Friday, June 27, 2014

A Catholic American Girl

This is a very short post to introduce you to my next project.  Did you know that there is a Catholic American Girl??? I didn't realize it until recently.  Cowgirl has begun reading through the Josefina story books and it suddenly hit me--unit study!!!  Then I started reading The Little Oratory, and I thought--Catholic unit study!

In the next few weeks, I will be outlining a unit study that will be divided into four main topics: faith, food, fashion, and fun.  We may even throw a little fiesta and fandango in there, too.  (I may be more excited about his that Cowgirl!)  So stay tuned...

I plan to have this all laid out with plenty of time to use it next school year as a homeschool study, Church book club, or extra family fun.  If you do not have the Josefina books, check your local library.  I actually got a great deal on a number of Josefina related books and items on both Amazon and ebay.

Any suggestions of what should be included in our study?

Come back and see my "Christmas in Almost-July" post--lots of helpful hints and links.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pretty-Happy-Funny-Real A Mother/Daughter Afternoon.

I am once again linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter for Thursday's {p,h,f,r} post.  These pictures are a glimpse of our recent Mother/Daughter get together.  It was a wonderful time spent with wonderful people.


Our pretty, pretty princesses.  These girls are all so special to me.  It was nice to do one of these afternoons for girls and moms that I love so dearly.  It was always touching when we had groups of 60-100 girls, but it really did my heart good to serve people so near to my heart.  I can't believe how grown up they all are getting, but it has been a joy watching them grow.  I hope that they are always close friends.


 The girls were so happy about the crafts.  I think if we let them, they would still be sitting there gluing, choosing stickers, and decorating with LOTS of glitter glue.  I was happy that I had pulled together the activities because it really kept the girls engaged and excited.


We tried very hard to sing along as one of the moms played the piano. The piano was beautiful, our singing...let's just say work in progress.  These pictures look so lovely but in the second you can see my smirk as I look at Mary and laugh at all of us stumbling through the lyrics.  We have decided we need a dress rehearsal next time. :)


For sure, the favorite part of the day was the May Crowning and Rose Ceremony.  All of the girls said it was the best activity.  More than that, I think the real truth is they just so appreciated getting some special time with Mom.

A very, very near second of favorite of the day was all the real good food that we had at the tea party. I snapped these pictures are we were setting up so they don't show how beautifully it was laid out or even all the delicious food we had.  It was a scrumptious spread.  We brought strawberry & spinach salad and cannoli stuffed strawberry--the strawberries symbolized the Sacred Heart for the month of June.  After the Rose Ceremony, we also had a delectable dessert buffet.  I unfortunately didn't get pictures of that, I was too busy enjoying the strawberries and truffles!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Gift of a Rose

At the end of every Mother/Daughter, we have a rose ceremony.  It is a very simple idea but always has a profound effect of all of the mothers and daughter.  This year was no different, the girls agreed it was their favorite part.  Below, I have an outline of how to have your own rose ceremony, it is a memory that will last forever.

First, we always have the ceremony in front of a statue of the Blessed Mother.  Roses are so special, they are the most prized of flowers and I think that is why they have always been connected to the Blessed Mother.  My friend, Mary, has an exquisite statue that she always lends to the cause.  If you do not have a statue, perhaps you could make a poster with a Virgin Mary picture on it to use as a backdrop or have the ceremony in or around your parish wherever a statue is available.  It is not essential, but it does add a level of sacredness to the simple ceremony.

In a vase, in front of the statue, place a rose for each girl with a simple ribbon tied around it.  You can use fresh or silk roses, of any color, however, I have always preferred red roses.  The vase can be there throughout the entire program as decoration and a special gift for Mary.  Try to make sure that the roses are either wrapped in plastic or have most of the thorns removed to help prevent accidental injuries.

Have each mother and daughter pair up and one pair at a time approach the vase.  Each mother takes one rose out and then presents it to her daughter.  Each pair then gets a few moments to exchange some sort of sign of affection--a hug, a kiss, a snuggle--and a few special words.  It is a special time to tell your daughter how much you love her, how much it has meant to be together at the program, or how proud you are of the young lady she is becoming.  Make sure that the other couples are waiting back with enough space so that each mother and daughter feel like they have a bit of privacy to share without worrying about who is listening.

The last element that is so important is music.  We have used many songs for this ceremony.  Some samples are Hail Mary, Gentle Woman by Carey Landry, Find Your Wings by Mark Harris, In My Daughter's Eyes by Martina McBride, and Ave Maria by Schubert.  Some times we have had musicians to sing and play the song, other times it has been a recording.  This year we used a song that one of the girls had heard on EWTN, it is a pro-life ballad by Joanne Oberreuter entitled For Who I Am.  I have the lyrics below.

The most important part of the rose ceremony is to enjoy the moment and not rush it.  If you are short on time, try to hurry along any other element, but this.  This deserves your time and attention because how often do we get to stop and "smell the roses" with our daughter.  This is the crowning jewel of the entire day because the main goal of these retreats. is to build solid relationships between mothers and daughter.
Cowgirl and I after the last Rose Ceremony.  Since we had a small group of girls this time, we had the retreat in a home, which was lovely.  Thank you, Mary, again!!

For Who I Am
by Joanne Oberreuter

Truly you have formed my inmost being.
You knit me in my mother's womb.
I give thanks that you've made me so wonderfully.
Wonderful are all your works, O LORD.


My soul, also, you knew full well,
Nor was my frame unknown to you,
When I was made in secret,
Fashioned before anyone could see.


O Lord you have probed me and you know me.
You know hen I sit and stand.
My journeys and my rest are known to you.
My thoughts, from afar, you understand.


Even before a word i son my tongue,
Behold you know the whole of it.
Behind me and before, you hem me in.
Upon me, Lord, you rest your hand.

I give thanks to the Lord for who I am
Because I am beautifully made!

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Talks: Part 5--Modesty

I am finally wrapping up the series of talks with one that is central to all the rest.  Modesty in dress, behavior, associations, actions, and entertainment is the core to raising girls that are strong in inner beauty and principle.

We have already talked about how each of you is a special princess, God's princess.  How can you tell when someone is a princess?  They usually dress very special.  Princesses wear lovely clothes that show how special they are.  You wouldn't expect to see a princess in a stained t-shirt and ripped jeans, right?  Just like royalty here on Earth dresses to show how special they are, you should do the same.

What is most special about you is who you are, the heart that God gave you, your beautiful soul, and the light of Christ that shines from you.  Many people today dress in ways that don't draw attention to who they are or what they know.  The fashions we see around us draw attention to different parts of the body but not the whole person.  I am here to tell you that you are more than just the sum of your parts, you are more than showing off this feature or that feature.  Your clothing should draw attention to you as a person and ultimately to God himself.

Some people say, "Well, what about fashion?"  The Church has no fashion, it is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  We are called to be in the world but not of the world.  So, we must always do what is right even if it isn't the most popular thing.  Dressing modestly does not have to be strange or frumpy or ugly.  Dressing modestly should always be beautiful.  If you look hard enough and shop at places that sell clothing that is not just to shock and awe, you will find that there are many items out there that are modest and still fashionable and pretty.  A longer skirt and a fun shirt or a pretty dress with comfortable leggings underneath or maybe a "maxi dress" with a bolero jacket to cover your shoulders are all good options.  It is important to look at yourself in the mirror and see the whole package--does this outfit draw attention to who you are?  Will you be able to be active with your friends and still be comfortable?  If you turn around, bend over, and sit down, does it still fit well or do you have to pull at it a lot to get it to lay correctly? 

Clothing isn't the only way that we show modesty.  We also show it by how we act (Are we kind? Considerate? Helpful?  Giving?) and how we speak (Do our words spread light?  Are we speaking the truth?  Are we talking about suitable topics?  Do we brag?  Do we make fun of other people?)  Our actions and words are the best way to show what type of person we are.  St Francis once said, "Preach the Gospel always, when necessary use words."  That means let the way you treat others and behave show everyone how great God is.

In all things, remember this simple question: "If Jesus were to show up right now, would I want him to see/hear/experience what I am wearing/watching/saying/doing?"  We should always be thinking of Jesus and if you would feel ashamed to have your parents or priest or teachers with you at that moment, it is probably not a good idea.  Remember God see and knows all things, He is always with you.  You can turn to Him at any time, but you must also serve Him well all the time.

The other moms are now going to join in for a discussion and question/answer time about how we can be modest in our lives and give glory to God in all things.  If you have any questions or comments, please share them.

****Some points we discussed in our "round table style" discussion were:
-How Mary always appears covered and modest
-The way that magazines and television use computers to change how models and actresses look, so they aren't a real guide to beauty because their beauty is fake
-The standards of modesty that the Church sets out, quarter or half length sleeves, modest necklines, dresses and skirts knee length, no backs or shoulders showing
-The gift of being loved for who you are. (This is a good time to talk about how cruel the press and public can be on stars when they don't look "perfect")
-Discuss people who have true beauty from within.
-Answer questions about what to do if you can't find proper clothes or if people tease you about your clothes.
-This is also a good time to show samples of modest, comfortable, fun clothes that little girls will want to wear. (I've always wanted to do a "Dolly" fashion show with 18" dolls--maybe next time.)

If you have anything to share or questions, please leave a comment.  Thanks again for stopping by.  I will be wrapping up the Mother/Daughter series this week and begin to focus on building a "Little Oratory" in the home next week.  God bless!

Thursday, June 19, 2014


I am once again linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter for {p,h,f,r} this Thursday.  Click over to her blog for more posts about everyday contentment.

I had asked my mother-in-law to write an icon for me for Christmas, it took her longer than both of us expected, but I was surprised by a beautiful icon of St Therese for my birthday.  Inspired by wanting a special place for the Little Flower and all these posts on "little oratories" in the house, I decided to change my vanity table into a prayer table.  The vanity is very special because my parents gave it to me for my wedding, however, I am not one to sit and brush my hair, or stare into a mirror, or even wear makeup, so it has been fairly neglected.  I am hoping this new purpose give not only the vanity new life but me new motivation to deepen my prayer life.

Father's day was a happy day, despite me missing my own father. (The holiday fell on his birthday this year, as well.)  I had planned on doing something bigger for my husband but with all the work put into the Mother/Daughter the day before and some really rough nights with Little Man, it just didn't happen.  However, he really enjoyed getting to have ice cream for lunch, as did the kids.  We went to our favorite ice cream spot, which has the world's best ice cream.  Thankfully, Little Man slept through the whole thing so he wasn't crying for his own ice cream.

My grandmother is a pretty extraordinary lady.  Our trip to her home for her 93rd birthday was a delight.  The funniest thing was how excited she was about the birthday hats.  She had to put it on before answering my cousin's birthday phone call.  We had a great time.

We live in the mountains, as I have already stated and over the past decade or so, more wildlife has moved back into the area. This is a mixed blessing.  It is common in spring time for bears to visit our property.  Usually once or twice, at most three times.  However, this spring they have been around a couple of times a week. It has made it hard to let the kids outside.  I have had to keep them off the trail that they have up in the woods because it is just too thick for me to see if a bear is up there or passing through. I am hoping that no one is feeding them in the neighborhood.  They are amazing to look at and we get so excited every time they show up, but I would rather they didn't come right up to the house.

Yes, that is a Mama bear on my patio, and no I am not zooming in.  She was only a few feet away on the other side of our glass door.  She had had her nose pressed up against the glass but once she saw me whip out the camera, she started to wander off.

This is one of her cubs, the other cub was up on the upper terrace of our yard riding the teeter totter.

Thanks for stopping by, hope you are having a great week!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Five Faves: Books for Moms of Tween Girls

Here are my Fave Five books for moms of tweens.  Stay tuned, the last talk of the series will be coming up next week along with the links to documents--sorry I haven't gotten them up yet!  All images are linked to  Thanks.

Raising Pure Teens: 10 Strategies to Protect (or Restore) Your Teenager's Innocence  -     By: Jason Evert, Chris Stefanick 
Anything by Jason Evert is automatically on my recommendation list.  This is a favorite though because it is realistic, thorough, and geared for today's parents.

8 Great Dates for Moms & Daughters   -     By: Dannah Gresh   
A fun approach to talking to your daughter.  This is a hands-on manual for having those important talks with your daughter and getting in some quality bonding time as well.

Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Girl   -     By: Dannah Gresh 
Girls are under so much pressure to grow up.  If you read the classics like Little House on the Prairie or Anne of Green Gables, you will realize that being 9 or 10 was still a time of being a little girl.  This book is another hands-on guide to simple things any mom can do to protect her daughter's innocence and let her enjoy the full length of her childhood.

5 Conversations You Must Have with Your Daughter   -     By: Vicki Courtney
This is similar to the "dates" book, however it is broken into age categories and works to create an on-going conversation between mothers and daughters about the most important topics.  This is a great book for moms of girls from preschoolers to teens.

Beyond the Birds and the Bees: Raising Sexually Whole and Holy Kids  -     By: Gregory Popcak, Lisa Popcak, Joseph Naumann 
Gregory Popcak is another of my favorite authors.  In this book, he not only explores how to have "the talk" with your kids, but he helps you lay the all important foundation for raising children with Godly views of sex and relationships.  Like the "Conversations" book, this book spans all of childhood through teen years.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Birthday Visit for My Grandmother's 93rd!!!

In keeping with the mother/daughter theme, I need to share a bit about my grandmother who has been just a blessing in my life.  Today is her 93rd birthday!  She is amazing.  I hope you don't mind if I gloat about how wonderful she is for this post.  Everyone should have a grandmother like her.

A Birthday Trip for My Grandmother’s 93rd!
Over the past few years, with  my mother sick, my father gone, little ones who get colds often, and my grandmother frequently in the hospital, I have not had much opportunity to visit her at home.  Driving down, I was awash in memories.  I could hear my grandfather’s voice saying, “Hey, Bobby girl, let’s go get a hot dog all the way, just don’t tell your grandmother,” as I drove past the hot dog place.  I could feel the rush of cool and excitement of entering the gelato store when my grandmother and I would take an after dinner walk on hot, humid nights, and the cool breeze that ushered us home as the sun began to set.  The streets so familiar, I was transported to the back of my parents' station wagon eagerly anticipating our arrival, starring out the window and soaking in the surroundings of her neighborhood.  The driveway, where we sat waiting for my nearly 80 year old grandmother to get home from work in her sports car so we could go to Christmas Eve Midnight Mass.  The garage with it’s damp coolness, and the bring-bring of my grandfather’s phone that he had out there.  I can still hear him answering and smell the oil from his recent work on his car.  The small strip of garden to the left of the garage where my grandmother and I would plant and pick tomatoes, basil, and hot peppers before going inside to make tomato salad for dinner in her shallow white corning wares, then stringing the peppers onto our needles to dry for the winter.  The brick stoop, that was both cool and sweltering in the heat of summer, where I would help my great grandmother “clean” string beans on so many a summer afternoon.  The back door where we always went in, where my grandmother has hung the stained glass flower I bought her so many years ago, “always in my prayers” reads the pot.  The kitchen that has cooked the vast majority of my favorite meals ever.  The oven that so often hid the Thanksgiving chestnuts until it was almost too late and my grandmother would chase after us as we filed down the stairs, “The chestnuts, wait, come back, I forgot the chestnuts!”  The small pantry where my grandmother kept Ovaltine, crackers, tea, cookies, and her amazing, pop-up address book.  The cut glass candy dish where I would sneak Andees candies and jelly filled pillow mints.  It still sits upon the cabinet stereo that always played music of her era, amid the numerous picture frames, now full of children’s faces from the next generation.  The china cabinet where I learned to gently take out and put back wine glasses and day dreamed about my wedding while starring up at the porcelain bride and groom figures on either side of the top.  The tiny, pink bathroom that still smells of fancy powders with satin puffs on top of them, fragrant bubble bathes, and Jeanne Natee toiletries.  The fancy porcelain pump with the pink flowers on the front, that always held flowery hand cream for after you washed your hands.  The little door in the cabinet under the sink, behind which my grandmother still stashes the day’s laundry, which was always washed that day to keep from cluttering up the place.  The tiny S shaped hook that locked the cellar door, behind which I would carefully descend the black and white tile stairs to play in the cool cellar with my paper dolls or make a surprise dish for the family in the summer kitchen in cooler weather.  So many, many, thousand of memories and childish day dreams are contained in that house.  My grandmother has been the rock of our family, my constant, my North Star and grounding gravity.  She has been my best friend, and my inspiration.  I have always loved her, even when I didn’t appreciate her.  She is so integral a part of my life that I can scarcely think of a single event that doesn’t hold memory of her.  It was an honor to get to visit with my children and share a birthday cake for one of the greatest and strongest women I have ever known.  When I grow up, I want to be just like her!  Happy birthday, Mama!!  I wish you many more years of happiness and health, strength and good cheer.  I am who I am today because of you, so in the Italian tradition, I am finally ready to admit, all the honor of what I have and what I am goes to you.  Salud!

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Talks: Part 4--Being a Mother

Hope everyone had a great weekend and got to celebrate the wonderful fathers in your life.  This "talk" is more of an outline of how to write your own "Being a Mother" talk.  These are usually very personal talks about the struggles and joys of motherhood, however there are some main point that we always touch on.  Since so much of my "being a mother" talk has already been covered in other posts, I thought I would present this as a "how-to" instead.

In today's society, motherhood has lost it's esteem.  Sure Hallmark charges $6-8 for a Mother's Day card and Zales wants you to buy your mother diamonds, but that is just commercialization.  The vocation of motherhood is not revered like it once was.  However, being a mother is the greatest job that needs to be done, and there are many types of mothers.  Mothering is a demanding love, but in truth would we have it any other way?  My husband has a shirt that he wears every Father's Day, it says "Fatherhood: The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love."  And so it is with motherhood as well, even more so when you think of pregnancy, delivery, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and homeschooling. 

The point of this talk is two-fold, first we want the girls to understand the beauty and grace of being a mother, how it is a calling and a blessing.  Also, we want them to understand that mothers give all of themselves to their children and while they do not always allow children to do exactly what they want, they are always doing what is best.  It is important for the girls to realize how hard the mothers are working to invest in their children's futures.

Main points to be addressed:

1.  Discuss your own journey of motherhood, the highs and lows, the anticipation and disappointments in pregnancies, the joys and struggles.  Introduce your family and recount briefly the story of each of your children's pregnancies and birth.  It is important to make this a real talk, it should not be all hearts and roses in the hope that the girls will want to have a fairy tale family.  You need to be real, but you also need to remember that they are little girls so keep any talk of difficult labor or horrors of delivery out.  Let them see how much you love being a mom, but how hard it is even though you love it so.

2.  Discuss the different types of motherhood.  We always discuss the beauty of adoption, how one mother out of sacrificial love gives up a baby she cherishes but can not care for, and another mother out of love welcomes this new baby into her home and heart.  We discuss spiritual motherhood like Mother Seton, Mother Cabrini, Mother Teresa, and Mother Angelica, women who give their lives to serving God through meeting the needs of the world's children.  This past talk we also included grand-mothering.

3.  It is always nice, especially if you have many girls that do not know you well, to share baby pictures of your children.  Who doesn't love baby pictures?  I usually made up a power point presentation, but if you have a small group, you could even just pass around photo frames.

4.  Include some talk about how much your children were loved long before they were born, how they are gifts from God.  Remind the girls that they were knit together and designed by God and given to their mothers, and they carry with them a piece of God's love that He placed within them the moment they were created--their immortal soul.

5.  Lastly, stress the importance of mothers and how their service in the home helps the entire world.  Where would he world be without people like Thomas Edison, St. John Paul II, Abraham Lincoln, St Augustine, Saint Therese and so on.  All of them were loved by their mothers and taught the beauty of God long before they were great personalities on the world stage.  Mothering makes a difference.  Also, discuss the difference between vocation and profession and how much more important it is to find your Godly vocation.

“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” —Abraham Lincoln

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” —Abraham Lincoln

“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.” —George Washington

“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” ―Washington Irving

“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” —Robert Browning

  “[A] mother is one to whom you hurry when you are troubled.” —Emily Dickinson

 “A mother’s arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them.” —Victor Hugo

Even on the cross, Christ remembered and cared for His mother and His mother cared for Him.
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Unblossomed Rose

This isn't the post I intended for today, but as the saying goes, if you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans for tomorrow.  First, I would like to ask for prayers for a dear friend, Jessica at Shower of Roses, who is experiencing a miscarriage.  My heart is breaking for her, because I know too well the pain she is going through.

Miscarriage Prayer (by. Mother M. Angelica)
My Lord, the baby is dead!
 Why, my Lord—dare I ask why? It will not hear the whisper of the wind or see the beauty of its parents’ face—it will not see the beauty of Your creation or the flame of a sunrise. Why, my Lord?
 “Why, My child—do you ask ‘why’? Well, I will tell you why.
 You see, the child lives. Instead of the wind he hears the sound of angels singing before My throne. Instead of the beauty that passes he sees everlasting Beauty—he sees My face. He was created and lived a short time so the image of his parents imprinted on his face may stand before Me as their personal intercessor. He knows secrets of heaven unknown to men on earth. He laughs with a special joy that only the innocent possess. My ways are not the ways of man. I create for My Kingdom and each creature fills a place in that Kingdom that could not be filled by another. He was created for My joy and his parents’ merits. He has never seen pain or sin. He has never felt hunger or pain. I breathed a soul into a seed, made it grow and called it forth.”
 I am humbled before you, my Lord, for questioning Your wisdom, goodness, and love. I speak as a fool—forgive me. I acknowledge Your sovereign rights over life and death. I thank You for the life that began for so short a time to enjoy so long an Eternity

There are times that I think I have forgotten my miscarriages, but then it only take a split second of a triggered memory and it all comes flooding back.  I have never really forgotten, they are all scars on my heart, I suppose it is more that it becomes normal.  There are moments that are seared into my memory, like the change in the technician's face when she couldn't find a heartbeat or my doctor holding my hand as the anesthesiologist put me under for the D & C.  I couldn't have an epidural, because of other health issues, and when it came down to it, I didn't want to see or hear anything.  I didn't want those memories. But, I suppose, what has stayed with me most is that we were unable to bury our daughter.  Our Church was willing to perform a small funeral and help us find a place to bury her, I had generous friends of friends who offered to pay any expense incurred, I had signed papers for the baby's remains to be released to us and the nurses and my doctor were all aware and in agreement.  Somewhere down the line though, someone didn't follow through.

I spent weeks calling here and calling there.  Every time I got a reply that gave me hope, I would return the phone call or call the person I was told to only to hit another road block.  My first two miscarriages were quick and early.  I was heartbroken, I mourned the tiny souls I never got to meet, the pregnancy I never got to experience, but they never developed past a couple of days.  It was as if they were gone before they started.  Honestly, if I had not been charting it is doubtful that I would have even known about the first one and might have completely dismissed the second.  Those children did exist, and I know that they are resting with Jesus and that the babies I never got to cuddle will one day spend an eternity with me.  However, my third miscarriage was so much harder.

We weren't expecting to be expecting.  It was a surprise and a shock.  I didn't know what to think, I was caught completely off guard.  My husband was overjoyed, and I was too but there was a darkness that I just couldn't shake and I bemoaned the fact that I felt I had such a hard time getting excited about this new life.  I think now that that uneasiness was God preparing me for all the hurt that was to come.

We went through Easter and other family gathering, not telling anyone.  My husband wanted to, but I still had an uneasy feeling in my gut.  I wanted to wait a bit long, I don't really know what I was waiting for.  I wish now that I had told everyone, that she had been real to everyone else before she was gone.  I planned on sharing the news after my routine ultrasound.  I was all prepared with scripts in my head of calling the older kids in and letting them see our newest blessing.  As soon as the ultrasound started, I knew something was wrong.  She was there, perfectly there with a little face, and tiny hand and feet, but she was absolutely still.  My other two it had taken forever for them to stay still long enough to measure the heartbeat--the heartbeat, there was no heartbeat.  No flutter, no blinks, nothing!  The technician tried over and over, but I knew it wasn't there.  She didn't say it, but I saw it on her face and the monitor.  She finished up and said my doctor would call me, no pictures were printed out, no due date announced.  I left empty handed and brokenhearted.  I wish I had asked her to take some pictures with the ultrasound but I was in too much shock to think that far ahead.

Ashley, we named her Ashley.  I originally picked the name before we knew she was a girl.  Ashley had always been a favorite boy's name for me but one I knew I couldn't use with it's popularity as a girl's name, and for some reason we both thought we were having a boy.  I sometimes wish I had picked a saint's name, a more significant name, a name that fit with the other children's names.  However, her name fit her in the end.  I think I spoke to every department of the hospital in the weeks that followed my D & C.  No one could help and only a few seemed to care.  I was told that Ashley wasn't old enough to be issued a birth certificate and without a birth certificate I could not get a death certificate, which meant I had no rights to the remains nor burial.  At the lowest point, the hospital actually tried to convince me that I had only thought I was pregnant, but it didn't really happen, the "fetus" never developed past a cell or two, my uterus had been empty.  I told them that was impossible, I had positive pregnancy test, ultrasound pictures, blood work to prove my baby did exist.  They said my pregnancy symptoms were just bad PMS!  I saw her, I said over and over...I saw her!

My doctor fought all the way up to the state to get me right to get my baby's remains released.  She was thwarted all the way.  She was willing to keep fighting but I was tired, and my father had unexpected passed away just two and a half weeks after my miscarriage, leaving me to help care for my disabled mother with brain-cancer.  There was too much going on, I didn't have any more fight in me.  I begged forgiveness from God and my baby, I pray that they understood.  A week later, I got a call that the baby's remains had been released to a funeral home for cremation.  I questions which one, when, how can I pick up the cremated remains.  I was told the name but I would not be able to get Ashley's ashes because she would be cremated with "other surgical remains" and then buried with whatever casket they buried next.  Surgical remains?  Did they really cremate and bury tumors and tonsils and kidneys and gallstones?

Then I figured it out, she was being cremated with babies who had been surgically terminated.  It broke my heart even more.  You see, Ashley had Turner's Syndrome.  I hesitate to tell anyone that because I usually get a response along the lines of, "well, at least that took care of itself."  The Turner's is not why I lost her, I had a double infection that caused the miscarriage.  She was healthy and growing and despite having Turner's had measured exactly to date.  The vast majority of babies diagnosed with Turner's are aborted.  Why God?  Why?  I wanted my baby, I was willing to love her no matter what.  She was perfect to me, why take her?  The answers to those questions, I will never know this side of Heaven.  My husband and I accept God's perfect timing.  We have no way of knowing what God spared her or us from.  Ashley is a thread, albeit a short one, in His great tapestry and each of those threads has a purpose.

I suppose I am writing this post as much for me as for others who have experienced a miscarriage.  Miscarriage is such a taboo subject in our culture.  Once we started debating when a person becomes a person and at what point pain can be felt or viability starts, it all became very rudimentary.  We stopped looking at the emotional wonder of pregnancy and reduced it down to statistics and measurements.  Women who have lost a baby, have experienced a real loss, they need time and permission to mourn.  It does not matter if the loss occurred at 7 week or 27 or 37, it was still a child that was loved and lost.  I still miss Ashley everyday, I think about her regularly and notice the space that is empty as we stand together at Mass or take a family picture.  Her due date was November 19, the feast of St Elizabeth of Hungry who is the patron saint of loss of children.  I celebrate quietly each year lighting a novena candle and baking Hungarian bread.  Even if no one else remembers, I will never forget.

No Foot Too Small That It Cannot Make an Imprint on This World 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real

I am linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter this Thursday.

My children are crafters, well I don't know about Little Man, but since most of the free time in this house is spent doing arts and crafts, I think he has little choice but to join in.  For my birthday on Tuesday, I was greeted with the following prizes when I woke up.  Cowgirl made me a handmade card and a leather bookmark that she upcycled from her father's broken belt.  Buddy made me a "lunch box and thermos."  The lunchbox included a lip balm. I'm not sure what else I could really carry in it, but you have to admit it is creative, and I do need a new thermos.  We like to carry along water wherever we go in reusable bottles, mine recently broke. 


I had a very happy birthday that included a yummy pie from one of our local orchards.  I am not a cake person, although I am beginning to like it more as I get older which actually is not a benefit.  When I was a child, my great-grandmother always made me a lemon meringue pie for my birthday.  It as a perfect lemon meringue pie and I have yet to find any that come close.  I suppose that is part of the reason I always like pie for my birthday.

I also got great news that I won a copy of The Little Oratory!  I will be reading it this summer and hooking up with Auntie Leila in her series on building little oratories in the home.  Happy Birthday to me!

Well, I had to include a few pictures of Little Man under happy because he IS the happiest baby on the block!

                                                   Delicious teas from my husband

Did I mention that my children like to make things?  Buddy has been wanting a workbench for his tools and building projects.  There just isn't room in the house and we aren't in the position to build a workshop in the backyard right now, but we found this table on the side of the road and it has been just wonderful.   Before you look too closely at the picture, let me issue a disclaimer.  My husband is fond of quoting Father M's dad who once said in his Irish brogue, "I'm raising kids, not grass."  I keep asking why we can't try to do both, but so far no one agrees with me.  We live in a very shady valley on top of a hill (yes, you can live in a valley on top of a mountain!)  This also means tons of run off from the surrounding hills, add to that children that love to tear around the yard and you get mud.  Oh, and those toys strewn about, they aren't negelcted, that is one of Cowgirl's jumping courses where the kids pretend to be horses and race through obstacles.  A couple of years ago, I reseeded the whole yard and was excited that the bare patches (at that point it was only patches) would be gone.  Just as the seed was starting to sprout, Buddy came to me one day and told me he had done a great job cleaning up the yard.  I followed him to see what he had done, proud that I had raised such a responsible young child, much to my dismay, he had gathered up all the grass seed that was "littering" the yard and put it in a pile in the corner of the patio. So the state of the yard is funny but not, I'm hoping to get some green in there again this summer.   

The kids spent the afternoon of my birthday building me more projects and painting away.  They tested out Buddy's new coping saw, too.  This is the finished product.

A welcome sign, who needs that silent e anyway.

I inherited my grandfather's crucifix, when we moved into this house I was so happy to get to hang it over the front door.  When Cowgirl was about four, she made the colorful cross taped next to it in Sunday School and told me my crucifix wasn't very fancy so I should replace it with her paper cross.  I compromised and taped it next to the crucifix and it's still there.  Last Christmas, Buddy made the large paper cross on the door because he said we need to remember Jesus died on the cross and that is more important than Christmas decorations.  For my birthday, he made me the log decoration hanging in front of his cross.  It is a reminder to think about Christ's cross and is supposed to be something I can look at when I need to think about Jesus.  Does this count as a little oratory?

I have warned my children since they began to toddle not to run on wet stones and grass, they have always thought I was being ridiculous. Well, last Thursday, Buddy learned the hard way why I don't want them running on wet ground.  He was completing one of Cowgirl's jumping courses when he slid on a slate paver and came down right his knee on the edge of said paver.  After  texting photos to my ER nurse sister, we were on our way to the pediatrician's.  I will spare you the gorey photos.

They washes out the wound with betadine four times, then put a ton of dermabond glue over it.  The doctor wrapped his leg in an ace bandage splint and ordered that he not bend his knee until Monday.  Seeing as Buddy does not know the term gently, he was relegated to the couch watching movie for four days, to save me from having to bring him to the hospital for stitches..  The wound finally stopped bleeding on Tuesday.   This is the fourth wound in 18 months that has required doctor intervention, I have handled the other 956 at home.
...and as I finished typing that paragraph, I heard Buddy scream and come running into the house with yet another injury.  Need to run and get the antiseptic and bandages....
He really wasn't sulking when I took the camera out, but he wanted to be sure to garner lots of sympathy from whomever saw the photo so he put on his saddest face.

Buddy is a born couch potato, if I let him have unlimited movie access he would never sleep nor leave this position.  So, four days watching movies on the couch was not much of a hardship.  I explained to him that there would be a mark on his knee called a scar that is permanent and would not go away.  He asked if it would go away if he became a saint, and I said yes.  So, he said, "Then I just have to work really hard at becoming a saint."  :)