Mrs. Potato Head

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Um.  This woman is carrying about 400 ‘taters on her head. I complained for about 20 minutes the other day when I had to carry a load of laundry up the stairs. (Slight exaggeration, it was about 14 minutes of complaining).

I have seen women carry things on their head before – but this is just a new level of crazy. She makes my CrossFit workouts look like child’s play. What was that? You want me to do 500  squats with 35 watermelons on my head? No problem, start the clock.

So for sheer cranial strength, today this woman is my extraordinary woman of the day.

Sex Trafficking

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In Spanish class in high school we always had to take a Spanish name at the beginning of the year. I was always given Eugenia. I hated it. For four long years I had to endure my professora greeting me with a “Hola Ew-HEY-nia!” I don’t know why it got under my skin so much, I suppose when you’re a freshman in high school and too cool for school these things matter.

Fast forward almost 20 years and I find one of my heroines in life named Eugenia… Sister Eugenia Bonetti. Sr Bonetti is a true servant of Christ reaching out to women who have been victims of sex-trafficking, a subject that is very near to my heart. Italian born, Sister Bonetti is a part of the Consolata Missionary Sisters and leads a team of approximately 200 sisters throughout Italy working full time in various aspects of anti-trafficking initiatives. With over 110 shelters these sisters graciously open their homes to help rehabilitate these women who have been physically and emotionally raped, beaten and tortured sometimes for years. These women are coerced through drug addiction and/or threats of violence on themselves or their family. With Sister Bonetti’s team these women are able to begin the long journey of healing their hearts and bodies.

Hashi is a17 year old forced into prostitution in Bangladesh.
Image by Andrew Biraj / Reuters

Sex trafficking has spared no country.  This heartbreaking photo was taken of a 17 year old sex slave in Bangladesh; she earns between $9 and $12 a day after “servicing” 15-20 men. A photo like this holds the world accountable – no person should ever be for sale. Ever.

Sister Bonetti’s service is nothing short of saintly. She has dedicated to serving those who most of society would rather forget about or blame. Sister Bonetti is an extraordinary woman. My prayers are with her as she continues this necessary and difficult work. For other extraordinary women in this field you can ready about Kru Nam and Anuradha Koirala.

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me. Mathew 25:40

 

For more pictures like these visit here

7 Quick Takes with ecards!

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I was feeling a little saucy this afternoon so I added a precious ecard for my thoughts.

1. Mia is 9 weeks old and I think its time to start running again. I hope to get crack-a-lackin on that this afternoon. I was perusing my wardrobe yesterday and realized I like it, and therefore, would someday like to fit back into it.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Speaking of loosing weight, its a wonderful time of year for that. I love me some Thanksgiving, so do my hips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. With the upcoming holidays I am feeling more prepared than usual. I know what I am getting everyone on my list – most of which I have already taken care of. I am looking forward to a prayerful Advent! I will also be able to make a ton of Christmas cookies to share because….drumroll please…. I received an early Christmas present – a new Kitchen Aid mixer! Thanks mom! (If you missed it you can read my tale of mixer woe here.)

 

 

 

4. I am thinking that I am going to have share some of my Nana’s cookie recipes. She was like a Jedi master in the kitchen always trickin’ out brownies and whippin’ up some yum yums.They are all so delish and  she always made the holidays great. Nothing better than Nana, cookies, and wine. Sounds like a good night.

 

 

 

 

5.  Speaking of my Nana – saw this today and thought it was hilarious.

Lets eat Grandma

Lets eat, Grandma.

See kids – commas save lives!

 

 

 

 

6. I may have been completely out of the loop for the longest time but I just recently started using Evernote. I have it on my iphone and my computer.  It has helped my  normal scatterbrained self stay slightly under hot mess status. If you haven’t tried it you should – its free and awesome. (And if this is like me finding Facebook after the world had been on it for about 2 years then please disregard… )

 

 

 

7. And as for my extraordinary women in photography – another one tomorrow! I had to take a Quick Take break to share 7 unnecessary thoughts from yours truly :)  Now go check out Jen!

Death of a mother and son

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Yesterday was one of those days where you are so desperate you change all your clocks back an hour to fool the kids into thinking its bedtime. (Yay for an end to daylight savings so the sun couldn’t betray me!) For most of the day all of my best efforts weren’t quite hitting the mark and I found myself super frustrated by 8 p.m. when nothing that needed to get done that day seemed to have gotten done.

As a stress reliever I decided to take 30 minutes to jump on my blog and just clear my mind of my daily upsets. Knowing I wanted to do a week of highlighting extraordinary women through photographs I decided to do some searching for photos that really made a powerful statement. That’s when I came across this photo and I started to cry.

Yup, sitting here alone at the kitchen table with a half eaten granola bar and my 3rd cup of coffee I started to cry. I think this photo gave me something called perspective.

Here I was all poopy pants over an inconvenient day. Mia acquired the skill of screaming incessantly, the garbage disposal broke, my laptop has a virus, waa waa waa…

*Cue a tiny violin playing for me in the background*    Woe is me.

I look at this photo and I think how sinful it is for me to take for granted all the wonderful things I have in my life. What a blessing it is to have the opportunity to care for my screaming little Mia in a safe and comfortable home. The devastating grief and fear this woman must have endured for herself and for her child, I cannot even imagine. I think about the moments leading up to this photo, and of course, the days after…

This time of year it is especially important to recognize the blessings we have all around us. I’m lucky to have a car and gas to fuel it – even when I am stuck traffic. I am lucky to have a job – even when it has me spinning in a million directions. And I am lucky for the beautiful gift of children – even when I am setting the clocks back to secretly get them to bed early so I can have a glass of wine and five seconds of peace.

This moment, captured by the lens of a camera, offered me the perspective I needed to give thanks. When this picture was taken I am sure she had no idea its reach or power to move hearts. I appreciate this woman posing for this picture, sharing her moment of happiness and then called to endure the unthinkable. Truly extraordinary.

I pray she has peace in heaven, reunited with her little one.

A link to this picture and more about women survivors of the Holocaust can be found at HERE

Thank you to our lady veterans!

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As a military wife I am surrounded every day by soldiers who selflessly serve their country. My favorite of these soldiers is my husband. He is a wonderful husband, father and soldier and I love him so much.  Thank you for your service Mister!!

Women have selflessly served in every war this nation has ever fought. Their service is often overshadowed by the war stories of men, but their stories are just as important. To all the wonderful ladies in my life who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan I want to say thank you. You are my extraordinary women of the day!

Below is a short history of women who have served this nation as heroes:

During the Revolutionary War Debora Samson enlisted disguised as a man, calling herself Robert Shurtliff; Deborah served for over a year as “Robert”. Other women accompanied the Revolutionary soldiers cooking, washing clothes and creating a semblance of home for the men.

Dr. Mary E. Walker is the first and only women to officially be awarded the Medal of Honor for her selfless service as a surgeon on the battlefield during the Civil War.

Twenty two women were killed as a result of service in the Spanish American War.

Women were allowed to officially serve in the military at the turn of the 20th Century in the Army/Navy nurse corp. During WWI, on May 20th, 1917, nurses Edith Ayres and Helen Wood were killed marking the first two deaths of women formally serving as a part of the U.S. military.

During WWII 67 Army nurses and 11 Navy nurses became POWs after they were captured in the Philippines and held by the Japanese for almost three years. Nurse Aleda E Lutz was the first women killed during WWII when her hospital plane crashed during her 196th rescue mission. LT Ellen Ainsworth was killed after her hospital was bombed and rather than retreat she stayed on site and cared for her soldiers costing her life.

During the Vietnam War Capt Mary Klinker was killed outside of Saigon in a plane crash while trying to evacuate Vietnamese orphans.

Operation Desert Storm over 40,000 women were deployed; 15 were killed and 2 were taken as POW’s.

SPC Brittany Gordon, 24 year old intelligence officer, was killed on Oct 13, 2012 as a result of an IED as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom. And, SGT Faith Hinkley was killed on Aug 7, 2010 as a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom after insurgents attacked her unit. She was from Colorado Springs, CO.

God bless all of our veterans and those who continue to seve today, thank you!

A tale of an at home perm…

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Here is a tale of an at home perm. A few years ago I just knew I needed a perm so I enlisted my friend Terra to assist me in getting some Meg Ryan, City of Angels curls (don’t ask me why, just go with it.. )

Here is where the fun begins. The store was out of rollers any thicker than a pencil. Not going to be deterred from getting my curly locks we bought the tiny rollers and headed home.

After the perm was complete we had a big reveal. At first it wasn’t completely terrible. Sure, I looked like a wooly sheep but it was a change from my stick straight hair and I embraced it.  The next morning I woke up and my hair had quickly went  from a sheep to a Velcro head. Go ahead, take a minute to look at some Velcro to get a mental image of my head; you know what side I am talking about. The following day, things went from bad to worse, my hair fell out.

Now I won’t be completely dramatic and say it all fell out, some patches stayed here and there…

I looked like a Velcro head with mange.

(From here the story takes a disturbing twist where just a day or two later I was bit by some horrific little bug and had a terrible allergic reaction. My face swelled up 3 times its size and stayed that way for about 3 weeks. After two black eyes from broken blood vessels, 2 trips to the ER and plenty of steroids the swelling went down. Let’s just say this wasn’t my most attractive few months… I looked like a horror movie.)

BUT this isn’t a tale about allergic reactions; it’s a tale about an at home perm so I digress…

My story ends with a trip to Wally World where I actually paid for a wiffle cut – for those of you not from Massachusetts – that is basically a buzz cut. I had no other choice. I had to cut off what was remaining and start from scratch.

As it grew back I started to really like it. It grew into a funky and easy to style pixie cut.

Today I have long hair. The goal in growing it out was to play around with some of the hairstyles that you can’t do when you have a pixie cut.  One problem, I can’t do my hair.  So in this world of all things social media I found a really awesome blog for hair style tutorials.

Do I have time for hairstyle tutorials? No. Well, not until I had a newborn. It’s either Mighty Putty infomercials or hairstyle tutorials – I now have 3 rolls of Mighty Putty so hairstyle tutorials it is…

The tutorials are done by Kate and can be found at www.thesmallthingsblog.com. Kate is my extraordinary woman of the day for two reasons.

1.  Because she found something she is awesome at and shared it with her fellow ladies. Two snaps for that.

2. If it wasn’t for her tutorials I would be watching more infomercials at 3 a.m. and probably be the proud owner of Romancing the 70’s compilation set – and no one needs that.

**Disclaimer for anyone who sees me on a regular basis – I do not claim to actually style my hair on a regular basis. I have been going with the “roll out of bed after 2.3 hours of sleep” look. Please do not let this style be a representation of Kate’s tutorials. She didn’t teach me to have this hair style, this one is a me-original.

7 Quicktakes… and pictures!

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7 QuickTakes to catch up! (Normally done on the weekends but I am behind in life)

1. I tried to take some pictures the other day on my phone and couldn’t because I was “over capacity” – so I was forced to actually put them on my computer.

Here is one of my little Mia muffin… (all of my children have been born bobble heads!)

2. I’ve been overwhelmingly tired lately, probably because I have a little 10lb alarm clock that likes to be fed-often. Anyways the other day I was pumping and realized after about 4 minutes I didn’t attach the bottles to the pump, I had breast milk all over my lap. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I think I did both…

3. Nic recently turned 10! For his birthday dinner he wanted to do pancakes. I have two words: Aretha Frankenstein’s. I have never been to the rerestaurant in Chattanooga but I am considering a road trip after tasting these waffles. I forget where I bought the mix but I am seriously recommending everyone tries them. Here is a little photo of my perfect stack of flapjacks… so good, right??!

4. When I got home from the hospital my husband had put up a banner that said “Welcome home baby Mia”… He bought 2 separate ‘make your own sign’ boxes to get enough letters to put all that together, love him! Now making signs for every occasion can be our thing. I am thinking when he gets home I string up this banner: “Welcome home, I am heading out for a stiff drink, order pizza -I didn’t cook…

5.The kids wrote a card to Mia (so sweet). Lana wrote to her baby sister this “Welcome home, I love you. I will teach you how to have good manners and good toenails.”

She’s too much.

6. Brother and sister holding Mia for the first time!

7. On a random note: I have been searching for a picture of an old ship to put in my living room. Keep your eye out for me!

Welcome to Baby Mia!

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My little Mia muffin is 6 weeks old!

As many of you know, we were told Mia was at high risk of having Down’s Syndrome.  (If you missed that story here it is: My baby, My choice)  We had come to peace with any condition Mia was going to born; we just wanted to meet her!  September 13 we were finally able to see her beautiful little face and kiss her delicious little cheeks!

Mia is perfect.

A few days after she was born I started to become very emotional feeling humbled and overwhelmed over the experience of the past 9 months. I just want to say thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, to everyone who prayed with us for Mia.

Mothers of special needs children, especially the ones I have the pleasure of knowing, are truly extraordinary. For the sake of privacy I won’t publicly mention them here without their permission (which I hope to get soon!) In the meantime I would just like to honor them and their strength – They truly are extraordinary women.  My prayers are always are with them and their children.

And finally, Mia isn’t perfect because she is healthy; she is perfect because she is God’s blessing to us. Really all babies are perfect, because that’s how God makes them.

Now I’m off to kiss some more of her little chubby cheeks! More pictures coming soon!

September 11th, Finding Light in Darkness

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I don’t know the name of today’s extraordinary woman of the day, no one does. She is a young girl found dead at Ravensbruck, a WWII, predominately women’s concentration camp. In her pocket was a prayer.

This prayer was first introduced to me last year on 9/11 during a homily by my pastor. The following day I printed it out and have kept it with me ever since.

The attacks of September 11th had a personal significance to so many of us, even more than watching the pain and heart ache of all those who made final calls home and died, those who lost loved ones, and those who responded to the impossible devastation at ground zero. For so many of us the events of 9/11 marked a change in the course of direction of our lives. Endless deployments, worry and loneliness has become a very real part of my family life – all because of an enemy I didn’t know existed growing up. Funerals and memorials of young soldiers, wounded men and women finding their way home, many of whom I am proud to call friends, is a reminder of the pain and loss that has continued on. The life I envisioned for my children growing up is different from the life I thought I would give them. Their little tears every time dad leaves at an impossible pace is an overwhelming reminder of what really happened on 9/11 and what, 11 years later, we are still asked to endure.

The prayer of Ravensbruck has changed a bitterness in me that I didn’t even know existed. Simply, it has reminded me that without darkness we wouldn’t truly know light. My life is different, yes, but it is truly blessed. I have met incredible people who have shown me what courage is in the face of fear and have found friends with such faith and loyalty that I am better by just knowing them. I have seen true selflessness and generosity that withouth these circumstances I may not otherwise know.

There is evil in this world that tests us each in a different way; it is how we respond that dictates who we become. This young girl who encountered unimaginable pain and suffering at the hands of the Nazi’s had such incredible faith that her prayer was not for her own salvation, but for that of her enemy. When our faith is strong enough to pray for those who do us harm we have truly allowed God to be the light in our darkness. He will always show us the way.

This little girl is an enduring example of faith, she truly is an extraordinary woman. Her prayer has meant so much to me; take a moment and read it, reflect on it, and maybe use it in your own life.

Lord, remember not only the men and women of goodwill, but also those of ill will. Do not remember all the sufferings they have inflicted upon us; remember the fruits we bear, thanks to this suffering – our comradeship, our loyalty, our humanity, courage, generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of all this. And when they come to judgement, let all the fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.

Amen.

7 Quick Takes

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1. Late night I was watching TV and a commercial came on for “Tag be Gone”… It was an ointment (or something) that you spray on skin tags and they just… fall off… I am still nauseous from watching that wicked, wicked commercial. They fall off and then…. sit on the ground??! Skin tags all over the floor, I’m going to lose my Cheerios.

2. I have decided I need to let gravity work its magic with this little baby. Walking would be nice if it hadn’t been rainy all last week and about 119 degrees yesterday… Forcing myself to stay upright now I have decided that vacuuming, mopping, and baking would be good in-home activities. I haven’t really had the desire to bake (which goes against the grain of who I am) so my family was happy when I busted out the apron (which no longer fit). I decided that the first few days of September needed to be welcomed with molasses chocolate chip cookies. They were delish.

3. In an effort to keep walking, in a cool environment I made my way over to Hobby Lobby. I can walk that place for hours and stay entertained – $67 dollars later it was time to go home before I went COMPLETELY over board. Note to self, next time leave wallet at home.

I blame Pinterest for my over spending and ideas for grandeur. I decided I need to make a fall wreath. Right now it isn’t quite coming together – but the top made of burlap and fabric flowers is fun, and I added a “T” for our last name. I’m a regular Martha…(minus the whole felony and hard time thing).

4. Speaking of Pinterest I have decided that I need to embark on a Julie and Julia like challenge – Maybe once a week I will choose a Pinterest craft to jump into. I figure it will be a nice break from the kids, school, and work – life in general – it will not be a source of stress at all. Crafts never stress me out. Like yesterday, when I was creating my little flowers I wasn’t using four letter words every time the hot glue gun burned me and I found nothing but soothing enjoyment when I got paint all over my shirt (one of the only preggo shirts to still fit). And…I am still all smiles from the itchy rash I have on my legs from the burlap fibers that I apparently was allergic to.
Pinterest Challenge it is!

5. Here is a lovely story Lana wrote for school. The first few sentences had me a litttttttttle nervous. At the end the boy took care of the bunny. Thank goodness…

6. Normally, I’d like to stay away from politics on here but we all know that I do not consider the sanctity of human life politics…because it isn’t. I want to give 2 thumbs up to Cardinal Dolan for his closing prayer at the Democratic National Convention where he prayed for the protection of the unborn and for religious freedom. Standing up for the right thing in the face of opposition is never an easy thing. He did what any Catholic should do… Pray for life.

7. SPEAKING of the unborn. Little baby Mia is DUE TODAY! For 10 months I have been counting down to September 8, 2012. I don’t think anyone told her it was her due date…

A woman’s story.

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So often we’re told that women’s stories are unimportant. After all, what does it matter what happens in the main room, in the kitchen or in the bedroom? Who cares about the relationships between mother, daughter, and sister? A baby’s illness, the sorrows and pains of childbirth, keeping the family together during war, poverty, or even in the best of days are considered small and insignificant compared with the stories of men, who fight against nature to grow their crops, who wage battles to secure their homelands, who struggle to look inward in search of the perfect man.

This quote is from a book called Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. I loved its hard words and difficult truth; is she right, who cares? Should we care what happens in the privacy of another’s home or heart? Does another woman’s pain matter when we know better than her that this too shall pass…. Why slow ourselves down to consider the woman who can’t seem to help herself, whose struggles seem inferior or different to our own?

I think we’ve all had this thinking at one time or another – perhaps not on purpose, but it happens. Women are women’s worst critic. Really we can be quite impossible.

What I have realized, especially in the past few months, is that we are all on a journey and most us (women I mean) walk through similar trenches of crapola – namely, expectations, prejudices, anxieties and sorrows. Granted, we may navigate our way through in different ways, with different maps and tactics, but we all trudge through the same slop in one way or another. No, it’s not always a Desperate Housewives episode, sometimes it’s just a bad day or an inconvenient setback. But sometimes it’s more than that, sometimes its hard tears behind a closed curtain or anxieties and sorrows we try to wash away and cover up with makeup and a forced smile.

As we trudge through and put on a pretty face we keep our heads down and our sights low. We affirm to ourselves that our suffering is private and the women on either side of us couldn’t possibly understand what we are going through. The grass is greener, or the counters are cleaner, over there in her kitchen …

But those tears, fears and worries – they matter and they are probably shared with almost every lady beside you at one point in their journey, if not yet, then soon.

A part of our culture has always confirmed what the quote above declares – That a woman’s story is unimportant; that it’s our lot in life to silently despair and then to survive. What if we did more than that? What if we embrace one another’s joys and tears and celebrate each other’s survival rather than judging, hiding and hurting alone? Let’s be honest, ladies – we’re smart. We have the gift of intuition to know when another is hurting around us. It isn’t foolproof; sometime we overlook others pain accidently – but usually we know.

Imagine if we all stepped a little outside of our comfort zone and were a shoulder to a sister who we knew was struggling… If we did that, then we would be extraordinary.

Not all of us are called to command a space shuttle or be an Olympian like some of the other ladies on this blog, but we are all called to be extraordinary. There won’t be fanfare or sometimes even a thank you, but we have a duty as women to support one another because a woman’s story is important and because, really, we are all on the same journey to the end.

Today’s extraordinary woman is you. Use that intuition, be that shoulder and love your sister as she walks the same journey as you.

7 Quick Takes – Experimenting with Something New

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1. Quick Takes -This is a new thing I am trying out. One of my favorite blogs, Conversion Diary by Jennifer Fulwiler, does this neat thing where every Friday she posts 7 points about anything that comes to mind that she wishes to share. (Yesterday the day got ahead of me so this week, I guess I will post my Quick Takes on Saturday.) I think it’s a good way spare everyone from my random mumblings on a daily basis and just load them all into one post! The rest of the week can be dedicated to my extraordinary women – which by the way I have some awesome ones coming up! When your done here head over to Jen’s blog and check it out. You will love it. Okay, well, this is take 1…

2. 39 weeks pregnant today! I feel like 152 weeks pregnant. Yesterday I was eating lunch with my sweet husband enjoying, perhaps the last time for a while, getting out without any of the kids. All was going well until the waitress stopped dead in her tracks when she saw me and said: “WHOA! You big ….. You really big! Whoa.”
At that point I thought the only sensible thing to do would be to sit on her. That way she would really get to test the theory of how big I really am…

3. I think it’s time – 39 weeks and all – to decorate the nursery. I am not sure what I have been waiting for. We have a little cutout area in our bedroom where she will sleep for a while. We put up some shelves and set up the crib and it looks just darling. I’m not really a matchy-matchy person and I like clean templates – so all white for the crib it is. We have up some shelves where I want to add some romantic, vintage, little pieces. Beside one of the shelves is a place for a picture. I hope to do out a beautiful Bible verse in a pretty little frame but I can’t settle on a verse…If you have any ideas for me please, please comment or email! Here is a picture of what I was able to put together today. I made the frame and the little bird drawing myself – frugal is the way to go!

4. September 1!!! I am so excited to be past the summer months. I am counting down until Starbucks and Dunkin’s have their Pumpkin flavors out. Pumpkin latte with soy milk… can-not-wait. Unfortunately, the last two times I have been getting coffee at Dunkins I have driven away without my debit card. The first time was embarrassing the second time (which happened to be the very next day) I actually considered not turning back around and just canceling the card…

5. There is a great blog called Further up, Further In by a friend of mine Christina. She just recently posted a blog about being married to a soldier called A Real Love Story: Yours (A Message from One Bride to Another). It is really beautifully written and I encourage all of you guys to check it out – especially if you find yourself married to the military – never an easy thing!

6. HELP NEEDED I need to pack my hospital bag – No, I haven’t done this yet. I was under the impression that it would jinx the whole process and I would end up being 2 weeks late. Maybe it still will, but I am feeling the inner desire to prepare. At least I have a little bag for all the kids ready. So I’m putting the bag together and I’m drawing a COMPLETE mental blank. Any ladies out there with any advice of what I need? What was that one thing that you needed/wanted but didn’t bring?? I’m pretty sure having my little girl and not being pregnant any more will be enough to overcome any oversight – but still, no sense in forgetting something important!

7. Still no leads on the missing mixer…and no banana bread. One doesn’t necessarily have to do with the other because in a pinch I suppose I could hand mix ingredients. *dramatic swallow*.

Missing Mixer, Suicidal Mosquito and Eileen Collins

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  • I‘m using bullet points for this post to offer some sort of organization to the literary tragedy that will now ensue – it’s the least I can do.
  • I have lost my Kitchen Aid mixer. At first it was funny: “Hahaha I am so ridiculous I can’t find a 70lb mixer in my own kitchen!” Hardy har har.
  • Now I am peeved. I have banana’s ready for banana bread and I really can’t find it. Who loses a major kitchen appliance? I would have remembered slipping a disk in my back trying to pick it up and I am positive none of my girlfriends decided to slip it into their purse. I am sure there was a break in and it was stolen. Sure of it. I should file a report with the law.
  • I have decided to include a picture of where my mixer should be. Gr.

    SCENE OF CRIME

  • I have a mosquito bite on the inside of my upper thigh. Hope it was worth it for the mosquito because at 38 weeks pregnant it was a suicide mission. With the amount of friction my thighs have been putting out lately that mosquito was burnt to a crisp – but not before leaving me with a bite. Now I am stuck with the uncomfortable position of being itchy in an inappropriate-to-scratch area that I can’t reach. TMI? …. Oh I am sure of it.
  • Anyways, Lana is in 2nd grade. Second grade is no joke! When I was in second grade I was still eating paste and having nap time. She brings home more homework than my brothers did in public school in 6th grade… Which I am not complaining I think it’s great the things she is learning.  Bring on the work!
  • Extraordinary women of the day: Astronaut – Eileen Collins! While helping Alana do her homework she read me a story about Eileen, the first female pilot and commander of a Space Shuttle. I love when Lana reads stories like this; I think its empowering to read about successful, educated women who achieve their dreams! So, thanks to Eileen for heading to space and for being a great role model for Lana to learn about.
  • I am the least graceful and most dramatic pregnant women on the planet these past few days. I will never see my feet again, never have ankles again, never sleep for more than an hour again, and I am considering buying stock in Tums. Like I said dramatic, but it feels better complaining.
  • I have almost finished the nursery area and will be posting some pictures soon, I am so excited – I guess pregnancy isn’t all bad!

A 30th Birthday Present

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So the past few days I have been wanting to write but haven’t because I can’t sit down and concentrate long enough to put together 2 sentences – I keep thinking it will get easier after I have the baby but I think we all know I am fooling myself.

So really, paying attention to my BlueBird is giving myself a few minutes to preserve the last smidge of sanity I have left, like  a snickers break, without the snickers, unfortunately. Although, I have been craving choco-tacos lately… and stuffing …and egg rolls.  I’m so pregnant.

Anywho, this week I turned 30. I have the best friends, family and coworkers and felt very blessed to enter into my third decade!

On my actual birthday I didn’t have too much planned during the day while the kids where in school so I went over to our local, busy, abortion clinic to say a few prayers.  There were already some wonderful ladies there which was good because, sadly, it was a busy morning for the clinic. As we were standing there one of the young girls walked out and yelled over to us, in an upset tone, “don’t worry, I didn’t do it!” She and her friend got into their vehicle, but they didn’t leave. We were all pretty sure she was conflicted as to what to do – go back in or leave.

As I was sitting there on the sidewalk I felt really pushed to go chit chat with her. Normally I have trouble doing that because I get so choked up thinking of their pain and worry that I stumble over my words and have nothing intelligible come out of my mouth. However, the other day I was reading Jennifer Fulwiller’s blog, Conversion Diary. (One of my favorite blogs and I will most definitely have her as one of my extraordinary women in the very near future, because she really is awesome. She is one of my great finds as a result of that book I gushed about a few weeks ago, Style, Sex and Substance.) Anyways, I was reading her blog entry entitled What St Francis Gathering Stones Taught me About Discernment. Basically she was admitting to something I know I am at fault of doing – when you feel God calling you to do something you wait and wait…and wait. Because you just want to be SURE that’s what He wants you to do.

In her words,

He [St Francis] understood that the secret to discernment (and really the secret to pretty much anything) is humility. He knew it’s better to get a message wrong and proceed in humility then to get it right and proceed as it’s all up to you.

Love her!

Normally I don’t get much through my thick, ignorant head and generally need an engraved invitation to do anything specific. But as I sat there I thought about Jen’s blog and this girl sitting there struggling right in front of me with a real life and death situation  – a situation that I had been in before – a situation that made my heart ache. So I decided to go speak with her.

I probably said all the wrong things but I tried. She was receptive, conflicted, and doubtful. While answering some of her questions I was kicked off the property by the super happy clinic worker that just had the nicest things to say to me. As a law abiding citizen I offered my apologies for crossing the invisible threshold and walked away. They wanted her to call the police. She didn’t, which is a good thing because being arrested 9 months pregnant on my 30th Bday wouldn’t be one of my finer moments…

She did, however, go back into the clinic. Our hearts sank. We all just prayed for her and the baby as we stood there staring at the clinics door. About a minute later she walked back out, waved, and drove away.

Best birthday present ever.

In the end, I don’t know why she left without getting her scheduled abortion that day, but I know God was responsible. I have been thinking so much about her and praying that she is still pregnant and that she has found peace in her situation. I know it’s hard to face such an uncertain future.

She is my extraordinary women for the day because even though she was scared, she was brave enough to walk back out of that abortion clinic.  I don’t know the circumstances of her life, but I know she’s a mom already making good decisions for her baby.

I write about life affirming moments often, maybe because I find them so powerful, or maybe because I don’t think we hear about them enough, probably a little bit of both. I am humbled to know that God used me and the other ladies as an instrument to do His will that day and hope He will continue to do so. I am also so thankful to the men and women who are at our local abortion clinic each week – so far they have made a very significant impact.

In other news, I have a box of McDonald’s chicken nuggets in my purse – does that say 38 weeks pregnant or just out of control??! I’ll ponder that while I eat them.

Where have the role models gone?

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So close, yet so far. 36 weeks pregnant is an evil point in time. My fingers look like hot dogs that have been in the microwave for about 20 seconds too long, my knees hurt like Tonya Harding’s been in town, and my insatiable hunger creeps up out of nowhere followed closely with a bottle of Tums and regretful moaning. On top of that, 36 weeks means that I could potentially have another 4 weeks and some change which translates into ETERNITY.

Now I could take the high road and talk about how pregnancy is a blessing and bask in the glow of knowing my little baby girl will be in my arms soon. But at this minute I’d rather just complain because pregnancy has not only stripped me of a waist line but also the ability to regulate rational, sensible emotions. Hopefully for the sake of everyone this will all level itself back out…

Anyways, the past two weeks have been dedicated to the Olympics. I never cease to be inspired by Olympians’ athleticism and many of their back stories that illustrate amazing courage and dedication. Normally I regulate the amount of TV the kids watch each week but when the Olympics are on I don’t care how much of it they watch; I think it is a great opportunity to expose them to great role models.

My heart is overwhelmed with joy when I see a role model for young girls who doesn’t wear a lycra tube top and have a camera entourage following her around while she talks about the flavor of the week she woke up beside that morning. Ech. No wonder our girls have poor self-esteem and are promiscuous. Shows like The Secret Life of an American Teenager and Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family make me wave a fist of fury in the air – they are really portraying strong moral development and respect among young women today. *Insert annoyed eye roll and faint nausea at the thought.*

Not too long ago I was at the store and my daughter, (age 6 at the time), was singing to herself. I didn’t think anything of it until I realized what song she was singing. Rihanna’s S&M. My little Lana Bear was singing:

Cause I may be bad,
but I’m perfectly good at it
Sex in the air, I don’t care,
I love the smell of it
Sticks and stones may break my bones
But chains and whips excite me

Upon realization of what she was actually saying a woman passing by started to dance to her singing and yelled “sing it girl!” giving her a high five. You could have knocked me over.

It was like an out of body experience–time stopped and I had this moment of realization that my little girl was learning things that directly opposed everything I wanted for her. At 40 lbs and standing only about 3 1/2 ft tall she really didn’t know what her words meant, it was just a catchy toon. Pop-culture, almost in its entirety, has failed young girls.

From here I could rant and rave for another 10,000 words but my hotdog fingers are looking more like they have been in the microwave for 30 seconds too long and I am pretty sure I need to run them under cold water and perhaps seek medical attention to extract my ring. So for your sake and mine, I will cut to the chase.

It isn’t ABC Family or Rihanna’s job to teach my daughter values; it isn’t their job to create positive role models or even to set a moral tone – as much as I think they should. That’s my and my husband’s job to create that little nest for her and to build a strong foundation of love and respect for herself, her faith and her family. It’s my job to regulate what she does and does not watch and, when she is exposed to things I don’t approve of, its my job to arm her with the tools to filter through the bombardment of crappy standards our instant, self-gratifying pop-culture throws at her.

Where, oh where, is a mom to turn!

This week Lolo Jones, Missy Franklin and Gabby Douglas come to mind… I don’t know everything there is to know about them but what I see makes me happy. I want my daughter learning about women who are strong and fit, who have goals and work hard to achieve them and who aren’t afraid to express their faith.

Lolo Jones – a Christian woman who has vowed to stay a virgin until marriage. Well butter my buns and call me a biscuit!… Imagine a woman who doesn’t have to jump into bed with a man to feel validated. She is a beautiful athlete who has worked so hard to achieve so much – I would love my daughter to learn more about her.

Missy Franklin – At 17 years old she is a swimming powerhouse and did America proud in London. She is well spoken, respectful and continues to attend a Catholic school in Colorado despite plenty of offers from sponsors to swim elsewhere. She is quoted as saying she found peace in her Catholic school and knew that God was with her in all she did. Well fry me in butter and call me a catfish!… Imagine a young female acknowledging her journey hasn’t been alone but that God has been her source of strength by her side. Love it.

Gabby Douglas – Every time this cutie pie was interviewed she gave the glory to God for her success. (Are you ready for another one???)… Well slap me with bread and call me a sandwich!… Imagine a young woman publicly praising God first for the success she has worked so darn hard for?! A true role model.

These three women are such wonderful role models for girls today. They are successful, comfortable in their own skin and find solace in their faith. They have defied odds to achieve goals that have taken incredible strength and perseverance. These are the type of women I want my little girl to know about, talk about, and look up to. I love that the Olympic games have introduced all of them in our households. They are extraordinary women who help me show my daughter a moral standard that I haven’t found elsewhere. Love it!

Style, Sex and Substance

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Has it really been 2 months since I have written on here? I don’t know why since I have little notes everywhere of extraordinary women who I can’t wait to share. Of course pregnancy, summer vacation and the other two minions have kept me busy.

During this summer bonanza of fun we had a great road trip, awesome family time and an opportunity to watch some Olympians do their Olympian thing in person – very cool. In between the fun I have been doing a bit of reading the first book I chose was Style, Sex and Substance edited by Hallie Lord.

I am obsessed with this book. I bought two copies.

Every chapter was a kung fu slap of “oh my goodness these women know of my issues and have decided to rally together to compose a book to help me get a grip with reality and my Catholic faith.” Then I realized that maybe they didn’t work for Big Brother and didn’t write this book personally for yours truly – so then kudos went to divine intervention for dropping this book of awesomeness written for all of us ladies into my lap when I needed it most.
He always knows.

Sometimes things just speak to you – like every time I watch America’s Best Dance Crew I am tempted to join a dance crew and wow everyone with my cool jams. (Don’t worry, this is only a fleeting thought and I am self aware enough to know that even walking is a test of coordination I take daily.)

But this book spoke to me in a way that I could take seriously – In a way that I should take seriously.
I had been praying for some direction and God decided to use the inspiration and gifts of Hallie and the women she collaborated with to help me find my footing amidst a trying few months. The pretty pink cover of this humble book has been a shining light on my book shelf.

Although Hallie edited the overall book, she also shared her insight writing chapter 2, “Style: Balance Beauty and You”. She addresses those women issues that seem to knock on all of our doors from time to time; the fine line between sacrificing for those around you and not completely overlooking the need to take care of yourself. I think many of us ladies are like a pendulum; we swing between extremes trying to find a happy medium that leaves everyone taken care of. But like any dramatic right or left swing the happy medium is never realized. Hallie talks about her conversion and her struggle with understanding the need to care for herself while also embracing the modesty and lifestyle of service all Christians are called to.

For a long time when I was working I felt super guilty taking just 45 minutes to workout during the week, even if the kids were in bed. I knew I could be making school lunches, doing a load of laundry or any of the other 50 million chores on the never ending list. So I stopped working out. I quickly began to resemble a Stephen King character, maladjusted and just plain crazy. My family feared me and I really didn’t like myself. It really wasn’t that “selfless” of me to give up my outlet of working out when everyone suffered for it around me. Really, taking that time for myself made me a better mom, wife and friend.

In her own words,

 If you’re tempted to shy away from tending to your needs, remember that, ultimately, it’s not just for you; it’s for every person you come in contact with. A woman who feels confident, happy, and self-assured is a woman who will spread light wherever she goes.That woman will transform the world.

This book is made of great stuff. Each chapter is eye opening and I really recommend everyone lady I know read it!

So today, CLEARLY, Hallie Lord is my extraordinary women of the day. She has a great conversion story, an awesome blog and even better vintage fashion sense. A big thanks to Hallie for putting this book together and speaking to the hearts of wandering women like me.

Check out her blog here: http://www.bettybeguiles.com

Purchase Style, Sex and Substance here

Helen’s Donuts

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I love donuts. My hips don’t, but I do.

Please note: When referring to Donuts I mean exclusively Dunkin Donuts. Anything else doesn’t even count for me.

Over dinner my kids and I were trying to think of a kind of donut we don’t enjoy – We couldn’t think of any. Sure, there are some I am suspect of; “mystery” filling that raises more questions than answers… I eat it anyways, usually.

For the most part I do a good job of feeding my kids a balanced diet. At times picky, they never turn down a piece of fruit and usually accept all veggies, except lima beans. No one should eat lima beans. But in my life, and I am sure yours, food is more than just a source of fuel; it’s smell, flavors and even preparation is a comfort. Feelings of nostalgia for a time past or the prospect of new memories cooking and breaking bread with friends are the perfect, complimentary ingredients to any recipe.

Our extraordinary woman of the day, Helen Purviance, understood the power of food was more than calories and carbs. In 1917 Helen was station in France during WWI with the American First Division; she wanted to give the homesick soldiers around her a taste of home. Donuts had been a popular staple in the U.S, so she fried up a batch and started to hand them out to our Doughboys. The soldiers loved them and each day she had to make more and more to meet the demand of soldiers seeking a bite of home. Soon she had to bring on more ladies to help her. After time, they were referred to as the Doughnut Girls.

Helen was cited as saying, “There was a prayer in my heart that somehow this home touch would do more for those who ate doughnuts than satisfy a physical hunger.” She understood what she was doing was more than supplementing soldier’s daily rations; she was feeding their soul and lifting morale.

Helen is a great example of two things:

1) Even in a war zone donuts are always welcome. Always.

2) All of us have a gift to give to make others feel better. Hers was simply baking donuts and sharing them with those who needed to feel a connection with home. Find your gift and use it…

Today we celebrate National Donut Day to remember these “Doughnut Girls” and Helen’s selfless service to our American boys in WWI. Helen was an extraordinary woman! (Yay for donuts! Now go eat one, I know you want to.)

My baby. My choice.

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I’ve thought a lot about this next post. I have been hesitant because it’s a bit more personal than I usually get – more than the day to day ranting of crazy kids and a crazy life. But life is about sharing experiences so that together we can live, learn and gain a perspective we wouldn’t otherwise have.

So, here goes.

Most of you know I am pregnant – pregnant with a little baby girl, a beautiful little sugarbear (Alana’s term of endearment). At about week 16 we were alerted that this pregnancy may not be as normal as the other two. My blood work came back as “high risk” for Down Syndrome. Additional ultrasounds showed further hard and soft markers suggesting there may be a problem including a hole in her heart, a large cyst in her brain and the fact that her nasal bone was completely absent. Alone, with the exception of the missing nasal bone, each of those markers can be normal; finding them all together in conjunction with my blood work has created some concern.

After hearing this news and leaving the doctor’s office I just sat in my hot car, I didn’t know what I was supposed to think or feel. I just sat there. I wasn’t upset she may have Down Syndrome, if she had an extra chromosome – an extra of anything – it just meant there was extra of her to love. What I was scared about was that her little body didn’t seem healthy. I was overwhelmed.

As soon as I was able I was on the internet reading everything I could find, I needed to know as much as I could to help her. That was my job – to help her be okay, to help her love who she was. As I read through site after site I kept coming across the words “If you choose to continue with the pregnancy…” over and over again. She qualified as being expendable.

To me she was perfect but she was going to be born into a society that would be completely okay with my getting rid of her because of who she may be, or because she may be more than I bargained for, or because she may not be “normal”, or maybe just because it was my choice. My choice?

…I guess that thinking made us all expendable.

Today’s extraordinary woman is a young mom whose choice was to make a really powerful video of her baby boy Christian who was born with some birth defects including being born without eyes. I have linked the video below– if you are one of the 8,000,000+ people who haven’t seen it yet.

This young mom chose to not allow someone else dictate her son’s worth. She was given this little boy without eyes so that she and he together may teach everyone to see with their heart. Together they have been able to reach millions showing the true sanctity of human life and strength of the human spirit. Christian is only a young boy and he has already touched more people with a simple video than some of us touch in a lifetime.

As for my “choice”, well, my choice – our choice – is to love her. To count down the days until the moment we can see her little face and spend the rest of our life letting her know how much she matters, that she has purpose, and that her life, just like mine and yours, is sacred.

So, there it is. I have always been pro-life but I keep finding myself in situations where the battle for life is extremely personal. Perhaps my convictions are being tested, or maybe I’ve just been given a unique platform to share the message of life.

When our tiniest members of society are expendable all human life becomes undervalued. Christian’s mom took the time to show the world her beautiful son and her choice for life. I’d like to thank her for taking that moment to share her story with the rest of us. She truly is an extraordinary woman.

As for my little jitterbug, she still has a long way to go – but we have recently received wonderful news that she is much healthier than she was a few weeks ago. I am so proud of her, she has gone through so much already and she doesn’t even know it. It is through nothing else but prayer that her tiny body has mended itself to where she is now. She may be born the picture of health, or she may not, but she will be put on this earth exactly as she is meant to be and I feel so blessed to be her mom.

http://www.godvine.com/Mother-s-Inspiring-Video-About-her-Blind-Baby-Boy-1484.html

A Lesson from My Daughter

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Alana brought home a little plastic cup about a month ago filled with dirt – she told me she was growing a bean. She is my child that lives somewhere between dancing gumdrops and a third dimension of sparkles and chewing gum; if she thought she was growing a bean in this dirt I wasn’t going to be the one to burst her bubble. Long story short – this little cup sat in the hot car for about 8 days where it became dry and dusty dirt. The contents of the cup spilled out not once, but twice, and were haphazardly scooped up and back into the broken little cup. Once it made it into the house, the cup was filled to the brim with water creating a thin mud that sloshed over the top.

I was thinking she had as much of a chance of a magic bean stock growing out of this cup as she had a bean sprouting. About a week later Lana ceremoniously presented me with the cup with a long green stem growing out of it.

Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle…

Risking a bad metaphor –I’ve felt like my life lately has been like Lana’s little cup of dirt – a hot little mess. You plan for one thing then life happens and things don’t look so sure anymore. I just keep reminding myself that the only way to get through it is to find beauty in the mess and know that somehow something meaningful will flourish.

Lana doesn’t know how much I need her – how much I need her innocence and smiles right here with me. She knew something that I didn’t about that little bean, that where there is doubt there is room for failure. Lana doesn’t doubt, she trusts and she has unwavering faith. She reminds me everyday to replace my doubt with faith – faith that through the mess something beautiful will flourish. She is my love, and my extraordinary woman of the day.