Friday, April 18, 2014

How Does a Mother Spend Good Friday?

How I think I should spend Good Friday (with more clothes, perhaps)

Since my conversion, I have traditionally spend the day almost entirely in silence. I was fasting, of course, and would mostly pray and do light housework. After the liturgy, I would watch the Passion of Christ, and then pray a rosary. I'd go to bed early with a rumbling belly. 

But not now.
"Mama, uppy!"

There's no shushing a sweet toddler, is there? I can't tell Zuzu not to shout "BUN-EY" with abandon, or to stop smiling because "Jesus died today!" It'd be a bit harsh, wouldn't it?

The ever-popular one shoulder look...

So instead, I'm trying to create our own cross buns at snack time, with 'eeee!' (tea) No upbeat music to clean to, and mostly quietly reading books. Early nap to prepare for the liturgy at 3pm. Preparations for tomorrow's meal and of course, Sunday. It helps that the weather has complied - overcast and rainy. It gives an appropriate feel.

Good Friday feels like a day I should be sad - a day I should just sit and think about Christ's Passion. But there are other ways to call to mind this ultimate sacrifice...showing Zuzu how to kiss Jesus' 'boo-boos' (showing her the five wounds of Christ on every crucifix we pass, and letting her touch and kiss each). 

So I dress for a funeral and try to convey to Susannah that today is that we think about Jesus even more than usual, that we think about his 'boo boos,' and offer what we have. Even our choice of clothing is an offering - she's wearing red and I'm wearing black. For reference, I'm wearing an outfit similar to the picture below, including the babywearing (although I'll probably opt for the Boba over a ring sling and lets be honest, 30 minutes in, I'll be barefoot in the back row because my feet hurt):

Good Friday

Good Friday by martij featuring black leather shoes
The great black hat is from Jen for my birthday, the dress is a similar one from Dillard's (on sale), the shoes are from Nordstrom Rack, and the purse is only in my dreams (I am almost always carrying this one instead - a lovely Christmas gift from my Uncle Chad and Aunt Paula).

Hope everyone has a peaceful Good Friday - however you can. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What the Heck is There to Say?

I'm sure you can tell - I haven't exactly been blogging up a storm here lately.

Mostly it's because I am busy (aren't we all?). I don't make time for it - I want to sit and browse endless for lingerie sales. (no really - this is my favorite way to waste time on the internet. I dream of finding an 80% off sale at Journelle where all the bras are in my size and made of sea foam colored lace and mesh. Also, it would be cool if Eberjey made my size or if Fleur of England cost the same as Wacoal). I know shoes and home wares from Anthropologie are the more acceptable forms of female obsession, but this is mine)

But what I'm really thinking is: what exactly do I have to say? To the world - to you, my readers (most of whom I have no clue who you are and others who stay anonymous, but I know you're reading).

I have a pretty great life, honestly. The struggles I endure are quite minuscule; they only seem large because I am so selfish and small. Sometimes, when I think of how good my life is, I get frightened - like God views life as a balancing scale, and he sees I'm tipping it way too much and he's going to send some cancer/death/poverty/etc. my way just to even it out.

I have also figured out that for most people, they don't want to read a happy blog. Happiness is boring. Y'know, like that Russian guy said: "happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Granted, I think my happiness might be unique because I'm not thin or good at photography (is that a prerequisite for a great mommy blog??), but still - I am an upper middle class white mom who works part-time as a youth director, but mostly stays at home. My husband's job has taken us to Rome and will soon take us to Ireland. Who wants to hear me cry about not fitting into jeans from seven years ago? (but seriously - I love those jeans and will never sell them because one day I will punish my body enough that it will shrink into the size 8 oblivion it needs to be to fit into those pants)

But what's the alternative? Write about how every third time I open my washing machine, a roach scurries into its depths? (it's terrifying - Florida is the land of bugs) Who wants to hear about my inexplicable ability to keep a clean house with only one child, or how I always end up throwing away food that's languishing in my fridge because our microwave broke like six months ago and sometimes, I'm just too lazy to turn the stove/oven on to reheat leftovers so I get take-out?

The truth is, I think I need to write a little of both - about our happiness and my corresponding snubs to the overtures of grace that God is constantly offering me. In the big picture, I have very few worries and am mostly happy. But in the day-to-day grind, sometimes I feel overwhelmed: by my stunning loss of ambition, with my own inadequacy as a house keeper, with my own materialistic desires, with my near pathological refusal to let anything bother me (because then I'd have to admit that something was wrong).

As I said to Calah the other night, the work is the glory. The work that I'm doing - in my life, with my family - that's what I have to share here. If I share it honestly, maybe then that'll be something worth saying.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Wedding Song

Breaking my blogging silence to chime in on Grace's wedding song link-up...

Flower girls, anticipating the day ahead

We have been married for 2, almost 3, years now. Looking back on our wedding, I see so many signs that I was just not myself at that particular moment in my life. But one thing that stands out as something that absolutely was me, was us, is our wedding song: Umbrellas by Sleeping at Last.

I do not have the pictures of our reception on this computer...but that's okay, because I really liked the ceremony better! 

One of my favorite aspects of Tom and I's friendship, and then our courtship, was the music that traced the narrative arc of our relationship. As friends, we passed burned CDs back and forth - "check out this band" and "I love this composer." We so enjoyed sharing what we had discovered. And when our friendship deepened into romantic love, he shared with me a mixed CD I will never forget - the CD we listened to the entire summer of 2009. Each song means so much to me, but Umbrellas had a prophetic call for us both - especially the line about "we'll bring a child into this world." It spoke of all we wanted for our love - to bear witness to the beauty of each other's lives, and for that love to overflow into another person.

And it did. 

PS: Dyed my hair red. 
Guess I really am panicking over my last year in my twenties (I turn 29 on Sunday). 

Just call me 'Red.'

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Still Fighting with Feminism

Somehow, what I considered inconceivable has happened:

I'm a working mom. 

I never wanted to be a working mom. I've always been certain that when I had babies, I'd stay at home with them. It's what I grew up with, and what my husband grew up with - and that's what we both feel comfortable with. It was my dream, honestly.

Yet this is the second time I've been asked to serve as youth director, but this time I've been asked to  stay on permanently. I said yes because I have a deep concern about the program and how its instability is affecting our youth. I found, accidentally, that I have a deep love and passion for teaching our faith to just about anyone - teenagers, adults, young children.

But where does this leave my family? I am strongly believe in the need for a mother in the home. I do think it makes a difference when a family doesn't have someone in charge of their full-time management. This has less to do with some sort of Victorian angel-in-the-home concept, and more to do with practical realities: most women want to stay home once they have children, they want to work on their terms (not the male dominated paradigm of 9-5), and a home functions better when there is someone in charge of it. No one walks into a grand hotel and thinks it looks good and runs efficiently on its own - we know that there is competent management in charge. Yet our homes are so much more than hotels, and spiritually, they are more than a place to put our stuff: they are a place where we need to be able to invest our hearts in our family members.

I believe in the Home. But I also believe in my work. How do I balance these two competing spheres, both of which would take all of my time and energy if I let them?

I'm still fighting with these two parts of my life. On one hand, I hate even the word feminism. I hate what it implies: that equality is only achieved by number parity, that to be as good as men we have to renounce what makes us women, that staying at home is somehow degrading, that our bodies hold us back and should be suppressed. On the other hand, I have personally experienced sexism more frequently than I ever could have imagined - in high school, at all three of my institutes of higher learning, and even in my parish. There is clearly a problem in our society that cannot be completely rectified by trying to force society back into mindsets from past years - because these problems existed then as much as now. And I do think part of the solution is women who are called to work to embrace their work: to bring their feminine charisms to the workplace, and refuse to be objectified or suppressed. (this is much of the message of John Paul the Great's letter to women, Mulieris Dignitatum)

As Catholics, the last thing we should be afraid of is a strong woman with a call to work. Mary, our Mother, is the Queen of the Saints and Angels - Queen of Heaven. The person to achieve the greatest heights of holiness, who wasn't God, is a woman. I am trying to keep that in my mind as I pray my way through this, but honestly, it's sometimes a challenge. I love Mama Mary, but I can't imagine her answering emails, rushing to yoga, negotiating hours. I sometimes struggle imagining her doing anything but happily sacrificing every waking hour to do housework.

Maybe what I'm doing is the most trail blazing thing I could do: refusing to let existing norms dictate what God is calling me to do. There wasn't anyone like St. Catherine of Siena before she existed so...guess I'm out to create another way to be a saint.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

{P - H - F - R}

Easing back into the blogging game here with a little link-up action! 

round button chicken


Zuzu has been enjoying our temperate early Spring by sporting some truly awesome headgear and playing outside with chalk and the hose nearly every day. Our next door neighbor, Macie, who is 8, comes over to play most days after school and really makes Zuzu's day! I believe it is for this reason that Zuzu says, every day when she wakes up from her afternoon nap, "Mimi?"(her name for Macie - and both of Macie's sisters, Marren and Mia). 


Things are growing in my garden! My orchid is blooming (thanks Mom - the gift that keeps on giving!), and my mint in the little pot is coming up too. Unfortunately, the last picture above shows you Zuzu picking off one of the more promising stalks. 


I put a potty seat out on the porch and have started talking to Zuzu about it, just because I need something else to do in parenting. At this point, she thinks it's a really fun chair for her to sit on and sometimes, pee next to. 
Cracks me up.


To be honest, I'm really struggling with the housekeeping part of my vocation. The above pictures are documented proof that although my child is adorable, my home is largely a disaster! Between working and getting sick three times in three months, I've gotten a little bit behind. I'm hopeful that after Confirmation this Monday, I'll get some breathing room! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

round button chicken

Trying my hand at linking up again with my favorite AUTHORS over at Like Mother, Like Daughter!

(Have you preordered their book for me yet, darling husband? Will you please?) - see aren't blogs such useful communication tools! 


We had to get my phone repaired again the other week (ahem, Zuzu) and whilst stuck downtown waiting for it to be repaired, we realized we had walked into a MLK parade and festival! How fun! We had a great time walking around Cambier Park, and Zuzu is shown here, paying her respects at the Veteran's Memorial and Fountain. 


Do you ever look through your pictures and realize…no one would know you exist judging by them?? 
We have a million pictures from Zuzu's first year, but so few of them are of the two of us! Usually I am capturing she and Daddy, or just the cuteness herself. I was very proud that Tom nabbed the camera the other day while we were eating out to celebrate Zuzu's baptism day. Proof that I exist! 

Friday is our playdate day. There's a standing one with the Catholic Mom's Group, but I also sometimes  just hang out with one of my good friends and her little one, Stella. The other week I went to the Mom's Group meeting - lots of kids, big playground, gorgeous day and what does my child do…

Beg to run away into the woods.

I hope she hasn't inherited my antisocial tendencies. I was really thinking she'd inherit her father's lovely sanguine ways.


Getting back from vacation is always daunting because I have to dive right back into work and yet there are no groceries, piles of laundry, and the like. It always makes me grumpy for a good several days because I feel overwhelmed and behind! 
When will I learn from my younger self? We built an extra two days on the backend of our honeymoon, so we wouldn't come back and jump right back into work. Why don't I do that for vacation?? Oh…because I don't HAVE those extra days anymore! 

I have about seventy five thousand blog posts in the hopper. 
Maybe one of them will see the light of day before Monday.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Am I Heartless if I Don't Adopt?

To everything there is a season; to every argument a counterargument; in every life, a balance to be struck. But a huge question that keeps haunting me is: is there really a balance to be struck with adoption discernment? Or is it simply, if I don't adopt, I'm heartless? 

My husband and I had a great, honest conversation the other night. We had received some detailed information about a child in another country, and we were able to look through it and really see what it would mean to adopt that child from that country. We looked at each factor in turn, giving our opinions honestly as we could.

We had to face the costs - probably about $25,000. Despite thinking about fundraising and the tremendous support of the Reece's Rainbow community, that number is so daunting.

We had to face our fertility - and the fact that we do want to have more children biologically. Abstaining is unnatural; it is natural that a husband and wife come together to have children. And we just don't feel comfortable bringing home a special needs child and a newborn - either at the same time, or within a very short window. We're not sure that would be fair to either child, and we're not exactly pros at balancing multiple children yet!

We had to face our fears - both of ours, honestly. My greatest fear is that I will ruin everything (I do have a flair for the dramatic). That we will adopt and it will really hurt our family - that it will hurt my marriage, hurt Zuzu, hurt our family. The fact is that right now, we live a rather idyllic existence. We have a great rhythm as a family, my marriage is happy and healthy, our baby bright and well-adjusted. We have a good community and good jobs. We are beyond blessed.
I am frightened to introduce strife. I am frightened that we will adopt a child and the child will bring with them so much hurt, so much pain, so much - that it will sink us. We will be ill-equipped and we will fall apart under the strain of it all. Would it be that child's fault? God no. But I am even more frightened that in our weakened state, we would blame that child - we would blame that child for the wreck of our idyllic life.

It all feels like too much right now. I wonder if, after we have another child, it will seem easier - maybe our life will be more chaotic, our first child will already have shown her less-than-angelic side, we'll be less afraid of getting some mud on the tires of our life, as it were.

But that makes me feel so heartless. Especially when I read things like this. That…that was really, really hard.

I want love to be enough. I want to be able to make it work in my family, right now, no matter what. I feel like I can't breathe when I think about what some of these children are enduring, when I realize the stark contrast between their childhoods and my only baby's charmed life. I want to mother the world - I always have. Not unlike my own mother, who would take in my stray friends and treat them like one of us, I just don't see many distinctions. I am a mother, and they are children, so why shouldn't they belong to me, if a place to belong is what they need?

But I have to balance this heart with the realities of my life, and that fact that I have a little person I am already responsible for, and a man to whom I have pledged my life who gets a rather big say too. That is hard - I hate being restricted by anything, I hate having to realize that life isn't a movie, that no one comes in to make it all better at the eleventh hour. Sometimes you have to say "not now" to a desire - even good, holy desires.

Right now, our adoption plans are...on hold. I don't know for how long - maybe it just means we've stalled out on international adoption. Maybe domestic is still in the works. It doesn't mean there aren't other things I can do to help, and it doesn't mean we'll never adopt. I'm probably still going to blog about it - because it is on my heart a lot these days. Adoption has forced me to look at so many aspects of myself, has made us dig deeper as a couple, and as Christians. We have to see where this takes us, but it doesn't seem like it's international adoption right now - unless or until God shows a way, softens hearts, opens doors, reveals a path. If I'm open enough, I know it'll happen - in His time.