Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wedding Song Linkup: You Are the One

Around a year ago, I wrote a post about choosing your first dance song (clickety click if you like knowing important details of other people's weddings as much as I do, or if you're in the market for your song).  I have many, many vices, but if I have an ultimate vice it's nosiness, and was so excited to see Grace's wedding song linkup.  I guess burning to know other people's first dances is among the more harmless of things to poke my nose into, but for whatever reason, there's something so telling to me about the lyrics that mean something to a couple--even when it's friends I know well, hearing a song that's special to them feels like a deeper look into their hearts and their view of each other.  I tend to envision wedding songs as the words the couple would express to one another about how they feel, which is pretty personal stuff, yeah?  It feels like a privilege to be given that glimpse.

Anyway, our song.  Andrew and I loved the song "In My Arms" by Jon Foreman, but both of us felt like it was a little too intimate a choice to be dancing to in front of 200 people.  Not just because of lines like, "Love, we sleep apart for the last time," but because it's such a delicate whisper of a song that we wanted to keep it just between us for the time.  Looking back, I kind of wish we'd gone with it anyway--I think I've gotten a little bolder in the last two and a half years--but that doesn't stop us from still dancing to it at home now and then.

We also considered my very favorite song, "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel, but the tempo didn't feel conducive to slowish dancing, plus it's like a five minute song, and we didn't want the spotlight on just us for quite that long.  The tune we ultimately settled on was "You Are the One" by Matt Hires.  Here's the story, as I last told it:

On a night in August almost three [now almost four!] summers ago, my brand spanking new fiance and I went to the movies to see Despicable Me.  Afterwards, we took pictures in a photo booth (an item I could hence cross off my bucket list) and drove home to my parents' house on starry back roads.  Somewhat impulsively, we stopped in the Adoration chapel at my church on the way. 
As we got ready to leave, I started the car and rolled down the windows.  Instead of getting in, Andrew held out his hand and asked me to dance.  I sang along to the music in the CD player, and just like that, we had our wedding song.
So there you have it.  Never did I think I'd be some kind of Taylor Swift-ish parking lot dancer, but I cherish that night, and if I think about it, our wedding was actually our second dance to that song.  Thanks, Grace, for indulging my curiosity.  I love reading these sweet stories!  And off I go to snoop on, snoopers.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Return To Me: Thoughts on Blogging, Babies, and the Blessed Mother

Back on Friday, I was so excited to start bringing this blog back from the dead, and truly I am.  At the time my most recent post went up, Andrew and I had just gotten home from spending the night in the hospital with our sweet baby boy.

In the middle of the night last Wednesday, Aaron started screaming hysterically in his sleep, on and off for about three hours.  It sounded clear to us that he was experiencing either a good amount of pain or of fear, but since he didn't wake, we chalked it up to a night terror sort of thing.  I figured I'd let him sleep the morning away and then end up with a happy, well-rested baby, but after Andrew left for work around sunrise, Aaron continued screaming on and off, then began throwing up continually, like the more-than-typical-spit-up variety.  The more he puked, the greener it got, which Google told me indicates bile loss and is fairly serious.  After trying not to panic and calling the pediatrician, off we headed to the emergency room. As I was packing up to leave, Aaron was completely listless--no eye contact, no nursing (his refusal to eat was what started to really concern me) no interaction at all, and my baby who ordinarily fights sleep with all his heart wanted to do nothing but sleep. I thought we were in the clear after he finally nursed for a few minutes near the end of our ER stay (this was before I knew we were about to be admitted to the regular pediatric ward), but no sooner had he finished than up came some more green and out came some blood in his diapers, three in a row.

All that bile loss and bloody poop resulted in an IV drip, ultrasounds, an X-ray, and ultimately, an overnight stay in the hospital for my poor little man.  Andrew and I agreed it was one of the scariest experiences of our lives (and my husband almost took out a doctor in his frustration).  Thanks be to God, Aaron accepted some Pedialyte that evening, slowly perked up again, and eventually started nursing again during the night.  Amazingly, whatever sickness this was seems to have been a quick-hitting virus, and my baby has been contentedly eating and sleeping away and seems even smilier than before.  I told my sister-in-law this weekend that as long and as difficult a day it was, Aaron's easy recovery has almost made me forget about it already, not in the sense of willfully blocking it out, but just in the sense of gratitude for such a speedy return to his normal, happy demeanor.

Why am I talking about my baby's poop and vomit and clumsily trying to connect it to my blog?  I mentioned Friday that writing my manuscript has coincided with having a newborn, and both of those things have taken priority over blogging, rightfully so, over the past few months.  I'm excited to return to more regular posts, but at the same time I've felt a little guilty just wanting to hop on the computer the second Aaron falls asleep, and I've missed my other hobbies, too.  Mamas who dash off daily posts and birth stories just days after getting home from the hospital, I salute you and you better believe I gobble up those birthin' tales.  For me though, I've come to prefer and be at peace with way less screen time than I've had lately, and if that means more time with my menfolk then I'll gladly take it.

So this is a return to my blog, but in a moderate way.  The other night in the hospital, nursing Aaron in the chair we slept in (all. night.), I was thinking how, as crummy and scary a situation as we were in, my sense of presence felt renewed, and being present, without all the usual distractions I surround myself with while nursing or generally taking care of him, is so freeing for me.  All I needed to do at the moment was feed my baby, hold him, and let him get better.

Much as I love the Rosary, I'm honestly kind of delinquent about it a lot of the time, but have made efforts to recommit myself to it this Lent.  Something about this being my first Lent with a son, I feel like I've been able to see through Mary's eyes in a new way--the closeness, the deep love, and yes, the shared sorrow, between her heart and Jesus' is a new revelation for me.  In each mystery, she is present and is loving her son in the profound way of feeling every emotion and experience the person you love is feeling, to the same degree they are.  I get it now (and I'm sure I'd feel pretty similarly if I had a daughter, since the love of a mother and child is so powerful regardless of whether it's a boy or girl).  I think Our Lady has been pulling me back to her these last few weeks, out of my spiritual laziness and into a different, deeper knowledge of her heart, and I'm so thankful for that grace.  And so I return.

Mamacitas, I'd be so interested to hear your take on sharing time between your blog baby and your baby-baby!  Thoughts?

Friday, April 4, 2014

7 Quick Takes, Volume 29: Out of the Blogging Coma

{story of a soul, condensed}

It being Lent and all, calling this a blog-surrection seems…inappropes.  So suffice it to say I'm now back on the blogging train and this train is bound for…you know.  Here's the rundown of life lately.  Visit Jen at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

{1} Remember my book-writing announcement from a while back?  If not, it's because I've kept it mostly on the DL out of self-consciousness.  Telling people I'm writing a book feels hard to talk about in a humble way, something about the word manuscript sounds like such serious biz, and not to mention I didn't start working on it in earnest until a few months ago, despite having nearly a year to complete it (the delusions of a first-time mother…I thought maternity leave would give me hours of uninterrupted writing time once I was free from the shackles of the workforce and other responsibilities.  Ha.).  But, I am now happy to say that I've just completed the first draft of my still-far-from-release book on Catholic marriage and have just sent it off to Pauline Press!  Arleen, if  you are reading this it's been great to talk through all the writing stuff with you!

{2} So, if you're able to read between the lines, all this internet silence has been the fruit of writing my tail off in another medium over the last few months.  Back in January, I also started nannying for a one-year-old little girl after deciding not to go back to work.  I love being able to bring Aaron along, and it's been a very satisfying preview of what it will be like to have a one-year old and a very…enlightening insight into taking care of two babies who are only eight months apart.  I understand now why God made Irish twins at least 10 months different in age.  But really, this work is such a gift, between the little bit of extra income and the ways my heart's being stretched in patience and just the pleasure of playing with the two of them.

{3} Speaking of whom…I now have an almost 6-month-old, you guys.  Aaron rolls over both ways, chews on everything he can get his hands on (literally, he can get his hands on things now and pick them up!), can mostly sit up by himself, babbles away constantly, loves standing and jumping on our laps, and yes I know other people's babies do similar things at this age but this baby is mine and I'm so in love with him.  Here's the man himself at 3 months…

Baptism Day.  He's also a card-carrying Christian now!
4 months…

and 5!

{4} Despite all that love and delight, sleeping is starting to feel like a battle.  Aaron sleeps in bed with Andrew and I, more out of convenience than out of a predetermined decision.  We didn't initially plan on co-sleeping, and though it's been really sweet and enjoyable, we've been feeling like it's about time to get him on his own.  Between having a one-bedroom apartment, the little dude waking almost every hour to nurse, and both Andrew and I not feeling entirely right about letting him cry it out (in the instances we've tried, cry-it-out has almost instantly escalated into scream-it-out, which, in our minds, is entirely different and has left all three of us tired and upset), we're not really sure where to go from here.  Somewhere along the way I've developed an aversion to any and all parenting buzzwords--that's not to say I don't do certain things that maybe fall under different parenting philosophies or actions, I just don't like calling them by their names because it feels reductive to me, if that makes sense--so while I'm not a fan of the term "sleep training," I am still all about teaching this baby how to fall asleep!  Advice, anyone, on gentle ways to do it?

{5} In the past year, Aaron has been one of about six babies who will be future playmates!  My pregnancy overlapped with five of my friends', and the past few weeks have brought a spate of new springtime babies!  Two of my college friends have a brand new son, Andrew's brother and sister-in-law are welcoming a baby girl, and my friend Teresa (check out her blog) is due to welcome her little bambina any day now!  Oh, I love it.

{6} On the subject of friends and their blogs, my friends Beth and Jenn just started their own.  Links are attached to their names.  Enjoy.

{7} For whatever reason, this crop of new babies has got me thinking hardcore about names for more of my future little ones (future--I'm not pregnant!).  It's not like I haven't considered name after name for years (I'm a girl, after all), but I've been thinking about them in earnest and constantly suggesting new ones to Andrew.  I seem to have developed a thing for finding names that are sort of uniquely Catholic without being totally out there; things like saints' last names as middle names, for instance.  Naturally, that gets my nosy self curious--tell me your favorite baby names; I promise not to steal!  At least not for the next year or so…

Enjoy your weekend and check back Tuesday for a new post!  My new, more manageable-feeling writing goal is two posts a week, plus a return to updating Captive the Heart's Facebook page with extras you won't find on the blog.  Like the page on the ol' FB here.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Pierced: Thoughts On the Presentation

Okay, first of all, how do you mamas do it?  Taking care of a baby and a blog ain't no small thing.  I've been at peace lately with posting less often, as I take the time to work on my book and spend as much time as I can with my sweet boy.  I figure the internet will always be there, but I only get my Aaron at two months, then three months, and every month after for such a short time in his life.  Add that to a general lack of much inspiration, and I've been feeling like I'd rather stay quiet, and be alright with it, than be stressing myself out trying to come up with new posts.

Moving on.  Until yesterday, I'd had no idea the Feast of the Presentation involves the blessing of candles, that it only falls on a Sunday every seven years, or even that it's also called the Feast of the Encounter, commemoration Simeon's wonder-filled encounter with Christ.

Maybe it's my lack of knowledge that had me grasping at nothing for a long time when it came to meditating on the Presentation during the Rosary, until a few years ago.  In the Marian prayer group I belonged to in college, we spent one meeting meditating on this mystery, the Presentation, through Our Lady's experience.  Specifically, Simeon prophesies to Mary, "you yourself a sword will pierce" (Luke 2:35).

It's a beautiful but scary thought, meditating on the Presentation this way--I'd pray, Jesus, Mary, pierce my heart.  Break me open; break my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh…but don't break me too much.  In my mind, since Simeon's prophesy foretold Mary's pain at the foot of the Cross, the joy of Jesus' welcoming into the community was overshadowed by sorrow.  Suffering brings so much grace, but I had a lot of trouble understanding why such a promise would classify as joyful.

I think it wasn't until becoming a mama myself, and reconsidering the Presentation as told to me in yesterday's homily, that I could really see the joy.  Letting your heart be broken open, letting yourself be pierced, so often bears a deeper love and deeper understanding--it's a closer, deeper encounter, I can see now, with Jesus Himself.  Of course, I thought, a mother's love for her child runs so deep that she'd feel any of his pain as if she were experiencing it herself.  Of course their hearts are so closely united to the point of tears.

But, that closeness doesn't go away in times of joy.  If anything, I'm thinking, two hearts can be united in joy as much as in trial.  Being broken open doesn't necessarily mean being heartbroken, just being brought deeper into the love of Christ and into the heart of another person.  Jesus, Mary, break down the walls of my heart that I might come to know you more.  Bring me into deeper and deeper communion with you, with my husband, and my baby.  Let my heart be brought to life by your living flesh.  Amen.

Thoughts?  I love learning about the Rosary and would be so glad to hear any additional knowledge or reflections you have.  And by all means, if you have any advice on parenting and blogging at the same time, share away!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Guest Posting for Arleen Spenceley

I'm over on Arleen Spenceley's blog today, humbly offering a little crash course in chastity apologetics. Here's a sneak peek; follow the link to read the rest:

Actually putting reasons for chastity into words, I found, can be a huge source of encouragement when it seems like there’s no one out there like you and you’re wondering whether to just give up on the whole thing.  As a speaker, I like to think I avoided the whole Mean Girls don’t-have-sex-or-you’ll-get-pregnant-and-die approach, and though I wasn’t perfect at it, I also like to think I came to a few conclusions about a better approach, one that appeals not just to religion or morals, but to the heart.

 Click here for more, and be sure to spend some time browsing the rest of Arleen's fabulous blog and to throw up some prayers for her as she finishes working on her first book!


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