Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Anyways. That's the only way I feel I can segway into the middle of this week. I am giving myself five minutes to type this, after spending 75 minutes continuing my AP lecture on the English colonies.

Will and I just had a really tough week, and I seriously praise the stars that my sister-in-law Ellen is here visiting/ helping with the girls. We can't catch a break, and can't find a regular babysitter. On top of that, I made an emergency appointment with my PCP because my arms started to go numb randomly. Suspected bilateral carpal tunnel, which means I will probably be posting here less than desired, or maybe just pictures. If that's the case, maybe I should actually use my nicer camera.

Because I need more pictures of babies and broccoli:

I need an EMG to confirm it is all carpal tunnel and not neurological, but that can't be done till November. Needless to say, I am frustrated right now. But we went to Target last night and Will has me set up with my carpal tunnel computer swag, which means I can actually type/ do work now without being in a huge amount of pain.

Okay, my five minutes is up. I'm not feeling very eloquent, and I probably need more coffee, but I just wanted to say: thanks for reading, even when I'm not writing.

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Battle Hymn for Humanity

Happy Sunday everyone! I was thinking of my friend Hilary's excellent article on music during mass ("Have You Been Missing Out on a Centuries-Old Catholic Musical Tradition?")  as our parish is... not musically blessed. Sure, maybe we could complain about not understanding Latin - but I could not understand/ recognize the song being sung in a country twang while the collection was going on; it was definitely not liturgical.

It is very sad that so many parishes do not have the ability to provide people with more beautiful music to move their thoughts better towards Heaven and God. Since tomorrow is Labor Day, we sang a lot of America-centered songs during mass today, including Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Forgive my side eye (because I really do enjoy this song), but what a completely inappropriate song for mass. Julia Ward Howe wrote this song after visiting a battle field during the Civil War, and it epitomizes the American Protestant-Christian identity in the sense of America being chosen, blessed and called to that higher purpose through election. It's essentially a 19th century pump-up song for the anti-slavery/ women's suffrage movement which is fine for American Sing-Along Songs, but not for mass.

But this is not why I am writing. What I love about this parish is not its music, but the people. It's not a vibrant parish; it is a loving parish. The pastor knows us by name, asks about how things about going (specifically - today he asked how Grace's arm is doing, for example). Will's on night shift, so today I went to mass solo with Thing 1 and Thing 2. They were overall well-behaved, and part of that is because we sat in the back so if Grace wanted to loop around the pew, she could (and did).

On our way in, a lady helped me carry in the extra carseat I use for Laura (as my extra pair of arms). Halfway during mass, a lady came to sit in the pew with us to help with Grace. She offered to carry Grace, who then started using her upset face, so I carried them both to communion - Laura in the ring sling, which I had to put her in beforehand. On the way out, ladies and gents stopped by to say hello to the girls, wish us happy Sundays and talk to Grace. They held the door for me and always make me feel very welcome at the table. I'm always meeting new parishioners because they approach me. (Needed for this introvert!)

The welcoming of this parish is one reason we joined the parish; after the first mass, the priest gave a little talk about how all children are welcome in mass, and we should want to hear them, because it means our parish is alive. Pregnant me may have cried a little bit.

The stories I am reading and hearing about Germans welcoming Syrian refugees across the boarders is exactly right. Americans need to stop congratulation everyone else and start advocating for refugees here in our country as well. America is great because of we welcome the poor, the homeless, the searching. If we don't want people to take advantage of the system, then put them in the system. Stop oppressing people who would rather risk their lives being deported here than risk being killed in their own country. Put them through citizenship classes, give them temporary visas, let them work, and let them make our home their home too.

This is SO IMPORTANT; remember that these people do not have a choice either, unless they stay to
die - these are families, women, men and children:


Citizenship is precious, yes, and so is faith. But when we keep them bottled only for the true believers, we see the disillusionment and cracks more easily. When we sing the battle hymn and forget why we're fighting, we waste the opportunity to uphold our republic. To limit immigration so as to over-complicate the process as a means to discourage is not humane. We are immigration elitists. This isn't a new concept - the Chinese Exclusion Act was only lifted in 1943, after starting as a temporary act in 1882 - but we need to move beyond this thinking that this is someone else's problem. What we support as private citizens affects the State.

The WSJ reports:
ROME—Pope Francis responded to Europe’s burgeoning immigration crisis Sunday, asking every Catholic church on the continent to set an example of Christian mercy by taking in a family of refugees. 
“May every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary in Europe host a family,” the pope told a crowd in St. Peter’s Square after reciting the traditional noon Angelus prayer. 
There are approximately 120,000 parishes in Europe, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. The pope added that the Vatican itself would receive two families in the next few days. 
The pope has made migration one of the major social causes of his pontificate. Only a few months after his election in 2013, he visited the southern Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, a major entry point for undocumented immigrants to Europe, where he denounced rich nations’ indifference to the thousands who had died trying to cross the sea from North Africa. 
His latest gesture came as Germany and Austria received, via Hungary, one of the largest waves of displaced people since World War II: thousands of migrants, many fleeing Syria and other war-torn countries. 
Some 13,000 migrants had crossed Hungary’s border with Austria by Sunday afternoon. Most of them were already in Germany, which was working to distribute them across the country. 
... “In the face of the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees fleeing death in war or hunger, and who are on the road to hope of life, the Gospel calls us, asks us to be near, the littlest and the abandoned,” the pope said. 
Pope Francis said taking in the refugees would be a “concrete gesture in preparation for the Holy Year of Mercy,” which begins Dec. 8.
Lord, may our hearts be opened to mercy of those looked over, at home and abroad. Let us not be so selfish to value our comfort over another person's life and forget our common humanity. Glory, glory, hallelujah! Let our music honor you, Lord, and our actions reflect you.

p.s. have a great Labor Day:

"America the Beautiful"

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Bonus: What can I do for the European refugees?
Donate: Catholic Relief Services
Pray: St. Alban is the patron saint of refugees
Ideas: Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

When You're the Adult: You Give More Than You Get

Yesterday, Grace had her one year evaluation with Early Intervention - she is doing well, and was recommended to continue her therapies. We are excited to have one more year with her EI therapists!

Today, I took Laura in for her six month evaluation and vaccines. Unsurprisingly, she is top of her class percentage wise for weight, head circumference and height (in that order!). Grace was extremely well-behaved once she realized that she would not get her head measured, and showed off her AFO and walking to Dr. M.

In the past few weeks, I have been searching for a new babysitter. Our former one got a new job with more hours, and we encouraged her to take it. Unfortunately, the search is (still) on.... I taught class yesterday, and I teach class again next Tuesday. I am trying not to worry about who will watch my children, but, I'm picky and I'm limited in my resources.

Will's salary covers our east-coast COL, roughly, and so the babysitter's salary must come out of my salary; and my salary - as an online history teacher - is not sizable. Then there's the hours we're asking - very part-time, but we pay fairly.

I get why people wait to have kids - it can feel really overwhelming. Expenses are almost the least of it; the time put into caring for them is more than 24/7 - it's a calling to care, a vocation to love. How can I best care for my children, even when I'm working? You the Parent have to take care of them; the little people depend on you! I see it in both the girls: the way Grace watches us and brightens up during play time or meal time; whenever Laura catches our eye.

This experience has highlighted an bygone era of villages raising children. I wish there was more community help set up in our parish, because I am sure there are numerous retired ladies who want to play with babies for a couple hours a day. Or even a parish day center in the area! It seems so vital, especially for young mothers who need more support. If the Church wants to support the vocation of marriage and the call of parenthood, she needs to respond in practicalities as well as prayer.

Each parish has their own calling, I know. To be fair, I'm surprised Will's hospital does not have a day care facility. It's the second largest employer in the region, a top 100 hospital in the country and no child care support?! There is an independent day care center one block away, but they do not have enough space for the demand. I would have to put the girls on a waiting list! (Remind me to get on my soapbox later and write them a letter.) Well! At least I have two students whose schedules could fit us in. Fingers crossed we have good interviews, compatibility and hire within the week.

Last night Will joked that all he does is make money and set up mouse traps (trap: 2, mouse: 0) while I keep the family going, the girls happy and complete my school work (teach and graduate). While residency is not easy, I had to laugh too - it feels that way!

He makes the girls so happy too, and that is the easiest gift to give them - the best gift. No toy is better than time spent with people who love and cherish you.

The paperwork will never end, the to-do list may never be accomplished, and the house never stays clean - adult life means you're always giving, always trying harder. That is good. It is good to exert yourself to help another, and to make life more beautiful for yourself and your family.

It is in giving out of love - not just duty or obligation or begrudgingly - that we experience the kind of euphoria intended to spur us on when it's tough being an adult, making all the decisions, being responsible for chores and taxes and catching the mouse that chewed on your dining room rug...

Pope Francis said at the Meeting with the Volunteers of the XXVIII World Youth Day (July 28, 2013):
"In encouraging you to rediscover the beauty of the human vocation to love, I also urge you to rebel against the widespread tendency to reduce love to something banal, reducing it to its sexual aspect alone, deprived of its essential characteristics of beauty, communion, fidelity and responsibility. 
Dear young friends, “in a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many preach the importance of ‘enjoying’ the moment. They say that it is not worth making a life-long commitment, making a definitive decision, ‘for ever’, because we do not know what tomorrow will bring. 
I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, I ask you to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes you are incapable of responsibility, that believes you are incapable of true love. I have confidence in you and I pray for you. Have the courage to ‘swim against the tide’. And also have the courage to be happy.”
This, of course, is the best part of being an adult: happy doing your thing, because wherever you've been: you're here now. Wherever you're going, you're here; rejoice and be glad. Life is hard and imperfect, but we can still enjoy it. Give more than you get, and love every minute you can.

It's really hot here... but we're loving it.
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