Friday, March 28, 2014

7 Quick Takes.

--- 1 ---
Aaron and I went to Washington DC last  year with the kids (2 of them walking around, one of them in utero).  Aaron remarked it would be fun to do a tour of the White House.  I said, ‘no thanks’.  Aaron then asked me if I would like to meet President Barack Obama.  And I said, ‘never’.  Really meaning those words. I would have no interest in meeting him. No interest in shaking his hand.  No interest in exchanging pleasantries.  At this time last year, if he walked up to me in the street- I would walk by him. No joke.  Then, I watched the footage of Pope Francis embracing and dialoguing with the President of the United States, and once again, through his actions, he was teaching, teaching me.  Hopefully, after that witness, if I ever met the POTUS, I’d invite him in for a coffee… I wouldn’t declare all the things he was doing wrong, but maybe I’d ask him how his family is doing. More than ever, I am being convicted that we change things by the way we witness a God who loves.  
--- 2 ---
I saw this meme this week. It taught me.

--- 3 ---
 I am an ‘official’ SAHM mom now.  What did it?  The staying home? The being puked on?  The regular schedule of household chores? Nope.  I made my very first batch of chocolate chip cookies with the boys from scratch. I know, I know, permanent rock star status.
ignore the creepy face
--- 4 ---
So, remember when I wrote THIS BLOG about social media and young people?  How I plan to parent through it?  Well, a priest friend of mine posted THIS ARTICLE and got me freaking the freak right out.  You see, I am pretty darn positive that I will be able to navigate my kids through the digital highways in a healthy way. I’m so convicted that I spend a great deal of time presenting to teens/parents about how to properly use this tool.  But other kids???  Well that scares the smack out of me.  The kids my kids will run into/associate with/etc… kids a few years old who have been exposed to pornography in graphic ways.  I think, from working with teenagers in a ministry-type of way, I was already hyper paranoid about abuse of any kind. I constantly think of strategies  to  protect my children from predators (I know- but it’s true).  How the heck can I protect my kids from the danger of other kids?  How can I protect them from the innocence-shattering ways of technology that OTHER kids will expose them to?  No, seriously, I am asking…how?  Tell me; teach me, I am all ears.  
--- 5 ---
You.guys. The Walking Dead. I am so nervous for Sunday night. Like whoa!  I have read some theories and some spoilers and lemme just say, if they go where I think they might go, I am just not sure I can handle it. I mean...look at RICK'S FACE?!?!?!?
--- 6 ---
In completely different news. The blender continues to change our lives.  Who knew how easy it'd be to get our kids to eat spinach? We have been doing a smoothie a day, and we do it in the afternoon...when everyone needs a pick me up.  Let's just say...game.changer.
--- 7 ---
Wanna see what Joy looks like?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, March 24, 2014

It's going by so so fast...help me remember

So, when I graduated from college, I came home to the street I grew up on being profoundly changed.

There was a tree infection so all the trees that stood in front of people’s houses were removed.  Because I have a tendency to be a bit of a drama queen (#truestory), I waxed all philosophical in my journal about the trees being taken down with no one asking me first…kind of like my childhood being stripped away before I even knew it (I know, I know, when my husband reads my journals out loud, I just about die of embarrassment).  

Anyway, it was a really sad moment in my life.  I didn’t like being a grown up all of a sudden, and, truth be told, I spent the better part of my early 20s fighting it.  My dad always said I was his child with the Peter-Pan complex, I wanted to stay young forever.  Not like, ‘young because I don’t want to look old’, but more like, ‘hot dang, life goes by so darn fast, you blink and it’s over’ type of thing.  

So, keeping that in mind, it’s no surprise watching my babies grow up has taken on a new twinge of sorrow.

Because it really is happening so fast.  On ‘the facebook’ I shared that we moved John Paul out of our room this weekend. He has done so well with the transition, and he is seven months old- so it makes sense.  His feet were starting to stick out of the end of the bassinet and it was bending at his weight (I don’t have small kids).  However, more than any other kid, I felt a real sadness at our seemingly empty bedroom.  We don’t think he will be our last baby, but there really are no guarantees.  Transitioning him was tough emotionally, because I was forced to face how quickly this is all going by.

It’s hard...our reality, harder than I can even describe to most people.  Having three babies, so close in age is something very few people in our society understand (I adore those of you that do).  It’s looney tunes, truly.  You really should have seen the fiasco that was Church on Sunday.  When we got in our van to drive home, Big Aaron and I just looked at each other because we couldn't believe what had just transpired.  When I tell you that my husband, on the way to receive Jesus was one handing the baby, whilst holding the oldest up by his overall straps…I am not exaggerating.  My gosh it is hard.

But it is so so awesome.  Being in the ‘thick of it’ is this unique experience of love and sacrifice that is hard to describe.  I get glimpses of the awesome when I watch the two oldest play together, or I watch lil’ Aaron talking softly to John Paul. I get glimpses of the awesome when I ask my husband if he is tired and his answer is, ‘always’ with a smile. I get glimpses of it when we wake up in the morning, dad gets donuts and I play with the kids quietly with the tv off.  There is a whole heck of a lot of awesome seen at my house on the regular.

And I don’t want to forget it…so, without further ado, here’s some things I don’t want to forget…

Dear God, help me remember..

…lil' Aaron sings, ‘twinkle twinkle little stars' not star, but stars.
...Joey says, ‘yes’ with kind of a roar, and always raises his hands, like he is ready for a major sporting event
...lil' Aaron asked to jump in joey's bed to kiss him goodnight
...I had to remind Joey to be gentle, because he squeezes too hard
...Joey drools so much we have to change shirts on the regular
...Lil' A always offers Joey the worst car when he is asked to share ;) and doesn't think we notice
...Lil' Aaron  always wants to lay right next to John Paul on the floor
...Lil' Aaron asks to be my baby, and when he does, always looks me so deeply in the eye
...Lil' Aaron  snuggles with his dad in bed, and they talk, and mom isn’t invited
...When my boys wake up, the first thing they do is say, 'Mommy'
...How lil' Aaron knows they watch a 'show first' 'then get up'
...Joey's clumsiness and the snuggles that come with each fall
...Joey's smile, the one that is big and toothy, and sometimes drooly
...The way Joey looks at his brother, eager to learn all he will teach
...The way Joey loves books and brings them to me all the time, but never has the patience to sit still 
...Joey's snuggles
...At Church, he said, ‘jesus hurt, that makes me sad’
...Joey won't watch a show on the ipad, unless he gets to push the buttons
...Joey runs from me, but laughs hysterically when I say bedtime
...The way Joey says, ‘fly mama’ again. And again. And again. Then I get annoyed, then I feel grateful :)
...Their giggles, oh God, their giggles. Thank you sweet Jesus for their giggles
...Lil Aaron says, ‘hold me’ when he is scared. Not when he wants to be held, but when he is scared
...the way lil' Aaron talks to himself when he plays, setting up monster truck tracks all over the family room
...The way they love their grandparents. Both sets. Equally. It stuns me.
...The way Lil' Aaron asks for a ‘special treat’
...The way John Paul laughs, have you ever seen a baby laugh like that.
...The way they stand on the couch and just WAIT for their dad to get home, and how, when we first bought this house, I thought about my children waiting for their dad to get home.
...When lil' Aaron says, ‘why you yelling mama, I don't understand’ and reminds me, so painfully, to stop yelling
...When we do animal sounds, and lil’ joey knows them so well, so early.
...When they want kisses, and snuggles
...How they love their baby brother, oh gosh, they love him
...The smell John Paul has in the middle of the night when I'm so tired- but the baby smells so good
...The way John Paul wont sleep in my arms, but rolls his eyes to the side when I lay him down
...The way John Paul swiftly tosses his head to find a comfortable spot
...How he is six months old. SIX MONTHS but I can’t bear him not being by my side
...The way my husband plays when he plays with our children
...Family trips and holding my husband's hand
...Teaching my boys to talk to Jesus quietly
...Blowing kisses to Jesus when we get to Church

Sometimes I am aware, it is all going by so fast, and I never want to forget this special time in our family's history.

Friday, March 21, 2014

7 Quick Takes- um, I have a blender edition!

--- 1 ---
So, I joined a MOPS group. And it is awesome.  It’s funny, but with the three under three reality, I shy away from most ‘groups’ or ‘plans’.  Things like story time, or field trips, are just not practical for my family in this season.  Also, in general, if I have a late retreat/workshop/presentation on a weeknight, I am fairly intentional about NOT scheduling anything the next day- for sanity purposes.  So this week, I actually considered not going to MOPS.  We had pretty significant plans everyday and I facilitated a retreat on Wednesday night so I didn't get home until 10:00 pm.  But I was organized/planned well and made it happen.  It's completely worth it to make it happen.  Loved every moment.  :) 
--- 2 ---
visual aid in case you are unclear as to what a blender looks like
Saturday night we had some people over to our house for St. Patrick's day. It was all around good times but perhaps the best moment, was when my homies figured out the blender and food processor I had on the top of our fridge, actually worked, as opposed to being broken as I thought they were.  Um- AWESOME-SAUCE!  So, this week I have been making smoothies- throwing in handfuls of spinach for the children.  Here was little Aaron's review, 'mom, kids love this!'.  Also, I am thinking I would like to be creative with the food processor. I remember my Rachel Ray (she's my pretend friend) used to make a lot of recipes with it.  Any suggestions?
--- 3 ---
Some of you know, my dear husband has been doing 'crossfit' for the past few months. I am not a fan.  I am not a fan in that it is SUPER expensive, SUPER time consuming, and kind of like this creepy little cult where they refer to themselves as a 'family' etc... so, this next part is going to come as as surprise (and don't tell my husband).  Right now, they are doing something called the 'crossfit games' where a workout is announced live every Thursday night, then the 'fam' has three days to complete it with the best time/reps/etc...Anyway, it's an exciting time for these freaks.  So, Aaron has roped me into watching these announcements live online.  And, lemme just say (this is the part you can't tell Aaron). It's kind of exciting.  They announce them and then you get to watch two athletes perform them.  It's pretty amazing what they are capable of doing, and I am kind of starting to look forward to Thursday nights!  RIGHT!?!?  Plus, it is a work out Aaron loves, loves enough to get up some mornings at 4:30 am to hit up the gym before work.  So, I suck it up and try to be supportive.  
--- 4 ---
What isn't full of awesome is Aaron leaving for a workout at 4:30 am and then sending a text at
5:00 am to let me know he has hit a Michigan crater and is waiting for someone to come help him fix it (on the highway).  Then, calls at 6:00 am to share the help didn't help and he has to leave his car and needs a ride home.  SO...that means collecting kids and packing them in the car to go pick up their father.  What a morning!  You guys!  This has NOT been our winter for car stuff.  Between tickets, accidents, repairs and tire issues, we have been out so much cash! :( WAAAAHHHHH  Notice you haven't seen a basement re-model update in awhile. Now you have your answer as to why.
faces at 6:00 in the morning
--- 5 ---
Ready for some mom of the year shiznatch?  Here ya go!
why yes, you are looking at a picture of a race car made of a diaper box

ride joey ride!!!

Nothin' a little cookie cutter can't make fancy
--- 6 ---
I have shared her blog before, but one of my girlfriends from college has the gift of writing and does an excellent job telling the story of her family (which includes her sweet youngest baby girl who has Downs Syndrome).   You know how using the r-word is a really bad thing and people need to stop using it?  Yeah, well B wrote an AWESOME blog about that and other things. Kind of blew my mind. You should READ IT!  Also, she lets her youngest son have a snake, and feeds it live mice. I know. Um...no words.
--- 7 ---
CUTENESS coming your way.
Sweatshirts courtesy of our favorite cousin Judy


For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, March 14, 2014

7 Quick takes Struggle Bus and Church Nerd Stuff

--- 1 ---

We've been riding the struggle bus 'round these parts.  Look- this was JP's face the other day.
poor sick baby
He was so sick.  A viral infection has been making it's way through our family.  It's not a crisis, just really miserable kids which leads to very little sleep for all.  The thing that has been really challenging is the fevers. Gosh, it's so scary once they start reading the 103-104 level!  BUT, I was assured as long as medicine is taking them down, we are all good.  Medicine was taking them down...and I think we are rounding the corner on sickness!  YAY! Oh, and the boys have been tending to each other all week, which is about the cutest thing ever!

Taking care of John Paul with their teddy bears
--- 2 ---
Speaking of struggle bus, wanna know what happened today?  Oh, okay, I'll tell you. I went to grab a paper towel of the roll. Would you like to know what was facing me down, with eyes of fury (okay- there really weren't eyes of fury, but it sounded fun to write)? A giant spider.  Well, it wasn't even giant really. BUT, it was a spider, chilling on the paper towel, getting all sorts of ready to pounce.  JERK!  It's now with Jesus.  Homie don't play that.
--- 3 ---
 When I stepped down from St. John Neumann, a lovely family bought us a zoo pass to use with our kids (best.gift.ever).  Last week we went to the ZOO!  In the winter.  
nice and warm
One of our friends assured us the zoo in winter was one of Detroit's best kept secrets.  You.guys! It was so fun and a lot of animals were indoors, so we got to see them really up close.  Look at my giraffe selfie!
Giraffe Selfies are A-okay!
--- 4 ---
My parents are not hosting a St. Patrick's Day party this year.  For the first time ever.  We always have a great party with good food, lots o drank, plenty of laughs, Irish music, tears (we are irish, we have to cry with tears of joy or tears of memory), and everything that makes parties fun.  It's an open house kind of thing.  Friends/Family/etc... I look forward to it every year.  My parents are not having it this year :(  Oh, did I mention this is the first year I can partake in the adult activities in THREE YEARS due to pregnancy (can you believe I was pregnant for three straight St. Patrick's Days?!?!).  Anyway. It's sad. Guess I'll just have to drink at home :)
--- 5 ---
So, remember that fancy committee I was asked to be on last year?  With all the fanciness and the Archbishop who knew my name (um, because I was the ONLY female asked to be part of the fancy with REALLY FANCY people).  Anyway, as an offshoot of that, I have been asked to lead of team of 'Lay Ecclesial Ministers' for the next couple years in the Archdiocese of Detroit's New Evangelization Initiative.  So, anyway, one of our Bishops (Byrnes) charged me with putting together a team.  That in itself was a bit of a challenge, since my scope is fairly limited to Youth Ministry.  BUT, I think we got it locked down.  Here's the funny. One of my good friends, Chris, sent me a text after I sent him the list of participants that said, 'um, is there anyone on the team younger than 40?'.  It seems we have built a very YOUNG team of Church professionals...most of us being under the age of 40 or just slightly over (in the Church, my friends, that's young).  I think it's kind of fun.  Young Church for the WIN!!!!
--- 6 ---
My buddy Mario (John Paul's godfather) was able to chill with Cardinal Dolan last week!  Yeah, I know. And Cardinal Dolan bought him dinner (right?!?!).  So, you know how I am pretty much famous if anyone I know meets anyone famous?  Here's how our textual conversation went...

"I just met and talked to Cardinal Dolan"- Mars
"shut your face! did you tell him about me"- Me
"Indeed"- Mars
"does he wanna be my best friend"- Me
"of course.  He asked if we were going to get a hot dog today (it was Ash Wednesday)"- Mario

Now, you know Mario didn't tell him about me and he doesn't want to be my best friend...but a girl can dream.

--- 7 ---
Speaking of Best Friends...quite often I REALLY think Pope Francis and I would be best friends.  Yesterday, he celebrated his one year anniversary as Pontiff. I remember experiencing a sinking feeling when he came out on the Balcony.  He's not cardinal Dolan, he is not young, I have never heard of him, his smile seems akward (judgy judgy... I know).  Then I got in my car feeling a little deflated listening to the news.  
"Wait! He asked the crowd to pray for him"
"Wait! He's a Jesuit"
"WAIT! Um, did you say he took the name Francis?"
Then the stories started to flood in.  The stories of who he was as a cardinal, of who he might be as a pope.  
"Wait, he took the motor coach back to the cardinal hotel to 'grab his bag and check out personally?".
My faith has been helped by the power of the Holy Spirit in this one.  All of us Catholics, who have decided to pay attention, have been challenged (if we allow ourselves to be).  My favorite thing ever?  His continuous call to go out to the 'streets' and not afraid to get 'messy!'.  I have always found the line between love and truth quite messy.  But more than ever, I am not afraid of it anymore.  And Papa Francesco has helped with that.Thanks bestie!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I got real annoyed over the weekend...

There was a protest in Detroit last weekend. You can read the story here.

You probably didn’t know about it, because there was only a handful of people.

But that handful of people still made the Detroit News. And it really bothered me.  I tried to think of why it bothered me so much. Was it because some of the organizers of the protest were at a workshop I presented at last month?  Was it because it was so difficult to present, knowing a handful of people were just waiting for me to misspeak so they could take me down?  Was it that the protest tried to perpetuate the idea that the Church's teachings are hateful?  It took a while for me to figure out, but this morning, I got it.

It bothered me so much because they shouldn't have been protesting. Their protest was another form of bullying and unjust treatment of a group who has tolerated far too much bullying and injustice.

What were they protesting?  I’d like to explain.

They were protesting a group called Courage.  This is an apostolate working with men and women of the LGBT community to help them feel welcomed in the Catholic Church, while still acknowledging the Church’s sexual teachings.  Some might say that’s  an impossibility.  I don’t think so, but I’m okay if you do.  I haven’t always loved Courage, I am not even comfortable saying I love the group now.   I will say, I think they have made strides in the last few years to clean up language, and to soak their method in a deep love of the human person.  I dig that.

I get why people would be cautious of this ministry.  Mentalities like, ‘pray the gay away’, the cultural wars, etc…have made people weary of any ministry that might suggest freedom can be found in living the Church’s teaching on sexuality.  I get it, I really do, but I don’t think it is fair.
I don’t think it is fair that presenters (often gay men and women) from Courage face protests, threats and jeering persecution. I really don’t.

Homophobia and bigotry is just as alive in the people of the Catholic Church as other places.  I see it all the time.  You wouldn't believe some of the ideas people challenge in the different presentations I do.  You see, the Church has ‘Church Language’…language sometimes hard to understand.  Expressions like, ‘objectively disordered’ and ‘intrinsically evil’.  That language can be problematic, in that without being properly understood, it has made way for homophobic and hurtful ideas to be spread in the name of Christ’s teaching.

I hate that.

But I also hate when people say that chastity can’t be an option for the LGBT Catholics.  It bothers me.

It bothers me like I used to be bothered when people couldn't believe chastity could be an option for single people waiting to get married.  I didn't have sex until I was thirty years old and married.  I had people actually sitting me down and sharing their concern with me about that.  Suggesting it was unnatural. It was oppressive.  And, that I would surely be disappointed on my wedding night (I wasn't).

It bothers me like the reaction I get when people find out my husband and I don’t use artificial birth control.  At LEAST three or four times a year have people (generally well-intentioned) make sure to share with me I am following an archaic and dangerous teaching.

It bothers me when people question how it could ever be possible for priests to forgo the Sacrament of Marriage and witness a life of abstinence and chastity.  How many times have you heard that pedophilia happened in the Catholic Church because priests can’t have sex?  It’s insulting. And it’s a terribly damaging mindset.

Look. I get the Church’s teachings are VERY difficult to understand in our contemporary culture.  They are difficult to understand because they are so radically different from so many of the messages we receive on the regular about sex, relationships, marriage, etc… But that doesn't mean people should be lined up protesting or exhibiting a type of intolerance most would reject if they thought about it critically.

You see, those protesters on Friday/Saturday (the handful) admitted Courage is not rejecting people.  The protesters admitted courage doesn't flirt with the dangerous ground of trying to change orientation, or encourage their participants to ‘ask God to change them’.  Rather, COURAGE offers community to those men and women who are of the LGBT community and have decided (by their OWN choice) to live a life of chastity within the folds of the Catholic Church.  

Because, we as Catholics believe that community is essential for the tough stuff.  Now, you might claim that Catholics shouldn’t be ‘forced’ to the do the tough stuff…but, that’s not your call to make. 

And if an adult chooses that path, they certainly shouldn't be made to feel like idiots.  They certainly shouldn't be told they are ‘denying who they are’.  They certainly shouldn't be pressured to feel like they are making an unnatural choice.  And THAT is why the protest bothered me.

Because we need community to do the ‘tough stuff’! To go against the norm of what is being celebrated today.

When I was single and living a different reality of dating (than what our culture celebrates), I cannot tell you how much it meant to me to have a community of people who supported me.  Men/Women who were able to walk with me, in shared faith and encourage me when I was discouraged.

Now that my husband and I live the reality of Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness/whatever you want to call it, I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have a community of people who understand. Who I can have frank discussions with.  A community to share my struggles and the joys.  A community to cry with and celebrate with.  It is essential to living my faith.

And it bothers me that there is a group of people who have deemed it ‘protestable’ (I’m pretty sure I made up that word) to offer that same community to Catholic people in the LGBT community who have decided to live out the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality.  

It’s not fair.

It’s not right.

And perhaps the most screwy thing, is most of the people protesting are probably doing it because they think they are HELPING those within that community. Well, I can tell you I have sat with men/women, and heard the stories of those who have been personally hurt by people telling them they shouldn’t live out their sexuality in a chaste way if that is what they want to do.  And it’s not nice. 

So anyway, I just wanted to tell you why it bothered me so much.

You know the drill.  Feel free to comment/share your feelings/enter into dialogue.  BUT, if you don’t do it respectfully, I shall delete your comments J  Not because I am intolerant, but because you are (that sounded sassy…whatevs!).

Friday, March 7, 2014

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---
Note to self.  If your husband ever gives you the option of 'Catching Fire' or 'Thor' (the new one), always choose 'Catching Fire'.  It doesn't matter if you have already seen it.  It doesn't matter if you want to treat your husband to his choice...ALWAYS.CHOOSE.CATCHING.FIRE. (clearly, Thor is on in the background right now and MAYBE the dumbest movie I have ever seen- plus I promised I wouldn't complain- I will write my Quick Takes instead).
--- 2 ---
 Writing Quick Takes at 9:10 pm on a Friday evening.  Clearly the life I live is pretty much on the edge.  Honestly, I usually have them done a lot earlier, but we had visitors this morning which was lovely- so just getting to them now :)  Can I write something sassy here?  There are like 2 or 3 people in real life that I see somewhat regularity (a couple times a year) who I have requested to be 'facebook' friends with who have denied me due to my very radical views (you know how I am, with all the radical-ness).  It makes me not want to speak to them in real life.  Can I do that?  Does it make me a loser that this really bothers me?  Like, a lot?  Gargh. (is Gargh a word?).
--- 3 ---
Speaking of visitors, I had a jammed pack week of fun this week and we actually were well enough to partake.  Visits with friends and children, MOPS, and a lots of fun projects- this week was a good one- but MAN I am tired.   
--- 4 ---
I am tired but I also have a wee bit of a head cold.  The head cold has put me in bed the last two nights BEFORE 8:00 pm.  Seriously.  It was awesome.  Have I told you before how much I love sleep?  SO. MUCH.
--- 5 ---
lil' Aaron in his crib for the first time almost three years ago!
Cutest thing in the world alert!  Tonight, as we were putting the boys to bed, lil' Aaron completely threw a fit to sleep in Joey's room.  Weird right?  Well, I decided to let it happen, but warned if there were any shenanigans, he would be put right back in his room. I, of course, was assuming he wanted to be put in Joey's room for the shenanigans.  I was wrong. Both boys went straight to sleep.  He really and truly just wanted to be in the same room as his brother.  Are you kidding me with the cuteness?  But wait! I went in to check on them, re 'wrap' them in their blankets, and give them one last goodnight kiss.  They were both snoring away, but the best thing was lil' Aaron was in his crib.  He hasn't slept in that crib since Joey came along (when he was 14 months old). I was a bit startled by how emotional it made me for a hot second to see my baby boy, not so much as a baby anymore.  He is such a cool kid.  They all are. 
--- 6 ---
My sister Katie wrote another kick butt blog.  You should read it.  But be careful, she is radical as well- so you might not like it :)
--- 7 ---
Good news folks, for those of you who have been waiting...Joseph Michael has officially passed the rough age!  He is now in the 'so freaking cute, starting to talk' phase!  We made it.  And guys, he is really cute. 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

You're letting your children do WHAT?!?!

How about instead of protecting our children from social media by not allowing it, we teach them how to use it?
And, this is radical, how about we do it when they are young, real young.

I remember giving a presentation a few years back. I suggested I might give my child access to ‘facebook’ as young as five years old.  Honestly, I thought people were going to fall off their chairs.  Later that night, I was hanging out with some friends and we had a heated exchange.  How could you do that?  They asked.  Five is so young.

Here’s how I could do that friends.
Facebook, twitter, Instagram and the like…these are only tools.  Nothing more, nothing less. 
There are few things that make me cringe more than when people get all philosophical about the demise of humanity due to social media or technology.

‘facebook is ruining communication because…’
‘twitter has reduced the human language to nothing more than sensationalism…’
‘social media is dangerous for the following reasons…’

Because it is just not true.
These tools CANNOT be dangerous in themselves.  They are NOT harmful.  Any more than a pencil would be the perpetrator of harm  if I wrote a threatening note to someone.  The pencil’s not the problem, the person behind the pencil is.

I do concede the way people are using these tools is incredibly dangerous both to souls and to emotional well being.  The irresponsibility I see on the regular in the social media world overwhelms me.  Heck, sometimes it makes me want to stop engaging in this human experience, but then I remember, if I don’t…who will?  So, every day I engage in the world of social media.  Sometimes I have good days, when respect is shown and messages are pushed further along.  Sometimes I have bad social media days…when insults are thrown and mistakes are made.  But in all those things- I try not to blame the tool.
I gave a talk a couple weeks ago and asked young people to show me, with their arms as a scale, how much parents understand the social media world.  Teens always answer ‘very, very little’.  But this one girl rocked my world; she took her arms and folded them behind her back, indicating parents are so clueless they shouldn't even be on the scale.  And you know what? I don’t want that type of relationship with my children when it comes to social media.

Obviously there is a crisis with social media usage in that many people, adults and children alike make mistakes and don’t think through the things they are posting, or ‘saying’. They are not concerning themselves with written ‘tone’ and are not cautious of things being taken out of context.  The crisis leads many to retreat from the ‘digital highways’ (thanks Pope Francis for that one), or, at the very least, shelter their kids from every aspect of it.

And I kind of get it.

I liken it to a table saw.  A table saw is an incredibly powerful tool. So powerful most would not let children near it.   Many would even hold their breath watching a young teenager using one.  BUT, under the supervision of a caring, loving adult, an adult who knows where the safeties are, an adult who strives to teach…even young children can create something beautiful with a table saw.

Social media is a tool, and, it has the potential to be a dangerous tool, if not cared for and used properly.  We see the danger because we see people REGULARLY using it poorly.  But when used correctly, say, by our Holy Father…how beautiful can it be!  So, my friends, why would I let my five year old use facebook?  Because my plan is to teach them how to make beautiful things with it.

I want to set up a facebook profile and have my child choose proper pictures to put up as their profile. I want to give them quizzes.  Showing them three pictures of themselves and having them pick the right one.
 The one with our address in the background?  Nope, that wouldn’t’ be a good choice.  The one that shows your brother in his diaper? No that would be a silly choice.  The one with you smiling, happy because God made you special?  Yes, let’s use that one!

I want to set up a facebook with my child where only I have the password. 
Would you like to look at your cousin’s pictures?  Great, let’s sign in together.  Oh, you want to again look again? I’m sorry, we already checked it once this week, and we don’t need to check it again.  You see, sometimes people use this tool too much sweetheart, and we want to make sure we use God’s gift just enough to help us stay connected, but not so much it takes away from playing with each other.

I want to set up a twitter for my 8 year old.  You know what we’ll do with that twitter?  As a weekly assignment I will have him listen to the readings at Mass and pick out one line that sticks out.  We will ‘tweet’ that out once a week.  Do you want to know who will be ‘following’ us on twitter?  Only people we trust.  Family members, close friends…we will talk about how important it is that our privacy settings are set high, but also acknowledge we only want to write things that we’d be proud of, because on the internet, nothing can stay too private.

Instagram…should we start one of those?  How awesome for my child at ten to take my smart phone (with the wifi turned off) and go through the neighborhood for a religion assignment, taking pictures of things that show him God’s great glory.  How cool for him to watch me sign in and post them with the hashtag #isawGod #truestory #heexists

Do you see where I am going here friends?  Social media can be used as an awesome POWERFUL tool and we can teach our children, from a very young age, to maneuver it correctly, so that by the time they are teaching us how to use the tools (because the younger generation will ALWAYS be more media savvy than us) they will already know how to USE it prudently.

I don’t want to be misunderstood here. I do not plan on being an especially permissive parent.  My children will not have smart phones (or probably any cell phone for that matter) until they are working teenagers above the age of 16 (we will have a family cell phone). They will not have computers in their rooms (ever), or un-monitored screen time until it is developmentally appropriate.  My husband and  I will be the only keepers of the wifi password in my household and we will be strict about how/when we are using this tool. 

But, I’m hoping by the time they are ready to use social media on their own, they will be comfortable using it correctly, for evangelization and communication…it won’t be a special treat to them, it will be nothing more than a communication tool.  And like other communication tools (language, pen/paper, books, etc…) they will know the proper way to use it.

Papal Selfie :)

 "As I have frequently observed, if a choice has to be made between a bruised Church which goes out to the streets and a Church suffering from self-absorption, I certainly prefer the first.  Those “streets” are the world where people live and where they can be reached, both effectively and affectively.  The digital highway is one of them, a street teeming with people who are often hurting, men and women looking for salvation or hope.  By means of the internet, the Christian message can reach “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  Keeping the doors of our churches open also means keeping them open in the digital environment so that people, whatever their situation in life, can enter, and so that the Gospel can go out to reach everyone.  We are called to show that the Church is the home of all"
- Pope Francis, World Communication's Day 2014

Sunday, March 2, 2014

"I can't remember all the times..."

"...I tried to tell myself to hold on to these moments as they pass" (thank you Adam Duritz)

Monster Jam!
Yesterday, Little Aaron was able to go to ‘Monster Jams’ with Big Aaron as a special treat.  They went downtown to Ford field.  For the last three weeks, it was pretty much the only thing sweet little dude would talk about. “Ipad” time in the morning, consisted pretty much solely of watching Monster Jam videos on youtube, over and over and over again.  He was super geeked up to see his favorite cars and was ready and prepared for the noise level.  I was so excited for him.

Joey realizing he wasn't going
Joey and I said goodbye and Joey completely lost his mind when he realized all this monster jam stuff would not be for him as well.  After they left, the little dude and I sang songs, read books and then I put him to bed.  And then, for the next two hours, I tried so hard not to text- stalk my husband to see how it was going because I wanted them both to stay in the moment.
We considered having the whole family go (sans JP of course).  But it would have been quite the investment and we were fairly certain Joey would not be pleased by the sound level.  And so it was decided that Big Aaron would take him solo.  A daddy/son date.  They were both pretty excited, but you know what? It kind of sucked staying behind.

It kind of sucked knowing that lil’ Aaron was going to be experiencing something super cool, and I wouldn’t be there to experience it with him.  He was going to be creating a memory, he was going to be so excited, and I would only be able to look at pictures from the evening.

Apparently, lil' A wasn't able to pull his eyes away!
When it got close to the time they were going to be home, I sat by the window, so anxious to hear about how their special trip went.  It was so exciting when they came home. First I had to hear about the fries and coke that daddy bought him, but then I heard all about Monster Jams. He was spent from how much fun it was. And I was so excited for him. I looked at the pictures daddy took (praise you Jesus, my husband took a lot of pictures for me) and realized my little dude really is growing up.

It’s funny being a mom.

Even in moments of pure joy, there can be seconds of melancholic sadness.
Sadness realizing your kid is growing up.  Sadness realizing there will be MANY things your children will experience without you. I had a bit of reflection as I waited by the window for Big A’s car to show up and my boy to jump out of the car and tell me all about his fantastic adventure.

I was keenly aware I will probably sit on that same couch, waiting for my sons to come home from all different sorts of adventures, adventures they will take without me.

I watched a movie a couple weeks ago.  Call me shallow (I’ll take it) but it was one of the better movies I have seen in my lifetime.  It was called ‘About Time’.  I don’t want to spoil it, but the ‘lesson’ at the end was fantastic!  It reminded that every second you live, is the last time you will ever live that second…so make sure to make it good.  Today, is the last time time JP will be his age. Today is the last time Joey will smile in the way he is smiling today.  Today, is the last time lil’ A will sit by me exactly as he is right now, on his belly, watching monster jam videos, while gently kicking his legs and hitting my arm.  We won’t have these moments again.
Right before he left me for 'all the fun"
So, it’s important to live them.
Yesterday, in my son and husband’s joy, I was VERY aware at how fast it is going by and how special it is.  And the need to savor the moments we are together, because there will be many, many moments when we are not.

Happy Sunday friends.  Hug your kids!
Joey recovered, we gave him a flower!
Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary for the last post of 7 in 7 :) Hope you enjoyed my week's worth of writing!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Today's blog...

...will be short. let's not lie, I'm only writing it because I agreed to write seven blogs in seven days with jen's link up at Conversion Diary.

I thought about doing a thing where I talk about all the blogs I read. But that would take a long time, because I'd have to add links and everything.

I thought about telling you about my favorite tv shows.  But, honestly, Downton's finale was kind of dumb, and I am not sure you want to hear about zombies or housewives.

I thought about writing about social media for elementary and middle school students. BUT- that one's still marinating.

So, I guess you just get this.  a blog about the things I thought about blogging about.  And maybe, as a treat, I will tell you about my color splotch theory.

Imagine if every time you sinned, you'd get a splotch on your face.  And those splotches would be universally color coated, so we would know the sins of everyone else. I think I'd be far less likely to sin, or at the very least- VERY aware of my sinfulness.  I would REALLY worry about what other people thought about me.

kind of sad right?
Because, you know, we have a God that loves us and who knows every time we fail and every time we do good.  And, for me at least, it's less motivation to do good, than if other people could see me.

You know the drill.

work in progress.