Week 26

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

10 Reasons to Exercise During Pregnancy

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I am now 24 weeks pregnant with baby #7. The first trimester I did not exercise much. Maybe for the first few weeks, because I still had the habit and my nausea seemed so unreal to me, I just pushed through it. After a few weeks of constant nausea and feeling utterly exhausted and dizzy I gave up on exercise. I spent most of the day lying in a pathetic heap on the floor (because it is cooler down there) ordering my children around trying to maintain a sense of order in the house. It was pretty bad. But second trimester came and the nausea faded and I picked up right where I left off. I feel great. I am a little over where I want to be in terms of weight but not because I have gained too much, just because I started out a good bit over where I am usually before another pregnancy.

Now I am trying to keep my eyes ahead and focus on making positive changes both for me and baby rather than dwelling on the misfortune of having not lost all the weight I wanted to. Afterall a few pounds are really no big deal in the grand scheme. There are so many benefits to exercise even if I am not losing weight. And although I am not losing weight I am making positive changes. That is my clothes fit better and I have lost inches all while maintaining my current weight and eating a very healthy diet. Since I started over weight I do not have to gain as much as I would normally. I will probably end up with a reasonable 25-30 pound gain but I wont be worried if it is less.

Allegory of the Walking Dead

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In order to write this post I must admit something that may raise a few eyebrows...I watch the series The Walking Dead. There I said it. Yes, it is grotesque. Yes I watch a good portion on mute because I cannot stand the gargling zombie sounds. Yes I look away or even read blog posts during particularly bloody scenes (which is 3/4 of the show). And YES it irritates me to no end that these loud and clumsy zombies are always sneaking up on everyone...come on people, these are not exactly stealth ninjas you're dealing with here. But there is something I really like about the show. It helps me reflect on the current state of humanity. And if I am being 100% honest, the story just kind of sucked me in.

Recently, while watching the show, it occurred to me that the world that is depicted in The Walking Dead is not so different from the real world, at least in an allegorical sense.  I do not think a zombie apocalypse is coming, but in a certain sense I think the zombie apocalypse is now.

In the show society has collapsed. People are isolated and community is very rare.  The un-dead roam about the world seeking human flesh and converting the living into horrible ungodly eating machines. The people who survive are unsure of whether they should show mercy and maintain a sense of humanity or treat everyone as an enemy and give up on compassion and civility. Cannibalism among the living has cropped up as resources are scarce and people have become desensitized to the horror. There is widespread distrust and a near complete loss of hope.   

Is it just me? Can you see the allegory? As we approach Thanksgiving and the infamous Black Friday we have a perfect illustration of what I am talking about. Go ahead and watch it on mute it is mostly just gurgling and screaming. 

This is what we encounter more and more these days. Perhaps not always stampedes. But the spirit is the same. Black Friday is simply when we see it en masse. The zombie virus? Sin. Sure it has always been around. But by and large society has ignored its existence and we are suffering the consequences. With so much of the world cutting itself off from the grace of God they walk around as undead, little more than consuming machines. There is little care for one's neighbor. In general the people that are still holding on to some notion of decency have a sense of distrust and an every-man-for-himself-mentality is creeping into their hearts.  In the show the zombies pursue human flesh no matter the consequences. They do not reason, they do not love. So too today people pursue their own pleasure regardless of the damage they cause to themselves or others (see clip above). I was on the phone with someone the other day about a medical bill that had been missed by my insurance. The man was rude and talked to me without compassion or care. I tried to remain calm and collected but I was simply shocked at his inability to see me as a person with a real problem that he had the power to help me with. It was that conversation that inspired me to write this post.  

And let's not forget the more obvious and less grave parallel:

Now I know you are probably thinking this does not seem an appropriate post for a blog called Merry & Bright. And you are right, it isn't really merry or bright to say we are living a zombie apocalypse. It is cynical and kind of a bummer. And my allegory has plenty of holes. Thankfully one of those holes is that our current zombie apocalypse is very different in an important aspect and that makes things a little less bleak: the un-dead we encounter can be healed and the antidote is readily available in the sacraments.

But until people start realizing the zombie virus exists and until people start flocking back to Church to get the antidote, things are likely to stay a little hairy out there. 

Here are my five tips for surviving our current zombie apocalypse: 

And one last thing...skip Black Friday!

Martinmas Celebration

Monday, November 10, 2014

Tomorrow is the feast of St. Martin. I love Martinmas! It is like a Catholic Thanksgiving and a pre-advent carnivale all wrapped into one. For our family it is the first day of winter and it comes just before the beginning of the penitential season of Advent. I know, I know, winter technically starts on December 21st. But not in our house. For us it is the feast of St. Martin. After this day we start thinking about advent and preparations for Christmas and winter decorations start to make their way out of boxes. Our advent wreath is made after Martinmas as well (if we don't already have one made from last year).

In our house we typically do several things each feast of St. Martin.

1. A Gift of Warmth: If the children are in need of something for winter I do my very best to get it for them on the feast of St. Martin. Usually it is just a new pair of mittens or a scarf tied up with a simple bow and a little note about St. Martin. If we find ourselves with too many coats this is the day we donate them. This year we officially launched the St. Martin Coat Drive where we will be collecting Coats from family, friends, and neighbors to donate to the poor. Here in Oregon it does get quite cold and I see so many homeless without much more than a jean jacket. I cannot imagine what it must be like to go through a winter like that. I have also considered just buying a few coats or sweaters at Goodwill or at a Catholic thrift store and handing them out to the people that beg on the street corners. I have not been organized enough to do it this year, but it would be a fun tradition to start on this day!

2.  Lanterns & a Song: The children make lanterns each year and we sing the traditional St. Martin song from Germany (translated of course). The version linked above is missing the final verse which is roughly translated:

St. Martin lies down quietly to rest,
In a dream the Lord appears.
He says:  Thank you, horseman,
for what you did to me. 

You can see the music and most of the lyrics here.  

We have never had the pleasure of celebrating with other families but that would certainly add to the fun. A bonfire and treats for the children are traditional on St. Martins Day as well. Because the days are getting darker now the lanterns add some wonderful cheeriness to the day and the song is very catchy.   

The lanterns are usually made of paper mache or jars. We have not made ours yet this year and we will be spending the afternoon doing just that if I can get this blog post up. Symbols associated with St. Martin such as the goose (traditionally eaten on this feast) and a sword and cloak make good decorations for the lanterns. 

Wondering why the goose is a symbol of St. Martin? Apparently when the townspeople were calling for St. Martin to be made bishop he was hiding hoping to avoid the honor but a goose gave away his location. 

3. A Celebratory Meal: In keeping with the traditions of our medieval Catholic ancestors we have a celebratory harvest meal. While we are no longer medieval, and we are hardly farmers, I think it is important to connect with the traditions of the past and also to remember how God provides for us through the seasons. If we were medieval Catholics living in Europe, the harvest would be in and preparations for winter would be made. So a meal in celebration and thanksgiving is quite apropos. Since we do also celebrate the American Thanksgiving with family and a big turkey dinner it is a little too costly and time consuming to do a second large feast in one month.  I have made serious attempts at transferring the traditional Thanksgiving day to the feast of St. Martin for my family but I have yet to succeed. Generally we simply choose a hearty meal we all enjoy like beef stew and crusty bread with a dessert like apple pie and then we take time to read about St. Martin at the dinner table and to reflect on how all that we have comes from God and through his loving providence.

Halloween 2014

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Dragon St. George Fought

St. George

St. Margaret

St. Cecilia

Calavera Catrina

Calavera Catrina

Why Halloween is Catholic

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Yesterday we decorated for Halloween, We went to the the local Grocery Outlet where jumbo pumpkins were just 3.99 and got the biggest pumpkins we could fish out of the bins. I am all for a wonderful pumpkin patch experience but I would rather spend my money at the farm buying organic produce to nourish our bodies rather than pay $0.59/lb. for a pumpkin we will just throw away. It does not have to be an ethically-raised, pesticide and hormone free, free-range pumpkin to sit on my porch and rot.

But all budgeting aside the real focus of this post is that this year is the first year I have felt it important to decorate for Halloween. It is not just Halloween but also All Saints Day and All Souls Day we are decorating for. But this year I am allowing a little more of the spooky and the macabre in our decorations.

I have been doing quite a bit of reading the past few months on the traditional Catholic customs surrounding All Hallows Eve and All Saints Day. The result of all that research is the conclusion that a healthy acknowledgment of death, as well as a firm confidence in the happiness of heaven and the protection of the angels are good things. All Hallows Eve is Catholic. It is not pagan. In our house we have always celebrated on All Saints Day with costumes and a party. I am not saying that should not be done. All Saints Day is the main event afterall. But Halloween customs such as going door-to-door for candy dressed up in costumes can be a good thing too and have their roots in catholic customs. I am allowing the children to trick or treat this year and they may go dressed as saints, doctors, astronauts, princesses or even Catrinas (a la Mexican Day of the Dead). But they may not go as happy little green witches, immodestly dressed anything,  psycho killers or anything else that glorifies evil or downplays its existence. There is a big difference between acknowledging and even poking fun at death a bit and glorifying evil. And the condition for getting all that candy is that they pray for those who give it to them including their dead relatives.

The Halloween customs we have in the US are a wonderful and rich combination of Irish, French, Spanish, and English customs. What we have now is a uniquely American day but a very Catholic American day. The idea that the whole thing is merely a pagan holiday is something, oddly enough, made up by protestants who were uncomfortable with Catholicism and a sacramental view of the world.  That is not to say I do not believe that pagan people do bad things on Halloween. I am the first to agree that Halloween has become a very disgusting excuse for all things perverse. But those who wish to behave badly will always find an excuse.  I think the issue is more historically complex and nuanced.  I want to take back Halloween as the vigil before All Saints Day. It is a perfect time to pray for the dead, to acknowledge the reality of evil and of death, to bolster the confidence of my children in the protection of the saving grace of God that they enjoy as children of God, and though as a vigil it should be somewhat penitential, it is a perfect time to have a bit of fun in the cool autumn night and to reflect on the seasons and the happiness we have in the saints in heaven.



Wednesday, August 11, 2010

This picture is from this summer. This little one decided she wanted to blow bubbles so she emptied an entire container of dawn into a bucket in the back yard. I had a sink full of dishes so I just washed them in the bucket. And we did blow a few bubbles.

Today my oldest daughter said to her younger sister Siena (pictured above) "You don't want to let your juice go to waste do you?." Siena promptly turned to me and asked, "Mama, where's waste?" 
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