Seven Quick Takes–All Souls Day

1. I am going to Mass alone today (meaning without already born children to take care of)! I looked this up so I remember to pray for the poor souls today:

Indulgence for the Souls in Purgatory (from Enchiridion of Indulgences given by the 1968 Decree of the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary):

67. Visit to a Church or Oratory on All Souls Day (Visitatio ecclesiae vel oratorii in Commemoratione omnium fidelium defunctorum)

A plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, is granted to the faithful, who on the day dedicated to the Commemoration of all the faithful departed, piously visit a church, a public oratory or — for those entitled to use it — a semipublic oratory.
The above indulgence can be acquired either on the day designated above or, with the consent of the Ordinary, on the preceding or following Sunday or the feast of All Saints.
The above indulgence is contained in the Apostolic Constitution The Doctrine of Indulgences, Norm 15, with account being taken of proposals made to the Sacred Penitentiary in the meantime.
In visiting the church or oratory, it is required, according to Norm 16 of the same Apostolic Constitution, that “one Our Father and the Creed be recited.” [ed. note : see Norm25 of the Enchiridion].

2. This day reminds me of my desire to have Masses said for my relatives who have passed away. I am not sure if anyone in my family has been doing this. We can never know if a soul is in Heaven, unless of course the person is canonized.

3. One thing I need to offer up this week for the Souls in Purgatory is my fifth day straight of regular, for hours on end braxton-hicks/pre-labor contractions. Some of them feel like they could be active labor contractions, but those go away and I am left wondering when I am going to actually be in labor. I have only had one night in which they have not stopped and have kept me awake, making the next day exhausting. I went to the doctor on Wednesday to see if I was progressing at all, and there was not much progress. So, we are waiting for what feels like real labor, which for me is when I want people to just leave me alone and be quiet. The kids are a pretty good gauge of the fact that I have not actually been in labor. My mom reminded me today (I guess she told me this before) that she had every day like these for three weeks leading up to my birthday, and I was two weeks late! I think my mom is holier than I realized. I suppose it is only just that my third child do the same thing. She also had the same experience with my brother, her fourth child. This means that this is no indication of gender.

4. M told me on Wednesday as we were driving to the doctor that he thought it was weird that I could feel so vividly my uterus but had no control over it. I pointed out to him other organs that work on their own, but he insisted that the laboring uterus was truly weird. Then of course we considered how it would be if we were not sinful beings and had not fallen. Perhaps I would then have perfect knowledge of when it was time for the baby to come, kick the uterus into high, painless gear and have an easy, breezy delivery of a healthy baby. This not being the case, I get to sit around and wait eating chocolate, drinking fizzy water, and sneaking sips of M’s beer wishing I were drinking beer or wine or something stronger than water.

5. I know that I am going to miss the two hours of quiet time I get every afternoon while L naps and G tries really hard to not come out of her quiet time. I do not think I am going to be able to pull off two hours everyday with three kids.

6. A couple of weeks ago I used my skills at Word and made a monthly/weekly/daily cleaning list with charts for me to fill in the date when I accomplish my tasks. It has been really helpful so far in keeping me on track cleaning-wise. All of the things were on a mental list, but a physical list is so much better. I am almost done with my chores for this week, and I still have all of tomorrow!! I am also hoping that it makes it easy for our post-baby out-of-town helpers to know what I like to have done cleaning wise. I have found I am much more sane after a baby is born if the house cleaning is kept up on.

7. Lastly, behold the cordless hand vacuum:

Yes, it lives on my kitchen counter. I use it many times a day. It makes me happy to vacuum with ease high chairs, rugs, dust piles from sweeping, crumbs left on the table, furniture, car seats, etc. It is my latest toy which I justified buying by cashing in some credit card rewards. (Is is sad that I use my credit cards so that I can get cash rewards to spend guilt-free? I also will point out that I never carry a balance on the cards.) In case you are interested in acquiring your own, this is the one I purchased.

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Quicktakes for Friday, October 26

1. 38 weeks and still pregnant.

2. My nesting energy is completely gone today. Is this a sign of labor? 😉

3. I was thinking about revamping a paper I wrote in grad school about liturgy, but I think that much better thought and research will be found here. This is written by one of my dear college friends, who received her masters in liturgy and has all the right views about liturgy so please read what she has to say and follow her posts. I am eager to read them myself!

4. I finally used my birthday gift card to Barnes and Nobles today (I received it in June). I wanted some good pre/post baby reading now that most of the baby prep is done. I chose Catherine of Sienna by Sigrid Undset, My Life in France by Julia Child, and A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens. I am excited for Undset because her novel Kristen Lavrensdatter was amazing, Catholic, and inspired me in my motherhood. I think the book about Julia Child should be fairly light compared to other books I have been reading lately. I have been using recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking on occasion and Julia Child seems like a fairly interesting person. And Dickens is an author I always enjoy and for some reason I have never read A Tale of Two Cities. I think I will blame my educators…

5. Fall is turning into Winterish weather here in Minnesota. I am prepared to sit inside and nurse my baby until after our Christmas travels, and then I will have to brave going out places in the long winter or go insane with my three, three and under. 🙂

6. We had a fun incident with the car battery dying this Monday. That is of our new (used) van. Fortunately, AAA’s roadside assistance includes in the garage assistance. It was simply a matter of lights being left on inside the car. So it is all take care of now.

7. Sunday was our parish Fall Festival and we won a few prizes, G won a couple of toys and candy, M won a bottle of wine, and we all won $20 of meat at a local butcher. We also ate the world famous Booya, which is a turkey and other meats stew with vegetables, rice, and potatoes. It was actually good. I was concerned my fickle pregnant stomach would not handle it, but it did.

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Friday Quicktakes, Oct. 4

1. This may be the last First Friday before the baby is here. Then again we could have one more. 🙂

2. Today G went over to the calendar on the wall, counted the pages she could reach that were hanging down, came over to me using two hands to get her left hand to show three fingers and said, “There are this many pages left of the calendar.” I explained to her that that means there are three months left of the year. She responded, “Then there are no more years after that?”
“No,” I told her, “that means we will get a new calendar for next year.” She then asked for a new calendar for herself to have also. I guess we are old fashioned with our paper calendars and all, but whatever, at least we know that the end of the calendar does not mean the end of time.

3. M and I are leaning more and more towards a house with land. He told me that his dream house is a combination of the earthship houses,

Frank Lloyd Wright style (particularly the Falling Water house),

the hobbit-like house we saw on our honeymoon,

and Pemberly (as represented in the 2005 BBC Pride and Prejudice).

 You only wish your husband had the same architectural taste as mine.

4. I have 22 prepped/cooked meals in the freezer for post-baby. Many thanks to a friend from high school who also lives in Minnesota for her help last weekend getting a number of the meals finalized. It was really nice to catch up. 🙂

5. Getting ready for baby list is getting shorter. I stocked up on a lot of necessary household items so we don’t have to worry about those for a while. Last night as we were in discussing things about baby prep, we realized that we could not remember where the infant carseat was or if we had moved it to our home here from Buffalo. We were already in bed and not willing to search the basement for it. I found it first thing this morning. It “expires” 6 years from the manufacture date which is a year before we had G (Is the manufacture date visible before buying a carseat? Because I want one that is made the day before the kid is born so we can get our full six years out of it) . This baby will get 17 months to use it and then, as the manual says, we have to discard it and make it unusable for any dumpster divers out there. I can imagine a lot of fun ways to destroy an old carseat.

6. My husband shared these links on Facebook: From a Catholic Worker: An Open Letter to Paul Ryan ( and an Open Letter to Joe Biden (, the two Catholics running for VP. Both Catholic candidates for VP do not fully integrate Church teaching into their political views and actions. I know there are issues that are seen as more important when it comes to voting for a candidate (specifically in focus life issues, marriage issues), but it is important to remember that the poor do need help and the government is not letting them help themselves. Anyway, read the letters, he explains it better. And if you want to know about real conservatism and the roots of it read Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind.

7. The Cardinals are playing a one game play-off today against the Braves for the Wild Card spot in the division series. The traditionalist in me thinks we should go back to two divisions in each league and just the pennant and the series. Others I know think they should just have the series. I do not claim to be a sports expert, but I like to have an opinion to share. Also, I will root, root, root for the Cardinals no matter what the play-off arrangement.

Pre-nesting Frenzy

I have been absent from my blogging goals because of what I am going to call pre-nesting since I have 6.5 weeks until the due date.

I have been in a cooking and cleaning and planning frenzy and my brain is not able to focus on much else. So not very interesting for a usually exciting and fun-filled blog.

I just wanted to explain my absence. Now I have to get back to my freezer dinners.

We are hoping to buy a van on Thursday. My first vehicle purchase ever. My first loan taken as a married person. I am about to have my third child. I think that is a pretty good amount of time from birth to wait for this major step in life.

Alright, bye now.

Friday Quicktakes: Sept. 14

1. Today is a pretty sweet Feast day: The Exaltation of the Holy Cross. If you want to know the interesting history click on the link. Dom Gueranger in his The Liturgical Year (Volume 14, p. 196) says this about the feast:

‘Through thee the precious cross is honoured and worshiped throughout the world.’ Thus did Saint Cyril of Alexandria apostrophize our Lady on the morrow of that great day, which saw her divine maternity vindicated at Ephesus. Eternal Wisdom has willed that the octave of Mary’s birth should be honoured by the celebration of this feast of the triumph of the holy cross. The cross indeed is the standard of God’s armies, whereof Mary is the Queen; it is by the cross that she crushes the serpent’s head, and wins so many victories over error, and over the enemies of the Christian name. 

Today is a wonderful day to pray for the continuation of victories over error and trust more fully in the Cross and in our Lady’s maternal care and intercession. Lift high the Cross!

2. Speaking of praying, L’s version of the Our Father at Mass one day this week was: “Heaven, God! Heaven, God, Heaven, God, Heaven, God…”

3. I discovered this week that I need to stop turning sideways to fit between two objects that have a narrow passageway between them. It is a safer bet that I will fit through going forwards than sideways. Oh baby… Oh third trimester…

4. This blog post is only too true: 10 Surprising Facts About “Bouncing Back After Pregnancy.” And I am not really looking forward to these 10 facts, but it is good to be realistic. I do realize, though not often enough, that I am so blessed to have three children and have had/having healthy pregnancies.

5. Along the same line, I appreciated Simcha Fisher’s post this week about ceasing to blame pregnancy, being an overtired mother, and having small children on not being oneself and accepting the fact that one is who one is no matter how many stresses one has. But now that we are on to baby number three I have found myself more accepting of life as it is. Yes, it takes 5-10 minutes to get in and out of the car. Yes, it takes a lot more time to get myself dressed and fed as well as my children. Cleaning is harder to accomplish and maintain and all the other changes in having children. I think I have finally accepted that my life is never going to be that of all the single people my age, and you know what? I love my life. It only took me 3.5 years. Ha.

6. I have been having a good visit with my sister. It is really nice to have extra space for guests so that they can have more peace and quiet and we can have our routine without disturbing guests. Yay for a house to live in!

7. Today we went apple picking. My sister, the girls, and I picked 3/4 of a bushel of apples… 30 lbs… And then I bought another 1/2 bushel of seconds. On the to-do-list now is make a bushel worth of applesauce and can it into quart jars, make a pie, and eat lots of apples. It is a lot of work, but totally worth it for homemade local applesauce all winter!

Thinking About the “New Baby”

Sometime amongst the past two months of travel, unpacking, and adjusting I hit the third trimester with this pregnancy. If this baby comes as early as L. did we have about 10 weeks until we find out if we have another beautiful daughter or a handsome son. This past week I started feeling the third-trimester exhaustion along with the back pain and then the dread of never getting sleep once the baby comes. So, not exactly happy feelings about having another baby. Additionally, I started thinking about labor, delivery and recovery, which is not the most pleasant set of physical experiences one can have.

I decided it would be a good idea to plan for the tour of the “maternity care” ward of the hospital. I called on Friday, to discover that the quarterly scheduled tours were taking place on Saturday (yesterday). I found some last minute childcare (courtesy of another professor and his family whom we had just had dinner with this past week), and M. and I got the tour yesterday.

We walked into a wing and discovered that there is no nursery for holding babies at all, unless they are needing special care, and that I will labor, deliver, and recover in the same room and that all the baby will need for care after I give birth is right in that room as well. So, the only option is rooming in. I also got to see the room and tub for waterbirths, which my doctor has attended before and I plan on trying. If I have the waterbirth I will have to leave my room, but I am excited for a hospital that says on their webpage: “Our goal is to give you the safest birth and avoid unnecessary interventions.” and “St. Joseph’s has a low cesarean rate: 11.3% compared to a national average of 30.2%.”. I have great hopes for another natural birth this time around.

It is not that my birthing experiences with my first two were horrible, it is just that the hospital viewed it more as a medical procedure, where as it really seems that this hospital and the nurses working there want to make things as natural as possible. The reason I am using a hospital is in case there is a need for medical intervention, plus I found a really great pro-life family doctor for my care in St. Paul and I want to be able to work with her for the birth as well.

I found this article on the hospital’s maternity care and a history of how they got a more natural focus. Evidently though I should fall into one of two categories, at least roughly: “recent immigrants who are used to midwives in their home countries and older, professional women”. Which I don’t, so maybe they should add another category of young mom’s who care to have a natural birth. 🙂

That all being said, I am starting to be more excited about meeting this baby outside the womb. There is something about newborns that you can’t find anywhere else, even if you are sleep deprived.

It’s Been Awhile…

Yes, I did drop off the face of blogspot into what is called the first trimester of pregnancy. And the way I approach blogging is if I don’t have something that will impress the whole room to say, than I never take the time to say it. Please compare me to Elizabeth Bennet or Mr. Darcy, or both, in this approach.

Anyway, I am eagerly awaiting the end of nausea and a bit more energy in the next couple of weeks and am going to post because it has been so long, whether I impress anybody or not. The last month has been pretty insane. G, gave up her naptime, but still retreats into quiet time every afternoon, which makes me realize how much I love the quiet of the afternoon. The girls keep each other up for an hour every night instead of falling asleep of late, but whatever, at least they are in their room. And in the middle of the not falling asleep shenanigans that go on, G. bounced out of her bed and broke her wrist. Oh boy! A cast for at least three weeks and she is already sick of it; it’s been three days. Also, I am now married to a doctor of philosophy, which meant that for the past two weeks I was trying to read a 375 page dissertation before I attend my husband’s defense. This lead to strange pregnancy dreams of not finishing in time and that sense of dread I used to get back in school when I was afraid I would not have time to finish my homework. I failed to finish, and did not get to go anyway since I was getting my daughter put in a cast. Plus, there were Easter preparations and trying to find food I can eat without feeling sick.

I found a new thing that makes my stomach turn today: watching my one year old squish up cheese. I am really glad I savored the non-pregnant 15 months I had after L. was born. Babies are a blessing, but pregnancy really does take a lot of energy. I was thinking, if we have twelve kids, I am almost a quarter of the way through first trimesters!

Oh and I am the proud winner of about 15 games of Sudoku on the iPad. I finally braved the game and discovered the way to reason it out. It is addicting. This also means there are 15 fewer blog posts on this blog.

That’s about it. But I promise that I will soon write and amazing comparison between Jean De Brunhoff’s Babar the King and a reading from my husbands Catholic social teaching class. Thanks for reading…

A Song for Mothers (and everybody!)

“Nothing Without You” by Bebo Norman is a song that I have always felt drawn to and it has applied to my life differently throughout my life. I heard it today, and it really spoke to me about the mother and wife I am called to be. You can watch the video below that has the lyrics, but I will also post them below and write about how they affected me.

Take these hands and lift them up
For I have not the strength to praise You near enough
See I have nothing, I have nothing without You

I have always thought of raising hands in praise when I heard these lines, but today I thought of how I use my hands. What I do with my hands is also a way to praise God, and the love I have when using my hands can offer my activities to him.

Everything a mother does for her family involves her hands; praying, holding, changing diapers, dressing, washing children, washing dishes, cleaning the home, etc. But a mother and wife does not have the strength to do all of this without God’s love and grace, and it can wear her down and make her unhappy. God will keep a mother strong.

Take my voice and pour it out
Let it sing the songs of mercy I have found
For I have nothing, I have nothing without You

I can sing songs of praise to God and tell others of his love and mercy, but what I say to others, how I say it to others, what I say about others reflects this even more. The way a wife speaks to her husband, the way she asks him to do something, what she chooses to say first thing in the morning or when he walks in the door from work all are an offering to God and all can bring more love or hurt to the home. The way a mother speaks to her children when they misbehave or do good acts or simply get into trouble all bring glory to God or not. If I am unkind in the way I speak, my voice is not bringing God glory, but if I have patience and kindness in my voice even when reprimanding this is an act of love.

All my soul needs
Is all Your love to cover me
So all the world will see
That I have nothing without You

A wife and mother needs to be covered in the love of God in order to live out what she is called to do. My mother prayed for me yesterday that God’s love would overflow out of me into the way I loved my children; I think this chorus reflects that idea. And when we pour love into our family, the world does see, and the world is given hope.

Take my body and build it up
May it be broken as an offering of love
For I have nothing, I have nothing without You

I think this speaks the most to me as a wife and mother; the daily grind really involves the whole body. And for children, a mother’s body really is broken as an offering of love; in this way we reflect Christ. It is done to a mother when she accepts the call to be one throughout pregnancy, the pains of labor, the giving birth, and then her choices to breastfeed, and nurture her children through naps, bedtimes, feedings, and play times. But still she has nothing without God and his mercy and love.

I also love the line asking God to build up one’s body; it shows the glory that God gives to nature and the beauty in our bodies despite our falleness.

All my soul needs
Is all Your love to cover me
So all the world will see
That I have nothing
But I love You

With all my heart
With all my soul
With all my mind
With all the strength that I can find

And here we remember that our actions are rooted in our heart, soul, and mind. Our actions affect them and they affect our actions. We need God to help us love and serve. And we need to take time for prayer, for praying asks God for His grace, praises him, and keeps Him foremost in one’s heart, mind, and soul throughout the day. I am always happier when I remember to pray while doing mundane tasks like putting the kids down for naps and cooking and washing.

“With all my mind.” I particularly need to spend my time doing things that will help me think about good things, and loving things. What I do during my free time stays in my mind and affects my heart and my soul and my actions. I know I personally want to use my mind for more than taking care of children; and struggle for the discipline to discipline my mind.

Take my time here on this earth
And let it glorify all that You are worth
For I am nothing,
I am nothing without You

I am nothing without God, and my time on earth is for Him. And as a wife and mother, I also am called to help my husband and children glorify God with their lives as well.

On Some Surprises of Motherhood

One of the things that surprised me the most after the birth of my daughter G., was the amount of time it took for me to recover from giving birth to her and the physical change from being to pregnant to being not pregnant. I will not go into to many details here, but the changes consist of pushing a large head through a small opening with a muscle one does not generally use after spending hours contracting this muscle to get the baby low enough and after the child is born their is a complete change in hormones in the mother’s body. So, anyway, I guess I expected to give birth and be as strong and healthy as I was before delivery. After all I had been taking 30-45 minute walks 4 times a week up through the day I went into labor, and had been jogging until my 6th month of pregnancy. I was healthy and fit, so why couldn’t I pop the baby out and go on with life as usual?

I discovered that there is a reason one does not see a new mom and her baby very often after birth. Part of it is the pediatrician recommends keeping the baby away from people who may be sick for the first 6 weeks. Another reason includes that I was not allowed to drive for 2 weeks after delivery, or even take a walk. Really, all I wanted was have my energy back, and I did not have much energy at all. That was what was most frustrating, was that I wanted to be doing things and going places and was not allowed to and did not have the energy to do so. One might think that I would have been happy to sleep all day with the baby, but I was not.

So, finally about 6-8 weeks after delivery, I started feeling normal again. I understand now why it would be difficult for someone who did not think abortion was wrong to choose to have a baby that they were not expecting. It is a huge life change–even if one gave the baby up for adoption there still is the recovery from the labor. (Also, a postpartum body is never the same as it was before.) I am not saying that I support any decision to take a human life, I just think I have a bit more sympathy for someone who is ignorant of the truth of these matters. Further, it shows me how important it is to have children within the context of a loving marriage of a husband and wife. I depended on M. for many things after the birth of our daughter, even the simplest physical needs like getting something to drink. It does take a family to raise a child; parenthood is not easy. (Though it seems that some dads think it is a lot easier than they were expecting.)

Despite all of the difficulty surrounding bringing a child into the world, I cannot imagine my life differently. Children are such a blessing and a joy! It is amazing to see my daughter learn new things, to see her learn how to roll over, somehow maneuver herself a couple feet across the floor through her squirming, to bond with her as I feed her, to cuddle with her in bed, and to see her smile at me or even the stranger across the room. The funny thing is, now only 16 weeks postpartum, whenever I see a pregnant woman, I really want to be pregnant again–I guess motherhood is just as or even more fulfilling as I thought it would be.