Post-Infertility Pregnancy Announcement Anxieties…that’s a thing, right?

I am a big fat chicken. And I’m not 100% sure why. But I need some advice, folks. (Beware, this one’s a bit of a rambler.)

Many of you have had the experience of being asked horribly rude questions like, “Are you pregnant?” and “When is the baby due?” when you were NOT expecting. It’s awful, even when you know without a doubt that the person asking you is well-intentioned and just excited for you. But when you’re not actually expecting (and worse yet, when that’s all you want in the whole wide world but you can’t do anything about it,) it’s really hurtful. I’ve mentioned all this before, I know. I’ve told you some of the stories of people coming up to me at my store, rubbing my belly, and then arguing with me about whether or not I was pregnant. Yeah, arguing. Those were rough days.

I'm not pregnant

But the issue that I’m facing now is that for once, praise and thank God, I AM actually pregnant. And I’m so, so happy, so overjoyed. But I haven’t figured out how to handle all the folks that are starting to ask again now that I’m starting to actually show. Because I still think it’s kind of rude of either a) complete strangers or b) Nosy Nellies who immediately spread it like wildfire around the place to be asking. Maybe I should be taking it as a compliment that they think I’m naturally skinny enough that any little bumps would have to be a baby (I’m not.) But I just don’t enjoy being talked about and I sort of feel as though cheerfully answering, “Yes I am! Baby’s due in July!” is rewarding bad behavior.

But the last thing that I want is to allow myself to bask in bitterness over past hurts. If infertility was my cross to bear before, then it’s because it was supposed to help make me a saint. Which means that if I don’t find a way to let go of the bitterness (the pain is one thing that will never entirely go away, but the bitterness is something entirely different and something that should be under my control), then I haven’t let God work in my life the way that He’s trying to.

I’m so scared (it sounds overly dramatic, but I am) of having hundreds of sweet, well-meant Catholics at my work asking in very pushy ways very personal questions that I may not want to answer. Even though all I want to do is celebrate this baby, I’m so anxious over the thought of being touched and exposed more than I already have been. Infertility doesn’t just disappear with a miracle–it leaves a few scars. (Don’t get me wrong–I’ll take those scars absolutely any day in exchange for my miracle!)

Is embracing this kind of nosiness part of embracing a culture of life? Is this kind of experience and anxiety unique to my situation as a fairly public member of my Catholic community? Is there a wonderfully charitable way of addressing my sweet but nosy customers that I haven’t thought of yet? Or do I just need to find a way to put on my big girl panties and throw myself into this touching/personal question asking/”I’m so glad you finally decided to have a baby!”-hearing experience and offer it up?

Advice…go!

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Nothing and Everything to Write About…And Answer Me This #1

So, I can’t possibly be the only one with this problem. I get all of these great ideas for posts I’d like to write, posts that I feel simply called to write (’cause, you know, blogs are there to make you feel self-important…wait no,) smack dab in the middle of Mass. Occasionally it happens in other situations where I’m utterly incapable of either making a note to myself or beginning to type something out…but it’s usually in Mass. When I’m supposed to be contemplating and immersing myself in Our Lord’s most incredible of Sacrifices happening right. smack. in front. of me.

Yeah. That's happening.

Yeah. That’s happening.

But that’s how the cookies crumble, folks. I mean, these strokes of brilliance are usually a result of meditation upon Father’s sermon, but still. In the battle of blog vs. Calvary, the Mass is always supposed to win. So I make myself a mental note to jot this new idea down the second I get downstairs to the bookstore after daily Mass (yeah, I’m unbelievably blessed to have a chapel with daily Mass just above the bookstore–it’s literally upstairs.)

Unfortunately, no amount of telling myself to do this will keep that grand revelation in my puny little mind for the requisite half an hour before I get down there. Not once has it happened. I should really bring a notebook up there with me every day, just in case, but I a) forget and b) am kind of nervous about having people notice me scribbling something down in the middle of Mass and inevitably asking me what that was about.

Exactly, sir.

Exactly, sir.

 

So uhh, until I manage to come out of the First-Holy-Communions-Induced coma that I’ve been living in for the last few months, how about we use that long little excuse/rant to segue into doing some of these Kendra questions? ‘Cause we can and that’s about all that can be done, unless of course you’re dying to hear about handmade First Holy Communion veils, weekend FHC retreats at parishes, and which Catholic kids books and toys I find to be the most awesome of all and regularly steer parents to. No takers yet? Ok, questions it is!

1. What time do you prefer to go to Mass?

We usually go to the 9 am on Sundays because at our parish, that’s the Extraordinary Form, the Traditional Latin Mass. And we love it. Also, there’s the most knock-your-socks-off coffee & doughnuts hour ever afterwards complete with dozens and dozens of adorable small children of varying sizes running underfoot and between your legs. Heaven.

But seriously, if I could make that Mass start at 9:30 or 10 am…that’d be great. ‘Cause it’s almost a 45 minute drive to get there.

2. Would you rather be too hot or too cold?

Easiest answer ever. Too cold. You can always add on an extra layer of clothing, snuggle closer to the hubby, or sit near a fire with a warm drink. When you’re too warm, you can only get so naked. And we’re not even talking about modesty anymore–once you’re buck naked in your own home, there’s nothing left to take off. Give me an excuse to snuggle instead.
3. How many brothers and/or sisters do you have?

I have one sister, but come from a large extended family that’s very close, so I never felt like I had a small family. Also, my sister is simply fantastic…very different from her terrorizing violent younger self. Thank God!
4. If you were faced with a boggart, what would it turn into?

Into someone who’s furious at me for something that I didn’t do. Or for no reason at all. I hate when people are mad at me, but I’ve learned to be a big girl and take it (mostly) when it’s rightly deserved. But my heart knows no sorrow like being inexplicably despised or yelled at.

5. Barbie: thumbs up or thumbs down?

Meh. I have no strong feeling about barbie dolls. When I was a kid, I didn’t pay much attention to what her figure looked like. I was mostly preoccupied with coming up with my own edition to market: Sky Diving Barbie. In my mind, she and her friends came packaged in a variety of attractive brightly-colored jumpsuits and looked so cool. In reality, I placed my Barbies in a sitting position on top of the blades of my bedroom fan, switched it onto high and hid in the closet to watch them fling themselves all over the room. I’d say that I was kind of a twisted kid, but I’m not sure that I’ve grown out of it.

6. If someone asked you to give them a random piece of advice, what would you say?

I was really tempted to channel my grandpa and say something akin to, “You want a tip? Don’t stand in the rain.” hehe. Except the one great piece of wisdom that I’ve really managed to learn in all of these years is this: Be sincere in what you say and charitable in what you think. With your spouse and with the whole world. If only we would all say what we really meant and really felt to one another (instead of being passive-aggressive about it,) and would give one another the benefit of the doubt again and again, the world would be a much more pleasant place.

Not that I’m qualified to give advice or anything.

 

I have to admit, I feel awfully grateful to have an easy mechanism for writing built in at least once a week. Hopefully it’ll help me to get back into the swing of things whenever I’m able to pop my head up from First Holy Communion Season Chaos. Also, with Easter coming, I had tons of fun creating little sample Easter baskets filled, not with chocolate bunnies and candy (which I do love,) but with awesome Catholic toys, books, and dolls. Sometimes my job is too much fun. It balances out the crazy.

Here goes Holy Week! See you at Catholic All Year’s Answer Me This!

Sorry, I guess I’m just in a meme kind of mood.

What We’re Doing for Lent

After my last post about my biggest goal for Lent this year, I thought it would be good and fun to share with you what we’re planning on doing as a family this Lent.

Over the years, I’ve found that I really need to challenge myself to commit to both physical and temporal sacrifices during Lent. I can remember after my earliest practicing Lents when I gave up Coke (it’s a big deal for a girl from the South,) when I decided that it would be much better for my soul to give up my time, which I am oh so stingy about. I spent a few years trying out things like the Liturgy of the Hours, Adoration, and reading the Bible daily.

But eventually, I realized that I’d fallen into a trap with that too. It was too easy. Because I am a great big wimp when it comes to physical difficulties. And I need to learn to master physical discipline if I’m ever gettin’ to Heaven. Seriously. So now, I try to make sure that I have a good mix of both things each year. Here’s what we’ve come up with so far this year:

Let's do this.

Let’s do this.

The Physical

Partial Abstinence

For the last three years, my husband and I have followed the traditional practice of partial abstinence during Lent. Partial abstinence means only allowing one meal a day that contains meat (except on Fridays, which have none at all.) We prayerfully considered doing no-meat at all during Lent, but ultimately decided that it wasn’t beneficial for our health at this point, and frankly: it’s a little too much to follow successfully. Partial abstinence for us is hard. Although our regular breakfasts don’t include meat, our lunches almost always do. And finding ways to cook lots of vegetarian/pescatarian leftovers or suffer the consequences of choosing between PB&J and tuna sandwiches every day is very penitential for us. It’s very hard, but it’s been so good for us! It was after practicing this for the first time that I felt really, truly joyous all through Easter (instead of just on Easter Sunday.)

Reducing Sweet Snacks

I can’t really cut out snacks completely due to my medications and health problems, but I can choose to have apple slices or crackers instead of that cookie someone brought into work. We don’t eat a lot of sweets around our house to start with (as evidenced by the stacks of old Christmas, Halloween, and Valentine’s candies on top of our pantry–from last year,) so giving them up isn’t a very big deal. We actually have been instead making it a point to add a special dessert on days when a solemnity falls during Lent (oh, how I love those days!) Just to make the distinction feel a bit more special.

Giving up Liquor & Cocktails

Oh Manhattans, how I love thee. (But seriously, wikipedia images… who wants to put Crown in a Manhattan?)

If you knew us, you’d know that this is kind of a big deal. Okay, now we sound like drunks. I promise we’re not. We’re just a family that loves the fun of a yummy, well-mixed cocktail over a glass of wine or a beer. We still enjoy wine and beer, but isn’t a Martini just so much better most nights? Or a Manhattan? My husband has gotten pretty good at mixing all kinds of cocktails over the last few years and they’re really our go-to treat. So we’re giving them up. Waaay harder than giving up candy, let me tell you.

The Temporal

Keeping Television Time to about 1 Hour a Day on Weekdays

We have a bad habit. When we both finally make it home on weeknights, as soon as dinner’s on the table, we’re exhausted. Done and ready to snuggle. So we watch one of our favorite TV shows on DVD. We don’t have cable or internet powerful enough to watch hulu on, so we own everything we enjoy watching together on DVD. While this is great, we often don’t keep it to one show (or a long show and a short one,) because we’re just beat and would rather keep watching and eat away at the little time that we have each evening. So we’re keeping it to one hour of TV time together on weekday evenings so we’ll have time to do some of these other fun things:

Reading the Gospels Together Daily

We’ve been wanting to do this for a while. The plan is to just start at Mark and work until we’re done with John (we’ll decide what happens after that when we get there.) We decided against a set amount of reading per night because every night is different in this house. Some nights we might get through a few chapters, but half a chapter might be all we can do on some nights when we work late.

Reading “My Catholic Faith” Together Weekly

I’ve told you about My Catholic Faith, right? If not, seriously, take my advice and go buy yourself a copy of it now from wherever you can get it. It is THE best family Catechism I have ever seen. And I run a Catholic bookstore, remember? Everything is so well organized and clearly written–no fuzzy gray areas for those without theology degrees. Bishop Marrow gives simply the best clarifications and elaborations on Church teachings you can find. Also, the pictures are beautiful and so, so informative. Just go get yourself one, dig? (P.S. I hear that if you get it through that link, they might throw me a couple of pennies. Which is cool. But no pressure.)

Best. Catechism. Ever.

Best. Catechism. Ever.

We’ll be reading at least one lesson per week during Lent, in the hopes that the habit sticks after the season is over. We’re deciding to keep the night flexible because when we’ve tried this previously, all it took was one wacky schedule change (which happens all the time) to throw off the whole thing. This way, maybe once a week will turn into twice a week.

In addition to these hard and fast commitments that we’re challenging ourselves with, we’re also planning to look for little opportunities throughout the day to offer extra little sacrifices. You know, the quiet little gestures of sacrifice for others that we ought to be doing anyway, or little extra penances like standing when we’d rather sit, doing our least favorite chores first, or doing things the hard way when the easy way is still an option. (Or big things like actually going to the gym.) This post has some wonderful ideas for just these kinds of sacrifices. I might even make some St. Therese Sacrifice Beads to help us along. I’ll let you know.

I’m so grateful to have had the season of Septuagesima again this year to help us prayerfully prepare for Lent’s coming. We were reminded with the readings and homilies in Mass that Lent was soon approaching and had the opportunity to do a “trail run” of some of our planned sacrifices to see if they’d really bear good fruit in practice. Isn’t that great?

There’s what we’re aiming for this Lent, what about you?

Cheater’s Michaelmas

I know, it’s still a day early for Michaelmas. But tomorrow we have plans that we can’t get out of that involve not being home all day, so we’re celebrating today and hopefully our dear St. Michael won’t mind much. On the up side, since I’m posting a day in advance, you can totally steal my oh-so-complicated and original feast day ideas. 😉 [Edit: It actually took me so long to get this written up that now it really is Michaelmas. Whoops!] Confession: I came up with these very cheesy ideas, did the shopping, and THEN found some super delicious-sounding and legitimately traditional recipes online that I simply don’t have the time, money, or energy to produce. So feel free to call this a “Poor Man’s Michaelmas Dinner.”

Firstly, a little history (because learnin’ is important):

Fierce.

Fierce.

St. Michael the Archangel is the angel who fought satan during the great battle. And won, of course. My favorite tidbit about him actually stems from the fact that he was so named because when the evil one, who was the highest of the Seraphim (thusly named Lucifer, “light bearer”–think the light of God) heard that God the Father intended to have a Son who would be human, a being far beneath the angels in honor and glory, he became enraged. He was so offended because, as far as he was concerned, he was the closest to God and would never be so foolish. He started to believe that he was not just very close to God, but rather like God. Which of course he wasn’t (and isn’t) remotely. “Michael” means “Who is like God?” Please note the question mark. Even though ancient Hebrew has no punctuation, it’s important to establish that it was a (rhetorical) question and not, as it’s often mis-translated, “he who is like God.” Because obviously, no one is. That’s the point, yes? In short, that question became the battle cry of Michael and the other good angels during the battle.

Good story, right? What’s that, you already heard it? Only someone else told it better? Well aren’t we catechized. Good job. 😉 In that case, here’s some other fun facts about the angels that you might not already know.

-You know how every person is assigned a guardian angel when he or she is born? Well, each family is also assigned one during the Sacrament of Marriage. Boo-ya. (Good thing too, ’cause I need all the extra angels looking out for me that I can get.)

-Devotion to the angels is supposed to be a mark of predestination. Which makes me feel like I should start asking for their help a little more often.

-The nine choirs of angels are divided into three hierarchies which are (highest to lowest): Seraphim, Cherubim, & Thrones, Powers, Principalities, & Dominions, Virtues, Archangels, & Angels. Although apparently it’s more traditional to list them in ascending order. But I thought this would make more sense.

-Michael shares a feast day on the new calendar with the other two canonically-mentioned Archangels, Raphael & Gabriel.

* All fun facts from the totally awesome book, St. Michael and the Angels. You should get it.

Beautiful image of the choirs, yes? Can you guess who that is in the middle?

Secondly, here’s some fun recommendations of my favorite angel items from the store. You should get them.

Cold-Cast Bronze Statue. This company has the most detailed statues I've ever seen.

Cold-Cast Bronze Statue. This company has the most detailed statues I’ve ever seen.

An amazing book put out by TAN Book Publishers. It's basically a 30-day devotional to teach you all kinds of traditions about the angels.

An amazing book put out by TAN Book Publishers. It’s basically a 30-day devotional to teach you all kinds of traditions about the angels.

OK, we’re finally on to the food part. Here’s how we celebrated our early Michaelmas this year (in truly cheesy literal cheater’s fashion):

Yummy, yummy, in our tummies.

Yummy, yummy, in our tummies.

Angelhair Pasta with three colors of peppers to represent Michael, Raphael, & Gabriel. It was crazy good. Initially, I’d intended to make my own white parmesan sauce for this, but it was late and I’ll confess I cheated. I got to try out one of those new recipe starters. It was great. And went very well with the wine. Also, it was way less expensive than roasted goose, which is apparently the real traditional Michaelmas dinner.

Drool.

Drool.

For dinner we had–of course–angel food cake! And since my husband informs me that apples are totally in season right now, I cooked some apples in a bit of butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. That’s a scoop of frozen coolwhip, by the way. But it tastes like ice cream. And, yes, it was even more delicious than it looks. Especially after we caved and drizzled the caramel sauce on top.

Happy Michaelmas!

St. Monica, Motherhood, & Absolute Hope

Before I catch you up on leg three of our big Summer road trip (which admittedly is not nearly as exciting as the first two legs,) I thought we’d take a little break and I’d just throw out a little thanks to Monica who accidentally (must have been an accident, right?) got me the most views in a single day that I’ve ever had so far. Who knew bragging about what great kids catechesis crafts stuff she comes up with would pay off for me too?

I promise you that it’s merely a coincidence that I’m bragging about my own new favorite Monica in a post about her great namesake.

We’re selling this new book on St. Monica in our store right now. It looks wonderful and this image just captures her so well.

I’ve always felt so drawn to the beautiful St. Monica whose steadfastness, persistence, and simple example of Christian womanhood have never failed to inspire me when I’m feeling my lowest. St. Monica is someone that I strive to be, especially in the workplace each day.

I run a Catholic bookstore, which is simultaneously one of the most fun, exciting jobs I can imagine, and one of the most emotionally and spiritually difficult. As a store, we exist not just so people can swing by and pick up a miraculous medal or baptism gift (although of course they can,) but also as a spiritual soft place to land, a support network, a counselling center, a cheerleader camp, a library and a set of shoulders to cry on. We see people in our little store every day that are suffering and surviving through tragedies and losses far more intense than I can even imagine experiencing. We also see people brimming over, exploding with joy in their happiest moments. It’s an emotional roller coaster every day as we fill the moments between heartbreak and celebration with stocking the shelves, placing orders, restarting the CD player, and checking email.

My job, really, is to help people get to Heaven, however I can. That’s what every task of my day from answering the phone to holding a sobbing customer who recently lost her child in my arms, to selecting the right books, to teaching a new friend how to pray the Rosary is all about. It’s a beautiful and wonderful thing to be blessed with such a vocation. It’s a vocation to do a million little things a day that seem like logistics, but are really acts of great love. It’s a vocation to comfort, to mourn alongside others, and to acknowledge their pain by sharing in it in some small way. It’s a vocation to put a copy of My Catholic Faith into someone’s hands who doesn’t know they need it yet (Ask your local Catholic bookstore for that one please!) It’s a vocation to pray fervently that every person who walks into the store making jokes about being a cafeteria Catholic (I was guilty of this for years) will some day see the light and bask in the fullness of Truth.

It’s a lot like motherhood. I’ve mentioned before that we haven’t been blessed yet with children, but I like to think that Our Lord has given me this job as a way of both practicing for future motherhood and as a way to actively live my vocation as a mother in a way that models His own mother and St. Monica. He challenges me every day to dig deeper, no matter how exhausted I am, to bring consolation, or insight, or at least a smile to the face of every person that He sends through that door. He’s given me a way to care for others and to learn how to love more generously.

Just like the motherhood that I see exampled in all of the women I’ve met online and whose blogs I read, I am called to example love, patience, steadfastness, humility, and simplicity in the same way that St. Monica did each day of her life. St. Monica exemplifies a motherhood spent waiting in absolute hope. I pray that I can learn from her example not only as a mothering caretaker of souls at work, but as a woman who is waiting to fulfill her vocation to love as a mother of children. I pray that I can learn to patiently wait for God’s perfect timing and perfect plan for our lives, all the while remaining steadfast in an absolute and trusting hope. I pray that I might remember always that my every action, no matter how quiet or simple, has the potential to draw me and others closer to Our Lord.

Oatmeal bread is simple, strong, and solid, like St. Monica.

Oatmeal bread is simple, strong, and solid, like St. Monica.

I’ll tell you about our adventures in bread-making soon, but I wanted to share a picture of this oatmeal bread that we made using a recipe from my new favorite cookbook. Baking bread is an excellent way to honor St. Monica on her feast day because very little that you can do in the kitchen requires more carefulness and patience.

St. Monica, ora pro nobis. Please make us good waiters.

Epic Roadtrip Part 2 & 7QT at the Catholic Marketing Network

Last we spoke (read? wrote?) my husband and I had just arrived back from leg one of our Epic Late Summer Road Trip. That was our anniversary trip to West Virginia. I mentioned at the end of that post that I was actually writing while on leg two of said Epicness. Here’s how it went down:

When we arrived back home on Sunday night, we made a horrible discovery: our air conditioning had gone out at some point during the weekend. It was probably a toasty 86 degrees on the lower level of our townhouse and who knows how much hotter upstairs. Not fun, but thankfully it was a pretty nice night outside so we managed with fans and enjoyed the rest of our evening while frantically unpacking/re-packing into a larger suitcase so we could set off the very next afternoon immediately after work (and reporting the broken ac to our leasing office bright and early) for leg 2…New Jersey!

Why were we so excitedly venturing to New Jersey? To attend the wonderful and oh so glamorous Catholic Marketing Network trade show. I’ve mentioned before that I run a Catholic bookstore/giftshop and that it’s pretty much the best job in the world. I get to do a million things a day including filling the store with all kinds of magnificently solid Catholic goodies. And it’s so amazing and fulfilling to know that every decision I make is focused on what will help the people who come to our shop to grown closer to Our Lord. Seriously, best job ever.

A picture from last year’s show. The woman in the red shirt is actually my sales rep from Ignatius Press whose name is also Therese. She’s really thrilled that this picture of her butt has been on the CMN website for the last year.

So try to imagine how much fun I was having in a conference center in New Jersey packed to the gills with beautiful statues and pictures, handmade rosaries, books, books, books galore, and hundreds of amazing new kids stuff just waiting to be scooped up and placed on our shelves. I have a very serious suspicion that Heaven might look like this for about an hour at a time (unless, of course you can’t get sick of good things in Heaven…at which point in the theological debate I’ll pass you over to Jen.)

I feel like I could probably go on ad nauseum about all of the amazing stuff I found there and what a fun time I had on day one (when I actually got to explore and browse instead of running around like a maniac skipping lunch trying to get all of my orders placed before the show floor closed and I had to drive back home right away.) I’ll try to keep it to just a couple of fun things, ok? Feel free to skip past if you’re soulless and don’t like totally awesome shiny new stuff from fun new companies that will make beautifully organized new displays in the children’s area of our store.

LIGHTBULB! Since it’s that time of the week, let’s do this 7 Quick Takes style and cheat a little. Deal? (Sorry, there’s probably no scrolling past this now.)

–1–

Father Juan Pablo Vocations Doll

If you are Catholic and have small children, I absolutely encourage you to check out this new company called Wee Believers. They have dozens of adorable products that are great for even really small children including these vocations dolls. Fr Juan Pablo wears a full cassock (or as I call them, Priestly super hero outfits) and Sr. Mary Clara is just plain adorable. They’re plush and come with great books to encourage children to become comfortable with the idea of vocations to the religious life. Plus they remind US (not just kids) that priests and nuns (and brothers and sisters) are fun!

–2–

I’m cheating here because this is from the same company, but it deserves it’s own number and I don’t think you’ll blame me.

Plush MASS KIT. Seriously.

Yeah, that’s an entire Mass kit made out of soft materials for children to play Mass with at home. When I was a kid, all we had to use as a “host” was an Oreo. Seriously. This set has candles, a crucifix, and a thurible for crying out loud! It’s a thing of beauty. I wish I had a four year old boy to play with this with right now. Their website is here, but I wholeheartedly recommend that you use their search function to find a local Catholic bookstore near you to order this stuff from. Help out the little guys so you’ll still have a place to pop in and grab a couple of holy cards or a new miraculous medal from at the last minute.

P.S. I would LOVE to hear some great funny and/or adorable stories about kids playing Mass. There might even be a prize in it for the person with the best story.

–3–

Who needs a Cootie Catcher when you can have a kid’s Catechism Catcher?

This was probably my favorite new booth of the year: Arma Dei. I made fast friends (well, I thought so) with Monica and fell in love with just about every single one of her products. I didn’t even realize she ran a blog, I swear! All of her products are fun, color-able, inexpensive to make, and most importantly full of great Catholic “meat.” She has tons of great books and craft ideas that I spent a solid half-hour drooling over. A board member who came with me had to drag me away. I bought a bunch for the store including a set of playing cards that teach fundamentals of the faith (everything from 2=the two natures of Christ to 9=the nine precepts of the Church.) Amazing, right?

–4–

Battle Saints bracelets kick tush

You know those great saints bracelets that everyone wears? Well, this company was called Battle Saints and they make saints bracelets just like those, except the saints on them are specifically chosen because they’re the patrons of each of the branches of the military and of warriors in general. The idea is that a) you can purchase them and send them to a service man/woman that you know to give them some extra protection and b) you can purchase them for yourself and anyone else you can talk into wearing it to remember to pray for the service members through the intercession of the saints on the bracelet. Each bracelet comes with a folded up paper explaining the different patrons found on them and the mission of the organization. An especially wonderful part of what they do is to make a donation from each sale to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund which helps wounded warriors when they return with physical rehabilitation, TBI, and post-traumatic stress.

–5–

Our Lady of Guadalupe from the Shining Light Dolls Collection

This company is brand-spankin’ new and is making the most wonderful new line of hard vinyl dolls. Right now all of the subjects are different apparitions of Our Lady, but she’ll also be making a line of favorite saints! (We ordered the Our Lady of Guadalupe, Fatima, Knock, Czestochowa, Lourdes, & Kibeho for starters.) Since the dolls are a single piece and made of tough, durable plastic, they’re perfect toys for any age–even infants! I think they’d make great tub toys (there is a tiny air hole in the bottom that could potentially trap water in there…but you never know until you try,) and should be very easy to clean mud and/or drool off of. They also come with a great booklet and prayer card to teach your family more about the subject and come in really attractive packaging. Apparently they’ve become a collector’s item for lots of people. And they’re just so sweet! (P.S. I know they’re called Shining Light Dolls, but they do NOT light up. Don’t be confused!)

–6–

One of my favorite Catholic movies!

If you haven’t heard about Navis Pictures yet, you’re in for a treat. We already carried their movies, but this is just such a great apostolate that I had to share. Navis Pictures is an apostolate for young people that basically developed because one father in a homeschool group in CT had a professional background in film and a desire to get his kids actively involved in learning their faith. This is a production company that ONLY uses children 18 and under as actors to film amazingly solid Catholic films. The one I pictured above is one of my favorites because it really makes the beautiful faith of the martyrs of the French Revolution (that I–and most people–had never heard of) come alive. You’ll spend the first ten minutes of each film figuring out how old each of the characters is supposed to be, but you actually forget that you’re watching a group of relatively untrained homeschool kids and just become enraptured with the stories. There are a number of truly moving scenes in there too that words just won’t do justice. (i.e. the scene on the cover where they’re offering Mass on the field before battle and during the moment of consecration one of the older main characters looks so reverently at the Host and says, “My Lord and my God!” and if you watch carefully for the small children behind him who are probably barely old enough to totally grasp that their friend playing the priest is not, in fact, a priest and that this is only a pretend Mass, you’ll see the sheer love on their faces as they look upon Our Lord.) Sorry for the run-on sentence there. Just so you know, it hurts me too.

–7–

Our first batch of Glory Stories CDs and books!

Another one that you probably already know about: Glory Stories CDs by Holy Heroes. You might notice a trend here that most of these favorite picks are children’s products made by family-run apostolates. This is another started by a convert and her family. All of the kids help with the voices on the audio CDs and the stories are really top-notch. They gave me a demo of the Blessed Imelda Lambertini and Juan Diego CD to listen to and I was actually in tears on the drive home, it was so beautiful. Every family that I know that’s started a collection of these CDs has fallen madly in love with them. I actually had a group of nine year olds jumping up and down in the store with excitement (one almost knocked over some statues) when I told them we would be carrying them from now on! They also have lots of neat weekly Mass prep resources and activities. Enjoy!

Two other points of personal interest: While at the CMN show I was surrounded by Catholic celebrities (Fr. Michael Gaitley, Fr. Don Calloway, and Mother Dolores Hart for starters.) Among about 3 dozen other authors that I met, I got Teresa Tomeo to sign one of her books for me. I’ve never read her books and I’m not sure that I’m particularly dying to, but I do love to listen to her radio show on my way into work in the mornings. It puts me in the right mindset after schlupping through the Today show to get my weather report and Al Roker fix. It was pretty great to get to see her. Even if she was super busy and could only even look at me for a few seconds. I get it, Teresa. We’re cool.

Also, Dale Ahlquist held the door for me. Be jealous.

Coming…soonish: Part 3 in which my husband almost punches a DJ and we’re still really sweaty.