Thursday, December 19, 2013

An Early Happy 1st Birthday Evangeline!


Eva

We didn't know what we were missing, your daddy and brother and puppy sister and I. Then they told us you would be a sweet (not so small) baby girl. We were nervous and scared throughout my pregnancy. We were told my health was bad no matter what the doctors prescribed or how closely I followed their advice. They told me the high risk of you being still born and the high percentage of possibility that I might not make it through either. However I knew somehow that everything would be just fine. You were born on the last day of the Mayan calender. My dad joked we should change your name to Maya. You were my 11 lb 8 oz bundle of joy. We made it through the c-section and all the bad things they told me would most likely happen did not. I was and am thankful for your health and my own. You are very different from your big brother and you both teach me new things everyday. I am also thankful I was given both a boy and a girl, but mostly for the joy that you both bring to my life.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Tiny Saints Giveaway!

In honor of my daughter Charlotte Colleen's 4th birthday.

 A Tiny Saints Giveaway!



Hello again everyone,
I am so excited about this post. I have been planning on it for a while, but due to some extenuating factors (such as my timidity) I am just now putting my pen to paper (figuratively speaking).
As you know, I am a fairly new Catholic. It is still challenging for me to find ways to engage and teach my children about this way of life. Finding cute and child friendly products such as Tiny Saints give me so much joy, hope, and sanity at the ease of which they can be presented to children. They strike me as a fun way to teach about the faith and also help to comfort a child or help a child be proud of their family's faith.
Here is a bit about the company by one of its founders:
"I'm Joe Klinker, the founder and owner of Tiny Saints. My beautiful wife Colleen and I live outside Boston with our three little ones (Gracie, JT, and Noelle) and I'm a full-time Coast Guard lieutenant. When our kids are in bed and the house is clean, Colleen and I sit down each night to watch some HGTV and work on Tiny Saints; that's the routine. And it's only possible by the grace of God and the help of my brother Mark and his wife Megan. They work out of Virginia and keep the business side of things running!

Tiny Saints started as something special for our kids, although the circumstances were a bit difficult. Our third child, Melody, was stillborn on her due date in October 2011. Although Melody is now such a beautiful and joyful part of our lives, we were devastated to say the least and we miss her every single day. Gracie and JT had a hard time understanding why her crib, clothes and toys needed to be put away and as a Christian, I didn't want to shy away from telling them the truth about where Melody was: Heaven. If I showed them pictures of the saints (all of Melody's friends in heaven) on the internet, the images were often a bit intimidating or uninteresting to a child. So I wanted to meet our kids where they were at. At first, Tiny Saints were just pictures we made together on the computer. The idea grew into a business and ministry a little down the road.

I hope Tiny Saints the business can grow into something that demonstrates how hard work and use of our talents can lead to different types of success. Whether we remain a "just squeaking by" company or build into something more, I'll leave that in God's hands. He's a lot smarter than I am! In the meantime, we'll keep our focus on serving the people and families who might just give the saints a second look if they see a Tiny Saint.

One of the most inspiring parts of this experience has been seeing the reaction of non-Catholic or folks who have fallen away from their faith. Whether a person is hardened, sad, hurt or just on a difficult path, sometimes all they need is the smallest spark of grace. I'd give a Tiny Saint to every one of those people if I could afford it. I'm yet to meet a person who didn't smile after being given one. And once the gift is given, it's nice knowing God can take it from there."

The first time I talked to the company via Facebook, I got a quick response. I had asked if they would make a particular Saint and they said they would eventually make any Saint that was requested.

Here's the extra awesome news. After contacting the company, they have agreed to send a lucky winner a prize package! It includes the following Tiny Saints Giveaway Package :  1 Rosary(black or multicolor), 1 bracelet(popular saints or popular female saints), the paracord necklace, & Saint Charm of Choice.
They have also said that they would give a 10% discount to our readers here on The Cath Sister's! Just use code CATHSIS10 on orders of $20 or more.

So comment below with your preferences and a lucky winner chosen at random will receive their treasures!

Winner will be chosen at random by me on the 12th of December, 2013 and announced on The 13th.

Links to all things Tiny Saints. Check out their whole List of Saints here.
Website : shoptinysaints.com
Facebook: facebook.com/shoptinysaints
Twitter: @shoptinysaints


Monday, December 2, 2013

Job Status Change


Today December 2, 2013 is my last day of employment. I am now officially a stay at home mom/wife. November 15th was my actual last day of work. The company I worked for continued our pay through today and our insurance through the first of the year. My entire department was let go. So I have been home for two full weeks caring for my children and trying to catch up on keeping house for my husband. I Love It All! I am so happy and so very thankful. I know it's the first few weeks, but I can not get over the amount of time I get to spend with my kids. Now I just need to make time for social media. I might be a little behind with Advent/Christmas things, also Evangeline's 1st Birthday is coming up and I haven't planned any of it. Getting the chimney swept, winterizing the swamp cooler, and ordering wood need to get done too. Tomorrow I'll make time for all of that. 

Also putting in a prayer request for my husband's employment. Last week a promising possibility was laid before him. Something he has been dreaming of for the longest time. We wont know much till after the New Year, but I am hopeful that God is finally saying "It's your time Ruben."  


Friday, November 29, 2013

The Big Decision


I've been teaching in the CCD program for our parish the past 2 years and began this year co-teaching the confirmation students. Due to my emergency room visits and surgery I missed mass at my parish for two weeks. I e-mailed our priest and asked for him to pray for me. No response whatsoever. So continue on with class, then I took the kids to Disneyland one Sunday to celebrate Ruben and my 6th wedding anniversary. The next week I am back and Father is handing out 'Thank You' certificates to all of the teachers then having a parent say some kind words about each. Mind you there are only 7 of us. He doesn't recognize me at all. He doesn't say anything to me after mass. He comes to my classroom looks in, snarls, and leaves. Now I am well aware that priests are people too, but he has gone off the deep end with so many of our parishioners and so many have left. I hung on and said I can do this. This is the parish my grandparents, great-uncles & aunts put their blood sweat & tears into. All of my sacraments were performed there. My parish is more than just a Roman Catholic Church it has been my family. We are small. You know everyone. There are people that emigrated from Mexico alongside my grandmother back in the 1920's. Because of the location of our parish in the diocese we always are provided with priests who are at the end of their vocation or life for that matter. Well my priests silence toward me has allowed me to let go. 

I go to confession in the city where I worked that is a 30 minute drive from home. I had recently asked for counseling from their priest because of this and he asked me to find spiritual comfort by leaving my St. Francis of Assisi and join his Sacred Heart. With the heaviest heart I walked away from my parish for now. I walked away from those 15 & 16 year old's in the midst of their confirmation classes. I was able to ensure they were in capable hands, but I did abandon them. My soul had been starving. The first time I was at my new parish calling it my parish I ran into a young man and his wife who had left the year prior due to a move north. That very evening they were turning their registration in for Sacred Heart because they moved south. My cousins attend this parish and so do some other friends. I am hopeful of things to come, but sad to have taken a step back. I was also a Lector and for now have decided to stay off the ambo and focus on my family. Marcos needs work on his prayer life and I need to teach him. So this has been heavy on my heart, I have not shared this with any of you till now almost two months later.

A few Sundays ago I was able to attend a special memorial mass in honor of the deceased Knights of Columbus council that my grandfather chartered which has not moved to another parish. So many old friends, so many happy memories and unfortunately so many people aware of the downward spiral of my home parish. There is so much more, but I will not bother you with heavy details. 

I ask for your prayers and to pray for my parish. Thank you. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy 50th Anniversary, Doctor Who!

The Day of the Doctor is finally here!

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the British television series Doctor Who. Whovians all over the world are watching a simulcast of the 50th anniversary special, titled "The Day of the Doctor," and celebrating with  Jelly Babies, Jammie Dodgers, and Fish Custard.


I've just strung up the TARDIS lights my sister bought me. I've got the TARDIS teapot my dad gave me for Christmas (handmade by a lady in Seattle who only does a few a year), the TARDIS Exploding Van Gogh my cousin, Sally Sparrow, painted for my birthday, and all my other DW bits and bobs. And then there's the food!


 I made TARDIS sugar cookies! Not quite as blue as the TARDIS but they'll do!


A few of my favorite Doctor Who things!


I've got my TARDIS scrabble piece necklace and my DW buttons on my TARDIS blue clothes! I'm really excited to watch this episode and celebrate with Whovians all over the world. Who is your favorite Doctor? What are you wearing? Who is your favorite companion? Are you having a Doctor Who party?



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

We Stand With Thomas Peters

Back in July Catholic blogger & warrior Thomas Peters (aka AmericanPapist) injured himself in a diving accident. Tomorrow, Thursday, 14 November, many Catholics online will be standing with Thomas as he continues his miraculous recovery. He has been in our prayers since that day and we are proud to support him and his wife Natalie in every way we can.

Join us!

From the recovery website:
Help share their story and join us on November 14th for #IStandwithThomasPeters day!

On #IStandwithThomasPeters day, we also hope to raise funds to help Thomas and Natalie during this new transition and Thomas' continued recovery.

This is a crucial time. According to Thom's doctors, the major mobility/independence the patient will regain will happen within the first 6 months following the injury. The best way to achieve this is with as much therapy as the patient can handle (and can be afforded). Thomas has two more months in that window. The medical bills, the transition home, and Thomas' continued recovery are extremely expensive, and we would like to help.
Please visit Thomas' recovery website to find out more about how you can help Thomas and Natalie. You'll find banners and icons, like the one below, to use on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites tomorrow and tweets you can copy and paste to help raise awareness.

The best thing we can all do is continue to pray for Thomas' healing and that his experiences can be a testimony to many people of faith and God's love. God bless us all!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thank you, Veterans!

Thank you, Veterans, for your service to our beloved country. You are always in our prayers. May God bless you!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Halloween! Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Every year, I look forward to going to the pumpkin patch and finding a pumpkin so I can toast the seeds! This year, my family got 3 pumpkins, and two of them ended up being pie pumpkins, but I'll save the pie pumpkin recipe (Pumpkin Chickpea Lentil stew) for another post! Here's how I toast my seeds.

(I love this kid!)

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds


Ingredients
pumpkin seeds, leave some pulp
butter
salt

Directions

(Here's us, gutting the pumpkins.)

Preheat oven to 400-425. (I almost burned down the house...again.)
Sautee in a large frying pan the seeds along with a good amount of butter. I think I used about 2T. And salt. Lots and lots of salt.

(Here's the seeds and the gobs of butter.)

I would sautee them a good 5 minutes or so, until it's not uber buttery in the pan anymore. Then spread them out on a cookie-ish pan (I like to use the ones with the sides so they don't escape.)

(Seeds ready for the oven.)

Bake for 7ish minutes, flip, and bake 6ish minutes more. Like I said before, I nearly burned down my house. Maybe play with the temp and time. Maybe less time, because the high temp gets them nice and dry!

(Gorgeous toasted seeds, ready for consumption.)

(Here is a photo of our carved pumpkins.)


Five Favorites 10.30.13


1.) All Saints Day

All Saints Day is on Friday! This is one of my favorite feast days of the entire liturgical year. I don't know about all y'all, but I know I need all the help I can get when it comes to getting to heaven. It's so comforting to know that I have the "great cloud of witnesses" cheering me on. Oh, and one more thing: it's a holy day of obligation, so get yourself to Mass! [Now you can't say you didn't know ;-) ]

2.) Verily Magazine
Confession: when it comes to magazines, I am the pickiest commitment-phobe you ever did see. I get excited about one issue, think about subscribing, and then think, "Do I really want a year's worth of these lying around my apartment for ever and ever, amen?

This especially goes for magazines I've never seen. I'd heard a lot of good things about Verily, but still  couldn't bring myself to subscribe. Imagine my delight when I found out that Barnes & Noble now carries Verily. Yippee! I bought a copy and guess what? I will definitely be subscribing. The photos were beautiful, and more importantly, the articles were helpful and relevant to my life right now. Win! Get thee to their site and subscribe!

3.) Yoga Pants
File this under "Late to the Party." I just bought my first-ever pair of yoga pants last Saturday. I know, I know! I don't know what took me so long, but holy comfort, Batman. I especially like that I can wear them outside of my apartment without looking like I just rolled out of bed. Consider me converted!

4.) "What Keeps Women From Showing Up?" by Modern Mrs. Darcy. She muses on why it is often a challenge for women to "show up." Be sure and read the comments; they're fascinating.

5.) Coffitivity
I don't know what it is about coffee shops, but I am always super productive when I'm in one. But of course, I can't always get there whenever I get the urge to write. Enter Coffitivity. It's an audio of the magical white  noise of a coffee shop, complete with (non-distracting) chatter. I already feel more productive. :)  Go check it out!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Happy 1st Birthday, Nora Catherine!


Today is my youngest daughter's first birthday. To celebrate, I decided to post her birth story, so this post is NOT for the faint of heart, or those grossed out by "birth stuff." Feel free to skip over the story and watch the Mumford & Sons video and the slideshow that my good friend Terah put together with the photographs she took :)



Nora Catherine’s Birth Story


Sunday, October 28, 2012, 9:30 pm, 38w3d
I went to bed earlier than normal because I was super tired. I felt kind of bad, but Chris assured me that I was pregnant and needed my rest. After an hour of sleeplessness, I got up to pee, and got back into bed. I think I finally fell asleep, but woke up again an hour later to pee, then an hour after that. I finally got a good stretch of sleep from 12:30 am until 3:45 am, then got up to pee yet again, but this time something was different.

Monday, October 29, 2012, 3:45 am, 38w4d
I started to feel cramps. I got up to pee and got back in bed, and felt the cramps again. 4:00 am rolled around and I decided I was hungry enough to get up and eat something, so I made some toast and then got back in bed. Chris then said it was his turn to get up and head to the bathroom, and I told him I thought I was in labor. His response: “Okay.”

I decided to start timing how far apart these cramps were occurring, and it was anywhere from six to eight minutes. After an hour of this, I decided that if it continued like this, I would call Ann, our midwife, at 6:00 am and let her know what was going on. About 5:15 am, I called my mom and told her today was probably the day. I couldn’t wait until 6:00 am to call Ann, so I called at 5:50. She sounded very tired (I found out later that she didn’t get home until after 3:00 am). I told her that I had been having contractions for over two hours and that I started to lose my mucous plug, and she told me that labor can sometimes pick up during the night but then die down later in the day, and to call back if things pick up. I sent our doula Kelley a text message immediately after and told her that I thought today was the day, that I called Ann, and that I would call Ann if things picked up. Then I sent the photographer Terah a text message to let her know that I was in labor.

Kelley called me about 7:30 am and by this time, Chris was in the kitchen making me scrambled eggs. Chris’ mom was the next person I called. She was very excited and said she would be praying for us all day. I then received a text from Kelley asking how things were, and I told her contractions were a consistent six to seven minutes apart. She said she would get ready and head on over to our house. I called the chiropractor next, which was 9:00 am, to cancel my 10:45 appointment that I had scheduled. The receptionist asked if I needed to reschedule and I told her no, I was in labor! Kelley arrived and helped me through contractions while in the fetal position on the bed. My mom sent me a text message next asking for her hourly update, and asked if she could come over. I said yes and then I received a call from Ann at 10:15 am asking how I was doing. She asked if I could walk and talk through the contractions and I told her not really, that I was mostly curled up on the bed in the fetal position. She said she had a newborn appointment at 11:00 at her house and that she would head over to our house and arrive about 12:00 pm.

We decided to get the bed ready with the spare sheet after this. We discovered that the sheet I bought at the thrift store was a double and not a queen, so I phoned my mom asking if she had an extra sheet she could bring over. She also said she would bring stuff for lunch and dinner. While waiting for people to arrive, Kelley, Chris, and I (and Hannah) hung out in the living room where I would lean on the exercise ball during contractions to help ease the pain. At one point I had to pee, so I went to our bathroom, where I proceeded to puke while on the toilet, while having a contraction. Not the most awesome thing ever.

My mom arrived at our house after a little bit and then Kelley and Chris got the bed all set up. Ann, Neva, the student midwife, and Alyssa, the assistant, arrived about 12:20 pm with all of the supplies. We headed to the bedroom to check my progress.

I got on the bed and Ann checked my progress, while Kelley was standing by me for comfort. Ann then asked if Neva could check me as well. The progress? A seven. Yes, seven centimeters dilated! Say what? Neva timed a few of my contractions while Alyssa set up and filled the pool in the living room. I sent Terah a text telling her I was at a seven and she was shocked and said she would head my way soon.

I got ready and headed for the comfort of the warm water. During each contraction, I transferred to hands and knees from a sitting position, while Kelley poured water on my back. Contractions felt like they were getting further apart, but were staying pretty consistent. I guess I didn’t really care about what time it was and how far apart the contractions were. It wasn’t my job to know anymore, like it was during the night! Neva would occasionally check on the baby’s heartbeat with the doppler, and every time I would hear the pitter patter of Hannah running toward me! She held the receiver and pushed the power button when asked to and would make the sound of the baby’s heartbeat. 

At some point, my dad arrived. He took Hannah out for a walk down our street. As usual, she picked up various rocks and sticks and leaves. There was also a trike at the end of the cul-de-sac that she hopped on. They came back and she finally wound down and fell asleep on her big girl bed! I am thankful that she was able to sleep through my labor pains.

The next to arrive was Terah with her one-month-old daughter Piper, who was born on the previous full moon! The decision to hire a photographer was one of the best I made. To capture the birth and be able to reflect on it in the future, to remember details, I would not want to have missed. Mary, Kelley’s apprentice arrived next. At that point, I was about eight centimeters dilated. When she was informed of this, she was shocked at my calmness. In the words of Ann: “This is what eight centimeters looks like at a home birth!”

I would continue to get in the hands and knees position during contractions and rock back and forth while Kelley poured the warm water on my back. Once they started getting closer together and I was nearing the urge to push, Chris came over to the pool and held my hands while I leaned on the side of the pool. Neva lubed me up with olive oil so the baby would slide on out and reduce the risk of tearing. I felt like a turkey getting ready to cook, with the warm water and oil!

The urge to push began about five minutes before 3:00 pm. Ann assisted with stretching while I pushed. The contractions were happening one right after the other and I kept pushing while holding Chris’ hands and leaning over the side of the pool while on my knees. Starting to push was tricky, as if I had forgotten how to do it. And I was afraid of tearing, so I wasn’t giving it my all in the beginning. So every time I felt a burning sensation, I would blow out a few short breaths and then get back to pushing. I cried ouch a few times but never thought I couldn’t do it. My support team was so encouraging and positive that I knew I could get the baby out. The pushing was a lot shorter than with Hannah’s birth; a total of nineteen minutes. At 3:14 pm, my baby’s head was born. One more big push, and out came Nora Catherine, in the caul. I flipped over and sat down and received my new daughter in my arms. Overwhelmed with emotion, so incredibly happy to be done pushing, I cried and started kissing her, before I knew she was a her. Someone said something about a “she” or “her” but it was instinctive, as we have another beautiful daughter. I checked between the legs and confirmed that it was a girl, and called her Nora for the first time. After the umbilical cord had finished pulsing, it was clamped and Chris cut it. I then pushed out the placenta.

Nora was then handed to Chris in a hot towel and I prepared to get out of the pool and into bed. Once I got there, I was greeted by hot towels and a fresh bed. Nora successfully latched after a bit of fumbling around and she proceeded to poop on me and all over the towels that we were wrapped in. After a little while of nursing and vitals being taken, she was weighed and measured and was examined by Ann. Six pounds, fifteen and a half ounces, and nineteen and a half inches long. Then Hannah woke up and got to meet her baby sister for the first time! She was very interested and held her while in Daddy’s lap. Kisses and hugs followed shortly. Once it was determined that everything was okay and Nora and I were both stable, the birth crew departed. My parents hung out and we had chicken for dinner. Then Kevin, my brother, arrived with his new fiancĂ©e Monica. We visited for a bit as they doted on their new niece, then they departed to get ready for the next day’s schedule. Then it was just our little family of four.



*It has been calculated that Caulbearer births may be as few as one in eighty thousand births.


*Some say that a child born this way may have special intuitive powers, be destined to be a midwife, have extraordinary luck or never die by drowning.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Get cozy!

It's getting colder outside so it's time to get out winter coats & gloves & scarves! I learned to knit right after Thanksgiving 2005 so I could make my aunt a Gryffindor scarf for Christmas. She was the one who gave me the first two Harry Potter books and I thought a long burgundy and gold scarf would be just the thing. It was the first thing I knit, other than my practice piece, and ended up being 11 feet long.

I have been knitting ever since and opened my own little Etsy shop, LadyJaneDarcy's Cozy Handknits, about two years ago. In celebration of our new blog I thought I would share a link and some discounts with anyone who stumbles upon us!

Use:
  • CATHSISTERSFS for free shipping
  • CATHSISTERS15 for 15% off any order
  • CATHSISTERS25 for 25% off a minimum purchase of $20.00
  • CATHSISTERS10 for $10.00 off a minimum purchase of $30.00
Being cozy is one of my favorite things on earth (hot tea & blankies & a good book---if only I had a fireplace!) and I love making others feel cozy, too. In case you can't tell, I really love knitting cowls! If you have an idea for one or what anything in a different color send me a message on Etsy and we will see what I can do.

Do you knit or crochet? What do you like to make?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Exactly how this grace thing works . . ."


Music is one of my very favorite things and I have been blessed to see some of my very favorite bands the last few years. Being a rather sentimental creature I like to remember the anniversaries of the most significant gigs and spend some time listening to the music.

Today is 3 years since I was blessed to see Mumford & Sons at the Paramount Theater in Seattle. I can't believe that much time has gone by and I still haven't seen them play live again! Unfortunately I have no idea where my camera card with the show pictures has gone but some lovely people put their videos on YouTube so I can relive the show through them.

At that time M&S only had "Sigh No More" and some EPs out so most of the songs performed were the amazing ones I still listen to practically daily. I say most because they also performed some early versions of songs which later appeared on "Babel."

The always delightful and eccentric King Charles opened the show, followed by Mt. Desolation, composed of members of the band Keane. I confess I usually do not listen to opening bands before I go to shows but enjoyed both immensely.

Then it was time for Mumford & Sons. I really could not believe I was seeing them play live. It was a huge crowd, with those of us on the ground floor standing cozily as close to the stage as possible, and more people up in the balcony. The band had a backdrop or two and two strings of lights going from the sides of the stage to the center of the ceiling, much as they still do now. As you can see in the video below, the lights were used to great effect. When you put on a good show because you are passionate about the music and not just "performing" you don't really need a lot of flash and bangs.

I can't really remember my favorite live song but I do remember how enthusiastic the crowd was in response to the band's joy. It is a great delight to be at a show where the crowd is swaying, dancing, singing, clapping, and participating in the music. I'm very much an introvert but when you listen to such music you cannot help moving along. Marcus Mumford is one of the most Joyful performers I have ever seen. He literally beams it when he plays and the rest of the band participates with such enthusiasm. I wished the show would go on and on.

I still listen to the songs from "Sigh No More" nearly daily. A friend of mine, who is also a fan, and I were talking about their music on Facebook one day and how we can hear their songs over and over without getting bored of them. She likened them to saying prayers such as the Hail Mary over and over. The lyrics are so rich and deep that you always find something new in them and they provide a certain comfort. I have noticed that sometimes I will be listening and a line will hit me in just a certain way and I can't help but get teary-eyed. It's like God is speaking to me. If you have never listened to Mumford & Sons I strongly recommend them. In addition to literary allusions, there is so much Catholic Truth in their music and even the sad parts have hope.

I could go on and on about their music but I'll leave you with one of my favorite songs, performed at the show I attended:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Of Saints and Sinners

I don't believe in chance. I believe that everything happens for a reason, even if I don't find out until I stand in review of my life before God. So let me dive right in.

I love autumn. It's been my favorite season for as long as I can remember. At one point in my life, I would have gladly changed my name to Willow October if I’d know I could when I was adopted. But names are a story for another time.

Some of my fondest memories were Trick or Treating with my family. And my mother was born on October 23rd, so Halloween was always a big thing when I was with her. This year, especially, it's poignant for me.

I am not a "Cradle Catholic." Although my father was raised Catholic, and the first church I attended was Catholic, I was raised far from it. I have only been a Catholic for about two and half years.

That said, I’ve been trying to embrace the Catholic lifestyle and celebrations (part of why I became Catholic) and one of those is All Saints - remembering those who have gone before us. And this is where my mother ties in: She died on Leap Day in 2012.

My mother was no saint. Some who knew her would put her into that category as soon as she died, but I was not so blind. Don't get me wrong, I loved her and I have a few precious memories of her. I am thankful that she gave me life. But she banked on me and my father's faulty Catholicism to keep him. She told me so in one of the last conversations we had. In a strange way, I have the faith to thank for being alive and having two sisters. 

I have not really been at leisure to mourn my mother. My cousin called me and told me that she had died - but they debated almost the entire day before telling me. Why? I was 4 months pregnant with my son.

While my father's family barely cared, only one of my sisters had vague memories of her, my mother's family was mostly terrible to me. I had one aunt tell me I wasn’t allowed to mourn my mother because I didn't grow up with her. (My mother gave us up when I was 7.)
I shelved mourning for her due to the pregnancy, the hostility, then nursing and caring for my children. I made a memory box for her and it’s somewhat unfinished. She didn’t have a memorial service, and she was cremated. Due to her family's infighting, even her ashes have been hidden.

It is only now that I can take a moment to reflect.

My mother left me an orphan.

For years, I was almost sure she was dead due to her lifestyle. The people who adopted me eventually disowned me, even though we are blood. I reconnected with her as an adult and while it helped me to understand her better, it ended up benefitting neither of us. Then her lifestyle caught up to her and I really lost her.

It was more devastating than I thought it would be.

Her loss brought out the worst in her family and my father's family had little sympathy - but I’ve learned from it. My faith was not shaken. The family I have with my husband is firm. The actions of my mother were refreshed in my head. I can learn from her mistakes and try to avoid them.

I can see why some things affect me the way they do now. For instance, I’ve had short hair for years, because I was so terrified of becoming her. I couldn't have long hair like she had when she was married to my father and had small children.

I can also remember the times she showed who she could've been, the mother of my dreams. 

I have my new faith too. I have a mother figure to look up to in Mary - a strange concept for me after the other mother figures I've had in my life and my Protestant upbringing. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that. I am trying to be a good mother too.

Out of all of this, I find myself thankful. Everything I’ve gone through in my life has brought me to where I am today. The pains I have endured have given me the ability to not only have sympathy for others, but empathy also. The joys have given me opportunities for praise and blessing others. The mistakes and triumphs have given me greater ability to be humble, either from pride fallen or realization my battles were not won alone. None of that would've been possible if my mother had not been determined to have me.


In this upcoming event of All Saints I think it's fitting to remember my mother. Like the real Saints who have been examples of how we should live, we can also learn from the sinners to avoid the pain. This year, I will pray to Mary and thank her for her example of how to be the Ultimate Mother. I will also pray for my mother. While her time here on earth is done, her ripple is still on the water. I want to do what I can to make sure that it's a gentle one.

Sesame Beef with Broccoli...A New Family Favorite

I originally found this recipe on Pinterest, but it included chicken instead of beef. We eat a lot of chicken in our house, so I thought I'd do something different with the recipe and use beef instead.

I feel bad, as I cannot find the pin on my boards, but seriously, I've made a ton of changes, so here's my recipe!

Sesame Beef with Broccoli

Ingredients:

(An unnecessary photo of the ingredients I will use)

5T soy sauce
5t honey
2T vegetable oil
2 (or a lot more!) green onions, white parts thinly sliced, greens reserved
4t cornstarch
1t chili paste (I don't use it, because I never have it)
3T toasted sesame seeds (I don't toast them)
2t toasted sesame oil (I just use vegetable oil, because it's what I have)
1 1/2lb stir fry beef
1T freshly grated ginger (or just a few shakes of the powder stuff like I do)
3 cloves garlic, minced (again, or just some shakes of the powder)
1 1/2c chicken broth (I didn't change this, but yes, it seems weird, because chicken and beef together?)
1T rice vinegar
1 lg head broccoli, chopped and steamed (or boiled, because the steamer is going to be used to cook rice)
Hot cooked rice

Directions:

In a med-lg bowl, whisk together 3T of the soy sauce, 1t of the sesame (vegetable) oil, and 2t of the honey. Add the beef and coat, then let sit for 20ish minutes. (Side note: you could do this the day before and have it marinating alllll night and alllll day, or even do it in the morning.)

(Marinating beef)

In a large skillet, heat 2T of your vegetable oil over med-high heat and cook your beef. I usually do it in batches, and I don't cook the beef all the way through, because it's more tender that way. Transfer your beef to a plate.

(The beef cooking in the large skillet)

In the same skillet (using the remaining oil and drippings), add the rest of the vegetable oil and the white parts of your green onions, the ginger and the garlic. Stir while cooking, about 2ish minutes, until it's fragrant (what that means, I have no idea, but I just go with it!).

(See where I burned dinner? Thankfully I couldn't taste the burned parts...)

For the sesame sauce, whisk together in a small-med bowl the following: the rest (3t) of the honey, the rest (2T) of the soy sauce, your broth, the cornstarch, vinegar, and (optional, in my recipe) chili paste. Make sure the honey and corn starch are nice and blended in! Put this stuff in the skillet and try not to burn your house down like I did! Cook and stir 2-3ish minutes (I do longer) until it's thickened and darkened in color. Then stir in your remaining 1t of your sesame (vegetable) oil.

(Here is the sesame sauce, which includes nothing sesame at all)

(The sauce, thickening and darkening in color)

This is when I then add the beef back to the skilled and heat it up a bit more, because let's face it, it's going to be cooled down quite a bit, especially with how slow I do things!

(Broccoli, cooking)

Now, for the grand finale. In a large-ish eating bowl, put your rice (sorry, I didn't photograph the rice), then your beef with the lovely non-burned (hopefully) sauce, then your broccoli, and garnish with reserved green onions and (non-toasted) sesame seeds. Enjoy!

(Yum!)

Reflections on a School Shooting

Sitting at my desk, headphones in, listening to news radio. The story of the most recent school shooting in Nevada is being discussed and I have to hold my breath. Some reports mention the 12 year old student who was the shooter made comments about no one else being able to bully him. So many people affected. My prayers for the soul of the 12 year old shooter and the soul of the 45 year old teacher Michael Landsberry, who tried to get the student to put the gun down. Also for the two unnamed students in critical condition. 

The radio reported an estimate of 30 children saw the violence. The LA Times reported 5 or 6 gunshots. That's all it took to change so many lives. This shooting is incredibly sad. It is hard to not cry out of empathy every time an event such as this takes place.

A few days before my most beloved grandmother passed away I asked her what she felt were the most important prayers to her during her life. She listed the Rosary and the Act of Contrition. Also she included the 1st prayer I remember learning from her and my mom, the prayer to our Guardian Angel. This is also the 1st prayer I have been teaching my 4 year old son (other than the sign of the cross). 

The Rosary is a weapon against evil. The Act of Contrition to remind us of our sin and if we are unable to confess is the least of what we can do to prepare for an unexpected death. The prayer to our Guardian Angel to protect us throughout the day and night. The devil is out there. We must use the "tools" we have to prepare ourselves, to fight the battle and to ask for protection. I hope to never be in any situation like this, but if I am I hope I remember these "tools".

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Five Favorites 10.23.13


1) Almay CC Cream
This stuff is magic, y'all. Magic. I'm not really a makeup every day kind of girl, but I do like to pretty it up on Sundays. I have sensitive skin that breaks out with harsh chemicals, so it's tricky business trying to find something that works for me. The search is over!!! Hooray! I wore it all day last Sunday, and my skin is still 100% clear. Yippee! Plus it has SPF 35, which is definitely a win.

2) Pear and Cinnamon Jam
I've been cranking out jam like crazy lately, and this weekend was no exception! I found some forgotten pears in the back of my fridge, and jam was pretty much the only thing i was able to make with them; they were way too gross to eat! I used this recipe from the always helpful "Food In Jars" blog. I halved it, and ended up getting around 1.5 pints. Delicious!

3) Rereading Children's Books
As you all know, my birthday was this past Saturday. I headed straight to Barnes and Noble to spend some birthday money. Lo and behold, there was a sale on the classics! I bought a book of poems by Emily Dickinson, Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass," and Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book." It's been great revisiting all the best parts of my childhood favorites.

4) Emily Dickinson
Speaking of Emily Dickinson:

It can’t be summer,—that got through;
It ’s early yet for spring;
There ’s that long town of white to cross
Before the blackbirds sing.
 
It can’t be dying,—it ’s too rouge,—       
The dead shall go in white.
So sunset shuts my question down
With clasps of chrysolite.

5) Essie nail polish in "Splash of Grenadine"
I don't normally wear nail polish, but I just had to buy this swoon-worthy light plum shade! Not too summery, not too gloomy. Love!

Head over to Moxie Wife for more favorites!

The Blog Post with ALL THE EMOTION (and a little about me)

To begin this blog post, I will begin with some back story...

I've been blessed enough to use a fabulous and wonderful midwife as my care provider for both of my pregnancies. Ann is spectacular and nobody can compare to her, in my opinion. My first birth (Hannah, 2010) took place at The Birthing Inn (TBI), and my second birth (Nora, 2012 took place in the comfort of my own home.

Fast forwarding to this year...

I went in for a routine physical on August 4. I had noticed some significant bruising on my extremities, some major fatigue, and some lightheadedness upon standing. The doctor wanted to check my cholesterol (as she does with everyone over 30) so she told me to come back for a fasting blood draw. I did that on Thursday, August 8 in the morning. I received a phone call after 5:30 pm from the doctor's office informing me that my platelets were at a critically low level and I needed to go to the ER and be admitted to the hospital to figure out what was going on. Cue freaking out...

While in the care of the ER doctor, I was informed that I had Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura, or ITP. Idiopathic = they have no idea what is causing the problem, Thrombocytopenia = isolated low platelets. All my other blood (white blood cells, red blood cells, etc) were at normal levels. I was admitted and put on a dose of corticosteroids and also received Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIg) to help boost the platelets.

Backing up a bit...

Normal platelet levels are between 145,000 and 400,000. My level when admitted: 9,000. So, after the first dose of that (and hardly any sleep that night), my platelets went up to 19,000...so, progress. That day, I got go get a needle stabbed into my hip bone for a bone marrow biopsy. In order to continue with nursing my then-9-month-old daughter, I opted to not be sedated. Yes, it hurt (more so in the following days), but it was worth it. Everything came back normal with that biopsy.

I got to stay another night in the lovely hospital and had another round of IVIg, along with continuing on the corticosteroids. I prayed the rosary that night and then again in the morning after my blood was again drawn to check my levels. Prayer works, y'all! I asked God for 100,000 platelets and He gave them to me! I met with the hematologist and she said I could go home as soon as the nurse was able to discharge me. So that was good.

I got to spend most of the weekend at home with my family, being discharged before noon on that Saturday.  My parents were great enough to keep our daughters those two days/nights I was hospitalized, so my husband could be with me all the time.

I've been getting my blood drawn every week since, and just this week, was given the okay to start doing every other week. There's a lot of detail that happened between then and now, but I will save that for another day.

I am currently unable to have any more children because apparently you either don't have a menstrual cycle, or it's extremely heavy. I have none, so no babies right now. If and when I am able to have more babies, I will not be able to use the aforementioned fabulous wonderful amazing awesome midwife, because I am now considered high risk. Instead, I am stuck with a maternal-fetal medicine doctor. Don't get me wrong, there is a definite need for this kind of provider, but I just prefer the midwifery route. I am devastated that I won't be able to have Ann anymore.

Back to why I am writing this post...

I met with our birth class (from 2010) ladies and toddlers and babies today. We meet monthly, and it's wonderful that we are all friends. The house that we met at today was right next to TBI, and I took the same exit, and all the emotions came flooding and I started bawling, yes, while driving. I had all of my prenatal appointments with both girls there and Hannah was born there, and so it will always have a special place in my heart. I didn't know it would hurt that bad just driving by.

As I was leaving to go home, I started crying again, and because Mumford & Sons' album Sigh No More was spinning in my car, I cried even harder. This album was included in my birth playlist for Nora's birth, and I will always love the album, hence why I'm still listening to it almost exclusively nearly a year later. Crying down the street, crying down the freeway...

So, traffic in one lane isn't moving as fast as I would like, so I decided to get off the freeway one exit early and take the scenic route, but again, more tears, because that's the exit we took to get gas when we were bringing Hannah home from TBI. Seriously, crying more and more, it was pretty lame. I am glad I was able to write this blog post because getting this out in the open instead of bottling it up and eventually burst is what I would usually do, and it's worse.

I will leave you with photographs of my beautiful daughters:

Hannah Colleen 12.25.2010

Nora Catherine 10.29.2012

My girls, October 2013

Thanks for listening (reading). So if you see (hear) me weeping about birth and babies and weird blood disorders, you know why.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Little About Me




Hello whoever might be reading this, my name is Ann. I am a 30 something wife, mother and cradle Cath. I am from California. I reside in the home that I grew up in which was built by my great-grandfather. I like different things, many different things. I will write more blogs and through them you can get to know me better. It might be a slow process, but it will be interesting.