Sunday, January 25, 2015

Upon Further Review

You know the whole brouhaha that Pope Francis stirred up when he said:

Some think that -- excuse the language -- that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood.

You've heard about it once or three thousandce? Well, at first I was upset at his comments, because I mistakenly thought he was saying that Catholic couples with big families were behaving like rabbits.  But what the other Colleen pointed out to me was that he said some people THINK that they have to be like rabbits to be good Catholics.  

See that difference?  It's an important one, because I think at times, I have been in that category myself.  I have thought "Hmmm if I'm trying to be a good Catholic, and I'm truly open to life, and I have the ability to conceive babies so so so super duper easily, then God wants me to have a big family."  

Now I'm not a believer in having as many children as humanely possible without ever considering any other family information.  I learned NFP well during my time at Franciscan, my husband has two theology degrees and teaches it all day every day, and we knew that there were serious reasons a couple could validly use to postpone another baby through NFP.  It was that whole serious reason clause.  What exactly constituted a serious reason?  How about the fact that we have been pretty poor (like barely paying the bills even with the most simplistic lifestyle and government aid in the form of WIC and health insurance assistance)?  Well, we thought that God had always provided for us in the past and trusted He would continue to do so in the future.  We really believed, and still do, that all babies come with "a loaf of bread" and can see, looking back, that all our needs have been met either through work opportunities to increase salaries, or gifts from generous people in our lives.  It seemed hard for us to justify in America, an economic reason being a grave one.  

What about the health of the mother?  Well, luckily I was a young and healthy mom who never had any real issues being pregnant or delivering babies.  Yes, I got morning sickness, but that was par for the course, and I was able to get back to normal pretty soon after having each baby.  No grave reason there.

How about the effect a new baby would have on the other kids in the family?  Again, we felt there was no serious reason for us to abstain for this reason.  Our oldest became a brother at 19 months, and as the babies continued to come, we could only see how much the other children benefited from the gift of siblings.

I would often turn to the Catholic readings and blogs for clarification, ask priests both inside and outside of the confessional for advice, and pray all the time for clarity and wisdom.  You see, if there was one area in my life where I tended to scrupulosity, it was this one.  I would always tell Phil, when discussing our family size, "I just don't want to be judged by God for not having the children He wanted me to have."  It always seemed that the obvious answer was just to be open to having another baby, instead of risking being selfish or unfaithful and postponing another child.

So that is why, upon further pondering, I feel like Pope Francis lifted a small weight off my shoulders when he said that we were called to Responsible Parenting.  Something I knew, but always brushed off too easily.  In the past, when I was at home with the kids, and when they were smaller and more inexpensive, I probably didn't have serious reasons to avoid another pregnancy, and obviously I'm glad the way it all worked out.  How could I not be thankful for the blessings I received in each one of them?

“Every family is a cell of society, but the large family is a richer, more vital cell, and the state has much to gain by investing in it.”
~Pope Francis

But for now, at this time in my life, having a large family already, having to work full-time to provide, and therefore having to pay someone to raise my babies during those hours away from home, I feel justified by our Holy Father.  Responsible Parenting is what I am called to do, and right now our emotional and financial well being and the needs of our six children are definitely reasons serious enough to try and postpone another baby for the time being.  

A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the regulation of procreation. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. - CCC 2368

Will I ever say I'm "done" having kids?  Nope.  I don't think that is Responsible Parenting either, because who knows what the future holds?  Responsible Parenting is evaluating everybody's needs every single month and praying to discern God's will while using the natural cycles He created us with in accordance to achieve those goals.  And so I am grateful to Pope Francis (even though I wish he could speak more eloquently and clearly sometimes) for giving me the permission to know that God is calling me to more than just being like a rabbit, He's calling me to responsibly parent these bunnies I already have.

P.S. Phil read this before I posted it, and said "I agree with you, but I just wish everyone didn't always have to clarify what the Pope meant when he talks."  He's totally right, yet, maybe that's the Pope's whole point?  Do tell.

Friday, January 23, 2015

7QT: Hoops, a Hoop, and an Oops

Whew, what a week!  So glad it's Friday and we don't have much on our schedule for the weekend!


Eamon and Maggie started basketball a couple weeks ago, and I love watching them play on the same team.  Eamon is a super speedy ball hog and Maggie is a slow-motion ball passer.  They crack me up.




I was on the other night, researching weighted hula hoops after reading Andrea's success.  After six kids, no matter how much I work out and do ab work, I can't seem to whittle my waist back to pre-baby size, well, I'll gladly take after the 2nd baby size.  Let's not be crazy. 

 I yelled out to Phil:

Me: Hey, honey, think we should buy a hula hoop?
Phil: Yeah, the kids would like it.
Me: No, it would be for us, to add to our exercise routine.
Phil: I can't hula hoop.
Me: No, it's a weighted hula hoop and it says anyone can learn to hula hoop with it.
Phil: OK, how much is it?
Me: Well it's kind of expensive.
Phil: Like $20?
Me: Ummmmmm
Phil: Like $30?
Me: Uhhhhhh
Phil: Like $40?
Me: Yes!  Can I buy it?
Phil: Happy Valentine's Day.

So romantic, that one.


Me practicing with said hula hoop here. Why do I insist on making a fool out of myself?


The next day at work discussing how hairy our nostrils are getting with age.  

Phil: We should buy a nose hair trimmer.
Me: Happy Valentine's Day.


Speaking of hairy, I am getting my haircut and highlighted in a week!  I'm excited as I haven't colored my hair in years, but due to the arrival of my first gray strands, coloring will resume promptly.  I have tons of weird baby hairs growing in that are a few inches long since the Postpartum Hairloss of 2014, and they are driving me nuts, they just stick up!  I'm hoping my hairstylist can figure out a nice and easy cut and routine for me.  I wouldn't mind looking like Dwija or Jolie.


My awesome faux-daughter and my kid's babysitter extraordinaire left for her semester in Austria yesterday.  She is first visiting Ireland and then will head to Gaming, Austria through Franciscan University's study abroad program.  The same program where I met Phil 15 years ago today-ish.  Anyways, I sent her with a little Jesus toy we had in our house, and she named him TJ for Travel Jesus, and started an Instagram account to post photos of everywhere TJ and her go this semester.  You can follow her @traveljesus


Oh the Patriots.  

Why must everyone hate on them so much?  

Look at poor Tommy trying to prove his innocence:

I hope this all gets straightened out in time for purely pleasurable Superbowl watching.

And that's a wrap.  See more Quick Takers with Kelly.  

Have a great weekend everybody, see ya on the flip side!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hope in the Midst of Loss

We've been storming Heaven for the last couple of weeks to pray for Paul and Ann Coakley, as he bravely fought cancer until his death yesterday morning. Without having known Paul well (just college acquaintances and blog followers) and without knowing their whole story (just second-hand bits and pieces) I don't feel like I can comment too much on the life of Paul Coakley, besides Mary did a great job of that already.

But I will say this, everybody seemed to know Paul, and everybody knew that Paul was a happy, fun-loving guy who seemed like he truly lived each day to the fullest.  In so many ways, this makes me feel frustrated and sad.  How could God take from this Earth such an amazing guy, a faithful husband and devoted father?  Why did we have to lose one of the great ones at such a young age?  Is it true what Billy Joel sings, that Only the Good Die Young?  

Yet, we must remember that what seems unfair also was a grace because Paul did seem to take each day as a gift from God.  He did embrace all the ups and downs of his life with a trust in God's knowledge.  He didn't waste an opportunity to spread joy, he didn't waste time here suffering in vain, he put it to good use, offering it up for other's prayer intentions. 

 This image of Ann and Paul will forever be the portrait of a marriage that I will call up in my mind.  They showed us what true love and true faith really looks like, and have blessed us all for it.  

Ann had commented that scrolling through their Facebook page and seeing how people all over the world were (and are) praying for them was so inspiring.

It inspired me as well, and keeps me hopeful in this living communion of saints.  When I scrolled through the photos of Franciscan Alumni, family, and friends with their multitudes of children, I couldn't help but think that this world can only get better.  All of these wonderful families are raising all of these wonderful children, teaching them the power of prayer, the lesson of hope, and the value of love.  They are our future prayer warriors.  They are our future voices in the world.  They are our future.  

And so I am hopeful that life will conquer death.  I will choose to believe that God, in His Divine Wisdom, will use Paul's death in an even better way than He used his life.

As Ann wrote:

"My husband lifted his arms and went joyfully running into the arms of God & our babies this morning! Praise God, Paul WAS joyous & victorious! So many thanks for all the prayers that have fortified us on this way of the cross. Paul had a beautiful life & a beautiful death. I truly believe he wore a martyrs crown when he entered heaven. Love & thanks to you all!"