not pass a bill that says a baby's life begins two weeks before conception. That is what's known as "maliciously false pro-abortion propaganda."

Here is the text that has everyone up in arms, from HB 2036:

4. "Gestational age" means the age of the unborn child as calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman.

I've been pregnant six times, and every care provider I've ever seen (two different OBs and a midwife, in two different states) has calculated pregnancy this way. In fact, with Gabe it was a bit of an issue because I insist on calculating my pregnancies based on conception date since I have long cycles, and the medical assistant at my OB's office only knew how to calculate gestation based on LMP (last menstrual period). But hey, don't take my word for it:

  • Calculating the day your baby begins to develop and keeping track of your pregnancy dates can be a challenge. The development of pregnancy is counted from the first day of the woman's last normal menstrual period (LMP), even though the development of the fetus does not begin until conception, which is about two weeks later. - American Pregnancy Association

  • In the UK pregnancy is calculated from the first day of the woman's last period so for as much as three weeks of this first month she might not be actually pregnant. - BBC News

  • The average length of a pregnancy is 40 weeks, or 280 days, from the first day of the last normal menstrual period. - Discovery Health

  • Pregnancy is measured using “gestational age.” Gestational age starts on the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period (LMP). - Planned Parenthood

Yes, that's right - Planned Parenthood determines gestational age in the exact same manner as stated in HB 2036! Bet HuffPo missed that little factoid.

Easter recap & prayer buddy reveal

Prayer Buddy Reveal for those who don't want to read the very bloggy recap:

I had the honor of praying for Perfect Power in Weakness, and was prayed for by Gina at Jeremiah 29:11. Thank you, Gina, for your prayers!

Whew, what a Triduum. It seems as if I blinked and it was over!

A quick recap:

We had planned to go to Maundy Thursday services, but then Elanor threw up at school and had to come home. I was panicking, envisioning a bout of the flu over Easter weekend, but I think it was an emotional upset more than a physical problem (she had a sub at school that day and the change in routine really upset her). She was fine by Thursday evening but we opted to stay home, just in case.

I took Friday off of work, as I don't like working on Good Friday unless it's unavoidable. (Last year I didn't work on Good Friday, but only because I was newly pregnant with Gabe and ended up spending the entire day alternatively throwing up and wishing for drugs, which I eventually got, thus narrowly avoiding a trip to the ER. Good times.) Collin had the day off as well, but our daycare was still open so we dropped the older 3 off in the morning as usual.

Gabe had his 4-month check-up on Friday morning, so Collin and I took him to that. Little peanut is 13lbs 9oz (15th percentile for weight). He's grown 2.5 inches since his last check-up - can't remember what percentile, but like all my kids he's long and skinny. He amazed his pediatrician by constantly trying to roll off the exam table.

We had planned to go to pray at Planned Parenthood with Bishop Olmsted at 11am, but Gabe's appointment ended up running long so we didn't have time. :( Instead, we stopped by my eye doctor and got my glasses fixed (Violet got her hands on them and bent them badly a week or two ago, but the optometrist was able to repair them - yay for being able to see at night - and didn't even charge me!).

We made it over to Our Lady of Lourdes in Sun City West for Stations of the Cross at noon.

We went to a Vietnamese place for our one meal of the day, and I had vegetarian fried rice - delicious. When we were done eating we headed over to our new bank to set up our new checking account (we're switching over from Chase for a variety of reasons) and then went to Prince of Peace in Sun City West for their solemn 3pm Good Friday service. (Oddly, our home church didn't have a 3pm service, only a 6:30pm one, and we wanted to go to a service with only Gabe in tow and not the other 3).

After the service we stopped over at Collin's grandparents' place to pick up the turkey they'd bought for Easter dinner, and made it back to our place in time to pick up the kids. I made them supper and they were put to bed early so that Collin and I could watch "The Passion of the Christ," a Good Friday tradition for us.

Easter Saturday was busy getting things ready for the following day. Collin went out to a shooting range with his dad and brother in the morning while I took the kids out grocery shopping (and we had our housecleaner come over to get everything cleaned up!). We had planned to attend the Easter Vigil that evening, but my MIL came down with a migraine so we decided to go the next morning instead. I worked on various projects for Easter Sunday and Collin rode herd over the kids. We watched The Bells of St. Mary's and Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert.

We had planned to go to the 7am Easter service, but my alarm didn't go off. (?!) Of course, that was the one night this week when Gabriel decided to sleep in and not to wake up at 5am to eat. We woke up at 6am and tried to get ready fast, but we didn't get to church until 7:15am. Instead of being horribly late we decided to hit the 9am service instead. So, we grabbed breakfast, ran home to put the turkey on the George Foreman grill (yes, really) and headed back to church. Despite getting there early, it was still jam-packed and standing room only (which is why I generally prefer the Vigil, but MIL really wanted to come to church with us). I was able to get a seat since I was holding Gabriel, but everyone else had to stand. :( Still, it was a lovely service.

We went back home and the mad preparations for Easter dinner got underway. We pulled it off and feasted merrily. The kids had an Easter egg hunt after dinner, and we spent the day eating and visiting. I got no pictures of the kids (I left that to my FIL, who got a ton) but here are some highlights I captured:

I made an Easter wreath for the front door (thank you, Pinterest).

I also borrowed a fancy Bundt mold from my neighbor and made Rainbow Jello (another Pinterest find).

The Rainbow Jello looked pretty neat even after it was cut up for storage!

The cross suckers were a big hit too! (This idea was from Catholic Icing.)

Everyone left around 5pm and we relaxed by watching one of the kids' Easter gifts, Winnie-the-Pooh, and then The Muppets. I dozed off, woke up, did a bit of laundry, and went back to bed. I have so many leftovers I won't have to cook for a week!

I hope you all had a very blessed Easter, and big congrats to Kara's husband, Kyle, on his baptism on Saturday night!

Prayer to Jesus Christ Crucified


My good and dear Jesus,
I kneel before You,
asking You most earnestly
to engrave upon my heart
a deep and lively faith, hope, and charity,
with true repentance for my sins,
and a firm resolve to make amends.
As I reflect upon Your five wounds,
and dwell upon them
with deep compassion and grief,
I recall, good Jesus,
the words the Prophet David spoke
long ago concerning Yourself:
"They pierced My hands and My feet;
they have numbered all My bones."

Heaven help us.

Someone on Twitter just told me that not only is abortion okay, but women actually have a moral obligation to abort their children if they can't financially provide for them.

Or, as he put it, "...predict within reason the ability to provide a decent quality of life to the future person."

I wish I was joking.

"Safe, legal, and rare" is dead. It's become "abortion on demand with no apology."

Heaven help us. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

On This, We Agree

The latest issue of the anti-Catholic newsletter Proclaiming the Gospel arrived in my e-mail inbox this morning (I'm subscribed as an apologetics exercise -- it's easier to respond to the arguments of anti-Catholics on the spot if you know what their positions are beforehand).

I've mentioned my frustrating e-mail exchanges with professional anti-Catholic Mike Gendron before, but this time I have to give props to him. He said something with which I wholeheartedly agree:

Let us have a greater compassion for people committed to a religion without any real understanding of what the religion is about. For example, to be "committed to Roman Catholicism" simply because a person was born into a Catholic family is foolish. To be loyal to a religion without investigating its core doctrines and history, is complacent ignorance masquerading as faithfulness. People who follow religious leaders and rituals blindly are either too proud, too lazy or too intellectually dishonest to admit their lives are empty and too paralyzed by deceit to investigate the truth. They do not know why they believe what they do. They have blindly inherited someone else's tradition. Their religion determines their identity and they will defend it even if they are not actively involved in it. Their faith is so "personal" that they dare not speak of it to others?
(emphasis mine)

Amen, Mike. On this, we agree. I was complacent in the denomination of my birth until Collin told me his intention of converting to Catholicism. Once I started investigating the beliefs of my Lutheran faith, I found that they didn't stand up to rigorous intellectual scrutiny, or logic (and I found that the ELCA's beliefs on abortion were equally illogical and contradictory).

As a result, I converted too, and I found out that truly faithful, practicing Catholics didn't just blindly follow the Vatican but rather recognized that the teachings of their faith fit perfectly along a logical continuum. And now I'm always ready and eager to give a reason for the hope that is in me (1 Peter 3:15).

Welcome to The Catholic Working Mother

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