A Tale of Two Octobers

I usually try to keep it light here because I think it takes a special talent to write about serious and deeply personal things in a respectful, eloquent and helpful way.  I know I don’t have that talent.  I’ve been avoiding writing on the blog for a very long time because I couldn’t not acknowledge that I had a miscarriage in March. It’s so personal and delicate a topic to me, but it is also such a sadly common thing for women to experience.  I don’t think it’s right to feel like you have to keep such a heartbreaking thing to yourself out of an old fashioned sense of propriety, but at the same time, I hardly know how to talk about it because it’s left me rather raw. I also have so many friends and relatives who have dealt with pregnancy and infant loss and who, quite frankly, had much more traumatic experiences than I had. So I’ve kept my mouth shut.

Anyway, it’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness day today, and that seemed as good a time as any to break my (blog) silence.  For three weeks in February and the beginning of March, I thought we’d be having another baby just about now.  I looked forward to October as new baby month, albeit briefly.  I’m also sad to say that I looked forward to October with apprehension. That baby was a surprise.  Not unwelcome, of course! But a surprise that I needed a bit of time to wrap my head around.  And then when I had finally wrapped my head around it and started to feel excited, I went in for the first ultrasound and found out that there was no baby, that our baby probably didn’t make it much past conception but my body just continued on thinking it was pregnant and not feeling too hot.  It felt like such a sick joke.

Now that it’s October, I still have complicated feelings about it all.  Part of what makes it complicated,though, is that this October has brought me reasons to be joyful. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve felt the first jabs and flutters of a new little one.  At the end of the month is my 20 week ultrasound, at which we will hopefully receive some tie-breaking news.  (Although, to be completely honest, I can never look forward to ultrasounds in a 100% positive way anymore.)

I do think about the what-ifs, but I can’t think about them too much because then it erases the reality of right now.  But at the same time, the reality of right now feels very fragile.  I’m having a hard time being joyful and hopeful about this baby.  I struggle with not letting the negativity overtake me. Ultimately, I know that I have so much to be grateful for. There’s no neat, positive way to wrap this up.  I’m still in the middle of it a bit, as you can see.  I guess, despite my questions, sadness and anxiety, there are a few things I know for sure.  My baby(ies) came from Love and they are loved and that makes this all worth it.

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Not coincidentally, we found out about our baby on Valentine’s Day. I’m so glad I thought to take a (upside-down) picture of the test.

 

 

 

Fighting off Advent Apprehension

Can I tell you something? This used to be my favorite time of year. Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, I looked forward to this time of year all year long. But now I kind of dread it.  And not because I’m a mom and I have more to do this time of year.  It’s because there seems to be so much pressure these days, especially on Catholic moms, to “get it right.”  To do Advent right and Christmas right.  The questions and blog posts have already started.

Do you do Santa?

When do you set up the tree?

Are you successful at keeping Advent sacred and unsullied by Christmas revelry until midnight of Christmas Eve?

Maybe it’s just my easy-going personality, but I think my McFamily did things pretty well.  We were always very aware of and into the Advent season. We had our Advent wreath and usually a paper Advent calendar and we could take turns opening the door for the day. Later in my childhood my mom found this Advent read-aloud called Jotham’s Journey that we all really enjoyed.  But, we also got our Christmas tree usually half way through the month and we decorated it right away, while listening to Christmas music. We believed in Santa Clause, but we would also get a present from Baby Jesus on Christmas morning. Some years we went to the Christmas Eve Mass and but later on we mostly went to Mass on Christmas morning, some years before opening presents if I remember correctly! My point is, I think my parents did a good job of teaching us about the true meaning of Christmas.  We knew Advent was a season of preparation, but we also were excited about Christmas coming and enjoyed the magic of the decorations, the music, the special movies and treats.

I understand the intent behind this “keep Advent sacred” movement.  We live in a world where the Halloween candy appears at stores in July and Santa shows up in September.  I get it, we all need to reel it in and recognize that Christmas is on December 25th and the season of Advent comes before so that we can prayerfully prepare our hearts and our homes.  But, maybe it’s because I’m not much a disciplined, austere person myself that I don’t see the harm in a decorated tree on December 12th and Christmas songs playing while making dinner in December.  As an adult, and especially since becoming a Mom, the darkness descending outside at 4:30pm makes the rest of life feel dark, but that month-6 weeks that we have the tree up and the other seasonal comforts really helps everyone’s moods.  Furthermore, it helps me keep my focus on Christ and embrace and share the joy of the season.

I’m not trying to poo-poo anyone who works really hard at not mixing Advent and Christmas, I’m just saying I don’t think it ruins Advent when we slowly add in merriment as we build towards the Christmas feast.

We’re all journeying to the same place, but we all have different paths.  I might change my mind, or gradually become more strict about Advent and Christmas.  Perhaps the Holy Spirit will move my husband and me to try new things as we build our family traditions and strive to grow in holiness.  It’s happened before! I just don’t like this idea that if you do certain things at Christmastime, participate in certain more secular activities and traditions, that you are doing it wrong, and you’re damaging your kids.  There’s so much real darkness and evil in the world, why are we giving our neighbors a hard time about how they celebrate Christmas and the holidays?  We are each responsible for our own families, for our children and their moral growth, and nobody else’s and we should have faith that the Lord is working in other people’s hearts and families, just like ours.

Anyway, I’m going to try not to let this apprehension about Advent take me over.  Sometime in the next few days, I need to make sure I pick up new Advent candles.  I’m going to try to finish up Christmas shopping so I have time to do Christmas cards and Gus’ stocking in December. I’m going to pull out our Christmas books and make sure we start reading about the Nativity so it’s all fresh in Sara’s mind.  I have it on good authority that St. Nicholas is bringing Sara and Gus their own Nativity scene on December 6th.  [Although, as an aside, I’m getting the feeling that some people think that the Fisher Price Little-People Nativity is not authentic or beautiful enough? No, it’s not Fontanini, but it is toddler proof. I love Melissa and Doug and all things classy and wood like any other middle class American mom, but I do get so weary of the war against plastic toys.]

I think our world is desperate for the peace and joy of Christ, don’t you? That’s what I’m going to try to focus on this Advent and Christmas.

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Goals, Resolutions, Promises You Don’t Intend to Keep.

I’m pretty sure that exactly a year ago when everyone was writing New Year resolution posts, I did my best Liz Lemon eye roll and clicked far away from them all.  I was just leaving my first trimester and my only goal in life was to survive the winter and have my baby.  And I accomplished both!  2014 was a success!

I did have one goal last year that I tried and failed at, though.  I have this same goal every year and I’ve yet to fully succeed at it.  I’ve never shared it with anyone because I’m superstitious and think that telling anyone will doom me.  I’m also a little ashamed that this is something I need to work on. ALSO, I feel a little silly and perhaps prideful about sharing it.  Recently it’s occurred to me that perhaps I should share it in case anyone else has this same goal every year and “fails.” Perhaps it’s not pride as in not-being-humble that keeps me from sharing.  It’s the type of pride the keeps you from telling your spouse that you’re starting that diet on Monday.  If you don’t tell him, he won’t know that you weren’t supposed to have that cookie!  Ok, where am I going with this?

I try every year to go to confession once a month.  Some years I come closer to succeeding than others, but every year I fail.  It’s really easy to conclude that maybe I stink at this.  It’s really easy to despair.  But no, I know that’s the devil.  I know it’s the devil whispering in my ear every Saturday in January “But you just went in December for Advent… Just go next weekend.”

I’m not going to give up and I’m not going to feel defeated.  Usually, New Year Resolutions frustrate me because I tend to feel overwhelmed by them.  Who knows what’s going to happen in a year?  So much changes so fast, especially with little kids. Why make promises you can’t keep?  But this resolution I make every year is on a month to month basis. [A related aside: this is why I love Ashley’s blog.  She’s always making reasonable but inspiring monthly goals!] Right now, all I’m worried about is January.  I don’t know if I’ll make it to confession every month in 2015, but golly I’m really determined to get there this January!

Since I’m already on the topic and blabbing on, I’ll share a little bit about my other January goal: going (mostly) sugar free for (most of) January.  I know, I’m so inspiring, huh?  This one has been on my mind for a while. I kicked my almost decade-long addiction to CoffeeMate in October.  It was hard at first but eventually I liked half and half and a bit of sugar.  But then Halloween happened and that was a new low. Dave and I ate so much candy on the weekend following Halloween (which was on a Friday) and I felt like utter garbage by Monday.  But I couldn’t stop! I would have a healthful lunch and then boom! Sugar cravings would hit all afternoon and I had no self-control.  I clearly needed to work on this.

I did a little research during December (in between baking and eating Christmas sweets of course!) to see what kinds of programs were out there for sugar addicts like me. Most of them involved cutting out fruit and carbs too, and I just can’t do that.  This nursing mom can only deal with so much! Plus, I’ve done lots of diets in my day, and it’s never been good for me to eliminate food groups. I love food and I love cooking and baking and I’m tired of feeling ashamed of that.  What I really want is to be able to enjoy food, even sweets, healthfully and have the self control to stop myself when I’m done.  Laura shared this video with me and it was mind-blowing and very inspiring to me to get my sugar addiction under control.  Haley’s posts Why I Don’t Want to Be Healthy and Confessions of a Sugarholic were also very timely for me and made me fist pump a little a lot.  I  was ready!

So! I’m on day two and it’s not too bad!  No sugar in my coffee, and no added sweets. I’m not too worried about sugar in things as long as it’s not a predominantly sugar-y food.  So, I’m not going to have jam on my toast, but I won’t worry about a little mayo in my tuna. But I did switch from bottled salad dressings to oil and vinegar. One of the main ingredients on my favorite (lite!) poppy seed dressing is high fructose corn syrup! [Gah! Listen to me, I already sound obnoxious!]  I did have a glass of red wine with dinner but only after Dave looked it up and explained that dry red wine is really the least sugary wine of all.  Moderation, folks.  Thus, it’s mostly sugar free, but not totally sugar free.  And it’ll be most of the month, but not all of the month because my birthday is on January 28th and I must eat cake. I’m not that crazy!

Whew.  This is a wordy post.

What do you think of resolutions? Are you for? Against? Indifferent? Do you just want to get on with the New Year already? Me too!

 

It’s October?

I don’t really know where September went.  Preschool and dancing started and my kids got their first colds of the season (first cold of little Gus’ life!) and more recently I spent the last week freaking the freak out about my dentist appointment today.  I haven’t been in almost 4 years and I was convinced that I had several large cavities and the dentist was going to yell at me and tell me I’m a terrible person who takes terrible care of her teeth. But instead of being scolded, I was praised for how clean my teeth and healthy my gums are and I did not have any cavities!  It was hands down the best experience I’ve ever had at the dentist.  Can you believe it, Mom?

I guess I should talk about how I did with my September goals… Meh.  I think I got to my dishes goal maybe 15 out of 30 days. If I can get those dishes put away before I start making dinner, I consider it a success. But making my bed?  Why is this such a hard thing for me to do every day?  I’m determined to make it a habit though.  It makes me so happy when my bed is made and my room looks pretty.  I think I’ll just stick with those two goals going into this month, though.  Life is still pretty unpredictable with these munchkins.  Last night Gus only woke up to eat once, so I think that was the most I’ve slept since the night before he was born. So I feel pretty good today, but overall, September was a month of tired, stressed Ellen.  I’m still plugging away at it though.

That brings me to today.  Today is the feast of St. Therese, and it’s also the anniversary of my friend Sara’s passing.   SK and I are wearing daisies (her favorite flower) and we went to Mass this morning to pray for her.  It’s always been comforting to me that Sara died on the feast of St. Therese.  Not only did Sara have a special devotion to her, but in retrospect there are similarities between the two women that I just can’t ignore: the flowers, childlike faith, great physical suffering and dying young.  I’ve always experienced St. Therese as being one of those saints who pursues you and I feel like she really pursued Sara and was with her at the end.  So today I miss my friend, but I also feel especially thankful for the communion of saints.  Photo on 10-1-14 at 4.09 PM #2

So.  Blogging.  I’ll try to do a little more of that in October.  No promises though. 😉

WIWS & Some Catechetical Thoughts

It’s the first Sunday of Lent, and I just realized I appropriately wore purple (albeit, very pale purple).  Dumb luck for the win!

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Gap maternity tee & maternity tights (recommended by Dwija), old Loft cardi and old H&M skirt (worn here – yay for elastic waists!) and trusty Corso Como boots.  SK (23 months) is sporting a Gap Outlet dress in 3T.

Speaking of dumb luck, it came to our rescue during Mass today.  We’ve been using the diaper bag as a Mass books/activities bag for a while now and we just keep it in the car in the meantime.  It also has diapers and things in it as well, but we never ever have to use it as a diaper bag because this kid never goes when we’re out of the house.  I’m telling you, it never happens.  But it happened today!  I was so shocked when that tell-tale look came over SK’s face during the prayer of the faithful!  And then I remembered: time change.  Her little body thought it was an hour earlier, and we’re always at home at 8 am, so according to her internal clock it was go time.  Yuck!  But like I said, dumb luck came to our rescue and we were prepared like good  normal parents.

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Yesterday I headed over to church in the afternoon because my second grade CCD students were going to have a tour. My DRE was the one giving the tour so I was just there for crowd control, but I was more than happy to tag along.  In fact, the whole time I was thinking “Why don’t they do tours for the adults as well?”  Now, St. Theresa of Avila in West Roxbury MA is an especially gorgeous church.  And I’m not saying that in a haughty “my church is more gorgeous than your church” way.  Having grown up in an area where many of the traditional older churches were leveled or abandoned for more modern (ok, ugly) barn-like structures, I know it’s the exception and not the rule to have beautiful parish churches. Unfortunately.  But, every Catholic church has certain features that must be there (like the tabernacle and the altar) so there’s always material for instruction.

It struck me when my DRE was teaching the kids how to genuflect and why we genuflect, that this would be a good refresher for all the parishoners!

Image from Cardinal Sean’s blog. The tabernacle at St. Theresa’s pretty much demands that you stop and genuflect!

I assume most parishoners, like myself, don’t have time on Sunday to wander around and actually look at each stained glass window.  Not all stained glass windows are as intricate as the ones in St. Theresa’s maybe, but they are all meant to be catechetical.

It was really neat for the kids to get to go into the sacristy to see all the vestments and candles and the crucifix for the procession.  One of the things that they found really interesting (and I thought adults should know about as well) was how there was a special place for the chalice and ciboria to be cleaned that was separate from the sink where everything else was cleaned.

They had the cutest questions about it all. One little girl asked “where are the angel’s robes?”.  That stumped my DRE but then I asked, “Do you mean the kids who are altar servers who help Monsignor during Mass?” and she shook her head yes.  My DRE explained that when they’re in fourth grade, they could be altar servers if they wanted and they could help at Mass.  One of my students, a really smart little red headed boy, looked very serious and asked “If I want to be an altar server when I’m in fourth grade, does that mean I can’t get married?” Ah, I had to try really hard not to laugh; it was a valid concern in his little head!

Anyway, I share all this to just raise the question of whether church tours should be something that happens at every parish and not just for kids.  I don’t know if it’s practical or if I’m being naive, it just struck me as such a teaching opportunity in this day and age when most church going Catholic adults don’t know some of the most basic and profound truths of our faith.  A lot of it can simply be found within the building and in the artwork and function of the church itself!  What do you think?

Thank you to the lovely ladies at FL&P for hosting! 🙂

Making up for lost Lents

Yesterday, as we discussed what could and could not be eaten on Ash Wednesday (a favorite topic of DJ’s), DJ observed that I had not actually been bound by any Lenten fasting or abstinence rules for the past six years!?!

After thinking more carefully, I also realized that for one reason or another, I haven’t attended Holy Thursday Mass or Good Friday services for that same amount of time. What with one nursing baby or another*, I haven’t “done Lent” so to speak since before Jude’s birth in April 2008.

This year, I have no excuse, so I needed to do some serious thinking about what I’m going to do to make this season count. I liked Ellen’s Lenten round up from yesterday. It gave me a lot to think on, especially the part about just doing my duty in my house (so many blogs, so little time so dishes and laundry get kinda’ lost).

But then I think about this post from awesome nunblogger (that’s one word) Sr. Martha Mary who writes:

It would be great if you would stop biting your nails, but it’s not going to cut it for Lent. You’re not going to give up physical things for physical self help. You’re going to give up physical things for spiritual self improvement.

And atonement.

This makes me stop and think: I should be doing better in my house work stuff anyway. This isn’t something I should do for Lent, it’s something I should do all the time. Lent is a good time to get started, but doing my best by my house isn’t atonement for my sins: it’s my ding dang job.

I want to do something that will be a sacrifice that I can pick up again on Easter Sunday because it’s a joy. The feeling I get from doing it is something happy and not doing it during Lent will remind me about Christ and His sacrifice and being able to do it again on Easter Sunday will remind me that He is Risen!

Mmmmmm, rich and delicious Ovaltine.

Mmmmmm, rich and delicious Ovaltine.

So, I’m not going to spend money. Well, I am, but not on myself at all. That means I’ll go through the drive through at Dunkin Donuts for the kids, but not for me. I’ll do grocery shopping and pick up DJ’s bacon cheddar pretzels but I won’t buy my special treat (Ovaltine, for those of you wondering). I’m also going to refrain from watching my favorite British TV shows. Avoiding these things won’t put me in a bad mood (like abstaining from coffee certainly would) but they are things I now enjoy daily and giving them up will be a true sacrifice for me.

Added bonus of skipping by Tuesday and Thursday Dunkin Donuts treat: I will save at least $40 over the next six weeks.

Added bonus of skipping by Tuesday and Thursday Dunkin Donuts treat: I will save at least $40 over the next six weeks.

So, that’s Claire on Lent. Remember that my degree is in sociology and I lick my kid’s pacifiers when they fall on the floor so don’t take me as a spiritual authority or anything like that.

*You people do what you want, but in the Hazzard House Lenten rules on food don’t apply if you’re growing or nursing a Catholic.

Lenten Round-Up

The internets have been all a-buzz with Lenten posts for our sacrificial benefit.  I thought I’d list a few of the posts that have really helped narrow down my intentions for this Lent, if for no other reason than to have them all linked and listed for future Ellen’s benefit.

Bonnie’s v-log about spring cleaning during Lent was a monumental find for me.  Why have I never thought of that before?  The housekeeping side of my vocation is the side that is often woefully neglected.  I’ve often thought that if this was my real job and I was paid for this, etc., I would be the most dismal employee of all time.  I just let other things get in the way and I’m too easygoing on myself and the state of my house. To go along with this Lenten goal of mine, I’m going to finally read that book I won in the fall on Emily’s blog, Keeping House.  Ordinarily, I’d been too embarrassed to admit to the whole internet that I haven’t even cracked the book that Emily so selflessly shared with me, but in this case I had a valid excuse.  I was very newly pregnant and for a month and a half, the house justifiably took a back seat to growing a baby and watching a toddler and trying not to throw-up.  Reading a book about keeping house while I just could not keep house was too depressing.  Anyway, I’m going to read it now!

Hot off the blog reader, Auntie Leila just posted about Lent and her second suggestion aligns very well with Bonnie’s v-log.  Just do your duty to your house, woman!

On a practical note, Rosie’s post with 25 meatless meals for Lent is very helpful.  I’m excited to try all of the soups she has on the list, and by try, I mean eat.  Does anyone else find it really frustrating how messy and involved making soup is?  It’s so tricksy, you have this picture in your mind of a big pot of soup bubbling away on the stove and the wife peacefully tending to everything else in the house and just checking on the soup periodically.  But in reality, soup is so freaking annoying to make!  Maybe my recipes are too complicated?

Dwija’s post on Lent for Pregnant People  has good tips for ladies like me who are in the family way.  I think the best thing I can and should do during this pregnancy is to not fret and complain about my weight gain and swelling.  Every time I feel a whine surging up, I’m going to try my darndest to choke it down and say a prayer of thanksgiving for my baby boy and my (so-far) healthy pregnancy.  By Easter, I’ll be 30 weeks so I’m going to be a lot bigger and more uncomfortable by then, with 10 weeks of growth and swelling to go after that!  Time to check the pregnancy whines.

Going along with being more of an adult about pregnancy weight gain and the body changes involved with motherhood, I really loved this article written by Michelle Duggar.  It has nothing to do with Lent but it really spoke to me and my specific struggles with body image and motherhood.

Finally, I loved Christy’s Lenten thoughts that she posted last week.  I loved how she cracked open that simple (but difficult) truth about Lent: that it’s not about what you can and should accomplish, but rather about what the work that the Lord does in our souls.

Now, go forth and eat some cake while ye can!

My Prayer For This Pregnancy

I’ve always been hesitant to write about birth on the blog.  Not only is it such an emotionally charged topic for me, but it is also a hot-button topic for everyone.  Everybody has their opinions, anecdotes, experiences and articles backing up their opinions.  Frankly, I don’t want to participate in such discussions and I avoid them like the plague.

However, this topic weighs very heavily on my mind.  I went a week overdue with Sara so I was induced and 36 hours later (including 4 hours of pushing) she was born via c-section.  In the past two years I’ve run the gamut of emotions about everything.  I’ve been traumatized by how it all went down, I’ve been frustrated and angry with natural birth advocates who make me feel bad about what happened and the choices that my doctor and I made (they make me!! Ok, not quite.), and I’ve been grateful for modern medicine and the miracle of my daughter’s healthy and safe birth despite everything that happened.  I get chills when I think of women before the days hospitals and c-sections (or just women in other parts of the world who don’t have the luxury of a choice in the matter) who pushed and pushed and pushed like I did without the happy outcome.  It was traumatizing, I wish it had gone differently, but overall I am so grateful for how it turned out.

Like I said: emotions!  My Mom and sisters and close friends have all very patiently listened to me hash it out ad nauseum for the past two years.  And now, I’m gearing up for another birth.  I’m with my same doctor because she’s marvelous and I love her.  We’ve discussed my options of VBAC or repeat c-sections and what it all comes down to is basically out of my control.  If I go into labor, great!  If I don’t, then we do another c-section.  We won’t do another induction and I’m glad about that.  It was awful! It’s been hard to shut out all of the buzz about birth options and what’s better and worse, but I’ve finally come to the place where I know and accept that the decision lies with me and what I’m comfortable with.

But, I still have anxieties.  I like to think they’re normal pregnant woman anxieties.  We’re all worried about the delivery and the safety and health of our babies.  That’s all normal.  I take my anxieties to Our Lord in prayer but I struggle.  Do I ask God for a VBAC?  Do I beg Him to allow me to go into labor naturally? Do I pray for a breech baby so the decision of whether to do a c-section is made for me (I kid… kind of…)? I want these things to happen, but I feel weird asking for them specifically.  God knows what I desire, but He also knows what’s best in our situation and I should trust in Him, right? Finally, it came to me today, the prayer that I’ve been wanting to say but couldn’t quite put my finger on it:

Dear Lord, I pray for a safe and peaceful delivery.

Simple, short and sweet, I can repeat it like a litany throughout this pregnancy. I can recite this prayer to myself when I feel anxious about having a repeat c-section and it’s implications for future children and deliveries.  I can recite it when I feel pressure or judgement (real and perceived) to get a doula or midwife or pursue a VBAC. Dear Lord, I pray for a safe and peaceful delivery.

This is all that really matters, it’s all that’s ever mattered.  This is the prayer of every expectant mother no matter what her circumstances.  I don’t know what’s going to happen.  I never have and I never will, but I need to put my trust in Him and just let the anxiety go.

If you remember and care to, will you join me in this prayer?  More than advice or anecdotes or articles, this is what I really need.

Mary with Jesus and Angel by Margaret Tarrant

{Meanwhile, this picture is just so serene and peaceful, I had to share!}

All Souls

The other day while driving, I caught the tail end of a story on NPR about a website that can help you find out whether anyone has ever died in your house.  The gentleman being interviewed basically said that this is valuable information to have, especially before buying a house because no one wants to buy a house that someone has died in!

I thought this was kind of silly.  If you live in an older house, it’s kind of a given, right? I think the bigger issue here is secular society’s refusal to face mortality. Everyone is scared of aging.  Physical suffering is seen as the worst evil, because suffering points to one thing… that thing we’re all scared of.  Dying.  So why would anyone want to be reminded of death in their own home?  It’s unheard of!  Homes are for living in! None of this terrible dying stuff.

Isn’t it funny that a secular mentality that refuses to admit the reality of suffering and death and embraces material goods, health, good looks, food… this mentality often leads to fear and profound sadness when reality comes knocking?  Meanwhile, as Catholics, we’re called to face there reality of sin, of mortality, and of death.  That seems like such a downer, right? But it’s not!  Facing the reality of mortality allows us to celebrate the blessings of life all the more!

Dave and I are less than a week away from officially buying our house.  And we know for a fact that at least two people have died in this house (probably more).  And we also know that at least one person (probably more) was born in this house.

When we moved here two years ago, we were greeted by our neighbors and landlords, Mr and Mrs. A.  Mr. A was a really intense and rather nosy landlord.  It was kind of overwhelming at first when we first moved, because he would knock on the door several times a day to bring some minor issue to our attention.  But it wasn’t long before we realized that Mr. A just took enormous pride in his house.  He was born in the house 80 years before.  He grew up here, brought his bride Mrs. A home here and they raised their two kids here.  He lived on one side and his parents lived on the other side.  Eventually, his son and his son’s wife and little daughter lived on the grandparent’s side (our side).  Mr. A took meticulous care of the outside of the house and tended to all of repairs himself.  Mrs. A was the most fastidious homemaker I had ever seen.  She was up at the crack of dawn and she had finished all of her housework by 8 am.  Her place always sparkled!

Mr. A left us very suddenly right before Christmas, only 5 months after we moved in.  He had been outside cleaning the gutters and he collapsed with a major heart attack.  As shocking and sudden as his death was, it was definitely the way he would have wanted to leave the earth.  He was doing what he loved; taking care of the house.

Mrs. A was so sad and depressed about Mr. A’s death.  She had always taken such good care of Mr. A and his house, and he had taken care of everything else.  She didn’t know what to do without him.  Her two grown children rallied around her and her grandkids were always here to cheer her, but her heart was elsewhere.  Only 10 months after Mr. A’s death, Mrs. A was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and only a few weeks later (exactly a year ago) Mrs. A went to join Mr. A.  She had been in the hospital for most of October, but she was able to come home with hospice care right before she died.

I have never felt spooked thinking of Mr. and Mrs. A living and dying in this house. They were wonderful people and they lived full lives here.  In fact, I feel grateful for having known the people who owned the house we’re about to buy.  I truly feel like it’s a benediction on our family.  I will forever be inspired by Mrs. A’s dedication to the vocation of wife, mother and homemaker. And I know that Dave will always think of Mr A and his obsessive care and attention he lavished on this house.

Listening to that NPR story and thinking of our own house reminded me of a quote from Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery:

When I was a child I heard an old minister say that a house was not a real home until it had been consecrated by a birth, a wedding and a death.“—Marilla to Mrs. Lynde on Anne’s wedding day.  

I’m so glad our house has been consecrated by a birth and death.  I don’t know about a wedding, but there have definitely been brides here and families started.  This is the house that we brought our baby back to, so it will always be so special to us.

On this All Souls Day, I’m thinking with gratitude about the family and friends who have gone before us, who have consecrated our lives and our homes with their presence.  May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

 

Five Favorites: House goodies

Joining up with http://moxiewife.com for Five Faves. We continue to make sssslllloooowww progress on our house. The previous owners actually built the house in the 60s and changed very, very little since then. When we moved in, the dishwasher was original (no, really) and the washer, while not quite that old was sporting some wood paneling so that dates it to at least the end of the Reagan administration if not before.

Of course, every time we complete one little project (or even one big one) we are already planning the next one! Of course, by “we” I mean just me because DJ isn’t like this but i like to spread the blame and shame around. Some things catching our (okay, my) interest as possible projects:

1. All the outlets in this house need to be replaced, and we’d like to replace some of them with these:

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It’s a wall outlet with built-in USB chargers! So. Cool.

2) All the doors on the second floor of our house are the fabulous, hollow-core doors popular with cheap builders everywhere until the 90s, when fabulous six-panel hollow-core doors became the fashion. We thought about replacing them, but may take a stab at this first:

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Photo from Design Sponge.

What is it? It’s a slab door painted and with molding added. These tutorials are all over the inter webs and I think the afters are pretty uniformly awesome. Also, some DIY sites call this door “augmentation,” which makes me laugh like a 12-year-old kid for some reason.

3) We’d like to jump on the board-and-batten bandwagon, but we live in a 60s side-hall colonial. One of my pet peeves is when I walk into a house where updates on the inside are not in keeping with the style of the house’s exterior. But still, I really like the way this dining room looks:

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Image from here.

4) Soon the exterior of our home will have to be repainted. Actually, there is a pretty large section of unpainted siding on the rear of the house that we have to slap some color on. Currently, our house is a sort of bright blue, but I really like the idea of going darker.

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This house (from here) is actually similar to ours because the bottom half of the house shown is brick, like ours.

5) The outside of our house, besides paint, needs some landscaping attention. I’d really, really like a weeping cherry with a small statue of the Holy Family beneath it surrounded by some sort if ivy or other ground cover like that. I keep thinking if I include the Holy Family in my landscaping ideas, they’ll somehow find the money for me to do it. I’m aware of how awful that thought process is.

Of course, none of these projects that cost more than $50 will be done anytime in the foreseeable future since the kids continue to suck up any and all “extra” money I seem to have. I just can’t believe how much and how often they all need to eat!