7 Quick Takes

Friday, July 29, 2011

1. Abby has Coronal Craniosynostosis.
2.Which means she will need surgery.
3.Most likely within the next month.
4.This scares me. I really hate that my baby will undergo surgery--on her skull.
5.But at least we've been through this before and know what to expect.
6.Thank God we live near the best doctors in the world for this type of surgery.

Thanks to Jen for hosting. For more Quick Takes go here.

Excellent Post

Wednesday, July 20, 2011
My Mom is currently in town, so we're spending most of our days loving on Grams. Needless to say, I haven't had much time to blog, read emails, etc., but I just stole a moment to read the post, "Gay, Catholic and Doing Fine" over at Little Catholic Bubble. It is excellent.

The author is a gay Catholic man in his late 20's and the post is about the impossibility of gay marriage and why the Catholic Church isn't some big meany when it comes to homosexuality. My favorite quote from the post is:
So, yes, it's hard to be gay and Catholic -- it's hard to be anything and Catholic -- because I don't always get to do what I want. Show me a religion where you always get to do what you want and I'll show you a pretty shabby, lazy religion. Something not worth living or dying for, or even getting up in the morning for. That might be the kind of world John Lennon wanted, but John Lennon was kind of an idiot.

Love it.

More Babies

Saturday, July 16, 2011
Despite what I said about recovering from a c-section and suffering from D-MER and being tired and that parenting two little ones is h.a.r.d, I still look forward to having another baby. I look at their sweet little faces and think 'how could I not want more?' And I've already started dreaming up baby names. What do you think of Amelia for a girl?

I must be out of my mind.

Around the House

Friday, July 15, 2011
My sorry attempt at creating a happy birthday card for my Grandpa.

Abby loves her swing.

Hannah loves her sister.

Yes, that's a rosary on her head.

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!!!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Today is my Grandpa's 90th birthday. My family is having a big bash in his honor and I'm sad we won't be there to help him celebrate. So in lieu of that, here is my written testament to my grandfather.

Grandpa truly is one of a kind. He's such a wonderful grandfather and incredible person and I feel so very blessed to have had in my life for the last 30 years.

I have so many found memories of Grandpa growing up. A few that I can think of off the top of my head include: building sand castles at the beach, digging for sand crabs, his plaid golf pants, his devotion to his dog Mocha, Breyer's ice cream and Lipton Iced Tea and Triscuits, watching Bill O'Reilly, double dating on Valentine's Day, agreeing that Alan Keyes was a fantastic presidential candidate, the Dog Whisperer and EWTN, ice cream in the coffee for breakfast, his famous phrases like "good show" and "okay, team," his love for his friends and family, the list goes on and on.

Among the many things his example has taught me, I can think of three that stand out. One, his generosity. He's one of the most generous people I know. He seems to always be on the lookout for different ways to help people. And I've been on the receiving end of his generosity many, many times.

And his generosity extends to all areas of life. He and my grandmother are the proud parents to 13 kids and 39 (I think) grandchildren. And now they're the great-grandparents to five little ones. There's always room for one more family member in the Schnugg family.

Secondly, his humility. He was a respected doctor in his day and is a revered member of the community. Everyone knows and loves Dr. Schnugg. But Grandpa has a subtle humility about him that I truly admire. He readily admits what he is and isn't good at and what he can and cannot do. As someone who has difficulty admitting when I'm not naturally good at something, I've learned a lot from him.

Lastly, the importance of family. Grandpa has always stressed the importance of family. Whether it's encouraging his grandchildren to research the family tree or to use the beach house for family occasions, he's always encouraging his kids and his grandkids to hang out, to have a party, to enjoy each other. And due to his example we do enjoy each other's company and throwing a party or two.

So to Grandpa on your 90th birthday, all I can really say is good show. Good show, Grandpa.

5 Ways I Don't Love NFP by Danielle Bean

Wednesday, July 13, 2011
I'm loving this article Five Ways I Don't Love NFP by Danielle Bean. Of course NFP is the obvious choice and the healthy alternative to artificial birth control. Natural Family Planning has many wonderful attributes, but it's also not easy and can be especially challenging for couples at different times during their marriage.

I definitely recommend reading the entire article (just click on the title above), but in case you don't, I'll summarize her five reasons for not always loving NFP.

1. NFP does not work well for everyone.
She adds it can be particularly difficult while breastfeeding. Amen sister.

2. NFP is not mandatory.
Catholics once accepted children as a natural part of marriage and now many tend to view NFP and "controlling fertility as a virtue in itself. There is a brand new, modern way of looking at children through the lens of "responsibility" as opposed to "generosity" and "blessing." Honestly, this could be an entire article in and of itself. Someday I'll get the guts and write a post about this very topic.

3. Have we no shame?
"I think many of us have lost a sense of awe and holy shame about sex." Personally, I don't want to hear about anyone's cervical mucus (unless I know you really, really, really well;) and I don't really want to talk about mine. Thankyouverymuch.

4. It's only information. This is in response to some NFP teachers cautioning against the use of fertility monitors and such because they may inhibit communication (communication being one of the trademarks of NFP). But if there is a device which can help a woman monitor her fertility better, then it should be encouraged. "Communicating about that information is a separate issue and does not need to be part of the method itself."

5. Temperament Matters.
Some women enjoy monitoring and charting their fertility signs, for others it may seem like "too much information." Also some couples are better at abstaining than others and "a married couple that finds abstinence especially difficult, for example, is more likely to have a large family, whether they were planning to or not." Haha, I like that.

Danielle Bean reiterates that she not mean to be an "NFP downer" and is a supporter and self-proclaimed practicer of NFP, but she adds that NFP also needs to be talked about with the occasional "reality check."

Pictures From the "Wait a Minute, I'm Not Going to Help You Until I Take a Picture" Series Subtitled: How Does She Get Stuck Like That?

Monday, July 11, 2011
She climbs up, but can't get down.

Unfortunately, this is one of her new favorite places to climb.

One of her favorite places to get stuck.

Notice the foot stuck in the mailbox.

He Said...She Said

Saturday, July 9, 2011
He Said: You like nice.

She Said: Thanks, but I look fat.

He Said: You don't look fat...You do look pregnant though.

She Said: Umm, yeah, you're not helping.

Emotional Recovery From a 2nd C-Section

Friday, July 8, 2011
For the past several weeks I’ve been trying to process all of the emotions I’ve been feeling after having my second C-section. Let me warn you, there have been a lot of emotions and they’re not all good. Part of me feels guilty for even having these negative feelings towards my birth experience. I know plenty of women would give anything, including a difficult labor and eventual C-section, just to have a baby in their arms. And my baby is healthy, so really, who am I to complain? I chastise myself that I need to just get over it. But the other part of me realizes that I need to allow myself to feel these emotions, to deal with them before I can move on. I think writing about what I’m feeling will help me and perhaps any other women recovering from an unplanned C-section.

(I want to add a disclaimer before I begin that C-sections are not these horrific surgeries they are sometimes made out to be. I know our childbirth instructor terrified us with the idea of a C-section, but when Hannah was born we realized, “hey, that wasn’t that bad.” My intention in writing about my feelings is not to frighten anyone about the prospect of a c-section, but to simply process my thoughts and emotions surrounding the birth.)

To preface, I want to say that we had planned to have a homebirth. We felt (and still do) that in order to have a successful VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) a homebirth would provide the greatest likelihood of that happening. We wanted to avoid all the interventions of a hospital birth. We’re both pretty crunchy and believe wholeheartedly in natural childbirth. So with that in mind, I had emotionally set myself up to have a peaceful homebirth. Therefore, when I once again was faced with a C-section it was that much more disheartening. It was not at all what I wanted for myself, my baby or my family.

Because we really, really did not want a hospital birth and certainly did not want another C-section, I can’t help but feel like I failed. Everyone has been telling me that I did not fail, that my long labor was heroic. And indeed, I suppose it was. But I can’t help but believe that I did fail to do what millions of women since the beginning of time have done and that is to birth my baby. And because I wasn’t able to do that I feel less somehow. I feel as if I haven’t succeeded in going through that ultimate rite of passage for a woman. Yes, I am a mother, but I’ve never experienced pushing my baby out of my body.

I cannot help but wonder if I had labored for just one more day, or given Abby more time to better position herself whether I would have eventually birthed her at home. Perhaps if I had been tougher. Part of me feels like a wimp. Rationally, I know I’m not, but emotionally I feel like I was weak.

And I have pity parties for myself. So many other women get to experience a natural childbirth and I don’t. Countless women get to have normal and quick labors, why are mine so endless? I don’t see the point to my marathon labors. Perhaps it was to ensure that the intentions for which I was offering up my labor pains would be heard, but even if that was the case God could still have allowed me to birth naturally at home. I don’t get it.

And I’m embarrassed. I don’t like having to tell people or people knowing that I had a C-section. Isn’t that weird? I’m not entirely sure where the embarrassment comes from, but I think it goes back to the failure aspect and assuming that people will think I was a wimp and couldn’t handle the pain of labor. I always want to tell them, “but I had probably 70+ hours of labor before the C-section, I’m not a wimp.” (Of course I don’t say this, but I’m tempted to.)

And I’m fearful. I’ll admit I’m afraid for my next pregnancy and birth. A second C-section is a game changer for many hospitals and obstetricians. Many hospitals don’t allow VBACs after two C-sections, so that would mean possibly a third and fourth c-section. I’ll admit, I’m worried about the strength of my uterus and withstanding and healing properly from yet another c-section. Despite what many doctors would have you believe, a C-section is no small thing. Being cut wide open and sewn back together is not something to be taken lightly.

And that fear leads to doubt. Maybe we shouldn’t have more or many more children. Maybe my body is simply not cut out for this. Perhaps, despite what Ina May says, my body is a lemon.

And that thought leads to sadness because I wish I didn’t have this anxiety surrounding pregnancy and birth. I wish I could have absolutely no apprehension towards the whole thing and just keep having babies.

So ultimately, I’m dealing with feelings of failure, embarrassment, fear, doubt and sadness, mixed in with a little bit of anger too that things didn’t work out how I wanted. To be honest, it’s a lot to process, but I’m sure in time I’ll come to terms with it all and eventually be able to let it go, but for now, it is what it is. And there you have it.

On A Lighter Note

Thursday, July 7, 2011
Jen over at Conversion Diary is hosting birth story haikus. They're hilarious.

The haiku for Jen's first birth is pretty much awesome.

BABY #1:
Natural childbirth:
this is gonna be great, right?
Doctor Bradley lies.


BABY #5:
O epidural,
You have failed me once again.
Uh-oh, time to push.

Pope Benedict and the Sexual Abuse Crisis: A Book Review

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Pope Benedict and the Sexual Abuse Crisis. They are also a great source for a Catechism of the Catholic Church or a Catholic Bible.

Considering it’s been about six months since I received the book from The Catholic Company, I figured it was time to finally write my review on Pope Benedict and The Sexual Abuse Crisis.

As a practicing Catholic and fan of Pope Benedict, I had mixed emotions reading this book. One the one hand, I was eager to believe any arguments that would clear the Vatican and Pope Benedict of any wrongdoing. On the other hand, as someone who has seen the destruction the sex abuse crisis has caused within the Boston Archdiocese, there is nothing the authors could possibly say to exonerate any Church hierarchy. In truth, I was hoping the authors could convince me that the entire ordeal was somehow a huge media ploy against the Catholic Church (what many Catholics would like to believe). However, what Pope Benedict and The Sexual Abuse Crisis does offer is a critically objective look at the criticism surrounding Pope Benedict and his response to the crimes committed by Catholic clergy in the U.S.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) from 1981 to 2005. The role of the CDF is to “maintain and defend the integrity of the faith and to examine and proscribe errors and false doctrines.” Many claim that because of as his esteemed role within the Vatican Ratzinger must have been aware and therefore culpable for the clergy sex abuse crisis. However, as Prefect of the CDF, Ratzinger did not directly oversee clergy misconduct. Yet, in 2001, in a bold and laudable move, Ratzinger wrested control of the sexual abuse cases against priests from the Congregation for the Clergy, which he believed was failing to properly address the severity of the problem. Shortly thereafter in 2002, the American sexual abuse crisis was exposed and to be blunt and literal, all hell broke loose.

The book Pope Benedict and The Sexual Abuse Crisis: Working for Reform and Renewal defends Pope Benedict against the claims that he was responsible for the concealment of abuse crimes committed by the clergy. Written by two prominent Catholic literati, Gregory Erlandson and Matthew Bunson, Pope Benedict and the Sexual Abuse Crisis takes an honest look at the history of events and assesses the Pope’s efforts in improving clergy formation and oversight. The authors create a compelling case that Pope Benedict XVI has worked tirelessly to purge the Church of the “filth” which has permeated the priesthood and to work towards renewal.

Erlandson and Bunson are remarkably forthcoming with the stories of sexual abuse committed by priests in the U.S. (as well as in Ireland). The timeline and comprehensive history of the offenses are well documented by the authors. In fact, much to my disgust, I learned a great deal about the events that contributed to the crisis. The book details some of the horrendous and wicked acts perpetrated by priests and the subsequent cover-ups committed by Bishops and authorities within the Church. The particulars of these atrocious crimes made the book difficult to read at times.

While it pains me to mention some of the evidence presented in the book, I think it is important to note certain statistics. For example, according to a John Jay study cited by the authors, 81 percent of the victims were males. The vast majority (78%) of victims were between the ages of 11 and 17 and “contrary to the general media image of the abusing priests, only 6 percent were victims 7 years of age or younger. 16 Percent of the victims were between ages 8 and 10.”

Clearly there was (and arguably still is) a disordered homosexual element which infiltrated the priesthood. And although the vast majority of acts were not committed against young children (ages 10 and under), it’s hardly convincing to say that 23% of abuse victims qualifies as insignificant or clearly negates the pedophile argument.

Yet, it is the cover-ups of these crimes that are the most despicable. Erlandson and Bunson make a convincing case that Cardinal Ratzinger was unaware of the extent to which the sexual abuse crisis was happening in the American church and that he played no part in concealing the crimes. Yet, there were certainly American Cardinals and Bishops who were privy to the misdeeds of these priests and either moved these priests to new parishes and positions or simply turned a blind eye altogether.

Most notable of the cover-up Cardinals was Cardinal Law of the Boston Archdiocese who infamously opted to have pedophile priests attend therapy sessions rather than be stripped of their collar. He has since retired, but no criminal charges have been brought against him. Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles (who is still in office) is under federal investigation for failing to “adequately deal with priests accused of sexually abusing children.” The list of those in positions of authority who ignored priestly misconduct is extensive.

However, the authors succeed in constructing a strong defense to clear Ratzinger of any wrongdoing. At the time many of the abuses occurred, clergy oversight or misconduct cases were not under Ratzinger’s jurisdiction. The Congregation of Clergy was responsible for overseeing priests and clergy misconduct and Ratzinger did not begin to directly oversee the sexual abuse cases until 2001, just one year before the Boston Globe broke the abuse crisis in the U.S.

The second half of the book is dedicated to the question, “where do we go from here?” In 2002, American Church bishops and Vatican officials met to discuss this very question. In response they developed the Dallas Charter in which they outlined the necessary steps to prevention and reconciliation. Key provisions of the Charter include: the establishment of a National Review Board and the Office of Child and Youth Protection, an established norms for legal procedures, encouraging bishops to meet with victims, creating offices to provide professional counseling to victims, improving seminary training and providing priestly formation to strengthen the commitment to celibacy and most importantly, permanently removing a priest or deacon from ministry after he admits committing abuse or his guilt is established, a zero tolerance approach to abuse. Arguably, these changes have helped to prevent abuse within the last decade. Certainly, claims have diminished and Catholics can be hopeful that the purging of the criminal priests has resulted in a renewal within the priesthood and the Church.

Despite Ratzinger’s innocence I am not entirely sure he is without blame (and I imagine he would agree with me). Even if he was ill informed of the details or the extent to which certain crimes were being committed and covered up, shouldn’t he have been? Shouldn’t someone have been aware and shouldn’t that someone have been the #2 man in the Vatican?

Perhaps my condemnation lies not with Ratzinger but with the hierarchy of the Church. Ratzinger is simply representative of that authority and therefore the first to receive blame. Living within the Boston Archdiocese, I have witnessed first-hand the damage caused by abusive priests and bishops. Catholics here are skeptical, they are jaded and many no longer attend church. To be honest, I can’t blame them. Unlike other parts of the country, where being Catholic is something for Sunday, here amongst the Bostonians Catholicism is an integral part of the identity and culture of the people. They have experienced and witnessed crimes beyond comprehension. They have watched the destruction of their beloved mother church and the betrayal by the priests and bishops to whom they entrusted the care of theirs and their children’s’ souls. Such betrayal is not easily forgiven and certainly not forgotten.

In closing, I am reminded of Peggy Noonan’s article The Catholic Church’s Catastrophe in which she praises the media and Pope Benedict for their willingness to “admit, confront and attempt to redress what happened.” The book Pope Benedict and the Sexual Abuse Crisis should also be commended for its candor for it is only through such transparency that the Church will begin to heal.

Fourth of July Pictures

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Waving to the parade.
Abby enjoying her first Fourth of July Parade.
Watching the parade.
It's hard to see in the picture, but those colonial soldiers stopped to fire their rifles. Hannah did not like that and promptly ran away. I don't blame her, it scared me too.

Why I Love My Husband

1) He looks great in shorts and tennis shoes. He has such nice legs...

2) He drives me to the mall so I can finally get my eyebrows done.

3) Every morning he offers to run out and get me a Starbucks before he leaves for the day. There's nothing like a mocha at 6 in the morning. Yum.

God Bless America

Happy (belated) Independence Day!

I'm such a patriot, I love the 4th of July.

For our 4th of July celebration, I made blueberry and raspberry muffins (red, white and blue:)) for breakfast, we went for an early swim (well, Hannah and Matthew went for an early swim, Abby and I sat on the edge of the pool), then we went to a nearby parade. Hannah marched along with the parade (she learned how to march from good ol' Barney), it was really cute. After the parade we went for an ice cream. No fireworks for us this year (we were in bed by then-ha).All in all, a good day.

God Bless America.

7 Quick Takes

Friday, July 1, 2011

Is it really Friday again? And July? Where did June go? Whew, time flies. These are really random Quick Takes.

1)Did I mention Matthew gave me a Kindle as a “thank you for giving birth to my child” gift? We are big book lovers in this house and so we've been fairly reluctant to jump on the electronic book bandwagon, but let me say, I really like my kindle. Matthew figured it would be easier to breastfeed and read a kindle than a real book and he’s right (isn't he so thoughtful!). All I have to do is press a button as opposed to turning a page. Plus, there are tons of free books I’m able to download. For example, one of the books I’m currently reading is The Story of a Soul by St. Therese (it was free!). Very cool.

2)My Mom is coming to visit in two weeks! We can’t wait! I’m so excited and am planning all sorts of fun activities, although I know all she really wants to do is cuddle with her little granddaughters.

3)Since I’m still recovering from major abdominal surgery, we’ve been watching a lot of TV. Thank goodness for Netflix. My new favorite show is Drop Dead Diva, it’s so cute. But Netflix only has Season 1 available so does anyone have any TV show recommendations?

4) I’m going to be coaching soccer again in the Fall. Initially I told the school I wouldn't be able to this year because Abby would be too young to leave every day (even if it's only for one hour). But the athletic director offered me a deal to only coach a few days a week and only the practices (which means no away games). I was so touched that she was so accommodating, and jumped at chance to coach. I'm excited that I'll be able to earn a little money without the huge time commitment.

5)I'm on this new kick where I really want to start making our own bread. I imagine how wonderful it would be to have fresh whole wheat, French and ciabatta breads in the house. Maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself considering I've never made bread in my life...

6) I know it’s only been a few weeks, but I’m kinda over my postpartum figure. I’m ready to be skinny again. I know, I know, give it time.

7)It's so nice to be able to drink wine and beer again. We've been enjoying a lot of white wines because it's been so hot. The wine tastes soo good!

For more Quick Takes visit Jen's blog here.
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