Friday, November 29, 2013

Please Pray for a Miracle

My heart is so heavy y'all. As I sat up late trolling the internet tonight, I saw news of a friend and former co-worker from my Steubenville days whose sweet baby girl was delivered via emergency c-section earlier this week after a placental abruption.

She is so, so beautiful, and her parents just got the devastating news that she is most likely profoundly brain damaged from the oxygen deprivation she suffered at birth. Will you all join me in praying for a miracle for this family? This sweet baby is their fifth, and all of their children are completely adorable. Her mama was almost exactly as far along as I am now, and my heart aches for them in a way I cannot even begin to explain.

Her dad is blogging her progress and recovery here, and there is a page set up here to help cover their expenses as they commute hours to and from the NICU and care of their four other young children. Please pray, pray, pray for a miracle for Lillian Faustina Maria.

St. Lillian of Cordoba, pray for us!

St. Faustina, pray for us!

Our Lady of Loretto, pray for us!

St. Kateri, Lily of the Mohawks, pray for us!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Snapshots of a SAHM

This week. Oh, this week.

It's Wednesday, which is technically the halfway mark, but dammit, it's Thanksgiving eve and Dave got home from work early and I'm calling the game. Did you hear that, universe? I'M CALLING THE GAME.

So I'm nesting like a mother loving emperor penguin up in here, and every last thing that Target has to offer for under $10 is fair game. Fair game, I say. Get in my cart.

Some background information, before we go any further:

These are my exterior children, in race cars crafted from humidifier boxes. I was proud of myself on the day this occurred. (If you enlarge the picture to better glimpse my huge, pregnant upper arms, I wish you ill.)

 Before we go any further, this is what I look like right now. I feel like this excuses me from a whole host of  societal constraints and cultural norms. Like not photographing your nearly naked children in cardboard boxes and calling it a 'craft.'

Besides, we've been trying to eat well.
Heck, we even took a field trip to the aquarium after breakfast one morning. This fish may or may not be dead on my kitchen counter right now. My sister's fiancé abandoned him here to die before the holiday, so be it upon his head if Fire has passed into eternity.

But where was I? Oh yes, Target.

This, for the record, is what my local Target looked like at 5:45 pm this fine Thanksgiving eve:

That is a tent. With grown ass men camping inside of it, in anticipation of the EIGHT PM OPENING TOMORROW EVENING.

May God have mercy on us all.

Moving on.

Before hitting up Satan's giant red bullseye, I wandered into Home Goods where I snagged this pretty jute rug made in India for the reasonable song of $19.99:
How legit does my office look now? Practically business chic.
Target yielded these little golden beauties, confusingly titled "dimensional wall applications," which look kind of cool but make my husband a little nervous. For $9.99 I probably could have made them myself out of tissue paper, for that is their composite. But. But…I never would have. And thus ended every argument for buying crafty shit made in China and pre-assmebled at some big box store anywhere, ever.

And now, some gratuitous shots of my favorite places and spaces in the house right now:

My uncluttered and simple bathroom counter. Sparkling clean, thanks to the flip side of my nightly makeup cleansing cloth.
Our medicine cabinet, divested of all but the daily necessities. My mind feels cleansed just looking at it.
Relatively freshly manicured toes + this year's jingle jams from Costco + a new, fluffy bathmat that, as far as I know, has never been pooped on by a human being.

I hope that tomorrow finds all your turkeys trotting and all your Thanksgiving dreams coming true. And I hope that none of you are planning on doing a lick of shopping to mark the day. A pox on grey Thursday, and merry feasting to all.

(For whatever it's worth, I don't know what in the hell is up with the formatting of this post but I'm betting on all my shetland ponies that you people don't come here for graphics and/or design. C'est la computer illiteracy.)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Clarence the Christmas Angel does Starbucks

(Alternatively titled: the subtle differences which separate creepy old men from classy ones.)

So I'm in line this morning jonesing for a cup of disappointing American coffee when I feel him sidle up behind me. It's less of a tangible sense of encroachment than it is a sort of psychological feeling of oppression: my personal space is being invaded.

I thought Italy had all but stripped me of my ability to sniff out, let alone take offense at, close-creeping bubble encroachers, because son of a nutcracker, once you've ridden the 66 bus from Termini to … anywhere, you're pretty well acquainted with the art of the public grope. But there I was, maternity stretch pants + husband's t-shirt + dirty old Target fleece getting aaaaaaall kinds of cozy with the lady in line in front of me because I could feel him creeping, edging, scooting closer and closer. For every scoot I scooted, he shuffled a half step closer until I was all but pinned against the chilled artisan sandwich and wilted salad case, and then…he made his move.

"Is that your Christmas present you're carrying?" he asked with a wink and a smile, gesturing to my ill-clad midsection.

I immediately relaxed. He wasn't creepy. He was just shockingly direct and old school and gesturing openly at my laughably humongous belly and somehow…that was immediately forgivable in my mind.

"Heh. Yep, she's due Christmas day."

He smiled indulgently and announced, "that'll never happen."

I assured him that I sure hoped not, to which he responded by flinging one arm around my shoulders and guffawing heartily: "As long as she comes by the end of the year. The tax write off and all…though as a father of three, I can tell you it won't make a dent!"

He pealed off in a gale of hearty laughter, and even though 3 minutes earlier I had been aware of his creeping encroachment on my public domain, the fact that he now had his arm around me and was cracking wise on my due date was somehow not only inoffensive, but comforting.

He gave my shoulders a quick squeeze before looking me over with an appraising eye: "You don't look like you've gained much. You probably have, but you look good. You're doing a good job."

He made a few more positive observations about my old school taste in coffee (simple drip, room for cream) and we wished each other a happy Thanksgiving before I was on my way. But I tell you, I floated out the door of that strip mall Starbucks. Because I didn't look like I'd gained much…I probably had, but I looked good.

Thanks, Clarence. You had no idea how badly I needed to hear that this morning, or how your words would ring in my ears as I tipped the scales at my appointment later in the afternoon. Yeah, yeah, that number is appalling ... but I'm doing a good job. My creepy-turned-charming-Christmas-angel-disguised-as-old-guy-in-Starbucks told me so.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pelican Mother

Yesterday I was absolutely fried by 5 pm. When Dave got home from work I flung the kids and the keys at him and begged that he take them to the gym – and the waiting kid’s club. He was more than obliging and as he loaded them into the minivan I wondered why oh why they are always (okay, usually) so very agreeable for him when they’ve been testing and trying and sometimes tormenting me all day long. Maybe his enthusiasm levels are sufficiently high to mask his weakness from them, and maybe, like hungry jungle predators, they’re less interested in pursuing a healthy, challenging piece of prey?
Maybe I’m over thinking this analogy.
At any rate, I threw some stir fry together, texted my beloved that dinner was waiting on the stove, and fled the house in search of some much-needed solitude. I ended up at Panera, seated across from a table filled with video game design students. Which, from an ambient noise level perspective is somewhere on the list in between Dungeons and Dragons aficionados and frat boys. I ordered a turkey sandwich, which was assembled sans turkey, a reality which escaped my notice for at least 4 bites. From a first world perspective, this night off was going downhill, and fast.
Hastily tucking my impulse-purchased holiday edition of “Real Simple” under my flappy upper arm, I dumped my sad sandwich and made for the door. As I drove aimlessly through the streets of suburban Denver, I found myself turning into the parking lot of a nearby parish.
“Alright, Lord. I’ll stop for Adoration. But like, 5 minutes. Because I’m sooooo tired. And also, Hobby Lobby is still open. You know, arts and crafts.” (I have a mystical union with Christ. Don’t hate.)
I parked in the pleasantly packed lot and lumbered my way to the chapel, picking a pew toward the front right and collapsing into a mass of exhausted mama. I’m sure the lady behind me thought I’d either just gotten dumped or lost my best friend, but the heavy breathing was 100% pregnancy induced, and the pathetic slump forward onto the kneeler was purely a function of my back giving out.
I raised my weary eyes to the monstrance and waited for … something. Mystical union aside, I’m not super adept at mental prayer, and I’m certainly not in the habit of receiving discernible messages from the Lord. But last night, He showed up. Surprisingly quickly.
As I contemplated Him, there physically present before me in a tidy circle of bread, my eyes wandered to the image embossed on the marble beneath the altar: a mother pelican with three baby birds in her nest, tearing at the flesh surrounding her heart to feed them. (This sounds more gruesome than it is, but trust me, in white marble, it’s tasteful.) I bounced my eyes from the scene of avian carnage to the clean, gleaming monstrance and back again.

That’s You. I thought in wonder. That’s you and that’s also…me? 
As I sat in quiet contemplation, a warm sense of camaraderie and comprehension filled my aching brain. The correlation between the early Church’s imagery of Christ’s love for His children and a mother physically suffering – even to the point of self destruction – for her chicks was not lost on me. Indeed, for the first time I found myself profoundly moved by this imagery which so aptly summed up the hours of my day.
See, He seemed to whisper, this is how I love you. This is how I designed you to love, too. You are more than capable of this, but not apart from Me. And days like today? The hard days? That’s you trying to go it alone, without Me.
I squinted at pelican-mommy’s tattered flesh, wincing at the analogy. They’ll kill her, I mentally grumbled.
Yes. That’s the point. She’ll give and give until there’s nothing left to sustain her but Me. But if she asks, I will provide the grace. I will not allow her to be overcome. But she has to ask.
This back and forth continued for the better part of half an hour, (and lest anyone get the wrong impression, I’m not legit hearing voices from Heaven or anything of that nature, it’s just sort of … impressions, an interior knowledge that God is speaking my way.) He is kind of frank with me, truth be told, so I’m not sure a differing temperament from my own would be terribly comforted by our conversations. He knows what I need though, and that looks more like drill sergeant-meets-father than guidance-counselor-meets-life-coach for this stubborn choleric. But I digress. The point is, I showed up last night, somewhat begrudgingly, and He more than met me there.
As I contemplated mama bird and her carnivorous offspring, I realized how much I’ve been trying to do on my own. How little I’ve asked for His grace. How quickly I’ve arrived at the daily conclusion: I’ve got this only to meet Dave at the door 9 hours later, a quivering mess of nerves and anger and exhaustion, informing him that I most definitely do not got this, or much of anything else I’m attempting to accomplish at this moment in my life. I’m a mess. This life? This life is a mess. And that mother bird tearing at her own flesh, literally emptying her heart to feed her children? That’s a hot mess. A hot, bloody, brutal mess…and yet, this is His model to us. This kind of love. That level of sacrifice. Those needy, searching, desperate little mouths.
How can I love like that? The short answer is simply, I can’t.
But He can. And through Him, I can, too. But not without asking for it. Not without inviting Him in to step over the messiness and the disaster of my own failed attempts and to make a grand, clean, pride-shattering sweep of the whole thing.
Come in, Lord. I begged him, my not-turkey sandwich still resting heavily in my ribcage. I can’t do this. Feed my babies. Show me how to love them like You do.
I believe that He will. As I swept breakfast from under the table this morning I pictured their neediness literally tearing my flesh apart, exposing the selfishness, the pride, the inability to love … and I was glad. I am still disturbed by the prevalence of gluten free waffle crumbs on my kitchen chairs, and I will still wince when I get poop underneath my fingernails at some point today, but I am still glad. They’re my living, breathing invitations to love like Him. It’s up to me to RSVP.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

5 Favorites

Joining Hallie the sweet for this lazy mom's blog favorites of the week.

1. This guy:

We'll celebrate 4 years on Thursday and we're marking the occassion with a late-night showing of the Hunger Games (okay, I am actually sneaking out of the house with 2 out of 6 siblings and leaving my saintly spouse at home) followed by a glorious weekend away at a hotel downtown where my itinerary includes napping followed by a light nap and then some overnight napping. And maybe a nice child-free Mass on Sunday morning. My little sis is watching the boys for 2 nights, so pray for her. Babymoon for the win!

2. My third trimester ring.

Dave gifted this ring to me last time around, and while it took my fingers sausages a little longer to reach the "swollen beyond all recognition" stage with this little bambina, I had to pull it out last week and honestly, if I'm going to have to slip off my wedding set, this is a decent consolation prize. There's just something about fat, naked fingers on my 9 month pregnant self that I cannot handle, and since I seem to be spending the majority of our married life (thus far) cooking babies, it seemed a reasonable (and modest) investment to make. Might I recommend you baby mamas out there look into a similar arrangement with your honey?

3. Chapter books with Joey.

Continuing our foray into the literary depths beyond "What color is my digger?" and "Guess how much I freaking love you let's talk about it till we vomit," I received an advance copy of this super cute chapter book aimed at, I would guess, 6-10 year old girls, penned by a friend (and fellow FOCUS alum) of Dave's. We've torn through 5 chapters in a single evening thus far and by all accounts, the 3-year-old male demographic is also highly satisfied by this adorable tome in the tradition of "Junie B. Jones," (or so I seem to vaguely recall from my days of reading to my younger sisters.) It's funny, cute, and so far there's not a lick of saccharine piety to be found, which is a rare animal in modern Catholic children's fiction, at least in my limited exposure. I'll do a real review with a giveaway when we've finished it. I'll even try to keep Joey's grubby pawing to a minimum.

4. I showed up for a blind play date this morning looking all kinds of Amish (or maybe female Duggar) in my latest sartorial piece de jour, but since finding, killing, and dragging home this maxi (new with tags!) at Goodwill 2 weeks ago, I've rarely taken it off. (Mine's grey)

I didn't think I could ever rock the maxi trend, but then I got enormous and the temperatures, well, they're still resting comfortably in the 50-60 degree range most days here in sunny Denver, so my s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d out Old Navy reliables are collecting dust in the drawer while I prance around owning my starts-with-a-J-name like nobody's business. Also, the thing is a fricking medium and it fits better than my husband's gym shorts, so Liz Lange, if you're out there and you're reading, I'd like to find you and kiss you right on the mouth. Or something like that.

5. My new (to me) carseat, washed, detailed, and sitting pretty in Princess Genevieve's decorated nursery. It's heavy, but not as heavy as our old Chicco was, so I'll settle for mildly sculpted triceps and a strained upper back this time around.

I am nesting into eternity with this bebe, and not only does she have a bunting strung over her crib and the entire wardrobe she'll need for her first year of life washed, labelled, and color-coded in her sweetly organized drawers, but now she has a safe ride home from the hospital to boot. And okay, while it's a little white trash to buy a car seat off of Craig, my sister pointed out that it's technically not any worse than putting your third born into a seat her two older brothers already bombed out. And besides, we left that one in Italy. Can't beat a seat with three (3! WTF?) bases for $50 bucks. Seriously, who gets the third base? A neighbor? The coffee guy at my usual place? An unmarried younger sibling in need of penance? Maybe I'll hold a lottery.

On that note, may the odds be ever in your favor. I've gotta go practice french braiding my shoulder length bob and find something to make a quiver out of before tomorrow night...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Big Time

Internet, I have arrived. And by that I mean I shelled out for a real, live .com for the 'ol blog, so that now whomever is searching google for the following pressing reasons, as was apparently the case this past week:

  • Mama Needs Coffee
  • Medium length bobs with bangs
  • Shoulder length bob 
  • Mama sex free (um…)
  • Deepest masculine desires (I really can't comment)
  • Mama needs coffers (true) 
  • Caffeine during pregnancy harmful (emphatically, no)
  • Free range toddler (indeed)

will be directed swiftly here, to 

Watch out, world.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Blinded by the Life

I'm a little bit spoiled in that I have 4 younger sisters (and 2 little brothers, but I'll kindly leave them out of this) and while two of them are out of town working the family business of racking up dolla dolla bills at FUS (to be paid back over a lifetime of SAHM-ing), 2 live very conveniently close to me.

Okay, full disclosure: one just took up temporary residence in my basement with her brood of blonde offspring. The other is a blushing bride-to-be with a knack for taming nephews into gentlemen of sorts, or at least getting them to bed in a reasonably efficient fashion.

Bridal sister was kind enough to have mercy on a desperate, waddling woman and snuck me out of the house mid-morning today for a little third trimester pedicure action, which you long-term readers might recognize as a cry of desperation/induction method round these parts. Such is not yet the case as I am but a tender 35 weeks ripe (poor, poor choice of verbiage there) but the pampering was glorious, nonetheless. And I must say, I think I'm getting a thicker (perhaps it's all the water retention?) skin, because when my petite and beautiful pedicurist leaned back and eyed up mount midsection and proclaimed "you huge, you have big baby in there!" I merely batted my puffy eyes and smiled indulgently down at her whilst she scrubbed my calloused heels.

"Yes, I make large children. It's my specialty."

I folded my hands serenely over my massive girth and settled deeper into my massage chair, sighing in relaxation. I snuck a glance over at Hillary and saw that all was not well with her soul, however.

Mouth agog, the future Mrs. blinked at me in horror, a flush creeping over her face and neck on my behalf. I leaned over and patted her dear arm and assured her that this was not all that unusual and yes, strangers say this kind of shit to pregnant women all.the.time. Sometimes it's nice stuff, sometimes it's not so nice stuff, and sometimes it's just a straight up cultural collision of inappropriate-to-say-to-your-best-friend-let-alone-your-customer/a-complete-stranger.

We continued our sisterly date over lunch, reflecting on the utter weirdness of hearing people's internal monologues vomited on of the sidewalk in front of you, thanks to a simple biological process known as procreation. I reminded her that in a culture of death like the one we inhabit, new life is always a little bit shocking and a little bit in your face, so to speak.

I honestly think people can't help but blurt in front of pregnant women because, frankly, it isn't every day you see a human growing out of the front of somebody. Maybe in some areas of the world it is, but in medium-sized-metropolis USA, it sure ain't the norm.

On good days I think of these little encounters as opportunities for evangelization, or at least much-needed doses of humility. On bad days I stare morosely into the freezer at 11 pm and think about eating the rest of whatever ice cream flavor is currently growing a layer of ice crystals.

While I can't promise I won't pen weekly odes to gestational obesity from here on out, I can only assume that this is going to become a somewhat regular theme for me to touch on here as I increase and my sense of dignity decreases. Or something like that.

At any rate, my toes look amazing, and it turns out I chose a super appropriately named shade of pink:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Do You Speak Toddler?

So I have this three year old. Don't try to tell him he's three though, because he will assure you (As he assures me multiple times a day) that he is 'a really big man' and also, 'really, really handsome.' He might also tell you he is going to be a priest and a daddy, and that he might have babies some day, but not in his tummy because he is 'a real man.'

If real men spend 90% of their waking hours asking questions, telling on their younger brothers, and fashioning straight objects into weapons, then he is Mr. Marlboro himself. I'll let him do the rest of the talking just to prove it to you.

At bedtime, after somebody got to stay up late to watch the first half of the Notre Dame game:

Joey: (sobbing) John Paul is cryyyyyying.
JP: (indistinguishable moaning)
Joey: (in a piercing wail) He is really crying and I can't like that noise!

While driving home one evening:

Jenny: Buddy, do you want to stay up with Daddy and watch the football game for a little bit?
Joey: Well I'm really sleepy. Maybe just a little bit of football and a hot bath. Can I get a hot bath? And a drink?
Jenny: Would you like a cigar, too?
Joey: Just a hot bath, Mommy

Upon discovering the requisite Millenial tramp stamp mommy sports on her unfortunate lower back:

Joey: Why you got a flower on your booty, Mommy?
Jenny: I made a silly decision when I was younger and now I have to live with it.
Joey: Daddy doesn't have a flower on his back
Jenny: Nope, Daddy was not quite as silly as I was when he was a kid
Joey: Daddies don't have flowers, because they have penises
Jenny: ...

Wandering through the family room, unaware he is being observed:

Joey: All we have to do is get our SHINE ON!
Jenny: What?
Joey: A big giant guard
Jenny: Excuse me?
Joey: I got away on a telescope
Jenny: ... sips coffee

Looking very concerned upon waking:

Joey: Are my teeth grayish, Mommy?
Jenny: What?
Joey: Just a yittle bit gray, do you think? Maybe if I sleep with a toothbrush...

Busting into our room at o'dark thirty:

Joey: (flings open door, slamming it into the wall) Good morning! I'm ready for gluten free pancakes!
Dave: (blink, grumble, snort)
Joey: All you have to do is get your shine on. (Can you guess what his favorite song is?)
Jenny: Are you real?
Joey: I'm really hungry for gluten free pancakes

Dragging an empty Pellegrino box through the living room at 8 am:

Joey: We just need some more wine. To get on the airplane!
Jenny: ...
Joey: Everybody needs more wine!
Jenny: ...

While driving through far-eastern rural as all get out northern Colorado to visit friends:

Joey: What I'm seeing out there, Mommy?
Jenny: Llamas. Those are llamas, they have nice fur that makes sweaters
Joey: (silence)
Jenny: They're from Peru. Aren't they cool looking?
Joey: Do llamas do bad things to people, Mommy?
Jenny: ...

Boasting about his newfound ability to stand and deliver at the potty:

Joey: I pee like a man. I'm a real big man!
Jenny: Yep
Joey: Like Peyton Manning. He pees like a man. These are his undies.
Jenny: ...

He is a delightful, challenging, confounding, and hilarious little housemate. I just wish I could figure out the source of his rich interior monologue. Because I'll have one of whatever he's having.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Huge with Child

Here's my advice to all you gestating women of size out there in cyberspace: don't ever, ever agree to appear on camera in your third trimester of your third pregnancy in roughly three years.


I'm filming some Catholic content for a forthcoming project spearheaded by a major Christian media company, and while I'm flattered (and deeply, deeply confused) to have been tapped to speak on parenting, I'm now reeling from the approximately 6.5 minutes I just spent reviewing unedited footage of myself talking about discipline and sleep deprivation while looking absolutely huge. Huger than I imagined myself in my wildest nightmares and certainly much, much bigger than those floor to ceiling mirrors at the gym are willing to admit. Oh holy hell, only 7 weeks to go, how much bigger can I get?

At least I'm in the good 'ol USA where perhaps a handful of other women can relate to my significant swelling in stature. Roman mammas would have run screaming from me in the piazzas, I presume, stilettos clicking hastily away down cobblestoned alleys, errant cigarette butts tossed aside, still smoldering, while clutching their petite pregnant bellies in horror. Bellies which more closely resembled  a taut, youth league basketball stuffed under a thin veneer of cashmere.

I love these little people so much, but they have destroyed my body. Not just altered it, but absolutely destroyed it. I just have to believe that I am being remade, stretch mark by stretch mark and dimple by wrinkle, into someone more beautiful and more worthy of the immense dignity of this vocation. But no wonder, no wonder motherhood is so denigrated by our society: it's appalling. Not on everyone, certainly, and not at all times, but when it comes down to it, it's basically biological war being waged on a woman's physique. And what mothers - what I - choose to do in response reveals the deepest held beliefs about the worthiness and the nature of the call. Do I really, really believe there is some higher purpose to what I'm doing here, aside from propagating the gene pool and ticking the next box on my life-long to-do list?

After looking at myself looking like that, I sure as hell better believe it. Because otherwise why, why, oh why would anyone undergo this kind of searing, soul-scarring transformation, this death and dying to self and to the world and to one's image in the mirror...all for love of another? And then possibly another. And another. 

I hope this is not coming across as some bizarre mashup of piety and self-loathing. I'm honestly stunned by my own appearance, and stunned by my reaction to it all the more so. I might hate what I'm seeing, but I have the emotional and spiritual distance for the first time in all my life to realize that she isn't fully me, that I'm more than the sum of the camera angles or the reflections tipping my own image back to me. So is it horrifying? Decidedly so. But there's a degree of detachment that I haven't experienced before, and that's pretty surprising. In a good way.

So here I lounge, debating between a long, hot bath in the semi-clean tub only recently vacated by two pair of toddler buns clutching melting Klondike bars in their grubby fists versus a nice hour in bed with my current dystopian young adult fiction addiction of the moment (Allegiant, the final book in the Divergent trilogy, FYI), and while my larger-than-life image will be forever burned into my retinas, I don't think I'll lose sleep over it tonight. At least not as much sleep as will be claimed by sciatica and heartburn.

And so to all you other big, pregnant mamas out there: I salute you. It's not easy being stuffed full of life in a culture that gluts itself on slender death, and it's certainly not always easy to look yourself squarely (roundly?) in the swollen face and say, bring it on, I got this, I was made for this. But you're doing it. We're doing it. 

Motherhood: it's not for the faint of heart (or for the small of pants.)  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Secular and Sacred

I didn't really know 'doing' Halloween versus opting out was such a hot button topic until this year. Growing up we wouldn't have dreamed of missing out on trick or treating, (hence my participation as one of the Spice Girls when I was in TENTH grade. Somebody should have punched me and my 4 co-conspirators off their front porch steps in retrospect.) but we weren't allowed to be anything 'creepy' or evil, which was loosely defined as being of the occult. So witches, vampires, and Satan himself were out, but pretty much anything else was in.

I guess I saw fit to continue allowing my children to participate in this vein, since we're both citizens of the kingdom of Heaven (hopefully) and also of the kingdom of man. I mean, we celebrate all the other secular holidays too, and Thanksgiving is pretty close to the tip top favorite of my list, so I don't see why we can't kick off the holiday season October 31st. Plus, I read this fabulous piece last week and was like, yeah, see, this ain't no stinking pagan ritual. So there, Hallmark channel.

All that being said, I hate horror anything. The last horror movie I saw on purpose was The Glass House, I think, and it was on a semi-blind date with a townie from Steubenville who ended up being slightly underaged, a fact that didn't reveal itself until the moment he ordered up a Mountain Dew to match my Yvengling at our fine dinner beforehand at Applebee's. The moral of the story: horror movies are awful. Also, I don't do well with blood or surprises. Ask me how parenting is going so far...

Without further ado, here is photographic evidence that my will to participate in seasonal festivities has not been totally thwarted by pregnancy hormones. Yet.

Exhibit A: Superman and the duck.

Exhibit B: St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, and St. Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr.

Please note the bloodied cannonball protruding from Loyola's knee, and the blood-thirsty lion clinging to Antioch's back. You know, he did pray to be ground in the teeth of the lions that his body may become the wheat for God. Or something pretty close to that.

We trick-or-treated on Thursday night (or rather, Dave and Joey hit the block while JP and I retired after visiting one solitary house, at which point I elected to wait in a bubble bath until Joey brought me his candy to "gluten screen." Poor kid, can't eat a single Twix, I simply had to help him out...)

On Friday morning we lined up all our saint dolls and icons on the kitchen table, lit a bunch of candles, and made pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes while rocking out to this tune over and over again before hitting up an ill-planned noon Mass.

Some of our saintly crew.
We hit up an even more awesome Feast that night with our friends the Servants of Christ Jesus, where many, many calories were consumed, bonfires were admired, and where Ignatius of Antioch took home the night's top prize for best costume because, come on, a bloody lion.

The next day we paid a quick visit to the Adoration chapel at a nearby parish to pray for our deceased friends and relatives and all the holy souls in Purgatory, and then Target. Because everyone knows that Target on a Saturday morning is a kind of preparation for Purgatory, especially when you bring along your husband and a pair of hangry toddlers.

So there you have it, my two cents into the Catholic blogosphere on the nature of Halloween, and why it's totally cool to nerd out and celebrate the trifecta of Hallow/Saints/Souls Days.