Monday, June 30, 2014

Fighting the Urge to Use a Logan Echolls Quote as My Title

Does anyone else struggle with using too many pop culture references that no one understands? Just me? Okay, great.

This is not the one I wanted. I was going for " Ugh, all right, stay on message, Logan."

Here it is. Hobby Lobby vs. Sebelius. Suddenly, the HHS mandate matters to scores and scores of people. Suddenly, there are people outraged, and their outrage matters. Wait. Backtrack a few years. Indeed, there has been outrage since day one of the HHS mandate, but the outrage of some did not matter then.

Lest I forget the charity hat I am often accused of leaving at home, I'll just move on to my point: America, you are doing it wrong. 

Why are we arguing over what our employers should and should not provide us when it comes to healthcare, when the real concern is healthcare being associated with our employment in the first place? 

The problem with band aid solutions, is that you end up needing more band aids to contain the bleeding. If you plan to fix something, or wish to advocate for our politicians to fix something, fix it right.

Access to healthcare doesn't do any good if:

1. The system is broken.

2. Healthcare is not affordable.

3. It pits the rights of one against the rights of another.

When you create a band aid solution (I maintain the ACA is in fact a band aid for a healthcare system that needs serious surgery.) things only get worse. Costs are still rising. Remember those "copay free" well-child doctor visits? Insurance companies are now picking and choosing what services they will or will not cover that used to be routine screenings. It's no longer free, and it never was free. True reform of the system is not being required, we just have access to healthcare. 

Women's healthcare is still less than par. Take all the "free" birth control they will throw at you, but you are not being treated with dignity if they do not bother to understand women's health. 

There is a reason insurance companies were so willing to comply, and there is a very real reason that many in this nation are not willing to comply. The conversation should not be about employers and birth control. It should be about the dignity of a human life, and true healthcare reform. Until true reform is a reality, you bet your sweet Aspercreme I believe in allowing employers to follow their conscience. 

Right Brain Summer Drawing Club #2

I feel a bit better about the assignments this week, though I really should have looked ahead to see the about of time I needed to dedicate to the pieces. I flaked on the second upside down drawing. I started Spiderman in an attempt to win over the undying affection of my son, Calvin, but I quit. I will try again tomorrow perhaps.

The Vase:

Something interesting: They aren't exactly symmetrical, but I didn't really experience the pause the author talked about. I don't know what that means. I didn't spend too long on the exercise, but it was nice to stretch the pencil a bit.

Upside Down Picasso:

I ran out of room, and my pencil knew it. I wish I had started on a larger sheet. I think the proportions would have been better. The author wrote about this being easier than right side up for some, and I found it to be more difficult. I'm a weirdo. 

I can't wait to see everyone else's drawings! It isn't too late for you to draw along with us!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Right Brain Summer Drawing Club #1

This is incredible.

I have been excited about returning to art for months. When Simcha mentioned her interest in a drawing link up using the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, I was really excited. I had already packed a canvas bag filled with sketching supplies. I was ready.

Then, I forgot about the bag. I went to grab my drawing supplies a week ago, and they were all gone. No sketch pad or pencils. No fresh erasers. I ran out and purchased a spiral pad for this experiment, but had to dig for most of the night to find my supplies. Once they were found, I totally waited another week before attempting to draw. 

I am a bit embarrassed to post these sketches. I was an art minor! I am way out of practice though, so I am "daring greatly" and without anymore hem-hawing, I present my starter sketches:

self portrait

a person from memory

my hand

I am going to go die in a corner now.

I don't think I would be as traumatized by this experience if I did not believe that we are all given talents, and I feel a bit sheepish about neglecting mine for so long. So, I am really looking forward to getting back on track!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Five Favorites: Charitable Contributions

I am linking up today with a few places (Heather, and Bright Maidens) to talk about charitable organizations that I love. They tend to fall into three categories: Donated,  Want to Donate, and Those I Wish Counted. 


1. The Sunshine Lady Foundation (WISP): SLF is a program I heard about during my days as an advocate. From what I can see now, the scholarship program assists women that have sought assistance from a domestic and sexual violence program and wish to continue their education. When I was an advocate, there were also funds set aside for advocates. I am eternally grateful that I was afforded the opportunity to have nearly half of my MBA paid for through a WISP scholarship. Any time I see a request in my email or mail box, I see what I can come up with to help.

2. The Guiding Star Project: Who doesn't love a good pro life organization? I love the idea of seeing Guiding Star centers pop up all over the place. A brand name in women's care seeking holistic care to compete with Planned Parenthood is a winner in my book every time.

3. Race For Freedom: The day you see me running a 5K is the day the world has come to an end, but a close friend is involved with this race in Wichita, KS. We met up when I was visiting as the first race was getting off the ground, and I have bought a shirt every year. The race raises awareness and money to help combat sex trafficking in Wichita by raising funds for ICT S.O.S.

Want to Donate

4. Save the Storks: For purely selfish reasons, I want a Save the Stork shirt. It is the best kind of gravy that this organization has a pro life model that reaches women thinking about abortion on the front line. I do plan to add them to my list of charitable organizations, but for now I am always checking out the t-shirts.

See? Adorable.

5. Kiva: Is less a charity, and more a microfinance institution. You can loan as little as $25 to a female entrepreneur who otherwise is unable to support her craft, and over time, you are paid back and can lend again! Brilliance.

Those I Wish Counted (Bonus)

6. KickStarter: I was in my OB's waiting room when we got word that a new pope had been decided on. I was very enthusiastic, but directly after hearing this, I read a story about a tweet from Kristen Bell. I was totally annoyed because I thought the Veronica Mars reference she made was a joke, and she was minimizing the new pope! Then, I figured out what the big deal was: they were raising money for a VM movie and I wanted in. I've also donated money to help a small movie pay for distribution that was funded (all the fantastic Backer incentives totally play a role in my participation) and hopefully, my recent pledge gets off the ground, because I would love a Poe shirt. I call it Supporting the Arts.

What are your favorite charitable organizations and why?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"Be Someone"

When I drive into the city, I pass this every time. When traffic has slowed, I have to look at it for longer periods of time.

Be someone.

Well that's nice. <look around to the other lanes.>

Be someone.

Okay, I get it. Cute. Everyone needs a little pick me up. <scan the sides of the highway and stare at shiny pieces of broken bits of vehicle.


Okay what does that even mean? I don't want to "be someone" I want to be me. Why would I want to just "be someone"?????? <Hey. I think that is the exit I took, sobbing, and praying I didn't run out of gas.>


Okay, now it just really annoys me. I realize this could be merely about semantics, but "be someone" is not inspiring. It reeks of someone grasping and pulling to be noticed or to matter to people that are not worth the time. When I see this graffiti, I want to climb up there, paint over it, and change it to say


Because I am at my best and the most relaxed when I trust myself to be myself. I want others to be at ease around me, and I want to know who they are, not who they wish to be someday.

So, be you.

Every time I think I am fantastic with computer art, I will pull this out to remind me I am terrible.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Currently (06.16.2014)

I'm linking up with Mary today for "Currently"...

Thinking About... This is sort of a big one. I have gone back and forth on sharing this with many people, because of self doubt, but perhaps I need the accountability. I am working on a book proposal. It is a goal that I have been working towards on and off for over five years, and I think it is on again. I don't know what will come of it, so it is difficult for me to proclaim that I am planning it when nothing is certain. 

Reading... I am in the middle of three books, and I have exactly 14 days before my self-imposed deadline to read them. I should get on that... Leaning In, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, and Neptune Noir. Ahem.

Praying For... My family, but mostly for the religious education I am tasked with providing for my children in the middle of my own drought. 

Listening to... The Terrible Twos. The kids are all dancing around like the crazy people they are. 

(I totally feel like a bootlegger after finding that video.)

Watching...The Gilmore Girls. Because crime show dramas while the kids are awake have not proven successful.

Thankful for...The fact that all the children play together and enjoy it. Until someone screams. It is a great ten seconds until then!

Wishing... That I could stop planning my Edel road trip playlist and wardrobe long enough to motivate myself to do some cleaning. I also need a haircut, and I need a good photo of Rachel's short haircut. Because it is summer and also the late 90's.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

If It's Good Enough for Dorothy Day, It's Good Enough for Me.

I did not attend a Catholic high school, and it never occurred to me that I should have a catechism. I think my mom had one lying around the house from her RCIA days. By the time I had arrived for my first day of Totus Tuus training, I was wishing I had thought to look.

We sat for a week and listened to pretty fantastic talks and lessons concerning what we would be teaching in our parishes. They gave us a list of helpful tools (All of which I somehow never purchased while teaching): A solid Catholic bible, the CCC, and apologetics resources that included the most incredible piece of laminated paper I had ever seen (which I did buy halfway into the first summer).

I honestly believe what hooked me for life that first summer, was hearing about Catholic Social Teaching (CST) for the first time in my life. I had never heard it phrased that way, though I certainly knew the principles. I borrowed my teammate's catechism nearly every day that first summer to go through and study all the reference numbers from our training.

Sometimes, I hear CST thrown around as a "liberal Catholic thing" and this drives me bonkers. First, because I loathe it when we label universal Catholic teaching by a limited, American political term. I also loathe it when others can't see how perfectly CST rounds out the "faith and reason" idea within Catholicism.

Because CST holds such a special place in my heart, I thought I would shoot off a post for you with my top eight all things CST. So, in no particular order, here we go:

I came across this INCREDIBLE infograph a few years ago, and it is just one of my favorite things ever. Current issues, scripture, encyclicals, CST. Pure awesome.


I wrote about this back in April (post here), but I really find the application of CST to the modern American economy/political scene to be fascinating. It truly reinforces that no one political party embraces purely all that is good. I am certain that, given the Church's universality, these principles are easily applied to other nations and political climates as well. How fortunate are we to have a thoroughly sourced and well-written rubric to help us navigate current social issues without dictating how we all must come to a conclusion? Yes. There are different ways to apply these principles. Who doesn't love a good Catholic debate, eh?


I also positively adore the fact that some principles of CST (ahem... dignity of work and rights of workers) helped to bring Dorothy Day into the church.


The Catechism also presses the need for social justice. These passages not only spell out our equality despite differences, but acknowledge barriers to be overcome:
1938 There exist also sinful inequalities that affect millions of men and women. These are in open contradiction of the Gospel:

Their equal dignity as persons demands that we strive for fairer and more humane conditions. Excessive economic and social disparity between individuals and peoples of the one human race is a source of scandal and militates against social justice, equity, human dignity, as well as social and international peace.44
Solidarity, yo (CCC, 1939). We are all in this together, like it or not. The duality of this is striking: comforting to know we are all in the same boat, but that means we can all go down if it sinks.
What? This is totally relevant. The ark is a boat! GO WITH IT.


Personal story time: My first-ever, real, live, religion class post-Catholic school, was my junior year of college. Intro to Theology with Fr. Meinrad Miller at Benedictine College. The course was cleverly nicknamed 'Into to Catholicism' by the student body. After two summers of teaching Totus Tuus, I finally had to purchase my own copy of the Catechism, and it was a pretty exciting. As I was making my giant book purchase at the student bookstore, I was pretty eager to get my CCC up to my room and start looking stuff up. This book was also on the list:
The only way I would have been more excited, is if I would have had to buy a Baltimore Catechism as well. 
Once I had my books, I paid and stepped away from the window. I checked through the order to make sure I had the right items and neither catechism was in my bag! I had to wait in line again, and convince the bookstore guy he was wrong. It took some arguing, and then I had to go another week without my books because they had ordered the wrong ones. That guy is now my husband, and it still takes some convincing when he is wrong. Ha!

For Christmas one year, my adorable husband gave me this book:

It's totally a textbook. Book nerd. 
I had just started working as a domestic and sexual violence advocate. While the work was tragic and rewarding, the environment was tough one for me to find my place. I did not know a single person that was a practicing Catholic that did the work, and I was discovering that clergy (Catholic, other Christian denominations, etc.) did not always jump on the "Say no to abuse!" train the way I had assumed. I needed as many resources as possible to confirm that Catholicism in no way supported women staying in abusive relationships. The section of this book that covers the "sinful inequalities", human dignity, etc. definitely helped confirm this for me, along with...


...The FaithTrust Institute. While this agency acts as more of a non-denominational resource, (meaning, not everything you will find on the site fits within the teachings of Catholicism) many of the resources they offer helped my clients, and helped me to remember what God's plan for marriage looks like, and that violence (physical, sexual, mental, emotional or of any kind) has no part in that plan. If the family is the social unit upon which we build our society, it must be healthy: there is no room to treat a spouse like they are less than.

Now that you have a glimpse into my obsession on the subject, what are your thoughts on social justice, or CST? Any resources you care to share?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Catholic Insults and Public Children

For the last three and a half years, we have been on the move. Even when we lived near family, it was difficult to get help with childcare that was not paid. Now that we live states away from family and friends, we just have to find a way to make it work. 

A big part of this means that I run errands with one, two, three, and soon to be four persons in tow. I must accept that it will take thirty minutes to get out the door. I must accept that I will be having a ninety minute conversation (while grocery shopping) about keeping your body in the cart, not touching your siblings, who needs to go potty, who is hungry, where dad is, and what kind of food is on the list. (Seriously, God forbid I do not bring a list.) It means I will be mindlessly putting the contents of my purse back in place while Frank takes it all back out again as I try to remember where to find the jam I like. It also means my introverted self is forced to interact with strangers, and those interactions often involve talking about my children as they are hard to miss. 

I have my game face on when I am running errands. One of the rules of advocacy is that you do not acknowledge clients in public places unless they approach you first. It works splendidly with my natural inclination to avoid talking to people, but it is also a hard habit to break. It is a wonder so many people approach us at all. 

Maybe I am just always in a bad mood, but I am far more likely to rage on about how a twenty-something male cashier informed me my children are a hassle. I am also more likely to feel the urge to play the drinking game "How Many People Will Tell Me My Hands Are Full?" err when I am not pregnant (but really, that is pretty much never in the last five years. Hence the shirt I just bought.*

*Yes, I bought this short-sleeved. No I do not drink whilst pregnant.

If I am being particularly honest and fair about people, I am approached JUST AS OFTEN to be told how amazing/beautiful/well-behaved/smart/verbal/funny my children are. Elderly individuals come and tell us our children are great when we are eating at restaurants. Today, a woman with a very full cart touched my shoulder just to give me a giant smile and say, "Your children are beautiful." (Then they were completely quiet for two aisles while I tried not to cry. When Hattie and Calvin began to fight over the steering wheel and Frank threw a Qdoba rewards card at me, I snapped back to reality.) At Mass, nearly every week we are greeted by someone praising our children, and often it is an older woman with her son that just can't wait for us to sit down next to them. 

My Grandpa and my brother are sailors, and I curse like one. I deflect any awkwardness with humor. I am blunt or silent, and come across as the ultimate Catholic insult: uncharitable. (Thanks to Sarah for making me laugh with that one!) 

I bet I need to work on all of this, but it is also who I am. Sometimes I am not the picture of what a Catholic woman should be, so I am also not always the smiling happy portrait of how great life with young children is either. Plastering on a smile when I spent the entire morning cleaning up a breakfast mess somehow feels fake, but I will continue to do my best. Thank you to those of you out there that stop to give a mom a little encouragement and ask for nothing in return. A big smile and kind words from someone that does not need a mom to clean a mess, change their clothes or diaper, put them down for a nap, or run an errand for them goes a really, really, really long way. 

"Act like you live in the 1800's and the camera will steal your soul."

Sunday, June 1, 2014

2014 Reading List Catch Up

As you might recall, I wrote a post or two about all the reading 2014 was bringing my way. I am really happy to say that the list has changed a bit, but I am keeping up with my goals! As it stands, I have made it through six (6, SIX!!!!!) books this year. It is only June 2nd! I have two more that I am working on, but in the mean time I will review a few. Spoiler: I naturally would recommend all of them.

First, I'm going to brag about my list:

The Long Loneliness
Pope Awesome
Daring Greatly
The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning
The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line
Something Other Than God

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (and here)
Lean In

I am feeling pretty good about the fact that I might leave the month of June with EIGHT books under my belt for the year. Eight was my goal for the year, so needless to say, I am stoked. I have not been this well-read since Book-It. Now I want a personal pan pizza, please.

In hunting for this pic, I discovered Book-It T-shirts. Forget the pizza. I WANT A SHIRT.

The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning

Book selfie. It's a thing.
I really had no intention of buying this book. I read the occasional Simcha blog post and thought she was clever, but NFP is in my life for good or bad, so I didn't think I really needed to read another book about it. I read an article all about how she accidentally released the electronic version of the book (no idea what you call that... I'm a paper kind of gal) then I went to Amazon to pre-order. I am glad I did! It was a quick read, but worth it to be reminded that there is more than one way to live a life in line with the Catholic Church, and that sometimes it is just more fun to keep the humor.

Something Other Than God

If I had kept up on my blog reading these past few months, I would have known there was a photo contest.

Part Two of Books I Was Not Going to Buy. I don't really know why I had decided to pass on the book. Maybe it was because every person I knew in the Catholic blogosphere was going to read it. I'm a rebel, Dottie. A loner. I caved a week before the release. Given my own bouts of doubt and spiritual dry spells, there were some things I needed to hear. This passage specifically was striking:

I'd come to see that the only way for people to shut down the power of rationalization is to adhere to an external moral code, one that they don't have the power to change on the fly when it gets inconvenient. If God did become man and did personally found a religion that he continued to guide in its doctrines, one mark it would surely bear is a clear view of right and wrong that did not change over the centuries. This moral code would not vary by region, and it would not flit around like a weathervane as the winds of popular opinion changed. Within Christianity, the only organization that fit that bill was the Catholic Church.

Then, there is also the fact that she mentions The Case for Christ... an unexpected favorite of mine.

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line

I don't want to go to the fan girl place, but itistoolateiamalreadythere. It was fun to read a Veronica Mars story line as opposed to watch it. I am eagerly anticipating the next book. Please hurry Rob. Don't make me binge watch the series and the movie again.

Lastly, Hattie wanted in on the book reviews...


I asked her what she liked about the book and she said, "It has my favorite pictures of creatures. And cheering things."

I think that is a rave.

What are you reading? Help me add to my list!

WIWS (06.01.2014)

I haven't linked up with Fine Linen and Purple for What I Wore Sunday in a very long time, (mostly because I probably have not done more than throw my wet hair into a pony tail before Mass in just as long) so I tried to pull out of bed a bit earlier and spend some time preparing for Mass to see if it would help me out of my Mass attention rut. I don't know if it worked. Mass started out a little bittersweet: it is always difficult for me to adjust to a new location. The songs are different, and often my favorites are not played. Today the first few were foreign, and I really can't read music. There were a few towards the end that I knew though, so that helped. 

In the never ending game of Who is the Current Favorite Parent, Calvin has decided he does not like walking up for Communion with me. I was trying to settle Frank down, and Hattie wanted to come also. Bad combination. Three wardrobe malfunctions and a bruised leg from running into the corner of a pew later, I am going to have to reassess my ability to carry a toddler and hold the hand of another kid.

The Breakdown:

White Shrug: Target
White tank: Be Maternity, Target
Blue tank: LL Maternity, Target
Gray capris: Old Navy
Pewter flats: Target
Rosary bracelet: A gift from a friend

I am out of practice with these shots! I don't really know if you can wear pewter with gray. I did, and no one told me it looked bad, so I suppose I win. What do you think? Pewter is that color that my husband and I argue over whether or not it is gray or brown. Like a Weimaraner.

This post also serves as a bit of an announcement: we are expecting our fourth (here on earth) child in mid December. The other kids are very excited. Calvin saw the ultrasound photos on the table and we had the following conversation:

Calvin: What baby is that?
Me: It is a new baby.
Calvin: Oh. It is my other sister. What is her name?
Me: Well, we don't know the baby's name yet. We don't know if we are having a boy or a girl baby.
Calvin: It's a girl, but can I name the baby "Icy"?

Here is a link to one of the videos the kids helped make to announce the new addition:

That's it for me. Go check out some better photography and more fashion at Fine Linen and Purple!