Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Perfect Solution To Organizing Socks Once and For All: Part One, The Need For a Perfect Solution

What do socks have to do with homesteading?  Well, nothing, really, unless you raise sheep for wool, spin the wool into yarn and then knit the socks from said yarn.  And I do intend to do that one day, but for now for me, socks really have nothing to do with homesteading.  However, before I invented my sock system, I would spend as much time folding all my other laundry as matching socks.  We are currently a family of seven, a family of seven that has 14 feet.  That means a lot of socks. 

I know it's a stretch to talk about socks on this back-to-the-land/ homesteading blog, but you'll be glad you read this... having organized socks will free up your time to do bigger and better things, like homestead.

I've read a lot about sock organization, even particularly in large families.  Most families' systems are variations of four systems:
1. They say the heck with it. They have some sort of large receptacle for socks and let their children fish out a pair or something resembling a pair when it's time to get dressed. 
2.  Each family member has some sort of special mesh bag or bucket in which he or she keeps all their own dirty socks.  They wash the socks together.
3. They use sock pros or some kind of other device to keep their socks together.
4. A certain family member, usually a tweenager, in charged with the sock matching task for the entire family.
Those four systems don't work for me and here's why:
1. The big receptacle method-  I have a pet peeve about socks that they have to match.  I also can't picture my little ones finding matching ones.  I picture them throwing the socks on the floor actually.  As the kids get older, I don't think I want them sharing socks.
2.  I also tried the mesh bags.  With my little ones, I'm lucky if I can get them to put laundry in the hamper, forget about in their own sock bag.  Plus I've had the bags open and spill out.  It just didn't work for me.
3.  Sockpros are designed for adult socks.  They don't work on baby socks.  If you stuff several pairs of baby socks into them then what's the point?  Some of those come out.  Also, it requires one to have sockpros handy when one is getting undressed.  I was never organized enough for that.
4.  I could not delegate the matching socks job.  My oldest just turned five.  I do not have a child right now old enough to have the cognitive abilities to match socks for seven people.

Little did I know that Oprah Winfrey had the perfect solution to organizing socks once and for all.  She would revolutionize everything I ever knew about sock organization.  

The mesh bag and the sockpro are sock organization
failures for our family.
The Oprah magazine held they key to the solution...

Stay tuned for my next posts where I will rock your sock world...

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Divine Mercy Chaplet For Dummies

While my father was in a coma at Bayshore Hospital, my friend suggested that we pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet for him.

What's that? I had never heard of it. I had gone to Catholic school. I had not practiced my faith in about 8 years at this point.

So I googled the Divine Mercy Chaplet. The instructions said to use a rosary. They read to say a certain prayer on each rosary bead. What the instructions did NOT say was not to say the rosary.

I dug out a rosary. I printed the instructions to both the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. With the Rosary instructions in one hand and the Divine Mercy Chaplet instructions in the other, my mother, sister and I closed the curtain around the ICU room and prayed one night at Bayshore Hospital.

It was heartfelt, I can tell you that. Even praying the rosary, I did not know I was supposed to reflect on each mystery of the rosary. And praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet, I did not know I wasn't supposed to say the rosary.

So the Our Father beads were something like this, "Our Father...but deliver us from evil. Amen. Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world."

And the Hail Mary beads were something like this, Hail and at the hour of death. Amen. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world."

Over a year later, when I was back to faith, my parish did the Divine Mercy Novena. This is when I learned the correct way to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

St. Faustina Kowalska, pray for my mom, my dad, my sister and me.

Friday, June 29, 2012


I’m going to give away the ending here: we are all OK.  All of our animals are OK, too.  The fire did not touch our house, outbuildings, firewood or garden.  We are truly blessed.  Now on with the story...

Yesterday (Thursday) when it was very overcast and had cooled down quite a bit, I went outside with the kiddos to work on my project in the chicken house.  (I am working on a stall for the goats.  I want to be able to keep a few separate for times like this when one [Jade this time] has an injury.)  The children were contentedly playing while I checked the chickens, took some clothes in, gave water to all the animals, etc.  I happened to notice my closest neighbor (who is a half mile away) drive by my house away from her house.  I gathered some of my tools.  It got darker and darker.  

Suddenly I heard the loudest thunder that I had ever heard in my life.  I turned to the children.  “We’re going in the house,” I said. 

I happened to glance south to the pasture.  FLAMES!  Straight south of me, my pasture was in flames!  

I ran into the house.  I intended to get the cordless phone to dial 911, going outside to get the children as I called.  I could not find the phone.  I tried the corded phone.  It was dead.  That’s right, the baby had been playing with the phone earlier.  I looked for the cordless phone.  I couldn’t find it.  The pager on the cordless didn’t work, it must have been off the hook, too.  

I freaked out.  My babies were outside, by the chicken house.  I went outside to get them.  I saw the pickup in the driveway.  I ran and grabbed the baby and yelled for my other two to run to the pickup.  I literally threw them in the pickup.  Snuffles the dog jumped in.  The children were on the floor of the cab.  The dog was on the seat.  The baby was in the car seat, but not strapped in.  I took off.  I somehow remembered that I had seen my next-door neighbor drive in the opposite direction as her house. 

I drove to my next closest neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Wonderful-Neighbors-One.  I kept hoping that I would see someone drive by that I could flag down to call 911.  I did not.  

As soon as I got to the road that goes to Mr. and Mrs. Wonderful-Neighbors-One’s house, I started honking. 

When I got to their driveway, I ran to their house, banged on the door and flung it open.  I was frantic.  They called 911 for me.  They called my in-laws for me.  I called Kevin at work.  I spoke to the shift commander.  I told him that I needed my husband home now, I think.  It’s all a blur.  Mr. Wonderful-Neighbor-One went to my house to check everything out for me.  I called Mrs. Wonderful-Neighbor-Two who lives further down the road.  I asked her to come help me with the animals. 

I felt so helpless.  I was at Mr. and Mrs. Wonderful-Neighbors-One’s house.  Their dog jumped in my pickup at one point.  I had my dog and my children, but I left all my possessions, my van that I had just dropped comprehensive on, my cats, my goats, my chickens, my cows, etc.  I didn’t know what to do to fight the fire myself.  I thought about dunking the stocktank, getting a hose and all sorts of other crazy things.  
Mrs. Wonderful-Neighbor-One offered to stay with the children while I went back.  I hopped in the pickup and went back to my house. 

On my way, I ran into Mr. Wonderful-Neighbor-One.  We stopped in the middle of the road. He said the fire had blown east and they pretty much had it under control.  My house was OK.  

I still went back to the house. I found my father-in-law in my driveway.  I must have hugged him forty times.  There was at least a fire truck in the pasture.  There were some little flames, but not much else. 

The Genoa Fire Department came.  Mrs. Wonderful-Neighbor-Two came.  Some man came with a red pickup and a water tank on trailer.  Kevin came home.  I hugged him.  My father-in-law left to pickup the children from Mr. and Mrs. Wonderful-Neighbors-One’s house .  I really don’t remember the order of all of this.

This is the Genoa Fire Department getting the part closest to our house...

Mrs. Wonderful-Neighbor-Two left  once she’d seen that Kevin was here and that the house and animals were OK.  Kevin and I went out to the pasture in the pickup.  We saw Kevin’s brother, my brother-in-law.  Although he doesn’t live close by, he happened to be visiting my in-laws (his parents).  He was out there with my father-in-law’s pickup with a trailer hooked to it and a giant water tank on the trailer.  

Sure I knew my brother-in-law, but there were all these people.  It was kind of like giving birth in a hospital- all these people in and out of your room or your pasture. 

Kevin left to get a shovel.  When he got back, he kept sending me to get him stuff.  I got rakes.  I got him his farm boots (since he didn’t want to ruin his work shoes).   I got water.  I got the baby formula and sent it with my father-in-law who had come to get it.  I think I was making him nervous as I was trying to put out the little embers with the rake. I am six and a half months pregnant. 

On one of my trips back and forth, I drove so quickly through the pasture that I knocked down the spare tire holder thing and was dragging it on the ground.  I think that’s the time my father-in-law had come for the formula.  He crawled on the ground and put the spare tire holder back up with wire.
On my way back into the pasture, Mr. Wonderful-Neighbor-Three stopped me.  
“I have your spare tire,” he said.  He took it out of his pickup and put it in the back of mine. 
“Who are you?” I asked.
“I’m So&So,” he said, using his real name.  “I live blah-blah.”

“Oh, you live in the blah-blah-house.” I said.  I asked him the ages of his kids, since I knew he had little ones.  I told him that since our kids were the same age, we’d have to get them together for a playdate. 

Again the order of exactly what happened when was blurry.  Mr. Wonderful-Neighbor-Four happened to own an entire water truck which he brought over.  More firemen (and some fire-ladies) came.  More neighbors came.  I don’t think I even knew who was here, or who they were.  I think Kevin knew most of them.  I know I asked the red pickup man his name and he told me, but I forgot it. “I know your husband,” he said.  

Mr. Wonderful-Neighbor-Five came over.  He had a fire down the road on his land, and he came over to help here when they were done with his fire.  

All the wonderful neighbors, all the wonderful firemen and fire ladies and my brother-in-law all left. 
Here are some of the fire trucks leaving...
The smoke was still smoldering in little areas where there were cow manure patties.  Kevin and I went around and put them out with the rakes.  

This is what a pregnant woman looks like putting out a manure pile fire with a rake...
I should note that Kevin was there, but he was still in his uniform.  I'm not allowed to post pictures of him on the internet in his uniform because of his profession.
I shudder to think about the what-ifs.  What if it went towards the house?  What if I didn’t see it right away?  What if the first time I noticed it it was already in the house?  What if my neighbors weren’t home? 

The fire was only about a football field away from our house.  It blew east, and a little north and south, too.  If it had gone north before east it would have taken out our outbuildings, our animals and our house.  It didn’t burn our garden or even our firewood.  The area burned was on two sides (south and east) of our house.  It was about 30 acres-ish burned.  I can’t imagine what the results would have been if the fire blew in a different direction, or if my neighbors or firemen weren’t there.  Thank you God for your protection.  Thank you neighbors and firemen.

This is looking north... I don't have any pictures of actual flames...
This is looking northwest.  Those are our trees...

Burnt grass...

Yucca and cactus don't burn...

Thank you, Hugo Fire Department...

Thank you, Hugo Fire Department...

My father-in-law's trailer with the water tank and the Hugo Fire Department...

Cactus still doesn't burn...

Some weeds don't either...

Cow manure patties on the other hand burn really well...

These are most of the fire trucks when they were just about done...
An overview, looking east...

The steers seemed pretty excited about eating the yucca.  Of course this was after the fire trucks left and the steers went out the open gate and Kevin had to get them back in...

Yummy yucca...

I took this this morning.  This is looking south, from the northeast corner of our property.  The fence post you see on the bottom right is part of the fence by the road.  If the fire had been this far north a little further west, it would have burned down the house...

The cows still seem pretty excited about it...

The fire even missed (barely) the wood that Kevin had dragged out there to cut for firewood...

On the left you can see our property line with the neighbor.  She got a little damage, too.

Looking southwest...

The tire tracks are from the fire department putting the fire out...

The fire went almost to the southern border of the property, but did not take out any farm fields there...

I think it's amazing that that little strip of grass didn't burn...
I've linked this to the Prairie Homestead Barn Hop

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Organic Chemistry: Sixth Time's the Charm

I've been very depressed this past week when I look at or think about my garden.  You can read an update of it on my other blog here.  I have failed at the garden again this year.  My dream has been to have an organic vegetable farm.  If I can't even garden for my family, how can I grow for other people and make a living that way?

I've been pondering whether I should just give up or keep trying.  And by giving up, does that mean for this year only, until my children learn to wipe their own butts or forever?

I try to think about what I've failed at.  Organic Chemistry is the first thing that comes to mind.  I have a BS degree (Bachelor of Science, not Bullsh**) in Biology from Rutgers University in New Jersey.  I failed Organic Chemistry five times.  I still have a degree.
My first attempt at Organic Chemistry was during summer of 1997.  It was my first summer session and my first experience with Bush Campus.  That summer Rutgers hired a visiting professor from a foreign university to teach Organic Chemistry.  Dr. Really-Thick-Accent, a 300 member class and me just didn't mix.  I failed. 

I don't remember when my second attempt was.  I know after I failed the second time, I marched myself on over to Bush Campus and had a meeting with Dr. Professor-In-Charge-Of-Organic-Chemistry-on-all-of-the-New-Brunswick-Campuses.  Since I had failed twice, he let me sit in another class of Organic Chemistry.  He would adjust my second failing grade.  I was elated.  This would erase my F.  Except that I failed it yet again.  I was too embarrassed to meet with him again or to even attempt Organic Chemistry at Rutgers again.

So I put Organic Chemistry off until what I thought would be my last semester, Spring 2000.  I took Organic Chemistry I&II & their labs at the same time at Brookdale Community College.  I had two different professors.  (I also took a bunch of classes at Rutgers, for a total of 21 credits, and had a full time job.)

I was late to my first day of class at Brookdale Community College, to my very first Organic Chemistry class.  I had a difficult time finding the building, finding where to park, etc.  Well fast forward to the second day of class... I was off from work that day.  I was running late.  I practically ran to class.  I stopped another student in the hall and asked the time, right before I walked into the class.  It was 9:35.  Class started at 9:30.  Dr. Brookdale-Professor-Who-Was-A-Stickler-For-Time actually stopped class when I walked in.  He made an example out of me.  He said that I interrupted the whole class.  He said it was better not to come to class than to come late.  He went on and on about timeliness.  He made me cry.  I sunk down into my chair, pulled my baseball cap down low over my eyes and the tears welled up.  I lasted all of about two minutes in class.  I walked out. 

Needless to say Dr. Brookdale-Professor-Who-Was-A-Stickler-For-Time and I did not get off on the right foot.  I went to see him at his next office hours.  He was unapologetic.  I failed his class.  I missed a lot of it since I always suffer from running-late-everywhere-disease.  I also was really bad at memorizing arrows.  His tests weren't that hard actually, if you memorized the reactions he gave you in class and where the arrows went.  Since I missed a lot of class, it was an F.

I got A's in both Organic Chemistry labs.  I got a C during my first attempt at Organic Chemistry II.  A different professor taught that class, Dr. The-Only-Man-to-Ever-Pass-Me-in-Organic-Chemistry. 

I was so depressed about failing Organic Chemistry I.  I could have walked at graduation anyway, but my mom couldn't make it.  Between my depression over my failure and my mom's schedule conflict, I didn't walk. 

I didn't want to ever deal with Brookdale or Dr. Brookdale-Professor-Who-Was-A-Stickler-For-Time again.  I took Organic Chemistry Part I that summer at Middlesex County College.  I had a hard time getting to class early in the morning.  I failed there, too.  (Since that was the only class that I ever took at Middlesex, I just neglected to Rutgers about it.  Oops.)

I went to see Dr. Professor-Lady-Who-Was-In-Charge-of-Biology-Degrees-at-Rutgers-New-Brunswick.  I was hoping that I could get out of taking Organic Chemistry I.  I passed Organic II.  Organic I was the only thing standing between me and graduation.  She told me to change majors.  I needed Organic I for a Biology degree.

With a lot of pride swallowing, I again attempted Organic Chemistry I at Brookdale Community College.  I took it with Dr. The-Only-Man-to-Ever-Pass-Me-in-Organic-Chemistry. My class was going well.  A few days after it was too late to register for any classes at Rutgers that semester, I got a letter from Rutgers which said in order to graduate, I must retake a class that I got a D in.  I was now considered a 2001 graduate.  There were different requirements.  I got an A in Organic Chemistry I that semester.  In Spring Semester 2001, I retook Human Parasitology. 

I obtained my degree in May 2001.  I don't say that I graduated because I didn't attend graduation.  I could have.  My mom could have even come this time, but I was just so beat up about it.  I got my degree in the mail. 

As the icing on the cake, when I did get my degree in the mail, they sent me the wrong graduation program with it.  My program was from Douglass College and not Cook.  My name would have at least been printed in the Cook College one. 

Does it matter that I probably broke the record for taking Organic Chemistry I?  It doesn't.  This whole blog post dwells on the past, I guess.  People will ask, "Do you have a Bachelors Degree?" not "How many times did you fail Organic Chemistry?" 

My point is that I failed (and failed and failed and failed and failed), but one day I did get an A.  I even had to retake Human Parasitology as another slap in my face waste of time, but I have that piece of paper (somewhere) with my name on it.  (I also have the debt to go with it, but that's another story.) 

Is my garden the same way?  Do I need to break the record on failing before I finally get it right?  Well, I'm gonna try again...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Josie, Joany, Kevin and Me

Today I went into a local store that I normally don't go into.  I ran into Josie (not her real name).  I first met Josie a few years back when we were co-workers.  For some reason, Josie would always just start talking to me about her deep and personal problems.  I never asked her to.  We weren't particularly chummy, but I guess she thought that I was a good listener.  Josie was quite a bit younger than me.  She was looking for her Mr. Right.  She made a series of really wrong choices, with a series of Mr. Wrongs.  She was constantly in love with Mr. Wrong. They all treated her horribly, some bordering on physical abuse.  She stopped working at that place, but I would see her now and again.  It seemed to always be the same story.  I would from time to time try to quietly encourage her to make different choices in regards to the latest Mr. Wrong.  She never did make these correct choices.  Even though I hadn't seen her in a while, nothing has changed.  She is working yet another minimum wage-ish job and now she has a baby.  My heart goes out to her.

Many years ago at another job in another state, I used to work with Joany (not her real name).  I was a lot younger (and immature) myself.  Joany was even younger than me.  Joany was a lot like Josie.  Joany was looking for her Mr. Right.  She was always in love with Mr. Wrong, a series of them in the years we worked together.  Her relationships seemed to always end in restraining orders.  The different Mr. Wrongs were abusive towards Joany, in varying degrees and in varying methods.  I outspokenly gave her my opinion now and again about how she should make some different choices.  She never did make those correct choices.  Joany stopped working there and I also moved on.  We lost touch.  Thanks to the wonder of social networks, Joany and I are back in touch.  Years later, Joany is in a similar situation to ones she had been in the past.  Throw two babies into the mix now.  Yeah, poor Joany and poor Joany's children.  My heart goes out to her. 

When I worked with Joany and I would hear about the latest part of the saga, I remember remarking to my boyfriend at the the time.  "How could she let him treat her that way?  How come she hasn't left him?  Why does she let him get away with treating her like that?" 

"Never spit in the wind because the direction will turn and it will hit you in the face."  That saying is one of my mom's little wise sayings.  She's right. 

Sometime after the time I knew Joany, I ended up just like her.  I was looking for Mr. Right.  I was constantly "in love" with a series of Mr. Wrongs.  The Mr. Wrongs were abusive to me, in varying degrees, in various ways.  Although I never had to get a restraining order or anything, I did a lot of stupid things and got myself in a lot of stupid situations.  Things that I look back on now and shake my head at.  Some of my well-meaning friends gave me advice to ditch the Mr. Wrongs.  Of course I never listened.  It was only when the Mr. Wrongs did something so ugly and horrible that I was snapped out of that particular Mr. Wrong. 

And then there was Kevin, my wonderful husband.  In this same time period I had become friends with Kevin.  Sure we had never met.  He lived across the country.  He had become my best friend.  We talked a lot.  He had become my rock-steady.  I was embarrassed to tell him some of the Mr. Wrong's antics.  I actually had found myself falling in love with Kevin.  Kevin was Mr. Right.  He treated me so.  And he still does.  And he will always.  Love came softly. 

The only difference between Josie, Joany and me is Kevin. 

I have no right to shake my head on a day like today when I see Josie.   We are really the same.  I have that same "something" wrong with me that Josie and Joany have wrong with them.  It is why we have made the wrong choices.  I finally made the right one (Kevin).  I don't want to think about what life would be like if it wasn't for Kevin.  If there's hope for me, there's hope for Josie and Joany.  I should pray for them more.  Someone must have really been doing a lot of praying for me.  It amazes me how I do have Kevin and I'm not just like Josie and Joany now. 

The getaway-mobile parked in front of the church where we got married...
Kevin, you rescued me.  I love you more and more every day, Kevin. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Not Getting Davy Jones

I'll let you in on one of my dirty little secrets: I am a really big Monkee fan.  The Monkees?  you say.  Aren't they my parents' age? Well, yeah, they are actually all older than my parents.

And, yes, I have been in mourning a little bit for Davy Jones.  He passed away February 29, 2012.

So why is a Jersey-girl-turned-Traditional-Catholic-and-farmer such a crazy fan?  I really can't explain why.  I've been a fan since around third grade.  It was then that Nickelodeon ran the Monkees TV show on in the afternoons.  I would watch the Monkees on TV, every day after school.  The fact that the TV show was filmed 20 years before and that it was a manufactured band imitating the Beatles was lost on my 8 year old brain. 

In fourth grade, two friends and I had a little "Monkee Club" at school.  In fourth or fifth grade, my mom took another friend and me to see Davy Jones at the Middlesex Mall in Edison, NJ.  I think I dropped down my infatuation a notch for the high school years.  The Monkees show was no longer airing and they were no longer cool.

In college, I discovered a whole Monkees world.  I discovered their Missing Links cds.  These were three volumes of alternate editions and songs that never made it to records.  I discovered the whole Monkees story- the fact that in spite of their beginnings, they were four very talented men who really did write some music and play some instruments.  Yet they had different artistic differences which led to their demise as a group. 

To give you an idea of my devotion to the Monkees, in 2001 I was taking one last course to finish up my degree at Rutgers.  I was working as a Garden Shop Manager at Kmart.  I worked an overnight to catch up on the freight.  The Garden Shop had their own sound system, separate from the store.  I brought my Monkees cds and danced and sang the night away.  I was having a great time actually.  And then about 2 am a man in his pajamas knocked on the door.  He wanted to know what that noise was.  "It's the Monkees," I explained simply.  He yelled and yelled at me.  He lived right behind the store.  The speakers were on in the outside part of the garden shop.  The Monkees were keeping him awake.  I'm glad that my store manager thought the whole incident was hilarious.  I didn't get fired. 

I saw the Monkees in concert twice in 2001 and Peter Tork twice.  During the concert at the State Theater in Easton Pennsylvania, I went way up to the front and simply kneeled on the ground, right by the stage.  That was the closest that I ever got to Davy. 

The Monkees at the State Theater, Easton, Pennsylvania, March 2001

I went through a period in my reversion to the Catholic faith where I swore off the Monkees.  Most of their songs were about lust and, um, un-Catholic things.  How could I poison my mind like that?  I was trying to direct myself towards God, not the other way.  In the years since, I've kind of mellowed out and become less extreme.  Yes, I am a Monkee fan.  Yes, I am a Traditional Catholic.  No, listening to the Monkees is not a near occasion of sin for me. 

I was pretty sad when I found out that Davy Jones had married a lady my age.  I had always thought that I was too young to marry a Monkee.  I guess I wasn't.  I married Kevin instead. 

I strongly considered seeing the Monkees in Denver during their 45th Anniversary tour in 2011.  I was due in less than a week and I had been having contractions.  My budget and practical side decided against it.  "I can go to see them on the 50th Anniversary,"  I said to my husband.  As it turns out, that very concert in Denver was the last time that three of the Monkees played together. 

A part of me will always want to be Marcia Brady.  I will always wish Davy Jones played at my school dance and that I was his date there.  I wish it was me and not Marcia "Getting Davy Jones" at my dance. 
Davy Jones and Marcia Brady

A part of me will always believe in 1334 Beechwood.  (1334 Beechwood was the Monkees' address on their TV show.)  Four hot young men sharing a beach house, trying to make a go of living on their own and living a dream.  Wasn't that what my post college apartments were about?   (Well, maybe we were two hot young girls living in a ghetto apartment, but you get the picture...)  The Monkees on their TV show were clean-cut (well maybe long haired) corny guys who always managed to pay their rent and have some laughs.  It's a perceived reality- one we would love to be real.  For me, a little bit of 1334 Beechwood would always be real. 

The Monkees on their TV show set beach house, 1334 Beechwood

I even planned naming my cats and children after the Monkees.  My two cats in my first apartment were Peter and George.  Peter was named after Peter Tork, and George after George Micky Dolenz.  I always thought that I'd have two sons and name them Michael (after Michael Nesmith) and David (after Davy Jones).  I do like the name Michael, but I doubt that I'll have a David because that's already a name on my husband's side.  My cat Peter died this month and my sons have different names, so, no, I'll never have my very own Monkees. 

When I was training for my new job at the time (2005) in Shamokin Dam Pennsylvania, Davy Jones came twice into the store after my shift had ended.  I was crushed.  I missed Davy.  Apparently he was a regular customer of Ollie's Bargain Outlet. 

Yes, I will always miss and mourn Davy.  Unlike Marcia Brady or even the cashier at Ollie's, I've never met him.  But a little part of me will always love him, his music, 1334 Beechwood.  I'll always want to "get Davy Jones". 

Eternal rest, grant onto him, Oh Lord, and may Your perpetual light shine upon him.  May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God forever rest in peace. Amen.

Rest in peace, Davy Jones.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mary and the Ceiling Tiles

Saturday was the town of Hugo's semi-annual ceiling tile painting library book donation event. Osborne's, the local supermarket in Hugo, donated ceiling tiles and paint. If a participant donated a new library book, he or she painted a ceiling tile to be hung up at Osborne's.
At first my children, Larry (now 3) and Filomena (now 2) were extremely enthused. They were so exited! But after the reality set in of painting an entire 2 foot by four foot tile, their enthusiasm soon wavered. I did a lot of work on their tile to clean it up. I had to make it presentable. Isn't that what moms are supposed to do with toddler craft projects? It seriously ended up being a mommy-project.
As I was working on painting the tile, pregnant and baby in my lap, as my two toddlers fussed and fussed since they had lost patience, I started thinking that this was a great analogy. (It was well past nap time.) I had to clean up my children's work to make it at least somewhat acceptable. When Catholics pray to Mary, she needs to clean our prayers up to make them acceptable to God.  

When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own. (John 19: 26-27)
This is when Jesus was hanging on the cross, crucified and dying. St. John and Mary were by his side, even though the rest of the apostles had abandoned him. Jesus gave His Mother to St. John. St. John here represents all of us. Jesus gave His Mother to all of us. So she is our heavenly mother.

When we pray to her, we are actually not praying to Mary herself. We are asking her to pray to God on our behalf. This is similar to you asking a friend to pray for you or a loved one. Since she is our mother, she cleans up our prayers and makes them suitable, much the way I cleaned up the ceiling tile to make it suitable. Isn't it audacious and prideful to go directly to God and think that's suitable? It would be like the first rendition of the ceiling tile.

Also, Mary is Jesus's mother. He is still obedient to her. He is perfect and is also the perfect example of everything, even obeying "Honor Thy Mother and Father." He obeys His Mother. I thought this ceiling tile experience was a good analogy for any Protestants who do not understand why Catholics do certain things. I hope that I've clarified why Catholics pray to Mary. Here's the final result on the ceiling tile...

Monday, March 19, 2012

98% of Catholics Have Used the Pill

With all the latest news stories concerning Obamacare and the contraception mandate, one statistic that has come out over and over again is that 98% of Catholics have used the pill.

You can read here about how it's an extremely flawed study, as well as see a link to a pdf download of the actual study.

Study or not, 98% or not, the fact is that many many couples who consider themselves Catholic use artificial means of contraception. (Many other Catholic couples abuse NFP. See Father's sermon here for an explanation.)

Or maybe they just all have fertility problems. Ahem.

Take my family for example... All of my grandparents, with the exception of one whose father died young, were one of nine or ten. All of my grandparents, great aunts and great uncles (whose children were roughly baby boomers) at most had three children. Then my parents and all of their cousins also at most had three children. Some must have been infertile, some must have died young, some must have abused NFP, some must have never met their Mr. or Miss Right, but I would bet that the greater majority of these relatives used artificial contraception. What happened?

I grew up with the expectation to lead a double life. I was supposed to have friends and boyfriends and date. I was also supposed to go to college so I could get an advanced degree and have a great career. I was also supposed to remain a virgin until marriage and raise a family. You can only serve one master. I failed. I willfully lost my innocence while in college and now I am a stay-at-home mom with a large student loan that my husband pays. With those expectations, it's no wonder I failed. I'm not saying that I don't take responsibility for my own sins and actions. I do, but I was set up for failure.

Seriously, put two young and in love people together for large amounts of time... the result...
Also, expect a young woman to spend time and money studying for a higher degree and don't teach her to make a home, yet expect her to... the result...

I managed to glean a little bit from my Catholic home and Catholic school education. I knew that life began at conception. I also knew that the pill was abortifacient. I could reason that if the pill could cause the killing of a baby, it was very wrong.

Yet I wanted the pill. I wanted to have my cake and eat it to. I wanted to do those activities reserved for married people, yet still not have to worry about becoming a parent. The answer to those seemingly contradictory goals was the pill.

At two points during my college-ish years, I broke down, subjected myself to the humiliation of a 'lady's exam' and got prescriptions for the pill. I even filled them.

At one of those doctor's visits, I saw a nurse practitioner.
"Is this particular pill abortifacient?" I asked her.
"No, not if you use it correctly," she lied to me.

I took her word because I had wanted to believe her. I took the pill.
Now any of you who know me know that I am a scatterbrain who hates routine. I was not good at taking a pill every day at the same time, or even every day. I wasn't using the pill correctly. Even if I had bought the nurse practitioner's lie, the pill was still abortifacient because I was a scatterbrain.

So the outcome was that I took the pill for one month each two separate times, but I did not actually partake in bedroom activities for those time periods because I was so afraid of causing an abortion. (This was much to the chagrin of my boyfriend.) (I should also add that I hated the effect the pill had on my body.)

I resented the nurse practitioner's lie. It turned me off to the prospect of a third try.

In this same time period, I had fallen away from the Church. When my father died, I saw things in a whole new light. I felt the need for religion. I was open to about any Christian faith.

However, I still knew life began at conception. I still knew the pill was abortifacient. I researched various faiths. It seemed that only the Catholic faith prohibited the pill. How could a religion be the right one if it permitted abortifacient contraception? This is the main reason why I am a Catholic today.

I actually thought I had fertility problems before I got married. Nothing ever happened. Now I've been married for less than four years and am expecting my fourth child. It is truly God's grace, after he blessed me with the gift of fertility, that I did not become a parent sooner. I certainly had the opportunity.

Besides the fact that this often quoted study is a false study, I feel a twinge of guilt when I hear '98% of Catholics have used the pill'. I am in that 98%, I guess. I went so far as trying the pill twice, even though I chickened out on such intended activities. And it is actually the prohibition of that pill by the Catholic Church which led me back into the flock.

Because of my experiences, I have a special passion for the monstrosities of the pill. And it is beyond atrocious that our wonderful country is trying to force us Catholics into funding something which is against our religion.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Eagles Wings vs Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above

With all that good Catholic education, I was not equipped to defend my faith. I attended Rutgers University for college. I fell on my butt, faith-wise.

One of my friends had started attending the Traditional Latin Mass. This was after I graduated from Rutgers. We were living in South Jersey. She invited me to Mass with her once. It was a weeknight feastday (maybe Corpus Christi?). After Mass there was a procession. I had never seen people wearing babushkas for Mass, Latin, a procession... it was all new. It was strange. I literally thought it was a cult.

My friend would occasionally guilt me into going to Mass. I'd drift in every once in a while. Long story short, when my father died, I had a reversion back to the Catholic faith. I started attending the Traditional Latin Mass parish, just because my friend went there. At the time I was open to any faith. I tried to learn what the Catholic faith actually taught. I was hooked on the Latin Mass because it seemed that the Novus Ordo Mass didn't match up to what the Catholic faith taught.

(I should add that I always 'knew' it was wrong to have an abortion. I could logically conclude that it must also be wrong to use abortifacient contraception. When I researched other faiths, I learned that they all permitted abortifacient contraception. I knew that those faiths must be wrong. This is one of the main reasons that I came back to the Catholic faith and not another religion.)

So for the first time in my life, I learned what the Catholic faith taught. It seemed that in all those years of Catholic school, we just danced around the truth. it seemed that the parishes I knew did not match up to the actual Catholic faith.

Contraception is a big one. I knew of a few families at my school who had four children. There was one family at St.Another So&So who had eight? children. They were the only ones. Most people had two children. Either everyone had fertility problems or there was a whole lot of contraception going on. I looked at families who attended the Traditional Latin Mass and they had 8-10 children.

St. AnotherSo&So seemed to emphasize us and not God. "Here I am Lord", "We Are Companions On the Journey", "He will raise you up on eagle's wings", "Let Us Build the City of God", as opposed to Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above.

There's a lot more to my reversion. It will be the subject a some future blog posts.

But for now, as promised, here is a little explanation of terminology and history.

In the 1500's, the Council of Trent codified what had been the Mass for centuries. There were very minor changes in the Mass over the centuries until the Novus Ordo Mass. Novus Ordo is Latin for 'New Order' referring to the New Mass. In addition to the Novus Ordo Mass being in the vernacular (local, not Latin) language, parts were cut out , chopped and watered down.

Vatican II was a council of the Catholic Church in the 1960's. Like any other council, they reaffirmed doctrine. The Novus Ordo Mass came into being slightly after the close of the council. The actual documents of Vatican II are wonderful. However, there were many in the Church who sought to do "modernize" it. They used Vatican II as an excuse. One of many examples was the folk mass. Using the excuse of Vatican II (even though the folk mass is not mentioned in the council documents) folk masses (guitar strumming hippie-like songs) became almost the norm. Go into the pews of any Catholic Church today and you'll find the Glory and Praise Hymnal. Although the Glory & Praise Hymnal was not for folk masses, it is nonetheless really bad music. There are a few of the old songs, but it is mostly the "Eagles Wings" type faire. In other words, they scrapped centuries of tradition and replaced it with guitar strummin'.

When I refer to Novus Ordo, I am not just referring to the Mass itself. I am referring to the entire modernist goings on that are in the 'spirit' of Vatican II. The 'spirit' of Vatican II is really hoopla. It's just an excuse. Go read the Vatican II documents. They're great.

When I say the Traditional Latin Mass, I mean the Mass of 1962, which is the one that is currently allowed to be used in addition to the Novus Ordo.

The Novus Ordo Mass has caused a lot of controversy. For example, there was a bishop (Lefebvre) who had permission from the vatican to have an order of priests (SSPX, Society of St. Pius the tenth) who would only say the old Mass, using the books of 1962. He ordained four bishops to continue the SSPX. He didn't have permission. He and his bishops were excommunicated. (Pope Benedict XVI later lifted the excommunications, but the society is still not under the pope and bishops.) There are splinter groups off the SSPX (like the Methodists split from the Anglicans) such as the SSPV. Then you have sedevacantists. They believe that the chair of Saint Peter is empty. In other words, Pope Benedict XVI is not the real pope. There are all kinds of sedevacantists. They seem to agree that this last few popes were false popes. Some just think the chair is empty. Some have elected there own popes. A group in Kansas is one example where they have their own pope.

I personally am a Roman Catholic who prefers the Traditional Latin Mass. I am faithful to the magisterium, which means that I will only attend Masses which are under the jurisdiction of the bishop and the diocese. (Although I have been to SSPX Mass a few times.)

Traditional Latin Masses are rare. I live 90 miles from the closest one. I can't always get there because of the stage of life I'm in with the young children. Like any other Catholic, I have an obligation to attend Sunday Mass. I attend Novus Ordo when I have to. I honestly don't get much out of it.

In addition to the Mass itself, Novus Ordo and Traditional Latin Masses are associated with different cultures. TLM parishioners for the most part don't contracept. Novus Ordo parishioners must all have fertility problems, ahem.

Learning Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above from Sister Act

I come from a family of "good" Catholics. We're Italian. Italians are Catholic.

I grew up in New York and New Jersey. Everyone that I knew was either Jewish or Catholic. In my little kid mind, I thought that those were the only two religions. I knew Jesus was Jewish and Jewish people didn't believe in Jesus. As I said, it was little kid logic.

I attended half of first grade at St. Claire of Assisi School in Staten Island. We moved to New Jersey midway through the school year. In all fairness, I don't remember much about St. Claire. I remember my uniform was green, there were 45 kids in the class and that I was afraid of the nun.

I went to public school for the rest of first grade and all of second. In second grade, I attended CCD at the local parish, St. So&So. I received the sacraments of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion there. My sister was also baptized there at St.So&So.

I remember learning the Act of Contrition in CCD class. (The Act of Contrition is a prayer to express our sorrow for sins.) Although I learned another version (more on that later) the prayer still started off with the same 'O my God'. We had to practice reading it aloud and then memorize it.
I raised my hand. "I can't say that," I told the CCD teacher.
"Can't say what?" she asked.
I think I whispered the first three words.
I explained that my mom said never to say "O my God". It was the same as saying a bad word.

In third grade, I started school at St.AnotherSo&So. I made my Confirmation and graduated from there both in eighth grade. After that, I went to Bishop Somebody High School.

In other words, I went to Catholic school for half of first grade and third through twelfth. My family always went to church on Sunday, gave up something for Lent and didn't eat meat on Fridays in Lent. We said grace on Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter. We were "good" Catholics.

I remember learning about the Baltimore Catechism. At the time I knew what year it was published. I still did not know what a catechism actually was.

At Bishop Somebody High School, we learned about various methods of contraception. We learned about the existence of NFP, but it was a great mystery of what it actually was. (NFP, Natural Family Planning, is a method on contraception where one strongly observes the woman's body for signs of fertile times. The couple simply refrains from consummation on certain days. Since there is nothing active done during the actual act, the Catholic Church permits its use.)

Somewhere along the line, I learned that the Church used to have Latin Mass, but we don't do that anymore. It changed in a council, Vatican II in the 1960's.

I knew not to eat meat on Fridays in Lent. I knew you should go to Confession periodically and that if you didn't you shouldn't receive Holy Communion.

My family were parishioners at St. AnotherSo&So, where I had gone to school. We usually attended the folk Mass. Our school liturgies were also filled with folk songs and guitars. I learned Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above from Sister Act and Ave Maria from Barbara Streisand.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I miss you, Daddy!

I had a crazy dream last night. Kevin and I were already married, but we were divorced, living apart and engaged. We had legally divorced to make living apart easier. I was living and working in Pennsylvania still. Then my house in the Poconos had sold. I was living with my parents in New Jersey, commuting to work in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. In the dream, I was sorry that I had sold my house. My house was a lot bigger and nicer in the dream than in real life. I was living with my parents, both of them. In the dream, my dad hadn't died. He wasn't a ghost or anything. It was just as if he had never died. My life had gone on, and so had my dad's.

When I dream of my father, my dreams are usually like that- some warped version of my own life, with my dad living in this current time, as if he had never died.

My father's name was Larry. My oldest son's name is Larry, too. I was just sitting on the couch, holding him and reading to him. My Larry, Oh my beautiful Larry. You are only three years old. If you had only known your grandfather... My dad has been dead for over seven years. I still miss him.

Some days I miss him a lot more than others. Today is one of those days. Was it my stupid dream this morning? Was it the thoughts of my son Larry, who never knew his grandfather? Is it my guardian angel, poking me and telling me that my dad's in purgatory and needs prayers? I really don't know the answer.

I am still Daddy's little girl. Sure, Daddy, after your death, I dropped out of grad school and got a new life twice... a new life in Wilkes-Barre and the Poconos in Pennsylvania, and now a new life in the middle of nowhere in flat Colorado. I am a practicing Catholic now. I have a lot of land, a wonderful husband who loves me and three soon to be four beautiful children. We have a lot of dreams and hopes for the future.

Sure, Daddy, I may look a lot different on the outside, but I am still really your little girl. I miss you, Daddy. I wish that you were here. I wish that you could have known your grandchildren, your namesake Larry, my great husband Kevin, etc. I wish that I could share my hopes and dreams with you. Why does an obnoxious Jersey girl become a farmer's wife in Colorado? Daddy, you would understand.

I guess what I am saying is that a lot of times, I still miss my Daddy.

If you are reading this and you are so inclined, please say a little prayer for my daddy's soul. His name is Larry.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Why I am CoLAURAdo: Part Two- Spitting In the Wind II

Let me take a step back and explain a little bit about this little blog series. I am a true Jersey girl living in Colorado. I often get a lot of flack from certain people that I know about my decision to live here. They are people who love me and care about me very much. They cannot fathom my decision to live here. I am writing this series to in part explain to them this western direction in my life.

J moved to Colorado in summer 2004. Shortly after that, my father had some strokes and eventually lapsed into a coma. He died in September 2004. My father dying was a shock to me. I will go more into it when I can bring myself to finish writing some other posts. The short version is that prior to my father's death, i had fallen away from the faith. With my father being in a coma, I saw the culture of death up close. There was a lot of pressure to starve him to death and such. Seeing him suffer made me think of Our Lady watching Our Lord suffer. Something lit a firecracker within me... I made a Confession and came back to The Church, but as a Latin Mass Catholic.

I finished out the semester at Rowan and then took a break. I never went back. I bought a house in the Poconos instead.

I moved to Pennsylvania in October 2005. I was by myself in a new city (Wilkes-Barre temporarily) with a new job and a new life. It was almost like a retreat.

It was clear that my boyfriend of nine years and I were not on the same page anymore. He was a non-practicing Catholic. I had a reversion. He didn't. We were just different. We tried to make it work. It didn't, yet we were really trying and miserable in our relationship.

My job sent me down to Salisbury Maryland for three weeks in November 2005. I had gone down there and gotten sick. I was still new to the company. The last thing that I wanted to do was spend my time in Maryland in the hotel with my head in the toilet. But I think it was destiny...

After being "sick" all day, I was finally able to sleep it off. I woke up a little. I was still not all the way awake. I flipped on the TV to EWTN. The show Life on the Rock was on. I actually couldn't stand that show, but I watched it anyway. They were interviewing the man who started the Catholic Match website. They talked about some success stories.

Still somewhat in a daze, I flipped off the TV. "Wow!" I said aloud, "I can meet a good Catholic guy." I went back to sleep, still sick and miserable in my lonely hotel room in Salisbury Maryland.

A few days later when I was feeling better, I went to Kinkos, paid money to use the computer and signed up for Kevin was the first man to email me.

Oh, Catholic Match! You gave me the strength to finally end that relationship with C, which I should have done years before. I met a lot of men on there. A lot of great ones and a few not so great ones.

I went on a few dates with one man, J. J was discerning a vocation to be a priest. He broke off our relationship (if you could call 3 or 4 dates and a few phone calls a relationship) so he could better discern his vocation. He was a very nice guy. Whatever happened to him, I know that he would be a great priest or husband.

During that last conversation, he asked me if I had met anyone else on Catholic Match. At that time I hadn't. I had only exchanged some emails with Kevin.

"There's one guy who has been emailing me for a few months," I said, "but he's all the way in Colorado."

"You never know," he said.

"Colorado?!" I exclaimed. "Yeah right."

That was our last conversation. J seemed almost prophetic. It was February 2006.

Why I am CoLAURAdo or Laura in Colorado: Part One- Spitting In the Wind I

My mom has a great saying: "Never spit in the wind. The direction will change and it will hit you in the face." My mom is a very colorful talker, frequently uttering such colorful descriptive sayings. As much as I hate to admit it, more and more of them seem to make sense. I now call these sayings "my-mom-isms".

I spitted in the wind about Colorado many times.

I was a true Jersey girl. My parents, both of Italian origin, had made that great Brooklyn to Staten Island to New Jersey migration. I was born in Staten Island. We moved to Jersey when I was six. After I graduated from Rutgers, I moved down to South Jersey. I followed one of my friends down there. We both enjoyed the much lower cost of living. Another friend followed me down. My four years in South Jersey were for the most part a happy time. South Jersey is really where I came of age.

I attended Camden County College to fill in some business prerequisites. I wanted to get an MBA. I then went to Rowan University in Glassboro. My chief attraction to Rowan was the close proximity to my job.

At Rowan, I met my friend J. J was an undergraduate biology student. I worked with her on a greenhouse research project. (What kind of MBA student does a greenhouse research project?) We hit it off.

J talked to me one day. She had just gone to Colorado the week before.

"You have been an inspiration to me," she said. "I don't want to be like you and have a biology degree and work at Big Lots. I'm dropping out of college. I'm going to herbalism school in Colorado. My boyfriend So&So is going to vegan chef school there, too."

"Colorado?!" I exclaimed. "Colorado?! You're crazy."

"You should come with me to Colorado. You'd love it." She went on to invite me to move out there with her.

I shrugged it off. I thought that she was crazy. I told her so, too.

J moved out to Colorado. We lost touch. By the time I moved here, she had moved to another state.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hanukkah and the Prayer of the Faithful

Since the stomach virus had attacked our house this weekend, my DH and I had to go to Mass in shifts at the local Novus Ordo parishes. I went without children and got to concentrate on the Mass and experience the new translation for the first time.

During the Prayer of the Faithful, there was a petition that was something like, "For our Jewish brothers and sisters, as they celebrate Hanukkah, we pray to the Lord." Here me out before you jump down my throat... I think that petition does not belong at Mass.

I grew up in New Jersey where there are a lot more Jewish people than here on the Eastern Plains. I have called more than a few friends. Jewish people are great people. I love their culture. They know how to party. Individual Jewish people over the years have taught me a lot about the "Do Unto others" part of Christianity by their beautiful examples of charity and friendship. For the most part, Jewish people are a beautiful people.

I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and the Messiah. Jewish people don't. We disagree, plain and simple.

The Catholic Church also disagrees with the Jewish religion. The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and the Messiah. The Jewish religion does not. The faiths disagree. Plain and simple.

The Rabbinical Jewish religion of today is a lot different than the Biblical Jewish religion that Our Lord practiced. One example is the temple in Jerusalem, which was a very big part of the Biblical Jewish religion. The Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. The Rabbinical Jewish religion of today does not have any of the same requirements pertaining to the Temple in Jerusalem. That is just one example of the many difference between the Biblical and Rabbinical Jewish religions.

This week the Jewish people of the Jewish religion celebrate Hanukkah. Hanukkah is actually the commemoration of the miracle of the oil lasting for 8 days in the Temple. This is in the Bible in the First Book of Maccabees.

Catholic Tradition does not celebrate Hanukkah. I don't pretend to know why. But the fact is that Catholics did not celebrate Hanukkah for 2000 years.

I wish the Jewish people everything that I wish all people- peace, authentic joy, and ultimate salvation. I wish the Jewish people peace, authentic joy and ultimate salvation while they are celebrating Hanukkah and at all times, too.

My point with all this above is that praying in the Catholic Mass a petition for the Jewish people of the Jewish religion as they celebrate Hanukkah really says that we don't really disagree or that the Jewish religion is true. We could pray for their conversion or their general well-being or something. Our religion shouldn't sanction other religions. It seems counter-productive at the very least.

Ecumenism in this form is just another misinterpretation of Vatican II. This Ecumenism leads to weak-willed Catholics and really says that one religion is as good as another.

No, one religion is not as good as another. I believe that the Holy Roman Catholic Church is the one true religion. I believe that other religions have truth as well, however, these truths are only truths if they are also Catholic truths.

(For example, I believe in the miracle that Hanukkah commemorates because the Catholic Church says it happened. The Jewish religion happens to teach the same thing, so in that aspect, there is truth to the Jewish religion.)

C'mon, Catholics, wake up! All this dancing and weak stuff leads to people who stray and loose their faith. Praying for Hanukkah in Mass sanctions another religion, a religion which teaches different things from Catholicism. It is contradictory at best. And then we wonder why our children don't practice the faith, why there is a vocation crisis and why the pews are empty.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shamelessly Advertising For Myself: The Jesse Tree

Years ago, I wanted to experience Advent as it was meant to be experienced... understanding the joyful anticipation of Advent. I had some vague memories of our school Jesse Tree when I was a kid at St. Thomas the Apostle School. I heard of friends making a Jesse Tree craft for their kids. I was single at the time... construction paper was out. Living in northeastern Pennsylvania, anthracite coal was easy to come by. A co-worker at the time supplied me with a lump of coal. So I had Isaiah covered, and... and... well nothing.
Every Advent went by without a Jesse Tree. Gradually, I brainstormed on how I could depict a particular Biblical event in an ornament. Advent 2009 was the first year that I managed to put it all together. I desired an easy to do kit. I made 25 ornaments, a calendar to go with it and a booklet containing the actual Bible readings. Then I thought that if I was in search of the perfect ready-to-go kit, chances are others were, too.
Find a need and fill it, right? I sold a few here and there over the years. This year I have my own website.
Check it out, here...
I do have to say that after doing these Bible readings as part of our Holy Hour during Advent I have learned a lot more about the events leading to the birth of Our Lord. I hope you will also this Advent, whether through my Jesse Tree kit or in other ways.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why The Duggars Aren't Necessarily Good For Non-Contracepting Catholics

"Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle."

Those famous Duggars recently announced that thy are expecting their 20th child. This announcement has created a renewed interest in the 'Quiverful Movement'.

Here in my post, I have called it the 'God's Planning Our Family Movement'. I am not a Quiverful. Quiverfuls are mostly Evangelical, Fundamentalist Protestants who do not believe in birth control on the basis of sola scriptura. They are a relatively new movement. The first Protestant Denomination to allow birth control was the Anglican Church in the late 1920's. The other main-line denominations soon followed suit. Since the Evangelicals, without any sort of hierarchy, are rather disjointed, the Quiverful movement existed in bits and pieces here and there, although not under such a name. Within the last 20 years, this movement has been gaining momentum. The Duggars, with their reality show on TLC, have been the personification of the Quiverful movement and have brought the QF movement into the limelight.
In the background, there has always been the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church has always taught the same since Its beginning. Of course, the Roman Catholic Church does not permit the use of birth control. Check out papal encyclicals Casti Conubbi (1930) or Humanae Vitae (1968) as prime examples. The actual Church teaching has never changed. However, somehow, whether because of a mistaken but well-meaning "Spirit of Vatican II", or ignorance or downright maliciousness, practically no one in the Roman Catholic Church actually follows the Church's teaching.
Enter in your Joe-Schmo-in the pews-Catholic. Let's say they are a baby boomer. What do they see? No one that they know in their generation followed the Church's teaching on contraception. It was a disease that affected the Church. It was not preached from the pulpit. It may have been said or unsaid that it was permissible. So who do they see with all the kids? They see people of other cultures with lots of children... People who have six kids with five different fathers just to get more welfare. They see Hasidic Jews who have tons of kids. And thanks to TLC they see the Duggars. The Catholic family with lots of kids does not exist. They either all had fertility problems or did not follow the Church's teaching.
Let's use my family as an example. I have four grandparents- Michael, Loretta, Onofrio and Rose. With the exception of Loretta, whose father died when she was very young, all of my grandparents were one of nine or ten. Michael and Loretta had two children. Onofrio (Fred) and Rose had three, with only one surviving. My aunt never met Mr. Right. My parents had two children. There is a great poverty there, even though in the case of my family infertility is a partial factor. Let's use Lorenzo and Francine (Rose's parents) as an example. They had over 20 grandchildren. My grandparents have all of two. What happened? We are all practicing Catholics. It's so... empty....
We'll get back to your Joe-Schmo-in the pews-Baby-Boomer-Catholic. Since they have no experience with Catholics who practice the Church's teaching with regard to contraception, they automatically compare me to bar-hopping moms who work the system, Hasidic Jews or the Duggars. It's a natural comparison and is totally within their frame of reference.
Well, I am a Catholic who follows the Church's teaching on contraception. Don't compare me to any of those people.
Comparing me to the Duggars seems the most natural. They are Christians, at least.
I am not a Duggar!
First of all, I didn't get married until I was 29, having my first baby at 30. Fraternal kids do not run in my family. Having 20 children is a physical impossibility for me.
Second of all, the Duggars, mostly thanks to their show and TLC have tons and tons of money. I don't know any 'real' people who have a kitchen the size of my house and a pantry the size of a WaWa. It's just not real. And then you throw it in my face, "See you need to have a lot of money to have a big family." No, you don't. Yes, you need some money, but you don't need a pantry the size of a WaWa. Yes, the Duggars are the posterchildren for the Quiverfuls, but no, I'm not a Quiverful.

This brings me to my next point. Quiverfuls and Traditional Catholics have a lot in common. On the outside, we may look a lot alike. We dress modestly, have large families, don't watch TV, vote Conservatively, etc. But, we have a lot of doctrinal differences. Quiverfuls adhere to sola scriptura, sola fide theology and Catholics believe in Tradition and works. Some Quiverfuls (again only some since it is dis-jointed with no Church hierarchy) believe in having Children for the sake of having children even through unnatural methods such as insemination or IVF. Catholics don't. We Catholics believe in consummation leading to children. That's it.
We Catholics view our Protestant brothers and sisters as fellow Christians also Baptized in Christ. We believe that we agree on way more than we disagree. Your Quiverful is an Evangelical Fundamentalist. For the most part (again since their is no hierarchy or unity I say for the most part) they believe Catholics are Satanic or going to hell or worse. They don't like us.
Now, of course, I'm not saying the Duggars themselves are that way. I have never met them. If they were anti-Catholic this would not be good for their ratings anyway. But what I am saying is that the Duggars are the posterchildren for the Quiverfuls and the Quiverfuls in general are very anti-Catholic.
So, please, don't compare me to the Duggars. They are part of an anti-Catholic movement. They have A LOT of money. It's no better comparison than the Hasidic Jews, who don't believe that Christ was God.
I think that us Catholics are really to blame for all of this. We have brought it upon ourselves. We are the ones who have a poverty of empty places at the table by contracepting ourselves into oblivion. It is so sad. We have the fullness of Truth. These Quiverfuls reinvent their own tradition. We Catholics have lost ours thanks to birth control.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Baptismal Gowns

Baby3 was born over two months ago. I just packed away our family Baptismal gown yesterday. He was baptized at our church when he was five days old. It took me another 7 weeks to take him for professional pictures and another two to pack the gown away. But it is packed away now and wrapped up in acid free tissue paper.

Our Baptismal gown is beautiful. We had it made by Judy from White Works in Ohio. You can check out her website here . It is beautiful Irish linen. The gown is called "Bows & Doves". We decided, starting with Baby 3, that we would get each child his or her own baby bonnet with the name embroidered in it. That bonnet would be theirs and they could carry it with them for their sacraments.

So far our three children have worn the Baptismal gown and also my friend's daughter. My friend's baby died of SIDS, so since she was a baptized baby and is now a saint, the Baptismal gown is technically a third class relic. Mary Catherine, pray for us.

So then why am I bittersweet when I look at this absolutely gorgeous gown? I guess I am still hurt over what I thought should be my family's gown.

I grew up with the story of my great-grandmother Maria. She came on the boat to America in 1920. During that trip from Italy, she had thought that she was seasick. When she arrived in New York, she discovered that she was not seasick but actually expecting my grandmother Loretta, my mother's mother. Maria was a very talented seamstress. She sent back to Italy for special fabric and proceeded to make an absolutely gorgeous Baptismal gown. Loretta was born in December 1920. I'm sure that she was Baptized right away.

I had heard that story a million times growing up. I had always envisioned how difficult it was to be morning sick for an entire boat ride, arrive in Manhattan with hardly a dime, not speak the language and still make this beautiful Baptismal gown. Maria was actually a heroic figure to me. She was soon abandoned by her husband. He soon died after that. She taught herself English, and worked very hard to support herself and Loretta. Maria died about 15 years before I was born.

(Maria had many sisters (who stayed in Italy). Their names were all Maria Something and everyone but her went by the 'Something'. We have copied that tradition with my daughter Maria Filomena and any future daughters.)

My mother, aunt and their cousins wore this same gown in the 1940's and 1950's. My aunt never met Mr. Right and never had children. My sister and I wore this gown in 1978 and 1986. Here I am wearing it in 1978...
and with my godparents...

Maybe I was foolish, but I always envisioned that my children would wear it, too. When I think about it, I can never remember my mother or aunt specifically telling me this. Maybe it was my failed 'little kid' type logic. I just assumed that the next step would be for another generation to wear it. My sister currently has not met Mr. Right and does not have children. She says that she feels called to the single vocation, but she is still only 25. My mother and aunt are pretty much estranged from their cousins. As I said, I just assumed my children would wear it. I had assumed that for my whole life. I have always felt my vocation to be a mother of a large family. I assumed the gown would be part of it.

So fast forward to 2008... I married my darling Kevin. We had a 'destination' wedding in northeastern Pennsylvania, with our Nuptial Mass in Scranton and our reception on Lake Wallenpaupack. My Larry was a honeymoon baby, due nine months to the day after our wedding. Immediately after our wedding, we packed up my beautiful house in the Poconos and moved to Eastern Colorado. This is the same area that Kevin's great (or great-great) grandfather homesteaded. There is a lot of tradition right here for Kevin's side. Kevin and I had a dream to start an organic farm. It seems logical that we would farm the same ground that his ancestors did, not to mention have the support of his parents in our endeavor. So I left the northeast for the Eastern Plains of Colorado, which is why I am CoLaurado.

Well back to 2008... I drove seven months pregnant to visit my family for Thanksgiving. Gas was dirt cheap then. I asked if I could take the Baptism gown back with me. Larry was due in less than two months. I received a resounding 'no' from both my mom and aunt. My grandma Loretta is still with us. She is 90 years old now and was nearly 88 then. Unfortunately, although she is here, she has very severe dementia. It is almost as if she is not here, mind-wise anyway. She would not be able to understand or answer if I asked her. This leaves my mother and aunt... my aunt now takes care of my grandmother. My mom is widowed and struggles to make her ends meet. They have agreed to this... no gown for my children.

"It'd be different if you were right here," they said a few times when I questioned this, "but you are all the way out THERE. What if something happened to it?" My mother went on to explain that when both my sister and I were baptized, my grandmother had brought the gown down for that day only and took it right back to Brooklyn. (Maybe that's why there are no professional pictures of us wearing it.) Here I am with my mother and grandmother.

What did Maria's sisters say when she wrote to them and asked them to send her material to make the gown? She had left Sicily for a brand new life in America. It turned out to be a life of hardship. I have left New Jersey for a new life in Colorado. So far there have been hardships (although not nearly as hard as Maria). I can imagine Maria's sisters having a "But you're all the way out THERE" being included in their reply as well.

I do feel like I have been punished. Part of it is geography. If it wasn't the geography it would be the Latin Mass or x or y or z. (I should note that everyone who wore the gown but my sister and I were Baptized in the old Rite.) What was I asking? For the next generation to continue the Tradition... to be Baptized as Catholics wearing the same gown Loretta wore, using the same rubrics...

So my grandmother's gown is sitting in Loretta's cedar chest rotting, where it has been for over 25 years... my family has our beautiful now relic gown made by some nice lady that we never met in Ohio... the sacrament is still valid, no matter what the baby wears... we are starting our own new tradition... and I am still bittersweet when I see our gown...