Dear Little Reese,
I'm your Aunt Gina!!! Your mommy and I met when we were freshmen in high school. Oh, the fun times we had! One day, when you're bigger, you're going to have so many laughs as I tell you of all the trouble we'd get into as teens.
But we've got plenty of time for that, don't we? You're just a wee little thing nestled up in your mommy's tummy. Oh, but Little Reese... how much you are already loved!!!
Little Reese, you're probably wondering... why am I calling you such a strange name? Well, way back when, your mommy's nickname was Reese, pronounced "REE-SEE" (just like the candy). Nowadays, the only one to really call her that is Vince, my little boy. So since she's "Aunt Reesa" to Vince, I figure you can be Little Reese to me - at least until mommy and daddy settle on a name for you.
So, Little Reese, I'm excited to finally be getting the chance to write to you! I've been besides myself with anticipation and joy ever since hearing the news that you were coming! In fact, as soon as mommy told me, we were both so filled with happiness that the joy came spilling out of us in big, fat tears! I immediately stooped down to kiss you through her belly. I've been doing it ever since! So if you think I'm affectionate now, just wait until you get the avalanche of kisses I have planned when I hold you in my arms for the first time.
Oh, I can hardly wait to meet you! Already the family is aflutter with excitement - you are bringing so much happiness! You're the little princess your grandmom was hoping for! And your mommy... she's going to be deliriously happy decking you out in all the pinkest, frilliest, princess-iest looking things she can find, no doubt. And if you're anything like your momma, you'll enjoy ever second of it.
And ya know what, Little Reese? I've got a surprise... you and me? We're going to be doing something very, very special together. You see, your mommy asked me to be your godmother. That means I get to be there when you become one of God's little princesses. It also means I get to share all the wonderful, beautiful and blessed parts of our faith with you. I'm going to take you to see incredible art, I'm going to tell you fascinating stories, and above all, I'm going to always be there to remind you how special you really are... how much you're loved by God and how important you are to His plans for the world.
You and me, Little Reese... we're going to have so much fun together. I cannot wait to meet you!!! Already you are loved beyond measure.
Must See Short!!!
Everyone should see this. After seeing it, everyone should then pass it along. <3!
Are these little metal thumb protectors strictly for hand-sewing so you don't constantly jab your thumb, or am I missing something?
Seriously, what does "basting" mean?
Of those of you who sew, how many actually leave the straight pins in the fabric and take them out AFTER you've sewn over them?
Is there a trick to keeping your fabric chugging through in a straight line? I've used the fat framer's tape as a trick, but even that doesn't help my hopeless seams from being as zig-zaggy as a zebra's stripes.
Finally, should I be terrified of attempting to mess with denim? I've got a couple jeans that need hemming, but I admit being slightly afraid of taking out my eye when a needle breaks and flies off angrily at me for attempting to push through denim... especially where the seams overlap.
Okay, I'm done now. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks! :)
Liturgical Calendar w/ Beads
I'm currently teaching my kids about the Liturgical Calendar. I wanted to do something more hands on for them to help them better understand how colors and season work together to tell the story of Jesus' Life.
Since I have a plethora of colored beads on-hand (these are given as rewards that kids can exchange for treats), I figured a beaded liturgical calendar was in order!
I pulled some yarn and cut them into strips about 12 inches long. I then had the kids sort the colored beads into their proper seasons and string them, in order, onto the yarn. Once completed, they tied their ends together to create an easy to follow (and portable!) liturgical calendar!
These are what the looked like:
The best part about these (aside from how cheap and easy they are to make), is they can be customized to suit the level of your children!
Older kids can do a calendar that features Holy Days of Obligation (the above is only Sundays plus the Triduum). Or maybe they want to do the ENTIRE calendar and see if they can't coordinate the feasts of martyrs, the Blessed Mother and other saints while still paying attention to season.
I was so pleased with how these turned out that I plan to do one with Vincent! He'll enjoy stringing the beads, and even though he doesn't have much concept of Church colors, we can match them each week when we go to Mass so he can begin to "follow along" in his own way.
So there's my liturgical craft for the night. You folks enjoy!
Rite of Acceptance
This trio of adorable faces might be familiar to a few of you who have been around long enough to have seen them on this post.
The little girl is Lydia, my cousin (and now goddaughter) and the pretty lady holding her is Jen, her mom.
This photo was taken right after Lydia was baptized into the Church - yay!!!
I chose this picture for today because I witnessed the welcoming of another family into the Church today. It wasn't actually through baptism... not yet, anyway. Instead, it was a Rite of Acceptance that sometimes happens BEFORE baptism, specifically to folks who are old enough to understand and consent to their formation so they can continue on the road towards baptism (or, if they've already been baptized, reception of Eucharist, Confirmation or a combination of the two).
I didn't realize that was happening at my parish church until I saw an update from our Director of Liturgy up on Facebook. So instead of waiting until the 11 at Vince's new school parish, I hurried myself to get ready for the 10 to see what one was like.
Our pastor welcomed this family at the back of the Church with some words of welcome and blessing. The family was there with their sponsors and their catechist. Then, after this initial welcome, they processed down the aisle with our pastor, the deacon and the altar servers.
They were greeted at the doors of the Church because we, as the congregation, were welcoming them to their new life. Once they affirmed their decision to be baptized into the Church, they acknowledged they were walking away from their old lives and towards Eternal Life... the Life that lay in wait, hidden in the tabernacle. How wonderful, then, that they processed up the aisle towards Christ in the Eucharist! I'm sure that's the whole point of it, but haven't never witnessed it before, I was touched to see such a symbolic gesture take place before my eyes. I half imagined Jesus, there in the tabernacle, bursting to free Himself from His physical confines so He could throw His Arms around each one of these children who had found their way back to Him.
Upon reaching the sanctuary, our pastor then welcomed and blessed the candidates who were father along in their formation than those who hadn't been baptized. Each of them came forward to be marked with the cross. I was surprised at the number of them! My heart actually did a little dance when I realized that our Faith is spreading. Slowly, maybe, but Christ's call is being heard and little by little, folks are becoming unable to ignore Him anymore.
The rest of the Mass proceeded as normal. The entire time, I wondered how those candidates must have felt as they participated alongside us. Were they happy? Proud? Embarrassed? Excited? Maybe even a little jealous if they burned with desire to accept the Eucharist alongside the congregation?
Regardless, I'm sure they were prayed for a lot today. I hope the Rite of Acceptance was as heart-warming to the rest of the parish as it was to me. What a great way to start the week!
We got some snow this weekend. On my way home Friday, I stopped by the supermarket to pick up a few things to make the time we spent cooped up entertaining.
I lucked upon some sliced conch that was on sale.
John LOVES conch. In fact, I think conch is right up there with the Superbowl for this boy.
Anyway, I purchased the conch with the idea that I'd make a soup of some sort for him. It'd be a pleasant surprise assuming I was able to prepare it halfway decent. Since I'd never prepared conch before, I was a little nervous about how well my surprise was going to turn out.
I have to say that after devouring almost an entire pot between the two of us, it was a success!!! Conch is a very sweet sea meat. It's texture is akin to calamari (chewy but not tough), so you really feel like you're eating something substantial when you use it in soup.
I didn't follow a recipe. I rarely do as nine times out of ten I'm missing something the recipe calls for. Thus, I sorta wing it until it tastes good.
Recipe that worked for me:
12 oz. thawed sliced conch
3 cans condensed tomato soup
1 can sweet corn
2 large russet potatoes boiled and sliced into chunks
Approximations (sorry, I never do exact measures of anything):
1/2 cup of milk
2 small scoops of garlic
Enough olive oil to coat your pan
Splash of lemon juice
Generous heap of Old Bay seasoning
I happened to have leftover pastina in the fridge (maybe about a cup worth) so that found its way into the pot as well)
Saute conch in pan with oil, garlic and some Old Bay.
In separate pot, start heating up the tomato soup, corn and potatoes. Since the soup is condensed, you can use either water or broth to thin the consistency. For me, I only used one can of water for the three soup cans.
Add milk and a splash of lemon juice.
Once fully cooked, add the conch to the soup. If you've got extra pastina like I did, add that too!
Stir and simmer.
Voila! Sweet, creamy and incredibly delicious conch soup.
***Since John likes his soup spicy, I added some ground cayenne pepper to his bowl.***
All in all, I was very pleased with the turn-out. It may not look like much, but this was DELICIOUS!
A Beacon of Hope Amidst Tragedy
My morning started off pretty awesome. My son gave me hugs and kisses before I dropped him off at daycare, several of my friends were already on their way to the Pro-Life March in D.C., and I was on my way to the most awesome job in the world (made that much more awesome by the fact that my coworkers are pretty much the best people in the universe). That all being said, I looked something like this:
About an hour or so after getting to work, however, one of those aforementioned awesome coworkers sent me this article which put me in a mood decidedly...
After a few minutes of fuming - loudly - I checked to see which diocese St. Thomas More was actually a part of. I wanted to make sure it wasn't Archbishop Chaput's old Denver stomping grounds. When I found out the hospital was located in the diocese of Pueblo, I hopped over to their site to find out if any statement had been made by the bishop there. When I got to their homepage (found here), I took a moment to read the press release posted there. While reading, I probably looked a little something like this:
The quick (and pointed) response to this situation is incredibly heartening. In fact, I was SO pleased that they responded that I wrote the wonderful folks over in Pueblo to tell them how wonderful I thought their bishops were in a letter to the Office of the Bishop. I would suggest all of you do the same. When you're done praising them for being defenders of Life, go ahead and exercise your fingers by then moving over to St. Thomas More Hospital's site to unleash a lesson or two on what TRUE Catholics stand up for and defend.
This, my dear friends, is what today's version of Defending the Faith looks like. We might not need to shed our blood in the Colosseum (yet), but we do need to take a stand and refuse to back down on our beliefs simply because it's financially beneficial to do so. Those hack-job lawyers in Colorado have just destroyed so much of what the Pro-Life movement has worked hard for. How DARE they claim that fetuses aren't people only to kick a lawsuit under the rug!
My heart goes out to the father who lost his wife and children. How invalidated he must feel that a set of Catholic representatives (whether or not they were Catholic themselves doesn't matter - they represented a Catholic Institution, and thus should have reflected Catholic values in their actions) basically told him his two children were nothing... that they were undeserving of proper care because they weren't technically alive by the standards of the law...
I am sickened by that! At the very least the firm representing the hospital should never again be allowed to step foot in the courtroom in defense of St. Thomas More. I'd also like to see the administrators of this particular hospital feel a little fire for their part. SOMEONE over there had to have given some sort of consent to this diabolical argument. Ugh - I just... I can't.
Anyway, after you spit some of your justified venom their way, refresh yourself by viewing some of the incredible, uplifting and thought-provoking images of today's incredibly successful March for Life. These imagines? They'll remind you that you're not alone in your desire to see a better, brighter future for this generation and all generations to follow. They'll remind you that you're part of something bigger... something mystical... something militant - the Body of Christ.
Simply put, the sham that is our media is only able to get away with this courtesy of the willful ignorance enjoyed by those they opiate with their trash.
Pastoral Council Meeting w/ Vince
This is totally a gushing Mommy post, but I'm totally shameless about that at this point. My kid is awesome. *Grin*
I ended up having a surprise Pastoral Council meeting tonight. As a result, I had no sitter to watch Vince. John was at a weekly game and couldn't take him, so I decided Vince was coming with me.
I am so proud of him! He was like a little angel the whole time! Since we were the last ones in, we sat next to our pastor since (for some reason) no one ever sits right next to him for our meetings. There always seems to be a gap on either side of him as if we council members don't want to get caught sitting next to the teacher. Ha ha ha!
Anyway, we sat next to him for the meeting, so Vincent was very excited to share his crayons and coloring book. At first he called him "Jesus" (this happens a lot, and I think it's because I point towards the Consecrated Host and say "That's Jesus up there" at every Mass). I said, "No, Vincent, that's Fr. Peter." So he repeated me with a giggle as if saying "Duh, Mommy, I know" and called him by his proper name for the rest of the meeting.
I was tickled to see Father drawing along with Vincent as the rest of us took turns talking over the various agenda points. I thus learned our pastor is a relatively decent artist! He can draw horses and boats with the best of 'em! *Giggle*
Anyway, Father cracked some sort of joke that solicited laughs around the table, and Vincent, not understanding the joke but not wanting to feel left out of the fun, cackled so loudly that we all started laughing again at this enthusiasm.
When we did final prayers, Father chose the Our Father and Vincent was able to do the Sign of the Cross and hit certain words of the prayer. I was so proud of him!!! My little munch. He's such a big boy and all he does is make his momma proud! May God bless him and keep him always close to His Heart.
Questions 3/4: Children and Family
3) Was it because of your desire for more children that he wanted to divorce you?
No. Granted, the issue of children was certainly a justification in my mind of how I was treating John, but no. The children (or lack thereof) was not the root issue.
The root issue was we both began thinking more of ourselves than we were of one another. It was an almost imperceptible shift between constantly looking out for each other to constantly looking out for ourselves. You can't do that in marriage. Even when you're hurting, your job is to think of your spouse and make the effort to do what's best for him or her.
THAT was why our marriage began to crumble. Somewhere along the way we had begun to worry more about ourselves than about each other, and it was mostly a struggle of feeling appreciated / unappreciated and constantly expecting acknowledgement for every little thing. It was childish, ridiculous, and thankfully a non-issue nowadays.
4) Did his family treat you any differently once they found out about your marriage issues?
Meh, that's sort of a trick question and has less to do with John talking about divorce than it does with me having worked for the family business.
My MIL/FIL would ask random, tentative questions now and again. They didn't want to let on that they knew (I think to protect my feelings), but at the same time, I know they were just trying to let me know they were doing their best to support us. John's got two very loving, caring parents. I was very lucky to marry into them. I wonder if they'll ever really understand just how much John and I appreciate them.
In all honesty, the only one to treat me any differently was one of his younger sisters. John's got two younger sisters. For most of the years I've known them, we got along really well. The youngest and I distanced ourselves due to discontent while I was working at the family business. Truth be told, I failed spectacularly at most of what I did there and she resented me for it. That's another story in and of itself, but suffice to say the youngest has a leg to stand on in any disdain she might have for me. I doubt she cared one way or the other about the marriage issues. Now that we're no longer working together, I'm hopeful we'll be able to bridge the gap again because much like her parents, she's a genuinely good person.
The older of the two can be nice enough, and in a lot of ways, we are very similar. However, we're also very different, and whereas this SIL used to be more in-tune with meeting me halfway with our similarities, she now seems dead-set on highlighting our differences courtesy of the issues John and I were having. I doubt she actually cared that John and I were having issues. I think she was just thankful that we WERE having issues.
Why, you ask? The only explanation I can think of is her uncanny ability to recognize opportunity. She, herself, had a struggling marriage for a spell. In fact, the entire family turned on her husband (which John and I never understood... we always liked and respected him). So having endured the family spitting fire towards her husband for so long, the relief she must've felt upon realizing they could have a new target (me) probably looked appealing.
Thus, she began treating me in a really childish manner over the course of several months. The more terribly she treated me, the more she pointed out imaginary things she thought I was doing, the more she started drama where none existed, the more she thought she was tossing the spotlight my way to finally rid herself of the stigma, I guess. I really have no other ideas on it because she hasn't let on to anything else.
I've attempted talking to her, I've written her messages, I've even solicited John's assistance. All to no avail.
Ah well. I don't hate her or anything. I understand where she's coming from. I'm just sad that it's come to this. It can be annoying every now and again. Some of the more outlandish things, I admit, set me off, but as of now, I'm taking John's advice and not bothering. I can't really correct it when I don't know what her problem with me really is.
So to summarize, no one treated me severely different. Had my other SIL been anyone else, the situation would've probably flat-lined at awkward moments with a hushed bit of gossip passed around now and again.
However, let that be a warning to any of you struggling with the same issue. Don't drag your in-laws into anything. Don't spout off frustrations to your families about your marriage when they're then forced to sit on the sidelines unable to really help. Asking for advice in calm, fair conversation is one thing. Venting and complaining with the objective being to tear apart your spouse only ends up hurting your marriage, because when you two make up, the damage is still done amongst the family and you can't exactly copulate with all of them in a show of unity.
So steer clear of the issue in the first place by refraining from venting to family under such circumstances.
Photo Credit: Randy Glasbergen
Short answer? No. Truthful answer? No, but I was tempted. No doubt he was, too.
However, we were lucky in that neither one of us wanted to give up Vincent-time. Plus, I think we both knew that separation inevitably leads to divorce in most cases. Thus, we stuck it out even though we probably would've preferred having our open eyes spat into repeatedly.
Pardon the imagery, but I want to make it perfectly clear that our choices were far from easy. We definitely chose the difficult road, and for those of you serious about salvaging your marriage, you're going to endure similar frustrations when you refuse to take the coward's approach to handling the army of issues that has invaded your marriage.
Remember, this is war. You need to fight in order to defend and/or reclaim what is yours. You can't very well do that if you're not together.
So no. For as much as we were both tempted to be rid of one another, we stuck it out because we knew that was what was necessary. Again - it won't be a picnic. It really won't. But in the end, it was necessary for us because it both forced us to physically face our problems on a routine basis, and it also gave us time to practice loving and respecting one another as individuals again.
This is one of my favorite photos of John and I. It captures perfectly the happiness, love and joy we felt that day.
So when did this bliss begin to deteriorate? When, exactly, did our marriage begin to suffer?
I think that's an impossible question to answer. As every couple knows, you don't marry a perfect person. You're not a perfect person yourself. Thus, the union of two imperfect people isn't going to be the most perfect thing in the world.
We both came into the relationship with baggage. At the onset of our relationship, we accepted the baggage happily. His ridiculous quirks were endearing to me, and I believe all of mine were the same to him.
Somewhere along the way, however, we allowed selfishness and arrogance to cloud our perception.
When I think back, our marriage was suffering a very long time. We were married young, so we were admittedly immature in our handling of things. It takes time and patience to learn how to make a life together with and for each other. There are no owner's manuals - you gotta figure it out yourself.
So if I had to pinpoint a time frame, I guess I'd say a few months before Vincent was born. We were more than a year into our marriage and I was beginning to put pressure on John to keep his end of the bargain regarding children. I had acquiesced to waiting a year, and there we were, a year and six months later, with him refusing to even speak of children let alone attempt making them. As a result of this frustration, I burned with an intense resentment of him. I blamed him for my unhappiness, and as such, I treated him very poorly. I didn't realize it at the time, of course, but my resentment came out in a stunning array of belittling, nagging, cold shoulders, refusal of sex, and pretty much any other "female weapon" you can think of. I was very likely the worst wife in the universe, and it all stemmed from the hurt I felt over being lied to.
He had promised children after a year, and he went back on his word. A part of me hated him for it, and that part of me was allowed to fester and grow, blinding the part of me that loved him and coaxing my mind to blow every perceived failure into a mountain that weighed heavily against him.
How could any man stand up under such crushing weight?
In early January of the next year, I learned I was pregnant. It was a happy accident, of course, and John quickly changed his tune. He went from being anti-children to boasting to his friends and family of the great father he couldn't wait to be. I, in turn, forgot instantly the resentment and hatred because I'd been given the child he had promised. I also gained the doting father I knew he'd be.
So for a time, all was well. We spent months blissfully happy in our preparations for Vincent. Even in the weeks and months after Vincent was born, our marriage seemed poised for perfection and all ill-feelings were barely a memory.
However, babies are not cures for failing marriages. All of the issues John and I had pushed aside in anticipation for Vincent came rushing back after a spat of sleepless nights and ruptured schedules. Those resentments, those feelings, those unspoken thoughts of anger - they all erupted to the surface as the days dragged on after the novelty of a son wore off.
So after about a year and a half of enjoying the happy marriage we once shared, things took a volatile turn for the worse as old ill-will seeped to the forefront of our escalating arguments. I'd accuse him of shirking responsibility and he'd accuse me of being boring on account of staying home with Vincent all the time. He'd tell me I was becoming someone he couldn't recognize and I'd tell him it was because he was too wrapped up in his own immaturity to realize I was what "growing up" looked like.
This sort of ridiculousness spun out of control. Neither of us wanted to take responsibility for our part in how miserable we were making each other. As a result, we kept taking digs at each other where we could. It was a terrible way to live since we were constantly looking for ways to spite the other.
It was this constant barrage of belittlement that John first brought up the word "divorce." We were arguing and he basically stormed out of the house while yelling, "I want a divorce."
I knew he was saying it out of spite and anger. That didn't lessen the heat of the knife that sliced into my heart. However, the pain of that outburst only fueled my venomous response. I would simply hurt him more than he'd hurt me. I'd make sure he knew never to speak in such a manner to me again.
And I could. I'm much better with words than John is, so when I aim to inflict pain, I do it to maim, butcher and bleed. Every word, every glare, every insinuation was triple charged with disgust, hatred and pride. I made sure he understood exactly how little I thought of him. I wanted him to feel just as low, just as unwanted, just as disappointing as he'd made me feel.
Looking back now, I can easily see how vicious of a cycle this was. Obviously the more I went out of my way to make him feel miserable, the more he went out of his way to do the same.
So yeah - we were struggling with this sort of poisoned dance for about two years before we finally buckled down and put an end to it.
Just as you can. If we were able to stop the cycle of vitriol, you can too! If ever you find yourself looking to wound with your words, keep in mind that the damage really will just come back to inflict triple the pain on you once again.
He and I learned that we were using language to hurt one another - to get the other to feel the pain we each carried. Since I hated talking about feelings (believe it or not, I LOATHE describing how something makes me feel until the issue is far enough behind me that I can look at it almost clinically), he felt his only recourse was to make me experience what he couldn't share through words. I, in turn, forced him to do the same because I simply didn't know how to express my feelings in any other way.
Once we understood this about each other (and this is where lots of kicking and screaming came in), we made the effort to kick the habit and focus on positive communication.
When you post something as private and gritty as your marital issues online, expect to get a lot of follow-up questions from folks attempting to make sense of it - especially when they can't help but compare their situation to yours in an attempt to "litmus test" the viability of their own marriage.
I'm okay with this. Fostering communication is why I posted my experience to begin with. I've been getting many of the same questions, and I was almost afraid that I'd be known as "the divorce blog" as opposed to a "Catholic" one. That's a terribly selfish and unfounded notion on my part, and I apologize that it took a personal friend verbally smacking me upside the head to realize it. Even if I do become the "divorce" blog for a while, I'm still helping folks out which was my original intent all along. God's work is God's work regardless of the form it takes. Thank you, Jen, for reminding me of that.
Next, I'd like to thank those of you who messaged, Facebooked, or e-mailed. It takes a lot of courage to admit you either were, are or fear being in the same boat. I appreciate your open and honest sharing. It's helped affirm my decision to continue blogging about such a personal part of my life.
Finally, I have to admit I'm really surprised by the number of men who wrote in - thank you, gentlemen! I want to highlight your contribution for a very specific reason:
Ladies, your husbands care very much about you. They, too, have the same fiery drive to keep your sacramental union together. Acknowledge that they, too, are hurting and vulnerable. They, too, are confused and unsure of how to proceed.
That all being said, I'd like to take a moment to answer a few of the questions that cropped up. I'll answer them as best I can based on personal experience, but keep in mind these responses are purely subjective. Since many of these questions are more in-depth than one or two sentences, I think I'll do a brief series to take them one at a time. I want to devote proper time to each in the hopes that those of you following along get the answers you're looking for.
So far, the list of questions is:
1) How long was your marriage suffering before "divorce" was mentioned?
2) Did you ever contemplate separation in lieu of divorce?
3) Was it because of your desire for more children that he wanted to divorce you?
4) Did his family treat you any differently once they found out about your marriage issues?
5) What sort of things did the psychologist have you do?
6) What was a session like (how long, formatting and expense)?
7) Did your friends who knew ever recommend divorce?
If you don't see your question up here, it's likely because it was more personal in nature and needed a personal response (and will probably get an e-mail from me in the coming days). I'll do my best to answer these and any other you throw my way. :) Thanks so much again for all your messages and support. <3!
Christmas Creche Winner!
Thank you so much to all who participated. This was such a fun giveaway!!!
Congratulations to KH Bride. May you and yours enjoy many years of enjoyment from the nativity scene!
Veils on Parade
I went a little wild with veils a couple months back. I've been meaning to post the photos up so I can share the beautiful work done by folks like Cam, Lily and Michelle. Thanks so much again for providing me with such soft, lovely work to deepen and witness my faith!
First up is a gorgeous burgundy mantilla from Veils by Lily. The rose scallop detail on this particular veil is just stunning. There is a comb sewn in to help keep this in place (which is always a bonus for me). It's a lot longer than I'm used to, so I typically wear this only for special occasions (I'm dressed for the Christmas Eve Mass in these photos). I can tie this one kerchief style if I so desire, but the lace is so soft and delicate that I feel it would simply be a crime to do anything but allow it to fall as it's meant to fall.
Next up is a gorgeous convertible by Cam from A Snood for All Seasons. I'm a tie-back girl, so when I saw that Cam was making tie-backs, I got a bit excited. This particular covering can be worn as a headband or, in my case, as a short veil (just the length I like 'em!). I liked this style so much that I purchased a burgundy colored one, too. The edges on both are exquisite, and the ties ensure everything stays in place perfectly. This veil is my new "go-to" veil in the winter since it tends to match with everything.
This baby blue number is by Michelle of Liturgical Time. I had been looking for a baby blue veil to use on feasts of Our Lady for about a year. I was so happy to find this one! She trimmed the edges with little white flowers, and she gave me the option of sewing in a comb (since I can't pin to save my life). It stays in place and is long enough for me to tie back when Vince gets too touchy-grabby with it.
Last but most certainly not least is a veil called the Eternity Veil (also by Michelle of Liturgical Time). I was lucky enough to win this one during a contest she was running last month. How cool is that? I specifically asked for purple since Lent is right around the corner. Now I'm ready and raring to go!
I've never worn a veil of this style before. Michelle sent me out a brief video that showed me the various ways you can wear it. The style you see above is my favorite. I've shown this veil to a couple of my friends and they've all fallen over themselves to try it on. Ha ha! It's just so beautiful. I gave you a profile shot so you can see some of the scalloped edging and the detail of the lace. The color, though... these photos don't do the richness of it's deep purple any justice. It also shimmers faintly due to the sheen of the lace.
Whew! There you have it. I've still got two other veils I need to snap photos of, but may these suffice at present.
It's funny... whenever friends find out I veil, I think they picture old ladies with doilies over their heads. Truth be told, there are incredibly beautiful, versatile and ingenious designs out there for every style and taste. The above are only a few. If you're interested in veiling, do yourself the favor of checking out the many varieties available to you. You can start small with a convertible headband that can eventually expand into a veil little by little. Or you can go big and turn heads when you walk in with a brand new mantilla. Granted, you can still throw everyone for a loop when you plant a doily over your hair, but my guess is you want something that speaks of your faith in Christ and affirms your dignity as a woman. I feel as though the above veils do exactly that for me. I hope those of you interested in veiling find ones that fit the bill for you!
Tents, Forts and Hideaways!
Vince has been hiding under blankets a lot. He'll just drape one over his head while he's playing a game and then beg for Mommy or Daddy to "get in here" with him.
So when I saw the above hideaway thing on sale, I figured "He'll love this."
I excitedly took it out of the box and set it up for him. Sure enough, he loved it. He was so excited to see Buzz Lightyear and the other Toy Story characters that he couldn't stop repeating "TOY STORY, TOY STORY, SO COOL!" over and over again.
Unfortunately, the tent was too small for he and I to share together - which is what he wanted. The best we could do was put the tent over my head and then I'd slink down to the floor. He'd then crawl in over top of my lap, and we'd laugh about being squished in such a tiny space.
Since my back and knees grew weary of that game within minutes, I came up with a better solution. The tent.
I brought out one of our queen-sized blankets and draped one end over our cat tree (sorry, girls) and then tucked the other end over and around the couch. There was more than enough room in there for Vince and I to snuggle together with pillows and a book. As soon as that blanket went up, he forgot about the Toy Story tent. All he wanted to do was sit in his fort playing on his iPad or giggling with Mommy.
Should've just saved myself the $6 and built this in the first place. I remember doing the same thing as a child, and it made me smile knowing that Vince got the same enjoyment I did out of secret hiding spots like this.
Yup. Me and my little Spiderman had a whole lotta fun this weekend. :)
Adventures in Sewing
So I finally buckled down and took those two sewing classes I've been eyeing for the last several months. While I'm certainly no seamstress guru, I'm not terrified of sewing my fingers together anymore.
The first class I took was back in October. Me and another woman learned how to sew a pillowcase. I still have no clue what basting means, but I was able to figure out where things needed to be placed in order to look "right" when the seams were finally stitched. Good thing, too. Our teacher was so busy working the front desk that the other woman and I were left to our own devices. Ah well. At least she taught us how to thread the machine! I feel like that's half the battle right there!
Anyway, after the class I purchased extra fabric as "homework" for myself. I wanted to make a matching pillowcase at a later date just to refresh me on how the machine works.
Unfortunately, I ended up neglecting to touch my sewing machine until December when I took the 2nd class with my friend, Faith. Lucky for me I hadn't forgotten everything and was able to set my machine up out of the box again (woo hoo!).
For our second class, we were instructed to make pajama bottoms. These were a lot trickier than the basic pillowcase. These things had patterns and everything. Talk about intimidating! In order to cancel out the intimidation factor, I chose the most ridiculous pattern I could get my hands on.
I was glad to also have Faith there to keep things entertaining. Neither one of us really had a clue, so we sorta winged it as the teacher - again - flitted back and forth between us and the front desk.
It's okay, though. Considering how condescending she was to Faith, myself and the other two women taking the class, I was happy to have her attention focused elsewhere. We were able to manage well enough on our own, and she was there if our thread tangled, something wasn't working, or the directions didn't make sense.
But boy oh boy. It took us almost FOUR HOURS to make those gosh darn pants! All of you wonderful women out there who know how to sew - GOD BLESS YOU! I'm envious of your natural skill set.
I'm happy to report, however, that I did practice this weekend since it's been about a month since that December class. I was able to successfully make a matching pillowcase with the fabric I purchased in November. Even more exciting, I was able to fix one of my veils that had ripped last summer. But the best part? I figured out my machine. I had been taught to incorrectly thread the bottom bobbin and it took several messed up attempts to finally figure out the problem.
I had run into the same problem repeatedly at the sewing shop, but each time I was met with the same "solution." I knew it was wrong (because my machine kept angrily spitting out thread), but I couldn't figure out why it was wrong.
So I spent a good fifteen minutes taking apart the bottom workings of my machine and tinkering around until I realized my thread was getting caught because I was loading it improperly. Once I worked that out, it was smooth sailing. I was so proud of myself!
That's one item slowly being marked off my "things I'm going to learn someday" list. I've wanted to learn sewing for a long time now. It took me about 3 years, but I feel like I'm finally on my way towards learning a skill that I can really utilize for myself and my family. Torn toys, here I come!
Christmas Creche Giveaway
I know, I know. I should've done this BEFORE Christmas and not after it, but c'est la vie. Better late than never, right?
Up for grabs is an adorable Linda Dano nativity set, complete with the wooden stable to house the holy family.
I had originally purchased this set as a Christmas gift last year for someone who ended up getting a family heirloom creche from her grandmother who is no longer able to decorate like she used to. This set has been sitting in my basement, forgotten, until I began packing things away this year.
As such, I now have a pretty awesome give-away for one of you lucky readers! It's brand new. I only opened it to make sure no pieces were broken while it was stored away. Original packaging is mostly intact except where I cut into the tape. Yay!
You can see info on both the figures and the stable by clicking the pictures below. However, if you have any questions, you can feel free to message me. This set is completely FREE (so shipping is on me!). I just want to see this set go to a family that will use it and enjoy it.
I'm gonna try my hand at Rafflecopter this time. Let's hope this works.
Good luck and best wishes everyone! :)
A friend of mine asked for prayers last night.
She suffered a miscarriage 10 weeks into her pregnancy. Something she said really struck me (and I hope she doesn't mind me posting it here). She said, "I was lucky because I attended Mass this morning, so my baby got that extra blessing before passing on."
Her faith is awe-inspiring.
I immediately wrote back and assured her of my prayers. I am also enlisting you wonderful readers. Please shoot up a prayer or two her way. She, her husband, and her daughter could surely use all love they can get as they wade through the coming months.
In fact, if I may, please keep all those who suffer miscarriages in your prayers. I know of at least two other women who have recently endured the pain of hearing such news. They and their families could all use support.
I'm going to post my reflection on miscarriage here. I know I've spoken of it in the past, but it never hurts to repost something of such significance. These cherished children the Lord blesses us with so briefly... they are meant for great things.
The pain of losing one (even before birth!) is palpable because for those of us lucky enough to carry life – even briefly – we carry within us the seed of divinity. The Breath of Life from the One who animates our mortal bodies takes root not just in our bodies, but in our souls.
When that Breath returns to its Creator, we cannot help but mourn the loss of Divinity. We cannot help but mourn the loss of such invaluable treasure.
But we don’t really lose these children, do we? Instead, we are given them briefly so we can gain them swiftly as saints. And maybe these little souls are given this choice, themselves, before conception. Maybe God allows them to foresee their role as intercessor and gives them the choice. Maybe He says, "Will you consent to sacrifice your life for the benefit of My Will? Will you sacrifice your earthly life so that you can help the family you leave behind make it to My Kingdom?"
And those little saints – with the wisdom of Heaven unclouded by the stain of sin – jump at the chance to acknowledge and fulfill God’s Will. I truly believe they offer themselves to His Will for the benefit of their families. They are gathered into the arms of their guardian angels and rewarded with the perfect splendor of Heaven.
And blessed are those with such radiant saints before the Throne of God. Blessed are those who mourn so acutely the same sorrow as Our Lady who mourned the loss of Her Beloved Son. I truly believe that God allows such significant loss specifically so families with special needs (either now or in the future) have their own patron saint to bring petitions before Him.
And I believe my friend is blessed to be able to see the Hand of God in this tragedy. Her faith is truly incredible to me. I am humbled and empowered by her example. May she and all those asked to endure this cross be gifted peace.
Spotlight on MBF!
Hey folks, this is a spotlight blurb I did for Mandi at MessyWife (formerly Catholic Newlywed). She was kind enough to give me a sponsorship opportunity and was one of the folks who found me through My Darkest Secret entry almost a year ago. :)
Hi! My name is Gina and I laugh, craft and blog over at My Broken Fiat.
What started out as a personal reversion diary slowly turned into a Catholic education forum, a place to share my love of girlish dangly earrings, and a haven where I have met a slew of wonderful bloggers I can happily call friends.
Drop on by. I'd love to rope you into being a new friend!
I'm a married mother of my 3 year old son, Vincent. Over at My Broken Fiat, I tackle all sorts of fun things such like kitties (I rescue), infertility and snowflake babies, the Blessed Mother (lots on her), the struggles of marriage and the laughs that come with parenting a toddler. I don't shy away from political or social topics, so you might see an entertaining article like this every now and again, but for the most part, I stick with sharing my passion for Catholicism with any and all who toss a smile my way.
I'm so excited to be reaching out to Mandi's Newlywed readers (or are we "Messies" now?). Considering I've never been really promoted my page before, I was tickled when offered the chance to do so. This will be quite the adventure for me as I'd like to connect with more folks who are interested in sharing their passion, experiences and friendship. So really - stop by and take a look-see. The Grinch and I would love to have you over in our neck of the 'net. And, as an added bonus, there will be a giveaway announced this week. Woo hoo!
Blessings and a very happy new year!
I almost cannot believe a year has passed. I think it's because I'm in such an entirely different place in my life. When the bells rang to welcome 2013, it almost seemed they were for me.
At this point last year, my marriage was ravaged. We were both depressed, incredibly bitter and mostly unhappy with our lives. Everything from work to friendships to our personal lives seemed to be dead set against us finding any joy. So to look back and realize how far we've come... what a transformative year 2012 has been... it's mystifying. It's like I'm looking back on someone else's life.
2012 was the year John and I pulled each other, many times kicking and screaming, into loving one another again.
You see, no one tells you this during marriage prep courses. No one mentions the all-out war you sometimes need to wage in order to build and maintain a relationship that seems so easy to new couples. They say marriage is hard work, but they don't tell you that this particular brand of hard work has the ability to take you to your deepest breaking point, smash it into a billion pieces, and then introduce you to the even deeper breaking point you didn't realize your other breaking point lived in fear of.
So 2012 was the year we confronted those breaking points. It wasn't pretty. In fact, it was terribly cruel, ugly and painful. I’m still not entirely sure how we survived such a traumatic reconfiguration of our marriage. I attribute it to the prayers of those who understood the heartache. They were the likely source of strength the two of us unwittingly fed from as we endured the agonizing process of cleaning house and facing the truth of our own destruction.
Most people are unaware that there were tremors unsettling our nest. I’ve always kept such things very close as I don’t believe there is benefit in airing dirty laundry to family or friends. I never uttered a word to my family as I didn’t want them to view John in a negative light. I also didn’t want anyone worrying over my relationship when there were more pressing things to keep them occupied.
So I turned to my spiritual director and my best friend. The only two people who knew the full extent of the emotional agony I endured, I held nothing back from them. I was candid, frank and colored. I would spit fire one moment only to fall into a river of tears the very next. I also poured myself into writing. Venting to my two trusted confidantes and banging out article after article on my keyboard – those were my coping mechanisms. Some folks might be upset to hear I didn't turn to them with my emotional tidal wave. May it suffice to say that voicing that wave to one person - let alone the two I chose - was difficult enough.
I’m still not entirely sure what John did. He eventually told his family. It was a huge mistake – and he fully admits that now – but I don’t fault him. His family dynamic is vastly different from mine, so while I was afforded the distance necessary to keep my personal life adequately private, he was not. I know he vented to his friends a bit (because it had the direct effect of once close-friends pulling away from me), but again… I understand he needed to cope in his own way.
We mucked along in this awkward venting dance, but it was a temporary fix (if one can call it a fix at all). We knew we needed to seek professional help, and John surprised me one day by agreeing to see a counselor. He even came up with a list of folks he felt would be good. We found one we liked and began to see him twice a month.
We only went a handful of times - not because we didn't like him (in fact, he was great) - but because John and I had really committed to trying to work things out ourselves. All of the advice the doc gave us were things we were already accustomed to doing. He helped us tweak things a bit so we didn't keep hitting the same walls over and over again, but it felt good that a professional was able to walk us through some of our darker areas and point out that we had, in fact, done a lot more for ourselves and each other than we had taken credit for.
So yeah, having spent over a year battling the demons of our marriage, I look back and almost cannot believe that the same marriage is now back to being happy, satisfying and loving - maybe even moreso than when we were first engaged. I'm incredulous, really.
This is the reason I felt the urge to post my experience online. No one likes to admit their marriage isn't perfect. No one in their right mind wants to admit that their spouse wanted to divorce them. I sorta hate the fact that this is going to be out there now with people judging me or John one way or the other for whatever ridiculous things they'll conjure up to judge us on.
The end result is something important enough to highlight, though. I see several of my friends (now that they're marrying off) coming to terms with the fact that marriage really does suck sometimes. For as amazing and wonderful as this vocation is, there are some seriously challenging and downright terrifying aspects of it that make you think you're slightly insane for having ever said "I do" to begin with.
I'm here to tell you that even through the most terrifying and horrible moments, you can and MUST fight for your marriage.
Every time John brought up the "D" word, I'd let it roll right off me. I never for a second gave divorce a thought because I simply do not believe it exists for us. When you can show me the seam that binds two souls united at the altar, I'll show you divorce papers. Until then, the only recourse is war.
So I went to war.
And I told John I was going to war.
And all of you out there who love your spouse but feel the pressure to divorce mount against your sacramental union - you must go to war.
And that is how it must be in a marriage. If your relationship is of any worth - if there is anything of value there (and there must be... you married one another once upon a time after all), you will wage war to defend it... even if you must defend it from yourselves.
That is precisely what John and I did. I explained to John that I would never - NEVER - sign divorce papers. He, exasperated, asked me why. I told him the truth. For as much as I sometimes wanted to punch him repeatedly in the face, I still loved him. For as angry and as bitter and as resentful as I sometimes felt towards him, I would always still love him. I would always be able to see the good-natured humor in him. I would always respect the responsible and hard-working man he is. I would always see the light of love in how he raises our son. Thus, in my mind, divorce can never be an answer. I was confident that one day we'd look back on this miserable point in our lives and be better for it.
And ya know what? He needed to hear that. I knew it all along, and I assumed he understood it, but no. He needed to hear that from me. He needed to hear me lay it all out there - to place myself out in such a vulnerable, honest position. I think it was then that he realized we had something to fight for after all. It wasn't just a "Gina's being a stubborn Catholic who doesn't believe in divorce." It was Gina being a stubborn wife who doesn't believe in throwing away a husband of value.
So night after night, day after day, tearful yelling session after tearful yelling session we somehow reached a fuller understanding of one another and our needs. We were no longer the same people we were 8 years ago. We had changed, and we needed to recognize that, appreciate it, and nurture each other in all new ways. We needed to learn about one another again and in trying - really, truly trying - we little by little learned to love each other again.
And it's been quite the experience.
So to those of you facing down what seems to be the barrel of a divorce gun I say there is hope. Be the hope for your marriage if you wish to see it succeed. Pray, pray, pray and work towards finding the common ground necessary to build from again. 2012 was our year. Make 2013 yours.
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