Letter to a Priest

Dear Fr. Back-Up,

I am a good Catholic woman, but I am going to stop attending your church.

I was so angry during your last homily that I almost walked out in the middle. You’ve done that before, made me angry while pontificating, and I think I’m going to opt out.

First, you mentioned a pastor in Canada who is being sent to prison for a hate crime. You say he was simply preaching the Word of God, but Father, I read that letter that got him in trouble. It was a hate-filled diatribe against homosexuals, whom he believes are trying to oppress straight culture and “consume” children. He “declares war”. If that is not advocating for violence against homosexuals, I don’t know what is.

He doesn’t present one well-reasoned ecumenical argument against gay marriage. (And I know they are out there.)

He wasn’t preaching the Word of God. I don’t recall Jesus saying anything about declaring war on anybody, including homosexuals. He (Jesus, that is) advocated for forgiveness and love. The letter I read advocated for neither.

Second, “the world” doesn’t hate me because I’m Roman Catholic. “The world” doesn’t hate me because I’m a parent, and no one hates my children. “The world” doesn’t hate elderly people and want to kill them because they’ve fulfilled their usefulness. I’m not sure where you get the idea that “the world” is out to get us and is filled with hate against us.

And even if a person or a few purport to hate us, for whatever reason, shouldn’t they be met with love and forgiveness? Isn’t hate a sign of ignorance and prejudice, and shouldn’t that be fought on every front — not with violence, but with knowledge? Didn’t Jesus himself sit down with sinners and eschew hypocrites?

I’m not a scholar, and (obviously) I’m not a priest. Maybe I am naive in the belief that I hold that people, basically, are good, and everyone is deserving of love. Ignorance and rudeness should be met with humor and as an opportunity to teach, not as a chance to rant and rail against ignorance and rudeness, and to tell “the world” how righteous one is because one is hated.

In the end, Jesus said, “Forgive them. They know not what they do.” If nothing else, that is a road to take.

In Faith,
A Roman Catholic Mom who Sincerely Hopes to be Elderly Some Day

Meatless Monday: CSA Edition

It’s Michael Pollan‘s fault I joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm.

I am sure I am not alone in declaring that.

Last summer I ended up on the waiting list of Kretschmann Organic Farm, and I started receiving winter boxes, which were chock full of winter veggie and fruit goodness (apples, squash, potatoes, carrots).

I’ve started receiving their summer season boxes this summer. And I love them.

As Dan stated the other day at dinner, “This is how salad is supposed to taste.” Flora, likewise, has declared salads made with their greens, “the best salad I’ve ever tasted.”

This pleases me to no end, for obvious reasons. We’ve gotten mesclun greens, bibb lettuce, arugula, and green leaf lettuce, as well as spinach. So, so good.

The trickiest thing about receiving so much tasty, fresh, organic produce and herbs is, simply, using it all.

I’ve twice had to ditch the Swiss chard because it wilted before I could saute it with garlic. I wanted to make pesto with the sweet pea greens I got the first week, but they wilted before I got to them too.

Much of this, of course, is not having tons of time to cook throughout the week, or for that matter, the weekend. I’ve started making it more of a priority, though, because it’s too depressing to lose these fresh greens. We chow down on salads pretty steadily Thursday through Monday (Thursday is the day I pick up my box), which means eating more at home, which in itself is a relief.

I was hoping to have some new recipes, too, but really, you all know how to make a salad.

I’ve also been getting beets, and here’s what you can do with beets (to my knowledge): roast ’em or boil ’em. We had boiled beets this past weekend (the kids won’t try them yet), and they were so good and sweet. Neither Dan nor I even put anything on them, no butter, no salt, no pepper. And they are super easy: cut off the greens, leaving about 2 inches of the tops; boil for about 40 minutes; cool and peel.


We’ve been getting strawberries, too, and all you need to know about strawberries is they don’t last a day in my house. Between the four of us, we pretty much devour them instantly. I barely get them washed before the kids are eating them — straight, no sugar.

I’d love to get some and have them last long enough to make muffins, but so far, I haven’t managed to hide them fast enough.

I’ll try harder with the blueberries, due to start showing up this week.

If you shop at farmer’s markets, but haven’t tried a CSA yet, I encourage you to sign up for one. Kretschmann’s is just one of many, many options in the Pittsburgh market. Along with the weekly boxes, they email weekly newsletters about what is going on on the farm and with recipes. Someday, maybe this fall, I’m hoping to contact them and take the girls to see where our food comes from.

I not going to get up on any type of locavore, organic foods soapbox here — there are plenty of activists and authors out there who have intelligent, interesting things to say (Michael Pollan being right up there). I’ll just leave you with the first line from Pollan’s book In Defense of Food, which is pretty much all you need to know:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Anxiety at Bay. Kind of.

When I was pregnant with Gabriel, a lot of people I knew were pregnant.

Both of my sisters-in-law, two close friends, and then, of course, all the people we met through our birthing classes, some women I met online at a TTC site, etc.

Here I am, I am pregnant again eight years later, and a lot of people I know are pregnant.

Now obviously the population in my daughters’ daycare and pre-school classrooms indicate that there were plenty of pregnant women running (or waddling) around five- and three-plus years ago.

But I didn’t know any of those moms (at the time). One of my SILs was pregnant again, too, when I was pregnant with Kate. That caused me some (extra) anxiety, but everything turned out just fine (her son was born two months after Kate).

Here I am again, trying not to dwell.

It doesn’t mean anything, of course, the number of pregnant women I know personally. Most of them are due in August and September; my coworker gave birth in May; and Stacia gave birth on Mother’s Day; one is due in December (which, technically, I am too); one in January (both Jan. 6 — Kate’s bday — and Jan. 31 — my bday — are lovely days to give birth, Lushie).

And that’s what I keep telling myself.

It doesn’t mean anything. To me. To us. It’s all happy coincidence.

Happy. I want everything to go well for everyone. Everything IS going well, yes?

As you can imagine, the anxious part of me is not wholly convinced.

As an example, I spend time trying not to overthink stupid things. Like being on Twitter yesterday, where many of my tweeps are talking about having their second babies, and there are a lot with a boy having another boy and those with a girl having another girl.

And someone tweets, “I just can’t figure out how most of you arranged to be due at the same time, and with matched sets.”

And someone tweets back, “We’ll have to see what @redpenmama is having to make it official.”

And I tweet, “I already have a matched set!”

And the rest of the night (and STILL) I wish I had added something else. Something like, “Three of a kind beats a pair! :-)” or “We will happily accept a one-off.”

Because I’ve got a paranoid streak. A paranoid streak that insists that the fates are listening, and I can be punished for stupid remarks like that.

And maybe I should be getting some counseling (oh, the irony) or look into pregnancy-safe anti-anxiety drugs.

And this is where prayer comes in. Prayer and deep breathing. And if you felt like kicking in a little of the former, it sure would help a mama out.


Dan calls.

“I just wanted to tell you, Kate came into the kitchen this morning. She said she had a dream about the baby.”

“Oh!” I say.

“She said the baby was drawing.”

I laugh.

“So I asked her if the baby was a boy or a girl. She said a boy.”

It must be the pregnancy hormones, because I think this is the sweetest story ever, and I’m a little teary-eyed.

Week 16

Maybe I’m the only one who does this, and I don’t know if it’s a control thing or a mom thing (or some terrifying blend of the two), but when I don’t feel good, I try very hard to ignore it.

I mean, I’ll bitch about not feeling good, but in general I try to soldier on, and work (unless I’m contagious), and take care of my kids, and do my laundry. I will try, especially with something like unrelenting nausea (what other people may mistakenly refer to as “morning sickness”) to convince myself that I don’t feel that bad, and it’s 80% mental, or whatever.

And then, I get better, or start feeling better, and with clear 20-20 hindsight, I can say, “Wow. I really did feel like shite.”

Which is all to say: The unrelenting nausea has subsided. And it was bad. Bad, bad, bad, and for a damn long time. Six weeks of unrelenting nausea.

Truly, after these past two weeks of feeling good I suddenly realize how awful I felt for how long.

Thank God that’s over.

Now, I am still pretty wiped out at the end of the day, but as my father sagely pointed out on the phone recently, “Your days are still pretty full. Anyone would be wiped out.” And I’m no longer falling asleep (read: passing out) while my children are watching their night time show, so that’s progress.

I’ve given into maternity pants, because, really, I had to. I realize that I have to get my hands on some decent summer and work maternity wear, but I haven’t gone shopping or trolled the Internet yet. I’m in denial that I may have to spend some money. And I’m kinda lazy.

But I’m feeling good. I feel little flutters from Le Bud, but nothing like the constant motion that is to come. I’m looking forward to those kicks, even when they are up into my diaphram or directly on my bladder. I like that part of pregnancy. It’s very comforting to me.

I think a lot about the end of November. I think a lot about having a baby to bring home. I’m trying to think positive. Eyes on the prize, and all.

I think it’s going to be great.

Random Thoughts: Old Business

Kate & Poop: The switch in Kate’s head that tells her to stop what she is doing and go to the bathroom isn’t working. If taken to the potty, she will go; she’s still occasionally reluctant about pooping; and if left to her own devices, she will simply keep playing until she has pooped her pants.

She says she doesn’t like to be alone in the bathroom, but I tell her to come get me (or one of her daycare aides) and I will go with her.

I’ve stopped getting mad about it because there’s no point.

I don’t know when that switch is going to flip, and I don’t know how to flip it for her.


I declared my intention, a couple of months ago, to walk for autism.

And then I found out I was pregnant.

I am going to bail this year on doing this walk. I feel like I’m letting a friend of mine down, but I also know she would be among the first to let me off the hook, tell me to take it easy and take care of myself.

(In the meantime, if you want to walk, or just want more information, here’s the link.)

It’s going on the calendar for next year, and I hope that other Pittsburgh bloggers will join me!


I got such a great night of sleep this weekend, Saturday to Sunday. I can’t remember the last time I was so well rested.

Not today, that’s for sure.


Dan had a wonderful Father’s Day. We didn’t do much (putzed around the house, ran some errands, had dinner at his sister’s). On the way home, he reached over to take my hand and said, “I had a wonderful Father’s Day. And it’s all your fault.”

I hope everyone’s else day was as good.

PSA: Infant/Baby Etiquette 101

Number One, and I cannot emphasize this enough: Don’t. Touch. The Baby.

Babies are cute. Babies are adorable, and huggable, and squeezable, and lovable.

As a woman inflicted with baby lust for the past 18 months or so, I understand how strong the urge to touch a baby is.

But if you are a stranger, please, please, please, don’t touch the baby.

If you absolutely must touch the baby, please ask the mother and/or father first. Please, when they offer you some Purell, don’t get offended — use it. We don’t know where you’ve been and what your hygiene habits are, and we don’t mean to come off as judgmental, but this is our baby we are talking about, our precious, and the last thing we need is for that baby to pick up something from a well-meaning stranger who couldn’t keep her/his hands to her/his self and bring it home with us, where it may make sleeping, nursing, and otherwise generally adoring our baby more difficult.

Please, don’t touch the baby.

Thank you.

1a. Now obviously, if you’re heading to your BFF’s house to visit with the new parents and their new baby (I hope you’re bringing food!), you are somewhat expected to touch the baby. Please wash your hands first. Thank you!

1b. If on the other hand, you are heading to your BFF’s house, and you would rather not touch the baby — it happens; the newborn head-flop thing makes people, especially men I’ve noticed, extremely nervous — it is okay to beg off. Simply say something to the effect of, “Infants make me nervous. I’ll just look while my wife holds her.” I, for one, have never been offended that someone doesn’t want to hold my baby. As a person with baby issues at one point in my life, I get it, and it’s okay.

Number Two: Don’t judge me for how I am feeding my baby.

If I am using a bottle, I don’t need a lecture from you about how breast milk is best for my baby. For all you know, that bottle has breast milk in it. And even if it doesn’t, it’s none of your damn business.

If I choose to breast feed my infant in public, please look someplace else instead of getting huffy and offended. I know that it’s hard to believe, but breasts are not for selling beer (or cars, or website URLs). They are for feeding babies. I tend to be a modest public feeder, and I prefer to drape a blanket over my shoulder and my child, but some women do not have any qualms about it. (And some babies HATE to be covered. They have a point; you don’t eat with a blanket over your head.) Do us both a favor, and avert your gaze.

It is my baby’s right to eat; it is my right to feed him/her. I don’t need to go to the bathroom to spare you a flash of boobage with a baby’s head latched to it. Do you take your meals in a public restroom?

Dear Lord, I hope not.

Anyhoo, I am not a lactivist, and, frankly, I have no problems with moms who choose to formula feed for whatever reason, so I’m not going to go on and on about this. Just: leave me and my eating baby alone. “Kay? Thanks.

3. (This is a tough one, I admit to being guilty of it.) Try very hard not to exclaim over the size of the baby. “He’s so big!” is just as troubling as “He’s so small!” Few factors that influence a baby’s size (DNA primary among them) are under a parent’s control. About all we parents can do is feed the baby, and hope he/she grows well.

4. If you have opinions about whether moms should stay at home, or work outside the home, you don’t have to share them. Almost every single parent I know has hashed over the options of what to do after the baby is born, and has decided what is best for his/her/their family. I’m sure there is even many a mommy or daddy out there who has gotten six months into decision A and for whatever reason has changed course to go with decision B (or C, for that matter). It’s extremely personal.

5. Don’t tell me what my baby should/should not be wearing. Or how to carry/hold him or her.

Or, really, anything. He/She is MY baby. Weighing in on any of these matters makes you sound like a Judgey McJudgerson. Parenting is the hardest job on the planet (to my experience, so far, anyway), and I am figuring out what works — from socks or no socks, to a sling or a stroller — for me and for my baby. You (I would think, if you’re offering an opinion) have had your turn with your children. And now, it’s mine (and my partner’s).


In the spirit of my follow-up to the pregnancy PSA:

You may absolutely exclaim over how adorable/beautiful/happy my child is.

You may tell me I am doing a good job.

You may: hold open a door, pick up something I have dropped, pick up something my child has dropped (and hand it to ME), and/or offer to hold my bag or umbrella. I’m telling you, along with a baby a parent should get either a third arm or the power of telekinesis.


Okay? What did I forget this time?

PSA: Follow-Up

I was asked via Twitter (and very nicely): If these are the things you can’t ask of or say to a pregnant woman, what can you ask or say?

I think it’s acceptable to say the following.

1. “Congratulations!” After all, if she’s telling you, it’s probably good news. (Unless she’s the prom queen in the high school bathroom. That might be awkward.)

2. “When are you due?”

3. “Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?” (Some moms-to-be will be smart asses and answer this question, “Yes.” Also be advised that the mom-to-be will not know this until week 20/month 5, or later.)

4. Variation on #3: “Will you find out if it’s a boy or a girl?” Hey, some people still like to be surprised.

5. If you hear the term midwife or doula, you may, politely and with no skepticism whatsoever in your voice, inquire about those terms if you have questions. In short, a midwife is a certified nurse-midwife to be exact; they are fully licensed for well-woman and gynecological care, and can deliver babies. They cannot administer medicine (such as pitocin and/or epidurals; a registered nurse, doctor or anesthesiologist has to do that kind of thing). Doulas, on the other hand, are support for the mother, there to encourage and assist her. They are not medical personnel. As I mentioned, labor is not exactly a walk in the park, and sometimes a woman needs all the help she can get.

But don’t, whatever you do for the love of Pete, question a mother-to-be’s judgement to use midwives, doulas, birthing centers, or even have a home birth. How to bring a baby into the world is as intensely personal as the decision to have a baby in the first place.

6. “Do you need anything?” I don’t mean for you to ask this question so you can find out where the couple is registered. Just a more general, “Hey, can I help you out?” This is probably reserved for close friends, rather than co-workers and acquaintances, as the answer may vary from, “Yeah, can you pick me up a caramel latte while you’re out?” to “I need help folding my laundry and bathing my children.”

After the birth: Food is always welcome. Just so ya know.

Moms? Dads? Anything to add?

Random Thoughts: Fresh Air

Sometimes I stumble across things on the Internet, and I think that there is hope for the future — specifically for the future of my children. Watch enough iDisney shows or American Pie/Superbad movies, and you can easily despair.

For example, an online newsmagazine I read linked to this blog by a high school senior. She is attempting to live one month applying the “lessons” she reads in Seventeen magazine.

She seems to me a remarkably self-aware young lady, utterly unpretentious, who is setting out not to tear down Seventeen magazine, but rather to analyze it in terms of practical (or not) advice. Her latest post is even a survey of LBGT teens about their reactions to Seventeen’s general “hot guy”/straight dating vibe. It’s fascinating.

At the same time, of course, she blogged about her prom. She jokingly refers to it “the Most Important and Magical Night of My Teenage Life”, but she is gung-ho in chronicling her experience — and, hey, she has a good time.


Of course reading Jamie’s blog made me think about my teenage self. I remember reading Seventeen and its competition Young Miss (YM). I don’t remember embracing the advice in such magazines — I viewed them much like I view the Cosmos and Glamours of today: entertainment. I don’t think that’s the cynic in me; I just never saw myself in the pages of magazines. (Except, on occasion, Poets & Writers — now there’s wishful thinking!)

I will say, about prom, looking back some *cough* years later, I am honestly glad I attended. It wasn’t life changing (of course not!) but it was a pretty good time with friends. I hope that when the time comes to send off my own girls (and, possibly, boy), I have instilled a healthy attitude about high school in general, and prom in particular. That attitude being that while this is an important time in their lives, and a semi-important event, it’s not the end-all be-all. It’s about learning (academic as well as self-discovery) and friendships. But it’s a stepping stone, not the peak.

I still haven’t reached the peak!


Another uplifting place on the Web is Pittsburgh’s own Secret Agent L blog. SAL traipses around Pittsburgh committing random acts of kindness. She is utterly dedicated to giving people a lift through small presents and sweet words, and of course, she encourages people to, as the saying goes, “Pay it forward.” I especially love her motto, at the end of each of her posts: “Be Kind. No Exceptions.” In a world that values the snark and the petty (especially online), in a world of bad-news headlines and yelling pundits, it’s really refreshing to stumble upon someone doing good for no other reason than she likes to do good!


What are your favorite places to go online when you need a break? What gives you hope that the future is still bright?

Poop Problems, Continued

My younger daughter’s clothes come home from daycare tucked into ziploc baggies. She is back in pull-ups, sometimes in a diaper.

I am discouraged.

The doctor says she is fine, no motor problems. We know that she can poop on the potty; we don’t know why she’s not.

Control. Attention. Motivation (lack thereof).

The doctor says pull back, all the way back. Don’t talk about the potty. Let her poop and pee where she likes (keep her in the pull-ups or diapers). Give her a week, a month. She’s 3; she’s done it before; she’s decide to do it again.

I am fine with this advice. I am tired of the constant monitoring, the constant asking, being told no, the accidents, cleaning pee off the rug and poop out of underpants.

Dan does not like this advice. He wants us to press on, to find the thing that motivates her.

I am afraid if we keep pushing, she will keep pushing back.

Daycare is of like mind with Dan. Kate is on the path to potty training — for six weeks or so, she was proudly, successfully, willingly, cheerfully using the potty.

And then she stopped.

Not coincidentally, it happened about the same time that we told the kids I was having another baby.

Kate can’t control that I am having another baby. She can’t control that I am more tired, and less absent a mommy than usual. She can’t control that in the “big kids” room, she is one of the youngest of the big kids, and sometimes her big sister doesn’t want to play with her.

She can control whether or not she is going to cooperate. She can control (to a certain extent) where she poops.

Dan and I are at a loss, and are trying to find a strategy that we can agree on.

I am tired.